On Mice

January 5, 2024 12 min read

What I learned down the mouse rabbit hole.

Did you know that the plural of computer mouse is “mouses”?

Me either, but that’s what I learned from mouse reviews—a rich and expansive genre of reading and YouTube surfing.

I’ll keep calling them “mice” though because that’s funnier and feels right.

I’ve given more thought to the mice in my life lately, after having my second gaming mouse die and accidentally destroying the switch I attempted to repair. (In my defense, those switches are very small and I wasn’t trying hard enough.)

My twitchy, high-adrenaline aim has also plateaued at “not great,” so I figured I’d find a new mouse and try to address my aiming issues in one plunge down the rabbit hole.

The basics haven’t changed from playing Doom on a CRT monitor: slide the plastic puck around a hopefully-even surface and click to shoot. The nuance in these fundamentals, however, has exploded into a universe of products, opinions, and incremental improvements!

For example, reliable wireless gaming mice are a thing.

The radio technology is so good that you can easily find a wireless mouse that performs as well as or better than a wired mouse. This wireless mouse can also be impossibly lightweight! No cord drag, no skipping, just you and your mediocre eye-hand coordination.

What excuses could you possibly have for bad aim then, you ask smartly?

We still have plenty! Next is the mouse shape.

Mice come in all sorts of shapes now, roughly classified by the styles of grip it’s meant for. Those styles have names like “claw,” “fingertip,” “palm,” and variations that account for how people with different hand shapes and sizes scoot and click.

There are mice tailored for specific types of games and weird ones chasing ultra minimal or ultra light to an excessive degree, and mostly people arguing about switch types and ergonomic differences. Despite wondering how much these things actually help someone play better or have more fun, I can easily get lost in what’s basically a giant ongoing discussion about ergonomics and product design. Great options are all over the place!

I won’t get into keyboards here because we know that’s a whole other thing, but keyboards and mice are the tactile parts of a computing experience so there’s also something intimate and sacred here for the perpetually-computered.

I think some of the modern variety owes a lot to professional gaming, with reviews and marketing that seem like they’re trying to whisper to the elite gamer in every one of us. I’m confident I don’t have an elite gamer inside and that age isn’t helping my reaction time, but the technology is interesting anyway. As usual, the YouTube production values are stunning.

Back to mousing, though.

Your mousing surface options are more diverse than that old blue pad that came with the family computer in the 90’s1. (That old relic would probably still work great, though.) You can find fast, low-friction pads made of glass and metal and nylon, and “high stopping-power” pads with squishier under-layers and a softer surface that can absorb gaming hand sweat.

There are wrist yoga pants to reduce friction and sweat.

There are aiming apps just for measuring and training and making you feel bad about your reflexes. Calculator apps for translating mouse settings between different games to dial in a consistent sensitivity and responsiveness.

Until this latest research phase, I was unaware of most of these things.

I started with a Razor Abyssus many years ago, and never liked it. Funky coating, soulless clicks, questionable mouthfeel, and honestly I don’t even like the Razer logo even though that’s silly because the company apparently makes nice hardware. For unknown reasons compounded by a sale, I upgraded myself to a Logitech G502 Hero SE years later. It had weights you could add or remove, and way too many buttons. But I liked the shape, added weights to it, and was happier with it until the right click started failing. That was followed by an HK Mira S, which was light for the time and much simpler, but basically a lumbering Buick compared to these featherweight modern absurdities.

Sketchy drawings of the Razor Abyssus, Logitech G502 Hero SE, and HK Mira S
Past gaming mice: the Razor Abyssus, Logitech G502 Hero SE, and HK Mira S.

I’ll pause the riveting gaming mouse history for a note on workhorse mice.

My daytime business mousing evolved in parallel: various laptop trackpads over the years, the Mighty Mouse with its 360° but easily-clogged spherical nubbin, the beautiful Magic Mouse with useful gestures and insufferable charging and hand fatigue, and eventually an MX Master 3 that solved ergonomics, added a few buttons, and got me addicted to a scroll wheel that’s hard to beat. The Magic Trackpad never stuck for me; it worked in theory, but finding a resting position for it and selecting text with precision always felt like doing a pencil sketch with a sausage compared to the more distinct grip and pointer control of a traditional mouse.

Sketchy drawings of the Apple Mighty Mouse, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad
Beautiful objects with awful ergonomics: Apple’s Mighty Mouse, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad.

I’ve never made a serious effort with a vertical or trackball mouse, which I attribute to a lack of bravery.

For a while I tried to use the same mice for gaming and work, but it never felt right. The MX Master 3 was too slow for running around and shooting things, and scrolling web pages with gaming mice felt downright primitive. The discernible clicks as you rotate are useful when you’re cycling through an inventory in a game, and needlessly distracting navigating a document.

I didn’t know how to describe my grip, but the MX Master 3 has always been comfortable to use for any length of time—that shape is dialed in for desktop work. The only thing I knew about my gaming grip is that it was a product of panic and desperation more than fine tuning.

But to buy a new mouse you first have to select a mouse, and I didn’t have an infinite budget.

So, as one does, I read reviews. I listed my past mice to compare their sizes and weights.

MouseWirelessDimensions (mm)Weight (g)Feelings
Razer Abyssusno115 L × 63 W × 38 H110🙁
Logitech G502 Hero SEno290 L × 75 W × 40 H121😐
HK Mira Sno114 L × 60.3 W × 40.5 H61🙂
Logitech MX Master 3yes124 L, 84 W, 51 H141😀

Mouse enthusiasts will be offended that I’ve left sensitivity off the chart because—and I know you’re going to be mad about this—I don’t care that much. I know the sensitivity of the MX Master 3 is not good enough for gaming and that I never thought much about the sensitivity of my gaming mice. So the bar there was “not awful” and it was down to finding a ballpark for shape and weight.

