Learn More About Mouse Smoothing

Written by Muqadas Wattoo | Published on March 10, 2019

What is the mouse smoothing? This question, in particular, is a question that you may not want to ask your gaming friends. Nobody wants to be somebody that does not know what they are doing. If you have been wondering what mouse smoothing is, worry no more. The article will explain in full detail what is mouse smoothing and where you should use it. What mouse something does is essentially predict where the user wants to move his cursor and alters the path to get the smoothest result. To put it even simpler terms, smoothing allows the mouse to predict the movement that the user desires.

Initially, smoothing at first glance is helpful, and you would not be wrong for thinking that. Smoothing may have been necessary a few years ago when users were reliant on older technology. Nowadays optical mice have become so commonplace many people have forgotten trackballs entirely. Trackballs did not have the same tracking capabilities as optical mice do, which is why developers came up with smoothing.

How does mouse smoothing work?

Mouse smoothing works perfectly with older mice as they did not have the tracking capabilities of modern mice. A lack of accurate sensing capabilities and lower DPI, the movement of older mice was incredibly abrupt. This abruptness was due to the sensor present in the mouse not tracking sudden or reactive movements. To combat this abruptness smoothing comes into play, to ensure no jerky movements. The sensor in your mouse records the actions you are trying to make. After the sensor records data, smoothing creates new data-points that provide the movement from one point to another is as smooth as can be.

In layman’s terms, the CPU predicts the movement, fixes the abruptness and creates the smoothest path possible. As is the nature of technological process; however, trackball mice were soon replaced with optical mice. Modern optical mice have much stronger sensors and can support a minimum DPI that is high enough to ensure that you don’t need smoothing. As sensors improved with time the need for smoothing started getting lower and lower. With modern mice being capable of tracking even the most knee jerk movements perfectly it is a wonder why smoothing is still an available option. Most PC users may not even know what mouse smoothing is and what it does. To most casual PC users smoothing won’t mean a single thing. The average user can use a PC for his entire life without realizing that mouse smoothing is on. How the mouse predicts movement is of little concern to your average office goer. Furthermore, many developers use smoothing to overstate their effective dpi. Exaggerating the effective DPI is common practice in spite of it being unethical. A lot of people tend to wrongly view DPI as a measure of how well a mouse performs.

Now it’s safe to assume that you know almost everything there is to know about mouse smoothing. Seemingly supposed to facilitate movement, why is smoothing considered a bad thing? To understand why smoothing has such a negative reception it’s essential to analyze what demographic holds smoothing in a negative light. The respective demographic which is annoyed by mouse smoothing the most is gamers. Gamers have been complaining about mouse smoothing since it was conceived. Let us go into the depth of why players have such a negative opinion regarding smoothing.

Why do gamers hate smoothing?

For a minute let us go back to what mouse smoothing does. Smoothing predicts the movement the user is making with the mouse and chooses the smoothest path. The prediction can interfere with the raw movement the user wants. This interference can cause changes in motion to seem weird, and the cursor may not go exactly where the user desires. Games that require intense precision and raw movement are much harder to play while smoothing is on.

Games that require raw precision are FPS games. Generally,  players that already have precise aim and movement will notice the impact smoothing has. Most games allow users to turn off mouse smoothing. If it’s still difficult to understand how smoothing works, games like Fortnite or call of duty require you to make minimal and precise movements. When smoothing is active, your PC may overstate the same movement causing you to miss your target. In competitive gaming where the margins are tiny, there is no tolerance for smoothing. For seasoned players, it may be easy to identify the impact of smoothing on their game. Newer players will tend to struggle with ascertaining what impact smoothing is causing on their game. By only turning it off and playing the game will the players realize how much of an impact it has.

In addition to this, smoothing can also lead to a noticeable lag in movement. To ensure the cursor follows the smoothest past the pc has to plot the predicted path. As the PC smooths out the change, there is a noticeable delay because of the processing. Once again it’s evident that this will mostly effect gamers that are active first-person shooter players. FPS players are heavily dependent on reactive moments, and in close quarter situations, this can’t be truer. Any delay in cursor movement and reactions can be the difference between victory and defeat. The lag will be present while playing offline or a local area network as it has to do with the CPU’s processing. The delay is further exacerbated by playing online, combined with server ping, smoothing can easily cause a significant amount of lag.  In addition to this, the lag is even more noticeable on high-quality monitors.

It is fair to say that will playing first-person shooters, using smoothing is a significant no and can seriously affect your gaming performance. If you have a low-end gaming mouse or are using a mouse that has a trackball to play FPS games, keep your smoothing settings on low as it is adequate with the technology in question. There’s no room for smoothing; however if you’re using a decent quality gaming mouse, it will definitely interfere with your aim. However, smoothing isn’t all bad it definitely has some uses. Additionally games tend to have their in-built systems for smoothing that work differently from other games. There are games out there that are known for smoothing that completely ruins the overall gaming experience. However, certain games like Minecraft have very solid smoothing mechanisms that one can use.

Firstly some gamers will actively use smoothing while playing single player games. Typically these games won’t be FPS games but for other action adventure or RPG games smoothing can have a few benefits. Games that require you to move the mouse to control the camera can occasionally suffer due to incredibly precise movements. Having smoothing on at a medium-low setting will ensure that the movement isn’t jumpy at all. In addition to this smoothing can also help balance out frame rates. The problem arises mostly with gaming companies that are heavily involved in making console games. For the PC ports of the game, these developers tend to expect people to use a gamepad controller still to play. Therefore, the smoothing in such games tends to not work well at all for the mouse and keyboard combo.

Looking at its original purpose smoothing can help facilitate a certain number of people. It is fair to assume that there is a proportion of the population out there not using modern mice to play games. It may not even be the case of a bad mouse. Smoothing can also help compensate for a lackluster trackpad. Any movements that the trackpad will miss, smoothing will catch. It is crucial to establish that it won’t be as effective as getting a proper trackpad yet it will still be a serviceable solution. Outside of gaming smoothing has a number of uses that most people tend to ignore. First and foremost smoothing makes your cursor travel in the smoothest direction possible, this can be especially helpful while making art. Humans by their very nature are imperfect, however with the use of smoothing it is possible to correct for the tiny mistakes.

Conclusion

Mouse smoothing is a significant paradox. Modern-day mice tend to come with optical sensors. These optical sensors provide incredibly accurate tracking and reading of movements. The optical sensors should have effectively rendered smoothing obsolete yet for one reason or another it still seems to stick around. As redundant as the technology may seem, there’s no doubt it helps a low-quality mouse perform better than its threshold. What is clear is the fact that smoothing will impact your FPS gameplay. Inaccurate predictions in movement can lead to the critical headshot missing, resulting in plenty of broken mice.

Furthermore, the latency is another issue. There is nothing as frustrating as lag when trying to play a video game. For improved performance in first-person shooter games, it is highly advisable that you turn smoothing off. Be warned though once smoothing is off, your aim is what matters the most if you miss a shot it is on you.