Control. It’s what alludes us most in life. Whether it’s control over our own lives or those around us, we strive to one day obtain it. So, when we finally find something we can control, we want the best tools for the job. Of course, we’re talking about playing your favorite games with the best PC gaming controllers.
What, too heavy at the start there?
While finding the perfect PC controller is a bit easier than our lifelong search for that existential control, it can still be a bit of a headache. Will it fit into my tiny hands? Are the thumbsticks properly calibrated? Do the shoulder buttons make too much noise when I click them? These are all fundamental questions to ask yourself when you dive into shopping for your next PC peripheral.
We’re all about making life easier, so we’ve done much of that research for you. So, dive in to find out which of the following is the best PC controller for your needs.
15. 8BitDo SN30 Pro Controller
PROS: – Authentic, nostalgic design – Responsive and durable D-pad – Also functional with the Nintendo Switch and Android devices
CONS: – Not the most comfortable for long periods of play – Practically useless for modern games
So many people shop for the best PC controllers with the intent of playing nothing but the latest, AAA first-person shooters and action-adventure games. Then there are those that are looking for a classic gaming experience, even if that means playing side-scrolling, retro platformers on a controller designed after the SNES.
The 8BitDo SN30 Pro looks like a plastic piece of nostalgia and is a suitable controller for old-school and newer titles. Whether or not you grew up using the classic SNES controller, the SN30 Pro is easy to get used to. Though it suffers from the same comfort issues as Nintendo’s original super controller, there’s nothing like playing games with an old feel on a controller that embodies retro consoles.
PROS: – Ergonomic design for a comfortable fit – Durable build – Plenty of customization options – No batteries – Low price
CONS: – Stiff LT/RT triggers – Hard analog sticks that can get uncomfortable – Inferior D-pad
Wireless is such a big component of modern PC and console gaming, but not everyone wants to deal with the hassles of recharging or replacing batteries. The ZD-C Wired Gaming Controller throws those annoyances out the window and delivers a responsive experience at a relatively inexpensive price.
Linear triggers are designed for intense first-person shooter matches while joystick precision adjustment can be altered to meet the needs of the game. Whether it’s a fast-paced shootout or you’re careening around the edges of a rainy city, the ZD-C is designed to handle it with ease. Additional functions include a Turbo mode, LT/RT Linear toggle, D-pad and analog toggle, and precision adjustment makes this one of the best PC controllers for competitive gaming.
PROS: – Sturdy build that stands up to abuse – Customizable to fit your gaming needs – Wired and wireless connection
CONS: – Bulky and uncomfortable over long periods of play – D-pad that’s good for limited use – High price tag
With the Razer name attached, you know you’re getting a quality controller. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that comfort is the Raiju’s biggest downfall, but its perks far outweigh the negatives. Take command of the battlefield with a controller that’s designed for shooters, from the Mecha-Tactile action buttons to the adjustable triggers.
The Raiju features four remappable multi-function buttons and a D-pad that feels like it’s been specifically designed for first-person shooters. Razer adds a layer of convenience with Bluetooth and wired connectivity, making for easy pairing with your PC. Do you have a PS4 that you need to fine-tune your first-person shooter skills on? Razer’s Raiju can pair with Sony’s console.
PROS: – Inexpensive without sacrificing quality – Plug-and-play – Smartphone bracket for Android compatibility – Pressure sensitive triggers
CONS: – No option for wireless – Shows wear and tear after long periods of play
Even if you’re pretty deep in the gaming industry, there is a good chance you’ve never heard of GameSir. When you’re gaming on a budget, the G3w is a safe and reliable option that doesn’t force you to sacrifice usability for a lower price.
Built with dual vibration motors and pressure sensitive triggers and designed for multi-platform use, the G3w is a surprisingly inexpensive entry in a best of PC controllers list. It appears as if Sony’s DualShock controller served as inspiration for the G3w, and it gives the controller its best strengths.
It may not have the name power of other PC controllers, by GameSir’s G3w is a suitable alternative.
PROS: – Customizable buttons that can be interchanged and remapped – Durable build that stands up to extensive use – Windows software allows for multiple user profiles – PS4 compatible
CONS: – Expensive – LED never shuts off – No Bluetooth for wireless connectivity
If you don’t mind a busy facing with unnecessary, visually unappealing accents, then the Astro C40 TR may be the best PC controller for you. It’s on the higher end of the pricing scale, but for it, you get a controller that features remappable and interchangeable buttons. For hardcore PC players, this is an invaluable feature that is useful across genres.
