All gamers (yes, even PC gamers) will know what this collection of symbols means. These ten hallowed runes (A.K.A the Konami code) call many of us back to a time when we were divided into opposing camps like Nintendo vs. Sega, PC vs console, or disc vs. cartridge. We were limited to the games – and the controllers – of our chosen console, unable to see the perspective of our tech rivals.
Now, most gamers and games and accessories have moved past these divides, with many games offering cross-platform play. If you had told a PC gamer ten years ago that they could compete with PlayStation owners in a First Person Shooter like Call of Duty, they’d have called you crazy. But these days, PC gamers are presented with a huge catalog of games that would once have only been available on console – and vice versa.
And unless you’re a PC elitist who still claims that ALL games are better with mouse and keyboard, there’s a good chance you want to enjoy these console gems on your PC the way they’re meant to be played – with a gamepad.
There is a whole world of choices out there, and almost all of them are able to connect to PCs. So while this is a collection of the best controllers for PC gamers, by default it’s a review of the best controllers for every gamer, whether you’re playing for fun or you’re addicted to the game.
- Best PC Controllers in 2021 – At a Glance
- 1. Razer Wolverine Ultimate – Ultimate Customizable Controller
- 2. Dualsense PS5 Controller – Best Next-Gen Controller
- 3. Nintendo Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition Pro Controller – Best First Party Controller for PC
- 4. BIMONK Wired Gaming Controller – Best Value Controller
- 5. Nacon PS4 Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller – Best Pro Controller
- 6. Hori Fighting Commander 4 – Best Fighting Controller
- 7. ASTRO Gaming C40 TR PS4 Controller – Best PC Controller for FPSs
- 8. Valve Index Controllers – Best VR Controllers
- 9. Logitech G923 Racing Wheel and Pedals – Best Simulation PC Controller
- 10. 8Bitdo SN30 Pro USB Gamepad – Best Retro PC Controller
- Bonus: Xbox adaptive controller – Because Gaming is for Everyone Controller
- Final Verdict
- Buyers guide
- Top Rated PC Controllers
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best PC Controllers in 2021 – At a Glance
- Ultimate Customizable Controller – Razer Wolverine Ultimate
- Best Next-Gen Controller – Dualsense PS5 Controller
- Best First Party Controller for PC – Nintendo Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition Pro Controller
- Best Value Controller – BIMONK Wired Gaming Controller
- Best Pro Controller – Nacon PS4 Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller
- Best Fighting Controller – Hori Fighting Commander
- Best PC Controller for FPSs – ASTRO Gaming C40 TR PS4 Controller
- Best VR Controllers – Valve Index Controllers
- Best Simulation PC Controller – Logitech G923 Racing Wheel and Pedals
- Best Retro PC Controller – 8bitdo SN30 Pro USB Gamepad
1. Razer Wolverine Ultimate – Ultimate Customizable Controller
What cool things can it do?: Fully customisable; Top class configuration software; Designed-for-shooters triggers.
Being a professional esports player isn’t the only reason to invest in a pro controller. That would be like restricting fast, reliable cars with loads of cool features to only F1 racers and secret agents. Casual gamers playing Uncharted 4 on easy mode can find the same joys in a high-end controller as the most dedicated Overwatch players.
The Razer Wolverine Ultimate is a controller that lets any gamer feel like they’re playing in luxury. The sheer volume of customizable features means this gamepad can be tailored to fit any gamer’s needs, for any game.
I know, many controllers come with plenty of customization features. So, what puts the Razer Wolverine Ultimate above other PC controllers?
Well for starters, it has Chroma, an adjustable RBG light at the front of the controller, an essential feature of PC controllers.
Jokes aside, this is a nice touch that goes to show the polish Razer gives their controllers.
On the performance side of things, it has the options you’d expect from a pro controller: interchangeable D-pad and analog sticks, short and long thumbstick heights, adjustable haptic feedback, etc. However, you get 6 remappable buttons at the rear of the controller rather than the standard 4.
And what’s really special, aside from Chroma, is the focus/agile button. While pressed, it will change the sensitivity of the thumbsticks (which you can customize) on the fly. This is great for games where you switch between exploration and precision shooting.
On top of that, you can save multiple profiles for different players or different games. Each one can be assigned a different colour on Chroma.
