Bluetooth Mouse Vs. Wireless Mouse

By Shea Laverty

Bluetooth and RF wireless mice are similar in many ways, but their primary difference comes from how they connect to your computer.

Wireless mice generally come in two varieties: radio-frequency and Bluetooth. Each technology is equally suited to most day-to-day tasks such as browsing, working and gaming. The main difference between these devices is how they connect to your computer: RF mice require a USB dongle to connect, while Bluetooth mice can connect to the built-in receiver available on most modern computers.


If you have trouble deciding on a mouse based on the wireless technology involved, look instead at the available features on mice of both types in your price range. For the most part, the cost, reliability, features and quality of wireless mice depend more on the individual mouse build than the wireless technology inside.

Required Setup

RF wireless mice all come packed with a dongle, which connects to one of your computer's USB ports. After the dongle is connected and the batteries are inserted into the mouse, all you need to do is flip the power switch on the mouse to On. After a minute, your mouse should be ready.

Bluetooth wireless mice generally don't come with any dongles. Instead, your mouse features a transmitter that communicates with the Bluetooth receiver built in to your computer. To connect, turn on the mouse and put it in discovery mode as directed in your owner's manual. Afterward, pair the mouse like any other Bluetooth wireless device.


If you don't have a Bluetooth receiver built in to your computer, connect a USB Bluetooth receiver to an available port and run through its manufacturer-provided installation instructions.

Additional Equipment

Most RF wireless mice are paired specifically to the dongle with which they were packaged. This means that if the dongle is lost or damaged beyond repair, the mouse itself is essentially useless and must be replaced.

Unless your computer isn't equipped with built-in Bluetooth support, there is no additional equipment required for Bluetooth mice. However, if the receiver in your computer or your USB adapter fails, it must be replaced before you can use your mouse again. If the transmitter in your mouse fails, you'll likely have to replace the mouse outright.

Compatibility With Various Devices

A major point of difference between RF and Bluetooth mice is their compatibility with devices outside of laptops and desktop computers. Many devices, including those without USB ports, are compatible with Bluetooth peripherals and can be paired to a Bluetooth mouse, so long as the device supports Bluetooth mice. RF mice are limited strictly to devices with USB ports that can accommodate their dongles and are compatible with the mouse itself.

Ideal Situations

There are a couple of instances where each is a better choice than the other. RF mice are the wireless choice for computers where Bluetooth isn't an option, especially if USB ports are available. Bluetooth mice are optimal with users who have multiple devices but only want to use one mouse, or they don't have many or any available USB ports to dedicate to a dongle.