Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?

If you believe the hype, it would be crazy to try and be competitive (or even competent) without sinking several hundred dollars into gaming peripherals before firing up your favorite shooter or log in to the World of Warcraft. Depending on the popularity of your favorite game and the peripheral vendor's opportunity to make some money, you might even find a range of products specifically designed to improve your performance in that particular title.

Of course, there are many more gamers than there are people buying all of this stuff, so the question stands: do you need a desk full of high-end extras in order to be a good player? Do you actually get more kills in Team Fortress 2 by having a higher-DPI mouse? Are you a more effective healer in your WoW raids if you have a keyboard with macro buttons? Or is there simply value in owning a more comfortable headset?

Hoping to test the effectiveness of the most popular peripherals, we decided to fire up a handful of our favorite games and connect a number of gaming products from competing vendors. Then, we compared them against each other and against older, "vanilla" peripherals that most people either received for free with their pre-built PC, swiped from the office, or picked up cheap after allocating more funds to obvious performance-enhancers, like video cards.

The beauty of high-end gaming peripherals isn’t so much that you can be the envy of all of your friends (honestly, who’s going to see you wearing a headset with LEDs on it if you game in your basement?) but that you feel elevated. You’re spending a little money on the luxury of high-end, high-quality computer accessories to prove that you’re not just some chump with 50 bucks to blow on a multiplayer title. You’re the real deal, and you’re not afraid to sink a little green into making sure you have the best experience possible and you’re more competitive in-game than the next person (Ed.: sort of like Air Maxes will add 6" to your vertical, right?).

I’m completely guilty of this. I get lured in by shiny peripherals with flashing lights and features that are probably higher-end than I need. I’ve been known to drop an extra $20 on a “gaming” model of a device because of the claims that it’ll improve my performance when I plug it in, for one reason or another. I was a staunch defender of mice with weight cartridges, even though it’s pretty clear that they don’t add much benefit, aside from giving you another way to personalize your experience.

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  • liquidsnake718
    Ive been looking at the G19 for some time now, ever since it came out, but I am not sure if I should just go for the Sidewinder x6 or the G15 which is still good and at a reasonable 80-100dollars where Im from....
    Should I get it or wait for my next build..... x6? g15?
  • scorc25
    I recently just purchased a Saitek Cyborg keyboard. Very impressed with it, loving it the moment we touched. Ive used the first Saitek Eclipse, and then the Eclipse 2. The Eclipse 3 is out there; the Cyborg is basically just the gamer edition of it.
  • Keyboard: SteelSeries MERC Stealth
    Mouse : Roccat Kone
    Mousepad: Roccat Sota
    Headset : Roccat Kave
  • volks1470
    bah on fancy gaming peripherals. I'm still using a roller-ball PS2 port mouse and keyboard and they work great. Price? Free, because nobody wants cheap stuff like that!
  • fleeb
    I am waiting for Logitech G110. Looks nice and will not cost $200.
  • JimmiG
    Since I'm a flight simmer, I own both a CH Yoke+Pedals and a Saitek X52 Pro. I also bought an "A4Tech" laser gaming mouse - a discount brand but the mouse itself compares to any Logitech or Razer rodent...for half the price. For keyboard, I'm using a $10 no name corded keyboard :)
  • Fortunex
    I don't need the $100+ keyboards or anything, what REALLY makes a difference in my playing is how smooth the feet of the mouse are, and how comfortable the mouse is.

    I had a $10 cheap ass mouse, was the most comfortable mouse I've ever used, but then the cord wore down and it stopped working, and I lack the skills to fix it. Bought a Microsoft Habu, didn't like it at all. Bought a Logitech G5, love it. Bought a steelseries mousepad, OH MY GORSH. My KDR in games (particularly sniping in TF2, where headshots are near essential) nearly doubled. EVERYTHING is so much smoother when compared to my (what I thought was smooth) desktop. It just glides, no more rugged, scratchy mouse movements, it's amazing.

    For keyboards, I have a Razer Arctosa, which I bought because I LOVE the flat keys, and the low profile. No need for fancy backlighting or macro keys, I just want it to be easy to type with and the keys to not be curved.

    I'd advise ANY gamer who doesn't already have a mousepad to get one.
  • IzzyCraft
    Are they worth it eh not really

    Are they pretty just about every time.
  • cyb34
    I got a G15 v2 and a G9. They are worth every penny.
  • anamaniac
    Preiphereals are worth it.
    Full 7.1 sounds, 7000 DPI mouse, 9x 2560x1600 monitors, G(insert number here) keyboard, soft leather chair with fully adjustable tilt, proper desk...
    You could have a boring powerhouse, or a crappy computer but with all the fixings. It's nice having the extras.
  • aznguy0028
    @ Fortunex

