Trackball vs Mouse

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Updated November 18, 2022

There’s a sea of controller shapes, sizes, and specs to consider when choosing the best computer mouse. However, finding the right computer mouse is crucial for increasing overall comfort and productivity throughout a working day. Below, we’re going to compare trackball vs mouse designs and help you understand how their advantages might better suit your needs.


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For more helpful information on mouse shape comparisons, check out our guide covering trackball mice vs vertical mice.

Insider Tip

To keep your trackball mouse ball working smoothly, clean the ball bearings, which often get dirtied over time.

Trackball Mouse vs Regular Mouse

Ergonomics is the main focus when comparing the trackball designs with normal mice. Before getting into the comparison, it’s good to understand the theory behind ergonomics. In short, ergonomics describes how devices enhance workplace productivity, and many claim that device design can lead to better work outcomes due to increased comfort.

So what is a trackball mouse, and how’s it different than a regular mouse? As we all know, traditional mice have a specific shape and design where the cursor moves via a built-in optical sensor as the user moves the mouse around with their hand. The sensor is a tiny camera that takes many low-resolution pictures, recording information to determine where the cursor moves.

On the other hand, a finger-operated trackball mouse replaces the need for a surface, using a large plastic ball to act as the object of the sensor’s recording. In short, the sensor analyzes its location based on how the user shifts the ball.

In the end, both designs accomplish the same thing, but there are differences in how they affect things like wrist pain, accuracy, and special considerations.


There isn’t a way to form a universal verdict regarding which design is more ergonomic. Ultimately, it always comes down to personal preference. However, trackball mice limit the amount of wrist movement compared to a normal mouse. Because of this, many ergonomic experts praise the trackball.

Additionally, there are multiple types of trackball mice, allowing users to choose which works best for them. For example, there are thumb trackball mice and finger operator types. Ultimately, the trackball mouse’s design limits movement, allowing the user’s hand to rest in a more comfortable position. The effects can be magnificent and are even reported to reduce issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.


For those who use their mouse for highly precise tasks, like gaming or excel, it’s usually better to go with a regular mouse. When comparing the range of movement users have with a regular mouse design, it’s hard to deny that trackballs are more challenging to control.


While traditional trackball devices are ambidextrous, thumb-operated trackballs are not.

There isn’t much difference for basic computer tasks, but standard mouse designs allow more accuracy and quick reaction speed. If you’d like more info on improving mouse accuracy, you can read our article comparing hard vs soft mousepads.

Desk Space

Although trackball mice are larger, typical mice take up more desk space. The reason is that the regular mice require more arm movement because the design requires the sensor to be drug across a stationary surface. The trackball design reverses this, keeping the mouse stationary by making the surface moveable. Ultimately, this eats up less desk space.

STAT: Most trackballs range from one to two inches in diameter. (source)

Trackball vs Mouse FAQs

Are thumb-operated trackballs more ergonomic than other types?

Ergonomics largely depends on user preference, so there’s no way to determine which one is the most ergonomic.

Can you use a trackball mouse for gaming?

Trackballs can be used as gaming mice but reduce essential gaming elements like reaction time.

How much does a trackball mouse cost?

The starting range for a trackball mouse begins at around $30 and reaches upwards of $150.
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