Are you a PC gamer looking for the best way to fully enjoy the latest console-focused titles? For certain games and simulators, the use of a mouse and keyboard is dissatisfying compared to the comfortable and controlled feel of a controller or gamepad. There’s a lot of functional, unique and dependable options to choose from; use this guide to find the best controller for PC users based on how much you’re looking to spend and your desires for features and connectivity.
Last update on 2023-11-23 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
How to Choose the Best Controller for PC
Wired or Wireless
The age-old question when it comes to gaming peripherals: should I go wired or wireless? For gamepads and controllers, there are almost always options for both. Many wireless controllers come with batteries and can be used via Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, allowing the user to have more maneuverability. With wired controllers, you’re dealing with more cords, but also a solid, more reliable connection that can be useful if you tend to play games for hours at a time. Ideally, you’ll want to find a controller that is rechargeable or has the ability to be quickly plugged in to avoid being disconnected from the action in a game.
Traditional console-style gamepads come with two analog sticks, ABXY buttons, a D-Pad, left and right bumpers, left and right triggers, a start button, a select button and a home button. Many of the best controllers for PC, Xbox and PlayStation may also come with additional triggers, integrated speakers and interactive touchpads that make PC gaming with a controller much more practical. PC controllers may also have options for customizing buttons commands and layout profiles if you’re looking for a more personalized or versatile controller. To get the most out of your PC controller, find one with vibration feedback for more immersive in-game experiences.
Design and Comfort
The look, feel and construction of a controller can play a huge role in its overall quality and usability. For the best controller for PC that’s comfortable to use for extended periods of time without developing hand fatigue, look for ergonomic controllers with smooth grips and balanced weight. Good PC controllers will also have responsive buttons and sturdy analog sticks and bumpers that are able to withstand heavy use.
Ultimately, the controller you choose should come down to the types of games you play and your personal preference. For example, FPS gamers should look for controllers with hyper-responsive triggers. MMO or strategy gamers may require controllers with touchpads and programmability for easier navigation.
11 Best PC Controllers
The Best Controller for Steam
If you are searching for a decent quality controller, with numerous handy features, Steam Controller is the great device to be considered. Support for Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. makes it usable on various PC platforms, while wireless and wired connectivity make it suitable for every type of room and add to its overall adaptability.
Ergonomically built and fully customizable with dual-trackpads, gyroscope, accelerometer, back-grip buttons, dual stage triggers (can be used both as digital and analog) and exceptional haptic feedback, this controller offers a great experience to the user. This is especially so in strategies and other games that are heavily dependent on the use of the keyboard and mouse – their function has been successfully replaced with trackpads that do that job flawlessly.
Unfortunately, in action games, the situation is a bit different because trackpads have a tendency to be unprecise and not that comfortable for us. Also, face buttons are not that easy to reach, which makes the whole gaming process a bit tricky.
Generally speaking, Steam Controller is a good option for PC gaming, with a decent set of features, nice customizability and a fair price. Xbox controller might be a more comfortable option, but you will also be more than pleased with Steam Controller.
- Highly customizable
- Great haptic feedback
- Trackpads aren’t that great
- Not as precise as it should
Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller
One of the Best PC and Console Controllers Money Can Buy
Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller is an improved version of the previous generation controller, with great connectivity and comfortability. Solidly built, with numerous button improvements and exceptional trigger responsiveness, enhanced with vibration motors and the rumble function for a more realistic gaming experience, this controller presents a great option for Xbox fans.
Thanks to its Xbox Wireless and BT connectivity, it can be easily connected to your console, PC, tablet or any similar device. Also, Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller allows for connection of up to eight controllers at once, which is more than enough for a nice gaming reunion in your house, and hours and hours of pure fun.
The fact that it’s sleek, minimalistic and available in numerous color schemes makes this device highly appealing to a large base of fans, especially when you add its more than affordable price. In other words, if you want a quality, but not too expensive tool for your Xbox adventures, Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller is the device to go for.
