While many PC games are best played with a mouse and keyboard, others are designed with a traditional controller in mind. It’s also a bit more comfortable to recline in your gaming chair and kick back with a controller, giving you an easier way to unwind with your favorite games. In 2023, there really is no shortage of PC controller options, largely because almost every controller designed for specific consoles also has built-in PC support. Essentially, PC users have their pick of the best controllers across all platforms. We've rounded up the best PC controllers in 2023.
Due to the plethora of possibilities, picking a PC controller can be somewhat challenging. Of course, if you own a console or two, you probably already have a great controller that will work well on PC. That said, you may want something with more features than the standard Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch controllers. PC users typically have more control over their gaming experience in general, so it makes sense to want a versatile PC controller.
From pro-style controllers to retro gamepads and modular designs, here are the 10 best PC controllers in 2023. For more controller recommendations, check out our roundups of the best PS5 controllers and best Switch controllers.
Affordable, customizable, and ergonomic--it’s hard to beat the 8BitDo Ultimate. 8BitDo's Ultimate Software gives you total control over your experience. You can save up to three unique profiles, remap the pair of excellent back triggers, adjust stick tension, vibration intensity, and trigger sensitively. This type of in-depth customization is usually reserved for far pricier controllers--not a $50 controller. It runs for 15 hours on a full charge and comes with a matching charging dock.
One particularly welcome feature goes unseen but is important nonetheless. The analog sticks use Hall Effect technology, an advancement that utilizes magnets to detect movement. This frictionless design prevents wear and tear and the dreaded stick drift.
The 8BitDo Ultimate's high performance coupled with an extremely reasonable price point makes it an easy recommendation. If you want additional functionality, you can pick up the Bluetooth version, which is compatible with Nintendo Switch, for $70.
The 8BitDo Pro 2 is very similar to the Ultimate, though it lacks Hall Effect sticks and the charging dock. Still, it's a remarkable controller with a decidedly retro design that makes it a great choice for those who play a lot of classic games or run emulators on their PC. It's also the ideal pick for players who prefer aligned analog sticks and games that play better with D-pad controls.
The Pro 2 includes two back buttons, custom profile switching, and support for Android, Steam Deck, and Switch. Its battery also lasts a bit longer than the Ultimate, clocking in at 20 hours before needing to be plugged in.
It’s pricey, but Microsoft didn’t cut a single corner with the Elite Series 2. With an ergonomic design, premium build quality, rubberized grips, swappable components (such as analog sticks and D-pads), four back buttons, trigger locks, and a staggering 40-hour battery life, the Elite Series 2 is the ultimate pro-style controller for PC. If you don’t need all those features or want something a bit more affordable, you can pick up the Elite Series 2 Core for $130, though it lacks back buttons and other customization options. You can purchase third-party components, such as back paddles, separately.
The Victrix Pro BFG looks incredibly aggressive, but its inventive design also allows it to be highly modular. Controller modules on each side can be popped out in seconds with the included tool. You can switch from the default offset stick layout to an aligned setting. You can also swap between three different D-pads--the one shown above, eight-way, and traditional cross--and change thumbstick caps to shorter and taller formats. It even comes with a six-button, microswitch fight pad for the right side of the controller. The triggers can be locked at five different pull distances to suit your preference, and there are four, well-placed back triggers. You can remap inputs on the fly and store up to three control profiles.
Though the Pro BFG doesn't feel as premium as the Elite Series 2, it's the best pro-style controller around when it comes to customization. Technically, it's designed for PS5 (and PS4), but it also works wirelessly and wired with PC.
Microsoft made minimal changes to its controller when going from Xbox One to Xbox Series X--but why fix something that isn’t broken? The Xbox Wireless Controller has earned legions of fans over the years, thanks to its simple, no-frills design. Best of all, it’s fully compatible with PC, making it a great choice for folks who want to play on Series X and their computer. It’s also a great option for using Game Pass on PC, as it’ll automatically sync with the software and let you get gaming without mucking around in a bunch of settings menus.
While your DualSense controller is a great option for most PC games, it’s the best choice when playing PlayStation ports as these offer support for advanced features like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. But regardless of what you’re playing, the DualSense’s ergonomic design and premium materials are hard to beat. Toss in a built-in microphone and 3.5mm jack, and you’ve got a well-rounded gamepad. It’s a bit pricey at $70, but no doubt you’re getting a high-quality controller in return.
Finding a comfortable, ergonomic controller is largely up to the discretion of the user, with hand size and personal preference as the main driving factors. But many gamers will likely agree that the Switch Pro Controller is a great option that’s suitable for almost everyone. You won’t find any back buttons or customizable components, but the Switch controller is a well-built Bluetooth controller with excellent battery life (around 40 hours) that’s perfect for most types of games. So if you’re looking to bounce around from battle royales to RPGs and want to make sure your hands are comfy during extended play sessions, put the Switch Pro Controller at the top of your list.
Looking for a controller with luxurious, tactile buttons and triggers? Look no further than the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma. There’s a lot to love about the gamepad (including a slick design and back buttons), but it’s the mecha-tactile action buttons and microswitch D-pad that will win you over. These provide you with hyper-responsive inputs and a satisfying “click” with each press. You can even activate a Hair Trigger Mode to make its triggers actuate faster. That’s a big selling point for folks who enjoy fast-paced multiplayer games, as it should give you a slight edge over the competition. Keep in mind that this particular Wolverine controller only supports a wired connection.
If you want the reliability of a wired controller (or simply don’t want to deal with recharging batteries), be sure to check out the PowerA Fusion Pro 2. Equipped with a removable set of back paddles, lockable triggers for faster actuation, rubberized grips, and high-quality analog sticks, this wired controller is one of the best third-party wired controllers on the market. It’s also much more expensive than most wired controllers, carrying a $90 price tag--though it’s frequently on sale. Two faceplates are available, black or white, and its 10-foot cable should give you plenty of room to route it around your battlestation or lounge out in your gaming chair without worrying about coming unplugged.
8BitDo clearly knows what it’s doing, as this is the company’s third entry on this list. The SN30 Pro offers many of the same features that make the Ultimate and Pro 2 so compelling, but does so with a retro flair not often found on controllers of this caliber. Inspired by the classic SNES gamepad, you’ll be treated to a nostalgic design that’s married to tons of modern conveniences--such as a rechargeable battery, USB-C input, Bluetooth support, and support for Switch and Steam Deck along with PC. Its D-pad is also incredibly responsive and designed to prevent accidental inputs, making it a great match for fighting games and beat ‘em ups. And even though it looks like a Super Nintendo controller, the SN30 Pro has all of the inputs you need for modern games, too.
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