Last Updated: October 4, 2021
DPI settings have been a hot topic in gaming circles for years now.
So, you might be wondering how important your DPI is in the grand scheme of things.
Worry not. In this article, we will:
- Explain what DPI is and how it’s connected to CPI, sensitivity, and EDPI
- Show you the best DPI for gaming options
- Walk you through checking your mouse DPI
Let’s dive in!
What Is DPI on a Mouse?
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch.
It is actually a misnomer, but more on that later. Still, even a bit ill-fitting, the name says it all. Your mouse DPI measures how many pixels (“dots”) you can move the cursor on the screen per one inch of your hand movement.
In other words, it’s a measure of the relation between how far your cursor moves on the screen and how far the mouse moves on the surface.
Here’s an example.
So, let’s say your DPI is 800. That means that if you move your mouse one inch, your mouse cursor will move for 800 pixels on your screen.
Or let’s take higher DPI levels, like 1600. Again, you move your hand one inch — but now your mouse cursor will move 1600 screen pixels! Even though your hand movement stayed the same, your mouse moved further on-screen.
What’s the main point of this high vs low DPI comparison?
It’s all about mouse sensitivity.
You’ve probably noticed how manufacturers have been trying to one-up each other when it comes to gaming mouse DPI. A lot of the marketing strategy seems to rely on impressive numbers, surpassing even 20 000!
But, does bigger equal better in this case?
Here’s a secret:
It doesn’t. As you might’ve guessed, it’s all just part of a marketing ploy designed to dazzle you with big numbers.
You need to find the best mouse sensitivity for maximum utility. So, nothing too low, and nothing absurdly high either.
Luckily for you, we did the research.
What’s the Best DPI for Gaming?
This is a loaded question.
That’s why we’re going to suggest some starting points. They will lead you to your own grand discovery of what’s the best DPI for gaming.
First things first:
Sensitivity does not equal accuracy!
Let’s say you try to play your usual CS:GO round but with a much higher mouse sensitivity than the one you’re used to. You will just 360-no-scope yourself out of the screen like a confused helicopter. It will feel like you’re trying to aim with a slippery bar of soap. Not pleasant!
That’s because mouse DPI for gaming is only one part of the picture. Your experience also depends on:
- Native sensitivity and in-game sensitivity (which varies from game to game!)
- Screen resolution and ratio
- Your play style and muscle memory
- The type of game you play.
Let’s talk a bit about each of these.
Native and In-game Sensitivity
Windows and in-game sensitivity also factor in since they serve as multipliers. We will talk more at length about them in the next section.
For now, let’s just take a quick look.
Always keep your pointer precision or mouse acceleration unchecked since it can seriously throw off your gaming DPI.
In-game sensitivity settings values are different for each game. So, if you tried to use the same mouse settings for gaming in Overwatch in, let’s say, Apex — you wouldn’t get the same sensitivity!
That also means that the best DPI for Apex Legends won’t be the best when used in any other game. Luckily, there are many calculator tools online that deal with this problem and convert your settings from one game to another.
Screen Resolution and Ratio
Let’s say you upgrade from a 22” 1080p monitor to a 27” 1440p one. It will probably affect your mouse sensitivity, and you will need to up it to go with the larger screen. With a bigger screen and your same old DPI levels, it will feel like you need to move your hand significantly more to traverse across the screen with your pointer. And that feeling will only intensify with ultra-wide curved monitors or dual monitors.
To simplify: more pixels = higher sensitivity needed.
Playstyle and Muscle Memory
Everyone has their distinct playstyle and movements. Some people love higher DPI settings because they like to do everything with a slight wrist flick (beware of Carpal tunnel syndrome, though). Others love to play with lower DPI levels on an oversized gaming mat, with more arm and shoulder movement.
But, that’s not all!
It also depends on the muscle memory you developed for the game. If you change up your long-time mouse settings for gaming, most automatic movements will not work anymore. That’s why it’s best you quickly find out what works for you and stick with it.
Types of Games
It makes sense that what counts as good DPI for FPS might not work for RTS, doesn’t it? Take the following suggestions with a grain of salt. What works for some people won’t necessarily work for you.
In general, whenever someone talks about the best DPI for gaming, treat it with a healthy dose of skepticism.
For shooting precision in FPS, the recommended DPI for gaming is in the lower scope of 400-800. There isn’t a widely accepted optimal range for MOBA games, but this could also be your sweet spot for more control in your clicks.
It’s a different story for MMOs and RPGs since you will depend more on a broader range of movement on maps than precision. For those games, the best DPI is in the higher range of 1000-1600. So, nothing too crazy. The same setting goes maybe even more so for RTS games, where you will need to strategically overlook everything going on.
You might’ve noticed that we haven’t mentioned insanely high DPI settings, not even once. And that’s because you don’t really need them!