I found a really cool site called EloShapes that lets you compare exacting mouse shapes, which was helpful comparing old mice to new prospects. (This kind of site/app would be nice to have with all physical objects!)

This post is long enough, so I’ll skip what I considered and tell you I ordered a Lamzu Atlantis. It’s a relatively inexpensive but high-quality mouse from a company that came out of nowhere to delight reviewers. My choice would be a gamble no matter what, but I figured I could try a well-liked mouse and an ultralight (49 grams!) at the claw grip end of the spectrum. Even if it was a bad fit, I’d get to try a few new things with just one mouse.

I’d already seen unboxing videos and watched every review I could find, just to make sure receiving it was no joy and all business.

In my hand, it was still a surprise. It’s light enough that it feels like a prop mouse meant for photography or stunts (?) that wouldn’t actually work.

“Oops, they sent me a shell and forgot to put the functional bits in!” is what it felt like.

It did work, though! It paired easily with the 4K dongle and tracked as well as any wired mouse I’ve ever used.2 I kept notes about DPI settings and game settings and played with it until I was mediocre again.

It came with grip tape, which I tried for the first time to change the feel and hide fingerprints I’d rather not think about cleaning. The grip tape was indeed satisfyingly grippy, and now I want to put grip tape on everything but I’m ignoring that impulse.

I even got ever so slightly better using this newfangled mouse in BattleBit Remastered and Hell Let Loose.

Drunk on power, amazed by the Lamzu’s performance, and curious about the ideal shape, I ordered a Lamzu Thorn shortly after.

Sketchy drawings of the Lamzu Atlantis Mini 4K and Lamzu Thorn.
Modern champs: Lamzu Atlantis Mini 4K and Lamzu Thorn.

It’s a slightly older model, but technically an “ergo” gaming mouse. Still for medium to small hands, but a bit less aggressive and more casual—all of which are words that describe me. It’s technically heavier, but feels like the difference between nothing and imperceptibly more nothing.

MouseWirelessDimensions (mm)Weight (g)Feelings
Lamzu Atlantis Mini 4Kyes117 L × 63 W × 37 H49😮
Lamzu Thornyes119 L × 65 W × 42 H52🥳

The Thorn’s been my winner. There may be a more perfect shape out there—that’s the promise for the mouse addict—but my hand just sort of knows what to do with it and the performance is just as otherworldly as the Atlantis I started with. The switches in the Thorn are optical instead of mechanical, which theoretically means longevity in exchange for satisfying feel. I can feel the difference and I don’t care. Since two of my gaming mice have experienced right-click failure, I suspect I have a violent middle gaming finger that can ruin any gaming mouse.

Not content to be content with a mouse, I wondered if I could replace my aging MX Master 3 with a newly-released Keychron M6 and its impossibly low price of $50. It looked roughly on par with the MX Master 3, but with better tracking. Could it replace the long-time champion at a fraction of the cost?

Sketchy drawings of the Logitech MX Master 3 and Keychron M6
King of work mice and unsuccessful challenger: Logitech MX Master 3 and Keychron M6.

It took less than a minute to confirm that no, it could not.3

The tracking was better, but the ergonomics were a downgrade and it turns out I very often use the MX Master’s thumb drop gesture to toggle Mission Control on macOS and either hunt for open windows or navigate spaces.

Changing my mouse surface seemed to help all around, however!

I used to work on a simple leather desk pad I got from an Etsy seller that very simply finished Italian leather without adding a logo to it. It looked and felt great, but the surface was a bit too uneven for gaming. So for gaming sessions, I’d slide that someplace else and plop a SteelSeries QcK Medium mouse pad on my desk. Modest size, cloth top like most mouse pads you’ve ever seen, and a thin rubbery base layer. It worked okay, but I decided I’d try a huge Cordura mat (Pulsar ParaSpeed XXL) so I could work and play on the same surface, and have more area so I could focus on movement with less concern for the edges. I used a fabric marker and some scissors to remove the tag and tone down the white print. While a black surface shows every speck of dust, it’s easy to clean, just squishy enough, and a zippy surface that so far doesn’t show any wear.

With all the little problems solved, I could finally turn to the big one: the human operator.

Having reliable clicks is fundamentally important, but my problem with aim is another metaphor for a current life challenge: to be better, I need to relax.

Various forum discussions led me to the conclusion that a steady state prepares you to aim well. That means making smart tactical decisions, breathing easy, and moving smoothly with intention. Anybody will panic caught in a moment they aren’t ready for, so the goal isn’t so much considering those moments as much as being prepared for them. That means the more obvious things like physical posture, keyboard and mouse placement, desk height, etc. but also the head game that’s about breathing, intention, and little moments of reflection and adjustment.

Somebody clued me into a saying from the Navy Seals that I like:

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

In other words, it’s not about finding the right gear and racing around with it, but a discipined smoothness that’s always ready for the next moment.

It turns out my greatest improvements came from reliable buttons and reminding myself to be calm and have fun.


  1. Apologies if you weren’t alive then. I’m old. 

  2. Better, considering that every Bluetooth mouse and even the MX Master 3 (USB dongle) manage to skip around occasionally. 

  3. Of course I should have known this, but I don’t remember you pointing it out at the time!