Best PC controller 2022

All the best controllers for PC gamers tested, from the Xbox controller for PC to Razer, PlayStation, and Nintendo gamepads, to a Thrustmaster steering wheel

Best PC controller

There’s nothing quite like grasping the best PC controller in your palms. Of course, there’s no denying the boons of the best gaming keyboard and mouse setups, but playing a Dark Souls game using keys and clicks will prompt you to search for an alternative PC controller. Sure, gamepads aren’t the way to go if you’re playing the best FPS games, but RPGs like Elden Ring require quick fingers and thumbs. Thankfully, pairing your gaming PC with a palm companion has never been easier, and most options are inherently compatible with Windows 11.

Of course, the best PC controller isn’t exclusive to Xbox style gamepads, as if you’re into the best racing games, professional wheels and pedals are also an option. If you’d rather take to the skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2021, you can also transform your gaming desk into a cockpit by using a flight stick, and your graphics card fans might make it sound like you’re about to take off too.

It’s worth noting that console controllers are now largely PC compatible, which makes sense when you consider the prominence of Xbox Game Pass and new ventures like PlayStation PC. This naturally means we’re spoiled for choice, as even Sony’s DualSense is a candidate. So, to help you grab the best gamepad for your needs, we’ve collated a list of the best PC controllers to help you wield control over your Steam library.

Here are the best PC controllers in 2022:

  • Microsoft Xbox Wireless
  • Thrustmaster Eswap Pro
  • PlayStation 5 DualSense
  • Nintendo Switch Pro
  • Xbox One Elite Series 2
  • Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma
  • EasySMX Wireless
  • Thrustmaster Warthog
  • Turtle Beach VelocityOne
  • Fanatec Clubsport
  • Thrustmaster TMX
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Microsoft Xbox Wireless controller

The best controller for PC is the Microsoft Xbox Wireless.

The Xbox Wireless Controller is Microsoft’s latest attempt to perfect the default gamepad that ships with the Xbox Series X and Series S. While it might not look all that different from its predecessors, aside from dropping the console-specific branding from its name, there’s been plenty of changes four iterations on from the original Xbox One edition that make this the go-to gamepad on gaming PCs. Plus, it looks great sitting next to you on the best gaming desk.

The textured grip on the rear has been extended to cover the triggers for extra grip and precision, and there’s now a hybrid domed D-pad which we’ve previously only seen on the high-end Xbox Elite controller. Additionally, the controller shape has been tweaked so this controller fits a wider range of hand shapes and sizes, although these slight adjustments mean some previous attachments might no longer be compatible. As it’s Microsoft, there’s native compatibility with Windows 10 so there’s no fiddling around with drivers – all you need is a Bluetooth or USB-C connection to plug and play.

What we like

  • Hybrid D-pad
  • Bluetooth support/plug-and-play
  • Textured Triggers
Microsoft Wireless Controller specs
Connection Wireless/micro USB
Power 2x AA batteries
Buttons 18
Layout Xbox
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Thrustmaster Eswap Pro X

The best thumbstick controller is the Thrustmaster Eswap Pro X.

Thrustmaster’s Eswap Pro X is a premium gamepad through and through, but its modular design makes it one of the most versatile devices on this list. It’s also a great option for players who prefer PlayStation’s parallel controller layout, as you can easily swap around the d-pad and thumbstick. Not only are these magnetic modules high quality, but if they do ever wear down,  you’ll be able to replace them without becoming a gamepad surgeon.

The Eswap Pro X also comes with an impressive 22 button layout, four of which reside on the back of the bad. If you’re a fan of all things clicky, you’ll be pleased to know that the d-pad and face buttons use microswitches, which make all the difference compared to rubber dome membranes.

As for compatibility, the Eswap Pro X’s PC drivers come with Thrustmapper, a configuration suite that allows you to remap the pad and fine-tune sensitivity. In other words, if you’re looking for a thumbstick experience that comes close to the accuracy of a gaming mouse, this gamepad could be what you’re looking for.

