Do you like buttons? Wish your mouse had more? How about the value of a full number pad? If so, consider the not-so-humble MMO mouse. MMORPGs have largely fallen out of the gaming zeitgeist, but the mouse design created in their heyday still has great utility. While the best esports mice lose functionality to minimize weight, the MMO mouse is large, relatively heavy, and features as many buttons as possible.
With MMOs, not to mention city builders and strategy games, you can assign most, if not all, of your hotkeys to the keyboard on the mouse side. Even MOBAs, with their many hotkeys, pair well with one of these devices. Depending on the game, you can offload all of your input to your mouse and play one-handed. If you’re less concerned with your quickdraw and more focused on comfortably playing games that require lots of input, a top-flight MMO mouse may be for you.
Buttons, buttons, buttons
MMO mice often make mainstream tech oddity lists because of their defining feature, a bunch of buttons on the side of the thumb. Instead of adding the usual “Back” and “Forward” side buttons, a “traditional” MMO mouse features a grid of buttons on the side. The actual number varies a bit. Our recommendations include products with as few as six buttons and as many as 12 buttons, accounting for non-side buttons. As a result, most MMO mice total between 15 and 19 customizable inputs. In contrast, the most feature-rich gaming mice outside of the category typically exceed 10-11 buttons.
Generally, more is better. Even with six buttons, you have to learn how to maneuver around the pad, so why not go all the way? In theory, 10 or 12 buttons allow you to assign the full number row or function keys respectively, so you might say that’s the sweet spot.
However, not all buttons are created equal. The difference between a good MMO mouse and a bad one comes down to the design of the side pads. A good MMO mouse needs buttons large enough for you to press without accidentally pressing their neighbors. They should also have discernable gaps and edges, so you can feel the buttons as your thumb moves over the side pad. Also, many modern MMO mice provide some type of tactile guide, like a bump or a textured center key, to help you find your way around without looking.
While any good MMO mouse will allow you to customize each sidepad entry, a good naming/numbering system is important. Having the first button – the one that matches ‘1’ or ‘F1’ – where it’s convenient for you, and the other keys following, ensures that you’re able to instinctively find each button. Ideally, this is reflected on the label, not just in your mouse profile. There is no hard and fast rule to determine which order is best. The important thing is that its logic reflects your preference.
Height and weight
Size and shape are the other defining characteristics of the MMO mouse. These products are generally wider and heavier than the average gaming mouse. (The difference seems even more pronounced now in the age of ultralight esports mice). Building a chassis with room to properly position so many buttons adds weight, so extra weight is part of the package. That said, everything is relative. A five ounce mouse is not heavy– you can still maneuver quickly and accurately. It just requires a bit more pushing and pulling than a smaller counterpart.
Beyond that, however, MMO mice are designed more for comfort than speed. Placing hotkeys on the side minimizes mouse movement in many games, so the shape of the chassis is primarily designed to lessen the pain associated with long gaming sessions. Many MMO mice are wider than the average, with a hollowed-out groove for your ring finger, so you can just lay your hand flat on the mouse without gripping the sides. Some MMO mice also have a thumb wing, although this is not common. Relaxing your grip makes pushing the mouse easier and more comfortable. It should be noted that comfortable does not automatically mean ergonomic; twisting your wrist to lie flat strains your wrist. Still, it’s no worse than using a standard mouse.
Behind all the buttons, a configuration application
Configuration software is an important facet of any gaming mouse, but it’s especially crucial for an MMO mouse. Configuration apps allow you to customize your buttons, create macro commands, and change other settings. When your mouse has 4-10 extra buttons, those controls come into play much more often than with your average gaming mouse. In fact, it is essential.
Configuration apps make it easy to see what each of your inputs does and provide a quick and intuitive way to change them. They should also have a macro creator that lets you create custom commands. In 2021, any good configuration app lets you create an endless number of custom profiles, so you can customize your mouse per game. Many MMO mice also have built-in memory, allowing you to store a few of your most important profiles if you change your PC. The best configuration software allows you to link these profiles to specific PC games and applications.
While MMO mouse fans have limited choices, the good news is that most of the remaining manufacturers in the space have great setup apps that work on all devices. The three apps that partner with the majority of MMO mice on this list (Corsair iCue, Logitech G Hub, and Razer Synapse) are the best setup apps for all mice and keyboards.
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The selections are even slimmer for Mac users, as not all manufacturers offer Mac-compatible versions of their setup software. Be sure to check out our list of the best gaming mice for Mac, which includes a few that work well for MMOs.
What if I play MMOs, but don’t want an MMO mouse?
Obviously, you don’t need an MMO mouse to play an MMORPG. If you want a similar experience, but without the heavy frame and full keyboard, check out a gaming mouse. There are plenty of gaming mice with extra buttons you can use to transfer your most-used keys. You can find ones with up to 10 or 11 buttons (including left and right click), but that won’t give you enough room to move around your entire number pad. Nevertheless, you can define some basic keyboard shortcuts. If you have an MMO in your gaming rotation, or plan to return to it soon, simply focusing on the number of buttons and their layout goes a long way. Your hand will thank you. We have included some of them in the tables.
Discover our recommendations
Now that you know how to find a great MMO mouse, it’s time to go shopping. The genre isn’t trendy right now, so there aren’t many modern MMO mice out there. However, we have done our best to provide you with a full range of options.
If you want to learn more about the basics of choosing a great mouse, check out our roundups of the best computer mice and the best gaming mice. If you’re refreshing your desk, you might also want to take a look. take a look at the best gaming keyboards.
This story was produced in partnership with our sister site, Computer Shopper.