- Most Bluetooth and USB controllers are PC compatible.
- The prices range from $20 to $500+, depending on what you want.
- The first-party Microsoft controllers are among the best choices for Windows PCs.
- Your Nintendo Switch or PlayStation controller may already work with your PC, without having to buy something new.
Playing video games on a PC (instead of on a dedicated gaming console) has always been a thing. However, PC gaming is having a bit of a golden age lately. While the Steam game store has been operating for close to 20 years now, PC gamers have a ton of new options too. The Epic Game Store is throwing tons of money around securing a user base by offering free games. More recently, Microsoft expanded their Game Pass service to include PCs running their Windows operating system. Long story short, PC gaming is hotter than ever.
While diehard PC Master Racers will (correctly) insist that first-person shooters are best played with a keyboard and mouse, there are thousands of other titles that work better with a controller. Luckily for gamers, there are plenty of options when it comes to PC-compatible gamepads. From the pricey, high-end models to kid-friendly, budget versions, here are the best controllers for PC gaming you can buy today.
Microsoft XBox Controller (Xbox One or Series X)
Why complicate things? If your gaming PC runs Microsoft Windows (and most of them do), go ahead and use a controller made by Microsoft. It just makes sense. It doesn’t matter whether you get one made for the Xbox One or the newer Xbox Series X. Both of them will work just fine with your Windows PC.
You can opt for a wired model if you prefer, but the wireless version works equally well. You just have to connect the controller to your PC via Bluetooth and you’re good to go. If you game a lot, though, you may have to invest in a rechargeable battery (or battery pack). If your house also has an Xbox, the controller can perform double duty on both gaming platforms.
Sony DualSense Wireless
If you’re more of a PlayStation person, it might make sense to use your Sony DualSense Wireless controller to game on your PC. This controller is extremely well-made and durable. It features haptic feedback and “adaptive triggers,” which actually offer resistance under your fingers.
The only downside is that you won’t get access to some of these advanced features when using it with a PC. While some PlayStation games are programmed specifically to take advantage of them, most PC games won’t be. Still, the DualSense will easily connect to any gaming PC. Plus it has a built-in rechargeable battery, so you won’t burn through all those single-use AAs.
Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma
If you’re the kind of PC gamer who needs all their gear lit up with fancy RGB LED lights, check out the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma. It’s basically a wired clone of the standard Xbox controller – except it comes with a customizable RGB lighting display.
Since the Wolverine V2 Chroma is wired, you don’t have to worry about those flashing lights sucking up precious battery life. You can even set the controller’s lights to react a certain way to in-game situations, if you want. This controller also features swappable thumbsticks and four extra buttons – two spare shoulder buttons and two extra paddles.
Believe it or not, gaming on a budget can be done. There are plenty of cheap (and even free) games available online. On top of that, you can build (or buy) a gaming PC without breaking the bank on the latest and greatest hardware. If your gaming budget is already tapped out, but you still need a controller, try the PowerA Enhanced wired controller.
For less than $35, you get a sturdy controller that is basically another clone of the traditional Xbox gamepad. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that some other controllers have, it does have a couple notable mentions. First, there’s a handy microphone mute switch directly on the front. There’s also some extra mappable buttons on the back. In short, you get a pretty great controller for a super-cheap price.
Here’s another budget controller option. For less than $20 (no, that’s not a typo), you can nab the Logitech F310. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it models itself after the old PS3 DualShock controller. It still has all the basics – two joysticks, shoulder bumpers/triggers, four standard face buttons, plus an 8-way directional pad.
This controller is probably best for PC gamers who prefer using a keyboard and mouse for most games. When you do come across a game that just works better with (or exclusively required) a gamepad, dust off the F310 and get playing.
Scuf Instinct and Impact
No more budget controllers. The Scuf Instinct and Impact models are high-end equipment for serious gamers. The real difference between the Instinct and the Impact is that the former is designed to also be used with the Xbox, and the latter is compatible with the PlayStation. Both, however, work great with your gaming PC.
The Scuf controllers are durable and customizable – in fact, you can order them with (or without) certain features and even choose your color. The only downside is the price. The Scuf models start at close to $200. Once you add custom options, they can easily exceed $250. Some gamers will argue the price is still well worth it, considering the quality of controller you get.
Microsoft Elite Series 2
If you want the best of the best, look no further than the Microsoft Elite Series 2. It’s widely regarded as the go-to controller for any serious PC gamer. You may wonder why you’d spend close to $200 on a gaming controller, but those who use it swear by it religiously.
In terms of features, it has a ton of customization options – you can tweak the buttons, joysticks, and paddles to your liking. It also boasts a 40-hour battery life via a rechargeable battery. You can even connect the Elite Series 2 to your iPhone or iPad, if you also love mobile gaming. The price tag is definitely a bit of a shock – you could buy three regular Xbox controllers for the same price – but we’ve yet to hear of a single person who regretted buying the Elite Series 2.
Turtle Beach Recon
Turtle Beach is best known for making excellent gaming headphones, but their controller offerings are also quite good. The Recon is a great option for anyone not wanting to give even more money to Microsoft or Sony for a controller. This model is wired, meaning you’ll get the absolute best response time from your inputs.
Additional features include remappable buttons, audio enhancements (including dedicated voice control buttons), and a pair of bumpers on the backside. Turtle Beach marketing promises that you can use the advanced audio EQ options to highlight enemy footsteps or reloads.
Switch Pro Controller
Surprisingly, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller actually works pretty well as a PC controller. The only problem, however, is that it can be a bit tricky to get it connected and set-up with Windows. Once you pass that hurdle, though, the Pro is recognized basically as an Xbox controller by your PC.
The Pro features durable build quality and exceptional battery life. If you happen to have a Switch Pro controller laying around because you own a Switch, then great. You can give it a go for your PC gaming needs without spending more money. However, if you don’t happen to already own one, it’s probably not going to be your first choice.
Sony DualShock 4
Speaking of controllers you may already have laying around the house, the Sony DualShock 4 (originally designed for the PS4) also makes a really good PC controller. It has an extremely comfortable (and familiar) design, a customizable touch bar, and full Steam support.
Unfortunately (and somewhat predictably, given Sony and Microsoft’s opposing roles in the console wars), the DualShock 4 doesn’t get the full native Windows support in the same way that an Xbox controller (or clone) does. Much like the Switch Pro, the DualShock 4 is a great choice for PC gaming, but maybe only if you already own it.
Astro C40 TR
The Astro C40 TR is, by far, the most expensive controller on this list. It retails for roughly $350 to $500 USD, depending where you can even find it on sale. However, it’s definitely one of the most feature-rich PC controllers you’ll ever find.
The C40 TR features full remappable buttons, can be used both wired and wirelessly, adjustable trigger/stick sensitivities, and entirely swappable components. In fact, you can even adjust the location of the joysticks and buttons. That means you can set-up your controller with offset sticks, like the Xbox gamepad, or keep them in-line like the PlayStation models.
Astro is best known for making extremely high-end gaming headsets. Their premier game controller more than lives up to their lofty reputation.