The mouse and keyboard are perhaps one of the most renowned duos in the world. No computer is EVER complete without both of these simple, but highly effective tools. When it comes to video games, however, this dynamic pair are almost ALWAYS top-dog in how you play.
However, PC’s are INCREDIBLY flexible, and just because a mouse and keyboard CAN be used to play games on your computer, that doesn’t mean that they should be your ONLY option. Believe it or not, you can use controllers to play video games on your PC too.
Many PC gamers argue that controllers are usually the definitive way to play specific genres of games where the precision usually found on a mouse isn’t necessary, such as a racing game or a 3D platformer. So, now that you know you can use a controller on a PC, what is the best one to use?
That’s what I am here for; I want to help you make the ultimate decision in finding the best PC controller for yourself! First of all though, let’s help you find out if you ACTUALLY need a controller as there are a few things to consider…
How to Choose a Controller for Your PC
Before we get started, let’s take our time to consider if you really need a controller; this is quite an important purchase as you are basically buying a WHOLE NEW method on how you currently play your games…
1: What Kind of Games Do You Play?
Delving into the world of controllers HIGHLY depends on the types of games you currently play on your computer. Do they require top-notch precision such as the genres, First Person Shooter (FPS) and Point-and-Click?
A mouse will always be the better type of control with these kinds of games, so getting a controller, unless you are REALLY used to using one for shooters, would put you at a BIG disadvantage…
2: Are You Used to Controllers?
Another thing you will need to consider before buying is how well you will be able to use a controller. Are you okay with using something completely different to a mouse and keyboard, or have you become so dependent on them that you cannot use anything else?
Before spending your valuable money on a controller, you will need to double check with yourself to make sure that you are ready for such a big change in the way you play games with your PC.
3: How Much Money Are You Willing to Spend?
The last thing you will need to consider before making the purchase is HOW much you are going to purchase a controller for. If you are going to be playing a game religiously and are in DIRE need of a controller for an easier set of controls, then you will need a controller of great quality; this may cost you a fair bit of money.
If, on the other hand, you are only going to get a controller for only a few games, and none will be played THAT competitively, then you would probably be better of with a cheap and easy to replace controller.
Right! With those things out of the way, let’s get properly started!
1 – Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
If you on the market looking for an affordable controller to play video games on your PC with, this is a serious contender and one of the biggest controllers you will need to consider. The reason I say this is quite simple; you can’t get more simpler and easier than with an Xbox 360 controller.
One of the biggest strengths with the original Xbox 360 controller is with how easy it is to play video games on your computer with it; it’s quite literally a “plug-in-and-play” controller. It’s a great option for you if you don’t want to spend precious time in your day trying to work out how to get it to properly connect to your PC.
Not convinced enough? You’ll like these other things about it:
- This specific controller is wireless, and comes with a wireless receiver which you can plug into your computer and use the controller wirelessly – no pesky wires to cause any kind of wire-related upset, and just another reason why this controller is a must have.
- Don’t underestimate its age; though the Xbox 360 is more than 12 years old, its controller is still considered one of the best around.
- Not too pricey, so this controller shouldn’t leave too big of a crater inside your wallet.
- Wireless has a range of up to 30 feet, so you can easily game from further away from the screen than you would be using a keyboard and mouse.
- Battery life lasts up to 30 hours on two AA batteries, so you can game for quite a while with this controller; there should be no need to worry about your controller dying on you so quickly.
- High performance means that there should be no delay or input lag, meaning that when you do an action it should do it immediately, even when wireless. This is a big reason why this controller is a top pick for hardcore gamers because it doesn’t give them a disadvantage against other players.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot to love about this particular controller; it’s no surprise why so many people opt to use the original Xbox 360 controller over others. But don’t take my word from it, there’s tons of positive reviews on Amazon about this product. If you want to see their words of praise, click below:
2 – Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller
If older generations weren’t your style, maybe you’re looking for something a little more modern; meet the Xbox One Elite. Arguably considered by many to be the best controller on the market today, this pricey item can pack a serious punch for competitive gamers.
If you’re looking for a more modern and not so “ancient” official Xbox controller, then the Elite may just be the one for you. This controller comes with a lot of additional items too, including a USB cable, so you don’t have to worry about surfing through Amazon or Ebay to find a measly USB cable after getting this controller.
