Saving my Wrists, Part 1: moving to an ergonomic mouse

I’m full aware of my bad desk work ergonomics. I’m pretty good at sitting position – back straight, lumbar pillow, lap sloping forward, using my standing desk whenever the cat steals my chair, etc etc etc – but I use a normal gamer keyboard and mouse in a cramped position.

Late last year I started getting a bit of a twinge in my wrist, which reminded me of the time I properly flaunted with carpel tunnel at my first job doing an extensive intensive coding project on an ultra-small laptop. And with the upcoming 2024 refresh of the company’s wellness expense budget, I decided to start looking into more ergonomic pointing device options.

My first avenue of exploration was trackballs, but despite the existence of the GameBall, there is realistically no way to use a trackball for both office work and gaming. That was a core requirement for me – I didn’t just want a device sold by an ergonomic office company for being a happy little worker bee, but something which would minimize compromises for long sessions of PC gaming too. And *gaming* ergonomic input devices are a rarity.

What distinguishes a mouse as for-gaming vs not-for-gaming? It’s not just aesthetics like rainbow puke lighting (though that’s not NOT a component), but also increased polling rate and DPI sensitivity. As a random example, the highest end Logitech office mouse – the $99 MX Master 3S – has a 125 Hz polling rate and 8,000 DPI. Logitech Gaming’s cheapest mouse – the $29 G203 – has a 1,000 Hz polling rate, and the $59 G305 gives you a 12,000 DPI sensor. High end devices are over 25,000 DPI! And whilst I don’t actually need an insanely high DPI, 125Hz is entirely unfit for use (it’s lower than my screen’s 144 Hz refresh rate, so I can absolutely feel the mouse jerking around the place).

I ended up with something I found on Amazon: the Delux Seeker M618XSD (from dodgy Chinese brand Delux), for $70. It’s been an interesting learning experience – not wholly positive, but not bad enough for me to abandon the exercise. Some of the issues I very much expected going in – for example, the software is garbage, the battery life is not as good as the Logitech G903 I was previously using, and the battery life meter on the OLED display is all over the place (100%->84% takes less than an hour, but 84%->79% takes more than a day).

Delux Seeker mouse, right hand (button) side

But it’s been a fun learning experience regardless! The first decision was the wrist rest. The Seeker comes with a magnetically attachable wrist rest, which I tried for a day or two, but eventually had to write off. The core problem is with the wrist rest attached, my grip position is far forward on the mouse, with the back of it fully into my palm, and all accuracy in movement coming from moving my whole forearm – either swinging it left and right for horizontality and sliding my arm on my armrest for verticality. It’s sorta okay, if a bit tiring, but it entirely falls down when it comes to moving the mouse – if I hit the end of my mouse mat, I can’t just pick it up to move it as the shape of the mouse with the wrist rest attached simply doesn’t allow for picking it up without squeezing at least one mouse button. And my DPI accuracy when swinging my whole arm around is very very low compared to a traditional mouse.

Hand fully pushed forward on wrist rest

Instead, without the wrist rest, my whole position changes – my little finger hooks under the right edge where the wrist rest would attach (making it easier to pick up), my hand rests on the desk about an inch further back from the mouse, and a lot of the fine movement instead comes from my fingertips altering the mouse position instead of my arm. Sadly without the wrist rest, the horizontal scroll wheel is realistically out of reach (although I configured this as a duplicate vertical scroll wheel because vertical scroll was uncomfortable with the wrist rest – the end result is kinda neutral)

Hand without wrist rest, resting on desk and using fingertips at more of a distance

I ended up on a 1,000 Hz, 2,400 DPI configuration as the “sweet spot” without the wrist rest, and fingers pointing down slightly (index finger resting on the mouse wheel when I’m not actively clicking things, middle finger on the right button, and ring finger with the little finger under the wrist rest attachment lip.

The next thing I tried was some low-friction “mouse skates“, as I found it took an unpleasant level of force to get the mouse moving. This was a mistake – the end result was too low-friction! I would end up accidentally dragging slightly whilst attempting to click, as the mouse’s friction was so low I would be able to move it by sneezing at it. In the end I fixed the friction issue another way: I figured out I’m a huge idiot, and peeled off the white plastic peel from the feet on the mouse, instead of assuming it came with white feet. Oops! The default feet aren’t too low friction, or too high friction, so accidental dragging is no longer a problem whilst it’s not too much effort to start moving from still.

Oh and the garbage software I mentioned? Part of that is the lighting basically doesn’t work. The docs say the mouse should have palm sensing and turn off the light when using it, but that isn’t the case – the light is either on all the time (which needs manually turning on every boot with a button combo) or off all the time-ish (it’ll sometimes just blink randomly once in awhile). And the software which is supposed to configure the lighting doesn’t seem to do much (it DOES work for changing the polling rate and the button assignment though, so it’s not totally useless).

I tried doing some aim testing with software like Aimlabs to see if I could measure my accuracy (and improvements), but frankly found the software too hard to drive to get meaningful results. But it seems to be doing okay for general use in games like Satisfactory or Baldur’s Gate 3. I don’t really play competitive shooters (at most PvE games like Borderlands with my wife) so not a huge deal.

I don’t think I’m necessarily “done” with finding the perfect ergonomic mouse for gaming (I’m curious about the Titanwolf Megalith), but I’m feeling pretty good about the experiment! Next step: keyboard changes.

P.s. A shower thought: what if an ergo mouse combined both mousiness with a small thumb trackball, so you could increase accuracy by simultaneously using two inputs? Popular Nintendo shooter Splatoon does this, with both gyroscope and joystick aim combined (one for big movement and one for last-few-pixel dialling in aim)

One Response to “Saving my Wrists, Part 1: moving to an ergonomic mouse”

  1. Hi!
    “Late year I started getting a bit of a twinge in my wrist”- I’ve got the the same problems a couple of years ago. Just like you I bought ergo mouse and keyboard. But the source of troubles was in the neck. Now I do exercises for my neck and self-massage with tennis balls everyday and it helps great. If you are not a girl, you wrists are not extremely narrow, and you are not 50 and more years old, the chances, the you have problem with wrests are low. Check you kneck first. My advice – begin with exercises for the kneck every evening and look at results.

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