The DPI of a mouse determines its sensitivity. DPI stands for dots per inch, so a mouse with a higher DPI will move the cursor on screen further than a lower-DPI mouse when both are moved the same distance.
A more sensitive mouse is good for gaming as the cursor – or more likely a crosshair – will react to even small movements of the mouse.
That’s not ideal for all scenarios, so many mice aimed at gamers have buttons that let you switch DPI on the fly while you’re playing.
But what if you don’t know your mouse’s DPI? Or you don’t know the DPI settings it switches between?
It can be tricky to find out with some mice, but here are a few ways you can try to determine the DPI of your mouse.
Check the manufacturer’s specifications
The most obvious thing you can do is search online for your make and model. Unless it’s an unbranded mouse, there’s a chance you’ll find a spec sheet which lists the DPI figure.
Typically, this will be the highest DPI on offer rather than the range the mouse supports.
Install the drivers
Again, unless you have an unbranded mouse which relies solely on Windows’ stock mouse driver you should be able to download the appropriate software from the manufacturer’s website.
This usually gives you many more options than the built-in Windows ones, including the ability to change what all the buttons do and – relevant here – choose the DPI setting.
When you install the drivers for your mouse, you typically also get a standalone app which you can run to get to all the settings and options.
The DPI setting will be in a different location in each manufacturer’s app so you might have to search around to find it.
For example, in Logitech’s Gaming Software you have to click on the icon with a pointer and a cog. With our G402 mouse, it was possible to set up to five different DPI levels, but the mouse itself has only three LEDs to indicate which level is selected.
You can also customise the actual DPI settings for each level – a common feature on gaming mice.
Use an online DPI calculator
If you still can’t find your mouse’s DPI, use this online DPI analyser to approximate the value.
To use it, you first need to go into Windows’ mouse settings (Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Mouse) and click on the Pointer Options tab.
Untick ‘Enhance pointer precision’ as this acceleration will render the measurement meaningless.
If you have mouse driver software installed, make sure any pointer acceleration is disabled there too.
Now head to the DPI analyser page, and double-check the other requirements and limitations.
Measure the rough distance that you need to move your mouse to make the pointer go from the left side of the screen to the right. Use a ruler, as you must enter the distance into the ‘Target distance’ box on the website.
Since you don’t know your mouse’s DPI you can’t put a value in the Configured DPI box.
Now click on the red crosshair at the bottom of the page and drag it to the right, moving your mouse the distance you specified in Target distance. You don’t have to move fast: the idea is to be accurate.
Make sure your pointer does not reach the edge of the monitor: it doesn’t matter if it goes past the edge of your browser window, but moving the mouse after the cursor has reached the edge of the display will make the result incorrect.
When you let go of the button, a figure will appear by ‘Actual DPI’. This shows the approximate DPI value that your mouse is currently set to.
If the figure doesn't cut it for you, check out our handy roundup of the best gaming mice.