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Optical Mouse Sensor [What & How]

In this article, I will give you an overview of the mouse sensors with a special focus on the optical mouse sensor.

With technological advancements, mouse sensors have also become advanced. You may have seen a plain ball in some old mouse; that was its mouse sensor. A mouse relies on its sensor to tell it in which direction the mouse is moving and where the cursor should move accordingly. Therefore, a mouse needs to have a good enough sensor to accurately and precisely track its movement. So, let us take a look at modern optical mouse sensors and their significance.

Also Read: What Is Mouse Polling Rate?

Key Takeaways

  • An optical mouse sensor photographs the surface beneath the mouse at a high rate and analyzes obtained images to determine the movement of the mouse. The mouse cursor then moves in accordance with the calculated mouse movement.
  • A laser sensor uses a laser beam and a laser sensor to sense the surface changes with the movement of the mouse. Similarly, an optical sensor relies on LED or IR light to illuminate the surface and a microscopic camera to obtain images.
  • You can clean your mouse sensor by gently wiping it with the cotton swab dipped in cleaning alcohol.
  • Mouse sensor rattle refers to the sound produced by the loose movement of the mouse sensor inside the mouse shell. It can be eliminated by tightening any loose screws or firmly mounting any floating parts of the mouse.

What Is An Optical Mouse Sensor?

Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless - Sensor
Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless – Sensor (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Optical mouse sensors have now become the new standard sensors in modern mice due to their precision, accuracy, and reliability. An optical sensor illuminates the surface beneath the mouse with LED or IR light source and then takes microscopic images of this surface at a rate of more than a thousand images per second. The surface images are then processed by algorithms to calculate the change in the position of the mouse to track its movement. Consequently, the movement of the mouse then translates to the movement of the cursor.

Optical sensors are faster than any mechanical sensor. For example, the Razer Viper V2 Pro uses an optical sensor (Focus Pro 30k) that offers 30,000 DPI. Therefore, the mouse industry is now adapting to the optical ones due to their performance, ease of use, and wide range of applications. Even small surface irregularities are enough for these sensors to obtain the data required to calculate the movement of the mouse. Moreover, these sensors can operate over a wide range of mouse pads and even glossy surfaces.

Best Mouse Sensor

While there is no clear winner for the award of the best mouse sensor, some of the top-notch mouse sensors are listed below:

PixartPAW 3335Optical1600040040g
PixartPMW 3360Optical1200025050g
RazerFocus ProOptical3000075050g
RazerFocus +Optical2000065050g
LogitechHero 25kOptical2560040040g
LogitechHero 16kOptical1600040040g

How To Clean Mouse Sensor

Cleaning a mouse sensor, especially the optical one, can recover its performance. However, you need to clean the mouse sensor very carefully so that you may not damage it. You can follow the below steps to clean your mouse sensor:

  1. Recognize the sensor area. This step is important to ensure that you only use cleaning solution in the sensor area and do not accidentally spread it over the charging port or other circuitry.
  2. Use a cotton swab or soft brush and dip it into the cleaning alcohol solution. Make sure you do not soak it completely.
  3. Gently clean the sensor by applying little to no pressure. It is important that you need to apply too much pressure, or else you will damage the sensor.
  4. Leave the sensor to dry for a couple of minutes.
  5. Avoid directly touching the sensor during the whole cleaning process.

Optical Vs Laser Sensor Mouse

Corsair Harpoon RGB Wireless - Sensor
Corsair Harpoon RGB Wireless – Sensor (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Let us take a look at the comparison of optical and laser sensors used in modern mice.

Optical SensorLaser Sensor
Uses LED or infrared light source to track movementUses laser diode to track movement
Well-suited for most gaming and general computing needsOften preferred by users with specific requirements
Provides reliable tracking on a variety of surfacesMay struggle on transparent or reflective surfaces
Generally has lower lift-off distanceCan have a higher lift-off distance
Offers a balance between affordability and performanceOften found in expensive high-end gaming mice with advanced features

Mouse Sensor Rattle

Mouse sensor rattle refers to a scenario in which the mouse sensor or its mounting comes loose. So whenever the mouse is moved or shaken, an annoying rattling sound is produced. It is also possible that the sound might be coming through some component other than the mouse sensor, which is not secured properly inside the mouse. If you are facing this issue, you can try opening up your mouse yourself or ask someone for help. On opening up, tighten any loose screws you find or secure any floating component in its place. However, if the issue persists, you might need to replace your mouse to get rid of the rattling sound.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, an optical mouse sensor feeds the microscopic images of the surface beneath the mouse at a rate of more than 1000 images per second. Those images are then processed by algorithms to calculate the movement of the mouse. As a result, the mouse cursor moves in accordance with the calculated mouse movement.

Moreover, optical mouse sensors have now become the new industry standard due to their cost, performance, versatility, and ease of use. An example of a top-notch optical sensor is Razer’s Focus Pro which offers 30,000 DPI. Additionally, another famous type of mouse sensor is the laser sensor which is limited in use due to its higher cost. A laser sensor relies on a laser diode and laser detector to sense the surface beneath, working on the same principle as the optical ones.

Lastly, mouse sensor rattle is a condition in which a rattling sound is generated whenever the mouse is moved or shaken. The potential cause of this rattling sound is the loose mounting of the mouse sensor, which can be fixed in most cases by tightening any loose parts.


How to clean the mouse sensor?

Clean the mouse sensor using the cotton swab dipped in cleaning alcohol. Gently wipe this swab over the sensor area while avoiding applying excess pressure.

How to fix a mouse sensor?

If your mouse sensor malfunctions, try updating the mouse drivers, cleaning the mouse sensor, or using your mouse over a different surface. This will resolve the issue in most cases.

How to test the mouse sensor?

The basic test of a mouse sensor is measuring its DPI. You can measure DPI with the help of the DPI Analyzer. On the attached link, you will find the tools and instructions for finding the DPI of your mouse. Find out the DPI and see how it compares to the expected DPI of your mouse sensor.

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Ali Rashid Khan
Ali Rashid Khan
Ali Rashid Khan is an avid gamer, hardware enthusiast, photographer, and devoted litterateur with a period of experience spanning more than 14 years. Sporting a specialization with regards to the latest tech in flagship phones, gaming laptops, and top-of-the-line PCs, Ali is known for consistently presenting the most detailed objective perspective on all types of gaming products, ranging from the Best Motherboards, CPU Coolers, RAM kits, GPUs, and PSUs amongst numerous other peripherals. When he’s not busy writing, you’ll find Ali meddling with mechanical keyboards, indulging in vehicular racing, or professionally competing worldwide with fellow mind-sport athletes in Scrabble at an international level. Currently speaking, Ali has completed his A-Level GCEs with plans to go into Business Studies, or who knows, perhaps a full-time dedicated technological journalist.


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