Tips to Choose Between a Gaming Mouse Vs. Controller for Your Needs

You may have a great gaming laptop or PC but still desire better control over gaming. This can be achieved using your input type, either with a controller or a mouse-and-keyboard system. Gamers have very strong preferences on which input they want. This is hardly shocking, given how they affect the gaming experience. In this article, we will explain how to choose the best gaming input by explaining the components of a gaming mouse vs. a controller.

A gaming mouse has more precision, accuracy, and customization options than a controller. Controllers enable smoother motion and are more portable than gaming mice. Use a gaming mouse for FPS, MOBAs, and strategy games. Use a controlled for driving games and arcade-style games. 

The debate between gaming mice and controllers has been an issue for as long as we've had both game input choices. However, each has its advantages and disadvantages as well as optimum games and situations for each one’s use. For games like Halo Infinite, esports tournaments are even allowing keyboard and mouse gamers to compete against gamepad users. 

Choosing a Gaming Keyboard & Mouse vs. Controller

Features That Are Important To You Keyboard & Mouse Vs. Controller Why This Setup Is Better Example Product With This Feature
Flexibility and Easy Set Up Controller Plug and play, absence of complex features Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
Precision and Aim Keyboard and Mouse Range of motion of a mouse is higher than that of a controller. Corsair Wireless Gaming Bundle 
Smooth Motion Controller Pressure-sensitive buttons can give movement stability PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller
Custom Buttons and Controls Keyboard and Mouse Wide array of buttons and macro keys Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB - MMO Gaming Mouse
Realistic Gaming Controller Rumble features and pressure-sensitive triggers Instinct Pro Steel Gray Custom Wireless Performance Controller
Multipurpose Device Keyboard and Mouse Built as a general purpose device. Redragon S101 Wired Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo

You may also be curious about whether or not you can use a gaming mouse as a regular mouse. If so, be sure to take a look at our related article. Similarly, our related article will explain what is a gaming mouse and how you can use one to optimize gameplay. Be sure to read up on that too.

Advantages of Gaming With a Controller vs. a Keyboard and Mouse

A game controller is an input device that is used in conjunction with a video game to provide input to the game. It is usually used to control an item or character in the game. It is also known as a gaming controller or simply a controller. Controllers have a row of front buttons, pressure-sensitive triggers, and two movement-controlling joysticks. Depending on the manufacturer, they may include touchpads, d-pads, illumination, sound effects, and other features. 

The advantages of gaming with a controller include the pressure-sensitive joystick, ease of handling, and the presence of aim assist.

Controllers like this are the default input method for consoles, and many PC gamers utilize them as well. This article by Game Studies discusses the semiotics of the game controller in greater detail. Modern controllers are ergonomically designed, with all buttons and triggers placed within easy reach of the user's fingers. They often incorporate analog sticks for movement, pressure-sensitive triggers, directional pads, and face buttons. Most current controllers also have a rumbling feature for enhanced immersion and wireless functionality, allowing gamers to sit further away from the screen. 

From an initial glance, the significant difference between a controller and a mouse & keyboard is in the design and frame. Most would prefer having a controller that sits comfortably in both hands rather than using a mouse pointer with one hand and a keyboard with the other. This may be the significant thing that sets a controller as a better input device over a mouse and keyboard, but there are more.

Take a look at the pros of using a controller:

1. The Pressure-Sensitive Button or Joystick Offers Steadiness of Movement

The presence of pressure-sensitive buttons on a controller like this gives the controller an edge over the keyboard. The pressure-sensitive buttons allow gradual analogy-like input. For example, you can slightly press the button to move a vehicle slowly. On the other hand, a full press causes the vehicle to move considerably faster. A keyboard cannot provide the varied motion that these context-sensitive buttons can.

While gamers have adapted the keyboard to their purposes, pressure-sensitive triggers and joysticks are automatically available on controllers. It helps with game-enhancing features such as advanced motion controls.

One of the key differences between a gaming mouse vs.a controller is that most controllers have pressure-sensitive buttons that allow for varied motion that a gaming mouse cannot.
The majority of controllers include two sets of pressure-sensitive triggers. These are especially handy in some games because they provide players with more flexibility. Source: The Verge.

You might also be interested in learning how to choose a left-handed gaming mouse. If so, be sure to read our related article for more details.

