DPI is tricky because you are trying to find a balance between your in-game sensitivity and your preset DPI. Fortunately, I play quite a few FPS games and have plenty of data to steer you in the right direction.
What DPI should I use for FPS? The most common DPI amongst competitive FPS gamers is 400 DPI. It has a focus on precision and makes tracking enemies much more accurate.
Balancing DPI with in-game sensitivity can be an eternal struggle if you don’t know how to find the right number for you.
In this article, we’ll show you how you can find a great DPI for you and what some of the most popular and good FPS streamers are using.
What DPI Should I Use For FPS?
Typically, many gamers will start at a DPI setting of 800, but even that can be too high if you are looking to have the best performance.
The non-technical way of finding the exact answer to your question is to continue throttling down your DPI until you have a DPI that you can easily look around and aim with accurately.
Too low, and your mobility will be that of a turtle. Too high, and every time you move your mouse even a little bit, it will end up in a 360-degree turn, precision will not exist.
So you can start at 800 and lower it until you find what gives you the best experience. That is the non-technical answer, but if you’re like me, then you’ll probably want a more technical answer that raises bigger questions.
Although I cannot guarantee what is the best for you, I do see many more competitive players playing at very low DPIs such as 400 and balancing it out with an in-game sensitivity that makes the mobility better.
400 is the lowest I’ve seen, however, with the sensors on mice capable of going as high as 16k and beyond, what’s the point of having DPI that high?
From a technical standpoint, the higher your DPI is, the more sensitive your mouse should be, and the more pixels the cursor will move for every physical movement.
This means that, with the increase in DPI, your mouse should get more accurate because it picks up on more Dots Per Inch (DPI).
In theory, this does sound better, however, how does this compare in-game, and what does it look like in comparison to a much lower DPI.
This video compares the extremes of very high DPI and very low DPI to show what each looks like based on extremes. The twist being, they balance both DPIs to have the same overall sensitivity or eDPI.
As you can see, even though the eDPI is the same, the lower DPI skips much more, whereas the higher DPI tracks many more individual pixels making it look much smoother and more accurate.
You aren’t likely and probably shouldn’t play at 100 nor 16,000 DPI. 100 DPI is much different from 400 DPI, but with 400 you can still notice some of the choppier movement.
This isn’t a definitive answer to your question, but it can show the difference between high and low DPI in its most extreme forms.
More of these studies in the future will prove whether or not high DPI mice are all that important for accuracy, but for now, the proven method used by many fantastic players is low DPI and a balanced in-game sensitivity.
Here is another formula I found online that can help you find the perfect DPI based on your FOV, resolution, and inches for a 360-degree turn.
The formula goes like this:
Quick Note: How many inches you want to move your mouse to get a full 360 is decided by you. If you want to stay on your mouse pad, I recommend finding out how long your mouse pad is and using that value.
I have an extended mousepad, so I’ll stick with 24 inches for a lower sensitivity result that is within the movement range of my mouse.
This formula is awesome! It’s still imperfect, but it can help you get into the ballpark of what DPI you should use.
That formula will give you an exact amount, so for most mice software, the DPI will get rounded up or down depending on the value.
To demonstrate how exactly this formula works I will do it for my setup:
This is the formulaic way to get the ideal DPI for a specific game, but whether or not you like playing on this DPI will dictate if you use it.
Now that you have this knowledge, you should decide from these choices which DPIs you want to try! Make a shortlist and add it to your mouse so you can cycle through and keep trying them out.
For me personally, I have been going lower and lower, but after watching that video, I may try maxing out my DPI and balancing the sensitivity just out of curiosity.
If you also do this, then make sure you go into your Windows 10 settings and change your cursor speed to be significantly slower, or else completing every small task will be much more difficult.
What Is DPI?
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, but at its core is actually a hardware set setting that controls how sensitive your mouse is going to be.
It’s better to have a mouse with a higher DPI possibility, but anything more than 3k is likely not to get used at any point in time.
Unless, of course, you experiment with 16k DPI, low sensitivity gaming to see what difference it makes.
For the most part, it is just a marketing number that sounds very impressive, but in reality, there is no applicable use for a 20k sensor.
You still want at least a 3,000 DPI sensor just in case you ever do want to experiment with higher DPIs at some point.
