Best PC Controllers Reviewed & Rated for Quality
A mouse and keyboard is a great way to control in lots of different kinds of games for the computer. It is the best way to control in real time strategy games, for example. It is also debatable that it is the best way to play most first person shooters. However, after those genres it starts to get a little more murky. A controller is a great way to play tons of other games. It makes it much more comfortable when playing. You don't have to lean over your keyboard and make sure that your fingers are hitting all the right keys. A controller it great for when you want to lean back in your chair and play the games that you want to play. The buttons are always right there. This is a list of ten of the best PC controllers that you can buy. Have a look!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Compatible with lots of hardware
10 Best PC Controllers
1. Xbox Wireless
Compatible with lots of hardware
Not very consistent builds
This may seem like a misleading way to start the list, but the best way to play games on your computer is often by using one of the console's first party controllers.
First Party Controller
The Xbox One controller does a great job of giving you a comfortable and responsive experience for your games. It has enough buttons that you can run any games that might come out. This is especially true for any games that are ported from computer, due to the fact that you'll be using the controller that they were designed for.
The Xbox One controller comes with lots of quality of life features that make it your best choice. It has textured handles that make it one of the comfier grips on this list. It is just enough texture to make your hands feel at home. It is also a wireless controller, and can be used from a very far distance without needing to worry about it becoming disconnected.
Cost and Value
The Xbox One controller is a little more expensive than some of the other options on this list. The first party controllers often are. On the other hand, this is one of the best designed controllers around, and it becomes increasingly obvious as you look at all the imitators of its style that are on the market. Do yourself a favor and buy the best available.
2. Dualshock 4
Lots of features
Lineage of classic controllers
Some superfluous design choices
The Dualshock 4 is another first person option on this list. This is the controller that comes with all PS4s. It does a great job in terms of comfort.
First Party Alternative
The Dualshock 4 is another first party controller that still does a great job at giving you a great feeling experience on your computer. It is very easy to hook this up to your computer through Bluetooth, which is great for being able to own a controller that you can do tons with. It has a comfortable grip and enough buttons to be able to handle all kinds of games.
The Dualshock 4 is packed with tons of features, too. This is one of the controllers that comes with everything. It has a light up bar that makes it easy for you to tell who is player two, or when the controller has been connected. It has also been designed with tons of other modern features. It comes with a touch screen that will work with some games, and a button for sharing your accomplishments.
Cost and Value
The Dualshock 4 is another controller that will cost you a little more than the other options on this list. The first party controller always do. Getting this controller is mostly just a toss up for what style that you like better. The Xbox One controller has a more rounded design, but is a little bulkier, while the PS4 controller has a sharper design.
3. Logitech Gamepad F310
Very well-designed grips
Has all the buttons and functions
Compatible with lots of versions of Windows
No extra features
This is a very simple, bare bones controller that you can use with your PC. This is the best choice if you want something cheap and effective.
Budget Concious Controller
The Gamepad is designed in a very basic sort of way so that you can get it to work with lots of different games. It has all the buttons that you might be looking for, and includes everything that you might think should be there. It even has clickable analog sticks. This is a wired controller, but it does come with a long cord so that you still sit on the couch, or in any position that you want.
The Logitech is designed with a few smart features that make it a good choice for any gamer. This controller has some extra padding on the controller grips so that your hands will fell comfortable and cool at all times. It is also very grippy foam that makes it easy to hold for a long time, even when your hands start getting sweaty.
Cost and Value
The big selling point of the Gamepad is that it can be bought at a very cheap price. It is designed for those who want a controller, but don't want to go all out when trying to find something for your computer. This is about as simple as it gets, and that is a big selling point for this controller. Perfect for the gamer who wants to keep it simple.
4. Microsoft Xbox 360
Perfect level of balance
Very comfortable design
Will last forever
No directions for set up
Once again, we come back to the first party controllers. Many people still swear by the Xbox 360 controller as the classic controller for using with your PC.
Classic PC Controller
Lots of people have saved their Xbox 360 controllers so that they can use them with their PCs. The reasons for this are numerous. They are easy to hook up, the buttons are durable and responsive, and the controller has the perfect amount of comfort and weightiness to it. The Xbox 360 controller is about as good as it gets when it comes to using a controller.
But wait, there's more. The Xbox 360 controller is packed with things to love. The range on the wireless control makes it easy to play on your PC from the couch. It can also have a battery charger bought for it that makes it very easy to keep your controller ready for use. The shoulder buttons and triggers are also perfectly responsive.
