Wired vs. Wireless Mice

Choose the best mouse for your needs

Different types of computer mice, both wired and wireless

Blanchi Costela / Getty Images 

Wireless mice and wired mice are both familiar input devices for users. We've explored the advantages and disadvantages of both so you can make the best computer mouse decision for your needs.

Different types of computer mice
Blanchi Costela / Getty Images 

Wireless Mice

  • Not as fast as wired.

  • Susceptible to interference.

  • More expensive than wired.

  • Need batteries.

  • More convenient.

  • More versatile.

Wired Mice

  • Faster than wireless.

  • Not susceptible to interference.

  • Less expensive than wireless.

  • Don't need batteries.

  • Preferred by gamers.

  • Not easy to travel with.

When deciding whether to buy a wired or wireless mouse, it's important to consider what you'll be doing in your computing endeavors as well as your own personal preferences. If you're a gamer, for example, you may prefer a wired gaming mouse with dedicated gaming features. If you're concerned about speed and accuracy, you may prefer a wired mouse. If you're a user who values convenience, versatility, and aesthetics, you may prefer a wireless mouse. Users who travel and swap devices may also opt for a cordless mouse.

Both types of computer mice usually support many of the same features, but some core differences set them apart.

Speed and Reliability: Wired Mice Have the Edge

Wireless Mice

  • A bit slower than wired mice.

  • Could be affected by interference.

  • Gamers or precision users may notice lag.

Wired Mice

  • Generally faster than wireless mice.

  • Interference not an issue.

  • Gamers and precision users may prefer consistency.

Wireless devices are, by default, a tad bit slower than wired devices since they need to transmit information wirelessly. This little bit of lag is especially important for gamers. A gamer might choose a wired gaming mouse over a cordless mouse because wired devices don't present as many delays as wireless ones, and that's extremely important when precision is key.

Plus, nearby interference can make a wireless mouse's movements choppy or even completely kill the mouse until it's corrected, and that's the last thing anyone wants to happen (especially a gamer).

However, interference with wireless mice is generally not a problem for most people as long as there aren't obstructions between the mouse and its receiver.

Price: The Differences Are Not as Dramatic These Days

Wireless Mice

  • More expensive.

  • Price gap has narrowed somewhat.

  • A lot of variation in price.

Wired Mice

  • Less expensive.

  • Price gap has narrowed somewhat.

  • A lot of variation in price.

In years past, wireless mice were a lot more expensive than wired mice, but that price gap has narrowed as the price of wireless mice has plummetted over the years. Still, if cost is a big consideration, you'll find wired mice to be generally more inexpensive than wireless mice.

Convenience: Wireless Mice Win This One

Wireless Mice

  • No cables to worry about.

  • Ideal for traveling.

  • Able to use it away from the receiving device.

  • Use it with other devices, such as a tablet.

  • Needs batteries.

  • Receiver can be lost.

Wired Mice

  • Tethered to the computer.

  • Can only work if you're in reach.

  • Can't use it with any device without a USB port.

  • Don't need batteries; computer is the power source.

  • Don't need a receiver.

A wireless mouse is definitely more convenient than a wired mouse. With a small, portable wireless mouse, there are no cables getting tangled up in your bag or dragging things around your desk. This makes wireless mice especially nice for traveling.

Just as with all wireless devices, you can use your wireless mouse away from the receiving device, even from across the room. A wired mouse is tethered to the computer and can work only if you're within reach.

If you use your TV as a monitor, use a wireless mouse and control it from your couch. If your tablet doesn't have any USB ports, use your wireless mouse as an input device. If your computer sits too far from your keyboard and mouse area, such as under your desk and against the wall, a cordless mouse is an ideal solution.

Still, it's extremely convenient that wired mice don't need any batteries because your computer is their power source. Some wireless mouse manufacturers try to circumvent this issue by using a docking station, but that, in turn, takes up valuable desk real estate.

Some people might turn down a wireless mouse in favor of a wired one because they don't want to lose their receiver and be left with a non-working mouse. However, some wireless mice have placeholders on the device to hold the receiver and prevent it from being lost.

Versatility and Aesthetics: Wireless Wins

Wireless Mice

  • Receiver can be lost.

  • Pair several devices to same USB receiver in some models.

  • Unplug and move between computers easily.

  • Appeal to the minimalist's aesthetic.

Wired Mice

  • Don't need a receiver.

  • Not easy to unplug and unravel to move.

  • Wires can look messy and tangled.

Proponents of wireless mice cite their versatility. For example, mice with Logitech's unifying technology have a receiver that can be paired with multiple devices. Of course, this means you need to purchase Logitech devices for all your peripheral needs, but it's something to consider if you're tired of swapping receivers.

Move a wireless mouse between computers easily if you need to use the same mouse on your laptop and your desktop. Wired mice aren't as easy to unplug and unravel to move.

While this shouldn't be your only reason to get a wireless mouse, it does make sense that a wireless keyboard and mouse combo on a minimalist desk just looks a lot better than having wires and cords everywhere.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a mouse to travel with you and you value versatility and convenience, you may want to opt for a wireless mouse. If you want an inexpensive, fast, and reliable mouse, and you don't intend to move it around, a wired mouse might be the best choice.

But choosing a wired or wireless mouse is only the first step. There are many subsets of mice to choose from, such as optical and laser mice, gaming mice, and travel mice.