The design of this controller is of the highest standard: buttons have a short travel distance and give a satisfying click, the grip is solid and ergonomic, triggers feel satisfying and give you a trigger stop option if you want shorter travel distance.
I’ve ended up with a few controllers over the years, and my Razer Wolverine Ultimate is the PC controller that I find in my hands the most often. However, one of the reasons that it isn’t in my hands constantly is that it doesn’t have a wireless option. This makes it optimal for serious gaming, and I use it often when playing on my PC in my gaming chair. But for lounge gaming on the sofa, it’s not my first choice.
Honorable mention: Scuf Controllers
You can’t talk about customization without talking about Scuf. For a (relatively high) price, Scuf lets you build your perfect controller, exactly how you want. And their aesthetic customization options are the coolest I’ve seen.
I’ve had the chance to use someone else’s Scuf, but they had much smaller hands than I do and preferred a different layout. So while I can’t say that these are the best controllers ever made, I can definitely see their potential.
Even though the controller was not built for me, I could feel the quality emanating from it with every jump, every no-scope sniper kill (not really, I can’t pull those off), and every perfectly-timed counter attack.
I am almost certain that Scuf will be my next controller purchase, but it won’t be for a while as I am happy with the ones I own – and this thing isn’t exactly cheap.
2. Dualsense PS5 Controller – Best Next-Gen Controller
What cool things can it do?: Haptic feedback; Adaptive triggers; Built-in mic and speaker; touchpad; LED lighting around touchpad
As I currently write, the PS5 is not yet out, and therefore neither is its controller. But with the next-gen consoles so close that we can smell them, I just had to rave about the new Dualsense PS5 controller.
I have not been lucky enough to try this controller, but with so many awesome new features it would be criminal not to include it on this list. And of course, I will update it as soon as I’ve got my hands (literally) on this game-changing gamepad.
Playstation have kept their controllers relatively similar to the original PS one controller, but this year marks some huge leaps forward in immersive gameplay. From now on, VR won’t be the only way to feel like you’re inside the game.
Haptic feedback lets you feel what’s going on accurately. In Spiderman: Miles Morales, when you use a ‘venom punch,’ you feel the charge move from the left hand side of the controller and surge out the right side when you throw your punch. In Astro’s Playroom, you can feel the difference between walking on sand and walking on metal. If you’ve experienced Nintendo’s HD rumble, think of this as the next step.
Adaptive triggers also change depending on action – you can feel the resistance of pulling a bow strong, the pushback of a compressed spring, or the force of hitting a tight corner on the racetrack. Not to mention any other innovative ideas game developers will come up with. They really bring that immersion of touch into gaming.
PlayStation has also massively improved the speaker on its controller, so you won’t be instantly rushing to turn the feature off. It’s subtle, immersive, and crisp.
Other improvements include a built-in mic, improved battery life, a sleeker design, more accurate motion controls, and buttons, triggers and sticks even more satisfying than the Dualshock 4.
I cannot wait to feel this controller in my hands. I’m not sure how these features will translate across to PC, but even without them I can see this being the best non-pro controller for the next-gen.
Honorable mention: Xbox Series X controller.
A quick shoutout to Microsoft for putting all their controller knowledge together to bring us a solid, albeit familiar, controller.
This controller isn’t the step up that PlayStation’s is, but after the Elite Series 2, there’s not much to improve. However, making it chargeable without batteries or a battery pack would be nice – it’s 2020, Microsoft!
Other than that, this stripped-down Elite Series 2 brings everything together to make an outstanding controller for every gamer.
Its compatibility could be the smoothest of any controller yet. Connect it to practically anything with bluetooth in seconds and even switch between devices directly from the gamepad.
A worthy successor to the iconic Xbox one controller.
3. Nintendo Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition Pro Controller – Best First Party Controller for PC
What cool things can it do?: HD rumble; Motion controls
Recommended games to use it with: Precision platformers like Snake Pass feel great with this controller but any games you’d prefer to play with a controller will play amazingly.
Nintendo has always broken the mold when it comes to their controllers, from the 3-pronged Nintendo 64 controller, to the game-changing Wii-mote, to their most recent innovation, the Joy-Cons.
So, what happens when Nintendo designs a controller that keeps to the industry standard? The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, that’s what!
