Remember the good ol’ days of the mechanical mouse? that’s the computer mouse that had a metal or rubber ball on the bottom. The was fun to fiddle with when you lounged at your computer system desk, the ultimate instrument that procrastination.

You are watching: Difference between optical and laser mouse

But it no the most accurate or long lasting peripheral, and also so the mechanical mouse era has actually come and gone. Nowadays, you’ll uncover on most computer desks one of two mice: the optical mouse or the laser mouse.
If you’re a pc gamer, you’ve more than likely heard part chatter about which mouse is best for gaming. The common belief is the an optical mouse is much better for gaming 보다 a laser mouse. Is that really true? and also what’s the difference in between an optical mouse and also a laser mouse, anyway?
“Optical mouse” is a rather misleading term. If we describe the Merriam-Webster an interpretation of optics us find: “1: a science that faces the genesis and also propagation that light, the transforms that it undergoes and produces, and other phenomena closely associated with it.” <1>
But actually, mechanical mice, optical mice, and laser mouse all work by utilizing light as a recommendation point. In essence, they’re all optics-based peripherals. But the means in i beg your pardon they usage light room slightly different.
A mechanically mouse, because that example, functions by detecting whether or not light is present or absent. There space two little wheels within a mechanical mouse, one representing upright movement and also the other representing horizontal movement.


When you move the mouse, the rubber sphere spins the corresponding wheel. And, yes, the sphere spins both wheels if you’re moving the mouse diagonally.
Each wheel has spokes and each wheel also has a beam that light the shoots with the spokes. As soon as a wheel turns, it momentarily block the beam that light. The computer mouse registers as soon as a irradiate beam is blocked, and also on i beg your pardon wheel it to be blocked. Then it speak your computer which method to relocate the cursor. <2>
While one optical mouse and also a laser computer mouse use irradiate in different ways, however they additionally have similarities.
Here’s a mind-blowing fact: both optical mice and laser mice room basically just video clip cameras. Each mouse is equipped with a CMOS sensor. A CMOS sensor detects light. It’s the exact same kind of technology that’s provided in digital cameras.
When you move your mouse, the CMOS sensor records the surface ar that you’re relocating the computer mouse on. By tracking the motion of the surface, it deserve to tell which method you’re moving the mouse.
Most surfaces on i m sorry you usage your computer mouse are no perfectly smooth. A mousepad, because that example, has actually an interlaced cloth texture come it. It’s not an extremely noticeable to your person eyes, but examine it v a magnifying glass and you’ll check out it much more clearly.
Other surface on i m sorry you usage your mouse, prefer your table or desktop, also have a unique texture. They might even have small scratches or accumulation of dust.
The computer mouse examines one picture at a time, trying to detect surface functions like structure or scratches.
The mouse compares back-to-back images, analyzing whether or not those attributes have readjusted position.
If the surface functions have moved to the left, that method that you moved your mouse to the right. The computer mouse signals come your computer system that the cursor should relocate to the right.
Can your computer system mouse actually document and procedure that many images in a single second? friend bet. Welcome come the lightning-fast age of Electricity.
Truth is, optical and also laser mice can’t actually distinguish surface textures. However they identify light patterns. When you relocate your mouse:
Your mouse shines a light under on the surfaceThe light shows off the surfaceThe CMOS sensor records the reflection
The uneven surface ar of your mouse pad or desktop computer means that the have fun will have slight variances together you move it across the surface. Your computer mouse analyzes each image’s unique light variance and also then monitor its motion from image to image.
Do you recognize what stop-motion animation is? You begin with a clay figure. You relocate the clay number ever-so-slightly, and also you take a picture. You move it again, ever-so-slightly, and you take another picture. Friend repeat the process dozens the times.
When you play every the images back-to-back at fast speed, it shows up as if the clay figure is moving all top top its own. Your mouse works in the very same way. It monitor the activity of the irradiate pattern photo by image and also tells your computer to move the cursor a pixel in ~ a time. It processes so countless images in a second, the it shows up as if your cursor is relocating fluidly.
The crucial difference in between an optical mouse and a laser computer mouse is their illumination source. One optical mouse uses one infrared LED light to illuminate the surface. A laser mouse illuminates the surface ar with a laser beam.
The LED light the an optical mouse uses is not very strong. It can’t penetrate most surfaces. That means that it has tendency to be an ext reflective. ~ all, if the irradiate can’t penetrate the surface, it’ll simply bounce back off the surface. That’s a great thing, right? didn’t you say that a CMOS sensor catches the reflection? It have to be good to have lots of reflected light.
If you’re using an optical computer mouse on a an extremely glossy surface, like glass, the LED might be reflected too much. If the enjoy is as well bright, climate the light pattern will be entirely washed out. The CMOS sensor won’t have the ability to recognize any type of variations in the irradiate pattern. It is why optical mouse don’t occupational well on extremely reflective surfaces. They’re much much better suited for a non-glossy surface, favor a mousepad.
A laser is much an ext powerful than an LED light. The laser deserve to penetrate many surfaces, consisting of glossy ones. Because some of the irradiate will permeate the surface, over there won’t be so much light it is reflected. Girlfriend don’t need to worry around any that the reflect being also bright for the CMOS sensor.
There room 2 advantages to a laser illumination source. As mentioned, you’re maybe to use a laser mouse on glossy surfaces. The 2nd advantage is that a laser provides the CMOS sensor with a much more detailed reflection.
A laser is strong enough to bounce irradiate off all the small nooks and also crannies that are current on height of the surface and also in the underlying surface layers. The reflections will certainly have more light variances, which provides it less complicated for the mouse to track the movement of the surface. Greater detail equals better accuracy - in theory, anyway.

