Is the Sony DualShock 4 the best PS4 controller available? Well, that's the question we need to answer today - and isn't as straightforward as you may think.
If you're after a spare gamepad or replacement, the best PS4 controller and simplest option is to pick up another DualShock 4, particularly if your budget is $60, not $160. Speaking of budget, there's bound to be some discounts during Amazon Prime Day 2021, so if you're in the market for an extra controller, don't miss Amazon's sales extravaganza which takes place on June 21-22.
However, take a step away from Sony's standard offering, and things get a bit more interesting. No, you won't see the features of the DualSense PS5 controller added in. But you can get more control over how the pad feels and responds, which can be crucial for those who game competitively.
For example, digital triggers can improve your reaction times in FPS games, while rear paddles let you experiment with different control schemes that might give you the edge. The best PS4 controllers come in many variations, then, and can vary wildly over the stock DualShock 4 that many gamers are used to.
If you're after a controller that does something different, then, check out our picks of the best PS4 controllers you can buy today.
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The trusty DualShock 4 is always our first recommendation when we're asked about replacement PS4 controllers.
The DualShock 4 is perfect for its purpose: sleek, small and wireless. Not to mention the built in speaker, varying light bar colors, touch pad and motion sensors, which enhance play.
This need not be a cop-out option either. You don't have to make do with the plain old black style shipped with the console. Jazz things up a bit with a red, blue, gold or green camo DualShock 4.
You can attach a gaming headset or headphones to the controller easily too (unlike the Xbox One pad). However, battery life can be a pain. The controller holds charge for around four to eight hours. Frequent top-ups are required so you might want to buy a charge dock, particularly as they use microUSB charging.
Many of us have already moved onto USB-C for our phones, so there are fewer suitable cables lying about the house. Read more about Sony's official charging station in our best PS4 accessories round-up.
We find the DualShock 4 is a great PS4 controller for someone who just simply wants to get on with playing and isn’t fussed about the customization available in some of the third-party pads below.
Check out our full DualShock 4 controller review.
If you took a Sony DualShock 4 and redesigned it to fit in four well-spaced paddle controls on the back, you'd end up with something like the Scuf Impact. It is a little wider than the first-party pad but you get four paddles that replicate the inputs of the face buttons.
Buy the EMR Scuf Impact and these can be remapped on-the-fly, with the help of a little magnet that sticks on the back.
If you don't care about the Scuf Impact's mappable paddles or the incredible array of tweaks you can make to the design you should probably stick to a DualShock 4. It's a whole lot cheaper.
However, one of the elements we like most is how easy it is to switch to this pad. Its spacing is a little different, but all the core features of the DualShock 4 are replicated here and there are no odd-feeling or low-quality parts that stick out.
We reviewed the digital trigger version of the Scuf Impact, which has ultra-fast triggers made for FPS games. They're a hit, but are not ideal for other types of game, particularly racers. Do a little research and you can design your own Impact to suit your play style.
If you are a PS4 player, but prefer the design of the Xbox One controller, the Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller might be a better fit for you. Like the Vantage Controller, the Revolution Pro is built for gamers (more specifically esports) with a directional pad that can move eight ways - instead of four - alongside four shortcut buttons.
However, it’s not quite as complicated to operate as the Vantage, nor is it as expensive.
If you want a PS4 controller with a few extra bells and whistles, but not an overwhelming amount, and prefer a chunkier controller that is a bit more resilient, the Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller could be for you.
Check out our full Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller review.
The SCUF Vantage Controller is a great option if you want your PS4 controller to have a bit more bite, and are more specific about your controller’s performance.
Built with gamers in mind, this fully customizable PS4 controller boasts enhanced grip, remappable paddles on the back, side action buttons and an audio touch bar.
Those rear paddles are similar to those of the Xbox Elite Controller. You program them using a switch on the bottom, and flick them with an extended index finger. It's a different way to play, but offers something the DualShock 4 does not.
Essentially the Vantage controller is built so you can play more comfortably for longer. But unless you know how to optimize its abilities, maybe it's best to stick to a more straightforward PS4 controller.
Especially because the Vantage Controller is much more expensive than your average DualShock 4.
Check out our full SCUF Vantage Controller review.
The Razer Raiju Ultimate Wireless PS4 Controller is more suited to seasoned gamers and pros, allowing advanced customization via the Razer mobile app - that includes remapping and adjusting sensitivity.
This is one of the smartest PS4 gamepads around.
If that’s not enough customization for you, you can also make use of interchangeable thumbsticks, the built-in quick control panel, and Hair Trigger Mode - allowing you to be more trigger-happy than ever before.
Much like the other pro controllers on this list, the Raiju Ultimate is chunkier than the DualShock making it more suitable for those who prefer the Xbox One controller style.
When it launched the controller had an issue with latency when used wireless. This was improved, if not entirely fixed, with a firmware update.
The Raiju Ultimate is a fantastic PS4 controller, but it’s not exactly cheap. Make sure you will make use of advanced customizations before investing - but if you harness the controller's capabilities then you’ll find your gameplay experience all that much smoother.
Check out our full Razer Raiju Ultimate review.
Looking for a PS4 controller for a young person in your house? The Hori Mini Wired Gamepad is a good fit for smaller hands.
The Mini Wired looks like a retro controller. It is plug-n-play with 10ft cable (no pulling the console off the stand) and it’s 40% smaller than the DualShock 4. The grip is minimal as a result, but that's a good fit if you want a small pad to stash in a bag.
However, there is no light bar, stereo headset jack, speaker, dual motors, or motion sensor - it’s a much more streamlined alternative to the DualShock 4. And that means a few games won't work with it.
According to Sony, the Mini Wired Gamepad is compatible with “most” PS4 games. We’re reading that as the less complicated ones, so don’t fire up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and expect the controller to be able to hack it - not that children should be playing it anyway.
The Mini Wired Gamepad is $30 (around £23/AU$38) from Sony affiliated retailers.
The Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller is a comfortable controller that brings the Xbox One gamepad experience to PS4 (and PC) players. It's robust and well-made, with a chunkier design than the DualShock 4.
Its name tells you the main selling point: the Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller has offset analogue sticks, like an Xbox One controller.
It may be a better choice for those who have dexterity issues or simply prefer a bigger controller due to its bigger buttons and triggers.
However, there are a few performance issues to take into account. We noticed some grating lag at review, and there are no motion sensors inside. The light bar and speaker are missing too, features important for some games. It's a good choice if you want a second pad to use for some specific dual-stick titles.
Check out our full Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller review.