Best Game Controller For PC 2017

The mouse and keyboard will always be the first choice for playing games on PC. But some games are better suited to a controller, and as more and more console games make their way to the PC, it makes sense to have the right controller on-hand. But what controller works best on the PC?

The best game controller for PC can be difficult to determine without carefully researching the numerous options on the market. There are large discrepancies in quality between 1st Party and 3rd Party controllers. Aesthetically, a controller will appear fine, but in gameplay, it will feel all wrong. Some are wired and some wireless. Many game controllers are only programmable to one specific brand of console, so you must determine within that subset of controllers which is best for you.

Compare: The 10 Top Rated Game Controllers For PC

RankPictureNameBrandPriceRating
1Playstation 4 DualShock 4 Wireless ControllerSony$$$4.9
2Xbox 360 Wired ControllerMicrosoft$$4.9
3Xbox One Elite Wireless ControllerMicrosoft$$$$4.9
4ZD V Plus Wired ControllerZD$4.5
5Xbox One Wired ControllerMicrosoft$$$4
6Steam Controller (Wireless)Valve$$$4
7Logitech F310 USB Wired PC Gamepad ControllerLogitech$4
8ZD N Wired ControllerZD$$4.5
9JJX-Tech Precision Wired ControllerJJX-Tech$4.5
10SteelSeries Stratus XL Wireless ControllerSteelSeries$$$4.5

Our Game Controller For PC Reviews

Xbox 360 Wired Controller – Best Cheap Game Controller For PC

If saving a dollar is most important to you, then the best game controller for PC for you will be the Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller. Getting an Xbox 360 controller is a good way to save a bit of money compared to the DualShock 4. A wireless Xbox 360 controller is only a few dollars cheaper. But the wired version is cheaper still.

The best thing about a wired 360 controller is that it’s dead simple to use. Most PC games have button prompts based on the Xbox controller and immediately autodetect that the controller is plugged in. With DS4Windows, the DualShock 4 works just as well as the Xbox controllers, but it does require a bit more setup.

Pros:

Setup for this controller is easy and convenient, as it was designed specifically to plug right into your PC. All major brands and the most popular video games will support this controller. Also, most will find the Xbox’s controller layout comfortable and familiar.

Cons:

It is not actually the cheapest on the market. There are a few cheaper choices, but I would not recommend any of them over an official Xbox 360 controller.

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Playstation 4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller – Best Game Controller For PC for the Money

If you are looking to treat yourself or a loved one to an economical quality controller then the DualShock 4 Wireless Controller built for the PlayStation 4 is probably the best game controller to choose. The price matches its capabilities. It doesn’t look as durable as the Xbox One controller, but it’s durable. When I squeeze the handles with as much force as I can, I can barely hear the strain. I also pushed each of the buttons, triggers, bumpers, and analog sticks down with as much force as I could, and each sprang back as if untouched.

The flat, matte face buttons, though not as pronounced as the Xbox 360’s bulbous, glossy things, are easy to feel my way around. They feel firm and clicky, but their shape puts very little pressure on my thumb, which I appreciate. I find that extended sessions with the Xbox 360 controller’s harder buttons are more likely to give me those calloused gamer-thumbs.

Pros:

It has renowned quality for a mid-range price. The triggers and bumpers have a more tactile feel than Xbox controllers.

Cons:

You must download unofficial software for it to work. Long term, we’ve heard reports of damaged rubber on the analog sticks and sticking triggers.

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Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller – Best Game Controller For PC Overall

This controller certainly looks suave and has tactical gameplay reviews to vie for and is the choice of many pro gamers. The ‘Elite’ nomenclature is typically marketing nonsense, but in this one instance, I think it applies. For those who like their PCs state of the art, clean, and beautiful; for those with Swedish headphones made of volcanic glass; for those who make their PB&J from scratch, the Xbox Elite controller is for you.

It’s a sturdy, configurable, and gorgeous controller for enthusiasts of fancy. The shell and button layout don’t feel distinct from the vanilla Xbox One controllers, though it feels heavier than most pads I’ve used. I like a bit of weight in my controllers and mice, but it might not feel good on tiny wrists after a long play session. The face buttons are large and still mushy, the bumpers and triggers have a responsive click and pull—they just feel identical to using an Xbox One controller.

Pros:

Quality construction, interchangeable pieces and digital settings to personalize tactical gameplay experience.

Cons:

It is one of the most expensive on the market.

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Our Top Rated Game Controllers For PC

 

Best Overall

Best For The Money 

Best Cheap 

What Is A Game Controller For PC?

