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Why Higher CPI Doesn't Mean Better

In a 4-part series about gaming mouse sensors, we expose the marketing lies and simplify the facts that matter most. First up: CPI.

What is CPI?

Simply put, CPI is an acronym for Counts Per Inch, and often mislabeled as DPI, or Dots Per Inch. In other words, with a CPI setting of 800, a one-inch movement of your mouse moves your cursor 800 pixels.

The vast majority of professional gamers use CPI settings below 3000. So why do many mouse makers tout CPI capabilities of 16,000 as the ultimate measure of greatness? Enter the smoke and mirrors.

Fake News & Alternative Facts

Judging a mouse solely by its CPI is a misleading and dangerous marketing trend. A gaming mouse with a high CPI and otherwise low specs is like a book with a “Game of Thrones” cover but “50 Shades of Grey” pages.

Mouse manufacturers sometimes inflate their true CPI capabilities by using firmware to cover up a lesser sensor. The last thing you want is to buy a glowing mouse thinking you are getting a high-performance sensor and then have your gaming be bogged down by firmware processing instead of true 1 to 1 tracking.

The Real Deal

So, is a mouse sensor better if it has the highest CPI? No.

While there is often a correlation between a mouse capable of higher CPI settings and the quality of the sensor, that is not the only thing that will dictate the quality of the sensor itself.

There must be balance of the three: CPI, IPS and acceleration.

When you combine the CPI capability with IPS, or Inches per second, then it becomes a much more accurate measure of mouse sensor quality. IPS is the maximum speed the sensor can accurately track movement. You have fast reflexes, right? But, if your gaming mouse has a low IPS rating you’re playing at a massive disadvantage. Think about how your Ford Fiesta would handle at 160 Mph vs a Bugatti Veyron at the same speed. The Bugatti will effortlessly hug every inch of the road, while the Fiesta shakes, jitters and struggles not to explode. That’s the importance of a higher IPS rating (300+ IPS).

Acceleration is another worthy measure of sensor quality. Measured in G’s, acceleration is the max gravitational force at which your sensor can accurately track movement. Your sudden flicks and swipes need a high acceleration rating (30-50G) to be accurate. If the top speed of that Bugatti is like a mouse’s IPS rating, then the Bugatti accelerating 0-60mph in under 2.5 seconds is like the G rating of your gaming mouse. There must be balance of the three: CPI, IPS and Acceleration. Rival 310 seen from the bottom in silhuette. Focus on is on Sensor

The Total Package

As Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power”, and we all know Bacon makes everything better. In other words, a high-CPI mouse sensor can be a great asset, but make sure that you look for a high IPS (300+) and acceleration rating (30-50G) before pulling the trigger on your new gaming mouse.