Ideally, every PC component should run fast, from the processor, GPU, storage driver and even the mouse. Regular PC users are usually fine with default mouse settings, but pro users, like gamers and editors, probably need or have to adjust their mouse sensitivity. In this guide, we'll walk through how to change DPI on a mouse to help you speed up or sometimes slow down your mouse.

What is Mouse DPI?

DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, a term largely associated with printers, referring to the number of dots a printer can set within a square inch. It determines the level of detail the printer can produce. But what does this have to do with mice?

Mouse DPI is a measure of mouse sensitivity between how quickly the mouse pointer moves across the display versus how much it moves in physical space. Generally, the higher the DPI, the faster the pointer speed. That means smaller movements are required for the mouse to pick up changes.

A high DPI makes the mouse more accurate but also more sensitive. That makes it particularly important for gamers and editors who need high mouse precision. For instance, a gamer using a high DPI mouse only needs to move it about 3 centimeters to execute a 360 turn, while a lower DPI setting would require almost double the movement.

DPi is usually used alongside a couple of other related terms.

DPI vs. CPI

DPI is, in fact, not the correct term when it comes to optical mice. Instead, Counts Per Inch or CPI is a more accurate word for what we're dealing with. That said, the terms are pretty much interchangeable. So, as much as they don't mean the same thing, it really doesn't matter which term is used.

Therefore, just like DPI, the higher the CPI, the faster and further the mouse pointer moves on-screen for every inch the mouse moves physically.

We'll stick to the more commonly used DPI term for the rest of this guide.

DPI vs. Polling Rate

While DPI refers to the mouse's sensitivity to movement, polling rate measures how frequently the mouse checks its sensors for physical changes. It's measured in Hz. Typically, the higher the polling rate, the faster the mouse reacts to inputs. That also means the lower the polling rate, the laggier the mouse feels.

A good gaming mouse allows you to adjust the polling rate at various settings, usually from 125Hz to 1000Hz. As you would expect, the ideal polling rate boils down to personal preferences. As such, you need to experiment with the options available to set what works best for you.

That being said, polling rate is mostly an essential spec in gaming. However, a high polling rate outside gaming can cause lags in some systems, especially lower-end CPUs.

DPI vs. Sensitivity Settings

Most mice don't allow adjusting the DPI of the optical sensor, but you can still adjust mouse sensitivity in Windows. This is mainly because a mouse driver can magnify how far the pointer travels compared to its true DPI. Therefore, adjusting sensitivity helps make up for mice that come with fixed DPI without the desired sensitivity.

When Can You Change DPI Settings?

Mouse Sensitivity | Florian Orivo

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The standard DPI range between 400 and 1200 works for most users. In fact, using a mouse on the lowest or preset DPI settings should feel just fine when using most desktop applications, including productivity apps such as Microsoft 365. However, it's also fairly common to find mice that offer pretty high DPI numbers; 4000, 12000, 20000 or even higher! So who are these meant for?

This goes back to the idea that higher mouse DPI means faster reactions and more precise movements and aiming. Pro gamers usually lean towards a 400-800 DPI setting for all intents and purposes. However, some prefer a specific sensitivity level for the typical on-the-foot gameplay but a more precise DPI setting when it comes to long-range sniping.

For professional PC users, a highly sensitive pointer helps when working with large high-res screens. In contrast, lower settings are best for more precise work, such as photo editing.

How to Change Mouse DPI on Windows and macOS

Most PC users are either are on Windows 7 and above or macOS. Both systems come with built-in settings that allow you to change your mouse DPI settings. There are two pretty simple methods to check mouse DPI and change it accordingly.

1. DPI-Fly Button

This is arguably the simpler and easier way to change mouse DPI. The DPI-fly button refers to a physical button on the device that allows you to change your mouse DPI using the different sensitivity settings available. However, there's usually a limit to the maximum DPI you can set using the DPI-fly button.

  1. Find the DPI button on your mouse, usually on the left side or on top.

  2. Press it to change mouse DPI to your desired preference. The settings change depending on the manufacturer's specifications or your preset settings.

  • Some gaming mice come with a complimentary application that you can use to control settings virtually, including scrolling wheel and pointer speed.

Unfortunately, not all mice come with a DPI-fly button. If you have one of these, let's look at other ways to change mouse DPI.

2. Settings

This process is a bit more involving than the previous one. It also varies between Windows and macOS. Here's how to do it on either system.

2.1 Windows

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  1. From the Start Menu, open the Control Panel.

  2. There, you will find a Mouse option. Click on it, proceed to Mouse Properties and then Pointer Options.

  3. Click on Motion tab and set the desired pointer speed.

  • If you also want to improve pointer accuracy, check the Enhance Pointer Precision box. However, this might not be the best idea for gamers who want their mouse to operate exactly as they want.

The mouse should start moving according to the new settings. If you're comfortable with them, click Apply to save the changes.

2.2. macOS

Change Mouse DPI on macOS | Jakob Owen

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  1. From the Apple Menu, go to System Preferences. You find a Mouse option if you're using an iMac or Trackpad if you're on a laptop.

  2. On the Point & Click tab, go to Tracking Speed. iMac users should get to pointer adjustment speeds from the Mouse option.

  3. Set your desired setting, then click Apply to save the changes.

It's important to remember that if your mouse has a high polling rate, setting a high DPI sensitivity makes your mouse cursor speed faster and smoother. Conversely, if it has a low polling rate, the cursor will lag regardless of how high you set DPI sensitivity.

Tips for Improving Mouse Performance

There are a couple more ways to improve mouse performance and enhance pointer precision. On top of having a quality mousepad, here's what you can do after you adjust DPI:

1. Configure In-Game Mouse Settings

Most PC gamers are always looking for ways to improve mouse performance to enhance the gaming experience. Configuring mouse settings in the games can help get better gameplay and control.

  1. Go to Mouse Acceleration Settings in the game.

  2. Look for Sensitivity Settings or any closely related settings.

  3. Adjust to your desired settings.

2. Updating Mouse Driver

Poor mouse performance can result from an outdated or missing mouse driver. Updating your mouse driver allows you to optimize performance constantly. You can do this in two ways:

  • Manually - This entails going to the manufacturer's website to download the correct and most recent driver and installing it on your PC.

  • Automatically - If you don't have the time or computer skills for manual updates, you can perform an automatic update using Driver Easy. The software automatically identifies your system and finds the correct mouse drivers.

Does DPI Really Matter?

It depends. Some people are quite big on the benefits of sky-high DPI settings, while others stand at the extreme end. Gamers, and pro-editors, are a pretty picky lot and everyone has their needs and preferences.

Ultimately, finding the optimal DPI setting that works excellent for you is what matters most. Sometimes, more doesn't always imply better, so look for the right portion that brings out the best of your magic!

Hopefully, this guide makes it a breeze for you to check mouse DPI and change it when you want faster and more precise pointer movements. As you've seen, it only takes a couple of minutes to adjust the settings and get going.

Furthermore, remember to keep your mouse driver up-to-date to ensure you're always using it at optimal efficiency. Enjoy the improved mouse performance coming your way!

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