Hi, my name is Christoffer and I am an Internet addict.

5 things I look for in a computer mouse as a developer

2016-04-24 18:10


Some people would say I spend way too much time in front of my computer. I have a full time job as a coder but I also usually code at home on my own projects as a way to wind down and relax and try out new things.

Like many other coders I have a mechanical keyboard (WASD V5 105-key ISO with Cherry MX clear switches), and having a mechanical keyboard is a popular choice among developers - but what about computer mice? Is there such a thing as a computer mouse aimed for programmers? Hmm.

If you search the Internet, there isn't a lot of topics regarding mice for programmers as there is for keyboard for programmers. I know there is even a group of people that think coders should only use keyboards - anything else is heresy. I am however not one of those people though. As a web developer, I kinda spend a lot of time using my mouse to be honest.

So the question I asked myself was; If I now spend so much time in front of a computer, don't I owe it to myself to try and research and get a professional mouse aimed for my job as a coder, as I did with my mechanical keyboard?

Luckily, thanks to the gaming industry, there are now a ton of different computer mice out there with tons of different features and settings. Even though there are no mice specifically targeted to us coders, I am sure there are mice with features more appealing to me as a coder.

And as always; Different people have different opinions and requirements on what they need in a mouse. So here are the 5 things I personally look for in a computer mouse as a developer.

An ergonomic design

This should really go without saying but if you are looking for a mouse you will use 8+ hours a day, make sure it has an ergonomic design for your hand. Don't get me wrong - a stylish, fashionable and cool looking mice looks awesome, but will probably give you health problems in the long run. Always try and take care of your body, especially when you are a coder.

There are tons of articles on this topic, however I found this video that gives a good overview.

It's taken from this article that also contains a good checklist summary.

I also have to mention, while researching I stumbled across this post over at called "Mice, y u no ergonomic" where the users talked and shared their experience of different comfortable mice. If you are serious in getting an ergonomic mouse, you should also try different designs to see which fits you better.

This is an image from that thread.

Corded over wireless

The freedom and comfort of a wireless mouse is great. However wireless mice requires batteries, which obviously makes them more heavy to use. Wireless mice are also more expensive and you will need to continuously replace the batteries due to battery life, but those cons are insignificant to me compared to the weight.

From what I researched, a wireless mouse usually weighs around 140 grams, while a corded mouse usually is 110 grams. Of course, this depends on the specific mouse, and 30 grams might not be a big deal, but for me personally, the lighter the mouse is, the better.

Free scrolling mouse wheel mode

A free spinning mouse wheel mode is when you scroll it doesn't click but just continues to spin. This is comfortable when I read a lot of pages and articles and you don't need to constantly continue to scroll with your finger but spin it once to reach where I want to go in the text. Doesn't matter if its a web page or in my text editor.

Here is a demonstration of the mode I am speaking about, if you are unfamiliar.

Forward and backward side buttons

As a developer, I don't need Razer Naga mouse with 12 button thumb grid at the side as I have a mechanical keyboard for button mashing.

However, a mouse with dedicated back and forward buttons is surprisingly handy when flipping through pages when you trying to find information about a certain topic while surfing the web.

Optical over laser, but still with togglable DPI settings

This the most complicated criteria I have.

First of all; optical and laser mice are very similar. Both uses a LED (CMOS) sensor, but for an optical mouse its a infrared / red LED and in an laser mouse it's VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser). More about this can be read in this article.

However LinusTech has a great quick overview of optical vs laser mice.

The bottom line is that even though laser mice is a more modern technology, gives higher DPI (dots per inch) and can be used on more surfaces, none of them matters to me as a coder and will just make the mouse more expensive and limit the number of mice I can choose between.

An interesting note however is that laser mice can pick up too much useless information, which might lead to more acceleration problems.

On average an optical mouse operates at 400-800 DPI, a laser mouse 2000. However Linus also explains why insanely high DPI is irrelevant and is just a marketing gimmick.

But let's be honest. A high DPI or any acceleration problems is irrelevant to me as a coder. Most operating systems have a "Mouse sensitivity setting" regardless which is sufficient enough for me.

Most computer games bypasses this setting all together and use the raw input directly, that's why a mouse with a higher DPI is required for gaming.

However, adjusting the sensitivity from from 400/800/1600/etc DPI on the fly, is surprisingly handy, regardless if you are a gamer or a coder.

The mouse I picked

Please note that this search was done April 2016 and since products come and go, the mouse I picked might be obsolete or inferior on the market as of you are reading this article.

In Sweden we have a popular site called Prisjakt which where you can find, filter and compare different products to each other. So I added all my criteria, researched all the suggestions and finally decided on the Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum.

It has a robust ergonomic design, optional free mouse wheel mode, weighs around 120 grams (but has adjustable weights if you want to make it more heavy), programmable side buttons and as an extra bonus you can change the DPI on the fly with a button.

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