Can You Use a Gaming Mouse as a Regular Mouse?

Are you a seasoned gaming veteran wondering if you should use a gaming mouse as a regular mouse for normal work? Or maybe you’re a gamer who doesn’t want to get a regular mouse after owning a gaming one. In this article, we’ll explicitly answer when you should and should not use a gaming mouse instead of a regular mouse.

Normally, using a gaming mouse as a regular mouse is ok at home. However, do not use a gaming mouse as a regular mouse in an office space since this is more formal.

Comparing a Gaming Mouse Vs. a Regular Mouse

Before delving into when to and when not to use each type of mouse, it will be appropriate to know how a gaming mouse and a regular mouse differ. This knowledge would go a long way in helping you to determine if a gaming mouse can indeed be used as a regular mouse and vice versa.

The differences between a gaming mouse and a regular mouse are the number of buttons they both have, how sensitive they are, and the type of sensors built into them. A gaming mouse usually has additional programmable buttons, a high DPI range, and more customization options. A normal mouse typically has fewer buttons, lower DPI, and fewer customization options. 

A gaming mouse like this is typically a regular mouse that has been designed with gamers in mind. Gamers need some extra features and performance capabilities that a regular mouse just can’t provide. From a high-level point of view, there might not be a lot of differences between a gaming mouse and a regular mouse as they're both used for the same base purpose. When taking a closer look, one can see that they differ in certain little ways that make a big difference.

Similarities Between a Gaming Mouse and a Regular Mouse

Similarity 1. A Regular Mouse and a Gaming Mouse Both Have 3 Buttons That Perform The Same Function.

A regular mouse like this typically has three buttons, one on the left, another on the right, and a scroll wheel in the middle. The left button is usually used to click, select, drag objects, or highlight words. The right button is typically used to show additional information or the properties of a selected item. The scroll wheel is located between the left and right buttons. It is used for scrolling up and down the pages of a window. The user can also click the scroll wheel to perform various functions. A gaming mouse will have more buttons than these three, but they will always include the three buttons.

The three buttons that can be found on a regular mouse and a gaming mouse perform the same functions.
A regular mouse and gaming mouse both have three main buttons. Source: Amazon.

Similarity 2. They Can Both Be Used on the Same Kind of Surfaces.

Both types of mice can work on most opaque surfaces that are diffusively reflective, like paper. Although most would not work on specularly reflective surfaces like ceramic, glass, or polished stone. A mouse pad like this would work fine for a gaming mouse as it would for a regular mouse.

A mouse pad provides a suitable surface for both gaming and regular mice.
A gaming and regular mouse can both be used on a mouse pad. Image Source: Amazon.

Similarity 3. They Are Both Compatible With All Operating Systems.

Windows, macOS, and Linux would very well accept a gaming mouse as well as a regular mouse. The software on both types of mice works on the same standard operating systems. The similar software allows gaming mice and regular mice to be compatible with any OS you decide to use. Newegg describes mouse compatibility in this article.

You may also be wondering about the differences between a gaming vs. a controller. If so, be sure to read our related article for more details. Similarly, we have a related article that will explain what is a gaming mouse and how you can use them to optimize gameplay. Be sure to check that out too.

Differences Between a Gaming Mouse and Regular Mouse

Now that we have had a look at the similarities between gaming and regular mice, let's delve into their differences:

Difference 1. The Polling Rate

Polling rate is a term used to relate to how often a computer mouse reports its position along with other relevant data, to the computer mouse. The metric used to measure it is Hertz (Hz), which is the number of times data is sent in a second. For instance, a mouse with a polling rate of 300 Hz sends data 300 times in a second. A mouse with a lower polling rate will have more delay and report data less often. 

Gaming mice generally feature higher polling rates than regular mice. Most regular mice like this have a polling rate of about 125Hz, while most gaming mice like this have polling rates of between 600 and 8000 Hz and more. Some gaming mice also allow the user to change the polling rate manually.

Difference 2. The Aesthetic Appearance

Aesthetics refers to how the mouse looks and feels. It has no functional purpose in how the mouse operates, but it might be important to some mouse users. A regular mouse would have a plain curved shell along with the buttons, no lights, and small size at times. On the other hand, gaming mice come in all shapes and sizes with an array of led lights, like this one. Gaming mice are usually designed with ergonomics that provide comfort during long hours of gaming. Another arguable reason is that gamers like to show off their fancy gadgets to fellow gamers.

The different parts of a gaming mouse could be very brightly lit and look quite different when compared to a regular mouse.
A gaming mouse can look very different from a regular mouse. Source: Amazon.

