Although PC gamers tend to glorify a high-quality gaming keyboard complemented by the absolute best gaming mouse, sometimes, a PC-compatible controller is more beneficial. The thing is, some games are simply better off with a PC controller in-hand. Ever tried racing in Grand Theft Auto V or Forza Horizon 4 with a keyboard and mouse?
It can get super tiring after a while, which is why we suggest using a PC-compatible gamepad. Question is, as there are so many different controllers on the market, which are actually worth purchasing? Or more specifically, which are the best on the market? Of course, the most obvious answer is that the best controller for PC is one that is compatible with the games you want to play.
If you play on both console and PC, you might already have a gaming controller that you can use to play the games in your or someone else’s Steam library. After all, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers are cherished by Steam users across the globe. With that said, what are the best PC controllers for gaming in 2020? And are controllers better than a keyboard and mouse for PC gaming?
Forget the daunting task of scrolling through hundreds of different controllers on Amazon, as we’ve narrowed them down to the top five best PC controllers on the market. 🎮 ✨
Best Choice: Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller
Pros & Cons
- Bluetooth technology for PC gaming
- Textured grip for extra comfort
- 3.5mm stereo headset jack
- Poor battery life without a rechargeable battery pack
- Connectivity: Wireless—Bluetooth
- Battery: 2 x AA
- Measurements: 6.9 x 2.9 x 7 inches
- Weight: 1.2 lbs
Xbox One Wireless Controller Review
If you already own an Xbox One, chances are you already use our best choice controller for PC gaming. Microsoft’s Xbox One Wireless controller is a gamepad that’s loved by both PC and console gamers across the globe—why you might wonder?
Well, the latest controller supports Bluetooth couch gaming, textured grip for extra comfort, as well as a 3.5mm jack for your high-grade gaming headset. The thing is, unlike Sony’s DualShock 4, this Xbox One controller requires 2 x AA batteries in order to operate.
Now, although some gamers might dislike this, we don’t actually see this as a problem considering Microsoft sells rechargeable battery packs made especially for this pad. This way, you don’t have to keep charging the controller using a micro-USB cable every couple of hours, as we all know that can get frustrating after a while.
Onto the design, the Xbox One Wireless Controller hasn’t really changed from its predecessor. Still, it’s a well-constructed Microsoft gamepad that comes armed with responsive triggers and smooth center sticks for an enjoyable gaming experience.
Plus, as the Xbox One Wireless Controller has been around for some time, it’s now cheaper than ever with prices starting at around $36. Using the same plug-and-play support as the classic 360 pad, the controller works well with pretty much every PC.
The latest version even supports Bluetooth, allowing you to connect the Xbox One controller to your PC wirelessly so that there aren’t any distracting wires. The first-generation model, on the other hand, lacks Bluetooth connectivity and requires a wireless adapter to use it wirelessly. Nevertheless, it’s the absolute best PC controller on the market right now.
Alternatively, you can do the reverse and connect your mouse and keyboard to Xbox One.
Premium Pick: Steam Controller
Pros & Cons
- Works with every game on Steam
- Comfortable design with dual trackpads and back grip buttons
- Mapping can be created and shared in the Steam Community
- The learning curve for gamers used to thumbsticks
- Connectivity: Wired or Wireless
- Battery: 2 x AA
- Measurements: 8.4 x 6.3 x 2.7 inches
- Weight: 1.2 lbs
Steam Controller Review
Made specifically for PC gaming, the Steam Controller works with every single game on Steam—even the ones that don’t support controllers out of the box. However, as this was Valve’s first go at creating a controller, it’s definitely a learning curve for gamers used to thumbsticks and a D-pad.
Instead, the gamepad uses dual trackpads which are actually pretty comfortable once you get used to them. These circular trackpads are also able to mimic a mouse better than analog sticks, a suitable feature for mouse-driven games.
Of course, your fingers might tense up during some gaming sessions as time goes by, which is why we prefer to use the Xbox One and DualShock 4 pads for games that support controllers on Steam.
When it comes to mapping, you have the option to either create and share your own using the two extra buttons on the backside of the controller. Or, if you don’t feel like creating your own, you can find mappings in the Steam Community—a handy feature that we absolutely love.
Admittedly, a traditional controller layout feels more comfortable for gaming than a controller with circular track packs. Albeit, as it works with games without controller support, we just had to list the Steam gamepad as our premium pick controller for PC gaming.