Packaged with its own Windows software, the C40 TR is a cinch to configure sensitivity and create unique profiles. PS4 owners may start to see similarities between the C40, which was designed by the team behind the Xbox 360 controller, and the DualShock 4, which makes for some of the best features of the pricey unit.
Despite its many highs, Astro’s C40 TR has no built-in Bluetooth and requires a USB receiver.
PROS: – Long battery life – Durable and weighty for a sturdy feel – Customizable buttons and inputs
CONS: – Irregular thickness may be difficult for smaller hands – Otherwise unremarkable features – Small trigger buttons
It’s far from the most attractive PC controller you’ll ever get your hands on, but functionality and a sturdy build make it easy to overlook the ugly design of the Logitech Gamepad F710. Like so many Logitech products, the F710 won’t break the bank, but it also won’t break easily.
The durable controller features DirectInput, Xinput, and 2.4GHz wireless compatibility for a feature-rich PC controller. There is a lot of weight to the device, but it doesn’t take away from the comfort provided by the odd shape. Compatible with Profiler software, the F710 can be customized, so you’re playing with a controller that best suits your needs.
For smaller hands, the F710 could be a difficult sell, but it’s hard to ignore the reasonable price for something durable and very functional.
PRO: – Familiar and comfortable design – Great battery life – Button layout is beneficial for all genres – Very inexpensive
CONS: – Triggers don’t feel sturdy – Multiple connectivity modes can cause confusion
Arguably one of the least expensive PC controllers you’ll find, the EasySMX Wireless sneaks its way on to a “best PC controllers” list thanks to a familiar and comfortable design.
Anyone that’s owned an Xbox 360 will automatically recognize the general build and be delighted to find that it feels as they recall. Though there is a slight drop in quality on the triggers, the rest of the controller is a reliable build. Wireless connectivity and an extended battery life add to the simple and easy to manage features of the EasySMX Wireless controller.
Some controllers simply look intimidating. The NVIDIA Shield Controller is high on that list, but that doesn’t negate it from being one of the best PC controllers you’ll find on the market. Clunky and hideous design aside, the Shield Controller is a multi-purpose unit that works with both NVIDIA’s Shield devices and your PC.
Dual vibration feedback and responsive buttons, triggers, and thumbsticks help take away from the look and field of the Shield Controller. The controller also features a headset jack and Micro USB port for convenience and boasts a battery life of approximately 60 hours.
Though it is a great, solid controller for PC gaming, it may be a better option for a household with Shield devices.
PROS: – Fairly inexpensive – Comfortable fit for most hand sizes – Responsive triggers and thumbsticks – Available in wired and wireless
CONS: – Some button spacing issues – Subpar and inaccurate D-pad – Not rechargeable out of the box
If you have an old 360 controller lying around or find one for cheap, you may want to consider using it for your PC.
While the Xbox One controller is quite a bit more ergonomic, an Xbox 360 controller is going to cost you quite a bit less and provide you with a similar gameplay experience. Issues with the D-Pad, bulky battery pack, and spaced out face buttons are the minor issues you’ll face with the Xbox 360 controller, but it’s still one of the best PC gaming controllers you’ll get your hands on.
The native plug-and-play Windows support ensures a quick and easy connect, though the controller won’t work with all of your favorite PC games.
PROS: – Easy to connect with Bluetooth or USB-C cable – Durable and precise build – Ergonomic and comfortable – Long battery life
CONS: – No analog triggers – Limited library of compatible titles
It’s the best way to play the Nintendo Switch, so inevitably it would also translate well to PC gaming, right? Actually, in this case, that’s pretty accurate.
Using Bluetooth or a USB-C cable, you can easily connect your Nintendo Switch Pro controller to your computer. Granted, the library of games you can play with it is relatively limited, but that doesn’t stop it from being a quality controller that’s responsive and comfortable.
You’re probably used to swapping out batteries or recharging your PC controllers constantly, but the Switch Pro controller has been tested to last upwards of 40 hours. Is that enough to make up for the missing analog triggers?
