The Best Ergonomic Mouse for You

A CR tester reviewed eight popular models from Adesso, Logitech, Microsoft, and ZLOT. Here's what we learned.

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An ergonomic mouse in the hand of a CR tester
An ergonomic mouse in the hand of a CR tester

The computer mouse is a vital tool. Since the launch of the Apple Macintosh in 1984, it has helped consumers navigate the countless windows, icons, and menus in the digital world without having to memorize an endless string of Byzantine keyboard commands.

But, with repeated use, the device can also lead to problems—from mild wrist pain to musculoskeletal disorders like De Quervain's disease, a kind of tendinitis in your thumb.

“It’s a very static tool,” says Peter W. Johnson, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the University of Washington’s department of environmental and occupational health sciences. “You're gripping the mouse for long periods of time, using just one hand, and you aren’t moving your arm much.” 

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In response, Adesso, Logitech, Microsoft, and other companies have developed ergonomic mice, designed like ergonomic keyboards to place less stress on your wrists, forearms, and shoulders.

Some models slope upward, like a joystick, placing your hand in a handshake position. (See the Adesso iMouse E1 and Logitech MX910 below.) This helps reduce pronation, the twisting of your forearm when your palm faces downward. Others use the familiar horizontal design, but remain stationary on the mousepad, using a trackball maneuvered by a thumb to steer the cursor. (See the Logitech MX Ergo and Logitech M570, below.) This design can be helpful if moving the mouse causes pain in your wrist.

Yet others employ a hybrid approach. The Microsoft Sculpt, for example, is like a small ramp with enough horizontal DNA to feel familiar in your hand, but enough pitch to ease the stress on your forearm.

How CR Tested Ergonomic Mice
To help you choose the best option, CR put eight popular models to the test. Dana Keester, the human-factors specialist on the Consumer Reports consumer experience and usability research team, photographed them in the hand of a test subject, examining the images to see how the mice affected the position of the subject’s wrist and arm.

To get some idea of the learning curve required to master each mouse, she used various mouse-click games, recording the test subject's accuracy (hits/clicks) and efficiency (hits/targets presented) over a series of trials.

What did we learn? Well, for one, you don’t need to spend big money to get a good ergonomic mouse. For $17, you can purchase a model that is just as sound as a $100 one. It might not have features such as wireless connectivity, but it will lower the strain on your muscles and tendons.

If you’re left-handed, be aware most models are designed solely for righties. In our reviews below, we list a few left-handed options.

Here's what to consider when selecting an ergonomic mouse.

Vertical, Horizontal, or Hybrid?

According to Keester, you need to listen to your body when choosing the best form factor in an ergonomic mouse. Ask yourself, Where am I feeling the pain when I use my current mouse?

By placing your hand in a handshake position, a vertically oriented mouse helps reduce pronation, which, says Dr. Johnson, results in less muscle contraction and strain in your forearm. It also lets you move the mouse around your mousepad by pivoting your elbow instead of your wrist.

“With a flat mouse, people have a tendency to pivot their hand from the wrist,” says Neil Carlson, an ergonomics expert and industrial hygienist at the University of Minnesota. “That’s a lot of repetition, and you may experience discomfort across the top of your wrist and the top of your hand.”

If wrist pain is a concern, a hybrid mouse may also be a good choice. A model such as the Microsoft Sculpt or Logitech MX Ergo may feel more familiar in your hand than a vertical mouse, while netting you some of the aforementioned benefits.

“On a traditional, horizontal mouse, with the hand resting palm down on the device, the forearm is fully pronated,” says Keester. “There’s often persistent extension in the wrist, too, which can be problematic.”

One simple solution for the latter, she adds, is to place a wrist rest behind the mouse.

But here’s another option.

Optical or Trackball?

These days, most mice use optical sensors to guide a cursor across the computer screen. A small camera embedded in the device creates coordinates that tell the cursor where to move. Over time, these sensors have gotten more and more precise, allowing for the pinpoint movements required in professional gaming.

