What is DPI/CPI in Mouse Technology?

Lets start with explaining the terms. DPI(dots per inch) is not the correct term for it. The fact is that pixels aren’t dots, they are square shaped. If you could zoom in and see them, they’d remind you of the old arcade games that had characters made with squares of different colors. Although DPI is very commonly used, it doesn’t match up to the professional term of “CPI”(counts per inch). CPI makes more sense to say in the way of what it means, as compared to saying your mouse has 800+ dots per inch. As you can see, that doesn’t quite sound right compared to saying your mouse has 800+ counts per inch. But anyways lets get started!


Is CPI a term for explaining how accurate your mouse is?

CPI is not a benchmark for how accurate your mouse is. CPI is just a measurement of how far your mouse moves in real life, compared to how many pixels your cursor on the screen moves. Now imagine moving your mouse on your desk at the same distance that you want your cursor to move. You’d quickly notice that you need a bigger desk just for you to move your mouse. And if a bigger desk was no problem, just imagine how tired your arm would be after a day of this! This is exactly why mice are designed to have less movement and more movement from the cursor on the screen.


So how important is CPI?

CPI is important in the way of sensitivity. Yes a mouse with a higher CPI may assist you in some games, but you’re still limited by how much your brain can pickup. If you are playing an fps(first person shooter) game and turn your view left or right with a much higher sensitivity, you may find yourself missing your target or unable to process everything going on. This is what I mean by how much your brain can process when you change your view so quickly. You can get nauseous and feel ill up to several hours after you were done playing the game. If you’re like me, who played Minecraft with a higher CPI mouse It didn’t take me long to realize the reason I was getting headaches was the high sensitivity on my mouse. You can lower sensitivity in Windows or in the game you’re playing, under the settings if need be. A lot of gamers actually lower sensitivity to help them be more precise, in games that involve a sniper rifle or require more slower precise movements of the cursor in general.


Then why not use a cheaper mouse and increase its speed through settings?

Because of the limitations, of lets say, a cheaper mouse may have, the sensor will pickup much worse at higher speeds. When you turn up the mouse sensitivity it forces Windows to compensate, by taking pixels that your cursor should have moved and instead multiplies it to get the increased speed affect. This is why you’re better to get a mouse with higher CPI, than you are if you increase speed through settings when you need it. The chart below will show you why its a bad idea.

1. 0.03125 : 1
2. 0.0625 : 1
3. 0.25 : 1
4. 0.5 : 1
5. 0.75 : 1
6. 1 : 1
7. 1.5 : 1
8. 2 : 1
9. 2.5 : 1
10. 3 : 1
11. 3.5 : 1

This is for each notch of speed for Windows cursor settings. As you can see this is how it compensates to increase mouse movement by skipping pixels. I would suggest not going over notch 6, due to the fact you lose a lot of control for every notch above that. For gaming and graphic design, this is especially bad, to have that much of a lack of control.


Suggested CPI?

Most gamers should be fine with a CPI of around 1000(some like up to 2000). The biggest differences in needing more, is generally if you have a much larger screen resolution(not to be confused with a monitor lets say, size 22″+). Resolution can be set at even 800600 for a larger monitor. I mean the amount of pixels that are in the monitor itself. Some have such a high resolution that it helps to have a mouse with a faster CPI to control on it. In general everything is about individual preference. If a person feels that having a mouse with a CPI 3000+ helps them, then to each their own. Even a CPI of 800 will be sensitive enough to play games and for everyday use.


On an ending note

If you’re the casual user then a CPI of 800 is perfectly fine. Some sensitivity is good and will help you for everyday tasks of reading news or checking your email etc. You don’t need a mouse of 2000+ for those tasks, but if you like faster speeds then laser will get you what you desire in your mouse. I myself Have been fine using a laser mouse with CPI 2000 on a screen resolution of 19201080. And again, you can always turn down sensitivity in settings if its too fast for your liking. Always be sure to research any mouse before you buy it. Make sure it does what you need it to do and make sure your hand will be comfortable on it.

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