Wired or Wireless, Work or Gaming, We’ve Got You Covered
I’ve been a trackball user for years. While the initial learning curve was steep, I could never, ever go back to a conventional mouse now. I’m hooked.
And yeah, I’m a gamer too.
Trackballs are an awesome, accurate mouse alternative, with some clear advantages over a conventional mouse. Even Linus Tech Tips is paying attention.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty niche genre. And within that limited supply, very few are truly impressive.
I’ve tried them all. If you’re looking for the top trackball mouse, whether wired or wireless, thumb or finger controlled, these reviews should be extremely helpful. We’ll touch on some pretty affordable options too. So let’s get into it!
Our Top Trackball Mouse Pick: Logitech MX Ergo
Of all the devices we reviewed, our overall favourite trackball is the thumb-style MX Ergo, by Logitech. It checks the most boxes and combines out-of-the-box functionality with extreme ergonomic comfort. It’s awesome.
- Pros: Tilt function, precision tracking, premium feel, rechargeable, good beginner’s trackball
- Cons: Compared to the M570 it replaces, this is expensive
The wireless, thumb-style MX Ergo is the putative replacement for the ultra-popular Logitech M570. It offers a similar layout (thumb ball, conventional mouse buttons, scroll wheel) but a more ergonomic form factor.
The primary difference is the tilt function. The whole mouse tilts on its base to provide a more natural position for the wrist and ulna. I already found the M570 comfortable, but the MX Ergo is a dream to use.
The included software allows you to customize button functions, and it switches seamlessly between other computers. This is a wireless / bluetooth thumb trackball mouse that uses Logitech’s universal USB receiver.
Why We Picked It:
The MX Ergo is flat out comfortable, and makes a fantastic choice for anyone suffering from mouse-related wrist strain. The high precision tracking and premium fit and finish put it over the top. This bluetooth-friendly trackball is not just good, it’s great.
Additionally, I find that thumb trackballs tend to be more accessible to new users, due to their more traditional button layout.
It’s a fabulous, premium device from a great peripherals brand, and just squeaks in as our top trackball mouse pick.
The MX Ergo is an amazing generalist mouse that’ll meet most people’s requirements. That said, here are a few more top contenders that have some specialized capabilities.
Elecom EX-G Pro: Top Trackball Mouse for Gaming, Bluetooth Ready
A newer brand out of Japan, Elecom is making a hard push to displace Logitech in the trackball business.
The premium-feeling EX-G Pro is a great, relatively affordable bluetooth thumb trackball mouse with excellent reviews and extra features that make it perfect for gamers.
- Pros: Awesome smooth tracking, very precise, extra buttons, premium feel.
- Cons: Elecom Mouse Assistant software isn’t perfect
The EX-G Pro has some of the smoothest scrolling and tracking in the genre, with silky bearings and high precision. The larger marble means you get more control with less thumb movement, and it’s very precise for shooters.
This good little trackball mouse is bluetooth-equipped for wireless use, but you can opt for wired if that’s your cup of tea.
Additionally, it has 8 buttons — three more than the MX Ergo. That’s handy for MMO games and anything where you need extra quick keys.
Caveat: the included button-mapping software isn’t easy to use if you’re an English speaker, and it doesn’t yet function perfectly with all games.
Elecom Huge: Good Finger-Operated Trackball Mouse
This mouse is actually very similar to the EX-G Pro, but with a few differences. First, the aptly-named Elecom Huge is finger-operated, rather than thumb. Secondly, it is enormous.
- Pros: Massive size, finger-operated, DPI switch, very comfortable
- Cons: May be too big for some users, mapping software is not great
If you’re a trackball vet coming from prestigious mice like the Microsoft Trackball Explorer, this is the one for you. It’s responsive, precise, and incredibly comfortable.
The massive marble and three-level DPI switch mean this is probably the top choice trackball for those in creative industries and engineering.
The ball spins effortlessly on high-quality bearings, and it’ll fit even large hands. You have 8 buttons to program as you see fit, including a tilt scroll wheel. It’s really impressive.
This finger trackball comes in wired and wireless versions; you can save a bit of money by opting for the wired USB edition.
