Free your mouse from the cable and power up your pointer with the best 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth mice
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: while people obsess about the performance of their desktop PC or the resolution of the screen on their laptop, too many ignore the two factors that will have the greatest impact on their everyday use: the keyboard and mouse. Despite all the excitement around styluses and touchscreens, computer mice haven’t got any less important. Most of us are faster and more accurate when using a mouse to click on icons, buttons or links, or to make selections, and the combination of keyboard shortcuts and mouse navigation is pretty hard to beat when it comes to getting stuff done.
These days, the best mice are primarily wireless, and it’s really not hard to understand why. Cables are messy and a real hassle if you’re using a convertible tablet-style PC or laptop, there’s a huge choice of wireless and Bluetooth mice available, and the price premium is virtually non-existent. What’s more, battery life is now so good and connectivity so reliable that the old objections to going wireless have pretty much dropped away. While some hardcore gamers still believe wireless mouse performance is inferior to that of their cabled rivals, a decent wireless mouse with a stable connection generally provides an identical experience.
How to buy the best wireless mouse for you
There are a lot of wireless mice to choose from, with the biggest players – Microsoft and Logitech – responsible for several bewildering lines. Which you go for will depend on your budget, the laptop or PC that you’re using, the features you want and the kind of shape and feel you prefer. The last of these is important. Some people love a big, chunky mouse that fills their hand; others a slimline mouse they can move with their fingertips and stow in a laptop case without adding weight or bulk.
If you’ve used a lot of mice, you’ll probably have worked out which style you prefer. If not, try going to a store where you can test a few different options for feel in your hand. Wireless mice start at between £8 and £10 and climb to over £100 for gaming and specialist models; you’ll find a range of different styles at most price points.
Wireless mice divide into two broad camps. On the one hand, you have those that work with a wireless transceiver that plugs into a USB port on your PC or laptop. This means you don’t need Bluetooth – which many desktop PCs don’t support – and you’re pretty much guaranteed a trouble-free connection. The downside is that the transceiver takes up a USB port, which can be in short supply on some laptops, while the mouse becomes useless if you lose it.
Bluetooth mice have some advantages, particularly if you’re using one with a laptop. First, they work with your computer’s built-in Bluetooth connectivity, so you won’t need to sacrifice a USB port. Second, once you’ve paired a mouse with your PC or laptop, it pretty much works as soon as you switch it on. Bluetooth mice used to have issues with performance, connection stability and battery life, but new Bluetooth standards and developments in battery technology have, for the most part, solved these. As an added bonus, some Bluetooth mice have been designed to pair with multiple devices – including PCs, laptops, convertibles and Android tablets – and switch between up to three with the aid of a switch or button.
Sensitivity and features
Look, feel and connectivity aside, the main things that distinguish different wireless mice are their sensitivity and selection of wheels and buttons. All wireless mice will feature the two buttons plus scroll-wheel layout that’s been standard since the mid-1990s, but some go further with a two-axis wheel that shifts left or right to scroll horizontally as well as vertically, or additional wheels or buttons on the top-surface or side of the mouse. These may be supported directly in certain applications, but in most cases you can configure what the buttons do using the software provided. You might use them to activate specific functions or controls in a design application, for example, or to minimise, maximise and switch between open windows. Once you get used to it, this can be a real time- and effort-saver.
Sensitivity is measured in dots-per-inch. The higher the dpi rating, the more sensitive the mouse, and you’ll find mice rated from 800dpi up to 4,200dpi and beyond. In general, the more sensitive the mouse is, the better, but it’s not worth getting too sucked in by the specs. A higher dpi mouse allows you to move the pointer faster around the screen with less physical movement, but it’s not hard to get to the point where the cursor moves too fast to be controllable, which is why most of us don’t have the pointer speed set to maximum in Windows. Arguably, you need a more sensitive mouse if you have a higher-resolution screen, but even here 1,000dpi will be enough for most users and 1,600dpi high enough even for graphics professionals.
In many ways, the type of sensor used by the mouse is more important. Cheaper mice still use a combination of an infrared or red LED light beam and an optical sensor, which is both effective on most surfaces and extremely accurate. However, the more advanced optical sensors, like Microsoft’s Bluetrack, and laser sensors, which switch LED for laser, tend to be more accurate across a wider range of surfaces. This isn’t a massive issue if you only use your mouse with a mouse-pad, but if you want to use it directly on a desk or glass or coffee-shop table, then premium mice with premium sensors can be more reliable.
Finally, think about battery life. These days, most mice will run for months from a single AAA or AA battery, but accuracy and performance will degrade as the battery runs out. That’s not a problem if you keep a stock of batteries or rechargeables handy, but more expensive models are now shipping with built-in Lithium Ion cells. These last for months and charge using a USB cable, which will often carry a signal as well as power so you can carry on using your device while it’s topped up.
