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Many gamers prefer to use a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse if their PC game supports it. That gives them an experience more similar to a video game console and in some titles, it’s the only way to enjoy them, Mortal Kombat 11, for example.
In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know in order to choose the best PC controller for you, the one to give you the best possible gaming experience, and the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Microsoft Xbox One Controller: the best for most people
The Microsoft Xbox One controller (Check on Amazon) is undoubtedly the gold standard for PC gamepads and it’s easy to see why. This gamepad is comfortable, well built, reliable and it works with any PC game (that supports a controller) just out of the box.
The D-pad (directional pad) is way better than the one on the 360 and ensures better accuracy. The shoulder buttons are slightly arched so that the controller fits better in the hands and also allows for a much safer grip. The sticks are also slightly curved inwards, which makes it very difficult for the thumb to slip off.
Another improvement over the 360 controller is the repositioning of the Menu button. This is set further upwards to avoid accidental inputs.
And since the price is also lower, the Microsoft Xbox One Controller deserves the title of the best gamepad for most people.
Sony Dualshock 4: a symmetrical alternative
The sales of the Sony Playstation 4 have long overshadowed those of the Microsoft Xbox One console. Accordingly, most console players use Sony’s DualShock 4 controller (Check on Amazon). The good news is that this gamepad can also be connected to the PC. The bad, it’s a bit more complicated than plug and play.
The DualShock 4 comes with a small premium in price, and as great as the Xbox One controller maybe, Sony has somehow managed to surpass it both in comfort and quality. The sticks are a bit larger and therefore have better handling. The grip also feels a bit more comfortable. In addition, the DualShock 4 boasts a rechargeable battery. Once you try it, it will feel like this feature should be a standard.
One benefit of using the DualShock 4 as a PC controller for games via Remote Play or PlayStation Now is that you do not need to worry about which button does what.
On the other hand, if a PC game doesn’t have innate support for Sony’s controller, it will be far more complicated to make it work. You will need some third party software like InputMapper that tricks the game into “thinking” that you are using an Xbox Controller.
Apart from that, the DualShock 4 is a fantastic gamepad. If you already have a PS4, you can definitely use its controller with your PC. But if you are browsing for a new PC controller, there are definitely better solutions.
Logitech F310: best cheap PC controller
Of course, I was going to include Logitech’s immortal gamepad, and while I choose the F310, my finding fit several Logitech products. This is the budget option that unlikely most cheap gamepads from lesser-known brands will work for more than a month and will give you fewer headaches.
These lines of products from Logitech are mostly Dualshock replicas. The F310 costs (Check on Amazon). Is it as good as the rest? No, but it will always get the job done and unless you can afford a better one it is good to have at least one lying around.
Microsoft Xbox Elite Series 2: the best
If you have (Check on Amazon) to spend on a premium controller, then we can only recommend the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2, a gamepad with the paramount build quality, ideal for those who play both online and in single player.
The second series introduced a series of new features related to the number of additional profiles, a better rubber coating, new customization options, and an integrated battery that allows you to play for over 40 hours.
This pro controller also allows you to completely customize it as you like, includes additional paddles in the back and offers dedicated settings for limiting trigger travel.
Microsoft Xbox One Elite: a valid alternative
Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite (Check on Amazon) is the dream of every pro gamer. This is a better, cozier and, above all, sturdier version of the standard Xbox One controller. It gives you the option of sweeping out individual parts and thus to adapt the gamepad not only to your own taste but also to your personal style of play.
The Elite has several analog sticks with different height and shape. In addition, the activation travel of the trigger buttons can be significantly shortened, which allows you to shoot much faster in first-person shooters, and therefore gain a competitive advantage over your opponents.
But the icing on the cake is the programmable paddles on the back. They let you do things like a mirror the jump button to the back, in order to jump without removing your thumb from the stick.
So, if you’re looking for the ultimate PC controller, that will make your gameplay easier, and your opponent’s life a living hell, the Xbox One Elite Controller is the one for you.
Astro Gaming C40 TR: a modular alternative
Considered a “premium” controller, the Astro Gaming C40 TR (Check on Amazon) is intended for hardcore gamers that want to invest heavily in a unique peripheral that is considered to be among the very best controllers for PC.
With a spectacular design, this controller is clearly inspired by Sony’s DualShock 4 gamepad. However, this is a more advanced “version” that sports impeccable build quality and looks way more attractive.
