Wired vs. Wireless Mouse: Which Is Better For Gaming?


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Dec 09, 2023

Wired vs. Wireless Mouse: Which Is Better For Gaming?

Here's everything you need to know in the battle of wired vs. wireless gaming

Here's everything you need to know in the battle of wired vs. wireless gaming mice!

While using a PC, unless using a touchscreen, the mouse is the tool by which gamers interact with the digital world. During gaming, the mouse is typically the tool that shoots, turns the player, selects options, and allows for the widest range of possibilities. It's pretty important.

As a result of this importance, gamers must carefully select a mouse. The constantly updated GameRant selection of the best gaming mice is naturally a great place to start. Within, discussions of a mouse's number of programmable buttons, overall comfort, and DPI will all take place. However, before any of this becomes relevant, something much more important must be decided:

In a head-on battle of a wired vs wireless mouse, who wins?

There are more factors involved in determining this than might be expected. In order of most to least obvious, here are the primary factors affecting the decision to choose a wired vs wireless mouse.

When a mouse (or any other digital device) uses a wire to connect to the computer, it "talks" more or less directly to the machine. On the other hand, wireless connections have to travel through the air to communicate with the computer.

What sorts of problems can this cause? To put it in human terms, a wired connection is like hand-delivering a letter to somebody. It is not flawless; the letter writer could have poor handwriting (broken mouse buttons) or the road there may have fallen trees in the way (broken cords or USB ports). However, most of the time things just work, quickly and without a hitch. Meanwhile, a wireless connection is more akin to ultra-fast and precise smoke signals. Interference, for example, can be caused by a "neighbor" using a similar color of smoke (frequency) to transmit messages.

As a result of these issues, wired mice give faster, more consistent communication with the computer.

All this being said, in the modern world issues like lag, latency, and interference are becoming less and less of an issue. The majority of wireless mice work just fine and — unless used by superhuman pros — feel the same as wired mice.

Even more impressive, many of the best Logitech gaming mice use a technology called Lightspeed. This technology sends out signals constantly to "check in on" neighboring devices. When it detects a signal that hums to a beat similar to its own it changes signals, practically eliminating interference. The GameRant-reviewed Logitech G305 Lightspeed is a superb example of an affordable entry in this series of gaming mouse.

Gaming mice don't have to be large, clunky, "boring" devices. The Logitech G305 Lightspeed Gaming Mouse is the perfect example that a gaming mouse can be both stylish, colorful, portable, sleek, and most importantly, affordable. Gamers that are looking for something that's easy to carry with them, and offers up great wireless performance, should turn their attention toward this modern and customizable Logitech peripheral.With up to 250 hours of battery life, the Logitech G305 Lightspeed Gaming Mouse will outlast almost any wireless mouse. At the same time, the mouse's HERO sensor is rated at up to 12,000 DPI, so gamers sacrifice little when opting for this more portable budget-friendly mouse.

Bout winner: Wired, but only because they don't have any chance of these problems in the first place. In 2023, this is more like a 100% vs 99% to-hit roll than in previous years.

Fans of classic cartoons might remember scenes of a character, bored in prison, stuck with a ball and chain handcuffed (footcuffed?) to their leg. They couldn't move anywhere.

What does this have to do with the comparison of a wired vs wireless mouse? Only the wireless mouse knows true freedom. A wired mouse can only go as far away from its computer as the wire length allows. The mouse is the ball and the wire the chain.

Even when the wire length is adequate, snags and the weight of the wire can be sources of frustration for gamers using wired mice.

As a result, it is important to get a wired mouse with a long enough wire. However, length isn't the only issue with the wires of wired gaming mice. Snags on desktop speakers and the edge of the keyboard are enough to drive someone more than a bit batty. Aligned your mouse to carefully read one of those finicky Age of Wonders 4 tool tips? The weight of the wire hanging off the back of your awesome gaming desk is bound to move the mouse just enough to not be able to read it.

It's for this reason that one of the first setup accessory upgrades a wired mouse PC gamer should consider buying is a mouse bungee. Mouse bungees, such as the Cougar Bunker, raise the wire and reduce some of the struggle.