2. The Ergonomic Design Allows for Comfort and Ease of Handling

For many, the fundamental reason for the controller’s dominance is one of comfort and accessibility. The keyboard and mouse are typically less mobile and are not made to fit your hands like a controller. This is not the case with controllers. They are designed with the user's comfort in mind for long hours of gaming. Some users prefer the simplicity of a gamepad as the buttons are easily accessible and reachable.

There has been significant growth in the gaming industry and, consequently, an increase in the variety of consumers. It has also led to an increased emphasis on developing the ergonomics of modern video game controllers. This Xbox Elite Controller is widely considered the most ergonomic controller.

Modern controllers are designed for optimal comfort and accessibility.
Most controllers of modern times have gone through meticulous stages of design to optimize comfort and ease of use. Source: Reddit.

Be sure to also read our related article on how to choose an ergonomic gaming mouse. This will help you choose the best one to fit your needs.

3. The Presence of Aim Assist Helps to Improve Gameplay

The aim assist on the controller makes it easier to hit targets just by pushing the aim in the direction of rivals. It is incorporated into practically all games to aid players that use controllers. Some say this gives controller players an edge over mouse-and-keyboard players.

Controller players get aim assist to compensate for the massive advantage that keyboard and mouse players have over them. 

The aim assist function of a gaming controller makes up for the lack of accuracy that a gaming keyboard and mouse setup would offer.
Aim assist is very common in shooter games, and it is also frequently used by mouse-and-keyboard players in FPS games. Source: epicgames.

Disadvantages of Gaming With a Controller vs. Keyboard and Mouse

Unfortunately, gaming with a controller isn’t completely advantageous for an aspiring gamer.

The disadvantages of gaming with a controller include a lack of precision, complicated multi-input controls, and limited input capabilities. 

Check out these cons of using a gaming controller before you go out and buy one for yourself:

1. It Lacks the Precision of a Mouse

The primary disadvantage controllers have over mice-and-keyboards is their lack of precision when aiming. The range of movement provided by the additional surface area of the mousepad trumps that of an analog joystick. This means potentially less complex movement and a lack of the luxury of customizable settings and inputs. Analog sticks don’t usually match the precision of a mouse; a controller relates position (of the stick) to velocity. Which is less intuitive than relating position to surface position as a mouse does.

A mouse like this has a more extensive range of motion than an analog stick. Most competitive shooter games, like Call of Duty: Warzone or Apex Legends, have aim assist built in to help players, but it only goes so far.

Playing with a controller could mean less accuracy than when using a gaming mouse.
The analog stick that is used for aiming in controllers can’t compare with a mouse for precision aiming. Source: PC Gamer.

2. Difficult Multi-Input Controls

Due to the design of a controller like this, it is challenging to push different inputs simultaneously or in short succession. This makes complex maneuvers difficult and almost impossible to perform. Controllers usually allow the user to use just four fingers (some pro players can even use six fingers). This is nothing compared to mouse-and-keyboard users who can utilize ten fingers simultaneously.

To access and utilize more than four buttons when gaming with a controller, is challenging.
Pressing more than four buttons simultaneously is problematic on a controller. Source: Pinterest.

3. Limited Input Capabilities

A controller has limited input capabilities, around 20 total input units. This is a disadvantage compared to the keyboard-and-mouse, which has at least 108 input units. It might not matter in some games that require fewer control inputs. In some games with complex controls, it might make the difference between a win and a loss.

While it is possible to remap the controller's buttons, it might be challenging as they are probably already allocated to other functions. There aren't as many free buttons as on a keyboard, and there's no way to build macros.

It is also worth noting that buttons have a lifespan. A gamer would mash the few buttons on the controller much more than the buttons on a keyboard as every key on a keyboard would have its function, unlike a controller with multiple functions assigned to the same key.

The buttons on a controller are used for multiple functions and are therefore used much more than the keys on a keyboard and mouse setup.
Controllers typically have fewer buttons than a keyboard and mouse setup leading to less functionality. Source: LifeHacker.

Advantages of Gaming With a Keyboard and Gaming Mouse vs. Controller

A computer mouse and keyboard are particular input devices for a personal computer and are now the primary gaming controllers for computer games. The mouse is frequently used in conjunction with a mouse pad to improve the gamer's speed, comfort, accuracy, and smooth movement. Some video game consoles may also be used with a keyboard and mouse.

