Once upon a time, the gaming world was dominated by consoles. Nowadays, the PC is a major player, and it continues to gain steam as more and more fans flock to it. But what happens when you’re a PC gamer who loves the classic controller experience? Or if you just got a new game that you think would play better with buttons and a joystick? That’s where the best controllers for PC gaming come in. Join us as we check out the top 10 options on the market.
Note that the products discussed here are independently chosen by our editors. At no extra cost to you, HGG may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
- 1 Zoom Out: 10 Best Controllers for PC Gaming Comparison Table
- 2 Zoom In: Our Top 10 list of the Best Controllers for PC Gaming
- 3 PC Gaming Controller Guide Part I: General Thoughts on PC Gaming Controllers
- 4 PC Gaming Controller Guide Part II: Should I Use a Controller?
- 5 PC Gaming Controller Guide Part III: How to Choose the Best Controller for You
- 6 PC Gaming Controller Guide Part IV: How to Use a Controller on PC
Zoom Out: 10 Best Controllers for PC Gaming Comparison Table
These controllers are sorted by price ascending. For a closer look at each model, head to our ‘Zoom In’ section below.
|Logitech F310 Gamepad||USB Cable||Wired|
|SteelSeries Stratus Bluetooth Gaming Controller||Bluetooth||Rechargeable batteries|
|GameSir T4 PC Game Controller||2.4GHz Wireless||Rechargeable batteries|
|Logitech F710 Gamepad||2.4GHz Wireless||2x AA battery|
|PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller||Bluetooth||1000 mAh rechargeable battery|
|Microsoft Xbox One Controller||USB Cable||Wired|
|Razer Tartarus V2 Chroma Gaming Keypad||USB Cable||Wired|
|Valve Steam Controller||2.4GHz Wireless||500 mAh rechargeable battery or 2x AA battery|
|Razer Wolverine Ultimate Chroma Controller||Micro USB Cable||Wired|
|Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller||Bluetooth||2x AA battery|
Zoom In: Our Top 10 list of the Best Controllers for PC Gaming
Next, let’s check out the detailed specs of each model. We’ll start with the least expensive controller and work our way up.
Logitech has been a leader in the PC hardware industry for a long time. Their sleek designs, great performance, and affordable pricing structure make them a top choice for a variety of PC needs — and PC gaming is no different. Logitech offers many PC gaming controllers, but one of our favorites is the Logitech F310.
This ultra-affordable controller resembles a mix between an Xbox controller and a Dualshock 4. All 10 buttons on the F310 can be customized to fit your play style, as can the 8-way D-Pad. You can also save profiles/control schemes easily. We recommend the Logitech F310 because it’s a great all-around choice, and it’s less than half the price of any other option on this list. Unfortunately, the F310 lacks vibration feedback, but it’s still an excellent entry-level choice.
If you’re seeking a sleek gaming controller that works on PC and mobile, the SteelSeries Stratus Bluetooth Controller is your best bet. This clean controller works alongside Microsoft’s DirectX technology to integrate with all your controller-enabled games. And yes, that includes Fortnite.
The SteelSeries Stratus controller features a very comfortable and ergonomic design, a very reliable and durable build, and 40 hours of nonstop battery life. Moreover, the D-pad and two analog sticks provide that classic gaming experience, while the iconic shape makes the Stratus extremely easy to use. An excellent choice overall.
The GameSir T4 Game Controller is designed exclusively for PC use. Due to its affordable price and exceptional quality, it’s a great entry-level option that’s popular with the casual crowd. We recommend the T4 because of its ergonomic design, LED accents and buttons, and— of course— Bluetooth functionality. The T4 is totally wireless and features built-in rechargeable batteries for up to 5 hours of continuous play. And that’s with the dual-motor vibrational feedback and configurable keys turned on, to boot!
Another great product from Logitech is the F710. This model is similar to the F310, but it’s wireless, offers vibration feedback, and is a bit more durable/sturdy. We recommend the F710 because it’s got all the great features you need, it’s reliable, and it’s still more affordable than the Dualshock 4 and other premium options.
One thing to note is that the F710 is a bit on the smaller side. It fits well in most gamer’s hands, but if you have large hands, you might want to go for a larger model like the Xbox One controller.