What we like

  • Modular analogue sticks
  • Microswitch buttons
  • Thrustmapper configuration
Thrustmaster Eswap Pro X
Connection Wired
Power USB
Buttons 22
Layout Xbox
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PlayStation 5 Dualsense

The best PC controller for immersion is the PlayStation 5 Dualsense.

Sony’s successor to the Dualshock 4 is a newcomer to the gamepad fold, but it’s already showing promising signs when it comes to controller immersion. PC games like Call of Duty: Cold War, Far Cry 6, Metro Exodus, and Deathloop all boast adaptive trigger support, and there’s bound to be more coming as the company expands its PlayStation PC presence.

Immersion aside, the Dualsense is also just an excellent gamepad, and it elevates everything that made its predecessor great. Its thumbsticks are still superbly comfortable, and it’s still comfortable to use after hours of use. While the PlayStation 5 console itself is still largely out of stock, perhaps picking up its pad to use on PC is the next best thing.

PlayStation 5 Dualsense specs
Connection Wireless/Wired
Power Li-ion
Buttons 18
Layout PlayStation
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Nintendo Switch Pro controller

The best alternative PC controller is the Nintendo Switch Pro.

The Nintendo Switch Pro has been made specifically for the diminutive console, but has been given its own Steam profile and can be connected to your gaming PC with either a wireless Bluetooth connection or, if you want to get configured in Steam, via a USB-C cable.

Nintendo pioneered the d-pad back in 1985, so it’s no surprise that the Switch Pro controller upholds its gamepad legacy. While the pad lacks fancy features like analogue triggers, its tactile buttons and comfortable feel make it a winner when it comes to precision-based platformers. It’s also got a whopping 40-hour battery life via Bluetooth, making it one of the best wireless options on the market.

What we like

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Incredibly well-built
  • USB-C and Bluetooth
Nintendo Switch Pro specs
Connection Bluetooth/USB-C
Power Li-ion
Buttons 18
Layout Xbox
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Microsoft Xbox One Elite Series 2

The best high-end controller for PC is the Xbox One Elite Series 2.

I mean, yeah, spending this much on a joypad might seem pretty crazy, but the Elite Series 2 is one seriously beautiful controller. Almost everything about it has been designed to just scream ‘QUALITY!’ in your face. It’s an evolution over the previous version rather than a revolution, but it’s got everything we loved about the original Elite, plus everything the competition has added to their high-end pads to try and compete.

It’s beautifully built, impressively responsive, and ultra-versatile too. But I’m still note sure it’s worth that hefty a price premium over the standard Xbox One controller, which is why the Elite Series 2 isn’t down as our absolute, must-have, best PC gamepad in this test. It’s the pad you might aspire to, especially if you’ve ever had one in your hands, but it’s most definitely a luxury rather than a necessity.

What we like

  • All the paddles
  • Built-in battery
  • High build quality
Microsoft Xbox One Elite Series 2 specs
Connection Wireless/micro USB
Power Li-ion
Buttons 21
Layout Xbox

Read the PCGamesN Microsoft Xbox One Elite Series 2 review for our full verdict and score.

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Nacon Revolution Unlimited

The best hybrid PC controller is the Nacon Revolution Unlimited.

Many companies have tried to match the quality of Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite controller, but very few have managed to nail its mix of serious build quality and ultra customisation. But Nacon’s pad succeeds in both and also manages to mix both the excellent PlayStation thumbsticks and touchpad with the Xbox asymmetrical layout.

The only issue is the software. It refuses to connect unless you’re wired in and some of its wordless iconry is borderline impenetrable. But there are a whole host of customisation options buried in there if you really want to go deep.

What we like

  • Great build quality
  • Asymmetrical layout
  • Excellent thumbsticks
Nacon Revolution Unlimited specs
Connection Wired/wireless
Power Li-Polymer 1300mAh
Buttons 21
Layout Xbox

Read the PCGamesN Nacon Revolution Unlimited review for our full verdict and score.