The advantages of gaming with a keyboard and mouse include precision, increased movement range, and more customization options.

For decades, keyboards and mice have been the go-to for PC gaming, and for a good reason. Mapping game functions to those easily accessible keys provides developers and gamers with a great deal of freedom in how they wish to control their experience. A keyboard and mouse like this may be practical tools for working and gaming. However, they aren't necessarily meant to fit in your hands like a controller. Most PC gamers prefer the mouse and keyboard combo due to its better accuracy and customization possibilities. 

This is how using a keyboard and mouse would benefit you:

1. The Increased Surface Area Allows for a Wider Range of Movement

Controlling movement with the keyboard and mouse comes with the benefit of additional surface area for the mouse. This makes clicking and dragging with a mouse more intuitive than performing the same action on a controller. This means speedier movement, depending on DPI (dots per inch) settings, customizable settings, and inputs. If using a gaming mouse interests you, check out our review of the best gaming mice to buy in 2022.

Using a mouse pad makes clicking and dragging more intuitive that using a controller.
The larger surface area of a mouse pad allows for greater range of motion, better control, and better precision than analog sticks. Source: VentureBeat.

2. Higher Number of Programmable Keys Offers More Customization Options

More customization possibilities are available with gaming mice and keyboards like this than with controllers. As a bare minimum, most gaming mice include changeable lighting, adjustable weights, and programmable buttons. Other alternatives include swappable panels that may be shaped to improve ergonomics. Modern gaming mice often have extra buttons and a scroll wheel to map to in-game actions. Some mice allow users to change the DPI on the fly during a game to alternate between a run-and-gun DPI setting and a more controlled DPI setting for sniping.

Because of the number of keys, keyboards provide more customization options than controllers. There are always more keys available for new keybindings. Users can also construct macros to access specific key sequences to boost functionality. Mechanical keyboards can also have multiple switch and keycap options to give users more control over individual keystrokes. Check out our guide on how to replace keyboard switches for more information.

Keyboards provide more customizable keys than controllers do.
A lot of gamers prefer keyboards that possess ergonomic options and don’t cause repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) over time. Source: xda-evelopers.

3. Wide Variety of Design Options

Most controllers like this are the same size and have the same layout. Mice and keyboards are becoming more diverse, providing consumers with more alternatives. Users can select from 60 and 65 percent, Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards like this or the original full-size keyboard variants. Players may also select between conventional and ergonomic layouts and membrane or mechanical switches according to their needs.

Users may also choose between split and full keyboards. Split keyboards are more ergonomic, with users' hands in a more natural posture. Split keyboards like this, in addition to assisting with hand location, also aid with posture by placing each half of the keyboard at shoulder width.

Gaming mice come in various weights and sizes, allowing users to choose the most comfortable fit. Other layouts, such as right or left-handed mice and ergonomic mice, are available. Because there are different button layouts available, users may select precisely how many buttons they require for the games they play. If interested, check out our review on the best high-end gaming mice in 2022.

Gaming mice have various designs and shapes that suit different gaming styles and requirements.
Some mice are designed with functionality, and others are designed with ergonomics in mind. Source: pinimg.

Disadvantages of Gaming With a Keyboard and Gaming Mouse vs. Controller

As great as gaming mice and keyboards are to use they do come with a few challenges.

The disadvantages of gaming with a keyboard and gaming mouse are that they’re difficult to master, have limited portability, and lack a vibration feature. 

Consider these disadvantages of using a mouse and keyboard:

1. Difficult to Master

Many players believe using a mouse and keyboard is more complicated than using a controller. One of the reasons is that each hand runs a separate device that works independently of the other. Some users have difficulty mastering keyboards since they feature conventional icons rather than directions and other markings.

For many, perfecting their aim can take hundreds of hours of practice. This is why many professionals continue to use a controller as time spent playing with a poor aim to learn how to use a mouse can harm their prospects of competing at a high level.

It can take someone quite a while to get used to it, but it's not too difficult. The important aspect is memorizing buttons (or, in this case, letters). However, note that it can be slightly more difficult because there are unused letters on the keyboard that you may inadvertently click.

 It can be challenging to learn new games using a keyboard and mouse which is why some gamers prefer using a controller.
The keyboard and mouse can be confusing when learning a game compared to using a controller. Source: CPO Magazine

2. Limited Portability

The length of their wires limits wired mice and keyboards. Wireless mice and keyboards have a greater range but still require a desk or flat surface to function. It is possible to use a wireless mouse and keyboard while sitting on a sofa, although it is more challenging than using a controller.