If that wasn’t enough, here’s so more cool stuff about this controller:
- Although quite pricey, it DOES come with quite a few things: a case to carry the controller around in; a set of 4 paddles, 6 thumb sticks and 2 D-pads (faceted and standard); a USB cable, AA batteries and a setup guide and product manual. Phew!
- 4 interchangeable paddles allow for an additional set of controls. One example for them is that you can use them to simulate the paddle gears of a super car!
- 6 differently-designed thumb sticks to allow for a greater variety in how you want your thumb sticks to be like. They can either be a smooth dome-shaped or have a slight dip in the middle as a few examples.
- Faceted D-pad can allow you to have more precision than with the standard D-pad; could very well be the difference between winning and losing an intense game.
The Xbox One Elite is one serious controller; although it may not be the best choice if you are looking for an affordable controller or if you just play games casually, it is still one to consider if you are looking for the best of the best. With a high percentage of Amazon 5 star reviews, also, it certainly isn’t just me who thinks its awesome! Click below to hear their thoughts:
3 – Xbox One Wireless Controller
If the Elite is a little too impacting on your wallet, perhaps the original Xbox One controller may be a little bit friendlier on your hard-earned cash. Wireless like the others on this list, this one includes Bluetooth technology, so you can game wirelessly with your PC with ease.
If you are worried about using Bluetooth instead of your typical USB cable or wireless receiver, click here to see my post on how to properly use a controller on your PC, which includes Bluetooth.
With a bold claim that you can get up to TWICE the wireless range compared to previous Xbox One controllers, this is a pretty big pro for this controller, and a big thing to consider. Range is everything when it comes to wireless, so it is important for you to have the most amount of range possible, especially if you are somebody who games from the other side of the room.
But that’s not all. Here are some other things to put into consideration about this controller:
- Bluetooth technology to allow seemingless use on your PC; you won’t have to worry about scrounging through your house looking for a USB cable. Less work, more play!
- Textured grip to reduce the risk of the controller slipping out of your hands during an intense battle. The last thing you want is your controller jumping out of your hands like a bar of wet soap during a game!
- Up to twice the wireless range compared to previous Xbox One controllers. This is great if you prefer gaming from a couch on the other side of the room.
- Far cheaper than the Elite controller, so if you are looking for a more affordable option, this one is the more likely one to consider.
There are quite a few things going for the basic Xbox One controller, and judging by the amount of positive reviews on Amazon, many people would agree. If you want to see what their thoughts are on this controller, click below now:
4 – PlayStation 4 DualShock Wireless Controller
Branching off from Xbox-related controllers, we arrive at Sony’s counterpart; the PlayStation. A top contender in the world of video games, the PlayStation 4 is a VERY popular machine to play games on, and its controller is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.
While more costly than an Xbox controller, AND it takes a little more effort to make it work with your computer than an Xbox controller would, – it’s far more challenging than simple “plug-in-and-play” – the PS4 controller is a very worthy controller to use for your PC games.
Furthermore, many people actually PREFER the thin and unique shape of the controller to the traditional chubby Xbox controllers, and would loyally side with Sony’s controller rather than Microsoft’s counterpart.
Here are some things to consider for the PS4 DualShock controller:
- Very snazzy and customizable light bar at the front of the controller which, with special software which can allow you to use a PS4 controller with your computer such as DS4 which you can find my post which goes into more detail about it here, can allow you to make it ANY colour you want. Perfect if you have a PC or peripherals with a colour-specific setup!
- Unique design with thinner handles allowing for a super comfortable hold. You may prefer holding a PS4 controller as opposed to an Xbox controller, but this is entirely down to your preferences.
- Comes in a small variety of colours, so choose wisely…! Or, just pick your favourite colour really. Anything goes!
- Comes with Bluetooth, so just like the Xbox One wireless controller, you can use it wirelessly with your computer. Great for gaming a little bit further away from the screen than you would be with a mouse and keyboard!
- While it doesn’t have a USB cable in addition, you should still be able to use one you may already have with it. If you don’t, there’s plenty of USB cables online which you can buy, such as this one.
Although a bit more fussy when it comes to using it to play games on your computer with, the PS4 DualShock wireless controller continues to be a top-dog controller. But don’t take my word for it; there are around 1,100+ reviews on Amazon for it, and 75% of them have given 5-star reviews! Click below to check them out and see what other people have to say about it:
5 – SteelSeries Stratus XL Wireless Controller
Are you looking for a quality controller that ISN’T an official and expensive Xbox or PlayStation controller? Then this controller may just very well be the one you’re looking for. Made by SteelSeries, a renowned company in the world of PC gaming, this unique controller can be used to play Virtual Reality games on your PC; a big plus if you’ve ever wanted to change the way you play games forever but didn’t know what controller to use.
