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ps4 controller flying in air

The 9 Best Gaming Controller for the PC in 2020

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Nowadays, even the hardcore PC gamers are starting to shift from Mouse & Keyboard over to a gaming controller. Many games are optimized for a controller as they are being published across Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, PC and more. Especially in third-person adventures, where the goals are irrelevant, a controller is ideal. Examples are the Dark Souls series, the Assassin’s Creed games or Monster Hunter: World. 

But there are many controllers on the market, and many of them are good. We introduce you to the pros and cons of the most popular pc controller to help you find the best one. By the way, all controllers mentioned here should be easy to connect to your PC or laptop. Not only are they compatible with their respective consoles but they are also compatible with other systems. Find out which gaming controller is the best for you.

1. Xbox One Controller

The Microsoft Xbox One Controller is currently the undisputed standard for PC controllers and it is easy to see why it is. The gamepad for the PC is comfortable, chic, reliable and actually works with any game that just comes to your head. In addition, the Xbox One Controller can be connected to the computer via the USB cable as well as via Bluetooth. If you like to play wireless, you should definitely buy a charge kit. Many recommend the charging kit from AmazonBasics.

The D-Pad (directional pad) is going away from the circular style of the 360 controller and comes again in the form of a classic directional pad, which ensures better accuracy. However, this is not the case for fans of 2D fighting games like Street Fighter. The shoulder buttons are slightly curved so that the controller lies well in the hands and not only does it have a much more secure grip, but also every click is carried out with certainty. The sticks are also slightly curved inwards, which makes it very difficult for the thumb to slide off.

Another improvement over the 360 controller is the relocation of the menu button. This was raised further to avoid accidental inputs. When it comes to the quality of workmanship of an official Microsoft product, not much needs to be said. It is outstanding! And since the price is also below the average cost of the controller for consoles, everything here fits perfectly. 

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Xbox Wireless Controller – Black
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2. Xbox Elite Controller

If you have the opportunity to hold the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 times in your hands for about ten minutes, you will understand why this is the best PC controller of all time for us. Everything about this pad screams luxury. The customization options of the Elite Series 2 are almost unlimited and offer you full control over gameplay. The switch buttons and the D-Pad can be replaced in no time at all and even the degree of tension of the thumb sticks can be adjusted as desired. The weight of the controller is also comfortable in the hands and even after a half-day Call of Duty: Modern Warfare session, we never had a bad feeling.

One of the most important differences between series 1 and 2 is the included charging station, which is also a carrying case and supplies the battery with up to 40 hours of runtime. Games from the Google Play and App Store can also be played with the controller using a smartphone. The Elite Series 2 is simply connected to the respective device via Bluetooth.

The controller is probably a bit too expensive for most, but if you take gaming seriously, you will appreciate the customization and operation of the Elite Series 2.

Elite Series 2 Controller - Black
11,576 Reviews
Elite Series 2 Controller – Black
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  • MSRP $179.99

3. PlayStation Dual Shock 4

While many Xbox One consoles are in circulation, sales of the Sony Playstation 4 have long since overshadowed those of the Microsoft console. The majority also plays with the Dualshock 4 controller. The good news is that this controller can also be connected to the PC. The bad, it’s a little more complicated than a simple plug and play.

Sony’s DualShock 4 comes with a small premium, and as great as the Xbox One controller may be, Sony has somehow managed to process this premium in the right place, in comfort and quality. The sticks are a little larger than those of the Microsoft controller and are therefore easier to control. The handles also feel a bit more comfortable. In addition, the DualShock 4 boasts a rechargeable battery. Once you start to get used to it, it feels as if this feature should be a standard today.

Another advantage if you use the DualShock 4 as a PC controller and want to play games via Remote Play or PlayStation Now is that you don’t have to worry about finding out which button will now trigger the square of the Playstation controller.

But now for the bad part, if the game you plan to play on the PC does not supports the DualShock 4, it will be a little more difficult to establish the connection. For this you need software like InputMapper, which makes the game “think” that you play with an Xbox controller. After the software is installed and the DualShock 4 is connected to the PC, you can simply start playing, whether with a cable or without.

Apart from that, the DualShock 4 is a fantastic PC controller. If you already have a PS4, you can also use its controller directly for your PC if you have no problem with the little extra work. But if you are looking for a new PC gamepad, there are definitely easier solutions.

DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4 - Midnight Blue
88,871 Reviews
DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4 – Midnight Blue
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4. Razer Wolverine Ultimate

Although we admittedly prefer to play with a wireless PC controller, Razer has won the advantages of wired pads for competitive games with the Wolverine Ultimate Controller. The controller can be used for both the PC and the Xbox One and has strongly reminded us of the Xbox One Elite Controller.