Cost and Value
There are lots of used Xbox 360 controllers that you can buy at this store page, but there are also tons of new ones still available too. The Xbox 360 controller is well-known for how durable it is, so if you buy one, you won't have to worry about buying another PC controller for years to come. The Xbox 360 is the classic PC controller for a reason.
Vibration and motion control
Lots of mapping options
Trackpads for joysticks
Compatible with Steam
All those features come at a price
Steam, everyone's favorite, basically only, PC gaming platform, released their own PC controller that does a great job of connecting to the games in your Steam library.
Working With Steam
The simplest way to know that your PC games are going to work with your controller is to buy the official controller of Steam. Most games that anyone owns are going to be on Steam anyway, so why not get their controller? This is the easiest way to know that your games will be compatible with your controller if you use Steam as your main gaming platform.
The Steam controller has a lot more going for it, though, It is packed with features. It comes with two trackpads instead of joysticks, which might take a second to get used to, but will give you great feedback on your gaming, as well as give you tons of options for controlling your games. It also comes with quality vibration that you can customize, and motion controls for things like racing games.
Cost and Value
The Steam Controller has it all. It has the ability to attach any kind of control scheme that you want to it. It has buttons that can be used in a variety of ways. It even has vibration and motion controls. This decked out controller does also come with a decked out price. This is a great choice if you want to have full control over how your controller works.
6. Razer Wolverine
Easy to switch buttons
Can change sensitivity of triggers
Can change lighting style
Most expensive option on list
The Razer Wolverine is a third party controller that is designed to work with both the PC and the Xbox One, which gives you a little extra functionality.
Designed for Competition
The Wolverine is designed with the competition in mind. It has a few clever features that will make it easier for you to get the edge on your opponents in online matches. One of the clever ways that Razer goes about doing this is by adding sensitivity options to the triggers of the control. You can switch the triggers and bumpers to react to light presses, instead of full trigger pulls.
The Wolverine has some other clever features designed into it, too. It has remappable buttons that make it easy for you to customize your experience with your games. They can even be switched so that they use multiple buttons on the keyboard at once. Another cool feature is the ability to change how the lights on the controller work, so you can add your own personal touch.
Cost and Value
The Wolverine does cost quite a bit more than the other options on this list. It makes this controller more of a sell to the more hardcore gamer. Using a controller in competitive gaming has become more popular as of late, and if you are one of the converts, then you should think about buying the Wolverine so you can get an advantage over the enemy.
7. ZD-C Wired
Comes with vibration and turbo
This is another great option if you want to buy a PC Controller that is more on the cheaper side. This one mimics a PS4 controller quite well.
Not everyone is looking for a gaming controller that is packed with fancy features. This controller is a bit of a throwback, and it is designed with some features that people haven't been excited about in a little while. This controller comes with all the buttons that you need to be supported for modern gaming, and then some other fun choices, like a turbo button.
The ZD-C is designed with a few other features that will ensure that you are getting a high quality controller. It has very precise controls for such a cheap controller, and it will do a good job at giving you the latency and sensitivity that you would hope for from a much more expensive controller. Another great thing is that it has very comfortable, albeit simple, grips.
Cost and Value
The ZD-C is a great choice for anyone who wants a simple and reliable controller. This is another very cheap controller that you can use for your PC. Compared to the Logitech, this controller is probably best for those who are feeling nostalgic for the Playstation controllers of old. Even if you aren't, you could do much worse than with the ZD-C.
8. Buffalo iBuffalo Classic
True to classic controllers
Feels light and authentic
No added features
These last few entries are for those who are looking for something a little more specialized in their controllers. The Buffalo is the most famous of the SNES controllers you can find online
Playing retro games on your computer has become increasingly easy as time has gone on. It makes it easy for you have everything in one place, without the need for bulky consoles that are just going to take up room in the closet. Some of the easiest games to run on the computer are those from the early 90's, like the SNES.
The Buffalo is as true to life as you could hope for from a third party controller trying to emulate the controllers of the past. It looks like the third party controllers that you could buy back in the day, but it has the responsiveness and great design of those first party controllers. It connects through the USB on your computer, and it will work almost right away.
Cost and Value
The Buffalo is the most popular choice for people who want an old school SNES controller for very good reason. It does a great job of feeling just like the real thing. In some ways, it just doesn't feel the same using a bulky controller with all the extra buttons when you play games. If you have felt this way before then you should give the Buffalo a shot. It doesn't cost very much, at all.
