Choosing the Best CAD Mouse for AutoCAD
When dealing with our clients, one of the recurring topics is about the ideal environment for efficient CAD production. As you are no doubt aware, there is no one simple answer to this question. It depends on many variables, with many different solutions available.
Our response is almost always to discuss what has worked for us in the past. So, the goal of this article is to examine the combination of CAD hardware that has proven to be the most efficient setup for us.
It’s important to note that this is not an affiliate post. We are not paid for any links to the products mentioned. The goal of this blog post is to respond to a question, frequently asked of us, which we feel deserves an objective answer. We will receive no compensation from the products mentioned here, should you be sufficiently inspired to buy them.
With that said, let's start with the first item in our series of CAD hardware reviews.
What Makes the Best CAD Mouse?
You may be wondering why we would choose to go with the mouse as the first item to be mentioned. It’s simple; we believe that a good CAD mouse is central to every CAD environment. Hence, a good mouse is one of the most critical tools in an AutoCAD drafter’s arsenal.
Just think about everything you do in your CAD production environment. It always starts with your mouse. First, from firing up the system to finalizing the design, the mouse is central to every process.
If you learn to use the mouse effectively, it can dramatically improve efficiency. Think about how often you take your hands off the mouse to enter a command on the keyboard. Wouldn’t it be faster and more efficient to use the mouse for all of those commands? Or, at least use it for as many of those commands as possible?
In our experience, the answer is yes. Especially, when you consider that the best CAD mouse can be programmed to replace a good amount of the functions on your keyboard. Because the mouse is such an efficient tool, there has been a notable increase in the number of specialized CAD mice entering the marketplace.
A CAD Mouse market flooded with futuristic designs
Manufacturers are resorting to all sorts of designs in their efforts to produce the ultimate CAD mouse. Some of those mouses would not look out of place in a Sci-Fi movie.
Of course, you are free to browse the selection of available mice to see what takes your fancy. However, we will tell you, right off the bat the model we think will work best for most AutoCAD environments is the Logitech G600.
Sure, this may sound like a subjective recommendation. Especially given that it is mostly known as a gaming mouse. Surprisingly, this mouse works great in a professional CAD design environment.
Indeed, the same design principles that make the G600 an excellent gaming mouse also translate well into the CAD environment. This model features heavily in our office. It’s the mouse of choice for AutoCAD products such as Civil3D. Mostly, because of the command-oriented approach, it’s software uses in its workflow.
During a typical workday, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the average project to require hundreds, if not thousands of commands – many of them repeated.
The G600 is almost infinitely customizable. It gives you the ability to run practically every keyboard command straight from the mouse. Therefore, there’s no need to continuously shift your focus from the mouse to the keyboard. For example, here’s how we have set up ours. This can be typical for most design studios.
Specifically, the image below indicates how we have mapped each of the buttons. Indeed, they are set up for the twelve most used AutoCAD commands (Escape, Line, Offset, etc.). For instance, you get 12 commands in normal mode, but you also get an additional 12 when you switch to G-Shift.
Furthermore, the G600 features an onboard memory function, which allows you to store up to 5 profiles. This feature is essential in an office where there might be more than one operator.
With the click of a button, a user can load their preferred profile and get straight to work using familiar keystrokes.
Moreover, when designing with software like AutoCAD, Civil 3D, and other CAD software, on-screen precision is critical to improving efficiency. A setting on the G600 called DPI (Dots per Inch) allows the designer to set how far the mouse moves on the screen, in relation to its physical movement on the desk. The G600 is capable of DPIs from 50 to 8,200.
Setting the DPI higher allows the mouse to move in smaller increments across the screen, but with greater precision (more dots per inch). Whether you are doing high pace production drafting or need a slower mouse for demoing to an audience, the G600 has a DPI setting to suit. You can set up to four default values for quick access via the G7 button.
Cons of the G600
There is very little negative to say about the G600. However, from our experience, there are two main cons that we should mention, even though we think that these two cons are very subjective to the user.
Con 1: Corded Mouse
The G600 is a corded mouse – most people have moved to wireless mice because there are no cords to get in the way. We like them corded for a couple of reasons: there are no batteries to worry about, and corded mice are generally faster and more precise than wireless. Batteries can last for months in these devices, but when they finally do go, it can be very inconvenient.
Con 2: Weight
The G600 is quite heavy for a mouse, but again, this is very subjective to the user. Some people enjoy a mouse with a bit of heft to them, while others prefer a light-weight mouse.
You will find many mice on the market with similar features, but we believe the G600 sets itself apart due to its ergonomics. It feels, at least to us, that the G600 is perfectly molded to fit the average-sized human hand in comfort. The design also allows easy access to the function buttons without straining the fingers. You will appreciate this design feature more after you have completed a few thousand keystrokes.
Worthy Contenders for Best CAD Mouse
Before we came across the G600 a few other mice brands caught our eye, so we will mention a few of the best CAD mice that we have come across for completeness:
The M705 is one of the more basic mouse options available, but for some CAD designers, simplicity is key to an uninterrupted workflow, as is the small form factor. This is actually our preferred backup mouse due to its reliability and good ergonomics.
Razer DeathAdder Chroma
CAD Mouse Razer death chroma
The Razer DeathAdder is another gaming mouse much loved by CAD designers, most notably due to the impressive 10000 DPI for one of the highest resolutions available. There are also 5 programmable keys to enhance workflow.
Evolution VerticalMouse 4
It might take a bit of getting used to due to the vertical nature of the device, but the promise of not having to contort fingers to press on hard-to-reach buttons is a big drawcard for many CAD designers.
3Dconnexion Mice (SpaceNavigator)
3DConnexion makes the mice that you would expect to see in futuristic movies. Each of their products is specifically geared to engineers who need a little extra precision for navigating 3D designs in a 2D workspace. Their Space Mouse Enterprise’s 6-Degrees-of-Freedom and Intelligent Function Keys instantly update to suit whatever environment or application they are currently using.