The Best Controllers For PC in 2021

The best controller for PC is often a subjective category thanks to the fact that PC gamers can use virtually any controller on the market. Unlike console gamers, people playing on PC have access to a much wider selection of controllers. That includes controllers used on each of the three most popular gaming consoles at the moment but also includes a ton of controllers made by third party manufactures. And while the market is huge, finding the best PC controller is easier than, let’s say, finding the best gaming keyboard under $100, because the top of the market is dominated by just a few models.

Today, we have only the best PC controllers to show. Our selection includes the best of the best so if you’re looking for your next controller you will probably find what you’re looking for bellow. And if somehow our list doesn’t include something you’re interested in well, you can read our controller buying guide available at the end of this list. Let’s check out the best controllers for PC you can get right now.

nintendo switch pro controller
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth)
  • Battery Life: Minimum Of 40 Hours
  • Weight: 246 Grams
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The Switch Pro Controller is a solid piece of engineering. It feels great when in your hands, its build quality is excellent, and it can fit comfortably into most hands. Materials used feel sturdy and long-lasting and the controller is pretty heavy and feels like it can last for years.

The button layout can be confusing since the Switch Pro Controller uses different buttons for forward and back but Switch owners are probably used to that. And you can also replace it with an Xbox One button layout in Steam. While the Switch Pro controller lacks analog triggers found on the back, it does offer some advantages over other controllers.

Firstly, it has an excellent vibration engine that feels amazing, noticeably better than on other controllers. Further, the Switch Pro also has motion sensors so you can use motion controls in games that support it. Next, the D-pad on the Switch Pro is better than on most other controllers. And finally, hooking it up to a PC is very straightforward. Just connect it via cable or sync it via Bluetooth in just a few seconds.

The Steam setup is fairly simple, but the Switch Pro can be connected to your PC in other ways. If you plan on using the controller wirelessly, the built-in battery should last for about forty hours or longer, which is one of best results on the market for a controller with a built-in battery. Aside from the lack of analog triggers, the Switch Pro also suffers from drifting issues that also affect JoyCons. The drift isn’t as serious as on JoyCons, but it’s there. Overall, the Switch Pro is an excellent controller for PC for users who don’t mind not having analog triggers. Just be warry of the drifting issues.

Pros:
  • Superb Build Quality
  • Excellent Rumble Engine
  • Very Comfortable To Use
  • Excellent D-Pad
  • Extremely Long Battery Life
Cons:
  • Lacks Analog Triggers
  • Has Drifting Issues
  • Expensive

Xbox Core Controller

The Best Wireless PC Controller For Most Users

xbox core controller
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth, USB Dongle)
  • Battery Life: Depends On Which Battery You’re Using
  • Weight: 287 Grams
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The new Xbox Core controller, which replaced the Xbox One controller, is the definition of the “if it’s not broken” philosophy. It comes with a limited number of upgrades while keeping the best features of the Xbox One controller. That means excellent comfortability and design that goes well with both smaller and bigger hands. The new D-pad is probably the most obvious update, one that makes the Xbox Core one of the best controllers for 2D platformers.

Next, we have the same arrangement of buttons with excellent triggers that are now textured for better grip. In fact, the whole body of the controller has a grippy texture that feels great in hands. Finally, the micro-USB port is replaced with USB-C, allowing it to be used with any Micro-USB cable around. As for the battery life, if you have a pack of quality rechargeable AA batteries, you can expect north of 25 hours with a single charge.

The controller has excellent compatibility. While it’s designed for the Xbox Series X and S it works great on the Xbox One S and X, Windows 10 (wired, USB dongle, Bluetooth), and most Android devices. The only downside of using the controller on Windows 10 PCs is the fact that the hardware share button doesn’t work at the moment. We’re hoping a future update will solve this issue.

Pros:
  • Excellent Comfortability
  • Compatibility With Xbox One S And X
  • Built As A Tank
  • New D-Pad And USB-C Are Great Improvements
  • Works Out Of The Box On Windows
Cons:
  • Uses AA Batteries Instead Of A Built-In One (Subjective)
  • Share Button Doesn’t Work On Windows 10

DualSense Wireless Controller

Excellent PC Controller With Limited Functionality

dualsense wireless controller
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth)
  • Battery Life: 6-13 Hours
  • Weight: 280 Grams
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While the new Xbox Core controller is a slight step forward compared to the Xbox One controller, the DualSense made for the PS5 is a whole new dimension compared to the DualShock 4. The new design makes DualSense very comfortable for users with larger hands, with all users gaining from an increased grip thanks to the phenomenal PS styled texture covering the whole controller.

