Best PC controllers in 2024

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Owning one of the best PC controllers allows for a fantastic alternative to keyboard and mouse for some a wide variety of genres. Nothing quite beats the feeling of kicking back with a high quality gamepad, especially if you prefer sitting back in your chair instead of hunching over your desk.

The following list of the best PC controllers was chosen based on a number of factors. Not only did we consider controllers across the budget spectrum, we also take into account general availability, as well as gamepads well suited to specific genres such as first-person-shooters (FPS), racing games and fighting games. Rest assured, then, that if you regularly game on PC, you'll find a controller in the list below that's suited to your budget and preferences.

The quick list

Best overall PC controller

Xbox Wireless Controller

(Image credit: Xbox)
The best overall PC controller

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired, Bluetooth
Features: Textured grip, 3.5mm stereo headset, replaceable battery
Weight: 275 g
Battery life: ~30 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable design
+
Easy to use
+
Available in many styles

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks additional features 

The Xbox Wireless Controller is our pick for the best overall PC controller. This workhorse gamepad is readily available globally and stands out thanks to its high build quality, comfortable ergonomic design, tactical buttons, and formidable D-pad. The Xbox Wireless Controller is also readily compatible with Windows PCs, meaning it's ready to go right out of the box.

Offering both wired and wireless play, it is also a very versatile and easy-to-use choice. With prices starting at $59.99 / £54.99 / AU$74.99 (and receiving frequent discounts in sales), you're getting an awful lot of bang for your buck. There are also a wide range of color options to choose from, including the ability to fully customize the look of your controller with the Xbox Design Lab.

The only drawback is the lack of any additional features. While some other controllers on this list offer modular input options or additional buttons, you’re only getting the basics here. If you're interested in extras like remappable rear buttons or trigger stops, consider checking out the Victrix Pro BFG, which we have listed below.

Best premium PC controller

The Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra controller's inbuilt display.

(Image credit: Future)
The best premium controller for PC gaming

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (via adapter)
Features: Mechanical buttons, hall effect sticks, color display, RGB lighting, button remapping
Weight: 246 g
Battery life: ~18-30 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Useful color display 
+
Satisfying mechanical buttons 
+
Tons of features

Reasons to avoid

-
Very high price tag
-
Lacking PC companion software

It’s certainly pricey, but it really doesn’t get much more premium than the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra. An eye-catching gamepad with a futuristic color screen, we were certainly surprised to discover that this feature is far more than a gimmick in our testing. Offering the ability to quickly remap your button inputs without the need for external software, the screen is the kind of innovation that makes you wonder how you ever lived without it. You're also getting bright RGB lighting down the grips, which really helps emphasize the almost sci-fi aesthetic.

Like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, a robust carrying case is included in the box alongside a useful charging stand too. While docked or in use, the color display shows your current battery level which makes it easier to ensure that things always stay topped up. The screen is also perfect for headset users, offering a range of EQ settings and easy access to options to change your current audio levels. 

One of the things that we love most about the Turtle Beach Ultra are its extremely satisfying mechanical buttons. They make a pleasing click sound when pressed and are extremely responsive when the action picks up. As you would expect from a high-end controller, there are four rear buttons on the controller that can be mapped to other button inputs or special software features like the pro aim focus mode. The use of Hall effect thumbsticks makes this one of the more durable entries on this list too.

Granted, its high price tag won't be for everyone. If you're not looking to spend much, you'll be better served with either the Xbox Wireless Controller or the GameSir T4 Kaleid; the latter still offers desirable features like remappable rear buttons and Hall effect thumbsticks.

Best budget PC controller

GameSir T4 Kaleid

The GameSir T4 Kaleid is a good inexpensive alternative to a mouse and keyboard. (Image credit: Future)
The best budget controller for PC gaming

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired
Features: Hall Effect sticks, RGB lighting, button mapping
Weight: 218g
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price tag
+
Solid design 
+
Excellent buttons and bumpers 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not compatible with Xbox or PlayStation consoles
-
RGB may distract for some

The GameSir T4 Kaleid is one of the best budget PC controllers on the market today. For only $41.99 / £41.99 (around AU$62), it offers a level of comfort comparable to some of the more established brands in our list and packs a suite of unique features, too. One look at the GameSir T4 Kaleid will tell you that this isn't your everyday budget PC controller. Armed with RGB lighting and a translucent design, this look might not be for everyone but it definitely helps it stand out from the crowd. 

We were also impressed with the controller's performance in our testing, where we noted the satisfying buttons and responsive joysticks. As this controller is on the cheaper end, it should be no surprise that it is restricted solely to wired play. Thankfully, however, with a total cable length of 2m / 7ft it shouldn't be much of a struggle to use this with your existing setup.

Unlike other controllers in this price range, the GameSir T4 Kaleid also benefits from a modern USB-C connection and the T4k desktop app, which allows you to program and map the buttons on the controller to suit your preferences.

