Wireless Gaming Mice Are Just As Fast As Wired Mice

Manufacturers have been bragging about the improved latency of their wireless mice for ages. But how good are wireless gaming mice compared to their wired counterparts?

As it turns out, pretty bloody good. There was already a lot of anecdotal evidence — mostly in the "this is good enough that I can't tell the difference" form — but someone has finally gotten a hold of some equipment to run some quantitative tests.

Linus Tech Tips rented a Phantom Flex4K high speed camera, which records at 1000 frames per second. Understandably, not everyone has one of those lying around (or the means to rent one).

But it's not enough to just point a camera at a screen and hit record. You need to also have a measurable way of accurately measuring the moment the mouse starts moving. So the team also rigged up a couple of OR gates with a hammer, and with some conductive tape applied to the hammer and the base of the mice, making the test more reliable (although Premiere Pro's difference mode is just as effective, they found).

It's still not possible to actually intercept the signal from the mouse to the cord, so manufacturer claims of sub-1ms transmission speeds couldn't be tested. But each of the wireless mice tested — Logitech's G703 and the Corsair Dark Core RGB SE — were just as responsive as the wired MX518 (the re-released version) and the Finalmouse Ultralight Sunset.

Just as interesting was the performance of the Ultralight Sunset, a mouse which only runs at 500Hz compared to 1000Hz for most other mice. The difference in responsiveness was so small that even the best gaming monitors — which are only capable of displaying 240Hz at most — couldn't display the difference.

The Big Daddy Of Wireless Mice Is Here

There's a couple of trends among gaming mice in the last couple of years: lighter and, if possible, wireless. But while gamers are generally clamouring for more both of those things, there's always been an outlier in the market: the gargantuan, almost monolithic G502.

Read more

But the real winner here, in my eyes, is Corsair. Their wireless tech was a couple of milliseconds behind Logitech in the tests, but the performance was just as good as a gaming-centric wired mouse, which is what you want. And if companies like Corsair have got their wireless tech downpat, it shouldn't be long before competition in the wireless gaming mice market heats up — which brings prices down for gamers like you and me.


    That's a pretty convoluted way of testing things: more to produce an entertaining video than get some meaningful numbers.

    He says the display is capable of 240 Hz, but was the game engine also running at 240 fps consistently? Is double buffering or similar enabled? Those details are kind of important when the latencies from the test are a small multiple of the display refresh rate.

    A better but more destructive test would have been to test button input rather than movement. Crack open the mouse and replace one of the button microswitches with a test rig that can electronically press the button. Close the loop by watching for operating system button press events, and you could perform thousands of tests fairly quickly. You wouldn't even need a fancy high speed camera.

      CSGO was running at more than 240fps (and the rig was easily capable of running it at beyond 240fps, if you take the components they mentioned at the start and compare them to similar systems benched), so I'd say it's fine. Double buffering is the minimum that can be enabled in CSGO's video settings as well, so I wouldn't worry on that front either.

      Using a button input rather than movement sounds good, until you think about the practical element of rigging up a machine to make it happen consistently.

        With double buffering, the soonest the game can react to user input is the frame after next. At 240 fps, that is going to be somewhere between 4.2 and 8.3 ms, which is a significant chunk of the 16 ms latency they're reporting for one of the mice.

        For the button input idea, I wasn't suggesting physically actuating the microswitch: instead rigging something up to electrically short the contacts of the pads where the switch is soldered on. That's probably not too difficult, but does require you to destroy the mouse.

        It'd also be interesting to see if the office wireless mouse performs better on a button test vs. the movement test. Given the setup in the video, it's likely testing the performance from power saving state.

          The point of the test was not to see how quickly the mice responded in the first place, so it doesn't matter whether the game responded in one frame or the next...
          It was to test whether the manufacturers' claim that their wireless mouse reacts just as quickly as their wired mouse is true.

          Neither double nor triple buffering introduce frame delay/skip unless render time exceeds VBLANK (or 2x VBLANK for triple buffering). You're probably thinking of double buffering + vsync, which does produce input latency with a max delay of 2x VBLANK and a typical delay of 1x VBLANK + render time. That's not the case in this video though, as they have vsync off and render time is faster than VBLANK so the max delay is 1x VBLANK (4.2ms).

    This was never what stopped me from getting wireless peripherals.

    I'd rather deal with cables than batteries, especially for things like mouse and keyboard that just... sit on my desk, with the cable running up from behind my desk. It's not like it ever gets tangled or caught or in the way... I just don't see any particular advantage to going wireless and one downside, which is the need to charge the device.

      The Logitech G502 Lightspeed with a Powerplay charging mouse pad means the mouse is always being charged, even as you use it. Very expensive set up for that convenience though.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now