CPI vs DPI What Is The Basic Difference!

By Suman Ghosal Updated

You might have heard about the gaming mouse that comes with awesome additional features and mind-blowing out-look. It also offers you the best gaming experience when you hit the very mob of the Skyrim.

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Suppose, you have gone out to buy a gaming mouse from a retailer near you. When you are looking for an amazing gaming mouse, you would come across some of the technical terms like CPI, DPI etc. And it is the most common topic you have to know about the modern mouse to enjoy the best experience on your work. Sometimes the retailer offers you a mouse and tells you how much CPI or DPI it related to the item. But if you have no idea about what these technical terms actually mean, then no doubt, the shopkeeper would make a  fool of you and would earn his own profit.

Meanwhile, some companies allow you to get a CPI switch instead of DPI switch, and it’s very confusing for the user to understand what it actually means? What are the additional features? How does it work and so many more things? Well, why not we wave the confusion off with a cup of coffee, let`s jump over to the distinction between CPI vs DPI.

CPI vs DPI: Have a glance at everything you need to Know

The difference between DPI and CPI is purely theoretical. But it also makes an impact on the practical user experience. Practically DPI(Dot Per Inch) is a misnomer when it is referring to the mouse sensitivity whereas the CPI(Counts Per Inch) is directly attached with the pointing speed sensitivity that the mouse offers to you. Here we would guide you through the complete knowledge about this topic.

What is CPI? What does it Actually Mean?

Generally, CPI(Counts Per Inch) actually indicates the number of steps the mouse will report with the movement of one inch. So simply it introduces you to the sensitivity of the mouse. Meanwhile, the technical term sensitivity refers to how much your mouse covers your display with the physical movement of it. In other words,  You can call it as the ratio between the mouse pointer`s movement and the physical movement of the mouse.

Statistically, a mouse with a CPI settings of 800, allows you to move your pointer 800 pixels on the screen with a single inch physical movement of your mouse.

The majority of the professional gamers love to use the gaming mouse with  3000 CPI settings or below. So, it’s not too cool with 16000 capabilities of CPI settings.

 What is DPI? What Does it Actually Mean?

DPI(Dot Per Inch) actually refers to the printing dot density as it is related to the printer attached to your PC or the video dot density on your screen. So it determines the number of every single Dot which is placed in a single line within the length of one inch.

Basically, it is used to explain the resolution per number of dots per inch of a digital print. So DPI is not directly related to the sensitivity of a mouse, rather it indicates the printing resolution or the dot gain in the output of a hard copy print. So the DPI coined with your mouse does not have its relevancy, this term actually comes from the printing world.

Confusion points


CPI vs DPI; this is one of the most worn out and over-hyped terms in the gaming world. We already understood the basic concepts and what they actually mean; now we have to find what is the confusion?

Well, surely you are aware of the extra switch on your mouse and probably you are thinking why it indicates DPI instead of CPI? Technically the correct word related to the mouse which is defined as the sensitivity factor of the mouse is CPI. But if you focus on the industry, DPI is widely used instead of CPI. Sometimes the word DPI is used to determine the picture/video quality which is actually referring to PPI (Pixels Per Inch).

The term “Pixels Dots” is very analogous to the “CMYK Dots” of a digital printer, which are the greatest miss-conception and the reason behind the confusion of CPI vs DPI. And unknowingly all of the people use DPI in the place of CPI or PPI. If you ever use a gaming mouse or if you go to buy a new one, surely you may see the DPI switch attached to the mouse.

CPI vs DPI: Which One Should I Choose?

All right, now you are concerned about the confusion. But the present question is which one should you choose between CPI and DPI? Technically DPI switch attached with a mouse is actually the CPI switch. CPI is directly related to the measurement of the sensitivity of the mouse that I told you already. On the other hand, most of the companies attach a so-called tag  DPI to their products which fairly refers the operation same as the CPI switch.

So when you are out for buying a new gaming mouse you have to sort out the sensitivity DPI (read as CPI) that you want to configure with your PC. All the mouse available on the market comes with an adjustable CPI which is surely a good news. But you can`t attach all types of mice to your computer, it depends on the configuration of your PC and the sensitivity range of your device. You can`t increase your cursor speed without upgrading your device. What we can say for sure, you can get a help from internet to find a suitable sensitivity package including the CPI, DPI & PPI.

A Bit more of CPI vs DPI


Now you know a little bit about the CPI, DPI. So I am going to tell you the deeper information about the technical approaches of CPI vs DPI with an example. Some companies promise you to deliver the mouse along with a better quality switch(like 800DPI). But what they actually do is they scatter a rumor about their product and they don`t help the gamers,  they only create a hype around them. People think they’re experiencing the level best features of modern technology. But actually, it is nothing but the smoke in the air.

Let`s get an example to understand the topic quickly.

Suppose you are printing a 200 PPI image at a printing rate of 1000 DPI. Each pixel would consist of 25 Dots (1000 dots/200 pixel = 5 rows of 5 dots per pixel). It really matters to the image because higher the Dot/inch (DPI)  greater is the smoothness of the color. It also needs more ink and bigger time to be printed out. Basically, 150 DPI is said to be the minimum limit for high-quality printing reproduction. Here I make a simple chart of various DPI sensitivities fairly used in the modern industry.

     Industry/ printers         DPI Used                Reviews
           News-paper             85 DPI  The effect is clear and you would find every individual Dots detectable.
           Billboards             45 DPI  You can also find it clear because of tropical viewing from very far away
        Dot matrix printers         60 to 90 DPI It comes out with a crystal clear printed paper.
          Inkjet printers        300 to 600 DPI You can`t find the pixel with an open eye.
         Laser printers        600 to 1800 DPI Here the pixel density is very high, depends on the device settings.
For general/average printers            150 DPI It is the minimum limit for high-quality printing reproduction.


My Mouse Has the Highest CPI/DPI Sensitivity –Is It  Cool or Not?

Meanwhile, higher CPI does not mean a better cursor movement experience at all. Actually, there always exists a co-relation between the mouse which comes with a higher CPI factor and the quality of the sensor.

Though there is no standard dot size. It totally depends on the manufacturer. As an example, it may look better at 1200 DPI settings whereas it looks perfect at 700 DPI in another manufacturer`s dots. So, higher CPI/DPI is not so cool all the time.

How Does the Confusion Concern The Users?

In this stage of this article, you already know what the term CPI/DPI actually means. Now you’re probably wondering what is the problem that I’m concerned about? Well, actually it is not your problem. You can smoothly use your mouse. Basically, it is the problem of some manufacturer companies who coined the term DPI to introduce both DPI and CP products.  They must know about the basic differences between the CPI and DPI. Finally, you just need to adjust your mouse sensitivity despite all the mistakes made by the manufacturer.