The Best Controller For PC
While most people who game on PC will no doubt be using a keyboard and mouse, there’s always a couple of games that just play better with a controller. If you haven’t yet picked up a controller for your PC and are wondering which is the best option, you’re in luck.
Today, we’ll be looking at five of the best controllers for PC you can pick up today. Each of these will have different designs, button layouts, and even some extra features along the way. It can be difficult wading through all the marketing speak while looking for a new controller which is why we’ve chosen to create this handy guide.
This guide will act as the perfect place to get started if you are looking for a new controller to use on your gaming PC. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the best controller options currently available right now.
We’ve grabbed a couple of the well-known options out there today as well as some which are geared towards different types of gamer. One of the big choices that will determine which controller suits you best is if you are more used to a standard Xbox or PlayStation thumbstick layout - we’ve made sure to add options for both.
First Look: Best Controller For PC
While this controller comes with a large enough price tag, you’ll easily be able to see where you’ve spent your money once you start using, and customizing, this controller to suit your needs.
The asymmetric thumbstick design and mode switch button make this one of the most practical feeling controllers on the list. You’ll even be able to change the weight of the controller if you find it to be a bit too light.
Aside from its boxy, sturdy looks, the Razer Raiju Ultimate is a superb little controller that has a premium feel as well as a couple of really great features such as a dedicated settings bar.
If you don’t want to rock the boat and simply want a great plug and play controller, the DualShock 4 is sturdy, reliable and doesn’t break the bank.
The Scuf series of controllers are great for people who want to customize their kit. They aren’t just flashy though, these great features will really give you the edge while gaming and make you wonder why you didn’t upgrade earlier.
How We Choose
It doesn’t really matter what type of product you are looking for, we know it can be tricky finding the perfect option for yourself.
It often takes hours and hours of research and watching reviews, and even then it’s still a tough task to decide what you want to spend your money on. We do all this so you don’t have to, by taking the time to have an in-depth look at each of the products we recommend and even testing them ourselves if possible.
If you aren’t very tech-savvy and want to avoid purchasing the wrong thing, look no further. Whether or not this controller is for yourself or even a gift for a loved one, reading this guide will help you make the right choice.
We look at the best options out there and go through them individually. We make sure to choose a wide variety which are suitable for different gamers and different budgets.
How We Test
To help us choose a list of products to recommend to our users we have to do some thorough research and testing beforehand. It wouldn’t be right of us to go about recommending any old product for the sake of it.
We look at a number of things to make sure that these products can live up to the title of being the ‘best’ in their area. In the case of controllers, some of the things we look at include the cost of the controller, the build quality, the styling, and any great gaming features.
This allows us to have the peace of mind that the guides are both accurate and informative. This, in turn, allows you to come to a decision on which purchase is right for you so you can walk away with some great value for your money.
Things To Consider
What Budget Should I Set For A Controller For PC?
For most of us, we don’t have a bottomless wallet we can use to make our purchase. So, this makes it especially important to think carefully when setting a budget for your controller.
It’s a good idea to have a list of essential features you want your controller to have and then start shopping from there. Then, anything extra will simply be a nice bonus and you can weigh up if the addition of a custom faceplate is worth the extra money.
Although you can pick up some of these controllers for a standard price of $40-50, if you start to move into the region of specialized controllers with additional buttons and flashy designs, you can expect to pay a premium.
If you want a controller with a couple of extra features such as customizable paddles or unique designs, you will be looking in the range of $120-180 for the privilege.
Another important thing to consider is how hard these controllers are to set up. While some controllers such as the Xbox One controller will simply work out of the box, you may have to do a bit of tinkering when it comes to more specialized controllers.
This can involve installing additional software and even changing settings and key binds manually. If you are purchasing this controller for somebody who isn’t very tech-savvy, this might be something you want to be aware of.
Even though features like these are a major selling point of these controllers, you’ll have to decide if you want the extra layer of setup before you play a game for the first time.
