Best PC controller 2024

The best PC controller can give you new ways to experience games, be it through features like adaptive triggers or more specialist things like wheels and yokes.

Three of the best PC controllers on a pink gradient background

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.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At PCGamesN, our experts spend hours testing hardware, games, and VPNs. We share honest, unbiased opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Xbox Wireless Controller

The best PC controller overall

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Xbox Wireless Controller specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB
Power 2 x AA batteries
Buttons 18
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • Hybrid D-pad
  • Bluetooth support/plug-and-play
  • Textured Triggers
Reasons to avoid
  • Requires AA batteries/play and charge kit
  • Not customizable

This is the latest iteration of the much-applauded Xbox controller, designed by Microsoft for console and PC gaming alike. Its comfortable and intuitive design lends itself just as well to the huge library of games to play on PC as it does to the library on Xbox. It’s easy to understand why this is the go-to controller for so many gamers and as a Microsoft product, there’s easy plug-and-play compatibility with Windows.

Compared to earlier Xbox controllers, 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 pad’s iconic shape has been tweaked compared to the original Xbox One pad, meaning it fits a wider range of hand shapes and sizes. However, the slight changes may hinder compatibility with attachments, so keep that in mind.

Read our Xbox Wireless Controller review

PowerA Moga XP-Ultra

The best controller for gaming on the go

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PowerA Moga XP-Ultra specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB-C
Power Recharge 2000 mAh battery
Platforms PC, Android, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • Multi-platform versatility
  • Mappable gaming buttons
  • Battery level indicator
Reasons to avoid
  • Buttons lack travel
  • Slightly awkward layout
  • Slow to start after waking

Do you ever find yourself playing something with Game Pass Ultimate, then going out and streaming the game on your mobile as you do? With the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra, you can continue playing with the same controller, as it has a MOBA gaming clip that allows you to attach your Android phone (though sadly not iPhones). It also offers full compatibility with Xbox Series X|S and many smart TVs that you might want to stream through too.

The Ultra-XP is a Bluetooth controller built for all eventualities, then – something echoed by its modular design. In the box, you get an attachable phone mount to turn your handset into a handheld, and it also features detachable grips, reducing the footprint for playing on the go or giving you an option if you prefer the size of old-school controllers.

We really like the modularity offered by the XP-Ultra. Playing retro games with the mini-pad is a blast, and having a sturdy way to mount a phone for cloud gaming is brilliant. The battery life of 40 hours in Bluetooth mode is immense, and, for some games, we love the D-Pad. The most adaptable and versatile controller we’ve ever used, the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra really is a jack of all trades – but you know how that saying ends.

Read our PowerA Moga XP-Ultra review.

Thrustmaster eSwap X PRO

The best PC controller for mouse-like accuracy

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Thrustmaster eSwap X PRO specifications:
Connection USB
Power N/A
Platforms 22
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • Modular analog sticks
  • Microswitch buttons
  • Thrustmapper software
Reasons to avoid
  • Expensive
  • No wireless option

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. You could even balance substance and style by adding different colors using one of Thrustmaster’s optional kits.

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.

PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller

The best PC controller for adaptive triggers

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PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB
Power Li-ion
Button 18
Layout PlayStation
Reasons to buy
  • Unique DualSense features
  • High-quality feel
Reasons to avoid
  • Pricey
  • Limited support on PC

Sony’s successor to the Dualshock 4 is a newcomer to the gamepad fold, but it’s already a promising PC controller. It’ll enhance physical immersion in big hits like Call of Duty: Cold War, Far Cry 6, Metro Exodus, and Deathloop, all of which boast adaptive trigger support.

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.

Sony is slowly branching out on the PC, but support for the platform is lacking. Official DualSense drivers aren’t a thing yet, and you’ll have to stick with specific games to benefit from the pad’s immersive features.

Using the DualSense wirelessly on PC also comes with an additional cord-cutting caveat. For whatever reason, haptic feedback won’t work on the pad over Bluetooth, meaning you’ll have to tether it to your rig using a USB-C cable.

