Why benchmark a mouse?

I've been using a mouse to play PC games since Quake was first released in 1996. I take my gaming very seriously, and played professionally for a while when Quake 3 was the number one tournament game on PC. I must have gone through hundreds of different models of mouse through the years, and was even sponsored by a mouse manufacturer at one point where my photo and endorsement was put on the back of the box. In all that time there has never been a good way to review mouse performance. It has been down to the feelings of the reviewer as to whether the mouse was given the thumbs up or thumbs down. With my education in Natural Sciences, reviews like this leave me with a sour taste in the mouth. Subjective reviews are down to how the reviewer feels on the day, and not necessarily how well the mouse performs.

Today there are a large number of mice marketed for gaming. Many of these have endorsements from some of the professional gaming teams or from well-known gaming individuals. Professional gaming continues to grow, with more prize money tournaments for a wider range of games than ever before. At these pro-gaming events you tend to see at least one of the major mouse manufacturers showcasing their products. Even the mouse pads are getting the pro-gaming treatment with hi-tech mousing surfaces being released by many different companies.

In this environment where performance is king, it's ludicrous to think that mouse performance has never been measured for reviewing the products. Imagine reviewing the latest graphics card in the same way. Without benchmarks, reviewers would have to resort to loading up their favourite game and commenting on how their frag count improved. You would have no way to compare NVIDIA and ATI cards apart from the quality of the packaging. Without benchmarking, graphics card reviews would be almost entirely useless. So why do we put up with mouse reviews that are just as useless?

I have devised the world's first independent benchmarking system where raw mouse performance can be measured and compared. If you're thinking about buying a new mouse check out the ESReality MouseScore first, or you might be sorry!

What can we measure?

Perfect Control
When you move your mouse it may result in turning your viewpoint in an FPS game, moving the cursor in an RTS game, or something else like rotating a tank turret. In each case the importance of using a mouse is the proportionate response. If you move the mouse slowly you expect to turn slowly or the cursor to scroll slowly. If you move quickly you want to be turning faster or the cursor to move quickly across the screen. If someone creeps up behind you in a game you want to be able to make a wild flick of the mouse to face your opponent quickly and return fire. The ideal mouse response is a linear one, where moving the mouse twice as fast results in a response of "twice as much". I define Perfect Control as the top speed up to which the mouse performs exactly as it should.

Malfunction Speed
Another important factor in choosing a mouse is the fastest speed you can move before it gives up and decides to fire the next rocket at your feet. I call this the Malfunction Speed, where the mouse loses control and effectively stops working. When you flick your mouse beyond the Malfunction Speed, anything can happen. You may either end up looking in any random direction or just find you haven't turned around at all. All optical and laser mice must have a Malfunction Speed, so we want it to be as high as possible so you don't notice it.

With a printer, the DPI (dots per inch) tells you how well the printer can translate information from the computer onto paper. For a mouse, the DPI value tells you how well the mouse can translate your hand movements to the computer. It would seem that a higher DPI would theoretically mean a better mouse? Before you run out to buy the highest DPI mouse we should think carefully about how much DPI is actually useful on a computer that spends most of its time displaying images made up of pixels. I discuss this a little more on the next page.
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