Top 5 Best PC Gaming Controllers 5. Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller
PROS: – Added shoulder and trigger buttons for increased customization – Responsive, remappable, and comfortable buttons – Familiar layout – Adjustable Chroma lighting – Quick control panel buttons
CONS: – Expensive
Add another element of color to your PC gaming setup with the Razer Wolverine Ultimate.
Another of many controllers that emulated Microsoft’s best controller design, the Wolverine Ultimate features the best of both Razer and the Xbox One controller. Of course, with that comes a price point that’s sure to scare many away.
For it, though, you get responsive buttons that feel comfortable and sturdy. Additional trigger and shoulder buttons provide you with the customization options to get the most out of your PC gaming experience. The Wolverine Ultimate also features interchangeable D-pad and analog sticks so you can find the combination that works best for you.
PROS: – High-quality build – Mingles the best of the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller – Sturdy thumbsticks with adjustable response time – Multiple profiles for button customization
CONS: – Absurd software – Very high price tag
Marry the layout of an Xbox One controller with the touchpad of the DualShock 4 and you have Nacon’s Revolution Unlimited.
Nacon emulates the quality of the Xbox One Elite controller, delivering on a gameplay experience that’s only marred by the extensive customization hidden behind a wall of mind-boggling software. Learn how to master the software and you’ll find the ability to adjust trigger reactivity and thumbstick sensitivity, increase or decrease rumble strength, and so much more.
The Revolution Unlimited comes with four settings – PS4, “Advanced PS4,” and PC – and each one allows for four customizable profiles. Turn on the FPS Pro mode and see the right stick response time decrease. There’s a lot to learn with the Revolution Unlimited, but once you get a handle on it, you’ll understand the hefty price tag.
PROS: – Lightweight, comfortable design great for most hand-sizes – Fully customizable through Steam – Functioning gyroscope for complete immersion
CONS: – Some limitations on support – Touchpad can get in the way
Sony has made changes to the mechanics of its DualShock controllers over the generations, but the base design has remained the same.
While not perfect for first-person shooters, the DualShock 4 is a powerhouse that delivers smooth gameplay and a comfortable grip. Though the center touchpad is a bit big, resulting in accidental inputs, the controller has a lot going for it.
Among its better features is the ability to connect it with your PC to enjoy the best in graphics and framerate. The controller connects via Bluetooth built into your PC or through a separate USB adaptor and has been fully integrated into Steam. Players can remap inputs, adjust sensitivity, and tinker with the touchpad and lightbar as if using Valve’s Steam Controller.
PROS: – Highly versatile, allowing integration with the entire Steam library – Heavily customizable to fit the user’s needs – Built-in Bluetooth limits the need for wires
CONS: – Awkward design takes some getting used to – Small face buttons – No first-party rechargeable battery pack
It’s not the prettiest controller to look at, though it clearly takes inspiration from another console leader, but Valve’s Steam Controller serves its purpose really well.
Unlike most controllers which feel like console controllers, Valve’s version is intended to emulate a mouse and keyboard. When it comes to PC games – especially first-person shooters, MMOs, and MOBAs – that can be incredibly valuable.
The Steam Controller is designed with two touchpads that stand in for a standard mouse and provide a comfortable means of navigation, both in menus and in game. At first glance, the layout may seem offputting, but it only takes a minute to get used to the large dual pads and face buttons.
Its shorter grips and bulkier feel do make it slightly less comfortable than industry leaders, though there’s no denying the versatility of Valve’s Steam Controller as a PC gaming device.
PROS: – Easy to connect – Instantly compatible with most PC games – Fine-tuned button sensitivity – Ergonomic and designed to fit most hand sizes
CONS: – Fragile – No Bluetooth in older controllers
Microsoft may have taken a massive misstep with the girth of the original Xbox controller, but the design for the sleek Xbox One controller is a vast improvement, even surpassing the Xbox 360 with minor changes in aesthetics and button sensitivity.
What elevates this as the best PC gaming controller, however, is ease of use. Three connectivity options including wired and Bluetooth doesn’t limit who can make use of Microsoft’s comfortable controller.
Prepare to dominate first-person shooters with a controller designed with rumbling triggers that are placed for comfort. There’s nothing worse than losing control mid-game, and the Xbox One controller features thumbsticks built to reduce slipping.