Finding the Optimal Sensitivity: A Guide to Uncovering Your Best Fit

We receive a lot of questions about the ideal sensitivity for playing at one’s best, and the answer is usually simple: it’s up to you. However, if you’re new to competitive gaming, this answer may not be very helpful. In this article, we will discuss some best practices for sensitivity and provide a few ways to find your perfect sensitivity.

Before we begin, it’s important to understand the difference between sensitivity settings in games and your “true sensitivity.” Different games use different methods to calculate sensitivity, so a sensitivity level of ‘2’ in one game may be much faster than in another game. Additionally, different mice may have different hardware sensitivities. When people refer to sensitivity in general terms, they are talking about how far you need to move your mouse to make it travel a certain distance in the game.

To compare the true sensitivities of different players in the same game, we can use eDPI. To compare sensitivities across multiple games, cm/360 (the distance your mouse needs to travel for a 360-degree turn in-game) is often used. This is important background information to know when discussing sensitivity, even though it doesn’t directly relate to finding your own optimal sensitivity.

On high versus low sensitivities


In games that require quick movements and constant spins, professional players tend to prefer higher sensitivities. In games that prioritize holding angles and precise crosshair placement, lower sensitivities are favored. There is no universally perfect sensitivity range that works for all games.

We’ve noticed that many newcomers to competitive gaming or those with less experience tend to use sensitivities that are much higher than what professionals use. If you look at tournaments, you’ll rarely find a pro using a small mousepad because it doesn’t allow for the large swipes sometimes necessary. This applies even to games with higher average sensitivities.

While sensitivity is personal, there are definitely upper limits where excessively high sensitivity hinders your ability to make precise adjustments. People often think that a higher sensitivity is better for quick reactions, but precision is also crucial. With a very high sensitivity, you won’t be able to make the precise micro-adjustments needed if you overshoot your target. This is why almost every pro player uses a large mousepad. We’re not suggesting blindly copying the pros, but when over 1500 analyzed professional players do something, there’s a reason for it.

In short, sensitivity is primarily a personal preference, but there are definite upper limits that hinder your ability to make small adjustments necessary for accurate aiming. There is also a lower limit, but the majority of people who need to make adjustments usually have to lower their sensitivity.

A particularly informative comment made by Reddit user /u/JALbert explains this topic:

If you think about your opponent’s head hitbox as roughly a circle, that means there’s a corresponding circle of area on your mousepad you need to put the sensor on to have your crosshair on their head. The lower your sensitivity, the bigger the target area is for you to hit. It’s like making the basketball hoop bigger.

Since the area for that head circle equals pi*r^2, cutting your sensitivity in half means that you’re doubling r, and in turn quadrupling the size of the target area on your mousepad. If you’re seeing that your eDPI is 5x the pros, you’re aiming for a spot 25x smaller.

Obviously going too low on sensitivity makes flicks slower and turning around more difficult, so there’s a balance. But lower sensitivity makes aim way more forgiving in terms of hitting a target.

Reddit user JALbert

Finding your perfect sensitivity


It’s important that your sensitivity allows you to perform a 180-degree turn with relative ease. If you need to lift your mouse to achieve a 180-degree turn, you may need a higher sensitivity or a larger mousepad. At the same time, your sensitivity should also allow you to track targets smoothly. Keep in mind that achieving precise flicks and tracking also requires practice. There is no magic sensitivity setting that will instantly make you shoot like a pro player with thousands of hours of experience. Having the right sensitivity for you is just one tool in improving your aim.

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Changing sensitivities too frequently is not recommended. Small adjustments, such as lowering your sensitivity when switching to a lighter mouse, are easier to adapt to. However, larger changes can disrupt your muscle memory. If you are transitioning from an extremely high sensitivity to a more “normal” range, we suggest making the switch abruptly. Gradually lowering your sensitivity will only prolong the process of finding and getting used to your ideal sensitivity.

Lowering your sensitivity drastically may seem daunting at first, but most people who try it never go back to their previous hyper-high sensitivity. It is definitely worth it.

The PSA Method

The PSA method, also known as the Perfect Sensitivity Approximation, is often recommended as a starting point. It involves finding the sensitivity that allows you to perform exactly one 360-degree turn from one end of your mousepad to the other. Then, you test sensitivities higher and lower than the starting sensitivity to eventually arrive at an average perfect setting. This method takes time and works best with a standard-sized mousepad, so it may not be flawless. Nonetheless, it can provide a starting point for finding your ideal sensitivity.

Using average pro sensitivities

Professional players have accumulated thousands of hours of practice, so it’s reasonable to assume they know what constitutes a good sensitivity, right? While this is true, we don’t recommend blindly copying a pro’s sensitivity. What works for them may not work for you. However, you can consider the average or median sensitivity (in terms of eDPI, not just in-game sensitivity) of pros in your game of choice as a starting point.

Enter an empty server or practice range/map, set your sensitivity to the chosen average, start moving around, and see if it allows you to track a stationary bot or object comfortably while still enabling smooth flicks and turns. If tracking is easy but quick turns are difficult, you can raise your sensitivity slightly. If the opposite is true, you can lower it. Experimenting in this way can help you find a comfortable sensitivity setting.

Winging it

Some people prefer to set a sensitivity and stick with it. For example, in CS:GO, you could choose the median sensitivity/eDPI and go with it. Others may tweak their sensitivity in-game until they find something moderately comfortable. While this approach is not recommended for serious players, the “don’t overthink it” mentality has its merits. Ultimately, getting used to your sensitivity plays a significant role, and unless you are at an extreme end of the sensitivity spectrum, it is possible to adapt to almost any sensitivity.

Conclusion


As you can see, a lot of this boils down to personal preference. However, there is a certain point where an overall sensitivity is objectively too high for shooters. Even pros who are known for having “outrageously high overall sensitivity” (like woxic in CS:GO) have much lower overall sensitivity than most casual gamers seeking advice on aiming and sensitivity. If you identify with this and want to improve your aim, we advise considering a significant decrease in sensitivity. Very few people who switch from an “envelope-sized mousepad is almost too big” sensitivity to a more standard one regret it.

However, it’s crucial to find a sensitivity that works for you. Once you’ve found it, we recommend sticking to it. It’s tempting to make changes when you’re in a slump, but what separates great aimers from the rest is practice. Combined with a reliable sensitivity that allows for necessary micro-adjustments without causing the crosshair to fly off into the distance and enables comfortable flicks and 180-degree turns, you’ll be ready to go.

Update at 3:01 - 31/07/2023
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