Sadly, console compatibility is limited here. If you want to game on console as well as PC, consider checking out the Xbox Wireless Controller (for Xbox users) or the DualSense (for those of you on PS5).

Read more: GameSir T4 Kaleid review

Best wired PC controller

The Thrustmaster eSwap X2 controller on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)
The best wired PC controller

Specifications

Connectivity: USB
Features: Swappable modules, trigger locks, rear buttons
Weight: 300g
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Buttons are satisfying and accurate
+
Variety of swappable modules
+
Impressive build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a wired controller
-
Awkward rear buttons

Like some other entries on this list, the Thrustmaster eSwap X2 features a versatile modular design that allows you to mix and match parts as you wish. It can be configured to either an asymmetrical or symmetrical layout with ease by simply removing the modules from their magnetic sockets. With a very classy black and gold design, the controller is packed with suitably high-end components including an extremely satisfying set of tactile buttons and a responsive D-pad.

There are also trigger locks, in addition to four rear buttons. Although your mileage is likely to vary, our testing found that the round shape of these rear buttons meant that they could be a little fiddly to press at times. Elsewhere, the controller connects to your PC via an included USB-C cable and will work well with any titles that support a traditional Xbox controller. If you crave even more customization, Thrustmaster sells a wide variety of modules that are compatible with this controller. These range from modules with extra buttons intended for the best fighting games to alternate thumbsticks and D-pads. 

Best immersive PC controller

DualSense next to PS5

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Hopix Art)
The best PC controller for immersion

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth; USB
Features: Haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, touchpad, gyroscope
Weight: 280g
Battery life: ~7 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Adaptive triggers and haptic feedback 
+
Ergonomic design 
+
Fair price

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs to be wired to use features
-
Mediocre battery life

The DualSense is a truly excellent PS5 controller, but it's also perfect for PC. While you need to be plugged in via USB-C to utilize the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, it's well worth it for the level of immersion that these features add to games which support them. If you're going to be playing Sony published PC titles like The Last of Us Part 1,  Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and Returnal, this should be your top pick.

As a PC controller, the DualSense will be immediately familiar to anyone who is more used to a symmetric layout as opposed to the Xbox asymmetric sticks. It's got a highly ergonomic design and you're also getting a laptop-like touchpad which can be used in supported titles for added functionality. It's incredibly easy to use on PC either plugged in or with Bluetooth thanks to the custom controller mapping features of Steam's Big Picture Mode.

With a starting price of $69.99 / £59.99 / AU$109.95, and plenty of colors and styles available, the DualSense is a competitively priced PC controller that offers a lot more than many premium offerings. While the support may not be quite as widespread as with the Xbox Wireless Controller, you're benefiting from immersion you just won't get anywhere else. Just be wary of the battery life, which is very much on the shorter end.

Best PC controller for retro gaming

8BitDo Pro 2

(Image credit: 8BitDo)
The best PC controller for retro gaming

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired, Bluetooth
Features: Button mapping, trigger stops, rumble, macros
Weight: 228 g
Battery life: ~18 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price tag
+
Retro design
+
Button mapping

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be too small for some
-
The software can be fiddly

The 8BitDo Pro 2 is an excellent choice when it comes to the best PC controller for retro gaming. It boasts a pleasant retro design and a whole suite of modern features, like remappable buttons and dual analog sticks that also make it compatible with most modern games. 

All of this comes for a very affordable price. At just $34.99 / £30 / AU$76, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is one of the more affordable PC controllers in our roundup. While you have the option of a wired USB connection, there is also Bluetooth to seamlessly connect to your gaming PC or laptop.

It is worth nothing, however, that this retro form factor is on the smaller end. If you're a gamer with larger hands, you are going to be better off with one of the larger entries on this list. Similarly, the included software is a little fiddly so can be annoying if you frequently find yourself remapping buttons.

Best modular PC controller

Victrix Pro BFG

(Image credit: Future)
The best PC controller for modularity

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired, Bluetooth
Features: Swappable modules, trigger locks, rear buttons
Weight: 298 g
Battery life: ~20 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Swappable modules  
+
Wide variety of configurations  
+
Impressive battery life 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks some DualSense features
-
Does not offer rumble

If you're after modularity, then the Victrix BFG Pro is our top pick. With easily removable parts, it boasts a wealth of alternate options on how you can set it up. The sticks and buttons can be moved around to suit different play styles and there is even an entire fight pad module that can replace the traditional four-face buttons for better performance in fighting games. You can also swap the orientation of the sticks to either an asymmetric or in-line layout. There are also four remappable paddles on the back for added versatility as well. 

With its price point of $179.99 / £179.99 / AU$269, the Victrix BFG Pro is one of the most expensive options in our roundup, however, it offers a level of modularity that a lot of the other options don't. Unlike the DualSense, our choice for the most immersive PC controller, you won't be getting any of the fancy PS5 features here, as there's no adaptive triggers or any rumble to speak of whatsoever.

