Sometimes a gaming keyboard and gaming mouse won’t cut it in certain PC games. That’s where a great PC controller, like the Xbox Core Wireless Controller, comes in clutch. Click to jump to a detailed look at the best PC controllers, or see our quick shopping list below:
TL;DR – These are the Best PC Controllers:
The best PC controllers can be a boon in everything from racing games and flying sims to open-world and fighting games. But if you’re still unsure about swapping out your keyboard and mouse for a gamepad, jump ahead to our FAQ section for more info before you buy a controller. Otherwise, we’ve found ten top-tier options perfect to pair with your gaming PC – and find them here in the UK.
10 Best PC Controllers
Best PC Controller
If you’re searching for a controller with a quality design and ample flexibility in how you use it to game on your PC, the Xbox Core Controller is a solid place to start. Microsoft has created an ergonomic controller that’s easy to hold onto thanks to added grip on the side, rear, and triggers. Of course, it has a familiar Xbox layout, while the majority of its buttons are remappable, and the D-Pad is even more tactile than the Xbox One iteration.
There’s plenty of versatility in connecting the Xbox Core Controller to your PC with a wired USB-C to eliminate input lag and Bluetooth as a wireless alternative. There’s also a low-latency wireless option available if you have an Xbox Wireless adapter for PC. It even includes a 3.5mm jack for your headset, limiting the number of wires running between you and your PC. However, it’s powered by AA batteries, which seems a bit archaic for 2023; but nonetheless it gives you gameplay usage of up to 40 hours. At the end of the day, it’s worth it.
Best Budget PC Controller
The PowerA Enhanced wired controller is a strong option, ditching wireless connectivity in order to hit a low price point under $40—and it’s often on sale for much less. Sure, you won’t get Bluetooth to get in some action on your gaming phone, but the removable Micro USB works great with your PC right out of the box. And since you’re tethered to your computer, you’ll never need to worry about finding batteries in your junk drawer every few months.
The controller itself doesn’t stray too far from the shape and feel of Microsoft’s own Xbox controller, though it’s slightly lighter, lacks those rubberized grips, and is a tad bit flimsier. However, you get two vibration motors to feel the action and all the buttons you need for your games. It even takes a page out of the Xbox Elite Controller’s book: on the underside of the PowerA Enhanced controller, you’ll find two small buttons that can serve as shortcuts to face buttons.
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Best Ultra Cheap PC Controller
Are you a devout keyboard and mouse gamer who imagines yourself rarely using a gamepad? The Logitech F310 is the perfect option for you, as it only costs around $20, but it includes everything you need for your occasional cravings to use a controller. This option delivers dual joysticks, bumpers and triggers, four standard face buttons, and an eight-directional D-Pad, while ten buttons are programmable to customize the gamepad to your needs.
Now, is the Logitech F310 something you’ll want to be using all the time? Probably not, as its short, nubby grips don’t make for excellent ergonomics, and the joysticks aren’t 100 percent accurate. But that shouldn’t matter for short bursts, and the controller will make your life significantly easier when driving vehicles in games like Grand Theft Auto V or Battlefield 2042. It’s also strictly wired, connecting via USB, though it’s plug-and-play and delivers low input lag for the fastest possible actions.
Best Wired PC Controller
The plug-and-play nature of the Turtle Beach Recon Controller is perfect for anyone looking to add a wired controller to their PC. It connects via a detachable USB-A cord, and there’s even a headset port on the controller, helping to limit the wires cluttering your PC setup. Turtle Beach takes it further by including their Super Human Hearing to enhance subtle audio cues and audio controls for volume, game and chat mix, and mic monitoring, all on the gamepad itself.
You’ll get quickly up to speed in games with the familiar X-box style layout of the Turtle Beach Recon Controller, so you’re all set for Xbox Game Pass games and the wide assortment of titles available on Steam. Two back paddles are on the gamepad for quick actions, while on-the-fly button remapping is also available with four different profiles preloaded on the Recon, which you can reconfigure to your liking. Finally, the textured finishes on most controls and rubberized grips make for a secure handhold.