Of course, there are always people on Reddit talking about their bizarre gaming setups with 10000+ DPI, which they claim is the best DPI for League of Legends. But you don’t need a lot to achieve the most.
CPI vs DPI vs Sensitivity vs EDPI
There is a bundle of terms that are often used alongside DPI, sometimes even interchangeably. And we’ve already mentioned that the term DPI is technically a misnomer.
Time to clarify:
CPI vs DPI
CPI stands for Counts Per Inch. The “Counts” are the base units of mouse sensors. So, if you have a 1000 CPI mouse, that means that it registers 1000 counts when you move it one inch. The higher the CPI, the more sensitive the mouse is.
So, what’s the deal with DPI then?
DPI actually stands for printer dots per inch, which refers to the output resolution of printers. The name just kind of got stuck for mice.
CPI and DPI are the same thing, basically. It’s just that CPI is technically the more fitting term for measuring mouse sensitivity, but DPI is the popular one.
There’s even another cuter term that’s used – mickeys per second.
DPI vs Sensitivity
You might be wondering why we’re talking about sensitivity — again. Remember how we mentioned native and in-game sensitivity earlier? Together with DPI (or rather, CPI), they all act as sensitivity multipliers.
So, if you want to set the best mouse sensitivity, you will need to pay attention to Windows and in-game settings.
Let’s take a closer look.
When you check your Windows mouse sensitivity settings, you will see a slider with 11 notches – all different sensitivity multipliers
You need to set the multiplier to the sixth notch. Any other mouse settings for gaming may result in pixel skipping.
So, remember: 6/11 is the magic number!
What about in-game sensitivity?
It differs from game to game.
Many players like to play with higher DPI levels that they “water down” with in-game sensitivity turned down. The only problem is that if you want to play with a really high DPI, the in-game options probably won’t be low enough.
DPI vs EDPI
EDPI stands for Effective Dots Per Inch. Whenever you’re messing around with your in-game sensitivity, you are effectively changing your EDPI.
That’s because your EDPI is your “plain” gaming DPI multiplied with in-game sensitivity.
So, it’s something like this:
600 DPI x 2 in-game sensitivity = 1200 EDPI
The result is your true mouse DPI for gaming, hence why it’s called “effective”. Again, your EDPI value depends on the game you play.
How To Check Your Mouse DPI
Alright, that all makes sense but what is my mouse DPI right now?
We’ll help you find out.
Let’s start with an easy one — your mouse specs.
You can look on your box (if you still keep it) or simply look up the model online. Your mouse DPI range (or the highest point) should be there.
Another way to do it is with mouse drivers.
Navigate your way through the manufacturer’s website and look for the appropriate driver software for your model. When you install it, find your pointer settings. From there on, finding your DPI settings should be easy. The cool thing is you can customize what each of your fancy sensitivity level buttons does.
Finally, if all else fails, you can use the ol’ reliable online DPI analyzer to determine your current DPI levels.
Here’s the process, step by step:
- Get a piece of paper with drawn on inch/cm lines (to use as a mousepad) or just a ruler. You will need those to measure how far you move the mouse when moving the pointer from the left edge of your screen to the right.
- Type in that distance as your Target distance in the analyzer.
- Click and carefully drag the red crosshair below, move it to the same distance you specified as your target distance, and then let it go.
- And voilà! Now you know your mouse DPI. You will see your Actual DPI value appear in the box.
For this to work correctly, have your native pointer precision unchecked and keep that 6/11 sensitivity setting.
In the end, we can say that gaming DPI as a concept is a bit overhyped. Sure, it’s important, but it isn’t a matter of life and death like some mouse manufacturers may lead you to believe.
There is no universal best DPI for gaming. It’s all a matter of trying out different combinations because your DPI isn’t an isolated value. In fact, your DPI settings only make sense as part of a broader context, which is a combination of:
- Screen resolution
- Windows and in-game sensitivity settings
- Different play styles
- Types of games
As the Ancient Greek proverb goes, “Know thyself and know thy DPI measure.” So, grab your mouse and keyboard and start experimenting!
Not necessarily! Don’t buy into the idea that “higher” equals “better”. Depending on the type of game you play, a good DPI might even be on the lower end for those precise headshots!
Likely not, since the best DPI for FPS is 400-800. This isn’t set in stone in any way, so why not try out 1000 DPI and see for yourself.
It could be a good DPI for gaming if you’re playing MMOs, RPGs, and RTSs. Their recommended DPI range is 1000-1600. And again, there isn’t a best DPI for gaming, you have to make your own discoveries.
Interestingly enough, most pro-FPS gamers use the same DPI of 400-800, as mentioned earlier. Of course, each one tweaks it to their own taste with in-game sensitivity settings.