As a digital designer, your computer setup is a personal choice that will depend on many factors: from your workspace to your project types.
Many designers prefer to use a tablet and stylus for navigating their design software, but computer mice optimized specifically for design and CAD work are an often overlooked alternative that might just suit you better.
There are a vast array of styles that are all designed with comfort in mind, and the incredible level of functionality on offer has the power to save you time and improve your output. Here are the best eight computer mice for CAD on the market right now.
8. Razer Naga Chroma
If you’re looking for a mouse with enhanced functionality and an impressive DPI, this Razer Naga Chroma is all that and more.
- 19 fully customizable buttons
- Up to 16,000 DPI
- Saves time on drafting and editing
The 16,000 DPI 5G optical sensor gives the swift and exact execution needed for CAD work, and it’s suitable for use on even the most detail-driven projects.
There are 19 fully customizable buttons onboard, and 12 of them are conveniently located on the thumb grip for intuitive access. While these buttons were originally designed for gaming, they’re also great for CAD (and design work in general).
Programming the buttons as shortcuts when you’re editing in Photoshop is just one of the many to make use of them.
Despite the vast amount of buttons it’s still a very comfortable mouse to use, and the size is pretty average when compared to standard computer mice. It’s connected via a USB cable, which might be irritating if you prefer a wireless approach, and because of the button placement it’s not suitable for lefties.
7. 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator
A unique design and spectacular customization options make the 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator a must-have tool for designers.
- Designed to make navigation easier
- Eliminates hand fatigue and wrist strain
- Precision is impeccable
Artists working in CAD and 3D love this device for its highly customizable design and the amount of time it can save on modeling and 3D animations.
If you’re using programs such as SketchUp AutoCAD or 3DS Max you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can navigate your workspace and create your models.
The patented 6 degrees of freedom design has been specially designed for the manipulation of digital content and camera positions. With it, you can push, pull, twist and tilt the mouse to navigate around your work space performing complex actions with minimal effort.
The SpaceNavigator can be used alongside a standard mouse if you only wish to use it for basic tasks like zooming and rotating, and if you do decide to use it as your primary mouse just bear in mind that it’ll take time to master it. But, it’s more than worth it once you get the hang of it.
6. Logitech MX Master
For a traditional design with enhanced functionality, look no further than the Logitech MX Master.
- 1,000 DPI delivers enhanced accuracy
- Wireless design is compatible with up to 3 devices
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
The 1,000 DPI is plenty for the precision required for architectural modeling and graphic design work, but the traditional design is also practical for every day work. So, if you’re a hobbyist or you spend time on non-design computer work, this is the ultimate compromise.
This Bluetooth connected mouse has a rechargeable battery that can last for up to 40 days on a single charge. The adaptive scroll wheel is great for speedy navigation and buttons on the side of the mouse can be configured for shortcuts to save time in your chosen design program.
It’s designed for right-handed use and the comfort contour will minimize fatigue when used for long periods of time. This mouse is a little on the big size, though, so it could be uncomfortable for some designers.
5. Kensington Trackball
Trackball mice tend to divide opinion, but if you’re pro-trackball the Kensington Orbit is our top pick.
- Can be used on any surface
- Helps to reduce wrist train and RSI
- Ambidextrous design is suitable for right and left-handed users
There are a few clear advantages to trackball mice: they can be used anywhere (this is handy if you’re freelance and tend to move around), they offer more precision and ease of use for projects which require accuracy, and they can help reduce wrist strain and RSI.
This mouse in particular has all this to offer and more.
Optical tracking technology provides precise cursor movement, and the sapphire blue 40mm ball is designed for the accurate control and smooth manipulation needed to navigate 3D landscapes.
You can control scrolling speeds with TrackballWorks customization software. This free software also allows you to assign a variety of functions to the two onboard buttons, and although it might be irritating to some to have to download it rather than having it pre-installed, it’s worth it for the extra control.
