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.
This is a problem if you're a gamer, though this article isn't going to get into the debate of whether a lower or higher DPI setting is best. Games often let you use a higher DPI with a lower sensitivity so you move the mouse the same distance: this is useful if you're changing mouse or playing a different game and don't want to have to relearn that muscle memory for turning 360°, for example. There are even online calculators that can translate your settings from one game to another.
Many gaming mice have buttons that let you switch DPI on the fly while you’re playing, too, 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 determine the DPI of your mouse.
1. 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, but some manufacturers including Logitech specify the range.
2. 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 a G402 mouse, it's 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.
Note that it's important for gamers to uncheck acceleration, because otherwise the distance you move the mouse won't necessarily correspond to on-screen movements: acceleration means the faster you move the mouse, the more the pointer (or your character) moves.
Some mouse software has the option, but you'll find it in the Windows 10 Control Panel (not the Settings app). Go to Hardware & Sound > Devices & Printers > Mouse. Then click the pointer options tab and uncheck Enhance pointer precision.
3. Use an online DPI calculator
If you still can’t find your mouse’s DPI, use this online DPI tool to approximate the value.
To use it, you first need to untick ‘Enhance pointer precision’ as outlined above, 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 Real Mouse DPI Analyzer page if you haven't already 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.
How do I change my mouse DPI and sensitivity?
A lot of mice have buttons to change the DPI setting. Some even have displays which show the current setting, while others don't.
If your mouse doesn't have any buttons, or they're not doing what you want, then open your mouse software (if installed) and look for options to change the DPI. You should be able to specify and exact DPI setting, or even multiple settings if your mouse supports that and has buttons to toggle between those settings.
For those without dedicated mouse software, use the Control Panel settings detailed above and adjust the Pointer speed slider until you like how much your cursor is moving.
Alternatively, use the Windows 10 Settings app, click Devices, then Mouse and you'll find a Cursor speed slider which does the same thing.
If you decide your current mouse isn't up to the job, we've got a load of recommendations in our roundup of the best gaming mice.