Difference 3. The Number of Buttons

As mentioned earlier in the similarities, gaming and regular mice will have three standard buttons for clicking, right-clicking, and scrolling. However, gaming mice go the extra mile to add extra buttons that one can program to do various things. These extra buttons are often called “macro keys” and c

A gaming mouse can have as few as two to almost 20 buttons, like this gaming mouse. Some gaming mice with two extra buttons have the function of going forward or backward in a web browser. These two buttons are sometimes in regular mice, but it’s not common.

Difference 4. The Customization Options

Regular mice are designed to satisfy a broad user base, and their customization options are almost nonexistent. A regular mouse user cannot change the weight, sensitivity, look or feel of the mouse unless through heavy modding. A gaming mouse, on the other hand, has many customization options. You can add and remove weights into the body of the gaming mouse, like this one, to make it lighter or heavier as you choose. You can even change the LED lights of a gaming mouse. Some gaming mice even allow you to change various body parts for unique customization.

Difference 5. The Sensitivity (DPI)

The sensitivity of a mouse is how fast the mouse cursor will move around your screen. It is measured in dots per inch (DPI). For instance, if a mouse has 700 DPI, moving the mouse by an inch would result in the cursor moving across 700 pixels/dots. There is no good or bad amount of DPI, it depends on personal preference. A regular mouse doesn’t allow changing the amount of DPI; you are stuck with the default option. A gaming mouse like this would not only have a high DPI relative to a regular mouse but also give you the option of selecting across a given range.

Most gamers like to change their DPI on the fly while playing games, which is why this option is essential to them. On the other hand, a regular mouse user would usually not care about what DPI they are using. However, they do have the option of changing mouse sensitivity inside the operating system settings. This option of changing mouse sensitivity is not as ideal as changing the DPI on the actual mouse. 

You can read this article to learn more about changing your mouse sensitivity for Mac or Windows

Difference 6. The Cost

On average, a gaming mouse will cost much more than a regular mouse. It is expected because a gaming mouse has way more features and performance options than a normal mouse. A typical regular mouse can come in at $10-$20. However, a gaming mouse can cost about $40 for budget ones and around $150-$200 for high-end ones. A regular mouse would have the bare minimum functions of a cheaper gaming mouse. However, for a few extra bucks a gaming mouse could do a lot more.

Tips To Determine When You Can and Can’t Use a Gaming Mouse as a Regular Mouse

A gaming mouse and a regular mouse can be very similar and you may be tempted to use a gaming mouse in every situation where you need to use a mouse. However, it is paramount to discern when you should and shouldn’t use a gaming mouse instead of a regular one. 

Do not use a gaming mouse as a regular mouse in official or formal situations or when the available budget is limited.

If you're interested in a gaming mouse, check out our review of the best gaming mice to buy in 2022.

These tips will help you to discern when not to use a gaming mouse as a regular mouse:

Tip 1. Don’t Use a Gaming Mouse as a Regular Mouse in the office 

A flashy gaming mouse with RGB lights and a frame that looks like “Optimus Prime” from the “Transformers” movie might not convey an excellent message to your boss. It might make you seem trivial, unprofessional, and unproductive. If it were purchased with company money, it would also seem like a frivolous use of company funds. It will be best to avoid using a gaming mouse in the office environment, as a regular mouse will still suffice.

Tip 2. Don’t Use a Gaming Mouse if You’re on a Tight Budget.

It is without a doubt that good gaming mice are pretty pricey. Depending on quality and functionality, they can go from $40 to $200. Going after a regular mouse will be wiser if you’re strapped for cash. You might consider getting the best gaming mouse money can buy, but it is not worth being broke in the long run, so opt for a budget gaming mouse if you have to have one. If you're interested in budget gaming mouse options, our review on the best gaming mice under $10 focuses on the best models for your budget.

Can I Use a Gaming Mouse For Work?

Sometimes, you may be able to use a gaming mouse for work, it can depend on the type of work you do. Designers have been known to increase their productivity by utilizing the features of a gaming mouse in their work. 

When working from home, using a gaming mouse for work is ok. Don’t use a gaming mouse for work if it will bring on the urge to start gaming, if the LED lighting will be distracting, and if the gaming mouse will distract your coworkers in the office.

You can check out this article about the best mice for designers and designing. If you’re working from home, it will also be fine to use a gaming mouse if you’re comfortable with it.

It may not be appropriate to use a gaming mouse for work if you’re working in an office environment. If you are an avid gamer with a bit of an obsession or even addiction, you might also want to avoid using a gaming mouse for work. The sight of your gaming mouse might just trigger a craving to start gaming and cause you to abandon the work you’re doing. Also, gaming mice are known to have flashing lights and loud satisfying mouse clicks. These lights and clicks may be distracting to your fellow workers. It may even be distracting to you. Another reason that has been mentioned before is the fact that it might be considered frivolous spending when using company funds on gadgets like this.

Don’t use a gaming mouse at work if it will temp you to start gaming during working hours.
A gaming mouse can bring the temptation to play games at work. Source: Mashable.