Best Bluetooth PC Controller
The Sony DualSense Controller makes it simple to connect to your PC using Bluetooth, which means it’ll also be a solid option as a phone controller for mobile gaming. However, if you’re looking for a more stable connection with less latency, you can always plug it in via a USB-C for a wired option. And unlike the Xbox Core, when you use it wirelessly, you get a rechargeable battery, though the battery life leaves much to be desired.
The Sony DualSense changes the aesthetics of the DualShock, making for a sleeker, easier-to-grip gamepad that still offers a similar control scheme and symmetrical analog sticks. Steam support is on the controller, while advanced haptics and adaptive triggers work on PC using a wired connection. With more PlayStation-exclusive games ending up not so exclusive thanks to PC ports, full DualSense functionality on PC makes for the best way to play those games.
Best High-End PC Controller
If you’re after a controller that offers the familiar Xbox design but amps up its capability, you can’t go wrong with the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. This model features four rear paddles that can have their own actions or change the function of the face buttons, while all of the buttons on the gamepad are remappable. The D-pad, back paddles, and analog sticks are also all magnetically swappable, and you still get the tunable triggers we loved on the original Elite.
The Elite Series 2 controller adds the rechargeable battery that the Xbox Core controller lacks and lasts an impressive 40 hours on each charge. In addition to Xbox Wireless, if you’ve got an adapter, there’s Bluetooth, making it easy to pair with your PC or smartphone. You’re good to go when you’d rather have a low-latency wired connection, too, with a USB-C available.
Best PC Controller for Retro Game
With retro looks and modern functionality, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is an awesome option for playing classic games on PC — and new games, too. The face of this 8BitDo model gives you the sense of using a classic SNES controller, but the experience should be exponentially better thanks to a modern ergonomic design, quality buttons, and vibration. It also supports a range of platforms and can connect to your PC over a wired USB-C or Bluetooth for 20 hours.
On the 8BitDo Pro 2, you’ll find standard Nintendo-style controls, though you can remap the buttons to match in-game controls. Meanwhile, you get PlayStation-style symmetrical analog sticks and two back paddles that let you keep your thumbs on the sticks. Customization also allows you to do any necessary button remapping, swap sticks behavior and axes, or adjust the trigger actuation depth, and there are even motion controls.
The Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra is a unique controller thanks to its “Connected Command Display.” It’s a compact, full-color screen directly on the controller that displays phone notifications and lets you make on-the-fly setting adjustments like swapping between ten different profiles, fine-tuning the vibration intensity, and modifying RGB lighting. You can even program the RGB lighting to change colors to indicate phone notification alerts or low battery.
Display and RGB lighting aside, the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra is one beast of a gamepad, featuring an Xbox layout with tactile micro switches and hall-effect, anti-drift thumbsticks–drifting has plagued some Turtle Beach controllers. You’ll also find trigger locks and four mappable buttons on the underside for flexibility in how you play. Turtle Beach’s offering is wireless, so there’s a 2.4GHz dongle for a lag-free connection to your PC or Xbox, and Bluetooth support is handy for your gaming phone.
Best PC Fight Stick
If you play a good deal of arcade or fighting games, do yourself a favor and pick up a fight stick, and for PC, the Razer Kitsune is a standout option. Rather than including a typical stick on the controller, it has a leverless design offering buttons that move in a full range of directions. Though that may take getting used to, there are advantages, including a quicker input speed–milliseconds matter in fighting games—along with better accuracy and easier execution of certain moves. Beyond the directional controls, you get all the other buttons you need to KO opponents on this PlayStation-licensed device.
The Razer Kitsune is an ideal size, letting both hands rest comfortably on it while being light and compact enough to carry around at tournaments. That said, the controller still feels sturdy and durable, and the buttons have responsive and surprisingly quiet optical switches. If you’d like a different feel, those buttons are hot-swappable. Razer also includes a flashy light strip around the edge of the controller and a tournament lock to prevent you from accidentally getting disqualified.
