Written by, Mihajlo Trajcheski
Updated June, 3, 2022
You’ve recently bought yourself the newest, fastest, and shiniest gaming mouse that promises unrivalled levels of DPI sensitivity. But you’re unsure what exactly DPI is and how to set it up correctly for maximum pwnage?
As your teammate in your favourite online shooter, we got you covered!
Learn about the best DPI for FPS games and more in the guide below.
First-person shooters are a subgenre of shooter games where players experience the gameplay through the protagonist’s eyes, and the weapon they wield is centred on the screen. These games have taken the gaming world by storm in the 21st century since Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993) introduced the appeal of the FPS gaming immersion.
Half-Life (1998) expanded the genre further with narrative richness, puzzle elements, and vastly improved graphics. Since then, FPS gaming has dominated the industry, accounting for almost 30% of all video game sales. The premise is simple: become the player and explore the game’s virtual world; then, shoot, stab, club, or strangle your enemies to death.
In reference to gaming mice, Dots Per Inch (DPI) is a measurement of the number of pixels the on-screen cursor moves when you make a 1-inch movement with the mouse. What does this mean exactly? Well, if your FPS mouse is set to 500, it will cover 500 screen pixels for every inch you move it. Thus, with a higher DPI, you cover more pixels with minor movements.
Some manufacturers also use the term ‘CPI’ or ‘Counts Per Inch’, which considers the number of steps the mouse sensor records when moved an inch. Regardless, the gaming world uses both terms interchangeably to refer to the sensor’s sensitivity. Namely, the higher your DPI/CPI setting is, the ‘faster’ your cursor or in-game environment moves.
So, do you need a higher or lower DPI? Keep on reading to find out.
Most FPS players, as well as veritable pros, will tell you that lower DPI facilitates better accuracy and control. With lower sensitivity, minor hand twitches won’t affect your aim, and you will precisely move your cursor without overshooting your target. Therefore, the recommended best DPI for shooter gaming should not surpass 1000. Of course, you can always refine your sensitivity via the in-game settings.
So why do the most expensive mice come with mouse DPI settings of over 20,000? Other than marketing purposes (bigger numbers sell more), several specific situations require high DPI settings. For example, real-time strategy games require a higher DPI setting for improved reaction times since you have to move your cursor from one edge of the screen to another.
Some gamers even experiment with high DPI low sensitivity settings. Essentially, you can still retain control of your movements by significantly reducing the in-game sensitivity even if you increase the mouse DPI numbers. By doing so, your movements will be much smoother since the sensor resolution is greater, which will be most noticeable with minor hand motions.
Note: You’ll also need to crank up your mouse sensitivity if you increase your monitor resolution to easily cover the increased number of pixels with the same hand movements.
As mentioned previously, higher DPI is not always ideal in shooters, where the average mouse DPI varies between 400 and 800. If you want to aim and shoot successfully, you should go for a lower DPI, especially if you are using sniper rifles.
However, more dynamic FPS games may require higher DPI settings, especially if you have to move and navigate the environment quickly. The personal preference factor should not be disregarded, too, as different players are accustomed to different DPI levels.
If the gamer’s preference determines the optimal mouse sensitivity, how do you figure out the best DPI for shooters? Also, how do you retain consistent mouse sensitivity between different FPS games? All you have to do is follow these steps:
Once you complete the above steps, stick with your chosen cm/360° and DPI settings. That way, you will develop an instinctive muscle memory that will improve your aim and performance over time since it will remain the same across all FPS games.
Certain games, as well as free-to-play online FPS simulators, allow you to practice your aim in simulation combat. Some of them will also score your performance so you can easily track your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be headshooting with a flick of your wrist.
We hope our little guide has given you an idea of how to find the optimal DPI for gaming, especially in FPS games. After figuring out your initial FPS mouse settings, keep using them in all of your shooters since practice makes perfect. In time, you will internalise a given sensitivity as the ideal DPI for gaming. Would anyone be able to stop you then?
As someone who grew up gaming and always had a love for random facts, being able to write about gaming and technology for a living has been an absolute treat. Whenever I’m not researching my next topic for Don’t Disappoint Me, I am deflecting the attacks of Bosses in Sekiro, investigating a murder in Disco Elysium, helping Zagreus escape the underworld in Hades, or flanking enemies in Call of Duty with my squad. Having studied English language and literature has helped me merge these two worlds of random facts and gaming into a fulfilling career.