That said, if you’re a fan of parallel sticks, or just Sony shenanigans in general, the DualSense is a killer pad with impressive capabilities. It’s pricey, but when you consider what it offers, it’s potentially a wise investment.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The best PC controller for retro games

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Nintendo Switch Pro Controller specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB
Power Li-ion
Buttons 18
Layout Nintendo
Reasons to buy
  • Amazing D-Pad
  • Stellar battery life
  • Better than Joy-Cons in basically every way
Reasons to avoid
  • Shallow triggers
  • Not available in a wide range of colors

Many of the classics in gaming history were originally on Nintendo consoles and if you’ve got a large collection of retro titles, then this is probably the best controller to play them with.  Nintendo pioneered the d-pad back in 1982, so it’s no surprise that the Switch Pro controller upholds its gamepad legacy

Though made specifically for Switch, the controller 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. With a configuration that’s very similar to many historic Nintendo controllers, it’s ideal for revisiting classic games, while remaining well-equipped to handle modern releases too.

There’s something charming about the Switch Pro Controller’s build quality, particularly in terms of its plastics. In the hand, it almost feels like a gamepad from the early 2000s, something that differentiates it from other premium pads on the market. Although some may find the buttons and triggers a little too chunky (especially if you’re used to Xbox controllers), it’s something that’s easy to get used to.

While the pad lacks fancy features like analog 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.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

The best high-end controller for PC

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Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB
Power Li-ion
Buttons 21
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • All the paddles
  • Built-in battery
  • High build quality
Reasons to avoid
  • Premium price point
  • Black aesthetic isn’t as exciting

Spending well over $100 on a joypad might seem a bit excessive, 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.

Just like the Eswap Pro X, the Elite Series 2 is equipped with customizable buttons that’ll help you perfectly dial in your palm experience. It’s not quite as hot-swappable as Thurstmaster’s approach, but it offers a different array of options, like changeable stick heights and paddle-style triggers.

It’s a small thing, but the fact Microsoft includes a hard case with the Elite Series 2 speaks volumes. Not only does it give you somewhere to keep your bits and bobs, but it’ll also protect the pad and help it serve your gaming needs long into the future.

If you’re not into additional accessories, you could opt for the Series 2 Core, a cheaper package that only includes the pad and an adjustment tool.

Read the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 review.

Nacon Revolution Unlimited

The best hybrid PC controller

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Nacon Revolution Unlimited specifications:
Connection Bluetooth / USB
Power Li-Polymer 1300mAh
Buttons 21
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • Combines best of Xbox and PlayStation
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent thumbsticks
Reasons to avoid
  • D-pad isn’t the best
  • Software is finicky

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 customization. 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 icons are borderline impenetrable. But there are a whole host of customization options buried in there if you really want to go deep.

Read the Nacon Revolution Unlimited review.

Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma

The best RGB PC controller

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Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma specifications:
Connection USB
Power N/A
Buttons 20
Layout Xbox
Reasons to buy
  • Clicky as heck
  • Tasteful RGB
  • Plenty of added functionality
Reasons to avoid
  • Not the best D-pad
  • Expensive

The Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma is probably the flashiest gamepad on this list. Signature Chroma RGB lighting helps the controller stand out from the crowd, and it’ll look great both at LAN and on your desk

The Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma is undeniably a looker, but it balances both style and substance. Microswitches help the pad’s buttons feel responsive and satisfying, while adjustable hair triggers will help you land shots in the best FPS games.

Just like other PC gamepads on this list, Razer’s light show controller comes with a premium price tag attached. If you’re looking for tournament-grade quality and extra visual flair, you might want to invest in this pad. However, if less-than-stellar D-pads tend to upset you, we’d suggest looking elsewhere.

Thrustmaster Warthog

The best flight stick

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Thrustmaster Warthog specifications:
HOTAS Yes
Programmable buttons 22
Hat switches 4x 8-way, 2x 4-way
Reasons to buy
  • Satisfying clicky switches
  • Chunky (it’s a good thing)
  • Fantastic throttle action
Reasons to avoid
  • Super expensive
  • No stick twist support

Thrustmaster’s Warthog flight stick 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 a controller for the best flying games 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 it’s still the best joystick for PC. It’s pricey 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.

Thrustmaster HOTAS One

The best entry-level flight controller

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Thrustmaster HOTAS One specifications:
HOTAS Yes
Programmable buttons 15
Hat switches 1
Reasons to buy
  • Decent price
  • Great for flight simulators
  • Ergonomic design
Reasons to avoid
  • Y button a bit awkward
  • Not many buttons
  • Cable could be longer

The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One flight stick recreates piloting for gaming enthusiasts. The stick’s ergonomic design effortlessly accommodates a range of flight scenarios, including aerial combat, space exploration, and civilian flights. It is equipped with a handrest on the joystick and a weighted base to ensure comfort and stability during gameplay. It offers plug-and-play functionality and button remapping options on PC.

