Why the Right Mouse Matters for PC Gaming

Written by:  Daniel Barros • Edited by: J. F. Amprimoz
Updated Jun 1, 2009
• Related Guides: PC

We take a look at the gamer's most useful tool for game immersion - the mouse. Find out how a mouse works and how a gamer needs to pick a gaming mouse.

To Wire or Not to Wire?

A hearty welcome, PC Hardware aficionados, to another another exciting edition of "Building the Perfect Gaming PC". Today's edition is all about the humble PC mouse, another under-appreciated PC peripheral that most everyday users don't even bother looking into.

First of all, a little history on the computer mouse. The first mouse was developed in 1963 - tragically, the inventor never received any royalties because his patent ran out before the mouse became a part of everyday computing. The first mice that were used contained trackballs - usually a ball that could easily roll around a mousepad, or a pad made out of a smooth cloth material. In recent years (after 2000 or so), mouse technology has been propelled into the new age of optics. New mice use LEDs or an optoelectronic sensor to detect movement. The mouse has also lost its signature cord in many cases since 2000.

The way a mouse works is very simple. In order to illustrate how this works, I'll be talking about the trackball mouse since it uses the most basic technology. The trackball inside the mouse actually rotates two wheels - one for the x-direction and one for the y-direction (since the computer screen is a two-dimensional surface). A LED that emits infrared light fires a beam towards the wheels (one LED per wheel) and the beams are then routed back to a sensor which detects the direction of the movement. In optical or laser mice, the trackball is replaced by sophisticated optics, which are then routed to an on-board computer chip capable of registering movement in many different directions.

The mouse sends this sensory information to the computer in one of three ways. Either through a corded connection, through a bluetooth connection, or through a radio connection. The computer receives the sensory data through a PS/2 or USB port in the back of the computer and then the GUI of your choice moves a pointer according to the sensory information - all this happening instantaneously after the mouse has moved.

So, now that you know how the mouse works, picking a gaming mouse is something of an art. Gamers prefer things certain ways - I for one will never go back to a corded mouse after experiencing the freedom (and loss of clutter) of an optical wireless mouse. Other gamers tend to think their wired mouse ensures a connection that can't fail because of a battery.

Ultimately, once you've decided whether you want to go wired or unwired, it comes down to the ergonomics of the mouse. A PC gamer will get cramps if the mouse is not in the right position. The most common problem associated with mice is RSI (or a Repetitive Strain Injury). RSI will occur if the mouse is not at the correct level. Most importantly, if it feels like the mouse is uncomfortable, look for another mouse - very rarely will you need to stick with a specific kind of mouse.

When you come back next time, we'll discuss the top 3 gaming mice, as well as a great budget mouse.


 
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