The Wolverine Ultimate also offers numerous, unique and above all useful additional functions. The action keys are assigned A, B, X and Y as usual on the Xbox controller and strongly reminded us of clicking a mouse when pressed. Even if this little detail may sound like little, it has made a huge difference for us. You could possibly compare it with a change from a normal keyboard to one with mechanical keys. While the supplied 3m USB cable seemed a bit annoying, the tactile buttons made up for it.

Of course, a peripheral device from Razer will no longer be able to do without RGB lighting. The company has also gotten to work and developed an app especially for Xbox One users. Unfortunately, everyone who wants to use the Wolverine Ultimate as a PC controller and want to make cosmetic changes must do so in advance on the console.

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Razer Wolverine Ultimate
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5. Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is difficult to compare with other controllers because, unlike traditional controllers, it tries to replace the mouse and keyboard. With the Steam Controller, you can play all games comfortably from the sofa on the TV – even games that were developed without controller support. The Steam Controller uses two large touchpads to replace the mouse. It has the usual four action buttons, start and menu button, as well as four triggers on the back and two buttons on the handle.

The Steam Controller is very hard to get used to. Personally, therefore, we would still prefer mouse and keyboard over a Steam controller. But if you prefer to play from the sofa, the Steam Controller is worth a look.

Steam Controller
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6. Xbox 360 Controller

The Xbox 360 controller is still a very good controller despite its age. It is a bit smaller than the Xbox One controller and therefore ideally suited for very small hands. It is very light, which is pleasant for longer sessions. The key layout is very similar to that of the Xbox One controller.

The Xbox 360 controller is best suited for gamers with small hands.

7. Logitech F710 Gamepad

This PC controller has won our hearts and is by far the cheapest model on our list. The Logitech F710 not only costs half as much as the wireless Xbox One gamepad, but also weighs less than half.

Despite its solid build quality, the D-Pad feels a little loose and especially with faster games there were slight problems with the controls. The shoulder buttons also felt uncomfortable and offered too much resistance. Nonetheless, for casual gamers, the Logitech F710 remains the best PC controller and simply unbeatable in terms of price.

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Logitech Gamepad F710
2,133 Reviews
Logitech Gamepad F710
  • 2.4 ghz wireless connectivity
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The controller is a nice addition to the mouse and keyboard.

We almost only play on the PC and in most cases with the mouse and keyboard. But every once in a while, it itches our fingers to play titles like Dark Souls or Assassin’s Creed. Then it is extremely convenient to have a controller at hand. You can get the best gaming experience from any controller mentioned above. Which controller suits you best is often a matter of personal preference.

8. Speedlink Torid Gamepad

The controller is from the so-called “Switching” series. So you can use a small switch on the back to decide whether you need an X-input device (like Xbox and Co are built) or a direct input device. With a direct input setup, the software swaps the left stick and the control pad. So you get virtually pretended to use a PlayStation built-up controller.

The controller is connected via FireWire / USB cable or via 2.4 GHz radio signal, a corresponding dongle is included. In our test, however, we often had problems that Steam and Uplay did not want to recognize the controller immediately. Uncomfortable unplugging of the dongle or switching back and forth between the modes solved the problem.

The handle is also rubberized here and ensure a clean grip. The shoulder buttons respond well, but the sensitivity of the analog buttons is unfortunately very spongy. This may not be of any importance for casual use, but if you play a racing game and use 50% throttle and not 90%, it becomes fiddly and uncomfortable.

The action buttons respond cleanly, but the gamepad looks “simple” in terms of material and manufacturing. The digicross, for example, seems to have some play, but that hasn’t cost us a victory in Mortal Kombat. Speedlink certainly has to save somewhere on the material for the price, but this is not so critical.

The “TURBO” button in the middle of the controller is interesting. You don’t want to press the A button in the next quick-time event for 2 minutes with stoic anger? Then hold it down and press the “TURBO” button. The controller now operates these continuously at short intervals. Cheating? Perhaps. Comfortable? Definitely!

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9. Razer Tartarus v2 Gaming Keypad

At last we thought about what else there is in the controller world. Sure, fighting sticks are absolutely missing here, but there is such a wide range that we want to work out something for them. It would not be fair to just briefly deal with these with a model.

Therefore we decided on the “Tartarus V2” from Razer. One or the other title can be played so relaxed, especially for couch heroes. We also tested World of WarCraft and AION with it.

As usual from Razer, the macro keys are placed at our side. We can document and program these extensively. At World of WarCraft, for example, we placed extensive spells and attack sequences there, steered the character with the 8-way stick and only needed the mouse for visual corrections.

At first it is absolutely unfamiliar. However, if you have taken a closer look at the macros and the functions of the stick, simpler strategy titles such as Civilization or City Skylines will also quickly go by hand. Sure, the settings for it are indisputably fiddly at first. But when it works, it’s great fun.

Simulators, especially from the flight segment, were pleasant to play with.

The macro keys are applied to a pressure membrane, so the familiar clicking of a mechanical keyboard is no longer necessary. The control pad itself is digital and not analogue. Nevertheless, WASD can simply be distributed on it for various titles.