- Solid build
- Very comfortable
- Highly accurate
- D-pad and shoulder buttons are a bit loud
PlayStation DualShock 4
An Almost Perfect Controller
For everyone looking for the best controller for their PlayStation “journey”, DualShock 4 comes as an ultimate solution that will make their gaming an amazing experience, and their gameplay highly comfortable and intuitive.
A quality build, ergonomic, accurate sticks, a highly responsive D-pad and lots of features: this device is the best choice for long hours in front of your gaming screen. Although Sony controllers always had an issue with other platforms compatibility, that has changed a bit in the case of DualShock 4 and the controller can be also used on PC or Mac and is also supported by Steam.
With this device, you are getting good connectivity thanks to the BT 2.1 and nice set of ports (Micro USB, extension port, 3.5mm jack), which aren’t a decisive factor when talking about the quality of a controller but are surely a welcome bonus.
More importantly, PlayStation DualShock 4 comes with a touchpad, integrated light bar, built-in speaker and offers almost a perfect performance that will make your gaming a pure pleasure. If you want the best possible controller device for your PS console, DualShock4 is the right choice.
- Great appearance
- Exceptional motion sensors
- A bit slippy
- Insufficient trackpad
Amazing Looks and Performance in One
If you are looking for a comfortable, well-built PC controller that brings an excellent user experience, Sony DualSense Wireless Controller is the device for you. The reasons for such a claim are numerous; however, the most prominent ones are the great haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers that bring a sense of reality to your gaming.
What is even better is that the force levels and the tension of the adaptive triggers can be adjusted. Meanwhile, the implementation of dual actuators instead of rumble motors provides better physically responsive feedback, and ultimately makes a great gaming experience.
In addition, Sony DualSense Wireless Controller also features an attractive two-tone design and comes with textured handles, responsible for a sturdy grip. Furthermore, there is also the built-in microphone, headset jack, as well as a handy motion sensor.
Sony DualSense Wireless Controller offers Bluetooth connectivity, and comes with a built-in battery that supports USB-C charging and allows for around 10 hours of use, which is kinda disappointing. On the other hand, this controller offers excellent PlayStation support; however, it has limited PC use, and is fully compatible only with Steam, while you’ll have to wait for full compatibility for other games.
In other words, Sony DualSense Wireless Controller is one of the best controllers for PC, with plenty of features and an amazing user experience; however, it does have a few downsides that can unfortunately be too much for some users.
- Amazing haptic feedback and adaptive triggers
- Attractive looking
- Integrated speaker
- Intuitive design
- Limited PC compatibility
- Not the best battery life Sony DualSense Wireless Controller
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
A Controller that Combines Stationary and Handheld Gaming
For everyone looking for a device that will allow for a regular console TV gaming, but also provide a way to play your favorite titles while you are on the go, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller comes as a great, if not the only option. This utility may not be perfect, but it surely gives a completely new approach to gaming that will equally suit the newbies and the experienced gamers.
Although it doesn’t have tactile triggers, everything else needed for a comfortable use is there: HD rumble, smooth rotating analog stick, amazing D-pad, action buttons with a nice tactile feel, etc.
Thanks to a large amount of tech incorporated into this controller, the majority of the games seem much better and are easier to control. This, in the first place, involves driving and shooting games, where gameplay is instantly upgraded. On the other hand, titles such as the Super Mario Odyssey are better with a Joy-Con set-up that is coming in the package with the Switch console.
Altogether, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a nice alternative to the classical Switch controller, even though it lacks the sensibilities of Xbox or PlayStation controllers. Despite being expensive, this device is a great option for single-player engagement thanks to its exceptional button layout, and overall a highly versatile utility which makes it perfect for every Nintendo Switch fan.
- Highly comfortable
- Great D-pad
- Connectivity problems
Elite Series 2 Controller
The Best Xbox Controller There Is
Elite Series 2 is a very-well-built and easy-to-use controller that offers a good gaming experience and provides excellent comfortability, which makes it very attractive for every gaming devotee.