    Totally agree w/you dude. I also have a Logitech G5 with a Steelpad 5L mousepad, it feels like my mouse is gliding each time i game. Flawless!
    I can't go back to anything after that combo :)
  • Gaming peripherals won't make a bad player good, but they can enhance a good player's game. Or at the very least, add some comfort to make the long hours of gaming less ergonomically stressful
  • Flying Sq
    Should have looked at other brands other than the 2 big ones, OCZ's line of mice and keyboards are an amazing deal for their performance. I suggest anyone thinking about getting a gaming specific keyboard or mouse at least give them a check. I've used them personally, and my customers love them too.
  • neiroatopelcc
    I like this article! Comparing products without having to find a winner is a nice change.
    Too bad you can't have the g19 display on a saitek chrismas lighting board with keys.
  • theubersmurf
    Flying SqShould have looked at other brands other than the 2 big ones, OCZ's line of mice and keyboards are an amazing deal for their performance. I suggest anyone thinking about getting a gaming specific keyboard or mouse at least give them a check. I've used them personally, and my customers love them too.
    There are too many products out there for them to cover any but the most common...and perhaps some they'd like to point out to users.

    I have a bad habit of spilling beer on my keyboard while playing tf2 and destroying it. So I don't buy expensive keyboards anymore. Which is fine since I use a Logitech G13 gamepad anyway. The thing I noticed about nicer peripherals is that you don't notice too much change when you get them, it's when you have to go back to the ultra cheap stuff that it becomes bothersome. I have a gigabyte ghost mouse, plantronics gamecom headset, an old Q-pad, and my 15 USD Logitech USB keyboard...All of which I am glad to have. If I had to go back to some of the simpler hardware out there, I'd be a little unhappy.
  • timbo
    To say good peripherals won't improve your game is silly. A good mouse & pad will make a difference, no matter your skill level. Get a good mouse like a MX518 & a good pad like a SteelSeries & your game will improve. Makes me think the author isn't that experienced @ fps.
  • x_microbe_x
    I feel compelled to respond to this artical mainly from a highly competitive FPS perspective. Been playing FPS games for years and I am currently into QuakeLive pretty hardcore atm.

    I just wanted to disagree with the part about the very high DPI settings on some of the more expensive not being of much use. I've went from a plain M$ mouse, to a MX518 (1600dpi), to a G5 (2000dpi), to a G9x (5000dpi) and have seen notable gain in speed and control with each upgrade. Going from the $40 MX518 to the $100 G9x is a pretty remarkable improvment. A must say that using a good mouse pad can actually make or brake a high dpi setting.

    Obviously one needs to go into the console and fine tune the sensitivity in order to take full advantage of a high dpi setting. I recommend using the 360/inches method to figure out the exact sens you need when upgrading. I'm currently playing at .52 sens/ 5000dpi/ 1000 polling rate with my G9x (this comes out to 5 inches per 360 degree rotation, or 360/5") and I will never go back to my old G5.

    After trying many preiphereals, this is the best setup I've found so far

    keyboard: Wolf King Warrior $40, or Warrior Extreme $60
    mouse: G9x with smaller grip $100
    pad: Razer Destructor $40
    headset: Steelseries $80
  • DjEaZy
    ... o... the G9... so many unreal frags... nice and heavy...
  • h83
    Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?

    For me, they aren´t. I have a cheap keyboard and mouse from Lifetech and they are more than enough to play Counter Strike Source at a very nice level. I prefer to spent that kind of money on PC parts like CPUs and graphic cards.
  • neiroatopelcc
    h83Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?For me, they aren´t. I have a cheap keyboard and mouse from Lifetech and they are more than enough to play Counter Strike Source at a very nice level. I prefer to spent that kind of money on PC parts like CPUs and graphic cards.

    Using a cheap hp basic keyboard and noname mic is fine for me too, but I can't live without a proper wireless laser mouse. Since the day I got my first 'cordless logitech mouse' I can't imagine life with a generic noname thing. It just wouldn't work.
  • blackmancer
    I never understood the naming convention for these keyboards - THERE IS ONLY 12 G KEYS???? wtf, shouldn't it be called the G12??
  • roadrunner343
    "the G9 has a more rectangular design. The mouse features changeable cover plates called "grips," and while the mouse ships with the silken precision grip installed, I found the rough texture of the wide load grip to be more suited to gaming"

    I believe this statement is incorrect. I also own a G9, and I love the narrower rough textured grip, the same one as pictured. The smooth grip is the wide-load grip.
  • fausto
    As someone who started with a Dell e510 and slowly upgraded and eventually built his own system i can say that peripherals help as long as the underlying system is up to snuff.

    My G5 has been very good to me, coming from an LED mouse it made a huge difference. I used to tied because the LED mouse didn't pick up my fast movements well. The weight customization is great. i've tried different it a different feel.

    My G15 has been great also, though i don't use macros but the illuminated keys and lcd are the reasons i bought it. plus i only paid 65 bucks like 2 years ago.

    Also use the Original Creative Fatal1ty USB headset, which i recommend to anyone. Good bass, very confortable to wear for a while, no ear sweating. I tried more expensive headsets that i returned due to focusing too much on Highs.
    After those 2 my gaming improved and so i focused on hardware. now i run games maxed out settings smooth.
  • zak_mckraken
    I'm still looking for the "ultimate" gaming headset! Any thoughts? The perfect setup for me would be a very light and thin over-the-ear microphone only, ideally wireless! Then I would add my own headphones when needed.