Best PC Controller Out There in 2022: Lead the Charge
Updated: August 26,2022
PC games have always been the mainstay of video gaming. As a PC gamer, you can immerse yourself in thousands of titles with incredibly high fidelity. But what happens when you want to play Dark Souls or have friends over for a bit of Mortal Kombat? You’ll need a controller.
Using a gamepad might feel strange on a gaming PC, but many modern games work better on one. So, it’s time to go with the flow and pick the best PC controller for you and your budget.
Microsoft Xbox One Controller
- Best compatibility
- Ergonomic design
- Sturdy build quality
- Rechargeable battery sold separately
During the Xbox 360 era, Microsoft worked hard to make console-specific controllers the gold standard within the gaming controller industry. Today, when you play PC games, it’ll be hard to find one that doesn’t instantly recognize an Xbox series controller when you turn it on. The already impressive design of a 360 controller was further improved for the Xbox One console.
So, why is the Xbox One controller so highly regarded? For starters, it has an ergonomic design and the benefit of rock-solid build quality. It is very comfortable to use for extended periods of time and can withstand a fair bit of gamer rage.
The buttons have undergone a slight overhaul, especially the D-pad, which now has clicky buttons. The triggers are bigger and have little resistance, so your fingers won’t hurt. The controller is available in a variety of colors, and Microsoft can build your own customized palette.
Many consider the Xbox One controller the best choice when they want to test pc controllers because any modern game will detect it as soon as it’s plugged in. The controller has versatile connection options, including a Micro USB connection and wireless connectivity.
That said, wireless support will require Microsoft’s adapter if you get a first-generation model. For Xbox controllers manufactured after the launch of the One S console, you only need a Bluetooth stick.
The only real downside is the lack of a rechargeable battery, which you have to buy separately. These controllers use a pair of AA batteries.
Sony DualShock 4
- Great battery life
- Compact design
- Officially supported by Steam
- Requires third-party software for non-Steam games
When it comes to PlayStation, Dualshock 4 is the most durable device to date. It’s much sturdier than its predecessors and shares several characteristics with the Xbox One controller, including the ability to withstand aggressive daily use. Just like its Microsoft counterpart, it is a Bluetooth gamepad with an optional micro USB connection.
While it’s undeniably one of the most popular controllers, DualShock 4 is still not officially supported in Windows. Using the PS4 controller on PC requires additional software, specifically a third-party app called DS4Windows, which allows you to spoof an Xbox controller connection.
On the other hand, Steam has built-in drivers for DualShock 4 PC, allowing it to work with every game that supports console controllers. PlayStation’s gamepad also has a set of neat features like a touchpad, a headphone jack, and a gyroscope for motion controls, but few PC games support those.
The light bar on the front changes color, so you won’t mix up the controllers when connecting more than one.
Xbox One Elite Controller Series 2
- Impressive build quality
- Unmatched customization
- Lots of accessories
As the name implies, this is a successor to the original Xbox Elite controller, designed for the most demanding gamers. It also marks the first significant price jump on our list, costing twice as much as the standard Xbox One controller.
On the surface, it looks like a slightly fancier version of that device, but it comes with an improved wired USB-C connection (rather than Micro USB) in addition to fantastic wireless functionality.
The Elite 2 controller has the highest number of customization options, including programmable buttons and paddles. You get a cross-style directional pad, another pad shaped like a concave diamond, and four additional analog sticks to swap around.
The sensitivity of the dual analog system can also be adjusted. You can flip a few switches on the back to make the triggers send your commands even faster. Meanwhile, attaching the four paddles lets you remap four button inputs through the Xbox Accessories app (no new keys, though), so you won’t have to move your thumb around when you need to reload.
Another reason this Xbox wireless controller is among the best options on the market is the battery life. According to Microsoft, you get up to forty hours of uninterrupted gameplay with a single charge, and you can even charge it while it’s in the case.
Finally, the controller comes with the onboard memory feature. It can store up to three user profiles with individual button configurations, which you can then use by plugging the controller into another PC. There is no need for any kind of additional setup. While this is a very pricey Xbox controller for PC, the features justify the cost.
- Classic design with durable case
- Batteries included
- No rechargeable battery
We can’t talk about gaming controllers without mentioning Logitech, which has a long history of manufacturing some of the finest PC peripherals. Buying a Logitech controller is an investment in a quality product. The company now has a line of gamepads marked with the letter F. Most belong to the premium category.
F710 is a staple of modern PC gaming, offering all of the features you’d expect from a good controller. Its traditional design is inspired by the classic DualShock 2 controller. The extra twist is in the analog triggers, large textured thumbsticks, and a neat switch that lets the controller work in both DirectInput and XInput modes.
