The amount of fine-tuning required for PC gaming (especially in the elite levels) is one of the reasons why it’s so intimidating for beginners. Even the best FPS mouse out there won’t help you get more headshots if it’s not calibrated correctly.
But it’s honestly more comparable to Formula 1 racing. Being a successful gamer comes down to your skills as a driver and how well your vehicle is engineered. No setting is arbitrary. Anything can give you a competitive edge over your opponents.
Building and tuning your PC is an RPG-like experience where you’re always looking to upgrade and level up your skills and attributes. An attribute that often gets overlooked is the DPI and how it relates to your mouse and monitor.
So let’s kill all the corny metaphors and similes and get to establishing the best DPI for gaming, shall we? 🖥️ 🖱️
What is DPI?
If you own a printer or have dabbled in digital photography, you should be a little familiar with DPI. DPI stands for Dots per inch. It’s a measure of dot density in printing, imaging, and video. It’s often misused.
The term was initially coined to describe the amount of literal dots of ink on a printed page. When people refer to DPI on a monitor or screen, they’re actually talking about the PPI (Pixel per Inch) which is used to measure the Pixel density.
Since the misuse of the terminology is wide-spread (even big companies like Microsoft are guilty of this), we’ll also use the terms interchangeably in this guide. However, I encourage you to correct anyone who uses DPI instead of PPI.
It may seem overly pedantic, but the distinction can be substantial. However, it’s not as important as knowing how DPI affects your overall gaming experience and performance.
How does DPI influence gaming?
Monitors and Screens
Concerning screens and monitors, the DPI of a display influences the crispness and clarity of an image. The more pixels in an inch, the smaller the pixels are. Which means images will seem less pixelated the closer you are to the screen.
It’s not hard to see why a monitor or screen’s DPI matters to you as a gamer. The more DPI your display has, the clearer the graphics are (or can be). It should be noted that the detailing and graphics mainly rely on your GPU. The monitor is there to ensure that your GPU’s hard work is fully realized.
DPI is relatively easy to understand when we’re talking about imaging devices. However, it gets a little trickier when we’re talking about mice/mouses. In basic terms, it refers to the sensitivity of your mouse and cursor movement.
For example, if your mouse’s DPI is 800 and you move it by one inch (2.54 cm), the cursor should move 800 pixels. What this means is that a mouse with higher DPI will be more sensitive. It will be more prone to react to slight movements.
Although gaming mice come with higher DPI than normal mice, a higher DPI isn’t always a good thing. You don’t want your mouse to be too sensitive, especially if you plan on playing a strategy game or FPS where subtle mouse movements matter.
However, there are situations where you might want to switch your DPI on the fly. That’s why some of the best gaming mice come equipped with switches or buttons that you can use to alter or change your DPI on the fly.
You may be wondering how DPI is different from actual mouse sensitivity. For instance, Windows allows you to alter mouse sensitivity. Mouse sensitivity is software-based while DPI is a real physical attribute that’s reliant on your mouse’s hardware.
It can be said that sensitivity and DPI go hand in hand. If you pair a mouse that has low DPI with high sensitivity settings, you’ll notice the cursor jumping or jerking around a bit when you move it. If you compare this to a mouse with high DPI, you’ll see that the cursor’s movements are a lot smoother.
You can balance sensitivity with DPI to get cursor responsiveness that suits you best. But it’s better if you pair your high DPI mouse with a high DPI monitor. A 4000 DPI mouse will go wasted on a 1280 x 720 resolution screen, which brings us to our next point. Your monitor’s resolution dictates how much DPI it has.
How to Find Your Screen’s DPI?
Method 1: Calculating it using Pythagorean Theorem
You can find your screen’s DPI by exercising some of that high school maths and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
- We need to find the diagonal value of your pixels using this formula: √ (width2 + height2) = diagonal.
My screen resolution is 1366 x 768. So for me, the calculation will look something like this √13662 + 7682 = 1 567.07
- In order to find the DPI/PPI of your screen, you need to take the diagonal pixel length and divide it using the actual physical range of your screen.
My screen measures 13.3 inches diagonally so the final calculation will look like this: 1567.07 ÷ 13.3 = 117.82. Rounded off, the DPI of my screen is 118.
Method 2: Using a website
I’m a huge nerd, and I love doing things the hard way (sometimes). You may not feel the same way. There are a couple of decent websites out there that can calculate your DPI and give you other helpful information regarding your screen or monitor.
My personal favorite is DPI Love. It houses a web application dedicated to calculating your screen’s DPI. The best part about it is it measures your screen’s diagonal length as well as your resolution.
How to Find Your Mouse’s DPI?
A good gaming mouse will come with driver software that will not only give you information about the mouse but also assist you in changing some of your mouse’s settings. This is especially useful if your mouse doesn’t come with a switch that allows you to change the DPI on the fly.
You can also check your mouse’s DPI. Usually, the manufacturer will have the mouse’s specifications documented inside a manual. One of these specs should be the mouse’s DPI. But if your mouse doesn’t come with software, do not fret, there are other alternatives you can use to find your mouse’s DPI.
Calculating your mouse’s DPI
To calculate your mouse’s DPI, you can use the online DPI analyzer from mouse-sensitivity.com. The DPI analyzer requires some input from you. However, before you use it, you need to ensure that any pointer precision enhancement is disabled.
For most versions of Windows, if your control panel view is set according to a category, you can access your mouse settings by selecting Hardware and Sound, then clicking on the Mouse subcategory under Devices and Printers.
Alternatively, you can view Control Panel settings according to large or small icons and then selecting Mouse.
Once the mouse settings panel opens, make sure you select the Pointer Options tab and un-tick the ‘Enhance pointer precision’ checkbox (if it’s ticked). If your mouse came with any driver software, you also need to ensure that any pointer or cursor enhancement is turned off.
Once that’s done, you should be able to follow the instructions on the DP analyzer web application.
Best Screen DPI for gaming
Now that we know more about DPI and how to find or calculate it, you need to see if you have the best DPI for gaming. Monitor DPI is mostly dependent on size and resolution.
If you plan on sitting close to the screen, a 24-inch monitor like the BenQ Zowie RL2455s is more than enough. Its resolution is 1920 x 1080p. Which makes the DPI = 91.79 (rounded off = 92). You can find monitors like this and more on our best gaming monitors guide.
If you plan on sitting further from the screen – maybe four feet or more – then a 27-inch gaming monitor with a 1440p resolution like the ASUS PG279QZ would be more suited to your needs. Its DPI is 108.79 (rounded off = 109). So using those figures, the best screen DPI is between 92 and 109 DPIs. The sweet spot is around 100 PPI/DPI.
Best Mouse DPI
Finding the best DPI for mice is a little more subjective. There isn’t a universal figure. DPI should be game-based or fluid, especially when you’re gaming at a high level. However, we can work with averages.
We’ll assume that you’re running a 1080p monitor. (These figures should work for most high-resolution monitors). The best Mouse DPI for each popular genre is:
- FPS and Other Shooters (including Fortnite): 400 – 1000
- Real-Time Strategy Games: 1000 – 1200
- MMOs and RPGs: 1000 – 1600
- MOBA Games: 400 – 800
These are the recommended DPIs for each game genre. These aren’t hardcoded figures; you can choose DPI according to your own preferences and needs. It should be noted that more DPIs could lead to less accuracy.
After reading through this guide, you should have a better understanding of what DPI/PPI is. Much like F1 Grand Prix racing, gaming is a collaboration between man and machine. However, the vehicle should be tuned according to the driver’s specifications and abilities.
Your mouse’s DPI should complement and work with your monitor’s DPI. Both should be set to work according to your preferences. What works for you may not work for someone else. So it’s important to use this guide as a starting point, and once you fully understand how to choose, tune and set your DPI, you can play around and find settings that are conducive to your style of play.