Since you’re reading this, you probably know already what mouse DPI is all about and want to know how to find out how your existing mouse shapes up in the sensitivity stakes. 0
But for those who aren’t clued up, DPI stands for dots per inch. It’s a measurement used for various tech devices (including printers) but, for mice, DPI determines how small or large a movement is required to be registered as movement.
A higher DPI (such as 10,000) means higher sensitivity than a low DPI, such as 100. So, if you swapped a 100 DPI mouse for one with 10,000 DPI, moving it a set distance to the right will move the cursor on screen further to the right than making that same movement with a lower-DPI mouse.
You can argue that this isn’t a massively helpful example, as you can adjust the mouse sensitivity settings in Windows to make your mouse faster or slower across the screen. And you’d be right. But DPI and sensitivity aren’t quite the same thing.
And this is relevant if you happen to be a gamer that likes first-person-shooters (among other types of games). We won’t wade into the debate about whether a lower or higher DPI setting is best, though.
Such games often let you use a higher DPI with a lower sensitivity so you don’t have to adjust how much you move the mouse if you’re swapping to a new mouse or playing a different game. No-one wants to have to relearn that muscle memory for turning your character 360° on screen, for example. There are even online calculators that can translate your settings from one game to another.
Many gaming mice have buttons that let you switch DPI on the fly while you’re playing, but what if you don’t know your mouse’s DPI? Or you don’t know the DPI settings it switches between?
It can be tricky to find out these specs, but here are a few ways you can determine the DPI of your mouse even if the manufacturer doesn’t list them.
1. Check the manufacturer’s specifications
Having said that, the most obvious thing you can do is see if the manufacturer does list the DPI. Search online for your mouse’s make and model. Unless it’s unbranded, there’s a good chance you’ll find a spec sheet which lists the DPI figure.
Typically, the figure quoted will be the highest DPI on offer. But some manufacturers, including Logitech, specify the range the mouse supports.
2. Install the drivers
Again, unless you have an unbranded mouse which relies solely on Windows’ default mouse driver you should be able to download the appropriate software from your mouse manufacturer’s website.
This usually gives you many more options than the built-in Windows ones, including the ability to change what all the buttons do and – relevant here – choose the DPI setting.
You might find that there’s a standalone app for accessing all the settings and options.
We can’t tell you where the DPI setting is for any given mouse (except the one used as an example here – the Logitech G403) so you’ll have to search around in the app or in Windows’ settings to find it.
In Logitech’s Gaming Software you have to click on the icon with a pointer and a cog. With the G403, it’s possible to set up to five different DPI levels, but the mouse itself has only three LEDs to indicate which level is selected.
You can also customise the actual DPI settings for each level – a common feature on gaming mice.
Measure the rough distance that you need to move your mouse to make the pointer go from the left side of the screen to the right. You’ll need a ruler or tape measure, as you must enter the distance into the ‘Target distance’ box on the website.
Since you don’t know your mouse’s DPI you can’t put a value in the Configured DPI box.
Now click on the red crosshair at the bottom of the page and drag it to the right, moving your mouse the distance you specified in Target distance. You don’t have to move fast: the aim is to be accurate.
Make sure your pointer does not reach the edge of the monitor: it doesn’t matter if it goes past the edge of your browser window, but moving the mouse after the cursor has reached the edge of the display will make the result incorrect.
When you let go of the button, a figure will appear by ‘Actual DPI’. This shows the approximate DPI value that your mouse is currently set to.
How do I change my mouse DPI and sensitivity?
A lot of mice have buttons to change the DPI setting. Some even have displays which show the current setting, while others don’t.
If your mouse doesn’t have any buttons, or they’re not doing what you want, then open your mouse software (if installed) and look for options to change the DPI. You should be able to specify and exact DPI setting, or even multiple settings if your mouse supports that and has buttons to toggle between those settings.
For those without dedicated mouse software, use the Control Panel settings detailed above and adjust the Pointer speed slider until you like how much your cursor is moving.
Alternatively, use the Windows 10 Settings app, click Devices, then Mouse and you’ll find a ‘Cursor speed’ slider which does the same thing.
If you decide your current mouse isn’t up to the job, see some recommendations for a replacement in our roundup of the best gaming mice.
How to disable mouse acceleration in Windows
If you are a Windows gamer, you should probably disable acceleration. Otherwise the distance you move the mouse won’t necessarily correspond to on-screen movements: acceleration means the faster you move the mouse, the more the pointer (or your character) moves.
Some mouse software has the option, but you’ll find the option under the advanced setting in the Windows 10 Control Panel.
The easiest way to get to this is to click Start > Settings > Devices > Mouse.
Then click on Additional mouse options.
Jim Martin / Foundry
Then click the pointer options tab and uncheck Enhance pointer precision.