What is a DPI Switch on a Mouse?

As you know, DPI is a common term that applies to a computer mouse. While the regular mouse that you are using may not have a DPI switch, gaming mice usually have it. So, a question arises here: what is a DPI switch on a mouse and why it can be important in your computer’s usage?

Essentially, DPI stands for dots per inch and is used to measure the hardware sensitivity of the mouse. The higher the DPI, the faster the mouse moves and the more is the pointer speed. Many mouse models have dedicated switches or buttons through which you can adjust the DPI on the fly according to your needs and preferences.

Today most mouse manufacturers highlight adjustable and high DPI on the specification webpages of their products.

It’s not wrong to say that DPI numbers have skyrocketed with the advancement in technology and even wireless mice have the feature of adjustable DPI.

What is a DPI Switch on a Mouse?

what is a DPI switch on a mouse
A DPI in the most simplest of definitions is a button that can change the mouse sensitivity on-the-fly. Source: Walmart.ca

As you may already know, DPI stands for dots per inch. It’s a measurement for the hardware sensitivity of the mouse. You can tell by DPI how fast your mouse moves.

The higher the DPI the faster the mouse moves and the more is the pointer speed on the screen.

The mouse that you are using may have one or more DPI switches and this depends on the model and manufacturer. These switches are specific on-the-fly buttons for adjusting the DPI setting of your mouse. They let you make it higher or lower with the press of a single click according to your needs.

Most normal mice come with a DPI of 400 or 800. However, you may find mice that have DPIs up to 20000.

Your mouse probably has a default setting that is normal for general usage. That’s why most people are not bothered about it and they keep on using the default setting. However, you should know that a proper DPI can be important and it’s adjustable through the switch on your mouse.

Why DPI Matters for a Mouse?

what is DPI
Source: Design Context

In broad terms, DPI is a linear measurement measuring the speed of your mouse that moves on your screen with regards to you moving the mouse physically. If your mouse has a DPI setting of 800 and if you move the mouse exactly 1 linear inch (2.54 cm), the pointer will move exactly 800 pixels on your screen.

You may think that a higher DPI is good for your mouse, but it’s not always the case. For instance, if you accidentally move your mouse, the pointer may scroll across the whole screen. On the other hand, a higher DPI means the mouse identifies and reacts to smaller movements.

That’s why DPI is the standard to measure mouse sensitivity. If you have a DPI switch on your mouse, it already may come with preset configurations. On pressing the button, you should see a change in the mouse movement and hence its sensitivity.

Why DPI is Important for Gamers and Graphic Designers

As many gaming mice have DPI switches, gamers can often be seen adjusting the DPI settings for different games. If you have set high DPI, it means you need to move the mouse little bit to move your character in different directions. If you have a low DPI, you will need to do more effort to move your mouse and your character will more move slowly.

This is important particularly in FPS games but also a personal preference. However, many FPS gamers opt for a low DPI of about 400 to 1000 because an extra sensitive mouse may not provide precise aiming. When playing strategy games and MMOs, a higher DPI is usually preferred.

As screens of larger resolution have more pixels, using a high DPI setting is more beneficial. This is because you need to move the mouse less to make a large movement on the screen.

Also, graphic designers usually prefer DPI above 800. If you are working on a sensitive design, a higher DPI will provide a better outcome. It’s also good for tasks such as retouching photos.

Also Read: Best Mouse for Architects

How to Change DPI with Dedicated Switch

If your mouse has one or more DPI switches, you can easily and constantly change the DPI on the fly. Here’s how it can be done:
  1. Locate the DPI switch button on your mouse. It usually lies below the scrolling wheel. You may find that DPI is written on it.
  2. Press the switch to change the DPI. Some mouse models will change the colors on changing the DPI.
  3. The screen will display the new DPI settings, or you will see a notification in this regard.

Also, some models don’t have dedicated buttons for DPI. The driver software provided by the manufacturer may allow you to change the DPI.  You can do a search related to your mouse model to find all the information related to checking and changing DPI.

You can also change mouse sensitivity on the software side in the mouse settings of your operating system. Typically, you will have a slider to change the pointer speed for your mouse. You can try different speeds and select the one that suits you.

Also Read: Best Mouse with Onboard Memory

Why Get a Mouse with DPI Switch?

Doubtlessly, most people use a normal mouse with fixed DPI that’s enough for everyday computing. However, having a mouse with a DPI switch has its share of benefits.

The biggest benefit is that you can adjust the DPI from the highest to the lowest according to the task you are doing and your personal preferences.

For example, you can set different DPI instantly whether you are browsing the internet or playing a high-end game with the press of a switch. It gives the users more flexibility to use the settings that suit and work for them.


In this article, we had a look over at the common query people have in their minds: what is a DPI switch on a mouse. Mouse models coming with a DPI switch allow you to determine the hardware sensitivity level.

While DPI is an important measurement for a mouse, we reiterate that the ideal DPI differs from person to person.

So, try to play with different DPI settings and select the one that suits you the most. You can choose the maximum DPI setting but it’s not always better.

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