The user experience is also unique; Astro uses proprietary software that allows for complete customization of the buttons, and fine adjustments of the various sticks and triggers.
All in all, this is a signature product from a company that has already created some of the best cutting-edge gaming accessories in the world.
Valve Steam Controller: for games that don’t support a gamepad
If you’re looking for a decent quality controller, with some unconventional features, the Steam Controller (Check on Amazon) is the best device to consider. Its support for Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. makes it usable on various platforms, while wireless and wired connectivity makes it suitable for any room and further expands its overall adaptability.
It is ergonomically built and fully customizable and it features two trackpads, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, rear paddles, two-stage triggers (both digital and analog) and exceptional haptic feedback.
This controller offers a unique experience since it is the only one that can replace the use of a mouse and keyboard in games that do not support a gamepad – the integrated trackpads work flawlessly.
Unfortunately, fighting games are its bane since the trackpads tend to be imprecise and not very comfortable to use. In addition, the face buttons are not easy to reach, which complicates things even further.
In general, the Steam Controller is a good option if you want a PC gamepad that can support every single game. For everything else, the Xbox Controller (Standard or Elite) is a better option.
Razer Wolverine Ultimate: best wired PC controller
While admittedly we prefer to game with a wireless gamepad, the Wolverine Ultimate (Check on Amazon) gives Razer the edge in competitive games. The controller works with both the PC and Xbox One and reminds us of Microsoft’s Elite Controller.
The Wolverine also offers numerous, unique, and above all useful additional buttons. The buttons are clicky and remind us of a mouse’s left and right-click when pressed. Although this may not sound like much, it makes a huge difference. It is like swapping a membrane keyboard for a mechanical one. And while the included 3m (10ft) USB cable is a bit annoying, the tactile buttons make up for it.
SteelSeries Stratus Duo: the most versatile
The SteelSeries Stratus Duo looks like a controller created for mobile devices and VR headsets, but it’s also a good choice for the PC. For (Check on Amazon) this wireless gamepad can connect to your PC via the 2.4GHz USB dongle and can also connect to your Bluetooth devices, such as phones and tablets.
Its analog sticks are a little deeper than the other controllers on this list, which gives players an excellent grip. The directional pad, despite a one-piece design, is very responsive and easy to use. The triggers and shoulder buttons, on the other hand, look a lot like the excellent buttons of the Nintendo Switch Pro.
The Stratus Duo is fairly light, partly because it lacks a rumble function. This reduces the price and can be a bonus for competitive gamers. It also helps extend the autonomy of the built-in battery to about 20 hours.
Windows registers it as an Xbox controller. It also works on both iOS and Android. We were disappointed by the fact that the SmartGrip accessory (Check on Amazon) – to mount your phone – is sold separately. For (Check on Amazon), it should have been included in the box.
The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is a great PC controller and is ideal for cross-platform gamers who want an all-in-one solution. Its price is a bit high, but this is one of the best controllers we’ve ever tried.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro: the retro PC controller
If you play a lot of retrò games the 8BitDo SN30 Pro (Check on Amazon) is a wonderful and the most authentic way to enjoy them. This PC controller looks like the original Super Nintendo gamepad, with the addition of dual analog sticks, Rumble vibration and trigger buttons for modern titles.
Although not the most comfortable PC controller on this list, the nostalgia factor, its versatility, and price make it a solid addition to this list. It is also compatible with the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: different from the others
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (Check on Amazon) features an Xbox style layout, has an ergonomic shape and an anti-slip coating on the handles. It even sports an NFC sensor to use with your Amiibos. It has wireless connectivity, a rechargeable battery, and a USB-C port.
It is unlikely it will ever be your first choice for a PC controller, but if you already have one – or are considering purchasing one for your Nintendo Switch – it will serve you well.
The Pro Controller connects via Bluetooth thus it will work with your Windows, Android or iOS devices.
Sadly it uses DirectInput instead of Xinput, so there are some compatibility issues and for some reason, the Bluetooth connection does not work if the USB-C cable is connected so you cannot use the controller while charging.
Also keep in mind that the Switch Pro gamepad doesn’t have analog triggers, so it makes no sense in racing games or for anything else that uses pressure-sensitive triggers.
What you do get is a comfortable, well-made controller that will elevate your Switch gaming, and offers an impressive 40-hour battery life. For (Check on Amazon) it is a good choice for Switch owners who want to kill two birds with one stone.
Also read: Controllers Buying Guide