However, as we explained above, most competitive players will see their most success at around 400 – 800 DPI, typically in the lower side of that range.
What DPI Do These Famous Gamers Use?
We’ve talked a lot about what the ideal DPI range is for FPS gaming, but let’s take a look at these famous gamers that often play FPS games DPI settings.
|Famous Gamer||DPI Setting|
|Dr. Disrespect||400 DPI|
I know this list most likely leaves out many of the most popular players, especially many of the impressive CSGO Esports players, but at this point, I figure you get the idea.
Many of the most famous content creators that play FPS games, and are pretty good at them, use a DPI setting of 400. It’s low, and it’s accurate, leading to it becoming the most common DPI amongst FPS gamers.
Balancing Your DPI To Have Both Good Movement And Good Aiming
All the formulas and most used DPIs are great guides, but it comes down to fine-tuning to your liking.
The perfect balance has precise aiming and swift, but accurate flicks. There should also be reasonably fast movement and panning.
The higher your DPI is, the further your flicks are going to span across the same distance.
With a DPI of 400, there will be 400 dots movement in one-inch movements, and at 800, there will be double the dots moved in the same distance.
The higher you go the more sensitive your flicks will be. For some, this may be ideal. Depending on how you move your mouse a more sensitive DPI could be better.
For example, someone who moves their mouse with their arm is better off with a lower DPI, whereas someone with wrist movement might be better off with a higher DPI that allows precise wrist movements.
This is another example of comfort and your playing style factoring in to which DPI is the best for you.
Calculating eDPI To Find Your True DPI
As we mentioned, DPI is supposed to be balanced with your sensitivity, so to calculate your actual in-game sensitivity, we will multiply them.
Before we get to the math, eDPI is also known as effective DPI. It’s a measurement used to find out the true sensitivity of one’s mouse in a game.
The formula to calculate eDPI goes like this:
It’s a very simple formula, but a neat tool to help you get an idea of what your real sensitivity is. If your DPI was 400 and your sensitivity 4, you have an eDPI of 1600 which would feel very fast!
This eDPI is easier to comprehend, rather than constantly looking at the values of each sensitivity setting and continuously lowering each one.
How To Adjust Cursor Speed On Desktop
Although you may have spent hours dialing in your DPI so it can be just right in-game, any time you go to your desktop, you may be either moving at a snail’s pace or whizzing your cursor around the screen.
The fix for this is quite simple and can be located under the Windows 10 settings. Open up Settings, click on Devices, then click Mouse, and then adjust your cursor speed to one that is better suited.
The cursor speed slider can be laggy, and somewhat troublesome to use.
If you want a snappier, more responsive version click on Additional Mouse Options, click on the Pointer Options tab, and use the pointer speed slider under Motion for a much better experience.
Some more professional FPS players and coaches would recommend keeping movement consistent.
If you flick your arm in-game to move, have the same movement for your desktop. I do many other tasks outside of gaming though, and maintaining a slow cursor outside of gaming doesn’t feel right.
Why Is There Still A Place For High DPI?
If you are a casual FPS player that isn’t looking for too much physical exertion when moving around for the majority of the game, a high DPI can remove that effort.
When trying to aim precisely, especially at longer distances, getting the precise shot you are looking for is much harder but overall the experience is easier.
With a lower DPI, you are typically going to be moving your arm a lot, unless you raise the sensitivity to a point that simulates what a higher DPI may feel like.
However, at that point, you are mitigating the benefits of having a lower DPI.
Lower DPI is meant to allow way more precise aiming because your cursor isn’t nearly as sensitive as higher DPIs.
Flicking is going to be harder on lower DPIs, but if you calculate the eDPI correctly it should result in an accurate flick within your FOV.
Anything outside of your FOV is much slower to flick to and likely requires more than one flick of your arm. So if someone comes up on your flank, you will have a slower rotate time than that of high DPI.
The interesting thing here is that a higher DPI is more precise, however, it can become so precise that you have jittery aiming that makes you miss your target often.
Whereas with the technically less accurate lower DPI, you can track your targets better and have more stable, smoother aiming.
In summary, for the easiest movement and experience, use a higher DPI. For the most precise aiming and better tracking, use a lower DPI.
For the best experience of course, find that happy in-between that balances both your swift movements with your accurate aim.