Best PC Racing Wheel
PCs are the place to experience simulation racing games, letting play some very serious—and sometimes seriously obscure—racing games, and you can also connect multiple displays and ultrawide screens. For an even more immersive experience, you need a solid racing wheel, and Fanatec’s Gran Turismo DD Pro is what professional racers and enthusiast sim racers use. As the name might suggest, the direct drive wheels connect a large motor directly to the steering wheel for much better control and force feedback.
If you’re looking for performance, the Gran Turismo DD Pro delivers, giving you a whopping 5Nm of torque, but it can go up to 8Nm with the separate 180 Boost Kit. You’re bound to feel the pull of every turn and the shock of every bump! The wheel features an easy-to-use interface with familiar controls, unique 5-way directional sticks, and RevLED, while a steel two-pedal set completes this epic PC racing wheel.
Best PC Controller FAQ
Can You Use Console Controllers on PC?
The short answer to this question is yes. Most of the best PC controllers are just console controllers that you connect you your PC. Figuring out how to connect them to your computer is where it starts to get a little tricky. Take a look at our guides to connecting a PS5 controller to PC and pairing an Xbox controller to PC for help getting started.
Are Controllers Better Than a Mouse and Keyboard for PC Gaming?
In short, not necessarily. While playing PC games with a controller might seem sacrilege against everything that is right in the church of keyboard and mouse, you shouldn’t care about what other people think about the way you play PC games.
After all, PC gaming is just as much about playing games at their best possible quality, experiencing games at ultrawide and super-wide aspect ratios unobtainable on the consoles, or just having the highest, silkiest frame rate possible.
How you get to play that experience is up to you, and if you’re like us, sometimes you’d rather just sit back with a controller than constantly lean over your desk’s keyboard and mouse. This can be especially true if you happen to be playing games on a big-screen gaming TV on your couch. While there are lapboards to bring the true PC gaming experience to your living room, controllers are great for keeping things casual and comfortable.
How to Choose the Best PC Controller
Choosing the best PC controller is a lot like choosing the best console controller for you; it all depends on preference. If you like the configuration of Xbox controllers over the best PS5 controllers, then you’re going to want to a classic Xbox controller. If you’re looking for something more customizable, you’ll want to go with a custom controller like the Xbox Elite Series. And, if you just really like the feel of the Switch Pro controller, you can go with that too. There are plenty of options available!
Can You Use a PC Controller on a Steam Deck?
Though the Steam Deck comes with its own set of full-size buttons, rear paddles, and analog sticks, there’s still a case to be made for using a PC controller, such as if the device is hooked up to a gaming monitor or you’re taking advantage of multiplayer mode. Luckily, the gaming handheld supports a variety of controllers and makes them simple to pair.
The Steam Deck offers Bluetooth, so almost any controller with that connectivity option should work well with the device. Most Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo controllers are even automatically recognized by Steam, and on PlayStation controllers, the user interface on Steam defaults to match the PlayStation controls. You don’t need to worry about this with Xbox controllers, as they have the same button arrangement as the Steam Deck. It’s also possible to have a wired controller connected to the Steam Deck via a USB-C. So, maybe a controller should be the next Steam Deck accessory you pick up.
Where to Get the Best PC Controller in the UK
It is unsurprising that the Xbox controller tops the list here, but you’ve actually got a couple of options depending on whether your laptop or PC is Bluetooth enabled. If you’ve got Bluetooth to use, you won’t need the PC adapter USB, and can simply pick up an Xbox One controller, or even a PlayStation DualShock 4 to avoid the extra cost. But, if you want to consider all your options, here are the best PC controllers available in the UK. Don’t see the controllers below? Click here.
IGN’s tech freelancer Danielle Abraham contributed to this buying guide.
Tech expert Kevin Lee contributed to this guide. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam