When your keyboard and mouse just won’t cut it, pick up one of the top PC controllers.
Although there are a tonne of games out there that are primarily developed with controllers in mind, the greatest PC controller is definitely a mouse and keyboard. It’s not always the case, and you can bet that the greatest gaming mouse and keyboard will prevail in most situations, but when you add a solid controller to the mix, you have the majority of games covered.
A controller is your best option if you want to play some games, such as Elden Ring with its shoddy mouse and keyboard controls(opens in new tab). Since most keyboards don’t have pressure-sensitive key switches, you’re best off using an analogue stick for driving games if you want to move precisely. Our greatest recommendation is to join the best gamepad club because a lot of console ports result in control schemes that are excruciatingly difficult to understand.
The truth is that sometimes the best instrument for the task is a controller, despite the disapproval of many. Even for titles regarded as PC classics, this is true. For instance, The Witcher 3(opens in new tab) really offers a far simpler control scheme when played using the best PC controller rather than a mouse and keyboard.
Just imagine not having to stoop over your gaming keyboard if you have the best PC controller. You may play some relaxed video games instead of destroying your posture. To determine which of today’s finest PC and console controllers are worth using instead of your reliable keyboard and mouse, we examined a tonne of them.
1 Best PC controller
You’ll realise why we put the Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller in the top rank after using it for more than ten minutes. The Series 2 screams luxury in every way. You have an unequalled level of control (pun intended) over your gaming thanks to the virtually limitless customization possibilities. It is a complete blessing to be able to adjust the controller’s d-pads, shift paddles, and joystick tension.
The Series 2 controller’s new rechargeable battery, which has about 40 hours of battery life, and a cute small carrying bag that also serves as a portable USB Type-C powered charging station are its biggest improvements over the Series 1 controller (which we really adored). Finally, pairing the Series 2 controller with a Bluetooth device is simple thanks to project Xcloud and Apple Arcade, which bring some fantastic games to mobile devices.
Six thumbsticks, two d-pads (cross-shaped and faceted), four rear pedals, and a tool for adjusting thumbstick tension are included in the package of unique parts.
Due to the Series 2’s adoption of Bluetooth, you now have a market-leading PC controller and something that will couple with a phone to play the Apple Arcade games or experiment with Xbox streaming. The Series 1’s unexpected lack of Bluetooth attracted significant criticism. Given the high cost of admittance, it greatly increases the controller’s versatility.
One of my favourite aspects of the Elite are the returning hair-trigger locks. For those who haven’t used them, they regulate how far you need to pull the trigger, eliminating any needless movement or time in millisecond-sensitive competitive shooting. The four extra rear paddles are a nice feature as well, and they can create some unique controller layouts. Want to never remove your thumbs off the thumbsticks? To get started, just assign the face buttons to the back paddles. In reality, the Series 2’s extraordinary flexibility has the added advantage of making the controller incredibly accessible, allowing more people to utilise it to play PC games.
Since it weighs a few more ounces than the conventional Xbox One controller, some players may find the heavier controller jarring at first. The cross and faceted alternate d-pads require some getting used to, especially in fighting games like Mortal Kombat 11 or Dragonball FighterZ, even though it’s good to replace the traditional d-pad.
Most people find it difficult to justify spending $160 on a controller because it costs nearly four times as much as an Xbox One controller. However, if you’re a committed gamer who values performance and high levels of customization, the Series 2 is a no-brainer and well worth the money.
2 Power Spectra Infinity Enhanced
Over the Spectra Enhanced we previously rated in this guide, PowerA’s Spectra Infinity Enhanced wired controller is an improvement. Although the Spectra is a product with an official Xbox licence, the most recent version has more resemblance to the Xbox Series X|S controller, although having noticeably brighter LEDs. Given its low cost, it’s a fairly snazzy controller these days.
While playing all the usual suspects like Call of Duty: Warzone and Mortal Kombat 11, I compared the Spectra with an official Xbox One controller. I discovered that the joysticks have practically the same level of tension and even the face buttons have a comparable feel when you press down on them.
The two additional programmable buttons at the rear of the controller are strategically placed precisely around the grip. The button layout is almost identical to that of an Xbox One controller, right down to the same texturized rubber on the joysticks. You can access them while playing without changing your grip because you can use your ring fingers. The 3-way trigger locks are excellent for competitive shooters, but unlike the Series 2, despite being a pleasant feature, they didn’t feel all that different no matter where you placed the lock.
In the era of untethered gaming, the Spectra would have received a higher grade, but the absence of any wireless connectivity is disappointing. Instead, a 10-foot snap-lock detachable micro-USB cable is included, which is a bit excessive for playing at a desk but ideal for use in the living room.
It’s a bad it isn’t wireless, but for $40, the nice edge lighting and additional customizable buttons might be a good compromise, particularly if you’d prefer avoid dealing with batteries but still need a controller to offer your younger brother.
3 Xbox Core Wireless Controller
For PC gaming, the original Xbox One Wireless Controller was indispensable. We were all interested to see how the Xbox Series S/X(opens in new tab) updated a gamepad that was already excellent.