The ambidextrous design of this wired-in mouse is great if you’re a leftie and there’s also a detachable wrist rest which cradles the hand and wrist for increased productivity during long work sessions.
The Kensington Orbit mouse won’t break the bank so if you’re uncertain it’s a great first foray into the world of trackball mice.
4. TeckNet Classic Wireless Mouse
If you’re looking for a budget mouse with a classic design and enhanced functionality, the TeckNet Classic is an excellent option.
- 6-level adjustable DPI
- 30-month long battery life
- Ultra-durable build
The variable DPI is capable of accuracy up to 4,800, so it’s more than capable of navigating 3D fields and complex CAD designs. And with the TeckNet technology this accuracy remains reliable even if you’re working on polished or reflective surfaces.
The mouse is ergonomically designed for comfort, and is pretty small which could be a positive or a negative depending on your personal preference.
The dedicated zoom buttons near the thumb make it easy to get a close up view of your designs, and the scroll wheel is very responsive.
For a mouse which costs so little, it’s surprisingly durable. The battery is designed to last an impressive 30 months and the battery life indicator will let you know when charge is running low. TeckNet also promise a 5 million click lifespan, and the wireless connection is reliable up to 15 meters. The price is similar to that of a traditional mouse, so you really are getting great value.
3. Anker Vertical Ergonomic Mouse
Graphic artists worldwide love this Anker Vertical Ergonomical Optical mouse for its superior comfort and accuracy.
- Scientific design creates less strain
- Variable DPI delivers great sensitivity
- Additional buttons make navigation easy
If you’re in the market for something completely novel, this space-age mouse might be exactly what you’re looking for.
The design isn’t just eye-catching, it’s been scientifically developed for more natural ‘handshake’ wrist alignment and will therefore keep you comfortable during long design sessions.
The variable DPI runs to 1,600 which will give you the control needed to deliver accurate designs, and there are three buttons which make it easy to drag, drop and select.
The additional two thumb buttons are configured for next/previous usage, which will probably come in more useful for web browsing than designing. But, if you work on a Mac, beware that they don’t work on that platform.
2. Apple Magic Mouse 2
If you work on a Mac, the Apple Magic Mouse 2 is their best in-house design mouse to date.
- Stunning design and craftsmanship
- Multi-touch technology allows gestures via the mouse
- Rechargeable design eliminated batteries
Loyal Apple fans will be glad to hear that the computing giants have a mouse in their arsenal that stands up well against third party options. As expected, it looks beautiful and has a high-quality optimized design that fans of the brand will love.
The multi-touch surface is intended to be the star of the show, and the clever design allows you to perform gestures including swiping and scrolling.
This super-feature can cause discomfort over prolonged periods though, as it’s super-sensitive and hard to avoid touching by accident.
The 1,300 DPI is solid enough to cater to intricate animations and detail-driven architectural plans, and the optimized foot design makes the mouse glide more smoothly across surfaces for a more satisfying user experience in large-scale design projects or big 3D projects.
As expected with all Apple products, this mouse is a little on the pricey side which might put off all but die-hard fans of the company.
1. Logitech Wireless M185
If your tastes are a little more ‘classic’ than the options on our list, then the Logitech Wireless M185 might be the best option for you.
- Plug and play wireless design
- Long-lasting 1-year battery life
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
Although there are lots of scientifically designed, ergonomically optimized choices on the market, some designers and CAD artists still prefer the traditional three-button option.
The design is undoubtable traditional, but the curved shape provides a comfortable surface on which to rest your hand. The wireless plug and play connectivity is simple to set up so you’ll be deep into your CAD projects in no time.
The year-long battery life keeps costs down on this already-cheap mouse, and the 3-year limited hardware warranty gives you confidence that Logitech know what they’re doing when it comes to computer mice.
Wrapping it up
As with any new computer accessories, it’s all down to personal preference and the sheer variety of designs and features on the market can easily divide opinions between digital artists. But, by following this guide of the best mice available, you should be able to find the perfect option for you and your projects.
Do you have a favorite mouse on our list? Let us know in the comments.