By comparison, trackballs seem old-school. They require the physical movement of a small ball mounted on the device via your thumb to steer the cursor around. But they provide significant relief for those in discomfort from routinely piloting a mouse across the desktop.

“Using a trackball greatly reduces the need to move the hand, wrist, or arm to move the cursor,” says Keester. “The mouse can be placed in a position that is comfortable—and not moved again.”

This requires a little adjustment, though, because the trackball is not as intuitive to use as an optical sensor. 

Wired or Wireless?

As we mentioned earlier, higher-end models in this category often offer wireless connectivity. That means the mouse links to your computer via Bluetooth technology instead of a cable.

While it may be nice to have one less wire dangling across your desk, it doesn’t impact the mouse’s ergonomics. No matter which option you choose—wired or wireless—you want to keep the mouse near at hand to limit stress on your body.

“Place your hand on the desk palm up, with your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body,” says Carlson. “The mouse should be right at the point where your fingertips are.”

You should also keep in mind that wireless mice are powered by batteries—batteries you need to periodically recharge or replace.

One last tip: Whether you choose wired or wireless, you can customize the sensitivity of the mouse’s movements to find the range of motion most comfortable for you.

Some models—from the $14 Adesso iMouse M20B to the $90 Logitech MX 910—have a physical button that allows you to cycle through various sensitivity settings.

But Windows and macOS both let you change the sensitivity of any mouse connected to your computer.

On a Windows computer: Click the Start Button > “pointer” > “change the mouse pointer display or speed.”

On a Mac: Go to System Preferences > Mouse. 

Make Sure You Have the Right Work Setup

To get the full benefits of your ergonomic mouse, take some time to optimize your workspace.

“The ideal working posture is one in which as many of the body’s joints as possible are in a neutral position,” says Keester. “The elbows should be bent at an angle between 90 and 100 degrees, with the wrists neutral and in line with the shoulders.”

To achieve that 90- to 100-degree angle in the elbow, you should position the mouse at the proper height, which may require raising your chair. A cushion or spare pillow can also be used to prop you up.

Ideally, says Keester, your feet are flat on the floor or a footrest, with the thighs parallel to the ground, the chair supporting your back in a slightly reclined position, and the monitor positioned so that you can read the top line of text without leaning your head back.

Check CR's advice on how to set up a home workstation to avoid muscle strain, headaches, and sore eyes.

Here’s a closer look at each ergonomic mouse we studied. The models are listed according to price, from least to most expensive. For more info on how we arrived at the scoring, hover your cursor over the word ergonomics, efficiency, or accuracy.

Adesso iMouse M20B
Style:
Horizontal
Optical
Wireless

Price: $14-$30


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
4/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

Aside from the scoops on the sides to rest a thumb and a finger, the design is fairly typical. The horizontal orientation places stress on the forearm and wrist, making this model only slightly better than a regular mouse for anyone seeking relief from pain. The model features six programmable buttons for keyboard shortcuts and browser controls (forward, back, etc.), three dpi (dots per inch) settings (800/1200/1600) that help you fine tune the device's sensitivity, and a matte finish that feels comfortable under the fingers and palm, but the low profile of the scroll wheel makes it less easy to locate and activate. The USB dongle provided for wired connection can’t be stored in the mouse, which may make it easy to lose. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Amazon, Adesso, OfficeDepot, Walmart

ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse
Style:
Vertical
Optical
Wired
Gaming

Price: $30


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a “handshake” position, greatly reducing stress in the forearm. When properly oriented, it reduces wrist extension, too. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires slight extension. The model features 11 programmable buttons, five dpi settings, and a matte finish that feels comfortable under the fingers and palm. On top, you’ll find a mini joystick, handy for gamers but potentially annoying for others because it springs into action with a slight bump. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Amazon

Logitech M570
Style:
Horizontal
Trackball
Wireless

Price: $30-$50


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
4/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
2/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
4/5