If you want to learn even more about it, check out our exclusive Steam Controller review.
Best Value: Logitech F710
Pros & Cons
- Familiar layout
- Very affordable
- Not compatible with all consoles
- Connectivity: USB Wireless
- Battery: 2xAA
- Measurements: 6.8 x 2.9 x 8.1 inches
- Weight: 14.4 ounces
Logitech 710 Review
As well as superior PC peripherals, Logitech has some pretty sweet gaming controllers suitable for PC gaming. With a familiar layout to controllers you might already be used to, the Logitech F710 gamepad is one that boasts a simple plug-and-play design. Now, as it is USB wireless, the controller is pseudo-tethered to your PC and can only work if you’re within reach of your PC’s USB ports.
Albeit, as PC gamers tend to sit at a quality gaming desk with their computer nearby anyway, this shouldn’t be seen as a problem. What should be seen as a problem, however, is the cheap build quality the previous controllers in the series had. However, the F710 is a bit more expensive and durable.
At 6.6 x 3.1 x 7.9 inches, the dimensions of the F710 controller are similar to that of the Xbox One Wireless gamepad. Therefore, if you’re already used to using an Xbox One controller, you’ll love this budget-friendly Logitech alternative.
Of course, it isn’t comparable to the high-quality design of the best choice controller. Nevertheless, the Logitech F710 pad for PC gaming is a suitable option for those on a budget. After all, you’ll be able to save yourself some money to put towards a sweet PC build with a beast of a graphics card for gaming if you opt for our value option.
Best Sony: Sony PlayStation DualShock 4
Pros & Cons
- Handy touchpad, built-in speaker, integrated lightbar and 3.5mm audio jack
- Durable, lightweight design
- Bluetooth compatible
- Fewer customization options
- Connectivity: Wireless
- Battery: N/A
- Measurements: 6.3 x 2.2 x 3.9 inches
- Weight: 0.46 lbs
Sony PlayStation DualShock 4 Review
In 2016, Steam finally rolled out official support for Sony’s DualShock 4 controller which works with most games on the platform. This means that from now on, it’s one of the best controllers to use for PC gaming. If you already own a PlayStation, chances are you own a DualShock 4 controller—one of the most comfortable gamepads to date.
Not only is it lightweight at 0.46 lbs, but the DualShock 4 controller is also durable enough to last you through the years so long as you look after it. Available in multiple colors—some of which are limited edition—you’ll be able to pick out a controller that matches the color or theme of your gaming setup. Awesome, I know!
On the topic of set up, setting up a DualShock 4 controller for Steam is a very simple process that requires you to connect the controller to your PC > launch Steam > Go to Controller Settings and toggle on “PS4 Configuration Support.”
After that, all you need to do is personalize the DualShock 4 controller to your own personal requirements, then you can start playing some video games—it’s truly that simple! As it’s a wireless controller, no batteries are required. Albeit, the battery life on a DualShock 4 controller isn’t the best, lasting around 4 to 8 hours of play per charge.
Still, that’s enough time for a tonne of Apex Legends matches with your friends, and plenty of time for casual gamers who don’t spend hours gaming all night long. It’s just a shorter play per charge time than the Xbox One controller offers.
In case you own a DS3, don’t worry as we can teach you how to connect a PS3 controller to a PC.
Best SteelSeries: SteelSeries Stratus Duo
Pros & Cons
- Works with controller-enabled titles on Steam
- Can be paired with Oculus Go, Gear VR, and Android mobile devices
- Can connect via 2.4GHz wireless
- Can’t store the receiver inside the controller
- Connectivity: Wireless (Micro USB)
- Battery: N/A (Micro USB cable)
- Measurements: 4.3 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches
- Weight: 0.54 lbs
SteelSeries Stratus Duo Review
Much like Logitech, SteelSeries is renowned for creating some of the best PC peripherals on the market. The SteelSeries Stratus Duo controller, specifically, is a fantastic wireless controller suitable for PC gaming. But wait, there’s more! It can also be paired with Oculus Go, Gear VR, Android mobile, and some other devices that you can use for gaming.
As we are discussing PC gaming, we wanted to select a high-quality controller that works well with Steam games—and that’s exactly what this gamepad offers. The SteelSeries Stratus Duo works well with every controller-enabled title on Steam. If you haven’t noticed already, that’s a lot of games that you could be playing with this controller.