4. Acceleration


Many pc gamers harp on acceleration together the key reason why laser mice aren’t great for gaming. What is acceleration?
Ideally, you’d move your mouse across the mousepad, and also then the cursor would move a proportional distance throughout the display. It doesn’t issue how easily you relocate the mouse. The cursor just moves loved one to how much you glide the mouse.
Acceleration occurs once you move the computer mouse quickly, and the cursor move at one errant pace and also loses its synchronized position with her gaming mouse.
Acceleration occurs because the sensor can’t save up with the quick speed in ~ which you move the mouse. It overcompensates for unimportant light variances. You can say the the mouse gets “distracted” or “overwhelmed” by every the detail, and that’s why the cursor it s okay shaky or makes big leaps throughout the display. <3>
PC gamers despise acceleration due to the fact that it makes your cursor movement inconsistent. Inconsistent cursor motion makes it challenging for friend to develop muscle memory through your mouse. And let’s no downplay the prominence of muscle memory in computer gaming.
The an ext online PC gamings you play, the more comfortable you obtain at utilizing your computer mouse to regulate your in-game movements. You gain a feel for the mouse, so come speak. Your muscles learn how much you need to relocate the computer mouse in bespeak to place the crosshair just where you desire it, therefore it becomes instinctive.
You can’t build muscle memory once your cursor jumps about uncontrollably. It is the huge problem with acceleration.
Laser mice are more prone come acceleration because of every the detail that a laser computer mouse picks up. All the tiny variances detected on the surface have the right to make the tracking walk haywire, especially when you’re relocating the computer mouse at a quick speed.
But carry out optical mice endure from acceleration? contradictory to popular id - yes. If optical mice don’t endure from acceleration as generally as laser mice do, you’ll still discover it happening in some models. We’ll go into more detail about this below.
This is crucial consideration, especially if you’re a gamer top top a budget. In the at an early stage days, laser mice to be much more expensive than optical mice. The price gap has narrowed, though, and also now you can discover both mice at fairly similar prices. Many laser mice are still an ext expensive, yet only by a couple of bucks.

What provides the finest mouse for pc gaming?

Undoubtedly, the best PC gaming computer mouse is the one the doesn’t suffer from acceleration. However both optical mice and also laser mice experience from it. Acceleration isn’t exclusive come laser mice. It’s led to by the type of hardware the your mouse is built with.
Traditionally, laser mice were an ext commonly developed with those dastardly specs. However some optical mice are developed in the an extremely same fashion.
When you shopping for a gaming mouse, make certain that it has actually fewer dots per picture (DPI) and a high polling rate.
Let’s discuss DPI first. Remember just how the mouse sensor records images of the surface? photo is written of pixels, and DPI frequently refers to how numerous pixels you have the right to fit in a single image. High DPI is preferable on her gaming screen because much more pixels quantities to great color variation.
But computer mouse DPI functions differently. You want the computer mouse sensor to capture images that room composed of under pixels. Why fewer pixels? due to the fact that it method less occupational that the mouse needs to do.
Your computer mouse sensor choose up 2 kinds that signals. The very first signal is a basic frequency referred to as the “noise floor.” The other signals room high-frequency spikes. Your mouse is looking for these spikes because those spikes are led to by trackable surface features.
When you have actually fewer pixels, it’s easier for the computer mouse sensor to identify what’s a spike and also what’s part of the noise floor. <3>
What’s much easier to put together: a 100-piece puzzle or a 1,000-piece puzzle? Usually, the the 100-piece puzzle. There are fewer pieces, so it’s simpler for girlfriend to check out what the huge picture is and how all the components fit together.
A good gaming DPI varieties from about 800 come 1600 DPI. A low DPI method that her cursor motion will be a tiny slower. Come circumvent this, readjust your computer mouse sensitivity settings and also make your mouse more sensitive to movement. Play roughly with the setups until you discover the right balance.
Polling rate is the variety of times that your computer mouse reports its position to her computer. Having actually a high polling price is the an essential to preventing acceleration indigenous happening. The an ext often your mouse reports that is position, the much more accurately your computer can readjust the cursor to match. <4>
A an excellent polling price for gaming is between 500 and also 1,000 Hz. That method that your computer mouse is report its position 500 to 1,000 times every second.
Lastly, take right into account the surface ar that you will do it be utilizing your mouse on. If she buying one optical mouse, gain a fabric mousepad.
If you’re buying a laser mouse, obtain either a hard, plastic computer mouse pad, or a an extremely thin cloth mousepad (about 1.5 mm thick). If the gaming mousepad is thin, the laser won’t pass through so numerous layers and also cause acceleration.
Remember that the main difference between an optical and also laser computer mouse is in your illumination source: optical mice use LED lamp while laser mice use lasers. It’s no the illumination source that makes a mouse better or worse because that gaming. It’s the hardware.
Additionally, make certain that you usage an optical mouse on a towel mousepad, and also use a laser mouse on a plastic mousepad or a mousepad that’s really thin (around 1.5 mm thick).
A gaming computer mouse is your tool of destruction. You’ll usage it to do headshots or command armies, for this reason you desire it to it is in as exact as possible. One of two people an optical computer mouse or a laser mouse will suffice, so long as they’re constructed with the ideal machinery to save your gaming guns blazing.
Remember the a fast and accurate computer mouse isn’t really helpful if the remainder of her gaming rig no up-to-speed. Upgrade your computer hardware to ensure the ideal performance if you’re gaming.

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