9. Retro-Bit Sega USB
Great representation of old controller
Extra buttons for support
Not one to one recreation
This is another choice for those who want to do some retro gaming. The Retro-Bit does a great job at working just like a Genesis controller of old.
The Sega Genesis
The Sega Genesis was the other classic controller of the 90s. For every kid who had a SNES, there was a neighbour who was playing Sonic on their Sega Genesis. It is a completely different controller. It has tons more buttons, and a unique boomerang shape that fits very well in your palms. If you want to feel like you are playing Genesis games, this is the only way it will feel just right.
The Genesis controller from Retro-Bit is unique among retro controllers in that it is actually licensed by Sega. It does a great job of emulating the boomerang, but it comes with some useful bonus features too. It now has shoulder buttons so that you can have some extra functionality when you are playing games. It also has very well-designed buttons that feel good and last for a long time.
Cost and Value
The Retro-Bit is a great choice for anyone feeling a different brand of nostalgia. The Retro-Bit is a great controller that does such a good job that it has been officially endorsed. Sega has had a little renaissance on Steam, and has put a lot of their catalog on the service. This controller is the perfect next step to have your very own Genesis on the computer.
10. Mayflash Arcade Fight Stick
Great price for a fighting stick
Good weight to it
Perfect size for travel
Designed for compatibility
Needs mods for peak performance
Another type of game that has been getting a lot of traction by being ported onto computers is the fighting game. The Mayflash is a great budget fight stick if you are interested in joining the scene.
Joy of the Fight Stick
The Mayflash is a great way to discover the joys of using a fight stick. Fight sticks are designed so that you can bring the classic feeling of the arcade home with you. Lots of professionals use fight sticks instead of controllers because of the more fluid way it feels to use the six button set up with the looseness of the joystick.
The Mayflash is great for tons of other reasons too. This is the perfect fight stick for beginners. One of the great things about it is that it is designed to be compatible with tons of different fighting games on tons of different consoles. It does a great job at making it easy for you to use it anywhere. On top of that, this fight stick has a great weight and size to it that is great for portability and stability.
Cost and Value
The Mayflash is designed for the beginner user of a fight stick, but it can be used by veterans, too. The reason it is such a perfect fight stick for those people is that it does a great job in terms of how little it costs. As you become more entrenched in the fighting game community, all it will take is a few modifications to put it over the top.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The biggest advantage to using a controller over a mouse and keyboard is the added comfort of the experience. Many would rightly argue that there is a lot more accuracy and options with a mouse and keyboard, but nothing beats sitting back in your favorite chair and letting your hands rest in your lap with a controller. If that is the case, then it is important that the controller work as an extension of this idyllic scenario, where the comfortable grip of the controller makes it easy for you to use the controller. It should feel comfortable tapping all the buttons. It shouldn't take too much movement of your fingers to reach any individual button. It should also be very easy for you to hold onto the controller for a long time without your hands getting cramped. That is a large reason for the rounded ergonomic designs that are so popular today. This rating will let you know just how comfortable the controller is.
A controller can be as comfortable as it wants, but if the buttons on it don't work as well as they should, then there is not much point in owning the controller. The best controllers will have responsive buttons, and useful features that make it easier for you to be able to tell what is happening on the screen. Of course, the buttons work on all these controllers. The difference is how specifically well they work. If you are using one of the retro controllers then you should be looking for buttons that feel a lot like the real thing. If you are using the more modern controllers, then you should be looking for something that makes it easy for you get just the right button presses. You want the buttons to push in with a light touch, or better yet, look for buttons that are pressure sensitive, which will make for more responsive gameplay.
When this guide refers to durability, it isn't talking about if your controller will survive being thrown at a wall. That sort of activity is out of this guide's hands. On the other hand, there is the real possibility that the controller will give up after long hours of use. Those buttons can only be pushed in so many times. The best controllers will last you for years, but everything will give in eventually. There are a lot of moving parts in a gaming controller, especially in the more modern ones that have lots of different technologies working at once. This rating will let you know how long you can rely on your controller for. When using your controllers, think about trying to be gentle to them. When you put them away, put them away lightly. Another thing that will make them last for longer is if you put them away in a place that doesn't have a lot of dust.
