Not being a console gamer doesn’t mean you can’t play games with an equally high-end controller. More often then not you’d come across a AAA release that would play much better if you had the best controller for gaming in your hands. Whether it is that or just nostalgia, we have sorted the best the market has to offer.
Before we dig into some of the known models like the good old Logitech F310, or the beauty of cross compatibility of the Xbox controller for PC, let’s dig into what you should be looking at while buying a controller.
Finding The Best Controller for PC Gaming
Broadly speaking, ergonomics, functionality, and connectivity are the three areas you should consider other than the price point. So first of all, you’d want a game controller that is designed to keep your hands and wrists comfortable. Quite close to that debate is how good is button layout, and similarly, how many added features do they offer.
A PC controller can connect with the rig through Bluetooth or through a wired connection. While that is as far as the topic of connectivity goes for all the rest of the controllers, Sony’s DualShock 4 is a different case. While it is regarded as one of the best controllers you can attach with the PC, it requires a way around – but we will get to that in the product review.
Best Controller for Gaming on PC
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
Premium Gaming and Customization
While it is an expensive solution, the Xbox controller for PC is true to its name: Elite! From the build quality to the additional paddles for functionality. It is the most customizable and the most reliable model out there.
Best Budget PC Controller
Logitech Controller F710
Who says you have to spend more than $50 if you want a reasonable companion for your gaming rig? The Logitech controller F310 has brought us a better successor! The F710 might be slightly expensive than the F310, but it is better in so many ways.
Since this is an Nvidia product, you get the added benefit of having multiplatform compatibility. Apart from playing well for PC gaming, the Nvidia Shield Controller is made for Nvidia Android devices. On the other hand, when used on PC the Shield controller provides with a pleasing sense of upgrade.
There is a dedicated microphone built right into the controller that allows you to deliver voice commands. Such a handy feature for on-the-go maneuvering. And when you are looking to chat through the gameplay, you will be able to use the stereo headset jack too. But then again, it also has a price that matches the impressive feature set.
As it is not a budget choice, the PC controller packs a very high end feeling thanks to a very well refined design. Yet, it is the design element that some of you might also find displeasing. Though it is easy on the hands the size still is a bit bulky.
Well, it is a wireless model and at least the batteries do justice to the size. You will get a charge time that is longer than many cheaper models. Talking of, another high performance feature we came across was the WiFi direct support.
Thanks to the advanced technology, connectivity is even better. But that might not stand true in LAN parties where there are so many WiFi connections all over the place. The best use of its WiFi is at home.
- Good battery life
- WiFi direct compatibility
- Microphones and voice commands
- Expensive model
- Bulky design
We have always loved the Logitech F310 for its ease of use as well as great affordability. However, for the demand of greater support across operating systems, we decided to replace the Logitech F310 with F710 the comparatively newer Logitech controller. There are certain differences between the two models that equate to the difference in price.
For starters, the F310 is 2.4GHz wireless as compared to the wired-only solution of the F710. Moreover, they have also added vibration feedback to make the experience more immersive. But in comparison to the other PC controllers on this list, the Logitech controllers are smaller in size. That remains the same.
You will also understand that the comparatively higher price of the F710 is justified thanks to all this as well as a better build quality than the good old Logitech F710. We are not saying that it is as solid in the quality of build as the DualShock 4 or the Xbox controller, but it is fairly cheap too!
In fact, being the cheapest PC controller on our list isn’t its only feat. There was no other model that could beat the quality it provides at such an affordable rate. Among the market standard we would call it a reasonable performer though, that tried to do better with a customizable gamepad.
- Upgraded version of Logitech F310
- Best controller for PC on a budget
- Wireless, Programmable, Sturdy
- Not meant for heavy usage
- Not the best quality in the lot
This gorgeous piece of raw power isn’t for everyone. But it is not the standard PC controller per se because of its form. The design is specially made for flight simulators as well as space simulators. Since that is quite a popular genre, we had to include a HOTAS controller that tops its league.
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog replicates the actual Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II jet fighter in controls as well as aesthetics. When you are manning a jet with it, you will feel how powerful the grip is to represent a simulation.
At the core, it is a joystick controller, but not like most of the joysticks that you come across. Many sticks have a sort of wobble in them, but the Warthog will only obey your slightest of commands. This becomes all the more interesting with the perfectly placed HOTAS design.
As a result, you don’t need to look or go anywhere other than the spot where your hands are on the throttle as well as the stick. All the functionality buttons come right under your tips, and present the deadly capability of aircraft weapons very well!
Indeed it is more expensive than any of the other PC controllers that we have shared here, but it is a different category too. The attention to detail is amazing, and the precise stick and buttons are a joy to the high fliers.
- Great D Pad
- Sticks and buttons are precise and responsive
- Real fighter jet imitation
- Specialized for certain games
- Expensive PC controller
With a total of 21 buttons at your disposal, and great customization choices for all, the premium Xbox controller is a treat for the high-end users. Not only does it carry all that was holy in the immaculate original Xbox One controller, but it also removes all the issues both of its predecessors had.
The D Pad is solid, platformed, and at great reach. As a result, you will never find yourself straining to get where you want to. That is unless you have very small hands, for which the Logitech F310 or F710 would be a better (and affordable) fit. Nonetheless, in the standard sizes, the Xbox controller is as comfortable as it gets.
Moving on to the analog sticks. Every time you push them, you will find them coming back at you like a lost lover. In other words, they are quite firm in holding their ground while at the same time all movements remain as smooth as gliding. It is these high-end features like a low-friction ring at the base of the hub that has given it the name Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
While the D Pad itself is pretty great, you also get to map all the button according to your wishes. In fact, it has so many additional paddles for customization that there’s hardly a match for it out there.
In short, this is the best controller for PC gaming if you are not a budget buyer. The Xbox controller will make you spend more than you would on the second best i.e. the DualShock 4. But we think it will all be worth it for the premium quality gamers.
- Premium build quality
- State of the art functionalities
- Great customization options
- Bulkier for small hands
- Pricier than the competition
You thought we didn’t test the PS4 controller on PC? Why would we even do something as criminal as that? Granted, it is not as easy to plug and play as the Xbox controller for PC. But the DualShock 4 is a force to reckon with once you have ensured compatibility.
Talking of, you will require an additional software in order to be able to play with the DS4 on the PC. You can either buy the software from Sony itself or get the free but unofficial DS4Windows software. Both the solutions work fine though, and once through, you have light, smaller and comfortable high-end PC controller at your disposal.
It also offers great customization solutions alongside the clickable touchpad that comes in handy a few times in navigation. The WiFi connectivity is as great as the Xbox Elite Controller above and you can even make use of the Share button to share content on the go.
And if you are always the one for more sounds, these beauties come with in-built speakers too! All that comes at a lower cost than our choice of best controller for PC, and poorer battery timings.
- Best alternative at lower price
- Share button, touch pad, speakers
- Great quality of build and performance
- Requires additional software for compatibility
- Needs better batteries
But it’s not only that but aesthetics also play a part. And when you are playing a certain type of games, you will want a matching response from the controller. For instance, an FPS would love a more responsive trigger.
This is countered with a claim of greater reliability by wired controllers, which also boast of no charging requirements. In defense of wireless controllers though, cords are always a mess! Don’t worry too much though, you’ll hardly find yourself with a charger that doesn’t charge and play at the same time.
Well, the official truth is that Xbox One controller and all other Xbox controllers work with PC but the DualShock 4 doesn’t. But, if you buy the official Sony USB adapter or the free unofficial DS4Windows software, you will get what is possibly the best controller for PC gaming. No grudges against the Xbox Elite Controller, though.