Now, I think they use the term ‘pro’ pretty loosely as there is no customization, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is one of the best first party controllers available. And, unlike its more attention-seeking brothers and sisters, it easily connects to PCs – especially for gamers using Steam. The Pro Controller is one of the best Steam compatible controllers.
I would rate the Pro Controller above its Sony and Microsoft counterparts, but its price also reflects this – it is the most expensive of first party controllers. However, for that money you get analog sticks that put the Joy-Cons’ to shame, with quiet and responsive buttons, a super comfortable grip, NFC connectivity, HD rumble, 40 hours of battery life, and accurate motion controls.
Not bad, eh?
The design is sublime and has that Nintendo quality written all over it. My only small complaint is that the buttons should be more rounded, as they are raised quite high.
I love this controller, but to be fair, I love most things Nintendo produces. I do own a Switch, so for me the value of having the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller as a PC controller makes sense. Your decision whether or not to purchase may not be so clear-cut, though.
If you have a Nintendo Switch, buy this, no questions asked. It outshines the Joy-Cons and is genuinely a great controller for PC gaming. However, if you don’t own a (Nintendo?) console, PlayStation, or Xbox, or you are looking for an actual ‘pro’ controller, there may be better options for you on this list.
Honorable mention: PlayStation Dualshock 4
In the past, I typically used my Xbox 360 controller for PC, as it was a USB game controller that connected easily. However, when my 360 gamepad broke, I had to find an alternative, which is why I first tried the PS4 controller for PC.
More recently, I thought I’d try out the PlayStation Dualshock 4, as it has been my favorite between the PS4 and Xbox One controllers. And the PS Dualshock 4 is as good as it ever was; it’s responsive and easy to connect, and I get to play even more games with my PS4 gamepad. Until the battery runs out, of course – after 6 hours. I consider this only downside to this outstanding piece of technology.
4. BIMONK Wired Gaming Controller – Best Value Controller
What cool things can it do?: LED lights; Turbo plus button
Not everyone here is looking for a top of the line, fully customizable controller with 7 million different buttons. I’m sure some of you are looking for a simple, solid controller you can plug in, put your feet up, and jump into any game you feel like.
The BIMONK wired gaming controller is just that. Nothing fancy apart from some LED lights. They don’t do it for me personally, but I appreciate that they could be appealing to others. And if not, you can turn them off.
What that leaves you with is a reliable and comfortable controller. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feel as glorious in your hands as some of the others on this list, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it will break any time soon. Which, unfortunately, is a problem when it comes to third party controllers that are cheaper than official ones. So, kudos to Bimonk for not skimping on durability.
The sticks have a good amount of resistance; I had a good time wandering the wasteland in Fallout and could perform all my usual tricks in FIFA. But remember, this is still considered a budget controller, so it won’t give you the pinpoint accuracy as other controllers on this list.
The rumble feature is pretty good; it’s nothing to write home about, but you get nice, firm feedback that doesn’t throw the controller around in your hands.
The place where this controller falls short, I’d say, is the D-pad. It’s an area that controllers around this price range usually make sacrifices on, and this is no exception. The idea is that most games don’t require heavy use of a D-pad. So, if fighting or retro games are your thing, you may want to consider some of the other options on this list, like (opportunity to use a hyperlink here in a non-salesy way, rather than repeating the phrase you end this section with).
Another notable feature is a turbo plus button which you can map to any button you wish. You can hold the desired button and then press the turbo plus button, and the LED lights flash as confirmation. It’s not something I use often, but it works simply and smoothly.
If you’re looking for a back-up or second controller for when guests come over, I can highly recommend the BIMONK wired gaming controller. For anything more than casual gaming, however, there are better options out there.
Honorable Mention: Maegoo Wireless Controller
The Maegoo Wireless controller is a great alternative to the BIMONK if you prefer a symmetrical layout (a la Playstation) and a wireless option. With a battery life of about 8-10 hours, the Maegoo is still a high quality budget controller.
It doesn’t have LED lights or a turbo button, which I prefer in exchange for a sleeker design. I also slightly prefer the buttons on this controller – however, the D-pad is still less than desirable.
5. Nacon PS4 Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller – Best Pro Controller
What cool things can it do?: Haptic feedback; Adaptive triggers; Built-in mic and speaker; touchpad; LED lighting around touchpad
The winner of Best Gaming Accessory in the 2020 T3 gaming awards, the NACON PS4 REVOLUTION Unlimited Pro Controller wholeheartedly deserves that title.