It’s worth noting that this controller only works on PC wirelessly. It can’t be connected to your PC via cable, and the only purpose of the USB cable is to extend the range of the Wi-Fi receiver. It doesn’t have a rechargeable battery, but a decent set of alkaline ones guarantee dozens of hours of game time.
It’s also great for use with older console emulators due to the aforementioned switch. Many emulators work better with DirectInput, so to attain the best possible compatibility, you can switch modes on the fly.
This doesn’t require any drivers, making the controller the perfect choice for anyone looking to buy a simple plug-and-play device. More importantly, Logitech priced the F710 slightly lower than what Microsoft and Sony charge for their controllers, making this one of the better deals in gaming.
PDP DX Wired Controller
- Officially licensed Xbox product
- Available in many colors
- Poor build quality
PDP is one of the new arrivals on the gaming peripherals scene. In this crowded market, PDP needed to do something to stand out from other gamepads. So it struck a deal with Microsoft to produce an officially licensed Xbox controller that is offered at an affordable price. The controller might not have the prettiest of names, but it does what it's supposed to.
In our search for the best gaming controller, PDP’s DX emerged as one of the top choices. It’s designed to look and feel exactly like the official Xbox One gamepad, but it is limited to a wired connection and costs only a fraction of the price.
This affordable USB game controller comes with a very long and detachable cable. It’s available in many color variations, including the afterglow variant, which has a transparent case and LED lights.
Compared to controllers console gamers are used to, the PDP XD falls short with its build quality because the controller’s buttons are prone to getting stuck. This is especially true for the shoulder buttons and the triggers, which are luckily covered by a warranty.
These are rare occurrences, and most gamers that own PDP products are happy with their purchases. It’s an affordable choice for your PC and Xbox, and it is available worldwide.
- Solid, durable case
- Highly customizable
- Remappable buttons
- Very expensive
SCUF Gaming lives up to its reputation as a prestigious brand. Its flagship computer controller has an Xbox One design and is described as the weapon of choice among professional Call of Duty players. Many people in esports circles have one of these in their arsenal.
So, what makes SCUF Prestige one of PC's most impressive wireless controllers? It shares a lot of features with the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. The build quality is similar, and the controller comes with a rubberized grip. There are four removable paddles on the underside and a lock system to shorten the travel time of triggers.
But the secret weapon of SCUF controllers is customization, specifically the online app that lets you design an Xbox One custom controller. You get to choose the colors you want, although this can drastically inflate the price of what is already the most expensive product on our list. Faceplates are magnetic and replaceable, and you get additional thumbsticks in the box.
Like with other high-quality PC controllers, you can link the SCUF Prestige to your computer via cable or wirelessly, as it features Bluetooth support. Its rechargeable battery packs thirty hours of juice, which is far more than the batteries of other gamepads that generally last around ten.
Razer Wolverine Ultimate
- Lots of customization options
- Cable is detachable
- Lightweight, durable design
- No wireless option
Although Razer has been well-known among gamers for quite some time, the company only recently delved into the world of console peripherals. It started with headphones, and controllers were the next logical step. Today, Razer has a range of gamer controllers, including newer models like the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma, but today we’ll be looking at a classic.
The Razer Wolverine Ultimate comes with Chroma lighting, including a spectrum of visual effects with over 16 million colors. However, Wolverine’s true power lies in its unmatched customization options.
You can remap all of the buttons through the official app and get six more on the back to free up your hands or create shortcuts. As with other premium controllers, you can limit the trigger travel distance and will get additional thumbsticks and D-pads, which snap on thanks to powerful magnets.
The ABXY buttons are also sturdy and have fast switches underneath. The level of customization genuinely feels excellent, especially with the app allowing you to change the reaction speed of the analog sticks, almost like a DPI switch on your gaming mouse.
There are many similarities between the Wolverine Ultimate, the Elite 2 controller, and the SCUF Prestige, but there’s also one big difference. While the Xbox core wireless controller tech has been around for ages, Wolverine is a wired-only controller.
So, if you don’t mind spending a premium on a USB game controller, Razer Wolverine Ultimate is a great choice, but if you hate cables, it’s best to skip it entirely.
SteelSeries Stratus XL
- Very long battery life
- Officially supported by Steam
- Long range
- Lacks rumble function
SteelSeries is now offering full-fledged gaming controllers for both PC and mobile. Although the company primarily focuses on mobile devices, its gamepads also work on PC. One of its most popular products is the Stratus XL, a well-designed controller featuring 40 hours of battery life!
Since the controller has no motors installed, it can’t offer the rumble function or haptic feedback on triggers. Despite this, it works very well in most PC games and is very simple to set up.
It’s also an interesting hybrid of designs. The layout is inspired by PlayStation controllers, while the buttons and triggers are borrowed from the Xbox ecosystem. SteelSeries is especially proud of the official Steam support.