What Makes a Good Gaming Mouse?

The features and functions of a gaming mouse are what makes it good or not so be sure to research the features that you are looking for.

The features that make for a good gaming mouse include DPI and polling rates, multiple programmable buttons, an ergonomic shape, and adjustable weight.  

If you are looking for a good gaming mouse look for the following features:

Feature 1. Variable DPI and Polling Rate

A lot of gamers need a wide range of sensitivity to enhance their gaming experience. A good gaming mouse should have an option to choose the DPI or polling rate you want and to be able to change them at will. CodingHorror describes DPI and polling rate in great detail.

A good gaming mouse will have a high DPI and the option to adjust it.
Gaming mice typically have a DPI button for adjusting the sensitivity of the mice. Source:

Feature 2. Multiple Buttons or Macro Keys

Having macro keys allows you to perform repetitive actions quickly and easily in video games. This feature is essential for many gamers and should be present in a good gaming mouse. The option of multiple buttons on the mouse allows you to perform different actions without taking your eyes away from the screen.

A gaming mouse will have many more buttons than a regular mouse and the more programable buttons it has, the better.
A good gaming mouse will have programmable buttons to increase functionality in professional games. Source: Amazon.

Feature 3. Ergonomic Shape

A typical gamer would spend hours in front of their computer playing video games. An ergonomic and comfortable mouse that takes the natural shape of the hand is needed because of these long hours of gaming. A good gaming mouse should allow you to continue using it for over 6 hours without fatigue in your hand and palm.

A good gaming mouse will have an optimal ergonomic shape as opposed to a regular mouse that has an ordinary shape.
The best gaming mice have ergonomic shapes to increase comfort and performance during long gaming sessions. Source: Shopee.

Be sure to also take a look at our article explaining how to choose the best ergonomic gaming mouse to fit your needs. I think you'll be surprised at what you find out!

Feature 4. Weights

A manufacturer cannot make one mouse that fits every gamer. That’s why a good gaming mouse should have the option to customize some features that a user would want to change. One of these features is the weight of the mouse. Adjustable weights might be useful for gamers who often move their mouse with fast motions (also called flicking). 

This Logitec Support video tutorial explains all about how adjustable weights work in a gaming mouse. Also, if you’d like to start with a really lightweight gaming mouse, learn more about the Zaukoenig mouse here.

A good gaming mouse will allow you to add or remove weights to customize it to your exact requirements.
Adjustable weights allow you to set the mouse weight to suit your needs. Source: Youtube.

Summary of Optimal Gaming Mouse Features 

Feature Why Does This Feature Make a Mouse Better for Gaming? What Games Is This Feature Really Useful For? Example Product
Variable DPI and polling rate Allow gamers to change the sensitivity of their mouse to be more precise Shooter Logitech G703 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse
Multiple buttons or Macro keys Allow you to perform repetitive actions quickly and easily MMORPG, RPG, Fighting Games Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB - MMO Gaming Mouse
Ergonomic Shape Allows you to play for extended hours without your hand feeling fatigued All genres of gaming Delux Wired Ergonomic Vertical Mouse
Weights Gives a more natural feel when flicking your mouse Shooter, RPG, Sports Logitech G500s Laser Gaming Mouse

Similarly, you might be interested in learning our tricks for finding the best mouse for FPS games. If so, be sure to read our related article for more information.

Can I Use a Normal Mouse for Gaming?

While there are scenarios where you can use a normal mouse for gaming, it is usually best to game with a good gaming mouse. A good gaming mouse will give you a competitive edge when playing with your friends or in tournaments. It can make all the difference between winning or losing. 

A normal mouse can be used by beginner gamers, casual gamers, or to avoid overcomplicating the game and becoming overwhelmed.

If you want to get a great mouse for competitive games, check out our review on the best high-end gaming mice in 2022.

The reasons for using a normal mouse for gaming include:

Reason 1. The Price of a Normal Mouse Is Lower

If you’re fresh into PC gaming or you're just getting introduced to gaming as a hobby, you might want to avoid splurging on a gaming mouse. Using a regular mouse to play games would allow you to learn the ropes without spending too much money. You might also find out along the way that gaming or PC gaming just isn’t for you and you would be happy you avoided spending so much on a gadget you didn’t need.

Reason 2. You’re a Casual Gamer

As a casual gamer who plays video games once or twice a week, you could get a regular mouse instead of going all out for a gaming mouse. A normal mouse would still provide the basic features you need in a mouse for gaming and you would also be saving money.

Reason 3. Don’t Over-Complicate Things

Even if money isn’t a problem, you might still want to get a regular mouse if you know you don’t need a gaming mouse - as the saying goes, “sometimes, more is less”. If you don’t need the extra features a gaming mouse has to offer, you might be shooting yourself in the foot by overwhelming yourself with so many advanced features you don’t actually understand.


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