The original controller’s best qualities are mostly carried over into this one. With a highly comfortable overall design and grips made of texturized rubber, you will feel fantastic in your hands. With inspiration from the Xbox One Elite Series controllers, it has a greatly improved d-pad that you won’t fear using in fighting games and platformers, just like the original. You may have noticed a new button in the middle of the controller; the Share button, which was highly desired, now makes it possible to take pictures and gameplay videos without having to spend too much time in the menus.
We emphasise Wireless for a reason—not just because it’s a proper noun per se, but also because Microsoft’s “Xbox Wireless” wireless protocol is now used by the Xbox Wireless controller. You can find comfort in the knowledge that, after 2016, the Xbox Wireless controller finally gives us some much-needed Bluetooth compatibility, even though the name could need some creative reworking. Since the learning curve required for mouse and keyboard gaming is so steep, it has become practically standard fare for console transplants.
4 Sony DualSense Wireless Controller
Sony’s PlayStation 5 (opens in new tab) Thanks to its unique haptic motors and “Adaptive” triggers, which can provide resistance under your finger, DualSense has a “you have to touch it to believe it” quality. For instance, shooting a bow can truly feel like shooting a bow. Easily the best and most nuanced rumble we’ve ever experienced in a controller. The claims of its excellence are accurate.
The bad news is that since games will need to be built to utilise them, the DualSense’s most sophisticated functions are not yet compatible with PC games. However, Steam already provides complete compatibility for the controller, making it simple to connect and use like any other pad. The Xbox Series X controller is somewhat more comfortable, but this one is the one to get if you favour Sony’s analogue stick layout or enjoy gyro aiming. It’s also not as easy to use in non-Steam titles.
Perhaps in the future, PC games will also benefit from the new triggers and haptics.
5 Scuf Instinct Pro
Scuf is serious about its controllers and provides some of the top premium pads that aren’t made by Sony or Microsoft. If you want to avoid the two major console manufacturers, the Instinct Pro is the best pad controller for Microsoft games. But how can anybody else compete in the enthusiast controller market when the Elite Series 2 is available? (Opens in new tab)
The Instinct Pro offers more customization choices than pretty much any other pad you can think of. From the first page of the store, Scuf offers a vast array of different cosmetic and physical customization choices. The faceplate options and the rings around the thumbsticks are the most visible, but you may also choose the length and top of the actual thumbsticks (convex or concave).
The D-pad, button facades, as well as the style of the bumpers and triggers, are also customizable. It’s interesting to note that there is also the choice to remove the rumble motors from inside the controller, which is something you’ll frequently find pros remove from their tournament controllers to reduce the hand-natural wobble’s distraction.
Although that will undoubtedly affect the cost, I was able to raise it with my own decisions to slightly under $250. but did manage to produce a stunningly pink pad without the interference of rumble packs.
Scuf has at least admitted that there isn’t much use in trying to outdo Microsoft with the Instinct Pro’s overall design because it is virtually identical to an Xbox Series X/S controller. In addition to the faceplate, rings, and mute button on the front, obviously.
During a game session, the thumbsticks are reassuringly responsive and robust. When playing a slower-paced game, hammering the sticks with quick direction changes hasn’t had an effect on the pad, and they still feel smooth and accurate. Although perhaps not quite as deep as the Elite, the triggers nevertheless have a satisfying action and are equally precise.
However, I would remark that the hair-trigger mode is a touch too shallow for my preferences. The rest of the button feel is sturdy and comfortingly clicky as well. However, I can understand why other people could enjoy it, so I’m not going to consider that to be anything other than a personal preference or a positive.
While the Elite has a lithium ion battery, the Scuf Instinct Pro needs AA batteries, just like regular Xbox pads. Since lithium ion batteries are designed to have a limited shelf life, the ability to switch out a new set of batteries in the middle of a competition could be a selling factor. Although I haven’t had this problem with my Elite pad in the recent years of use.
In either case, it’s a superb controller that fits comfortably in the hand and is quite sensitive. With all of my preferred greebles, it’s simply exorbitantly expensive.
6 Razer Wolverine Ultimate
With one major qualification removed, Razer’s Wolverine Ultimate would very well be the greatest gamepad on the market right now: it lacks wireless connectivity. The Xbox-style gamepad has many of the same high-end features as the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller, including a d-pad that can be swapped out and rear paddles that can be adjusted. Why not just get one of those instead, given that it is almost the same price?
The Wolverine Ultimate does offer a fair share of distinctive, extremely alluring features, but it’s not for everyone. To begin with, the A, B, X, and Y buttons on the face click like mouse buttons. This seemingly insignificant feature has a huge impact. It would be comparable to switching from just utilising membrane keyboards to mechanical switches overnight. Therefore, tactile button presses are a worthwhile trade-off, even though the enclosed 10-foot braided micro USB cord requires some getting used to.
Naturally, no Razer product would be complete without a hefty portion of Chroma, the three-headed green snake company’s exclusive line of RGB lights. Razer chose to create a separate Xbox One app rather than incorporate it into the Synapse 3 programme already available for Windows. So keep in mind that a different app will be required if you do intend to use this controller with your PC.