Best PC controller for racing games

Thrustmaster eSwap Pro XR

(Image credit: Future)
The best PC controller for racing games

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired
Features: Swappable modules, rear buttons, trigger locks
Weight: 324 g
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Modular design 
+
Racing wheel is a novel addition 
+
Satisfying buttons

Reasons to avoid

-
Slippery feeling grip 
-
Wheel can be fiddly 

What happens when you combine the functionality of one of the best racing wheels with a conventional PC controller? The answer is the Thrustmaster eSwap Pro XR Forza Horizon 5 Edition - a modular controller with its very own wheel module. In our testing, we found that this gamepad's unique racing wheel accessory made for a truly exceptional racing experience , even if it took a little getting used to at first. 

Retailing for around $179.99 / £179.99 / AU$379, you're paying a hefty premium on the complete package. However, it is also possible to pick up the racing module alone for only $29.99 / £26.99 / $62.74 that is fully compatible with the standard Thrustmaster eSwap Pro which can often be found much cheaper. Still, it's hard to overstate just how much precision this addition adds to the racing experience. If you're going to be playing any of the best racing games, consider picking one of these up.

Best PC controller for fighting games

Nacon Daija

(Image credit: Future)
The best fight stick for PC

Specifications

Connectivity: Wired
Features: Profiles, configurable buttons
Weight: 3.5 kg
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Highly customizable
+
High-end build quality
+
Leading responsiveness

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky size
-
One of the more expensive options

The Nacon Daija is our top pick for the best fighting game controller on PC and is an excellent accessory choice thanks to the extensive catalog of fighting games available on the platform including the most recent AAA fighting titles like the excellent Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1.

In our testing, we found that the Nacon Daija ranks well above its competition thanks to the ultra-responsive Sanwa joystick and robust buttons that lend the pad a very authentic arcade feel. It's a rugged design, however, which means that it could be considered too bulky side for some - especially if you want play with it on your lap. Despite this, there's nothing that comes close to this level of quality for the price. 

While this price is very reasonable for a fight stick, it does set you back around $249.99 / £249.99 / AU$427, which is quite steep compared to other controllers on this list. This is one for only the most hardcore fighting game fans. 

How to connect and use controllers on PC

Given the amount of contenders there are for best PC controllers nowadays, it's not always simple knowing how to pair, connect, and use them with your rig. That's especially the case when looking at the controllers of other consoles you might be familiar with or already have. Luckily we have all the tools you should need for those major console controller.

For PlayStation pad users, we've got guides on how to use a DualSense on PC or how to use a DualShock 4 on PC, while for those who prefer an asymmetrical controller, we've got guides on how to use an Xbox One controller on PC, how to use an Xbox Series X controller on PC (spoilers: it's similar to the former), and also how to use a Switch Pro controller on PC.

Best PC controllers - FAQs

What controller do pro PC players use?

Players who like to take their game to the next level, particularly in online multiplayer environments, may opt for a controller for more advanced features, assuming they're not already playing with a keyboard and mouse. Gamepads like the Victrix Pro BFG or the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra offer useful features in this regard, but do command higher price tags as a result. Similarly, pro players may opt for more specialist kit like a racing wheel or a fight stick like the Nacon Daija for more specific genre needs.

Is it possible to use a Nintendo Switch or PS5 controller on PC?

The short answer is yes! While Nintendo doesn't advertise its Nintendo Switch Pro Controller as PC compatible, you are able to hook it up to your PC as Steam offers compatibility for the controller. Similarly, both the DualSense and DualSense Edge for PS5 will work on PC, and even offer their bespoke haptic feedback and adaptive triggers for compatible titles.

How we test the best PC controllers

We test the best PC controllers with a variety of factors in mind. The main thing we look at is overall value for money; what does a controller offer at its price point that makes it stand out from the crowd? For example, we love the GameSir T4 Kaleid for its excellent build quality and robust feature set despite the low price tag. Similarly, the Victrix Pro BFG is impressively modular, justifying its higher retail price with plenty of modifiable extras.

We also consider controllers from a longevity standpoint. Longer lasting controllers will typically boast exceptional build quality, and often have features like Hall effect thumbsticks to help prevent dreaded stick drift. Furthermore, dedicated software that lets owners customize their controllers even further is a great bonus, too.

How to choose a PC controller

The closest to a one-size-fits-all controller in this list is our 'best overall' pick, that being the Xbox Wireless Controller thanks to its excellent build quality, versatility and reasonable price point. However, we're aware that many of you will want a controller that's either flashier, has more features, or both.

Looking for a gamepad that packs in extra features like RGB lighting and remappable rear buttons? You may wish to consider the GameSir T4 Kaleid. And for those of you who prize modularity and customizability, then the Victrix Pro BFG or Thrustmaster eSwap X2 can be considered.

Similarly, some controllers are fantastic for specific genres. As an example, you may want to look at the Nacon Daija if you're planning on purchasing a dedicated fighting game controller. Meanwhile, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is perfect for retro and arcade titles.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.

With contributions from