The best wireless mice 2018
Logitech MX Master 2S: The best mouse for features and performance
- Price: £70
Logitech has gone to great lengths in its attempt to make this the only mouse you’ll want to use. It connects over Bluetooth or the supplied 2.4GHz USB adapter, or through a micro-USB to USB cable while charging. You can switch between three different computers or devices using a button on the bottom or move automatically from one PC to another using Logitech’s flow software if you have, say, a laptop and a desktop on the same desk.
The Master 2S has three extra programmable buttons, with one sitting where the thumb rests for easy gesture-based controls. It’s perfect for zooming in and out of documents or maps. What’s more, there’s an extra wheel by the thumb for horizontal scrolling or use in applications where you might want more analogue control. The main scroll wheel switches between smooth and clicky modes with a press of the button underneath. Yet what really makes the Master 2S brilliant isn’t its features, but its ergonomic support, rock-solid feel and pixel-perfect precision. If you’re looking for reliability, accuracy and a premium feel, this is the mouse for you.
Key specs – Sensor: Logitech Darkfield laser; Max sensitivity: 4,000dpi; Connectivity: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless, USB; Buttons: 5 buttons, 2 wheels; Battery: Internal Li-Ion; Dimensions: 126 x 86 x 48.4mm; Weight: 322g
Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse: The best mouse for premium feel
- Price: £95
Over £90 is a lot to pay even for a high-end, premium mouse, but it’s hard to complain when you experience the Microsoft Surface Precision and its luxury feel. Neither as big nor as heavy as the Logitech MX Master 2S, it combines a matt plastic shell with rubberized side panels to superb effect, so the shape fits perfectly inside the hand. Using the three aluminium buttons on the side soon becomes second nature. The “Precision” in its name is justified; when you’re trying to crop images to exact pixel dimensions, or notch up the colour levels on a video, this is exactly the kind of mouse you want to use.
The Surface Precision uses one of Microsoft’s Bluetrack optical sensors, swapping the usual red LED for (you guessed it) a blue one. The technology works extremely well across a wide range of surfaces. And while you don’t get as many buttons as there are on the Logitech 2S, you do get a silky scroll wheel with switchable smooth and clicky modes. The battery is charged via a micro-USB cable, which also allows you to use it as a normal wired mouse, although with the battery lasting up to three months on a single charge you shouldn’t have to plug it in too often. This is a pricey mouse, and not particularly good value, but once you’ve used it it’s hard to pick up another rodent.
Key specs – Sensor: Microsoft Bluetrack; Max sensitivity: 3,200dpi; Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB; Buttons: 5 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: Internal Li-ion; Dimensions: 123 x 78 x 43mm; Weight: 135g
Logitech M720 Triathlon: The best mid-range mouse for multiple devices
- Price: £40
The M720 doesn’t have the laser sensor of the MX Master 2S, but it’s nonetheless a feature-rich mouse for its price point. It connects via Bluetooth or a USB nano receiver that fits neatly into a slot inside the battery compartment. It will pair with up to three PCs or other devices, which you can switch between using the rear-most of three buttons on the side. The other two are user-configurable, while the wheel tilts for horizontal scrolling. As with the more expensive Logitech 2S, you can switch between smooth and clicky scrolling modes.
It’s a smaller, lighter mouse than the MX Master 2S, which might suit those with smaller hands or who prefer fingertip control, and it’s powered by a single AA battery, which Logitech claims will last for up to two years. While the 1,000dpi resolution optical sensor doesn’t sound so impressive, this mouse coped well on a range of surfaces and in more precision-orientated graphics tasks. If you want a mouse that can switch from desktop to laptop to convertible in a jiffy, this one has you covered.
Key specs – Sensor: Logitech Advanced Optical; Max sensitivity: 1,000dpi; Connectivity: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 4 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 1x AA; Dimensions: 115 x 74 x 45mm; Weight: 135g
Razer Atheris: The wireless gaming mouse that does it all
- Price: £50
Gaming mice usually attract a high price premium and don’t always lend themselves to general use. The Razer Atheris, though, is an exception, partly because it comes without the gloss surfaces and RGB bling of its rivals, and partly because you can pick it up for under £50. It’s a winner for left and right-handers, thanks to a symmetrical, ambidextrous style, while the solid build, low weight and rubberized side grips make for a comfortable user experience. That said, if you like your mice plus sized you might find the Atheris a mite too small.
The controls are fairly minimal, with just two side-mounted buttons accompanying the left and right buttons and scroll wheel, but the chunky, tyre-tread wheel works brilliantly, and with an adjustable 7,200dpi resolution it’s as good for Photoshop as Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII or League of Legends. A choice of Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections makes it even more versatile. This little mobile mouse can do it all.