The model’s horizontal orientation places some strain on the wrist, but the trackball reduces forearm stress. It also requires less movement of the hand, wrist, and shoulder, which is good. It may take a little time to adjust to using the trackball, though. The model features five programmable buttons, a comfortable matte finish, and a scroll wheel that’s a bit slow and sticky to operate. The USB dongle provided for wired connection can be safely stowed inside the mouse when not in use. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Logitech, Office Depot, Target, Staples

Adesso iMouse E1
Style:
Vertical
Optical
Wired

Price: $31 - $40


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a handshake position, greatly reducing forearm pronation. When properly oriented, it also reduces wrist extension. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires slight extension. The model features six programmable buttons, two dpi settings (1000/1600), and a glossy finish that picks up fingerprints easily and may make the palm and fingers feel sweaty. For a similarly priced left-handed option, check out the Adesso iMouse E9.

Buy at: Adesso, Amazon, Best Buy, Monoprice, Office Depot, Staples

Microsoft Sculpt
Style:
Hybrid
Optical
Wireless

Price: $38-$60


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

The unique shape and pronounced thumb rest of this mouse reduce forearm stress while preserving elements of the traditional horizontal form. Due to that orientation and the bulky form factor, however, the model does little to reduce wrist strain. The model features five programmable buttons, a four-way scroll wheel, and a glossy finish that picks up fingerprints and may make the palm and fingers feel sweaty. It lacks dpi settings and a forward button for navigating the web, opting instead for a Windows Start button. The USB dongle provided for wired connection can be safely stowed inside the mouse when not in use. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Amazon, Office Depot, Staples

Adesso iMouse E3
Style:
Vertical
Optical
Wired
Gaming

Price: $50


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist..
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a handshake position, greatly reducing forearm stress. When properly oriented, it also reduces wrist extension. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires slight extension. The model features six programmable buttons, three dpi settings (800/1600/2400), and a glossy finish that picks up fingerprints easily and may make the palm and fingers feel sweaty. The mouse also comes with three 10-gram weights that gamers use to create just the right heft for their preferred style of play. For a similarly priced left-handed gaming mouse, check out the Adesso iMouse E7.

Buy at: B&H, Office Depot, Staples

Logitech MX Ergo
Style:
Hybrid
Trackball
Wireless

Price: $96-$100


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
3/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

This mouse uses a trackball and a design that allows the user to adjust the orientation between zero and 20 degrees, effectively reducing stress in the wrist and forearm. It also requires less movement of the hand, wrist, and shoulder, which is good. It may take a little time to adjust to using the trackball, though. The model features six programmable buttons, a rechargeable battery, a four-way scroll wheel, adjustable speed and precision settings, and a comfortable matte finish. The mouse can be connected to a computer via Bluetooth, USB dongle, or the USB-C to USB charging cable. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Amazon, Best Buy, Logitech, Office Depot, Staples, Walmart

Logitech MX 910 Advanced
Style:
Vertical
Optical
Wireless

Price: $91-$100


Expert Evaluation Scores
ERGONOMICS: Based on photos used to confirm the degree of flexion/extension, ulnar and radial deviation, and pronation/supination of the wrist.
ERGONOMICS
5/5
EFFICIENCY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to quickly click on targets in a target-clicking test.
EFFICIENCY
5/5
ACCURACY: Based on how easy it was for a novice user to accurately click on targets in a target-clicking test.
ACCURACY
5/5

This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a handshake position, greatly reducing forearm stress. When properly oriented, it also reduces wrist strain. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires slight wrist extension. The model features six programmable buttons, a rechargeable battery, a four-way scroll wheel, and a textured finish on the thumb rest that makes it comfortable to grip. The dpi button allows you to toggle through a range of settings from 400 to 4000. The mouse can be connected to a computer via Bluetooth, USB dongle, or the USB-C to USB charging cable. No left-handed option.

Buy at: Best Buy, Logitech, Office Depot, Staples

Editor's Note: Prices for the ergonomic mice have been updated since this article first published on June 26, 2020.

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