Just like modern console controllers, the Stratus XL also has Bluetooth, which can easily allow you to use it wirelessly with a computer. They even boast that it is just as responsive as the major console controllers as well.
Here are some other things to help you to consider getting this controller:
- The Stratus can provide you with 40 hours of wireless gaming with two AA batteries, which also come included with the controller when you buy it from Amazon. This will allow you to game from further away than you would be with a keyboard and mouse.
- Using SteelSeries Engine, you will be able to customize the sensitivity of the joysticks. This is great if you want a more precise control of your games; you may be able to pull off some amazing flick shots with this setting!
- A mixture between the PS4 and Xbox One controllers; this makes the Stratus XL controller a must have if you already had a feel for the major console controllers, but wanted the overall design to be somewhere in-between.
- 4 easy to read LED’s which allow you to easily see the status and the connectivity of the controller. This is great as with most controllers it can be quite difficult to find out the status of them.
SteelSeries have made quite a complex and brilliant controller as you can see. There are quite a lot of positive reviews for it on Amazon too, so many people would definitely agree. Click below and see for yourself:
6 – Steam Controller
Want something a little more different from your ordinary console controllers? This controller is one which you may need to consider. The Steam controller is a controller created by Valve to make it easier for people to play games on their PC with a controller; it’s basically a controller that was built JUST for that.
One thing which makes this controller unique and different from the rest is that it was build PRIMARILY to allow you to play just about any PC game with a controller rather than the traditional keyboard and mouse. This is perfect for people who may have transitioned to PC gaming from console gaming, but just don’t have it in them to give up the way they’ve always played games up until then.
Here are some other things which the Steam controller has which may make you put it up as a consideration:
- A unique gamepad than traditional controllers; this can allow you to have a more precise control of the things you do than a regular gamepad.
- Can be used on games which didn’t have a controller support of some kind in mind. This means you can play practically ANYTHING with the Steam Controller, so you won’t have to worry about whether it can play them or not.
- While the design and overall feelness of the controller is odd and can take some getting used to, this allows you to have a more stable control on the controller, and can give you more precision on games that require motion controls.
- The smooth trackpad can allow you to aim with more precision that you would be able to with a thumbstick. It can also act as a mouse, giving you a way to move the cursor around the screen without an actual mouse. Very useful you want to use a controller for EVERYTHING on your PC.
As you can see, the Steam Controller has a lot going on for it. With its ability to play just about any PC game AND with how you can use it as a mouse as well, this is a controller you should seriously consider. But don’t take my word for it, there are a lot of positive reviews about it on Amazon. Click below to see what other people think about it:
7 – Logitech F310 Wired Controller
Want a cheaper, but highly effective controller than the big boys the PS4 and Xbox One controllers? The Logitech F310 controller may be a controller you should seriously consider. I say this because, although this one is wired and won’t offer the benefits of wireless controllers, it won’t cost you a fortune to buy.
Another thing that I like about this controller is with how Logitech didn’t decide to make their budget controller any different to any ordinary controller. It has a very similar design to the mainstream controllers, so there isn’t a steep learning curve for you to hurdle over like other uniquely-shaped controllers like the Steam controller for example.
If that wasn’t enough, here are more things to consider:
- The F310 is based on wired Xbox controllers, so this should work as SOON as you plug it into your PC. This controller is perfect if you don’t want to spend ages downloading and modifying software to get your controller to work with your computer.
- The controller has a sturdy design so you shouldn’t worry too much about it breaking if you accidentally drop it on the floor. A great choice for you if you play rage inducing games as you may find yourself throwing your controller onto your bed or couch in rage. 😉
- This product contains programmable buttons which can allow you to use them however you want in video games. These buttons could give you the upper hand in certain video games as other controllers don’t usually have as many buttons given to you.
- Very affordable compared to mainstream controllers, so this controller won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
This is a very worthy controller for you to have, and with the overwhelming positive reviews on Amazon, many people feel the same way. Click below to see what they have to say about it:
8 – Horipad Pro Wired Controller
Here’s another affordable opinion quite similar to the Logitech F310. The Horipad Pro wired controller is a worthy consideration if you are looking for a budget controller which does the same job as an Xbox controller. With its wired connection also, it will be a simple “plug-in-and-play” into your computer like any other wired Xbox controller, or others based off of it.
