Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Mouse: Lose the Tail?

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Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Mouse: Lose the Tail?

The wired vs wireless gaming mouse debate rages on. Years ago, I would’ve written that wireless mice aren’t worth your time, but today the difference between a great wireless gaming mouse and a great wired gaming mouse is practically indiscernible. The wireless gaming mouse market has overcome a lot of challenges that have rendered them the inferior option over the years, from things like input lag and interference to outright performance differences.

If you want to choose between wired and wireless now, it’s mostly a matter of how important literally not having wires is to you and your setup, but personally, I’d still recommend wired gaming mice. Not only will performance parity cost you more going the wireless gaming mouse route, you’ll also run into the inconveniences of battery life.

The Case for Wired Gaming Mice

The safest play is to go with the tried-and-true wired gaming mouse. From a performance purist’s perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to trust any of your clicks to wireless technology, no matter how good or advanced it is. Do you have the wireless receiver close enough to the mouse? Is your battery going to die on you mid-match? Will connectivity issues arise as the peripheral ages and result in slower response times? I think a persuasive case can be made to sidestep these issues altogether and go with a wired mouse.

Here, you get better performance for less dollar. Generally, you’ll get juicer DPI, polling rates, and other such specs for a lot less in wired models. You can pick up a wired Razer DeathAdder Elite for $57.99 that offers 16,000 DPI. Get the same 16,000 DPI from the Razer Mamba wireless gaming mouse for $119.99. Most gamers would rather pocket that extra $60 a put it in the piggy bank for the next gaming computer upgrade.

Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Mouse
Wired Razer Deathadder Elite – Better Performance Per Dollar

So where do wireless gaming mice fall behind? Personally, I think it’s the reliability of the market. For starters, the need for a battery is still inconvenient. Your mouse is heavier (though even this has become barely noticeable) and you still have to charge it from time to time. Furthermore, factors such as the need for a battery and a wireless sensor tend to make wireless gaming mice more expensive than wired gaming mice because they cost more to produce, and for mice that only reach a polling rate of 500 hertz versus a wired polling rate of 1000 hertz that isn’t exactly a good look. Still, to be fair, many monitors don’t refresh quickly enough for that to matter so much, but everything is worth consideration for such an expensive product.

Wired Gaming Mice Pros

  • Less expensive
  • No battery life anxiety
  • Zero wireless interference
  • Best response time and precision
  • No dongle

For wired gaming mouse comparisons and a list of the best options view our best gaming mouse page.

The Case for Wireless Gaming Mice

Today, the difference in response time between most wired and wireless gaming mice comes down to wired winning by hundredths of a second, which is imperceptible to human reaction. Just two years ago, Logitech even claimed its G900 Chaos Spectrum mouse was a few milliseconds faster than its wired competitors. When considering whether you should buy a wired or wireless gaming mouse, performance metrics like motion and click latency should mostly be a non-factor. Even interference is significantly lower, as you could get away with using a good wireless gaming mouse around a ton of signals and possible candidates for performance degradation with no interruptions.

On the other hand, wireless gaming mice do come with their advantages. In some setups, having a wireless mouse allows for a greater range of motion because there’s no cord to get in the way. It can be great aesthetically and more comfortable in general, especially if you already have a few issues with tangled cords and tight spaces. Aside from evaluating your setup, a great way to determine the importance of comfort is to ask yourself if you really need every possible performance advantage. If you’re not so concerned about a few hundredths of a second or what your polling rate is then the comfort of a wireless gaming mouse could be a good tradeoff.

Logitech G Powerplay Wireless Charging System
Logitech Solves Wireless Gaming Mouse Battery Life Issue

The battery life argument is diminishing, as gaming mouse manufacturers have improved battery life duration. With some new wireless gaming mouse models, a single charge can last a week or longer. Furthermore, technologies like Logitech’s G Powerplay Wireless Charging System does away with the battery life problem altogether. Logitech has done this by transforming the mouse pad into a charging platform that will continuously charge the gaming mouse even while it is being used. It’ll cost you though, the Powerplay retails at $99.99 (in addition to the cost of a compatible Logitech mouse).

Wireless Gaming Mouse Pros

  • Better on-the-go
  • Less resistance, no cord drag
  • Less clutter, cleaner look
  • New technology dramatically improved performance

For wireless gaming mouse comparisons and a list of the best options view our best wireless gaming mouse page.

Wired vs Wireless Gaming Mouse Summary

These days, a persuasive case can be made for either side in the wired vs wireless gaming mouse debate. If I can offer any advice in regards to a wireless gaming mouse, I’d say that you should be willing to invest extra money to make sure you get a good one. There’s a higher risk of getting a low-quality wireless gaming mouse than a low-quality wired gaming mouse, and purchasing a high-end wireless mouse can bridge most of what has become a marginal and virtually unnoticeable performance gap.


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