You also get adaptive triggers that demand various levels of force to be pressed depending on the situation, and they work great. DualSense also features incredibly detailed haptic feedback that, in selected games, perfectly translates movements and action to the user. That’s all great if you own a PS5. If you don’t well, you’ll miss on a boatload of features. For starters, you can’t use DualSense on the PlayStation 4 (at least not in a simple way). You can hook it to a Windows 10 PC and it’ll work great, but without adaptive triggers and haptic feedback.

Next, while the battery found inside the DualSense is 50 percent larger than on the DS4, and while the average battery life is about 13 hours, playing games that fully utilize new features cuts it down to about 6 hours. That’s pretty disappointing, especially since we expect more and more games to utilize both adaptive triggers and haptic feedback in the future. But if you have a PS5, the DualSense is probably the best controller in the world right now.

Pros:
  • Adaptive Triggers And Haptic Feedback Are Game Changers
  • Superb Experience On PlayStation 5
  • Improved Grip
  • Excellent D-Pad
  • USB-C
Cons:
  • Battery Life Can Be Quite Poor In Selected Titles
  • On Windows 10, This Is Just Another (Albeit Well Built) Wireless Controller

Razer Wolverine Ultimate

The Best Wired Controller For PC

razer wolverine ultimate
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Weight: 272 Grams
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The Wolverine Ultimate from Razer is hands-down the best wired controller for PC. That’s actually its biggest weakness, the inability to be used wirelessly. But other than that, this is a superb controller. First of all, the build quality is top-notch. Still a bit behind the Xbox One controller but overall pretty good.

When it comes to the good stuff, this controller supports swapping places of the D-Pad (which isn’t that great to use but can be replaced with a tilting D-Pad, which is miles better) and the left thumbstick, which is cool to have. Next, you have tactile X, Y, A, and B buttons that click like a mouse when pressed on. Some people love this, some not so much.

The Wolverine Ultimate also offers extra buttons on the back and bottom, such as extra triggers and bumpers, which can be mapped to any control you like. You can also adjust the travel of the triggers and the height of the thumbsticks, like on the Xbox One Elite controller. This pad also includes a control panel below the thumbsticks that can be useful for muting audio or adjusting sound volume.

This controller, like many other Razer products, includes RGB lighting placed at the top of the pad, encircling the Xbox logo. It’s shiny but needs a separate app to turn on and tweak. Overall, the Razer Wolverine Ultimate is an excellent wired controller but it’s also very expensive and at this price, the exclusion of wireless connectivity just doesn’t make sense.

Pros:
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Astounding Number Of Customization Options
  • Lots Of Extra Buttons And Two Extra Triggers
  • Very Comfortable To Use
  • Allows Swapping Positions Of The Lest Thumbstick And D-Pad
Cons:
  • Doesn’t Have Wireless Connectivity
  • Very Expensive

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Controller

The Best Portable PC Controller

8bitdo sn30 pro controller
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth)
  • Battery Life: 15-20 Hours
  • Weight: 210 Grams
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While most controllers are portable in the sense that you can carry them inside a bag or in your hand, not many of them can be carried inside a pocket. And this is the biggest strength of the SN30 Pro Controller from 8Bitdo. It’s small enough to fit inside a pocket while offering features such as dual analog sticks, rumble vibration, and motion controls. The controller supports Nintendo Switch and PC so it’s an excellent choice for PC gamers that also own a Nintendo Switch. It can be connected to a PC via Bluetooth or with a USB-C cable, and the procedure is pretty straightforward and simple.

The build quality is excellent for a device this small. Everything feels very solid and the plastic feels premium. The size is pretty small and the design is that of the legendary SNES controller with added analog sticks, Switch-exclusive buttons, and L2 and R2 buttons. The controller is pretty comfortable to hold but due to its smaller size, it won’t be great for people with large hands. Also, it doesn’t fit in hand as well as some other, larger controllers.