A mouse and keyboard take considerably more room than a controller. Therefore transporting two devices rather than one is more difficult. This is more notable in wired mice and keyboards than a wireless option. 

A gaming mouse and keyboard are usually best used at a desk whereas a controller can be used from a sofa.
The keyboard and mouse are usually restricted to a desk, making the gaming experience less laid-back or casual. Source: Business Insider.

3. No Vibration Feature

Most gaming keyboards and mice lack a vibration option to provide that extra degree of realism. Some mice, such as this SteelSeries Rival 700, include haptic feedback, but it has yet to catch on with other brands. It might seem like a negligible disadvantage to some, but it could be the defining feature for others. This is especially so for those porting over from a console to a PC. It is also true for controller players who want to change input methods from controller to keyboard and mouse.

The inner workings of a gaming mouse don’t allow for a vibration function as a controller does.
The keyboard and mouse are not designed with vibration features, unlike controllers. Source: TechSpot.

Tips To Choose Between a Keyboard & Gaming Mouse vs. a Controller

While controllers and keyboards and mice have pros and cons, there are other things to consider when selecting the most comfortable option for you according to the sort of game you prefer. Some games work better with a mouse and keyboard, while others work better with a controller.

A controller is easier to set up, better for smooth movement, and more portable than a keyboard and mouse. Use a mouse and keyboard for increased precision and to add custom buttons.

Although the keyboard and mouse are adequate for most PC games, the gamepad is easier to use in particular genres, such as sports, racing, and fighting games. Both control methods have advantages and disadvantages depending on your current play style. 

Here are some tips to help you decide:

Tip 1. Choose a Controller for More Flexibility and an Easier Set Up

Controllers have more flexible options regarding the games they can be used for playing. Controllers are well suited to most games where keyboards and mice may not bring the same experience. Running, jumping, and stabbing are all high-intensity activities that necessitate quick responses to escape damage or death. Too much may go wrong too soon while using a keyboard and mouse. It's preferable to utilize a controller so your reflexes and muscle memory can keep up with what's on the screen.

Modern controllers are wireless and do not require controller ports on the console, making setup easy. Controllers are also easy to set up as you plug them in and start playing. A keyboard and mouse could get complicated when having to set up things like DPI or polling rate and mouse weights. You can read our guide on how to test and change mouse DPI for more information.

 A controller has features that make gaming easier than using a keyboard and mouse.
The layout of a controller allows for greater flexibility when playing high-intensity games. Source: Quora.

Tip 2. Choose a Mouse & Keyboard if Precision Is Your Priority

In terms of precise aiming, analog sticks cannot compete with mice. The idea is that a mouse has a more excellent range of motion than an analog stick. Nonetheless, most competitive shooters, such as Fortnite, have aim assist built-in to help controller players aim quicker and more precisely.

The most obvious benefit of using a mouse over a controller is that it makes aiming easier. A mouse usually provides a competitive advantage in an FPS or other game where accuracy is vital, making it easier to execute responsive-based shots like flick shots.

A gaming mouse allows for more precise aiming than a controller.
Aiming with a keyboard and mouse gives top-notch precision when compared with controllers. Source: Newsweek.

Tip 3. Choose a Controller for Smoother Motion 

Although analog joysticks lack the precision and speed of a mouse, pressing forward slightly on them causes the character to walk, and pressing harder causes them to sprint. These contextually sensitive buttons can give a level of movement stability that a keyboard may not be able to deliver. A joystick also improves the consistency of continuous movements, such as camera panning.

A controller can allow for more fluid and consistent in-game movement.
A controller gives smoother and more consistent control over movement, a distinguishing feature of most video games. Source: WikiHow.  

Tip 4. Choose a Keyboard and Mouse If You Want Custom Buttons and Controls

The 104 keyboard keys on a full-size layout provide a vast selection of potential inputs. A large selection of inputs on a keyboard and mouse like this is a distinct advantage in games like MMORPGs and RTS. These genres began on computers, so it's not surprising that they've evolved around the keyboard and mouse as their primary control method. If you play shooters, you can replace your keys with more visually appealing ones using a keycap extractor and a set of keycaps like this, such as the letters WASD, Q, and E.