The controller itself offers numerous customization options, thanks to the Xbox Accessories app and overall allows for a fairly solid grip, due to its rubberized finish. Its buttons are very responsive, while its modular design allows you to easily change its thumbsticks and paddle shapes.
Elite Series 2 Controller offers great connectivity and can be used along with the USB C cable, with the help of the Bluetooth connection, or through the Xbox Wireless feature. Moreover, it is compatible with Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows 10, but more importantly, it is fitted with some excellent features such as shorter hair trigger locks and wireless charging that certainly make life a bit easier.
Elite Series 2 allows you to save up to three custom profiles and comes equipped with a solid rechargeable battery that will give you some 40 hours of autonomy. It is a bit pricey, which may be an issue for many; however, if you want the best game controller there is and wants to enjoy your favorite titles in the best possible way, Elite Series 2 Controller is the excellent choice that will bring only the smile to your face.
- A lot of customization options
- Very responsive
- It provides great grip
- Excellent build quality
- Easy to use
- A bit heavy
NVIDIA SHIELD Controller – Android
Way Better than Xbox One
The new NVIDIA SHIELD Controller is built to address the issues with the previous generations, and truth be told, Nvidia pulled that off with flying colors. The previous versions (this one is actually the third) all had virtually identical hardware, except from the capacitive buttons for Home, Back and Play/Pause. The prior controller hardware (Gen 1 and 2) was relatively bulky compared to Gen 3, but not uncomfortable at all, and also full of useful features, including a micro USB port a headset/mic jack combo (3.5 mm), a large volume rocker switch and a touchpad.
The new version dropped the touchpad, and the former capacitive Home, Back and Play/Pause are now physical, which is great, as they offer a satisfying tactile experience and work really well. The design is a love it or hate it kind of thing (we like it), but in terms of ergonomics, the 3rd gen is clearly better than the previous ones. To make a long story short, the new Shield Controller from Nvidia is a must-have for Nvidia Shield K1 and Nvidia Shield TV owners.
- physical buttons instead of capacitive for Android OS functions
- improved battery life and volume adjustment
- way better design and ergonomics
- excellent D-Pad, slightly behind the Switch Pro
- great value for money
- increased latency due to Bluetooth connectivity
- the touchpad is missing in action (not sure if a bug or a feature)
Logitech Gamepad F310
An Old School Controller that Still Rocks
Logitech Gamepad F310 controller is a basic, not too attractive device that no matter on its age still shows what the proper controller is all about, and that is, before anything else, excellent reliability, the category in which this device really shines.
Everything else on this device is much less impressive, if not mediocre, with the exception of the price, of course, that is utterly incredible and makes this controller an excellent deal.
When talking about the concrete characteristics of the Logitech Gamepad F310, you should know that it offers plug and play functionality; that it provides only the wired USB connectivity and that it provides solid compatibility and is capable of working with Windows, Chrome, Linux, and so on.
Moreover, this controller offers a decent level of customization that can be managed through the Profiler software, allowing for the easy remapping of its 10 programmable buttons, eight-way programming of its D-pad, and many more.
When compared with the other, modern-day controllers, this device definitely runs behind, but if you look at its price, durability, and, before anything else great reliability, that will keep it going where the others, much more expensive counterparts will fail, Logitech Gamepad F310 really proves to be the exceptional controller and definitely among the best controllers for PC available on the market today.
- Easy setup
- Plug and play functionality
- Plasticky design
Razer Wolverine V2
A Straight-A Student
There are beautiful and ugly controllers. Moreover, there are the good ones and the poor ones. Luckily, Razer Wolverine V2 is the winner in both categories.
Simply, this controller has everything that true gamers might need. There is the customizable RGB Chroma lighting, as well as six remappable buttons, and two-stage triggers. Additionally, there are Mecha-Tactile Action Buttons, D-Pad, and most importantly, sensitivity clutch features. This function lets you adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks with the press of a dedicated button.
In addition, this controller also offers excellent ergonomics, has a lightweight (274 grams) build, and works flawlessly with both Xbox and PC. However, its connectivity is limited to only wired connection, which isn’t something to be appreciated from one of the best PC controllers.
