You already have the best PC controller the moment you boot up your machine. Yes, the best gaming keyboard and gaming mouse combo means that, as PC gamers, we’re all set up with most accurate, responsive control system around. That’s proven every time a developer tries to introduce crossplay between consoles and PCs…

But it’s still true that a lot of games—such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, FIFA, and Forza Horizon—feel better when played with a game pad. They’re also useful in the likes of GTA 5 when you jump into a jet or helicopter. Not to mention a controller will give you the freedom to escape to your couch for a more relaxing overall gaming experience.

If you have the cash to spare, the best PC controller right now is the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. If you’re used to the shape and layout of an Xbox controller, you’ll find that this one will feel natural straight away. And while it does come with a seriously hefty price tag, the Series 2 boasts loads of neat extras. If you don’t want to spend so much, we’ve included a few budget options that won’t be such a shock to your wallet as well. 

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1. Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

The best wireless gaming controller hands-down

Weight: 0.76 lbs (345g) (+/-15g) | Connectivity: USB-C, Bluetooth, 2.4GHz | Battery: Internal Rechargable Battery (40 Hours)

 Lots of customization options

 Detachable Charging Dock via USB-C 

 Bluetooth-enabled (finally)  

Expensive

If you use the Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller for more than ten minutes, you’ll understand why we have it at the number one gaming controller for PC. Everything about the Series 2 screams luxury. The near-endless customization options give you an unparalleled level of control (pun intended) over your gameplay. Changing things, like d-pads or shift paddles on the fly, is a godsend, and there’s a level of freedom to have your thumbstick tension levels set to the exact way you want them. It has a nice weight to it that feels durable enough the handle to most intense sessions of Mortal Kombat 11 or your 9th hour in Forza Horizon. 

The most significant changes in the Series 2 over the Series 1 (which we also loved) include a neat little carrying case that doubles as a charging station for the controller’s new rechargeable battery with 40 hours of juice. Finally, with project Xcloud and Apple Arcade bringing some great games to your mobile device, you can easily pair the Series 2 controller via Bluetooth. 

Spending $160 for a controller is a tough sell for most people, that’s near four times the price of an Xbox One controller, but if you’re a serious gamer who values performance and extreme levels of customization, the Series 2 is a no brainer and worth every penny. 

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2. Razer Wolverine Ultimate

Clicky with a side of Chroma

Weight: 0.6 lbs (272g) | Connectivity: USB wired | Cord length: 10 ft (3m)

Swappable sticks and D-pad

Loud, satisfying face buttons

Can’t connect to PC wirelessly

Accompanying app for XBox One only

Razer’s Wolverine Ultimate could very well be the best gamepad available today, save for one critical disqualifying factor—it can’t connect to a PC over wireless. The Xbox-style gamepad offers many of the same luxury features as the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller, like a swappable D-pad and customizable back paddles. It’s also nearly the same price, which begs the question: Why not just buy one of those instead? 

Well, it’s not for everyone, but the Wolverine Ultimate does have its fair share of unique, downright enticing features. For starters, the face buttons—the ones labeled A, B, X, and Y—click in like a mouse. This seemingly minuscule detail, but makes a world of difference. It’s like using nothing but membrane keyboards your whole life and then making a move to mechanical switches. So while the enclosed 10-foot braided micro USB cable takes some getting used to, tactile button presses are a worthy trade-off.

Of course, no Razer product would be complete without a healthy dose of Chroma, the three-headed green snake company’s signature brand of RGB lighting. However, rather than integrating it into the existing Synapse 3 app for Windows, Razer decided to develop an app specifically for Xbox One. So if you do plan on using this controller for your PC, bear in mind you’ll need a separate app to configure it.

PlayStation DualShock 4 Controller

(Image credit: PlayStation)

3. Sony DualShock 4

The most accurate game pad around

Weight: 0.46 lbs (210g) | Connectivity: micro USB, Bluetooth | Battery: 1000mAH Li-ion (8 hrs)

Super accurate thumbsticks

Parallel controls

Steam integration 

Unexciting battery life

The PlayStation’s DualShock 4 pad isn’t necessarily the first controller that comes to mind when thinking PC gaming, but thanks to software such as DS4Windows and lately full Steam integration, the Sony controller is now completely PC-friendly.

Which is great news because, while it doesn’t quite have the overall build quality of the standard Xbox One pad, and the triggers are a bit polarising, the thumbsticks are still the most accurate I’ve ever used. And I’ve got a Series 2 sat on my desk. There’s also the fact that most PC pads are modeled on the offset Xbox configuration, while many people still prefer the symmetrical PlayStation layout.

The battery life is a bit funky (turn that lightbar off, people) when running on Bluetooth, but the DS4 is still a fantastic PC controller with super-accurate sticks.

Best gaming laptop | Best gaming monitor |Best gaming headset | Best wireless gaming headset| Best computer speakers | Best capture card

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4. Astro C40 TR

Primed for PS4, compatible with PC

Weight: 0.68 lbs (320g) | Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, USB wired | Cored length: 6ft (1.8m)

Remappable, interchangeable buttons

Promising serviceability

Very expensive

Positioned as a premium alternative to the DualShock 4, you could say that the Astro C40 TR is to the PS4 what the Xbox Elite wireless controller is to the Xbox One. A third party may make it, but the Astro C40 TR delivers a premium controller experience in that familiar DualShock form factor. 

What makes the C40 TR unique is the ability to not only swap parts, but move them around. The modular design will let you swap out the left thumbstick for the D-pad and rock an asymmetrical Xbox One-esque controller if you like. Or you can be a complete anarchist and put two thumbsticks on the left, with the D-pad on the right. (The face buttons can’t be swapped to a different position.)

For PC players, the Astro C40 TR has its own Windows software. With it, you can remap buttons, create and edit profiles, and adjust stick and trigger sensitivity, among other things. Of those other things, the fact that is has an audio equalizer for the headphone jack on bottom is perhaps the weirdest, most impressive aspect of the whole controller. Like the Elite and its contemporaries, It costs a lot, but after using it ourselves, we don’t want to go back.

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5. Xbox Wireless Controller

A top-shelf, reasonably priced controller

Weight: 0.62 lbs (281g) | Connectivity: Xbox Wireless; Bluetooth | Battery: 2x AA

Affordable

Comfortable

Officially supported by most games

Not many features

The Xbox One Wireless Controller has been available for years now and is as much of a classic as the old Xbox 360 pad in PC gaming circles. In addition to being cheaper than it was at launch, it boasts a vastly superior D-pad that you won’t dread using in fighting games and platformers. In other words, the friendship has ended with Xbox 360 gamepad; the Xbox Wireless controller is now my best friend. 

We capitalize Wireless for a reason, not because the word is a proper noun per sé, but because the Xbox Wireless controller of late leverages Microsoft’s wireless protocol it calls “Xbox Wireless.” Though the name itself could benefit from some creative workshopping, you can take solace in the fact that, after 2016, the Xbox Wireless controller graces us with a much-needed helping of Bluetooth compatibility. And now it’s practically standard fare for console transplants deterred by the learning curve mouse and keyboard gaming presents. 

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6. PowerA Spectra

Best budget PC controller

Weight: 0.99 lbs (447g) | Connectivity: micro USB | Features: LED edge-lighting, 3-way trigger locks


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