Another downside is the lack of analog triggers. This limits its usage with racing games but the SN30 Pro Controller works flawlessly with any other title. Thumbsticks feel right and the D-Pad is almost as good as on the DS4 and the Switch Pro controllers. The battery can last up to 20 hours on a single charge, which is a fair result but nothing groundbreaking. Overall, the SN30 Pro Controller is an excellent choice for PC gamers with a Switch or for PC gamers who often carry their controller to a friend for a night of local multiplayer fun.

Pros:
  • Extremely Portable
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Solid Comfort For Such A Small Device
  • Great For Users With Small Hands
  • Excellent D-Pad
Cons:
  • No Analog Triggers
  • Not Great For Users With Large Hands

NACON Controller

Solid Choice For Users Who Want To Fully Customize Their Controller

nacon controller esports revolution unlimited pro v3
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth)
  • Battery Life: About 8 Hours
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If you want to get a controller with a wide range of customization features, the Esports Revolution Unlimited Pro V3 Controller from Nacon is a pretty good choice. It comes with an Xbox thumbstick layout, and aside from swapping left stick and D-Pad, you can pretty much tweak everything on this controller. When it comes to connectivity you can use Bluetooth or cable. When in wireless mode, the battery has a disappointing life of just about eight hours.

The pad comes with multiple pairs of swappable analog sticks along with two pairs of swappable stick heads. You can also change the weight of the controller with included weights and it also comes with a backside control panel for setting audio volume. On top of that, you also get four extra buttons found on the grips of the controller. These can be remapped when used on the PC but aren’t that easy to press.

The controller works on the PC and PS4 and is a great choice for owners of both systems wanting a high-end controller. It supports wired and wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. When it comes to build quality, it’s great. The controller feels solid and is quite heavy. It feels very comfortable and has better ergonomics than the DS4, especially for users with large hands.

When it comes to downsides, while the Esports Revolution Unlimited Pro V3 supports wireless audio (hooking a wired headset to it and using it wirelessly, like on the DS4), the microphone signal is so distorted that it cannot be used for voice chat. Also, many user reviews mention different buttons and parts failing after some time, similar to the Xbox Elite Controller situation.

Overall, this is a solid choice for users who want lots of customization options and for PC gamers who also game on the PS4. On the flip side, the longevity issues, high price, and poor battery life put it behind the competition.

Pros:
  • Very Comfortable To Use
  • Lots Of Customization Options
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Great For PC Gamers Who Also Own PS4
Cons:
  • Parts And Buttons Prone To Breaking After Some Time
  • Too Expensive For What It Offers
  • Poor Battery Life

Logitech Gamepad F310

The Best Cheap PC Controller

logitech gamepad f310
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Weight: 295 Grams
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If you want a simple, affordable, reliable, and comfortable PC controller the legendary F310 from Logitech is the way to go. This gamepad is on the market for about a decade and for all the good reasons. It’s built like a tank, feels great in hands, features excellent rumble vibration, and is very reliable. It can last for years and years, even if you aren’t the most considerate owner. When it comes to the size, this pad is larger than a DS4 and fits great in both large and small hands.

Analog sticks feature PlayStation placement white the buttons are done in Xbox style. The controller also includes analog triggers. On the bottom, you’ll find a small switch used to move between the direct and Xinput modes, which can be handy if you like playing older games not supporting the Xinput standard. Overall, this is an excellent choice for those looking for a reliable and comfortable gamepad that isn’t expensive with its only major drawback being the lack of wireless connectivity.

Pros:
  • Very Comfortable To Use
  • Superb Build Quality
  • Affordable
  • Great For All Hand Sizes
Cons:
  • Doesn’t Include Wireless Connectivity

Xbox One Elite Series 2 Controller

The Best PC Controller Overall

xbox elite series 2 controller
  • Connectivity: Wired, Wireless (Bluetooth)
  • Battery Life: About 40 Hours
  • Weight: 345 Grams
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Microsoft made the best gamepad ever with the first generation of the Xbox One Elite controller and now they improved the formula with the Series 2. It comes with a slew of improvements while keeping the basics right, making it the best PC controller you can get right now. It received Bluetooth connectivity, making it easier to connect to the PC. It also has the excellent build quality and a ton of customization options.

