What is an Optical Mouse?

Updated: Jul 5, 2023 5:48 PM
what is optical mouse

If you are new to the world of computer accessories, you may wonder what is an optical mouse. Modern PCs, gaming consoles, and other gadgets all integrate with the best computer mouse, but what is an optical mouse in the first place, and what are the benefits of using one? Keep reading to learn more.


  • Optical wireless mouse designs, including the laser mouse, use light-emitting diodes to accurately track the mouse as it travels across the surface.
  • This type of computer mouse is great on nearly any surface, except glossy surfaces and reflective surfaces, and does not require a mouse pad.
  • There is no trackball or other moving components, though there is a scroll wheel, so this type of mouse does not struggle with dirt and debris.

What is an Optical Mouse in Computers?

Before you can conduct a Logitech G100s optical gaming mouse review, you need to know what an optical gaming mouse actually is. An optical mouse is a computer mouse that uses a light-emitting diode to detect movement on the surface if you are wondering how a computer mouse works.

Insider Tip

Optical mouse designs are available in wired and wireless versions to suit different customer bases.

Optical designs replaced old-school trackball mechanical mouse designs and are generally considered to be much easier to maintain, which is great if you just learned how to clean a computer mouse. The light-emitting diode is the mouse’s sensor if you are learning the definition of a mouse sensor.

Benefits of Using an Optical Mouse

There is a reason optical designs have become the go-to standard in the world of the computer mouse. Here are some of the benefits of using one.

Resists Dirt and Debris

Unlike trackballs and other mechanical designs, optical mouse designs resist dirt and debris, as there is nothing for the dirt and debris to get caught in. This varies from mouse to mouse, but using light to determine movement and location essentially makes dirt and debris a non-issue.

No Mouse Pads Required

Due to the nature of the design, optical mouse gadgets do not require mouse pads or any special surface. Just lay the mouse on the table and get going. This is a boon to most users, but there is a caveat. This type of mouse excels on most surface types but struggles on glass, as the light is reflected in ways the sensor has trouble making sense of. However, throwing a mousepad on a glass table works just fine.

STAT: But actually, mechanical mice, optical mice, and laser mice all work by using light as a reference point. In essence, they’re all optics-based peripherals. But the ways in which they use light are slightly different. (source)

Increased Tracking Resolution

This type of computer mouse offers increased tracking resolution, especially when compared to old-school mechanical and trackball mouse designs. What does this mean exactly? This increased tracking resolution creates a smoother response during use, with minimal lag and inaccurate tracking. For this reason, optical designs are extremely popular in competitive gaming, though there are newer mechanical designs growing in popularity for this segment.

Mouse Optical FAQs

What makes the best mouse for PC gaming?

It depends on personal preference. Some gamers prefer laser mice, while others prefer mechanical mice or those with an optical sensor. Gamers like all types of mice, including laser-based mice, wired mice, and more.

How does an optical mouse work?

There is a tiny low-res camera on the bottom and a light diode that acts as a “flash” of sorts to give the laser mouse an idea of where it is located and where it is going. This is true of a standard laser mouse and other optical mice.

Are all optical mice wireless?

Using a wireless mouse is certainly convenient, but not all optical designs are wireless, though many laser mice are. Wireless tech has no influence over optical technology or LED technology, nor does it interfere with the optical sensor or digital signal processor.

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