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Razer Wolverine Ultimate

The best paddle controller for PC is the Razer Wolverine Ultimate.

This Xbox and PC-compatible controller from Razer should be in your sights if you want extra paddles letting you multitask in games without taking your thumbs off the thumbsticks, for example jumping while aiming in Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, boasting a pair of customisable paddle switches on the rear along with triggers with a ‘hair-trigger mode’ to reduce their travel distance before actuation. Oh, and RGB backlighting, because it wouldn’t be Razer without some of that. You also get interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pads – with thumbsticks of varying heights, and a domed or individual D-pad.

Although this is the most expensive controller listed here, its clicky face buttons are the gamepad-equivalent of jumping to a mechanical keyboard for the first time. Besides, if you’re using your controller for competitive play, this is the one you’ll want to consider given its customisability. One thing to note – this controller is wired, not wireless, although when playing competitively you’ll be grateful for the reduced input lag.

What we like

  • Interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pad
  • RGB!
  • Customisability
Razer Wolverine Ultimate specs
Connection Wired
Power USB
Buttons 26
Layout Xbox
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Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma

The best RGB PC controller is the Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma.

The Cult of Razer has obviously taken one look at the Xbox One Elite controller and said ‘We can do better than that’.

It can’t. It’s added in some extra microswitch buttons to the Wolverine, some adjustable hair-triggers, dropped in a pair of pseudo paddle switches, perfect for FPS games, on the underside of the pad and kept it otherwise very clean. It’s a fantastic pad, but can’t quite hold a candle to the Elite. If you’re looking for RGB, though, the Wolverine is where it’s at.

What we like

  • Clicky as heck
  • RGB!
  • Plenty of added functionality
Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma specs
Connection Wired
Power USB
Buttons 20
Layout Xbox
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EasySMX Wireless

The best cheap PC controller is the EasySMX Wireless.

The EasySMX Wireless is proof positive you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a well-built PC gaming controller. Sure, it’s losing some of the finesse of the other, more expensive pads, and is more aping the original Xbox 360 controller than the modern Xbox One version, but it’s got a decent battery life and the wireless connection is solid.

It’s also an absolute bargain, even if the triggers maybe don’t feel quite as accomplished as you might want them to be. But it’s still a solid, reliable controller that doesn’t cost the earth, and you can’t really ask a lot more than that. A genuinely great budget controller for playing the best PC games.

What we like

  • Cheap
  • Wireless
  • Solid layout
EasySMX Wireless specs
Connection Wireless 2.4GHz
Power 2x AA batteries
Buttons 17
Layout Xbox
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Thrustmaster Warthog

The best flight stick is the Thrustmaster Warthog.

Thrustmaster’s Warthog flightstick is a replica of the controllers in the classic A-10 Tankbuster, seemingly hewn from the same military-grade materials, and probably only slightly cheaper than a second-hand plane. Yes, the Warthog is frighteningly expensive, but if you’re already looking to pick up one of the best PC flight sticks then you’ve probably got pretty niche tastes – and this is the best way to satisfy them.

The Warthog has been around for a while now, but we’ve still seen no other flightstick come close to the feeling we get when using it. It’s a lot of money, but still manages to feel worth it when you’re hurtling through an asteroid belt, flipping on a pirate, and reducing their ship to tiny bits of melty scrap. That said, we’re still keen to see what Logitech does with the Saitek brand in the future and whether it will offer some serious competition to the Warthog.

What we like

  • Satisfying clicky switches
  • Chunky (it’s a good thing)
  • Fantastic throttle action
Thrustmaster Warthog specs
HOTAS Yes
Programmable buttons 22
Hat switches 4x 8-way, 2x 4-way

Best flight yoke: Turtle Beach VelocityOne pictured with a white backgroundTurtle Beach VelocityOne

The best flight yoke is the Turtle Beach VelocityOne.