The Cougar Bunker RGB Mouse Bungee comes with 2 USB 2.0 ports, an excellent RGB lighting schema that can be changed at the push of a button and

Can wireless mice for gaming be used from anywhere? No, but the recommended usable distance tops out at around 30 feet for most mice. In fact, Bluetooth can communicate long distances (greater than a kilometer) on simple enough devices. In the current lack of a best games to play with binoculars category, 30 feet will likely be all the average gamer needs anyhow.

Bout winner: Wireless

It's a bit obvious, but it is worth pointing out. Wired mice don't require batteries, the power travels through the wire. Wireless mice need batteries. Sometimes these batteries come in the form of AA or AAA and other times they're rechargeable like the kind in a phone or laptop.

Is it actually as much of a problem as it seems?

For rechargeable type mice, plugging in things when not in use is becoming the norm globally anyhow. Going to bed? Plug in the phone. Laptop away? Plug it in to charge. Furthermore, battery life is getting quite long and most mice start to glow red to warn they're about out of charge. While 80-120 hours seems to be a good average, there are some "super agers" out there that have battery lives that far exceed expectations. For example, the SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless has a life of over 400 hours.

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless offers a year-long battery life, providing over 400 hours of continuous use. It has been optimized to deliver ultra-low latency performance akin to wired devices, with the versatility of two connectivity options. This multi-purpose functionality is perfect for users who switch between gaming, school, work, travel, or have limited USB space.The Rival 3 Wireless features the TrueMove Air Optical Gaming Sensor, ensuring true 1-to-1 tracking with an 18,000 CPI, 400 IPS, and 40G. Its smart and durable construction includes a compartment for the dongle, as well as 60 million click mechanical switches, which provide six times the durability of standard switches.

Bout winner: Wired, but worries about wireless gaming mouse battery life are strongly overrated.

For the final round of the wired vs wireless mouse for gaming debate, the classic deciding factor of nearly every shopping decision comes into play: dollars.

When looking at the best budget gaming mice a common theme emerges quickly. Wired gaming mice are consistently cheaper than their wireless foes. The tech is just simpler and cheaper to build.

While it isn't impossible to find an affordable mouse on sale of either configuration, all other factors being equal, the wired mouse will typically be cheaper.

Bout winner: Wired, hands down

At the end of the day, when you compare a wired vs wireless mouse for gaming, what wins? It really depends on what the individual values more. Even in stereotypically one-sided genres, the choices are mixed. For example, the best mice for FPS gaming have a nice blend of wired and wireless mice as, again, lag isn't the issue it was once thought to be.

Going with one of the best wired gaming mice gives access to a super reliable and responsive connection at a more affordable price.

Meanwhile, wireless gaming mice come with increased dexterity and the best wireless gaming mice are bridging the latency gap quickly.

Alternatively, gamers that dislike deciding can go with more "ambidextrous" mice, such as the well-reviewed Glorious Model O Wireless, which includes an optional wired insert, leaving the choice of using a wired vs wireless mouse for gaming entirely into the gamer's hands.

More: What gaming mice do the pros use?

John Alexander is a writer, game lover, and Twitch-addicted individual. His writing has appeared in WIRED, PopSci, and DigitalTrends amongst others. He particularly enjoys writing about products, electronic and otherwise. There are not enough hours in the day to complete all of his board game goals. Odds are he is currently sipping tea and peaking at the stream on his second monitor.

wired connection is like hand-delivering a letter a wireless connection is more akin to ultra-fast and precise smoke signals wired mice give faster, more consistent communication less and less of an issue eliminating interference Weight Sensor and DPI Switches Programmable Buttons Connectivity Wireless Pros Cons Bout winner: true freedom get a wired mouse with a long enough wire weight of the wire mouse bungee Brand Color Weight Dimensions Pros Cons Bout winner: battery life is getting quite long Battery Life Pros Cons Bout winner: dollars Wired gaming mice are consistently cheaper Bout winner: responsive connection affordable price dexterity bridging the latency gap More: