What is DPI on a Mouse?

DPI, or dots per inch, is the format most readily used to determine mouse sensitivity. DPI is a format that’s going to matter most to gamers, but having access to a higher DPI is something that can be of use to more productivity oriented workers as well. But why does it matter, and how do you tell a great DPI from a dismal one? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Sensitivity vs. DPI

The terms DPI and mouse sensitivity are often used interchangeably, but there’s a fundamental difference you should understand in case you ever come across discrepancies when shopping for a gaming mouse. Mouse sensitivity is a software issue, and you can adjust it to some degree with the software your mouse uses while DPI adjusts how you move your mouse across the screen on a hardware level.

In short, sensitivity can allow you to change the dots per area by forcing the operating system to overcompensate, while DPI changes it on a more fundamental level. If you crank the software sensitivity, by contrast, your mouse will move faster, but a higher sensitivity mouse won’t have the same level of precision as a high DPI mouse.

How DPI Works?

The fundamentals of how DPI works isn’t that complicated. A higher DPI will move your mouse further across the screen with less effort, while a lower DPI will move your mouse less across the screen. You can think of this level of variance as the resistance of your mouse. Many gaming mouse models will tout a higher DPI as a top priority feature, but that doesn’t mean you always want a higher DPI.

Finding the right mouse DPI is about figuring out what works for you, and a low DPI compared to many of the absurd levels of movement per second that high end gaming mice is going to be the better fit for most people. In fact, most users won’t have to worry about the the speed of their cursor and pointer at all.

Who Should Care About DPI?

How far you can adjust your mouse per second isn’t going to matter much to the majority of users, but if you play games, it’s a different store. Most mouse models with adjustable DPI settings are built with gamers in mind, but even then, DPIwill be the biggest deal for competitive gamers. Since small movements can mean a big difference when looking to line up a precise headshot, a mouse with the ability toscroll down to a low DPI is critical.

But the ability to control this can make a big difference for creatives also. While a mouse isn’t as precise a tool for drawing or editing pictures as a pen or pencil, the ability to control your distance in the settings more accurately can bring it one step closer. If you deal in digital editing or graphic design, this might be a feature you should pay attention to.

Adjustable DPI

If a mouse sells itself on its DPI levels, chances are that they’re going to be adjustable. Obviously, there’s no default DPI number that you can set and just expect to work with everyone, and having a wider range of adjustable DPI settings can help you find a way to get the perfect speed.

But an adjustable DPI is an especially valuable tool for playing games. That’s especially true for models that offer a dedicated DPI switch button within the game. In shooters, for instance, a low DPI can help you more precisely line up a head shot, while a fast DPI is great for crossing open territory and surveying your surroundings more accurately.


One finally thing to consider is the resolution of your TV. A TV’s resolution is measured in pixels, which are essentially the same as the dots measured by DPI. As a result, moving a mouse across a high resolution screen is going to require more effort, and getting a higher DPI level is going to be even more important when working with a 4K rather than Full HD monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered the main information above regarding what DPI means, but there are some questions so frequently asked about mouse DPI that they need special attention. We’ll address those questions in quick and no-nonsense fashion below.

What is a Good DPI For a Mouse?

That depends on what you’re using it for. Most users will find that a DPI setting between 400 and 1600 suits their needs, but most gamers will look for a gaming mouse that offers a wider range of mouse sensitivity settings so they can adjust to circumstances on the fly.

How Do You Change the DPI of a Mouse?

How to change the FPI setting of a mouse is going to vary from model to model. While some gaming mice have buttons that allow you to change between preset DPI settings on the fly, others will require you to dig into your computer menus to adjust your DPI settings. You can find information on the DPI setting options in the guide to your specific gaming mouse.

Is CPI same as DPI?

Yes. CPI stands for “counts per inch”, but it uses the exact same measurements as DPI. If a mouse has a CPI listed, you can confidently expect it to be as accurate as a DPI listing for another mouse.

Wrapping Up

If you’re wondering what DPI is and whether or not it should matter to you, our guide can help you understand all the important information. But that’s just the start. Our archives have plenty of information on technical subjects as well as reviews of some of the hottest gadgets around. You can continue your research by checking out our guide to the best gaming mice of 2020.