Ease of Use
One of the big things that seem to push people away from using a gaming controller with your PC is that they are worried about how well their controller will do with every new game that it gets formatted to. These days, it is something that just doesn't need to be worried about. In almost all cases, it is easy for your controller to do all the button mapping for you. Most PC games are designed with the potential for controller input in mind, and in fact, it is becoming increasingly common for games to be designed with a controller recommended. This rating will let you know just how easy it should be when you are setting your controller up. This rating also takes into account things like how easy it is going to be to change the controls as you want them to be, and how easy it is to set the controller up in the first place.
The rating that the controller gets in this category is basically a way to know how far each of your dollars is going towards the controller that you are getting. Some controllers cost a weekend's allowance, while other controllers are closer to what you are going to be paying to buy a brand-new AAA game. Looking at those prices, you better be getting something good. All the controllers on this list will serve you well. They are the cream of the crop. The more expensive controllers usually cost that much because they implement a lot of more modern features. It is simply the case that many modern controllers cost more because they come with all those new features like track pads, touch screens, and detailed haptic feedback.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
One of the great things about the modern controller is that the amount of support for them has gone up tremendously. One of the cooler things is that there are often downloadable templates for individual games that give you clever controller support where there was once none. Look at any game that you are interested in on Steam, and there will usually be a controller configuration file that makes it easy for you to set the controller up.
Before you go ahead and buy the controller that looks best to you, it might be a good idea to look at the store page for it. Some of these controllers are only compatible for certain kinds of computers and operating systems.
Other Factors to Consider
These days you have an option when it comes to choosing how your controller is going to be connected to your PC. There are advantages to using a wireless controller compared to a wired controller, and vice versa. The wireless controllers give you tons of mobility, and will take a lot of the worry pout of your life. Most controllers that use wireless use Bluetooth to make their connection. this is perfect for being able to keep a connection no matter where yo are in the house. A wired controller can be great too. A wired controller is a little simpler to set up, as all you need to do is plug it into the computer and then let it download whatever drivers you need. A wireless controller is probably better after that initial set up, but there are definitely places where a wired controller has its use.
Something to think about when you are buying yourself a controller for the PC is what it is compatible with.The most important thing to look at is if it is compatible with your computer, of course. Some controllers work with Windows 10, some controllers don't work with Apple computers. It is always important to check to make sure that it works with what you are running first. On the other hand, there are some advantages to compatibility too. If you own a console, think about buying a controller for your PC that you can also attach to the console. This is a great way to save some money, and to also give you the ability to run some local Co-Op when a friend comes over. There are also advantages to buying a controller that works best for specific games, like the retro-styled controllers for their individual systems, or the fight stick for the added feeling of playing something in the arcade.
Another thing to think about is buying a controller that you like the look of. This is not as important as finding one that feels good in your hand, but it is still useful to think about using a controller that gets you excited to sit down and play some games. The easiest way that this could be useful is buying a controller in the color that you want. Some of the controllers on this list can be bought in multiple styles, which means that you may as well find the one that you like the most. Another way to change it up is that a lot of controllers can also have skins bought for them. This is especially true for the first party controllers, where there is an entire cottage industry around creating stylish new skins for players to customize their controllers with.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do I get my PC controller to work?
How easy it is to get your controller to work with the game that you are playing is going to have a lot to do with the controller that you buy. The Xbox controllers are the simplest, as they have drivers that will be automatically downloaded by your computer once they are plugged in. Other controllers will expect you to do the configuration on your own, which is often very easy. You can do this through Steam by going through their settings menu when inside of the big screen mode. From here you can map all your controls so that when you launch games, it will detect this for you. For other programs you just need to look for the control tab within the program. It should be easy to find.
q: Do all games allow you to use a controller?
There is always the chance that you will run into a game that makes it hard for you to get your controller working with the game. This is often the case with older games, or games that are just not designed to work with controllers. There are a couple things you can do. The simplest is to use Steam. Steam will often have configurations that you can implement for the controller so that they can work with specific games. Just check that specific games page. The other option, which is useful for if the game is not on Steam, is to download one of a variety of programs that will let you map your controller to buttons on a keyboard. This means that you will have to change the controls on a game to game basis, but this is a great way to get your old games working when you are feeling some nostalgia.
q: Why would I get a wired controller?
Wireless controllers are the future, and they will often be your best bet when you are buying a controller. However, there are still reasons to buy a wired controller. The first is the simplicity. When you plug a controller in through the USB, it will often be much easier to get the controller working. It will often download drivers, and you should be ready to go within minutes. The other reason is cost. Wired controllers are often cheaper in general. The other thing that may ramp up the price of the wireless controllers is the fact that they might need an adapter to work. Make sure to check the store page and reviews before you make your purchase.