This outstanding asymmetrical controller features a PS4 layout and includes its touchpad. It also comes with concave and convex analog sticks and a premium carry case. LED lights let you know which of two layout modes you are currently using (with a third letting you know you’re connected to PC).
The build quality here is phenomenal. The controller can be weighed down with the included 10g, 14g, and 16g weights, and the cushioned grips are suited for a wide range of hand sizes. While the Revolution Unlimited may not suit particularly small hands (especially those of children), Nacon is probably not strong enough to get the controller out of any gamers’ hands, no matter their size.
The grips are also where you’ll find 4 shortcut buttons that are positioned perfectly for quick reflex gaming, without accidental button presses. I personally prefer these over paddle buttons. You can achieve split-second sniping without unintentionally popping out of prone and giving away your position, depending on your ability of course – it’s not magic.
These S buttons can all be remapped using the controller itself, and the other buttons, along with trigger and stick sensitivity, can be customized through NACON’s PC app. This can’t be done through the PS4, but that’s no bother for PC gamers.
You can play wired or wirelessly, and the controller’s smooth compatibility with PCs means you can jump from PC to console gaming seamlessly. That is, unless you want to turn on your PS4 with your controller – in which case, the process won’t be so seamless.
The accuracy of the analog sticks rivals that of the Dualshock 4 but Nacon’s triggers and bumpers outshine it completely.
In short, I couldn’t recommend this controller enough. Whether you’re aiming lightning speed headshots in Call of Duty or immersing yourself in the world of Cyberpunk 77, you can’t go wrong with Nacon’s PS4 REVOLUTION Unlimited Pro Controller.
Honorable Mention: Xbox Elite Series 2
Let’s move from one of the best PS4 controllers to arguably the best Xbox controller – The Xbox Elite Series 2.
Microsoft’s designed-for-pros controller is astonishing in terms of design and customization. Everything from the tension in the analog sticks, to trigger lengths, to the style of D-pad can be tweaked and adjusted, so much so that I doubt anyone but the pro-est of pros will have a use for all of them.
If you prefer paddles rather than buttons at the back of your controller, these are some of the most satisfying you will ever press.
It has a great battery life (40 hours) but doesn’t handle connecting to multiple devices particularly smoothly. But with everything else on offer, fans of Xbox style controllers with a higher-than-most controller budget should definitely consider this as their pro upgrade.
6. Hori Fighting Commander 4 – Best Fighting Controller
What cool things can it do?: Turbo functions; 6 button layout
…Is something I don’t say very often because I suck at fighting games.
I can sometimes beat my brother at Smash Bros (when he’s not playing as Kirby), but when it comes to games like Street Fighter 5 or Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 , button mashing can only get me so far.
That’s why I asked my friend ‘Weba,’ who has been playing and winning fighting games since I can remember, what he would consider the best PC controller for fighters. There was no hesitation before his answer – Hori Fighting Commander 4!
He told me he actually prefers this gamepad over arcade style controllers with a joystick. This is due to the fact that he grew up with fighting games on consoles, like the SNES, and the Hori Fighting Commander 4 feels like the perfect successor to those classics.
While most gamepads are designed to handle every type of game, the Commander 4 isn’t trying to please everybody. The sturdy feel, bigger buttons, exceptional design, and turbo options show that this controller was designed with one type of gamer in mind – my friend Weba.
He reluctantly lent it to me so I could try it out with some emulators. I may not be a fighting game fanatic, but give me a selection of classic SNES and NES titles and I’ll be gone for hours.
I will have to take Weba’s word for it that this PC gamepad makes for the most responsive, comfortable, and effective combos you can pull off. However, I can personally confirm that this gamepad is also one of the best PC controllers for retro gaming. In fact, if it wasn’t so highly regarded by the fighter gaming community, I would have given this gamepad that accolade.
It feels a little strange at first to not have analog sticks, but you can use a switch to assign the D-pad to act as the left or right stick. This is not at all convenient for 3D games, but it can be useful for navigating to certain menus.
You can also switch the shoulder buttons to act as your R3 and L3 stick clicks. Again, this is not so the gamepad can be used for 3D games, but it’s a nice touch that proves Hori is a company that has gamers in mind. I appreciate that and can safely recommend this to any fighter fan.