Turtle Beach built its Velocity One flight controller with Xbox in mind first-and-foremost, but it still offers tremendous value for PC players. At this price, you’d expect a lot, and you do indeed get a lot for your money. It features an authentic 180-degree yoke handle rotation that pushes and pulls for ascending and descending respectively, ten programmable buttons, swappable lever handles, and a built-in display you can use to customise virtually everything about this device.

It’s designed specifically for Microsoft Flight Simulator and offers more functionality than most, but still works fine with plenty of other flight games like Star Wars Squadrons and Elite Dangerous. Like most yokes, it’s quite a bit larger than a joystick and you will need to clear space on your gaming desk to piece it together, but it’s easy to set up, makes gaming feel like an event, and comes to life when the RGB lighting starts to shine.

What we like

  • Easy to set up
  • Authentic
  • Unlimited profiles
Turtle Beach VelocityOne
HOTAS Yes
Programmable buttons Ten
Hat switches 2x 4-way
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Fanatec Clubsport

The best PC racing wheel is the Fanatec Clubsport.

Sooo, yeah… the Fanatec Clubsport setup is the price of a powerful gaming PC, but it’s also the stuff of gaming peripheral dreams – and it’s all down to just how beautifully designed, created, and finished the Clubsport kit is. If you don’t go for one of the preconfigured bundles you’ll have to create your own, picking and choosing from a very long list of goodies.

The main wheel base is the same across the board, but then you can fit different steering wheels, gearshifts, and pedals to the mix. And they’re all built out of solid lumps of metal and precision-engineered components. The Fanatec system has hands-down the best force feedback system we’ve ever used, even down to feedback from the pedals, too.

What we like

  • Incredible force feedback
  • Modular
  • Precision engineered
Fanatec Clubsport specs
Rotation 900°
Buttons 17
Pedals 3
Adjustable pedals Yes
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Thrustmaster TMX

The best budget PC racing wheel is the Thrustmaster TMX.

Most people aren’t going to blow a four-figure sum on a racing wheel – if you are then bully for you – and a perfect budget option that will still give you a pretty realistic driving experience is Thrustmaster’s TMX wheel. You don’t really want to go for anything cheaper, as here you get force feedback and 900-degree wheel rotation, the same as a real car – compared to some budget wheels which may only have 180-degree rotation.

The TMX uses belt-driven technology as opposed to the inferior gear-driven tech for its force feedback, giving you a smoother, less notchy feel when going through the motions. The brake and throttle pedals are adjustable by angle to suit your seating position, and the brake pedal gets progressively harder as you stamp on it, for a little added realism.

What we like

  • Great value for money
  • Full 900-degree rotation
  • Solid build
Thrustmaster TMX specs
Rotation 900°
Buttons 12
Pedals 2
Adjustable pedals Yes

Wired vs wireless controllers

With the latest 2.4GHz wireless connections, the latency of wireless pads is almost on par with wired models, and you’d be hard-pressed to notice any difference. As a bonus, it helps you manage cables, too. Battery life is a consideration, however, as you might find your controller falling short mid-clutch.

Do PC controllers need batteries?

Wireless gamepads come with cord-cutting benefits, but some PC controllers like the Xbox Wireless rely on batteries for power. While you can feed the pad two AA cells, Microsoft also has a play and charge kit that comes with a USB C cable and an official Xbox rechargeable battery.

Can I use PlayStation 5 DualSense on PC?

Sony’s Dualshock 4 and PS5 DualSense lack official drivers, but you can use both gamepads on Steam. You can also play other storefront games with a PlayStation controller by selecting “Add a Non-Steam Game to My Library.”

It’s worth noting that while the DualSense is Steam compatible, not every game supports its unique features. However, this could change in the future, as Sony is bringing more of its games to the platform via its PlayStation PC label.

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