You can swap analog sticks and the D-Pad. Change thumbstick tension and trigger the actuation point. Add optional paddles to the bottom of the gamepad, or play without them. You can also change the function of every single button and keep multiple profiles for different games. In other words, this is the dream controller for gamers who want to customize every aspect of their gamepad. Well, every except the placement of the left stick and D-Pad, which cannot swap places.

Thanks to the wide range of customization options the Xbox Elite Series 2 gamepad works perfectly in every game. After you find your ultimate combination of settings, thumbsticks, and the D-Pad you will finally have your perfect gamepad. On top of all that, the built-in battery lasts for up to 40 hours, which is one of the best results on the market. And let’s not forget excellent analog triggers that feature rumble feedback.

But even the best PC controller comes with its share of issues. First of all, lots of controllers suffer from QA and manufacturing issues, leaving them with some flaws the moment they leave the factory. Further, the parts are prone to malfunction after some time. This is why we recommend getting the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller only new and only if you can replace it for free or send in for a free repair. Don’t buy this one used or on the grey market. If it gets broken, you won’t be able to replace it or repair it for free.

Pros:
  • Tons Of Customization Options
  • Best In Class Analog Triggers
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Amazing Battery Life
  • Very Comfortable To Use For Hours On End
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • D-Pad Could’ve Been Better
  • Lots Of Units Suffer From QA And Manufacturing Issues

How To Choose A Controller For PC

The most important thing when it comes to gamepads is their build quality and endurance. Cheap ones tend to feel very well, cheap in hands, and are prone to malfunction much earlier than premium models. But QA and manufacturing issues can also affect premium models so read user reviews to see how a model you’re after holds up in terms of durability. And while premium gamepad models don’t have as high build quality as let’s say the best joysticks on the market, they still offer great build quality for the price.

Ergonomics And Size Of The Controller

Next up is the ergonomics. The gamepad should fit comfortably in your hand. Having a gamepad that’s a bit large for your hands is better than getting a controller that’s too small. If the gamepad’s larger it will still fit well in your hand and you should easily reach all buttons. A controller that’s too small isn’t as comfortable and can cause discomfort during long gaming sessions.

D-Pad, Controller Style, And Analog Triggers

If you love playing 2D platformers and Metroidvanias, make sure to pick a gamepad with a quality D-Pad. Some gamepads have very poor D-Pads which are unusable for playing 2D games. Even some flagship models lack in that department so don’t think that a higher price guarantees quality D-Pad.

Next, we have the length and precision of analog sticks. Some people like taller sticks, others like them shorter. No matter which group you’re a part of, be sure to check reviews for the precision and feel of the thumbsticks, to make sure they fit your preferences.

Oh, and don’t forget that most controllers don’t support swapping the D-Pad and left thumbstick so decide whether you like the PlayStation of Xbox gamepad style best because you won’t able to change it unless you get a new controller. Finally, analog triggers can feel awful even on some expensive controllers, so make sure to try them out in case user reviews mention poorly done triggers.

Connectivity

While wireless controllers can be used in wired mode (in most cases) wired gamepads don’t have wireless connectivity. If you don’t mind having a wired controller feel free and get one. But remember that a wireless gamepad is a better choice since there you have the choice of how to use the controller. And today most PCs have Bluetooth connectivity which means that most wireless gamepads will work out of the box with any PC.

Extra Buttons And Customization

Flagship gamepad models usually come with customization options. You can swap analog sticks, set their tension, or change the actuation point of the analog triggers. Some pads allow users to swap the place of the left thumbstick and D-Pad, changing their placement from PlayStation to Xbox style and vice versa. Others include weights for changing the heaviness of the pad, which can also improve the overall experience.

While they don’t have as many buttons as gaming keyboards, especially macro buttons, some flagship controllers do come with extra buttons. Other offer extra triggers and special paddles mounted on the bottom of the controller. If you’re a hardcore gamer and want a pad with lots of customization options, carefully research them in different models because not a single gamepad comes with every customization feature out there.

Some lack extra buttons, others don’t include paddles. Some models don’t support swapping places of the D-Pad and the left thumbstick, while others don’t allow changing the actuation point of analog triggers. Since every flagship gamepad is quite expensive, you should come up with a list of customization features you need the most and then get a pad that fits the list best.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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