Honorable Mention: DRAGON SLAY Dragon Slay Universal Pro Elite Arcade Fight Stick Controller
Fighting games were born in the arcade, they grew up in the arcade, and they thrived in the arcade. So, why not bring that arcade atmosphere home with you with Dragon Slay’s arcade fight stick controller?
Like I said, I’m a lover, not a fighter. So, I haven’t had the chance to try out this remarkable looking controller. Plus, it’s a bit of an expensive PC controller for me to buy just for this article, especially when there are plenty of rave reviews swooning over this beauty. You should take a look if you’re after the authentic arcade experience on your PC.
7. ASTRO Gaming C40 TR PS4 Controller – Best PC Controller for FPSs
What cool things can it do?: Fully customisable; Top class configuration software, Designed-for-shooters triggers.
This is one of the most controversial controllers on this list. How can a controller be controversial? Well, let me cast your mind back to the N64, the three-pronged beauty that caused all sorts of arguments among gamers.
However, I’m not talking about the iconic N64 controller (of which a third-party version can be purchased for PC), I’m talking about the ASTRO Gaming C40 TR.
And the reason it’s so controversial? Because shooter enthusiasts praise the C40 as their holy grail, while those looking for an all-purpose pro controller may find themselves with their hands full.
Literally. This thing is a beast. The sheer size of this thing can turn most people off and causes plenty of claims that this controller is “overpriced,” “difficult to use,” and “too heavy.”
These claims are true and understandable for gamers not expecting the C40’s size. However, for many hardcore FPS fans, the C40 is exactly what you want in a controller.
A heavy-weighted feel, customizable trigger sensitivity, and trigger stops for hair trigger reactions make for an unstoppable force in FPS gaming.
Throw in the interchangeable D-pad and analog stick for either PlayStation or Xbox preferences, remappable rear buttons, and the option for wired or wireless, and you’ve got yourself a PC gaming controller that will serve you well for years.
You just might want to try before you buy, it’s not a controller for everyone.
8. Valve Index Controllers – Best VR Controllers
What cool things can it do?: 90% of what your hands can do.
After many decades of virtual reality gaming struggling to get off the ground, VR is finally a legitimate platform, in part thanks to the development of technology and innovation from developers. And it is this support from companies like Valve that will transform VR into a behemoth on the gaming landscape. It stands to reason that Valve themselves would make arguably the best VR controllers available.
I was a bit of a latecomer to the VR scene. The Valve index was the first VR setup I ever tried, so my initial experience of stepping into digital worlds consisted of using the Valve index controllers.
Since then, I’ve had a go on both the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR; while they are wonderful, neither the Oculus Touch Controller nor PlayStation’s Move controller captured the immersion of Valve’s ‘knuckles’ – as they’re known to us hardcore VRists.
These controllers are set apart due to their tracking ability for each finger’s movement (you can imagine most people’s first choice of gesture), their stable connection, and their 8-hour battery life.
Although their uses are tied to the VR realm, Valve’s index controllers are used with a PC. Since they are also revolutionizing the idea of ‘controller’, they therefore deserve a spot on this list.
9. Logitech G923 Racing Wheel and Pedals – Best Simulation PC Controller
What cool things can it do?: Trueforce HD force feedback; LED rev indicator, pressure sensitive brakes, 900° rotation;
Have you seen Forza Horizon 4 running on a high end PC? It looks divine.
Have you tried playing it with a keyboard and mouse? Blurgh!
Why ruin such a great game with such a rubbish control system?
If you’re a fan of racing games, a gaming steering wheel is essential for a fully immersive experience. And Logitech arguably makes the best steering wheels around.
You could go for the Logitech G90 as it’s a solid cheaper alternative to the G923, but if we’re going all out, I have to recommend this incredible wheel.
Logitech has refined their Trueforce HD force feedback to the point where it’s near indistinguishable from the feeling of driving a real car. I admit, however, that it can get warm at times, especially when drifting a lot – this puts a lot of pressure on the controller’s motors.
The pedals are responsive, and the system’s progressive brake pedal mimics the feel of a pressure sensitive brake system. Even if you’re not sure what this means, it will feel excellent underfoot.
In fact, this entire rig mimics the feel of what it would actually be like to tear up the track – from the quality materials used, to the weight you feel as you take that tight corner a little too fast.