What’s The Difference Between Polling Rate And DPI
Polling rate refers to how often a mouse will inform your computer of where the cursor is. The lower the polling rate, the less often your computer will be aware of the positioning of your mouse.
Meaning your movement is much more choppy with lower polling rates. Whereas, if you have a higher polling rate, it will be much smoother and will be reported much more frequently.
DPI is the sensitivity of the mouse, and how many dots will be measured for every movement, rather than how often the dots are registered.
Both are very important for having a good experience with your mouse, however, there is an important distinction. More polling rate is better, whereas more DPI is not always better.
For reference, when looking at the various polling rates, 125hz is 8 milliseconds, 500hz is 2 milliseconds, and 1000hz is 1 millisecond.
The milliseconds represent the time measured in seconds between every reported position. For 1000hz, every 1 millisecond the mouse reports its position to your computer.
As you would imagine, the fewer milliseconds between every report the smoother the cursor movement will appear, because during the course of one swing there will be several more reports in between the start and end.
What DPI Is Good For Other Genres?
I play a variety of games, and for most other genres 400 DPI isn’t going to cut it. Since I use a controller on single-player, third-person games, I don’t have a DPI for that personally, but I do have examples.
Before we get into this, I have a quick tip. For whatever other genres you play frequently, I would have them as a DPI variant that you can switch to quickly using your DPI shifter.
For a third-person experience, using a keyboard and mouse, a DPI of around 800 – 1200 DPI should be good.
It will be faster, but usually, in games like this, you will have enemies coming from all around you, so quick movement is good to have.
For strategy games, I would recommend going with 1000-1600 DPI since you will be panning very often.
If 1200 DPI is still too quick for you, you can reduce it to 1000 or even return down to 800 DPI for more methodical panning.
For MMO games, I would use something from 1000 – 1600 for similar reasons to why strategy games require a higher DPI.
Panning and management of all the different buttons on your screen is much faster and easier to complete with a higher DPI.
For MOBA games such as LOL, DOTA, or Smite, I would recommend going with a similar DPI to your FPS games.
Do You Need A Higher DPI For 1440p?
You don’t need to have a higher DPI if you are using 1440p. I use 400 DPI, yet I am on an ultrawide 1440p monitor, and I see good results.
The thing more people take issue with is how slow the cursor may be when on your desktop or completing tasks outside of video games.
However, you can very easily increase or decrease the speed of your cursor inside of the Windows settings, as we showed above.
No need to keep shifting your DPI, or even completely change what DPI you are comfortable with, just tweak that one setting and you can have the best of all worlds.
I recently switched to 400 DPI so naturally, I had to increase cursor speed. In-game I have the precise movements I lacked at 800 – 1200 and on the desktop, I have my cursor speed at what feels like 1000 DPI.
To reiterate, it doesn’t make much of a difference in-game, if at all, but on the desktop, it will since there are more pixels which will lead to the need to increase the cursor speed.
Why Did People Ever Use Lower DPI In The First Place?
It’s time for a little history lesson about why gamers used to use lower DPI exclusively and how it has influenced the current state of DPI usage.
Gamers originally used lower DPI because mice weren’t capable of accurately tracking at higher DPIs since the higher DPI was created using acceleration and other effects.
Also, any mice that were able to accomplish high DPI in the past for real came at a very expensive cost.
This lead to many players sticking to the established, functional low DPI settings they could rely on.
Once players finally did have affordable mice capable of very high DPIs, they were already so used to playing on lower DPIs that there was no point in changing.
This led to many successful professional gamers influencing newer players to use lower DPIs as that is what they thought was the best way to play.
In reality, this was really due to the fact that mice weren’t always as good as they are now and the gamers in question were merely using what they know and what they think is the most comfortable.
Leading to the ultimate conclusion that DPI doesn’t have a definitive best, although there is a much more frequently used DPI, which for FPS games is the 400 DPI.
The most popular DPI is 400, but the best method is to start at 800 DPI and scale down until you reach a sensitivity that balances aim, and movement primarily.
If you wanted to try a much higher DPI to see what it can do for precision, you can balance your high DPI with a lower sensitivity.
Then you can use eDPI to preview what a lower DPI and higher sensitivity would look like to see which you like better.
It is likely to take a while, but don’t use a DPI just because others are using it. Find one that plays nicely and that you enjoy.