Caveat: Again, like the EX-G Pro, the button mapper isn’t ideal yet. Elecom, you should address this.
Logitech M570: Best Budget-Priced Trackball, Good for Beginners
The MX Ergo was intended to replace the venerable Logitech M570, perhaps it will someday. But you can still get this ultra-popular device, and that’s great news. For under $30, this is one amazing, inexpensive wireless trackball mouse, and a perfect entry point for new users.
- Pros: Cheap price point, easy to learn on, very capable
- Cons: Button switches can wear out after a few years
I’ve had an M570 in my rotation for several years, and I think they’re incredible.
It’s a comfortable thumb trackball (even for big hands) and while it’s not quite as ergonomically pleasing as the MX Ergo, it has saved me from a life of chronic wrist pain.
I also found it a very easy transition point from conventional mouse to trackball, partly because it costs under thirty bucks. If you want to test the waters, this is what I’d recommend.
It is a wireless trackball with a Logitech USB unifying dongle included. It has good tracking and precision, and it’s an enjoyable trackball mouse for light gaming.
My only compaint is that they tend to wear out after a few years. But considering the price, that’s really not a big deal.
What About a Left-Handed Trackball Mouse?
Good question! When it comes to peripherals, lefties have always been left out in the cold, and that’s true here too. There aren’t nearly as many options.
That said, you have a couple choices. First, any symmetrical finger trackball will work great. I personally recommend the long-running Kensington Expert series, which has very customizable button mapping and a unique scroll wheel.
If you really want a thumb variant, Elecom does make a left-handed version of its EX-G thumb trackball mouse. It’s pretty awesome, though slightly different than the EX-G Pro.
How We Made Our Picks
We chose these mice based on many hours of hands-on use in real world scenarios. We were specifically paying attention to the following criteria:
- Longevity: We discarded any mice that showed evidence of premature wear, cheap quality construction, or outright failure. We also stuck with recognizable, expert brands with dedicated support and warranty service.
- Precision: A good trackball mouse, whether thumb or finger, should be every bit as precise as a conventional one. But they can be let down by poor quality bearings or imprecise tracking. We only kept devices with precision that’s on par with a regular mouse.
Thumb Trackball vs Finger Trackball, Which is Better?
In the tiny world of trackball enthusiasts, you’ll find two very loyal camps. There are good arguments on both sides; here’s a quick rundown.
These tend to be more precise. You can use more than one digit on the marble itself, and the larger ball means more accuracy.
That said, finger trackballs have a steeper learning curve because buttons are in new locations. And if you’re trying to escape pain, these still involve some wrist movement.
Anecdotally, I haven’t had success gaming with a finger trackball. I tend to jiggle the marble ever so slightly whenever I click, which can be annoying.
A thumb trackball involves the least overall movement, and it leaves the fingers free for a more conventional mouse button layout.
Of course, the smaller ball and single digit control means you won’t get the absolute accuracy you’ll experience with a finger trackball.
Trackball vs Mouse, Why Bother to Switch?
Frankly, if you’re using and loving your conventional mouse, I don’t suggest switching. The trackball only makes sense if you’re experiencing frustration. Still, a trackball has several big advantages.
-Spinning is great news for gaming
It may seem strange, but trackballs are fabulous for gaming. They’re precise and require less frantic movement. Plus you can spin.
Imagine you’re playing a first-person shooter and you need to spin around suddenly. With a regular mouse, you’d sweep your hand across your desk. With a trackball, it just means a flick of the wrist.
They’re also far less fatiguing, meaning you can game for longer.
-Wrist pain begone
It’s funny to me that people are willing to endure terrible ergo mice but never consider a trackball.
After trying everything to alleviate wrist pain and hand numbness, I made the switch, and the pain evaporated like magic. A trackball is perfect for anyone with repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or limited mobility.
-Great for the couch or plane
You don’t need a hard, flat surface with a trackball. I’ve successfully used one on the couch and on a plane. It’s a logical choice for anyone with a mouse-operated HTPC, or for anyone who travels a lot.
What do you use? What’d we miss?
Now’s your chance to tell me why I’m wrong! What’s your trackball daily driver? Why do you like it?