Each of these controllers will have a very different feel to them. You’ll want to consider which is the best type of controller for you before you make your purchase. If you are used to playing on Xbox, you might want one with a similar thumbstick layout - the same goes if you are used to playing on PlayStation.
Some of these controllers will be different shapes, weights and even have extra buttons. You’ll want to keep in mind how heavy and easy to hold these controllers are if you know you’ll be playing for long periods of time.
You’ll also be able to find controllers that have different designs and faceplates. While these will add nothing to the process of using the controller, they will surely make them stand out!
While some of these controllers will feel like a 1:1 replacement for the controller you are used to using on your console, some of these options will have extra buttons, triggers and programmable paddles that you can customize. This is something that you’ll seriously want to look into if you’re going to be primarily gaming on PC as you’ll likely need to map additional buttons.
You’ll also want to make sure that the software these controllers come with is easy to use and can achieve what you want. If you want to completely remap your controller’s buttons and triggers for a number of different games you own, it’s worth checking out if this is possible to avoid disappointment.
The Best Controller For PC
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Great customization options
- Bluetooth & USB-C enabled
- Quite expensive
First on our list is possibly our favorite gaming controller for PC. Offering almost an endless level of customizability, the Xbox Elite Wireless controller allows you to change bindings, the D-pads, and even paddles on the fly. You’ll also be able to set the tension on your thumbstick as well as change them out if you don’t like the style.
This is a very well built controller too and you’d hope so considering its price! Retailing at around $180, you’ll want this controller to last you for many years to come. We don’t think there’s any danger of that not happening though. To help keep it safe you’ll receive a carrying case which is perfect if you’ll be bringing this controller with you on your travels. This also houses the set of four paddles, two D-pads, and six thumbsticks, as well as a tool to adjust them. The case also acts as a charging dock with its very own USB-C cable.
The rugged black and grey design may not be as eye-catching as some of the other controllers on the list but we love the simplicity of it, especially when paired with the ‘faceted D-pad’.
This controller can be used both wirelessly and wired if needed. With a battery that lasts around 40 hours, you won’t find yourself searching for the charger that often.
Nacon Revolution Pro Controller 3
- Sleek design
- Great trigger feel
- Buttons don’t feel great
- Tricky software
The Nacon Revolution Pro has a more "boomerang" look when compared to other controllers on this list as well as an asymmetric thumbstick layout that will make all the Xbox users feel right at home - this even stretches to the design on the D-pad which is one single unit rather than four different buttons.
There are a few extra buttons on this controller that you’ll be able to make use of during your playtime. The four extra buttons at the rear of the controller are in a slightly different place than some of the other controllers on this list so it’s worth seeing if you can test-pilot one of these controllers to see if it suits you before purchasing.
If you are going to be using this controller on the PS4 as well as the PC, there’s a handy little mode switch button on the rear of the controller that allows you to switch between a PC or PS4 mode. In PC mode, you’ll be able to customize things such as the sensitivity of the triggers and thumbsticks.
The software that this controller needs to use isn’t the best out there and might take a while to learn how to use. There are preset profiles that are available but if you want to start tinkering, you’ll have to learn some of the intricacies of the software first.
While this isn’t the most expensive controller on our list today, it still has a fairly large price tag. While you’ll still be paying a premium for this controller, the build quality and some of the buttons don’t feel as great as they do in other controllers are this price point.
Razer Raiju Ultimate
- Durable design
- Chroma lighting
- D-pad isn’t the greatest
- Blocky shape
While this doesn’t look like the most comfortable controller you could hold, it does look like the most durable. Weighing in at a hefty 352 grams, this is likely to do more damage to the floor you drop it on than the controller itself. The blocky design may turn a lot of gamers away from this controller but it looks like Razer has tried to improve the design a little bit with the integrated Chroma lighting.
Aimed towards the esports market, the Razer Raiju has a set of traditional DualShock style thumbsticks as well as a set of paddles on the back. You’ll be able to change out the thumbsticks, D-pad and quick control panel to make this controller as comfortable for you as possible. There are also four multi-functional buttons on the controller that can be programmed to whatever you want.
If you want a controller that simply feels great to use every time you pick it up, it will be hard to go back to using a standard controller after gaming with the Razer Raiju Ultimate. The buttons are tactile and clicky and feel like they could last forever. The settings row on the bottom of the controller has also had a bit of a redesign turning them into a great feature that you’ll find yourself using more than you’d think.
You can use the profile button to switch your keymaps in real-time, a button to control the Chroma lighting, and there's even a lock button that disables a large section of inputs to stop you pressing the wrong thing during the heat of the action.
- Familiar design
- Great for those on a budget
- Standard layout with no customization
If you just want a simple ‘no thrills’ solution to gaming with a controller on your PC, the DualShock 4 has to be one of the most familiar controllers out there. Being the latest iteration of the classic DualShock series of controllers, every gamer around the world will have held one of these at some point.
Unfortunately, you won’t have much in the way of customization when it comes to this controller. The best you’ll be able to do will be some kind of aftermarket product if you want to spice up the theme or even the feel of the thumbsticks. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the base controller though, the DualShock 4 is great to hold and responsive as ever during gaming.
The ergonomic design means you can hold this controller for hours on end and the quality of the buttons, triggers, and thumbsticks are excellent. If you are buying this controller as a gift for someone, be aware that sometimes there can be a few compatibility issues when connecting it to the PC for the first time which might take some tinkering to get sorted.
Scuf Vantage 2
- Massive variety of designs
- Four removable paddles
- Might be overkill for some users
- Customization can get expensive
If you are after something a bit different, Scuf has a range of colorful controllers that would look great in any gaming setup. You can change the color, the thumbsticks and even the texture of the grips so we’re sure you’ll find one that’s right for you.
When it comes to the experience of gaming, there’s the great addition of the removable paddles on the back which correspond to the action buttons on the front. These allow gamers to keep their thumbs on the thumbsticks so they can use the back paddles for fast-paced or advanced gaming. This would be great in a first-person shooter title or an MMO.
Scuf controllers also have an interesting trigger control system which allows you to use quick shift trigger stops to reduce unnecessary trigger movement - perfect for shooting titles where precision is key. You can adjust the triggers to reduce latency so that you can make weapons fire with one tap or even extend the size of the trigger to make them easier to press quickly.
With digital triggers that reduce reaction time by producing an instantaneous click (much like a mouse click), this makes it the ultimate controller for those who love shooter games.
That about completes our roundup of the best PC gaming controllers for today. We’ve tried to include different controllers for both different gamers and different budgets so we hope we’ve mentioned a few that strike your fancy.
We know our users are busy people, that’s why we’ve made sure to include this short roundup section that will help give you an idea of where each of these controllers excels. If you want more information on any of these, simply scroll up to the relevant review.
If you’re looking for a controller that will look great on your shelf and in your hands, the Scuf Vantage 2 is the one for you. You can choose from one of a variety of different skins for this controller that will truly make it stand out.
Want a controller that won’t break the bank? We’d recommend going for the DualShock 4 controller. This can be picked up for as low as $45 and is really a great value piece.
Need that extra bit of customization to map all of your keys? Something like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 or the Razer Raiju Ultimate would be a great choice. If you have the budget for it, we’d recommend going for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 for the hardware customization options it brings.
Did none of these take your fancy? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other options out there which we simply didn’t have time to cover today. If you want a little bit more choice, take a quick look at some of the options below in our honorable mentions list.
That finishes up our list of the best controllers for PC today. We hope this guide helped you make up your mind if you were looking for a new controller and eased a bit of the stress of having to make comparisons.
While we certainly haven’t covered every controller out there, why not let us know which you think is the best? Simply leave a comment below or head on over to our Community Hub to have a chat with fellow minded gamers.