As a primarily console player, I completely understand that sometimes playing a PC game with a mouse and keyboard can seem daunting. Heck, sometimes it's not even about the difficulty--sometimes playing with a controller is just a more comfortable experience for the genre of game. So having a gamepad controller on hand can be nice. If you're in the market for a good PC controller, you have several different first- and third-party options. The following choices are our picks for the 10 best PC controllers.
There's no hidden meaning behind the organization of this list. Every controller is listed in the order that they were thought of. Where it makes sense, we'll mention when we think one controller might be better for a specific type of game. However, for the most part, the gamepads that are listed here can be used for all types of PC games, whether they're high-action competitive shooters or relaxing choice-driven adventures, and everything in-between. We also go over flight sticks, racing wheels, and other controllers designed for unique gaming situations.
If you're looking for console controllers, make sure to check out our lists of the best PS5 controllers (we also have one for PS4), best Xbox controllers, and best Nintendo Switch controllers.
You can't go wrong with the Xbox Wireless Controller--the official controller for the Xbox Series X|S (it's also compatible with the Xbox One). The controller is comfortable and not too pricey. You're not getting any of the fancy bells and whistles with the Xbox Wireless Controller--no haptic feedback or neon lights or additional paddles--but if you just want a controller for your PC gaming setup, this is a great choice. It's basically the go-to option for folks who want to play their PC games with a gamepad controller. And if you're willing to shell out a little more, you can get an Xbox Wireless Controller with a custom design via Microsoft's Design Lab.
If you're a fan of the Xbox Wireless Controller but you want a little bit more control, then the Xbox Elite Series 2 is great--thanks to the remappable paddles on the back, this is an awesome controller for playing shooters, especially ones heavily tied to movement where you'll likely be doing multiple tasks at once, like healing and shooting and running away. The paddles are also helpful for pulling off combos in fighting and sports games as they alleviate the stress of pulling away from the thumbsticks to reach and simultaneously press multiple face buttons or d-pad inputs. A sick protective carrying case--which doubles as a charging station--also comes included with this controller, ideal for folks who travel a lot and may be gaming on their PC laptop.
The DualSense is the PlayStation 5's controller, but it can be used for PC, too. And it's the ideal controller for those who are planning to play PlayStation games on PC, especially PS5 console exclusives like Deathloop and Kena: Bridge of Spirits. Unfortunately, the PC versions of these games still don't yet take advantage of the controller's best features, like pressure sensitive triggers and 3D audio. But if you're going back and forth between PlayStation and PC (or just like the feel of a PlayStation controller over an Xbox one), then the DualSense is for you.
The Scuf Instinct Pro is pretty much a superior (but pricier) third-party version of the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. It unfortunately doesn't come with a cool carrying case that doubles as a charging dock, but the Scuf Instinct Pro has a lot more customization options--it's a lot like the Design Lab for the Xbox Wireless Controller, though you have even more options here. You will run up a price tag on those customizations, though. This is a pricey controller but you're getting to create the PC gamepad of your dreams for that price. Additionally, the Scuf Instinct Pro can seamlessly switch between a console and PC controller at the press of a button--flip a switch and the triggers adjust to resemble the feel of clicking a mouse. They'll make the same sound too.
The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a phenomenal controller but it suffers from the same flaw as its predecessor--it's wired so you can't go wireless if you want to. But if you don't mind having to deal with one more cord when gaming on your PC, the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is one of the better controllers on this list. It has the winning shape and button layout of the Xbox Wireless Controller, but the interchangeable d-pad and back paddles of the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. The face buttons on the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma also click with the same resistance and sound of clicking a mouse, which isn't as good as the Scuf Instinct Pro's triggers, but it still alleviates the weird feeling of transferring between PC and console gaming.
The 8Bitdo Pro 2 is for those who are playing retro games or less-than-legal emulations of older console games on their PC (don't worry, we won't tell nobody). Its shape is reminiscent of the SNES controller, but with the added benefit of modern day improvements, like a better grip, ergonomic design, back paddles, and DualShock/DualSense-style thumbsticks. The buttons on the 8Bitdo Pro 2 can be remapped to fit your ideal control scheme, which is great for when you're jumping back and forth between an old school platformer and a more modern metroidvania.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the best first-party option when it comes to controllers designed specifically for those that have disabilities. Not only can every input on the Xbox Adaptive Controller be remapped and changed, but the controller even comes in accessible boxing--you don't need fine motor skills in order to open it and set the controller up. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is, as the name suggests, designed principally for the Xbox One and Xbox Series family of consoles, but it works for practically any gaming hardware, including PC.
The Logitech G923 is (for its price) the best racing wheel out there, including everything you need in the package to seamlessly connect to your PC and jump straight into your favorite racing arcade or racing simulator game. That means you're getting a racing wheel, a wheel base to mount the controller to your desk, and pedals. The wheel itself is comfortable while utilizing its twin motor force feedback to deliver a believable kickback when you're trying to maneuver a tight corner or tough terrain--it will fight you in a similar capacity to a steering wheel on an actual car. The included pedals are top-notch too.
If you're looking for the best flight sticks, you're going to have to pay up and that's evident with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. This controller is expensive, but you're paying for high quality that's built to last and a startlingly large amount of inputs for maximum immersion. Of note, there's a nice heft to the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog's joystick--similar to the Logitech G923, this controller fights against you to emulate the act of maneuvering a large vehicle. This flightstick also comes with a mass variety of inputs on both the joystick and the accompanying base--if you're into flight simulators and space flight simulators, this is what you want.
The Qanba Obsidian is a stylish fight stick controller for those looking to up their fighting game prowess on PS4 and PC. Equipped with a Sanwa Denshi joystick and pushbuttons--the worldwide agreed upon standard for Japanese fighting game tournaments--the Qanba Obsidian is a stylish third-party controller with official backing from Sony, so the controller comes equipped with a PlayStation button that allows you to access and navigate the PlayStation menu or share photos to PSN. If you're looking for a fighting stick that allows you to quickly navigate between PC and PlayStation--the two hardware ecosystems that dominate the fighting game scene--via a plug-and-play USB connection, then the Qanba Obsidian is what you want.
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