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What's the best controller for PC users?
The best controller for PC isn’t an easy choice to make, especially given the variety of options out there today. Gaming controllers may not be the best fit for all games, but they sure are a really fun way to play anyway. They’ve evolved a lot over the years, and right now is a really good time to grab a controller for your PC, thanks to the sheer number of options available, covering different price points.
There are a lot of factors to keep in mind while picking the best PC gaming controller. Considering all the factors, we’ve run down the best PC controllers out there right now, and if you were to buy one, it should be one of these.
See also: The best gaming mice you can buy
Buying the best controller for PC
While controllers have traditionally been a controller accessory, they play rather well with modern PCs. Not only do you get controllers that are made for PCs, but you can also use console controllers on PC, including the Xbox controllers and the PlayStation DualShock 4 and DualSense.
As far as game support is concerned, most games support controller input, but you can check before purchasing one. But is gaming better with a controller? The answer is — it depends. Controllers are amazing for racing games, but it may be difficult for you to aim with a controller when it comes to shooting games. Of course, many folks prefer controllers for shooters, so it depends upon your level of comfort.
As far as the controller’s shape, size, and weight go, ensure you’re comfortable using the controller, especially if you have longer gaming sessions.
The best controller for PC
The feature set and layout for the perfect gaming controller have been perfected at this point, more or less. As such, you’ll notice that the candidates in our best PC gaming controller list have a bunch of similarities. That being said, there are plenty of options. Looking for the best controller for PC gaming? Here are our picks.
Xbox Wireless Controller — The best controller for PC
When it comes to picking the best PC gaming controller, there’s really no competition to Microsoft’s own. The Xbox Wireless Controller got an upgrade with the Xbox Series X and S, improving what was already the best controller on the market. The design has been more or less accepted as one of the best controller designs at this point, and most controllers on this list look similar to this one. With prices ranging between $40 to $65 for the basic color options, this controller also offers some of the best value for money.
Related: Xbox Series X review
You now get a USB-C port instead of the old micro-USB. You also get customization options via Xbox Design Labs. The Xbox Wireless Controller still uses the regular old AA batteries, which may be inconvenient for some. You can separately purchase an Xbox Rechargeable Battery from Microsoft, or opt for a third-party rechargeable set.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 — The best premium controller for PC
While the Xbox Wireless Controller, or the Core controller as it’s sometimes called, is great, Xbox also has an Elite controller for those who want more. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 builds upon the Core controller, adding a bunch of bells and whistles. These include an adjustable-tension thumbstick, shorter hair trigger locks, a rubberized grip, and more.
Related: Xbox Series S review
Basically, if you don’t have any budgetary constraints, and want maximum performance, then the Elite is the best PC controller for you. Unlike the Core controller, you also get a rechargeable battery built-in. There’s customization available right from the box, with sets of paddles, D-pads, and thumbsticks, with the latter getting an adjustment tool.
Also included are a USB-C cable and a charging dock, all packed in a carrying case. You get a lot for $180, which is often discounted by as much as $50.
Sony DualSense Wireless Controller — The best PlayStation controller for PC
Sony’s older DualShock controllers were nothing to write home about, but with the launch of the PlayStation 5, Sony has hit a home run. The Sony DualSense Wireless Controller comes bundled with the PS5 and is without a doubt the best Sony controller for your PC gaming needs. Many folks prefer the symmetrical thumbstick layout, and controllers with those don’t get much better than this one. Color options aren’t the best on the market, but they’re sufficient.
Also read: Sony PlayStation 5 review
There’s a couple of issues with using the DualSense with a PC, though. First off, Sony doesn’t have official drivers for PCs. However, Steam has support for the DualSense, and it’s a great way of getting this controller to work with a PC. You’ll have limited support, but the best features of this controller — haptic feedback, and adaptive triggers — are starting to get support in more and more games, making the DualSense a solid pick for the best wireless controller for PC tag.
Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma — The best PC controller with RGB
When you’re shopping for the best PC gaming controller, RGB lighting isn’t exactly a priority, but some of us love it way too much to not have it in every accessory possible. If that’s you, then the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a great pick. It makes a few modifications over the basic Xbox controller design, but nothing too eyebrow-raising. You get six extra remappable buttons, which is great.
More here: The best Razer laptops you can buy right now
It has full support for Xbox features, and Chroma support means a bunch of integrations. This controller lies somewhere between the Xbox Core controller and the Xbox Elite controller in terms of features. If you’re a fan of the way Razer designs its products, this is the controller for you.
Scuf Instinct Pro — The best customizable PC controller
Scuf makes some of the finest gaming controllers out there. If you want an alternative controller for your PC, the Scuf Instinct Pro is a solid choice. It comes with the great look and feel we’ve come to expect from Scuf, as well as the many customization options that Scuf offers. You can pick the look and feel of more or less every component to match your preferences.
You get remappable paddles and a signature switch for the instant triggers that can switch between the usual feel to a mouse-like click. The controller is among the best on the market but comes at a price that’s even above that of the Xbox Elite controller. Starting at $209.99, this controller is on the pricey side but also makes a unique proposition.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller — The best budget PC controller
Blowing a lot of money on the best wireless controller for a PC may not be your thing, so our last pick is one that skips all the extra features, including wireless connectivity. The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is the best budget gaming controller you can get, and it provides great value for money.
Coming in at around the $38 mark, the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller covers the basics, including dual rumble motors, a nice grip on the back, and even a metal D-pad. You even get the 3.5mm audio passthrough, if you want it. A two-year warranty adds even more value. If you want a no-nonsense controller that doesn’t cost a lot, this one is a no-brainer.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Can I connect my PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One controller to my PC?
A: Yes. Controllers for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One all connect to PC. The latest PS5 and Xbox Series controllers also work with PCs.
Q: Can I control my PC with a controller?
A: While you cannot control your PC with most controllers by default like you can with a keyboard and mouse, you can use third-party apps like Gopher360 or Keysticks to get that functionality.
Q: What PC games have controller support?
A: Most PC games come with controller support, including new and popular titles. However, note that some multiplayer games may place you in console lobbies if the game uses input-based matchmaking.
Q: Do I need a driver to use a controller on a PC?
A: Some controllers, like the Xbox controller, will work flawlessly without you needing to install a driver. However, some controllers may require you to install a driver manually, and sometimes even an app for the button mapping and other setups.
Q: Can you use a wired controller on a PC?
A: Wired connectors with a USB port are very likely to work with a PC. Wired controllers that have some other type of connector may work with an adapter if available, or may not work at all.
Looking for more recommendations? Check out more of our PC hardware and accessories lists.