How to Choose the Right Game Controller for Your PC

You ca n’t play video recording games without a estimable control system. possibly you want a keyboard and sneak for your shooters and scheme titles. possibly you do n’t mind using a touch shield for smartphone puzzles. Most games, though, play best with some form of dedicated restrainer. That ‘s why every major game console comes with a gamepad or two, and why they all can be connected to your personal computer with some tinker. If you largely want to play games on your PC—for the good reason that it has the largest library of titles spanning the widest range of ages, audiences, genres, prices, and hardware requirements—you should credibly invest in a restrainer. There ‘s nothing wrong with playing Fortnite with your current mouse and keyboard ( in fact, personal computer purists would say you ‘ll play even better than with a gamepad ), but about every other game you pick up from GOG.com, Humble Bundle, or Steam will feel much better with double analogue sticks under your thumbs. There are countless gamepads and other types of controllers you can hook up to your personal computer. here are some options to help pick the best one for you .

Using Console Controllers With Your PC

If you have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One S, managed to find a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, or splurged on a Switch Pro Controller for your Nintendo Switch, you already have a gamepad you can use with your personal computer. These controllers have the benefit of rock-solid human body timbre and dependable personal computer compatibility ( with some software or adapters required for the Nintendo and Sony gamepads ). If you do n’t already have one, though, they ‘re a act costly at $ 60 to $ 70 each.

Xbox Controllers

Whether it came with the Xbox One or Xbox Series, or you bought it individually, the Xbox Wireless Controller is immediately compatible with any Windows 10 or 11 personal computer as a wired accountant ; precisely plug it into a USB port and you can start playing with it. If the accountant was manufactured in the stopping point five years, it can pair wirelessly with your computer over Bluetooth. If you want to use more than one Xbox gamepad, or if you have an early on Xbox Wireless Controller without Bluetooth, you can use the $ 25 Xbox Wireless Adapter to connect up to eight gamepads to your personal computer at once without dealing with Bluetooth pairing. If you want to splurge, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is one of our favored radio gamepads, though it ‘s besides a brawny $ 180 .

PlayStation Controllers

The PS4 ‘s DualShock 4 and the PS5 ‘s DualSense controllers ( and the third-party Scuf Reflex Pro ) besides work with your personal computer through a USB or Bluetooth connection, at least with most steam games. steam offers a PlayStation Configuration Support option in its restrainer settings menu that should get either controller to work like an Xbox gamepad, and even supports button remapping. You can besides use the 8Bitdo Wireless USB Adapter, a $ 20 dongle that connects to your PlayStation gamepad ( and many other kinds of controllers ) and by rights maps it to work in Windows. It even supports 8Bitdo ‘s Ultimate Software for extensive map and customization. finally, for the most traffic circle frame-up, you can use a DualShock 4 through a broadcast called DS4Windows. It ‘s free third-party software that tricks your personal computer into thinking the DualShock 4 is a much more coarse ( for PCs ) Xbox control, like the Steam shape manner and 8Bitdo USB arranger do .

Nintendo Controllers

The Nintendo Switch ‘s Joy-Cons besides connect to your personal computer, but they require flush more wrestling. They ‘re capital on the Switch, but they do n’t feel quite as solid or have closely as comfortable directing controls as the Xbox Wireless Controller or DualShock 4. rather, we recommend the Switch Pro Controller. It ‘s a mighty and hardy conventional gamepad that can work with your personal computer without much effort, thanks to the Switch Pro Configuration Support option in Steam ‘s restrainer settings menu ( it ‘s two options below PlayStation Configuration Support ). For non-Steam games, the 8Bitdo Wireless USB Adapter will besides work here .

Third-Party PC Gamepads

If you want to break out of the $ 60 to $ 70 range of controllers, third-party gamepads offer much more choice. There are wired and radio receiver options that range from $ 20 to over $ 200, depending on design, features, and customization options. And, of course, build quality ; less expensive gamepads from third-party manufacturers can be haphazard affairs in terms of how sturdy they feel and how well they play, which is why we recommend reading our reviews and being leery of cheap and unfamiliar gamepads that seem excessively good to be true. Our current favorite is the 8Bitdo Pro 2, an incredibly flexible restrainer that feels commodity and offers loads of features for fair $ 50. It has programmable buttocks buttons, supports multiple shape profiles, and can be extensively tweaked with 8Bitdo ‘s Ultimate Software. It evening works with the Nintendo Switch, if you want it to pull double duty .