As an exotic, the Tartarus is absolutely recommended. And if you just want to use a different setup instead of “just” a controller or “just” the keyboard and mouse. It definitely invites you to experiment.

As a short example: We have placed Photoshop functions on the macro keys in order to avoid the cumbersome clamp grips on the keyboard. Once you knew where which function was located, the work was much more pleasant.

The Tartarus is a great choice for all FPS gamers as it still allows the use of a mouse.

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How did we test the PC Gaming Controllers?

We have tested most of the controllers listed for at least two weeks – and in some cases even years – in games such as Dark Souls, Forza Horizon, Ori, Mortal Kombat 10 or FIFA. We’ve rated many of the aforementioned gamepads for their suitability for various PC gaming genres, ease of use, and functionality. We found models that we did not test ourselves through extensive research and reading external test reports.

This resulted in our PC controller best list. Further factors that were included in the evaluation can be found below in the purchase advice.

How to find the right gamepad?

Now that you know which the best PC controllers are, we would like to give you a few tips on the way before you buy a PC controller.

What should I look out for before buying a PC controller?

There are some crucial features of PC controllers that you should take a closer look at before buying. Based on these features, we also select the best PC controllers for you.

Sure, the selection of a “good” controller is often a subjective thing that depends on what you are used to, how big your hands are and what games you play. Nevertheless, the following points are extremely important:

Price-Performance Ratio

Always the most important point for us. How much do you pay for the product and what do you get for the money? That is why we classify unnecessarily expensive PC controllers a little further down our list of the best.

Comfort: How comfortable is the controller in the hand

Regardless of your hand size, you should be able to hold the PC Controller for a few hours without cramping and it shouldn’t slide around when your hands are sweating. The controller should also be heavy enough to feel good, but not that heavy. Otherwise, arms and wrists will get tired. With PC controllers, convenience is extremely important.

Compatibility with Windows, macOS and Steam

Setting up controllers on a PC can sometimes be difficult. Some have no guarantees that they will work with every game. It should always be relatively easy to get controllers running with Windows, Steam, or MacOS.

Responsive buttons and analog sticks

Every button and stick on the controller should do exactly what you want and especially when you want it to. All controls must be easy to reach, but they must not be too close together.

Battery life

With wireless controllers the battery life should of course be good, otherwise there is only frustration. Good wireless controllers should also be able to communicate via USB.

Build-Quality

The PC controller should not break immediately if you rage or if it falls down. Of course. If the controller just rattles and creaks and only lasts for a month, it won’t do you any good.

Wireless vs. Wired

That is a matter of taste and of course a question of budget. Nevertheless, you have to choose a variant. While wireless controllers provide convenience and prevent cable clutter, they can also introduce a delay and eventually run out of batteries.

Special features

These are luxury functions such as different modes, a headset connection, interchangeable components or other things. Depending on what you value here, this could influence your purchase decision.

Which type of controller should it be?

To make it simple, there are two main types of PC controllers. The typical console shape like the PS4 or Xbox One controller and pure PC designs with more keys or even partial keyboards like the Razer Orbweaver.

The standard console-style controllers are comfortable, ergonomic, and familiar, and suitable for everyone. So if you often have friends at home to play with, this style is a good choice.

Designs like the Razer Orbweaver are very special, with some being all-in-one controllers and others still requiring the use of a mouse for many games. This controller style is more aimed at hardcore gamers who want to enjoy the improved comfort.

Who should get a PC controller?

Not every PC game plays well with a keyboard and mouse. If you’d rather sit back and play some of your games with a controller, then you should consider one of our tips above.

A controller has to suit you and there are different solutions depending on your hand size, play style or operating system. For example, if you already have an Xbox One or PS4 and are happy with the controller that came with it, you probably don’t need to buy another one.

Controllers offer better comfort and ergonomics

Another great advantage of PC controllers is the convenience and ergonomics that they offer. PC gaming controllers are specifically designed for prolonged gaming, while keyboards are designed for typing, web browsing, and casual gaming.

Thanks to the ergonomic design of good PC controllers, all the buttons you need are exactly where they should be – within easy reach and at a comfortable distance from one another. No hand cramps or wrist pain that can often occur with a classic WASD keyboard.

Our Picks: The Best Controllers for PC

Sale
Xbox Wireless Controller – Black
Compatible with Xbox One X, Xbox One S, Xbox One, Windows 10; Includes Bluetooth technology for gaming on Windows 10 PCs and tablets
$59.99 −$12.00 $47.99
Elite Series 2 Controller – Black
Play like a pro with the all new Xbox elite wireless controller series 2; Tailor the controller with new interchangeable thumbstick and paddle shapes
$179.00
Sale
Logitech Gamepad F710
2.4 ghz wireless connectivity; Customizable controls with profiler software (requires software installation)
$49.99 −$8.83 $41.16

Last update on 2020-11-26 | Source: Amazon Affiliate