The best PC controllers give you a smoother PC gaming experience than a keyboard and mice combo ever could. You could have the most powerful PC and the most kitted-out rig, but your gameplay still isn't going to feel as intuitive without a controller for PC games.
Yes, it makes sense to stick with the traditional gaming mouse and gaming keyboard setup when tackling some games on your computer. However, a lot of the best PC games become much more immersive when you have a controller in hand, thanks to its streamlined design and simpler controls.
You also don't worry about connecting a controller to a PC as it's a simply process and most games support the use of a gamepad. Plus, with back-to-school season in full swing, many of these controllers will be on sale, and they're just the perfect peripherals to use as incentive for the kids to study harder or finish their homework on time.
We've tested our share of PC gaming controllers, and we know from experience just how much advantage they'll give you in gaming. We also know which ones are the best out there, and we've gathered them here for your perusal. When you've found the best one, be sure to use our included price comparison tool to get the best price available.
Microsoft’s Xbox controller has been the ruler by which other PC game controllers are measured since the Xbox 360 days, and for good reason. It’s comfortable and weighty with a button layout that feels natural. The most recent version – designed for the Xbox One console – iterates on everything that made last generation’s model so great by adding clickier shoulder bumpers and a vastly improved directional pad.
The built-in Bluetooth wireless makes pairing it with your desktop a breeze, and the price point is very attractive for consumers on a budget. It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns, meaning you’re likely to find something that matches your rig. And, even if there isn’t a color scheme you’re into, Microsoft will let you customize it through the Xbox Design Lab. This controller is as universal as they come, making it a fantastic choice for just about any setup and one of the best PC controllers of 2022.
A premium version of the Xbox One controller, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller certainly earns its moniker. It features an enormous number of upgrades over the standard Xbox controller, such as an interchangeable component layout and paddle buttons on the reverse side. There’s also a trigger governor that you can toggle for more sensitive trigger pulls. It’s more than double the price, though, so this is a product aimed squarely at those among us who truly want to take advantage of keyboard levels of customizability.
The Elite controller includes some truly impressive software functionality, which lets you tweak and fine-tune nearly every aspect of play. Here, you can customize many different profiles, of which the controller can hold two at any time, letting you change between them with the flick of a switch. If you’re looking for the most feature-packed controller available for your PC, this is your best bet, provided you’re willing to shell out the cash.
Read the full review: Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
If you’re in the market for the best PC controller that won’t break the bank, it’s tough to beat Logitech’s F310. It may be basic in its execution and functionality, but there’s something to be said about the no-frills nature of this cheap option. Just plug it in via USB and you’re ready to go. Considering the glut of customization options and features of all the premium controllers out there, the F310 is oddly refreshing. It also boasts an admirable directional pad and a great button layout.
As might be expected, the price point comes with a number of tradeoffs. First, the controller is rather lightweight, which lends an unfortunately flimsy quality to the experience of gaming with it. Also, with no wireless functionality, the cord interface may be less than ideal for some. It’s also a tad small and larger hands are likely to struggle a bit. Still, given these caveats, the F310 is a fine choice for an inexpensive alternative to a mouse and keyboard.
The DualShock 4 is Sony’s best controller to date, and lucky for us it’s compatible with Steam’s entire library of games. Very comfortable in the hands, the DualShock 4 boasts tactile analog sticks with just enough resistance, and perhaps the best directional pad ever. It also features motion technology that’s compatible with with a surprising number of games, allowing you to steer in racing games or aim in shooters by moving the controller around.
There are a couple issues, though. Most notably, the exposed shoulder buttons make it easy to accidentally bump them on the desk. The rubber on the analog sticks also tends to rub off after extended use. Still, Sony’s controller ranks up there among the best options for controller-based PC gaming.
Read the full review: Dualshock 4 Controller
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Peripheral manufacturer 8BitDo has made its name on retro designs that lean heavily on nostalgia, and the SN30 Pro wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Modeled after old-school Super Nintendo controllers, it’s ideal for the PC’s ever-growing library of retro-inspired games, even if it doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. The button layout will be instantly familiar to anyone who grew up with 2D platformers and JRPGs.
The craftsmanship on the SN30 Pro is surprisingly sturdy, especially considering its budget pricing. It also sports a pair of analog sticks should you want to use it for modern shooters or action games, though we wouldn’t recommend that. Its small form factor makes it uncomfortable in the hand during extended sessions and more twitch-based games. Regardless, there are a number of games that would benefit from the authentically retro touch that the SN30 brings to the desk. That alone makes this one of the best PC controllers right now.
The Turtle Beach Recon Controller would bear a striking resemblance to the Xbox controller if it weren’t for the control panel of features that’s been added at the top of the gamepad. Its layout is similar, otherwise, but it comes with some extra feature functionality all its own. Not only can you control volume and chat mix right on the controller but you can take advantage of mic and audio enhancements to take your gaming to the next level.
You can also adjust your right-stick sensitivity and remap two buttons that have been added on the underside of the controller for some more versatility in your gameplay. And, it costs about the same as a standard issue Xbox controller. It’s only the lack of any kind of wireless connectivity with the Turtle Beach Recon that keeps it from being the perfect controller. But, if you’re ok being wired to your Xbox or PC, you should give this gamepad a go.
The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a beast of a gamepad. Razer has used its expertise in making top-notch peripherals and applied it to an Xbox-style controller for something that is quicker and more customizable than others out there. The switches on the Wolverine come with an incredibly short actuation time of 0.65mm for an incredibly quick response so you can feel like you’re up to speed no matter how fast your game is.
It also comes with 6 remappable buttons, four triggers and two bumpers, so that you have an easier time accessing special skills or creating a preferred layout in your games. You can also swap out the thumbstick caps between shorter and longer ones. And, you can use two sliding locks to limit the travel on your main triggers for even speedier play. All those features, unfortunately do come at a price and the build quality is a little lacking.