On the other hand, Razer Wolverine V2 comes with interchangeable thumbsticks, offering short and extended grips to fit your playing habits, which results in a great level of customization, as should be the case with the device of this class.
In short, Razer Wolverine V2 is an excellent controller, developed on the experiences of its predecessors, resulting in nothing less than excellence.
- Excellent ergonomics
- Interchangeable thumbsticks
- Chroma RGB lighting
- Six remappable buttons
- Very good compatibility
- Two-stage triggers
- No wireless connectivity
8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller
An Old-School Controller
8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller is an affordable, yet highly functional controller that brings a bit of retro looks to the gaming scene, following the path of its predecessor Sn30 Pro Plus controller. This device is comfortable to use, and it brought great compatibility that allowed its use with Mac, Android, Windows, Switch, Steam, and many other systems and setups which have been adopted by this newcomer.
However, 8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller is also bringing numerous additions, such as the on-fly change of up to three custom profiles, and the programmable rear buttons. In addition, there is also the enhanced grip and many other functions that were present on its predecessor, such as the rumble vibration and six-ax motion controls.
8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller offers numerous customization options and comes fitted with a USB-C charged 1000mAh battery that gives some 20 hours of play. Moreover, it provides Bluetooth connectivity, has adjustable hair triggers, and consequently presents one of the best controllers for PC available – especially if you are into old-school stuff and affordability in one.
- Comfortable feeling
- Very good battery life
- Excellent compatibility
- Multiple profiles
- Slightly limited programmable macros
EasySMX Wireless Controller
A Budget-friendly Game Controller that Will Certainly make you Happy
EasySMX Wireless Game Joystick Controller is the right example of what the budget-friendly controllers should be and that is to deliver great value for your money.
This is a simple device that offers custom controller design, good responsiveness, and overall ease of use that goes hand to hand with its plug and play functionality. EasySMX provides wireless connectivity and excellent compatibility that enables you to use it with a whole bunch of products and systems, including Windows and Android devices, PS3 and PS4, Xbox, and so on.
Other interesting features of this controller involve it’s a bit loud asymmetrical linear motor that provides great dual vibration feedback, textured, non-slip finish for advanced grip, as well as its easy pairing with other types of game controllers.
Unfortunately, EasySMX comes without a built-in rechargeable battery and needs for the two AA batteries in order to work. However, in its favor, it is on the bright side of the power consumption, which means that the two brand new AA batteries will give you about eight hours of work, which is rather respectable battery life.
All in all, EasySMX provides good performance, solid connectivity, and equally important, very good overall value. For that reason, if the best gaming controller in a budget-friendly area is your goal, you may be sure that this one is right up to the task and definitely the option that will certainly not disappoint you.
- Excellent compatibility
- Nice looking
- Easy to use
- Plug and play functionality
- A solid grip
- No rechargeable battery
- A bit loud motor
Enjoy Comfortable and Precise Gaming with the Best PC Controller for Your Needs
When it comes to buying the best controller for PC gaming, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to price and design. While there’s plenty of high-tech controllers available that you can use for a multitude of games, that doesn’t mean you also have to spend an arm and a leg. Whether you prefer the classic feel of a wired console controller or you’re looking for a multifunctional wireless gamepad for more versatility, your options are plentiful; it’s just a matter of assessing your gaming style, budget and personal tastes.
If you’re willing to pay more for a controller with lots of features such as lighting, extra programmable buttons and interactive touchpads, you might consider the Steam Controller, the Xbox One Elite or the NVIDIA SHIELD. For something more comfortable and basic, the Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller and the Logitech F710 are popular and affordable choices.
Even if you already have the best gaming keyboard, joystick, racing wheel and gaming mouse, no gaming PC setup is complete without a convenient and functional controller or gamepad. Don’t get left behind in the virtual dust of the rapidly evolving gamer tech world – find the best controller for PC gaming that works for you and your playstyle!