How is optical mouse different from laser mouse?

Many users today still confuse optical mice with laser mice. That’s because both emit light when the mouse is active. If you want to know the difference between optical mouse and laser mouse, refer to the content below for more details.

Market demand is changing day by day, as is the case with computer mice, from models, colors to features and uses. No more scenes of mouse removal and cleaning, cleaning as in previous decades, the introduction of optical and laser mice as a step forward for computer mice. However, not everyone knows, how is the optical mouse different from a laser mouse? This article will help you make an objective comparison, and make the best choices for your needs.

Mode of operation of optical and laser mice

Optical mice use a headlight (usually red) and a tiny camera. When you hover the mouse on a table or on a mousepad, the light from the transmitter inside your mouse will bounce down to this surface. Then the micro-camera system mentioned above will take dozens of photos in a second. After that time, the optical mouse will compare the photos to find out the direction of the mouse.

After that time, the mouse will send data including the moving parameters to the CPU, and the cursor on the screen will move in response to the mouse movement.

Laser mice work in a similar way to optical mice, but use infrared light that you cannot see instead of using the same light as an optical mouse. For this reason, although laser mice do not emit light as clearly as optical mice. But you should still avoid looking at the mouse sensor while still connected to the computer. This action will cause serious damage to your eyes.


When using a laser and optical mouse, you need to pay attention to two factors: DPI (points / inch) and Polling Rate (sampling frequency) of the mouse.

In addition, we can compare the common mechanism of optical mice and lasers is to take continuous images of mouse lining surface and analyze images to calculate pointer coordinates. Therefore, the more “clear” the sensor is, the more accurate the coordinates are. If an optical mouse uses an LED light to scan, the laser mouse uses a laser to scan the surface, so the surface is recorded with both convex and detailed details. Besides the lens quality factor, the sensor also needs to be fast and sensitive in order for the coordinates to be accurate.

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The most important indicator of a laser mouse is the resolution (DPG): “dpi” (dot per inch) or “cpi” (counts per inch). Laser mice currently have resolutions from 400 to 2,000 dpi. The higher the dpi or cpi, the greater the number of sample measurements and the more accurate the coordinates. The higher the resolution of the mouse, the higher the speed of cursor movement but it is also sensitive to each small movement of the wrist.

Above are a few small comparisons of the differences between optical and laser mice. Hope you will have the option that best suits you and your needs. Besides, we also provide some tips for computer mouse. If interested, please drop by for reference.
When learning about computers, you will encounter many new and never-before-heard concepts, and the XFP and SFP optical modules are two of many, if you want to understand these two modules in depth, Please refer to the comparative article Difference between XFP and SFP optical modules which we have introduced to add useful knowledge for ourselves.


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