The T.Flight Hostas One excels in performance. The controller’s dual rudder mechanism allows for precise control. Its versatility extends beyond flight simulators, though compatibility with certain games may vary. The joystick has smooth movements. You can even upgrade your setup with other hardware from the range.

Read our Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One flight stick review.

Nacon Daija Arcade Stick

The best fight stick

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Nacon Daija Arcade Stick specifications:
Connection USB-A to USB-C cable
Programmable buttons 8
Customization Two stick heads, changeable profiles
Headset jack Yes
Reasons to buy
  • Premium and refined build quality
  • Has every feature any fighting game player needs
Reasons to avoid
  • Expensive

Some players say you shouldn’t bring a gamepad to a street fight, and the Nacon Daija Arcade Stick could help you land the finishing blow in all the best fighting games. Developed alongside French esports player Marie-Laure ‘Kayane’ Norindr, precision and functionality are weaved into this stick’s DNA, two qualities that elevate it above other contenders.

Coming in at around $279, the Nacon Daija is far from being the cheapest arcade stick on the market. Weighing 3.4kg, you’ll struggle to forget it’s stowed away in your backpack.

Whether you’re new to tinkering with arcade sticks, or just looking for an easier time, the Nacon Daija has you covered. Its toolless design means you’ll be able to swap out buttons and switches without conflict, and handy diagrams will keep you right if you get in a tangle. On the outside, the Daija boasts a subtle aesthetic, but you can jazz things up by adding custom artwork underneath the stick’s plexiglass overlay.

Check out our Nacon Daija Arcade Stick review.

Turtle Beach VelocityOne

The best flight yoke

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Turtle Beach VelocityOne specifications:
HOTAS Yes
Programmable buttons 10
Hat switches 2x 4-way
Reasons to buy
  • Easy to set up
  • Authentic
  • Unlimited profiles
Reasons to avoid
  • Temperamental menu controls
  • High price
  • Slightly cheaper feel

Turtle Beach built its Velocity One flight controller with Xbox in mind, 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.

The Velocityone 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 customize 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.

Nacon Revolution 5 Pro

The best Hall Effect controller for PC

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Nacon Revolution 5 Pro specifications:
Connection Bluetooth or Wired
Power Li-ion
Buttons 22
Layout Asymmetrical PlayStation
Reasons to buy
  • Customization options are plentiful
  • Great response times when wired
  • Hall Effect joysticks and triggers
Reasons to avoid
  • Premium price doesn’t pay off initially
  • Battery life could be better

Unlike conventional models, the parts inside a Hall Effect controller never tough The Nacon Revolution 5 Pro brings the first ever Hall Effect triggers to the market and it’s a welcome sight. Built for performance and longevity, the Rev 5 Pro should see you dominate your opponents for years to come, but the initial price tag may be hard to swallow.

Like any of the best PC controllers should, the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro offers both wired and wireless connections, and an app to completely customize any aspect of the controller, from the trigger sensitivity down to the LED lighting. If you want a controller that adapts to you, rather than the other way around, the Rev 5 Pro is easily that controller, and its Hall Effect implementation puts it ahead of many competitors.

Read our Nacon Revolution 5 Pro review for more.

Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000

The best racing wheel for PC

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Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000 specifications:
Rotation 1080°
Buttons 25 buttons (including 7 encoders)
Pedals 3 (though not always bundled with the wheel)
Adjustable pedals 3
Reasons to buy
  • High 10N⋅m torque
  • Realistic responsive feedback
  • Easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
  • Pedals not bundled by default
  • Expensive

As one of the best PC steering wheels on the market, the Thrustmaster T818 can provide an unrivaled experience when playing racing games like Forza Horizon 5 or Assetto Corsa Competizione. Although, because of its price, we can understand why some players opt to continue with a conventional controller.

The wheel itself offers up to 1080° of rotation, and with 10N⋅m of torque behind it, it feels very much like turning a real steering wheel. It often comes bundled with Thrustmaster’s T-LCM Pedals, but not always, so make sure you’re not just getting the wheel, as it loses a lot without them.

Either way, this fantastic wheel comes with 25 buttons and seven encoders, and with a modular design that you can add extra bits to (for comfort or control), it’s a magnificent racing wheel.

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.