Key specs – Sensor: Optical; Max sensitivity: 7,200dpi; Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 4 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 2 x AA; Dimensions: 99 x 66 x 34mm; Weight: 95g
Logitech M590: The best-value Bluetooth mouse
- Price: £27
Bluetooth mice usually come with a slight price premium, but you can pick up Logitech’s M590 for under £30 and still get many of the features of its more expensive siblings. Like the cheaper M330, it has near-silent buttons, but here you get an additional two buttons just above the thumb grip and a choice of 2.4GHz or Bluetooth connectivity. It’ll also work across two computers, switching to either with a press of the button beneath the scroll wheel or automatically using Logitech’s Flow software; a handy extra if you’re working between a laptop and desktop PC.
With a 1,000dpi optical sensor, you’re not getting the full performance of Logitech’s premium mice, but you’ll be hard-pressed to notice in everyday use, and we didn’t struggle even with precision operations in image-editing apps. While not everyone will like the small size and lightweight feel, the ergonomic profile makes it very comfortable in use. Versatile and affordable, the M590 is a great mid-range mouse.
Key specs – Sensor: Logitech Optical; Max sensitivity: 1,000dpi; Connectivity: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 4 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 1x AA; Dimensions: 103 x 64 x 40mm; Weight: 101g
Logitech M330 Silent Plus: The best quiet budget mouse
- Price: £17
If friends and family are sick of your late-night clicking, Logitech’s M330 could be the mouse for you. Its buttons are designed to be near-silent, with a claimed 90% reduction in click noise over similar Logitech mice. It’s a simple two-button optical device with scroll wheel, but with a similar ergonomic profile to some of Logitech’s more expensive mice and a combination of plastic shell and soft rubber grip that feels surprisingly good in the hand. The compact size and weight are ideal for laptop use, but you wouldn’t mind it as your desktop mouse, either.
The M330 connects via a 2.4GHz wireless transceiver, which stows away in the battery compartment for travel. Meanwhile, the auto switch-off feature helps maintain a two-year battery life without irritation; as soon as you move the mouse, it wakes up. All in all, you’re looking at a great budget mouse that feels more premium than it ought to – and you even get a choice of colours.
Key specs – Sensor: Logitech Optical; Max sensitivity: 1,000dpi; Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 2 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 1x AA; Dimensions: 105 x 68 x 38mm; Weight: 91g
Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850: The best budget mouse for laptops
- Price: £8
Microsoft’s pint-sized mobile mouse is a budget belter, basic in terms of features but great in terms of build quality and feel. Depending on the colour, £10 to £15 will net you a simple two-button mouse with scroll wheel, connecting via a USB nano transceiver. On the one hand, its compact size and 90g weight make it a great mouse for slinging in a bag and carrying around when you’re using a laptop. On the other, it’s surprisingly comfortable and perfectly responsive in everyday use.
The 1850 runs on a single AA battery, which lasts for around six months. It’s not the best mouse for desktop PC users, but if you want a handy mouse that will take a beating – or a backup mouse for travelling – the Mobile Mouse 1850 is your guy.
Key specs – Sensor: Microsoft Optical; Max sensitivity: 1,000dpi; Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 2 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 1 x AA; Dimensions: 100 x 58 x 38mm; Weight: 91g
Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse: The biggest bargain in ergonomic mice
- Price: £15
Cheap mice aren’t hard to come by, but Anker steals a march on the competition with its bargain-basement ergonomic model. The shark-fin shape might look strange and the vertical grip takes some getting used to, but some users will find the handshake position more comfortable than the standard wrist-down claw or palm and fingertip styles, which puts more pressure on the nerves and tendons. It’s also a more substantial-feeling rodent than you might expect for the money, though the shape means it’s no good for left-handers whatsoever.
Grip aside, the controls are fairly conventional, with the scroll wheel and two buttons on what’s now the right-hand surface of the mouse, and two additional buttons – next and previous by default – near the top of the thumb grip. You can switch between three sensitivity settings with a button on the top edge of the mouse, and while it’s not quite as pinpoint-accurate as the high-end Microsoft and Logitech mice, it never feels laggy, vague or unresponsive. The only minor grumbles are that it uses two AAA batteries (not included) and that it needs to be woken up with a left- or right-click if left unattended for eight minutes or more; a sensible battery-saving measure, but an annoyance when other mice wake on movement.
Key specs – Sensor: Optical; Max sensitivity: 1,600dpi; Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless; Buttons: 4 buttons, 1 wheel; Battery: 2 x AAA; Dimensions: 101 x 82 x 80mm; Weight: 95g