Mice and keyboards can also provide the option of using macros, which are a series of commands tied to a single input. Many modern mice and one-handed keyboards have dedicated macro keys for this purpose. You can check our review on the best one-handed keyboards to buy in 2022.

A keyboard provides certain functionalities such as macro commands using a certain key.
Macro keys give so much versatility to keyboard players and can be entirely personalized. Source: imagekit.

Tip 5. Choose a Controller for Realistic Gaming

Controllers like this with rumble features offer a more genuine feel, especially for driving games. Pressure-sensitive triggers provide more realistic acceleration and braking. D-pad allows rapid directional changes, and face buttons are closer together for fighting game players. The portability of the controller also allows a casual and laid-back gaming style. This helps in keeping the immersion of the gaming experience.

A controller provides a more authentic gaming experience than a mouse and keyboard.
Vibrations and pressure-sensitive buttons provide realism with controllers. Source: CNET.

Tip 6. Choose a Keyboard and Mouse if You Want the Same Device for Both Working and Gaming

Mice and keyboards, unlike controllers, are not only used for gaming and media. They can be used to create spreadsheets, send emails, play games, and do anything else that is computer-related. This is very helpful for gamers who use the same PC for working and gaming as it is cost-effective.

A gaming keyboard and mouse setup iis versatile because it can be used for work and for gaming, but a controller can only really be used for gaming.
Gaming and working with your keyboard and mouse can help you save money. Source: isitrated.

Choosing Between a Keyboard & Gaming Mouse vs. Controller For Playing Popular Games

Because there are so many different games and platforms, determining which input technique is ideal might be difficult. Some games just play better with different input methods than others. A mouse and keyboard may not be the best input option if a game is launched on consoles and then converted to a PC.

When playing Fortnite, a keyboard-and-mouse is needed for the complex building system. A keyboard and mouse is needed for Call of Duty for precise aiming. Gamers playing Warzone use controllers for the strength of the aim assist in the game, and a mouse and keyboard is used for playing Apex Legends for precise aiming.

The choice of deciding between a keyboard and mouse vs. a controller depends mainly on the type of game being played and the gamer’s preference.

Certain games are better played with one or the other input type: 

For Battle Royale Games Like Fortnite and Warzone

Normally, mouse and keyboard users have far greater control over their aim and movement, but this is not the case in Epic Games' Battle Royale. New players may be tempted to use a mouse and keyboard as they would in other shooters, but gamepad users have a minor advantage when it comes to aiming. 

This video tutorial by IceManIsaac explains a little more about how to choose between a controller and a gaming mouse when playing Warzone.

For FPS Games Like Call Of Duty and Apex Legends

A mouse-and-keyboard is often more accurate than a gamepad for fps, with quicker input and more functions. This is why consoles are seldom used with PCs and why "auto-aim" functions are common in console games. If you're interested, you can check out the best FPS gaming mice on the market at the moment. This article from the University of Lincoln discusses the impact of controllers on gamers playing FPS games.

Similarly, our related article will explain how to choose the best mouse for FPS games. Be sure to read that article for more information.

For RPG Games Like World of Warcraft

A controller is ideal for games that demand greater tactile responsiveness/feedback, such as arcade and action-adventure titles. For complete control over gameplay, a keyboard and mouse are preferable. This structure is ideal for strategy games and complicated RPGs. Gamers use controllers to play this game because of the ease of movement it provides, and the combat setup is made for a controller’s button layout. 

For Party Games Like Mario Party

Many gamers use controllers for party games. These games usually have a large number of players, around 4 to 10 in the same room. Having a keyboard and mouse for each player would not be ideal. Gamers also use controllers to play this game because it doesn’t require aiming precision and has high accessibility.

Do Pro Gamers Use A Mouse Or Controller?

It depends on the game. Because of the analog movement and rapid access to all buttons, racing games, platformers, hack & slash, and other related genres work well with a controller. First and third-person shooters and other games that rely on targeting precision, perform substantially better using a keyboard and mouse. Analog sticks just do not provide an appropriate level of accuracy.

Pro gamers use both gaming mice and controllers. They often use controllers when they’re focusing on movement or story-based games. Pro gamers use gaming mice when playing FPS or multiplayer games.

It also depends on the gamer. Both input methods have pros and cons, and it comes down to personal preference. Many pro gamers are proficient with both systems and can use them interchangeably.


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