One thing that we found a little frustrating, was the fact that you can’t store the USB receiver inside the controller. Though admittedly, that’s just us nitpicking. Other than that, there really aren’t many downsides to this SteelSeries wireless controller.
It’s very affordable at $50, and with an Xbox One-like controller design, it’s a gamepad that most gamers will feel comfortable using. A controller that can be used to kick your opponents’ butt with style in the best FPS games.
Controllers for PC Gaming: Buying Guide
When looking for just about any gaming peripheral, there are tons of specifications and factors to consider. Let’s get those out of the way so you have an easier time picking the best PC controller on the market.
Wired or Wireless?
Although wireless controllers allow for a comfortable couch playing experience, your PC must have Bluetooth so that you can use a Bluetooth gamepad. If it doesn’t, you’ll require either an adapter or a USB dongle. Wired controllers, on the other hand, tend to be more responsive than wireless controllers—yet, you’ll be tethered to your PC like a dog on a leash.
Cross-Platform or PC-Dedicated?
If you already own a console, chances are you have a DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller laying around. Luckily for you, both of these controllers can be used for console and PC gaming. The Steam controller, on the other hand, isn’t great for console gaming as it doesn’t feature the analog thumbsticks console gamers are used to.
Size and Weight: Overall Comfort
Whatever controller you decide to purchase—whether that’s for console or PC gaming—you must first make sure that the gamepad feels comfortable in your hands. To ensure that you’re picking out a controller you’ll feel comfortable using, we suggest going into a store such as GAME and picking up a controller to check if it’s a suitable size and weight for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions by customers who use controllers for PC gaming. We’ll talk about comfort, connectivity, and accessibility.
Which Controller Is More Comfortable?
Like we mentioned in the “size and weight” section above, this completely depends on your hand size and personal preferences. Most PC gamers understandably prefer a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse, while other gamers are simply better off with a PC controller in-hand. Therefore, the “most comfortable” controller is whatever controller fits best in your hands.
Can I Use a Wireless Controller on PC?
Yes! As long as your gaming computer has Bluetooth (as many modern computers do) and your PC games let you play with a gamepad instead of a keyboard and mouse, you can use any of the wireless controllers on our list, which includes:
- Xbox One Wireless controller
- DualShock 4
- Steam controller
- SteelSeries Stratus Duo
Can PS4 Wireless Controller Work on PC?
Of course! If you like the feel of a DualShock 4 controller, you can use it wirelessly with your PC via Bluetooth. To do this, you’ll require a PC that has Bluetooth built-in or you can purchase a DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor dongle that plugs right into your computer’s USB port. In order to use the controller on a PC, you must also make sure the games you wish to play are compatible with a controller.
How Can I Use My PS4 Controller on My PC?
Back in 2016, Steam released an update (beta release) that allows you to use a PS4 DualShock controller on the app. Thus, giving you access to the same support and customization options as Steam controllers. Now, using a DualShock 4 controller on your PC is a very simple process. To connect your PlayStation 4 controller to your PC via Bluetooth, you’ll need to:
- Press and hold the central PS Button and the Share button together until the light bar at the top begins to flash
- Next, click the Start button on your PC
- Go to Settings
- Click Devices
- Click Bluetooth & other devices
- Click Add Bluetooth or another device
- Then, select Bluetooth
- Click Wireless Controller
- Click Done
How Do I Hook up My Xbox One Controller to My PC?
If you want to connect an Xbox One controller to your PC via Bluetooth, follow the same steps as you would if you were connecting a DualShock 4 controller to your PC. However, instead of holding the PS and Share buttons, hold down the Guide and Sync buttons on your Xbox One controller.
If you don’t wish to hook up your Xbox One controller to your PC wirelessly, you can plug an Xbox One Wireless Adapter into a USB port on your PC. Next, you’ll have to:
- Press the Guide button on your controller to turn it on
- Press the Sync button on the top of the Xbox One controller until the Xbox logo starts to flash
- Press the small sync button on the adapter
Once the Xbox logo stops flashing and turns a solid color, you’re ready to start gaming using an Xbox One controller
While it might not come as a surprise to some gamers seeing an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controller on our list, others might ask, “Why would you include console-specific controllers to a PC controller list?” The answer to that question is: because they work just the same.
You see if you already own a console and you want to ditch a keyboard and mouse for a while, you can just pick up a controller that you already own and you’re familiar with. That way, you don’t have to go spending money on our premium pick Steam controller that comes with a $120 price tag.