When choosing the type of mouse that you want to get, there are two options, an optical mouse, or a laser mouse. Realistically there aren’t too many differences between them, but there are some that may make you prefer one over the other.
Both optical and laser mice use a CMOS sensor (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) to essentially record a video of the surface the mouse is on. The light source, either a red/infrared LED or a red/infrared laser is used to provide illumination for the CMOS sensor to be able to see. The mouse then compares each frame taken by the CMOS sensor to work out how far and in what direction the mouse has moved.
There are two main stats that affect how a mouse feels to use, DPI and IPS. DPI, or Dots Per Inch, is a measure of how many horizontal pixels the curser will move when the mouse moves an inch. This essentially sets how sensitive the mouse is, with high values being more sensitive to small movements, and low values being less sensitive requiring more movement.
Tip: Setting the sensitivity too high can make it hard to make precision movements. If you’re struggling to click exactly where you mean to, or track moving targets in video games, your DPI may be set too high.
IPS, or Inches Per Second, is a measure of how fast a mouse can move and still accurately track its location. A higher IPS value means that the mouse can handle faster movements accurately. This is especially important for gamers as accurate and fast flick-shots can make the difference between victory and defeat. Unfortunately, many mouse manufacturers, do not report or advertise their mouse IPS.
Optical mouse specifics
An optical mouse uses a red or infrared LED to illuminate the surface that the mouse is on. This works great on matt, non-reflective surfaces but runs into issues on reflective or transparent surfaces.
Laser mouse specifics
A laser mouse uses a red or infrared laser to illuminate the surface that the mouse is on. Due to the nature of lasers, it is capable of illuminating more surface details for the CMOS sensor, making them more accurate. Laser mice are also able to work on all surfaces including reflective and transparent ones, such as polished metal and glass.
Laser mice are typically a little more expensive than similar optical mice. Laser mice are also able to offer much higher DPI options, although most would be too sensitive for anyone to realistically use.