According to the company, the PC gaming controller comes with the plug-and-play option on any PC, making it ideal for casual gaming sessions through Steam’s Big Picture mode. It will work seamlessly with most modern PC titles, but you won’t get the fancy haptics effects.
Other downsides are the absence of rechargeable batteries and the fact that you need to provide your own Bluetooth receiver.
- Very affordable
- Compatible with old and new games
- Short cable
This Logitech product is on the more affordable side but still offers the same build quality as its more expensive cousin, the F710. It has nearly all of the same features and a layout PlayStation gamers will appreciate.
Logitech F310 has a classic PlayStation controller design that still allows you to switch between DirectInput and XInput on the fly. People consider it great for fighting games because many of these require additional setup, and most don’t function well with modern controllers.
Logitech wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with this generation of game controllers, focusing instead on taking the chunk of the market many forget to consider - gamers on a budget. Despite its short cable, this is an excellent device, and we highly recommend it.
GameSir T4 Wireless
- Bold design and lighting effects
- Precise D-pad
- Poor build quality
The T4 Wireless from GameSir is another affordable controller that features a mashup of several designs. This time, it combines the Xbox One layout and the Nintendo Pro controller chassis.
It’s slightly more compact than other devices on our list and comes with a few interesting features and snazzy lights that accentuate the look of the transparent case.
While GameSir promotes this device as a great wireless controller, it also offers a wired option. A USB-C cable charges the controller quickly and makes it a wired device on demand, which is great for long gaming sessions because the battery life is only five hours.
In addition, the plastic casing doesn’t guarantee durability, especially regarding button mashing games. On the flip side, you get a bunch of extra buttons and a nice D-pad that won’t betray you even during the most frantic fighting games.
The T4 might not be the most amazing controller you’ll ever use, but it’s affordable and a great choice if you are new to gaming with a controller.
Best PC Controller - Top 5 Picks
- Microsoft Xbox One Controller
- Sony DualShock 4
- Xbox One Elite Controller
- Razer Wolverine Ultimate
- SCUF Prestige
Finding the Best Gaming Controller: Our Evaluation Process
Finding the perfect tool for gaming isn’t easy. Whether it’s a gaming keyboard, mouse, ergonomic gaming desk, or controller, the gaming gear market is often saturated with subpar products and gimmicks.
That’s why our list covers a broad range of top-shelf gaming devices; from the standard Xbox controller to the latest version of the Xbox Elite controller series, from Sony gaming hardware to the best budget pc controller options from third-party manufacturers.
There are also some great controllers that didn’t make the cut, such as the Turtle Beach Recon controller, the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, but what did make it was thoroughly tested. So, what did we look for in our reviews?
Nothing is worse than a gamepad breaking down during an intense session of FIFA. That’s why build quality is our top priority. Regardless of the price, a good controller needs to be durable and, much like a well-built drone, not make our hands cramp up while playing our favorite games.
It’s not easy pleasing a PC gamer. Whether you’re making a game or a controller, the competition is fierce. It’s no longer enough to have a basic set of buttons, a D-pad, and two sticks.
You’ll also need a rumble function, a headphone jack, customizable buttons, a rechargeable battery, and a cable/wireless combo. Versatility is the name of the game.
A controller isn’t worth much if you can’t use it for all of your games and if the setup is too complicated or takes ages. That’s why a good game controller needs to guarantee a fast plug-and-play experience without requiring the user to download a bunch of apps to make it work.
Frequently Asked Questions
This depends on your personal preferences as different people prefer different layouts. That said, most gamers agree that the Xbox One controller is the most comfortable one to use for long periods.
Pretty much all of them. PC is a versatile platform, so whether you choose a budget model or an expensive one, you won’t have any trouble connecting it to your computer. With gaming platforms like Steam, you won’t even have to worry about drivers anymore. Everything has become plug-and-play these days.
DualShock 4 is widely considered the best option for Steam gamers. This has been the case ever since the platform provided a driver that allowed gamers to use their PS4 controller on PC without needing to install anything else.
For players that don’t have this gamepad, there’s always the Xbox One controller, which also has a stellar reputation and is the best controller for people who prefer simplicity combined with quality craftsmanship.
Yes, of course. While many PC gamers are vocal about their disapproval of PC game controllers, the fact remains that a lot of modern games are designed to be played on the console.
Yes, of course. While many PC gamers are vocal about their disapproval of PC game controllers, many modern games are designed to be played on the console and work better with a gamepad.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is most popular among professional gamers, but SCUF devices have been gradually gaining ground in recent years, and Razer’s Wolverine controllers are pretty popular, too. Ultimately, though, the best PC controller will not be the one that most pros use but the one you feel most comfortable with.
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