What is the best PC controller? These gamepads push our buttons – in a good way – as they each offer a great alternative to the classic clicking and clacking of the mouse and keyboard. We at PCGamesN spent hours testing all these buttons, triggers, pedals, and more, to ensure we’re giving you the best advice on which controller to use for your PC games.
Keyboard and mouse purists may scoff at the notion that a controller should be part of any gaming PC setup, but it’s hard to deny the convenience and ergonomic benefits these perky pads offer. In this list, we’ve included options for the best PC steering wheels, the best PC joysticks, and much more, covering every type of controller for every type of gamer.
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How to choose the best PC controllers
There were several considerations we kept in mind when deciding which controllers deserved a spot on this list. If you’re planning on buying one yourself, these are important things to keep in mind:
- Pricing: The price of controllers can vary enormously. We wanted to include options that would cater to readers on different budgets. We recommend using $70 (£60) as a yardstick – fancier options will cost a lot more, but that should cover the price for standard controllers.
- Customization: Do you just need a controller to play your games with, or do you want something that you can tailor to best suit your own style of play? If so, look out for programmable and swappable buttons, as well as the option to save profiles, but keep in mind that these premium features push up the price tag.
- Cross-compatibility: If you’re also a console gamer, you may want to find something that you can use on your Xbox/PlayStation/Switch as well. We’ve covered a number of broadly compatible options here, but we recommend double-checking before making a decision.
- Specialized controllers: Fans of the best simulation games might want a specialized controller to help them feel more fully immersed and give them a greater sense of control. Flight yoke and racing wheel controllers can do just that, so we felt that they deserved some representation on this list, but it’s important to remember that these things come at a higher cost.
- Aesthetics: Last but not least, you’re going to want to choose a controller that looks good and will fit in with your gaming space. Many controllers come only in a singular style, but we’ve tried to include a few that have RGB lighting or that come in various colors.
If you still have any questions about how we decide what to include in these lists, read our how we test page. We’ve also answered some FAQs below:
Can I use an Xbox controller with PC?
Yes, you can. As these controllers are manufactured by Microsoft, it’s especially easy to get them to work on PC. If you’re planning on buying for the first time, you’ll find that there are Xbox controllers specifically designed with PC use in mind.
Can I use a PS4 controller with PC?
Yes, you can. On Windows 10 or above, you’ll often find that it will even configure automatically. Read our guide on how to use a PS4 controller with Steam for more information.
Can you use any controller with PC?
While we wouldn’t want to definitively say that you can use literally any controller, it’s much easier to use different controllers on PC than it is on consoles. Most wireless controllers will be able to connect to your PC via dongles, wired ones use USBs quite often, and even if they use a more unusual type of plug, you can find adapters. Of course, if you go for a really old and obscure choice, you’ll have a lot of work to do in configuring it for new PC games, but you can practically get anything to work on PC, and it’s especially easy with recent pieces of hardware.
Is it worth using a controller on PC?
The line that divides console and PC gaming is much less defined than it was once. Most big console releases come to PC as well, and these have often been designed with the expectation that the player will be using a controller. We recommend having at least one PC controller as part of your gaming setup.
If you’ve been reading this list, you may find our guide on how to use an external controller on Steam Deck helpful. For more ways to control your favorite PC games, read our guide on the best gaming mouse for some recommendations.