Similar to the F310 as well, it has 4 programmable buttons to give you more room for customizability and control over your games. Want to have a button which quickly gives you a health or mana potion in an RPG? These buttons should do the trick!
Here are more reasons why you should consider the Horipad Pro:
- Has a headphone jack built in to allow you to wear headphones or earbuds or even a headset with this product. Useful if you game from further away than the headphone wires would reach if they were plugged into your computer – with them plugged into the controller, you won’t have to worry about the length of the wire.
- Controller has an enhanced vibration function so it can really help immerse you in your video game environments.
- Pressure sensitive analog triggers can help to give you incredible precision in video games. This feature makes this controller perfect for racing games.
- With its crystal cut transparent shell, this controller is very nice to look at. Another thing to consider this product.
- The fact that it is wired, like other wired controllers, means that you won’t have to spend money on extra things like batteries and wireless receivers, nor do you have to waste any time charging them either.
This is a pretty effective budget controller, but unfortunately it is very average and perhaps not the best quality controller on the market. Many reviewers on Amazon feel the same way, and the majority of ratings give this controller a 3-star. Click below to see what they think of this controller:
9 – ThrustMaster GPX Wired Controller
Are you looking for the cheapest possible controller on this list, and quite possibly the entire market? The GPX by ThrustMaster might just be the controller you need to consider. Already, the low price of the product looks very promising, but what else does it have going for it?
With a design similar to that of the PS4’s controller, this product can easily be a comfortable hold in anybody’s hands.
Here are some other reasons to consider this product:
- The triggers are curved at the end, which can give you good finger positioning. Plus, you fingers won’t slip around as much as they may on non-curved triggers.
- D-pad is in a contoured design, which can give you a more precise control over the D-pad, and to prevent your fingers from slipping off of them as well.
- 2 vibration motors to give you an immersive experience with games that you are playing. There’s low frequency on the left and high on the right.
- Joysticks have genuine rubber on them to give you a better and non-slippery grip on them.
There’s not much to say about this controller, and as it is a very budgeted controller, there will be some disadvantages to it. While there have been only 4 people who reviewed this product on Amazon at the time of this writing, their opinions are very mixed. Check them out and see if this is a controller you want to consider or not:
10 – Razer Wildcat Wired Controller
If you want a pricey, but serious contender in the controller industry, then this one may just very well be the one for you. While this is pretty much a wired Xbox controller with Razer advertising and a few improvements to the original controller’s design, the improvements are what makes this controller one you need to consider.
One of the big reasons why I think this controller is awesome is the built-in quick control panel which can allow you to toggle between profiles, remap the programmable buttons and to adjust game and voice chat volumes. This can allow you to mute your mic or mute the game altogether at the simple press of a button on your controller.
Here are some more things you may like about the Razer Wildcat:
- The controller has two buttons on the top which act as extra bumpers, and 2 removable triggers at the back. You can map these buttons however you please inside your game. You can use the triggers as your gear shifts, and the extra bumpers as a pit call or a way to tune your car while you’re driving as a few examples.
- Not only does it have built-in memory which remembers the settings you have, but it also comes with a case to carry the controller around in. Very useful when you want to take this controller to a friend’s house to play with them.
- The controller is built with sturdy materials, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking so easily. If you have an extreme playstyle (ahem, if you play rage-inducing games which make you lob controllers around in rage), this controller may be one of your better options.
- Has a 3.5mm audio port and microphone input, so you won’t have to worry about finding a free space on your computer to plug your headset into as the controller will a port ready and waiting.
While a little on the pricey side, this controller has quite a lot of features going for it. Again, while it is slightly based on the original Xbox One controller design, it has its own features and improvements which make it one of the best controllers on the market. Click below to see what people on Amazon have to say about it:
And there we have it! Using a controller can be the best way to play specific PC games, and hopefully the controllers on this list are worth your consideration, and if you do go ahead and buy one, I hope that it does exactly what you wanted it to do. 🙂
Thank you ever so much for reading this article, and if you have any questions or have a controller that you may want me to add to this review, please don’t be afraid of voicing your opinions in the comment section below.
Thanks, and have an awesome day!