Something I didn’t get to try out (but I think is really worth mentioning) is that by using GHUB gaming software for PC, you can adjust the sensitivity and feedback of almost all aspects of the steering wheel. I haven’t needed to make use of it because the wheel feels great as is, but it’s nice to know there is freedom to play around.
Honorable mention: Logitech G Farm Simulator Heavy Equipment Bundle
I’ve never played Farm Simulator with a gamepad, but I was fortunate enough to try out this beast of a rig. I instantly fell in love and can’t imagine playing this game any other way. To be fair though, before trying the heavy equipment bundle, I couldn’t imagine myself playing farm simulator – ever.
Yet, you wouldn’t believe it from the child-like grin I had from ear to ear during my entire session with the game.
The niche for this controller is pretty small, so it’s amazing how well put together it is. I felt like I really was driving a combine harvester, which apparently is something I like very much.
Ordering your farmers around with a few button presses gave me a sense of power, and the sheer number of customizable buttons convinced me that with a bit more practice I could become a farmer, which, again, is apparently something I like very much.
10. 8Bitdo SN30 Pro USB Gamepad – Best Retro PC Controller
What cool things can it do?: Dual analog sticks; Rumble feature
Recommended games to use it with:
Not every gamer is about the latest graphics and new technologies. Many would prefer to tackle some old school classics on emulators or Retropie. Others prefer games that re-create that old school feel, like Celeste or Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
What better way to get the retro feel than with the Classic SNES controller – which I consider to be the best retro controller ever made.
This is the controller that ushered me into the world of gaming with titles like Super Metroid, Yoshi’s Island, and Donkey Kong Country. I love jumping back into these titles just as much as I did in the 90s.
Although there are SNES controllers for PCs that don’t include Analog sticks, I believe 8Bitdo SN30 Pro USB Gamepad with clickable thumbsticks is the way to go, especially for some newer 2.5d titles designed with modern controllers in mind. It gives an element of choice without sacrificing the feel of playing on classic consoles.
The 8bitdo controller also features an optional rumble. I very much appreciate this, but you can of course turn it off and choose how retro you want to go.
8bitdo has done the retro community a massive favor by producing this high-quality, future-friendly classic SNES controller.
Bonus: Xbox adaptive controller – Because Gaming is for Everyone Controller
Many developers are designing their games with the differently-abled in mind, but Microsoft has truly made great progress towards inclusivity of those with limited mobility by designing their Adaptive Controller.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller personalizes the gaming input experience by tailoring it to the user – whatever their needs.
The controller features large programmable buttons and enables users to assign Xbox controller inputs (A, B, X, Y, etc.) to external switches, buttons, and joysticks to help make gaming more accessible on Xbox One and Windows. It also comes with a pilot mode for assisted gaming.
The number of peripherals compatible with this controller is incredible, meaning a huge volume of people with a diverse array of conditions can enjoy gaming and can connect many devices they already own to work with the controller. This is great.
The controller was built from the ground up with the guidance of those who deal with mobility limitations and those who care for them. Those who previously couldn’t enjoy games to their full extent can now compete with the best of us.
Thank you, Microsoft, for building this.
Thank you for listening to people whose voices are often ignored.
Thank you for working extensively with organisations like The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect, Warfighter Engaged, and many community members.
Thank you for designing the most accessible controller ever made.
I’m tempted to put the N64 controller as my all-time favorite because it had the biggest impact on me as a gamer. Its unique shape, its new 3D analog stick and rumble feature, its controversy, and its underrated Z-button all combine to make it almost irresistible.
However, I can’t quite recommend the N64 for the purposes of this listicle; for that honor, I have to choose the Razer Wolverine Unlimited.
Its price-to-quality ratio beats out the competition for me. The Razer Wolverine Unlimited is everything you’d want in a pro controller, but it’s also a viable option for non-pros just looking for a better feeling gamepad in their hands.
I’ve been using this controller for quite some time, and I rarely pick up another for any kind of game. I sometimes score goals in Rocket League with this controller. I am not the worst player in my Overwatch team with this controller. And very occasionally, I can stay alive for more than 20 minutes in Dark Souls with this controller.
I can honestly say I game at my best with the Razer Wolverine Ultimate.
Perhaps the most important part of choosing a controller is how it feels in your hands. And there are a few things to consider (especially when buying online).