The Playstation Dualshock 4 is the standard controller for the Playstation 4 console. It’s not marketed as a PC controller, but it’s still fully compatible with Windows 10. Plus, it’s very durable, comfortable in your hands, lightweight, customizable, and Bluetooth compatible. The only drawback is that the DS4 is not technically supposed to be used on the PC, and there are NO official Sony drivers for it. However, there are excellent 3rd-party/unofficial drivers that allow you to use a DS4 with just about any controller-compatible PC game.
The Xbox One controller is a major step up from the Xbox 360 model. It’s also super easy to use, PC compatible (there’s an official Microsoft driver you can install), comfortable, durable, and sports a familiar control scheme.
Both the DS4 and the Xbox One controller offer great value, and they’re both priced at $60 retail. Moreover, they’re both durable and comfortable, although the Xbox version is significantly bigger and heavier than the DS4. The biggest difference between the two is the design. The DS4 is symmetrical, with both analog sticks in the same position, whereas the Xbox One controller’s analog sticks are offset in typical Xbox fashion.
If you’d like something different from a basic keyboard and mouse setup, but you’re not digging console-style controllers, you should check out the Razer Tartarus V2 Chroma. This unique product is a partial keyboard, equipped with a variety of customizable buttons (32 in total!), unlimited control schemes/profiles, an 8-way thumbpad and scroll wheel, a detachable palm rest, and a very intuitive and comfortable design. Backed by Razer’s customary polish and user-friendly software, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The Tartarus is also a great choice for fans of competitive FPS games because it still allows the use of a mouse. That’s because it’s a one-handed controller that mimics (and in some ways improves upon) the standard WASD keyboard setup that most PC gamers use. In most games, using a mouse provides a significant advantage over using a console-style controller. Hence, some gamers have found this option to be a happy medium.
A lot of controversy surrounds Valve’s Steam Controller. Is it the awkward middle-ground between a controller and keyboard/mouse? Or is it pure genius and redefined gaming on PC? Nobody can say for certain.
Nevertheless, there’s something special about this controller. Specifically in how it enables you to play PC games that do not have built-in controller support. For those PC gamers who stubbornly stick to using a controller, this is technically their only reasonable option for those games. Not too shabby.
We like to think of the Wolverine Ultimate as Razer’s answer to the Xbox One Elite Controller. It features stunning Razer Chroma Lighting (customizable through Razer Synapse available on Xbox and PC) and a sharp aesthetic that seems to borrow some of its looks from Microsoft.
Extras include 6 programmable buttons, interchangeable D-pads, remappable buttons and triggers, hair-trigger mode, extra thumbsticks, and a quick control panel. The quick control panel lets users quickly toggle between profiles, and adjust mic mute, game volume, and key assignments. A solid choice.
This expensive controller got a lot of people talking when it was first released.
A controller for $150!?!
Who’s going to buy it?
Has Microsoft lost their marbles?
Despite the widespread confusion, the Xbox One Elite quickly found a market among competitive gamers and hardware enthusiasts. It has been a great success so far for Microsoft and continues to sell well.
That’s largely because the build quality is noticeably better than the stock Xbox One controller (as it should be for the price). And it boasts a ton of premium features including interchangeable paddles, rubberized diamond grips, interchangeable D-pads, hair trigger locks, and plenty of customization in the complimentary app.
PC Gaming Controller Guide Part I: General Thoughts on PC Gaming Controllers
Don’t be a traitor to the Master PC Gaming Race! Stay true and stick with a keyboard and mouse! Kidding, kidding. There are some instances where it can be nice to have a controller. Certainly, some games like Super Meat Boy or those found within the fighter genre aren’t much fun to play with a keyboard. If you love variety in your gaming, it makes sense to have a controller near at hand.
That said, we do have a word of warning. For RTS and FPS games, we highly recommend sticking with WASDing on your keyboard and clickity-clicking on a mouse. In virtually all these types of games, they will outperform controllers. Imagine climbing the ladder of Starcraft 2 with a controller? Good luck and may the PC Gods have mercy on your poor soul.
The general consensus is that first-party controllers such as the PlayStation DualShock and Xbox One Controller also make for the best PC gaming controller. The logical conclusion is that Microsoft and Sony pour a ton of R&D dollars into developing their controllers. Some 3rd party controllers aren’t bad, but it’s hard to make the case that they offer superior performance.
PC Gaming Controller Guide Part II: Should I Use a Controller?