There are other options out there a well, in both wired and radio receiver forms. The wired Nacon Pro Compact Controller is a more petite gamepad that might better suit smaller hands, while the PowerA Spectra Infinity has programmable RGB lighting.. And if you want to return to the SNES inspiration 8Bitdo has drifted away from with the Pro 2, the Retro-Bit Legacy16 Wireless is another good choice .

Custom PC Controllers

If you very want to splurge, you can get enthusiast-level gamepads from companies that offer a wide range of customization options. Some, like Controller Chaos, Evil Controllers, and Scuf generally modify first-party Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox gamepads, overhauling them inside and out with customs designs, new buttons, and even sometimes electronic tricks to get an edge in games like Call of Duty and Fortnite by providing specific inputs that take advantage of sealed mechanics. These companies let you build your ideal gamepad from the reason up. unlike colors, patterns, and finishes are available, with extra options like whether the analogue sticks are concave or convex ( frequently with obliterable options with different lengths ), extended triggers, and even fake bullet train front buttons. Rear paddle buttons are common on these gamepads, and they provide two or four extra, programmable inputs for your fingers that rest on the fascinate. These gamepads are often the most feature-filled, outstanding, and customizable, but they ‘re besides the most expensive. They start at three digits, with fully overhauled controllers easily costing over $ 200. If you want custom colors but do n’t need the buttocks paddles or extra features, the Xbox Design Lab lets you make your own first-party Xbox Wireless Controller with your favored colors and finishes for a fraction of the price.

Arcade and Fight Sticks

arcade sticks, or crusade sticks, are controllers that emulate classical arcade cabinet controls. They normally feature a unmarried eight-direction stick and a series of bad buttons, mounted on a very large, directly base you can set on a table or your lap. They ‘re considered vital tools for serious players of fighting games, such as Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter V. They besides work very well for classic arcade games, batch of which are available individually or in compilations on every game system .

Hori is one of the most beloved brands, with sticks for all three major game systems ( all of which will work with PCs through USB ). good arcade sticks like Hori ‘s Real Arcade Pro serial are known for using the same sticks and buttons as japanese arcade cabinets, which helps justify their exorbitant prices of $ 150 and above. If you want an arcade-style experience but do n’t need quite the same serious build quality, 8Bitdo ‘s Arcade Stick trades enthusiast-level responsiveness and sturdy arcade parts for radio receiver connectivity and a much smaller price. If you want crispen directional controls and lots of face buttons but like to hold your control in your hand calm, you can pick up a fightpad like the Hori Fighting Commander or the Razer Raion FightPad. These are gamepads that strip off features fighting game enthusiasts do n’t need, like analogue sticks, and rather offer excellent focus pads and three-by-two grimace button layouts .

Enthusiast Controllers: PC Racing Wheels and Flight Joysticks

If you ‘re a sports fan of driving simulators or escape simulators, you might want to invest in some simulator-worthy equipment. Racing wheels are steering roulette wheel controllers that let you drive cars in racing games by realistically turning a rack rather of tilting a joint. similarly, fledge joysticks ( not to be confused with the analogue sticks on gamepads or the digital sticks on arcade sticks ) let you fly planes with a realistic full-hand grip to control your pitch, roll, and gape. These seem like identical unlike types of controllers, and they are. even, they parcel three authoritative common factors : They ‘re designed for very specific games and genres, they much consist of multiple, modular components, and they can be expensive .

Thrustmaster is one of the biggest race bicycle and flight control manufacturers ; Thrustmaster ‘s very appoint invokes the pull that lets a flat take escape. The company offers several different flight sticks and racing wheels, along with accessories like pedals, throttles, shifters, control panels, and even offprint heads-up displays that provide extra information about your car or airplane ‘s systems outside of your monitors. These setups can get costly, with wheels and sticks starting at $ 100, and easily reaching several times that price with accessories .

alike, Logitech offers racing wheels and flight sets, such as the $ 400 G923 wheel/pedals combo with optional $ 60 Driving Force Shifter shifting knob ; $ 150 to $ 250 H.O.T.A.S. joystick/throttle combinations ; and the modular Flight Yoke System ( $ 170 for the yoke, with four distinguish instrument panels, a rudder pedal, and a choke available for $ 60 to $ 170 each ). These controllers are incredibly specific and modular, so we have n’t recently reviewed any rush wheels or flight control condition systems .

Of Course, You Can Still Use a Mouse and Keyboard

If you stick to shooters, strategy games, MOBAs, and MMOs on your personal computer, take a attend at our best bet on keyboards and gaming mouse .

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