If you pay any attention to gaming gear you probably noticed an influx of honeycombed mice (such as the finalmouse Ultralight 2 pictured above) becoming the go-to for pros and hobbyists alike. No, the bees haven’t taken over gaming, what you’re seeing is a product of a series of innovations aiming to make mice as light as possible. So if it isn’t honey, then what sweet nectar is promised by these ultralight mice?
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Mobility Vs. Accuracy
Consider the task of attempting to draw a perfectly straight line with a pen. If given the option, you should choose a heavier pen as the weight would help steady your hand and the extra friction with the paper would help prevent any shakiness from your hand from moving the pen.
Alternatively, if you were a Counterstrike legend tasked with signing hundreds of autographs for your diehard fans, you would want a much lighter pen so that you could scribble your name much quicker and get back to gaming without as much fatigue in your hand.
Gaming with a pen isn’t something I’d recommend, but these examples translate to mice and in gaming specifically, this means heavier equals accuracy, and lighter equals mobility (and less fatigue). Of course, you aren’t a Counterstrike legend, and neither is it true that heavy mice can’t have great mobility or that you won’t be accurate with a light mouse. But if the argument begins with friction and gravity (discovered in 1687), then why are these ultralight mice a relatively new phenomenon?
A brief history of lightweight mice
The explosion in popularity was sparked with the collision of two things: a crazy mouse company called finalmouse and the now omnipresent game Fortnite. (I understand that general innovation towards lightweight mice via new materials and production techniques have been years in the making, however, this is an explanation of the sharp rise in popularity in the mainstream gaming culture).
Fortnite is one of many in the long line of Battle Royale games, but what differentiates it is the building mechanic. Building itself is a relatively imprecise activity compared to shooting, but more importantly, it’s important for players to build and edit at lightning speed to gain an advantage over opponents. Just like with all those autographs you just signed, this seems like an obvious candidate for a lightweight mouse.
Around the same time, finalmouse developed and released a series of hole filled super-light gaming mice which happened to pair perfectly with Fortnite’s quick mobility requirement. Through the ultra-lightweight and unique looking design (quick FYI: they did not invent the honeycomb, however it was not anywhere as popular of a design beforehand), FOMO inducing limited drops, and controversial marketing including with some of the most popular gaming influencers at the time (namely Ninja, Tfue, and Summit1G), finalmouse became the mouse to have for Fortnite players, while Fortnite became the most popular game in the world. The most popular mice from finalmouse were the air58 Ninja (58g) and the follow up to the original mouse that put them on the map, the Ultralight 2 Capetown (50g).
Many companies quickly started to follow suit and release much lighter mice, and also copy the honeycomb design. One mouse that became a breakout success as an alternative that was cheaper and more readily available compared to the Ultralight 2 was the Glorious Model O (68g). From there even the larger companies like Razer and Logitech took notice and released the Viper and G Pro X superlight respectively (The G Pro X superlight was a lighter version of their already super popular wireless mouse the G Pro).
So are light mice better?
The truth is that lighter or heavier isn’t necessarily better, and many other factors besides weight are important to get the most out of your mouse. In fact, many players preferred the larger and slightly heavier finalmouse air58 (58g) compared to its successor the ultralight 2 (50g) because the ultralight 2 has such a small frame. Logitech's G Pro wireless (80g) remained just as (if not more) popular than any other top-level gaming mouse since its release.
The trend of lightweight mice however cannot be ignored, their prevalence among top players and the overall popularity are obvious indicators of something. If you look at the list of top mice (https://www.rocketjumpninja.com/top-mice) from top mouse connoisseur Rocket Jump Ninja, you'll notice that all but one of the top 10 sit under 80g (typically considered the threshold of ultralight mice). So when making the choice of what weight might work for you, consider the following:
To counteract the tendency of light mice to over or undershoot your target, most players use a much lower in-game mouse sensitivity. Low sensitivity has always been popular in FPS games, and lightweight mice pair excellently since they can be flicked and swiped across large areas much easier than heavy mice. The contrary is of course also true, a heavier mouse can be matched with a high sensitivity to counteract the slow movement.
Moving a heavy mouse across the mousepad over and over can be draining on the hand. Players also have to lift their mouse to swipe further once they reach the end of their mousepad, which with a heavier mouse can cause fatigue or cramps much quicker. This is also why you often see gamers use very large mouse pads that give them the ability to swipe almost a full arm’s length.
Maybe the most important factor in choosing a mouse is hand size. If a mouse is too small your hand might cramp while trying to grip it, and if it's too big you won't have good control. Rocket Jump Ninja considers hand size the most important factor in choosing a mouse and even has a mouse finder (https://www.rocketjumpninja.com/mouse-search) where you can input your hand size and grip style to find compatible mice. If your hands are larger, lightweight mice that tend to be small just might not work for you.
Mousepads and Mouse Feet (or skates)
A large and often overlooked consideration when it comes to mouse speed and accuracy is the mousepad. Quite often paired with ultralight mice is a slower, cloth pad. This gives the player the friction they need for precision without having the weight located on the mouse itself. Again, you can do the opposite with a faster mousepad paired with a heavier mouse.
Another similar solution, if you want to reduce friction, is to get low friction 'feet' or 'skates' that attach to the bottom of a mouse and give your mouse a smoother glide on the pad compared to most manufacturer’s mouse feet.
Some of the initial criticism of light mice was that they weren't as durable as heavier mice and would not last as long (The honeycomb design certainly doesn’t look as strong as a solid frame). Although this may have been true in the past, advancements in materials and builds have come so far that I wouldn't consider this when it comes to mice. Just remember to always look at reviews before buying a mouse.
Non FPS games
Much of the focus of this article has been on FPS and aim-based games like Counterstrike, Valorant, Fortnite, or Call of Duty/Warzone. Lightweight gaming mice are typically designed for games like these, but other mice focus less on weight and more on game-specific functionality, such as the Razer Naga for MOBA and MMO games. You should consider other features like buttons, wires/wireless, durability/battery life, or even style based on what kind of games you play and what you want out of a mouse. Check out our Gear Recommender as a good starting point if you're unsure what type of mouse might be best for you.