When Playstation introduced their dualshock controller way back in the PSone days, they opted for symmetrical analog stick placement. A few years later when Microsoft’s Xbox hit store shelves, their controller came with asymmetrical sticks. Both companies stuck with their first choice throughout all iterations of their consoles.
Which is better?
Neither! The wonderful thing is that it’s completely down to personal preference. Even more wonderful is the fact that both are compatible with PCs. There are also a ton of 3rd party options that combine symmetrical sticks with an Xbox style controller and vice versa.
This is not something the casual gamer would first think of when choosing a controller, but it’s worth considering. You may prefer a heavier Xbox style controller over the lightweight PS4 style controller, or maybe your wrists get fatigued after long sessions.
Weight can sometimes give a good indication of the quality of a controller – the more things inside, the more things it can do (technical, I know) – and many customizable controllers give you the option to adjust weight.
Weight may not be a factor for many gamers but for those for whom it is, then there are plenty of options for you.
Triggers, buttons and paddles
The options here are seemingly endless.
What you choose, in terms of triggers, could depend on the kind of games you prefer to play. For example, digital tap triggers create the feel of a mouse click. This could be great for shooters and fighters, but almost impossible for racing games (apart from games like Mario Kart). Higher-end controllers give you a plethora of customization options to swap the type of trigger, to adjust haptic feedback, or to add a trigger stop.
Paddles are great for those of us who want to make better use of dormant fingers while using a controller. If a controller includes them (or at least the option), there’s a good chance the paddles will be customizable – with some even being mappable on the fly by using EMR.
This guide discusses buttons for each product, but as they can vary greatly, please check out some reviews to get a better idea. And for a bit of fun, check out this article by Wired on their take for some of the best ‘buttons’ ever created.
Rumble features have made leaps and bounds in recent years, and controllers now have the technology to give you immersive haptic feedback in your hands. Nintendo Joy Cons, for example, can recreate the feeling of pouring water out of a glass by performing the motion with a controller..
However, not everyone cares that much about rumble features, and some video game controller manufacturers even offer the option to remove the feature (as do console settings).
Again, the choice is yours, and the reviews in this guide cover rumble features for specific controllers. So, take a look for more details on what is out there.
Motion controls have had varying degrees of success. While controllers like the Wii-mote and Valve Index Controllers for VR are designed with motion controls at the forefront (and have been excellent pioneers for the technology), other controllers have incorporated them into their standard controllers, like Sony’s DualShock 4.
Having motion controls may be something you want, or it may fall into the gimmick category. Either way, it’s worth paying attention to whether or not a controller has incorporated it, depending on your preference.
Many console gamers are happy with (or at least, accepting of) the controllers that come boxed with their chosen platform, while some prefer to design their own custom controllers from scratch.
Controllers that provide gamers with fully customizable features are usually more expensive, but they give the gamer the freedom to play exactly how they want, when they want.
If you want to kick ass in Street Fighter, tear up the track in Forza, and finish up with a few rounds of Fortnite, you may want to look into customizable controllers.
All the controllers in this guide are compatible with PC, although a few of them need some extra steps to connect. However, this isn’t the case for every controller.
So, if you plan on PC gaming with your new controller, make sure it’s compatible with your set-up. If it is compatible, make sure you know how to connect it.
Like I said, all controllers in my guide should serve you well, so take a look through it to get a better idea of what to look out for.
Technically, the research for this article started when I was 6 years old with a Commodore 64 joystick and continued for the next 26 years.
I’ve had almost every console that has been released and used almost every type of controller. From the Nintendo Power Glove to Keyboard and Mouse. From the Microsoft Kinect to the Sony Dualshock 4.
So, while I’ve always been more of a console gamer than a PC one, I couldn’t quite get along with Keyboard and Mouse. The gaming industry has evolved to a point where many console games are available on PC and are genuinely better to play with a controller.
Luckily for PC gamers, you now have a ton of options to choose from. Unluckily, however, many of you may not have had a lifetime of controllers to know what works best for you.
So, that’s why this guide was written. A console gamer’s guide to video game controllers for PC gamers who may or may not have had much experience using controllers (catchy, right?).
So, normally I would write here the steps I took to find these best controllers. However, this guide is written with 26 years of hands-on experience and reliable accounts from gamers I trust.
Top Rated PC Controllers
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API