Gaming controllers for PC are not a necessity since you can just use your keyboard and mouse. However, for certain types of games, one small change you can make to improve your gameplay is to buy a quality PC gaming controller. Plus, it can be refreshing to switch to from time-to-time. Many gamers enjoy PC games but prefer the feel of a console controller over that of a keyboard and mouse set up — and with a PC controller, you can have the best of both worlds!
Controllers can also help improve your gameplay in certain game genres, such as racing games and platformers. Think about it. It’s much easier and more organic to use a handheld PC controller than a keyboard when it comes to driving games. And if you’re someone who enjoys both PC and console games, using a controller on your PC will feel more familiar and comfortable, while keeping your skills sharp on both platforms.
Another huge benefit of using a controller is the comfort it offers. Gaming controllers for PC are designed explicitly for prolonged gaming, whereas keyboards are designed for typing, web browsing, and casual gaming. The ergonomic design of quality controllers means all the buttons you need are right there where they should be – within reach and at a comfortable distance from each other. You won’t ever need to contort your hands to reach the keys you need, and you won’t suffer from the wrist pain that is so common with a classic WASD keyboard setup.
One major but often overlooked benefit is portability. If you’re a serious gamer, you know the importance of having your own setup. Especially when playing competitive online games, it’s vital to have a keyboard/mouse setup that you’re familiar with. This isn’t an issue at home, but what about at a friends house, while traveling, or at a competition? It’s a huge hassle to pack up and move your entire PC setup, keyboard and mouse included. But it’s quite easy to bring a PC controller with you when you’re on-the-go.
These days, there are more and more console games being ported over to PC. This gives cross-platform gamers one more reason to use a quality PC controller. Also, with the highly anticipated Steam Machines on the horizon, now is a great time to get familiar with a controller.
PC Gaming Controller Guide Part III: How to Choose the Best Controller for You
There are hundreds of PC gaming controllers on the market, and it can be hard to select the right one. To make it easier, we’ve outlined the main considerations involved in finding the perfect fit.
- Cross-Platform or PC-Dedicated? If you are both a PC gamer and a console gamer, it’s a no-brainer to get a controller with cross-platform compatibility. Controllers for the Xbox 360 (newer generations only), Xbox One, and Playstation 4 can all be used for PC gaming. They are all great choices, and allow you to keep practicing your skills for both PC and console games, no matter what device you’re using.
- Wired or Wireless? Wireless is more convenient, but there is also the potential for lag. Both the Xbox One and PS4 controllers will connect to your PC using Bluetooth, but some users report difficulties with certain operating systems (Windows 7, in particular, seems to cause a lot of problems). Many PC-dedicated controllers have Wireless capabilities, but many top-rated options, such as the Logitech F310, are wired. If you must have a wireless controller, that will help you eliminate many options right off the bat.
- What Style? There are two main styles of PC controllers: the typical console-type shape, similar to a PS4 or Xbox One design, and PC-only designs that feature more buttons and partial keyboards, such as the Razer Tartarus. On one hand, the console style is comfortable, ergonomic, and beginner-friendly. On the other hand, the designs of PC dedicated controllers can offer a serious advantage for hardcore users. That said, the designs vary quite a bit, with some being all-in-one controllers, and others, such as the Tartarus, requiring the use of a mouse for many games. The latter design style is aimed more at dedicated gamers who want the upper edge and increased comfort over a keyboard.
- Size, Weight, etc? Especially if you’re a daily gamer, it’s important to have a controller that feels good in your hands. Not too heavy, not too light, properly designed, durable, etc. Unfortunately, it can be hard to know for sure until you buy one because the best deals on these controllers are found online. Our advice is to buy from merchants who have good return policies. That way, if you receive the controller and are not happy with it, you can return it and try a different option. All the controllers we recommend in this article are well-reviewed and comfortable for most gamers.
- What Controller Should I Buy? Even with the tips listed above, it can be difficult to choose the right controller for you and your gaming style. To help point you in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of the best PC gaming controllers. Keep in mind that these aren’t necessary in order from best to worst – they are all great options! See them Zoom In section above the find the perfect fit.
PC Gaming Controller Guide Part IV: How to Use a Controller on PC
Once you’ve got your controller picked out and ready to go, it’s time to get it set up on your PC. While this is a fairly simple process for wired controllers such as the Logitech F310, it’s a bit trickier for wireless options that use Bluetooth connectivity.
That’s why we’ve pulled this video from mmtuts over on Youtube. He takes you step-by-step through the process of setting up an Xbox One controller for use with your favorite games (the process is similar for every wireless controller on our list). Check it out below: