There’s tricky terminology that comes with gaming mice, whether it’s sensors, acceleration, top speed, or even syncing RGB lighting with the rest of your system. To find out which gaming mouse is best for you, you need to find the one that fits your hand. However, an essential specification is a resolution or DPI. Or is it the CPI?
Although most manufacturers use DPI to refer to the resolution measurement, it is not exactly the correct parts list. But it has become a widely recognized term, so these manufacturers just keep going.
For example, Logitech uses DPI, while Steelseries uses CPI. For gaming mice, DPI and CPI refer to the same thing, but if you want to gain technical knowledge, they have completely different meanings.
But even if they have different meanings and measure different things, they can technically refer to the same thing, depending on whether it is on the consumer side or the manufacturing side. Buckle up, and it gets complicated.
What is CPI?
CPI stands for Count Per Inch, which generally refers to the sensitivity of a mouse. The higher the CPI, the more sensitive it is to your movements. You can see it as the number of “steps” that the mouse sensor points to your computer when filming an inch.
However, the name refers to the number of pixels that fit on the laptop an inch from the surface of the mouse sensor, which is very similar to the CMOS sensor of a digital camera.
So if you look at the sensitivity range of a mouse, we say 100-12,000, which means it can take between 100 and 12,000 steps per inch. A lower number causes the mouse pointer to move more slowly, and you must keep moving the mouse across the desktop so that the cursor moves to the other side of the screen. A higher number requires less movement on your part.
If your mouse has a little button under the scroll wheel, some manufacturers may call it a DPI switch, but it is a CPI switch. It also doesn’t help clear things up if some manufacturers like Logitech label their CPI settings not only as DPI but also as “resolution range.”
The CPI becomes even more complicated if you consider a few more things. Mouse makers often divide the sensor pixels to get more out of the box, which isn’t exactly suitable for performance. The IPC is not the only measure of mouse sensitivity, as games can also increase or decrease responsiveness.
What is DPI?
DPI stands for dots per inch, which often measures the output resolution of a printer. It refers to the apparent ink density on a sheet of paper. Still, it is also used somewhat confusingly to refer to the pixel density of an image, even if it is a different medium.
The higher the DPI, the narrower the dots on the page. And the smaller the dots, the more detailed the image can be. This means that you can print in a larger size without enlarging an image, making it blurry.
It works just like PPI or Pixels Per Inch, which measures the pixel density of a monitor or digital image. However, the two values do not match the resolution of the monitor or the image. This is a measure of the total number of pixels on the screen or in the digital image, although in programs like Photoshop, PPI is still known as resolution.
Therefore, DPI is for print and digital, and PPI is for digital-only, and resolution can mean the “number” of several different things.
CPI vs. DPI: THE DIFFERENCE
The answer is simple: it is a recognizable term for the general public. The tricky answer is that when we talk about mice and their sensors, both terms are correct. We are only talking about the same measurement from the screen or the sensor itself.
It is more common for the end-user to say DPI because we look at our screen when our cursor moves. However, when we talk about the mouse sensor itself, this is the IPC.
As mentioned earlier, the sensor counts the number of pixels that can enter an inch from the surface of your mouse. This is also known as optical resolution. The monitor shows the speed at which the cursor moves based on the DPI setting. They both refer to the same thing, only from the perspective of two different devices.
DPI has a long history that has multiple meanings, and the Microsoft blog goes into more detail. However, since optical sensors and laser sensors have become standard in mice, DPI is often associated with them, a kind of collective term.
All since the 80s, and people got used to it. All the mouse manufacturers in our top list use the DPI nomenclature on their websites, except for Steelseries. However, if you see DPI instead of CPI, or vice versa, it ultimately means the same thing: mouse sensitivity.
How Does It Affect Users?
Now that you are aware of what CPI and DPI mean, you’re probably wondering how it affects you. Well, not really. You can continue using your mouse as before. Manufacturers are aware of the differences between the two classifications.
However, they will continue to stick to the term DPI, which is more common among consumers. In the end, just adjust the sensitivity of your mouse, regardless of what name the company chooses.