A PC game controller is a handheld video game controller very much like the controllers used for conventional video game consoles. Many PC game controllers will look similar to Xbox, PlayStation, or GameCube controllers. These conventional game controllers can be rigged to use with a PC as well.

A PC game controller usually has multiple buttons, triggers, sometimes a joystick, pads and more. The player can work it like a mouse but more often grips it with both hands while working the buttons and triggers.

What Are The Advantages Of Owning A Game Controller For PC?

Not every PC game is best played with a keyboard and mouse. If you’d rather sit back and play some of your games with a controller instead, you should consider one of our picks. But if you already own an Xbox 360, an Xbox One, or a PlayStation 4, and you’re happy with the controller that came with it, you probably don’t need to buy a different one. For tips on how to get your controller to work on Windows and Mac, skip ahead to the discussion for your controller of choice.

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It is difficult to play many big-name PC video games — such as Assassin’s Creed or The Elder Scrolls games — without a PC game controller. Without a controller, you are left to play using only your keyboard and mouse. In tactical gameplay against live opponents it will then be challenging, if not impossible, to compete successfully. Players using a keyboard cannot react quickly enough, as the keyboard functions require a longer reach and sometimes remembering multiple keystrokes in order to perform a function that a press of a button or pull of the trigger on a game controller can accomplish.

What Are The Different Types of Game Controllers For PC?

There are four different types of controllers you can use for PC Gaming:

  • Xbox Controllers – Xbox and Windows PCs are both produced by Microsoft. Therefore, mostly all PC games are designed to be played with an Xbox controller. Xbox controllers should quickly be recognized by a PC.
  • PlayStation Controllers – Many gamers prefer to play PC video games with their Sony PlayStation controllers. This is doable with workarounds. There are unofficial software and drivers which can force the PC to recognize a PlayStation controller.
  • Third-Party Controllers – There are PC game controllers on the market for low prices which are specifically designed for PC gaming. These controllers will have their own original formats, requiring the user to adapt to the tactics of that specific controller.
  • Alternate Controllers – There are special controllers for flight and driving simulations which do not resemble the typical handheld controller. These will resemble wheels or large joysticks.


Considerations for Choosing the Best Game Controller For PC

Before purchasing a PC game controller, consider how much you want to invest in the endeavor. If you plan on doing some intense gaming, purchase a reputable, popular brand. If you are new to PC gaming and want to try out an indie video game first to see if you gaming, purchase a less expensive model. Below are other several key factors you should consider:

Compatibility

Not all controllers are compatible with PC gaming. Some may require special software to work and others may not work at all, or may be lacking certain controls that you need for a particular game. Purchasing a controller specifically designed for PCs will avoid these issues.

That said, some of the adaptable console controllers are often of higher quality and have reputable software hacks.

Fit

How well does the controller fit into your hands? The best game controller for PC has an optimal size to accommodate thumbs fat and small. Occasionally, you will see options for larger-than-average or smaller-than-average controllers to meet your preferences.

The basic controller design is a simple plastic shell. Many controllers trying to distinguish themselves as higher quality and more luxurious will have a thin rubber coating to combat sweaty palms.

Button placement is another important consideration. PlayStation and Xbox controllers can be relied upon to provide the same familiar layout. Third-party controllers are a gamble for comfort, though, as they cannot copy the big brands’ patented designs and must use their own original layouts.

Wired or Wireless?

Depending on your specific PC gaming setup, the choice of having a wired or wireless controller requires some thought. If you plan to game sitting directly in front of your laptop, then having a wired controller works well. If you have your laptop connected to a large screen TV with surround sound and you game while sitting across the room, then you will want a wireless controller.

Xbox vs PlayStation & Third-Party Controllers

You will also need to decide which type of controller you will want to play with. Xbox controllers will have the most technical support and right from the factory have compatibility with PC games. Most PC game tutorials will guide you assuming you have an Xbox controller. If you are using a PlayStation or third-party controller, you must go into that controller’s driver options and customize the buttons to match the Xbox buttons’ locations.

Conclusion

The lines between console gaming and PC gaming have blurred. With more high-profile games coming to PCs the same day they hit consoles, more people are looking for a good way to play these games as they were originally designed. Likewise, if you’re a former console gamer crossing over into the PC space, you might be looking for a more familiar way to play your games. Thankfully, that’s easier to do today than ever before.

If you are about to step into the realm of PC gaming, then you likely will want to purchase a name-brand controller with pre-tested success such as the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller. There are other options out there but most users seem to return to the name brands time and again in order to optimize his or her PC gaming experience. However, some name brands require third-party software to run on PCs, which is an option many users prefer to avoid.

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