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What are the best PC game controllers? How to test and use controllers?

The Best Video Game Controllers

The best PC game controllers can enhance excellent titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Mortal Kombat 11 — even though first-person shooter and MOBA purists might swear by the mouse and keyboard. That’s why we tested the most popular PC-friendly gamepads to help you find the perfect fit for your playstyle.

What are the best PC game controllers?

The best PC game controllers range from inexpensive wired accessories to premium wireless models, chock full of bells and whistles. For most people, though, we’d recommend a standard Xbox One controller, which represents a reasonable middle ground. These controllers generally go for around $50 apiece, and pairing them with a PC is trivially simple. Newer models have Bluetooth; older ones require a dongle. Either way, you turn them on, pair them, and most games recognize them straight way. Using them on a PC is identical to using them on an Xbox One, which means that many gamers will already be familiar with their operation.

If you can live without wireless functionality, the Logitech F310 is a comfortable, no-nonsense controller that usually costs $25 or less. This wired controller has all the buttons and functionality you’d expect from a modern peripheral, just without the high price tag. Since it’s from a major manufacturer, you can also count on it working for years and years to come. Many other cheap controllers can simply give out after a year or two.

If you have a lot of money to spend, though, the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is the way to go. This supremely comfortable wireless controller offers a highly sensitive D-pad, optional paddles in the back to replace the shoulder buttons and a variety of analog sticks, to let you find the one that’s most comfortable for your playstyle.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller

The Xbox Wireless Controller is Microsoft’s latest attempt to perfect the default gamepad that ships with the Xbox Series X and Series S. While it might not look all that different from its predecessors, aside from dropping the console-specific branding from its name, there’s been plenty of changes four iterations on from the original Xbox One edition that make this the go-to gamepad on gaming PCs. Plus, it looks great sitting next to you on the best gaming desk.

Thrustmaster Eswap Pro X

Thrustmaster’s Eswap Pro X is a premium gamepad through and through, but its modular design makes it one of the most versatile devices on this list. It’s also a great option for players who prefer PlayStation’s parallel controller layout, as you can easily swap around the d-pad and thumbstick. Not only are these magnetic modules high quality, but if they do ever wear down, you’ll be able to replace them without becoming a gamepad surgeon.

PlayStation 5 Dualsense

Sony’s successor to the Dualshock 4 is a newcomer to the gamepad fold, but it’s already showing promising signs when it comes to controller immersion. PC games like Call of Duty: Cold War, Far Cry 6, Metro Exodus, and Deathloop all boast adaptive trigger support, and there’s bound to be more coming as the company expands its PlayStation PC presence.

Immersion aside, the Dualsense is also just an excellent gamepad, and it elevates everything that made its predecessor great. Its thumbsticks are still superbly comfortable, and it’s still comfortable to use after hours of use. While the PlayStation 5 console itself is still largely out of stock, perhaps picking up its pad to use on PC is the next best thing.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

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 spot. Everything about the Series 2 screams luxury. The near-endless customization options give you an unparalleled level of control (pun intended) over your gameplay. Being able to tweak all aspects of the controller, like d-pads, shift paddles, and joystick tension, is an absolute godsend.

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 portable USB Type-C powered charging station for the controller’s new rechargeable battery, which has around 40 hours of juice. Finally, with project Xcloud and Apple Arcade bringing some great games to mobile devices, you can easily pair the Series 2 controller via Bluetooth.

PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced

PowerA’s Spectra Infinity Enhanced wired controller is a step up over the Spectra Enhanced we used to rate in this guide. The latest version has more similarities to the Xbox Series X|S controller, not too surprising since the Spectra is an official Xbox license product, though it has notably more bright lights. It’s a pretty swanky controller nowadays, considering its budget price.

We compared the Spectra and an official Xbox One controller while playing all the usual suspects like Call of Duty: Warzone and Mortal Kombat 11, and found that the joysticks are almost the same amount of tension and even the face buttons had similar feel when you pressed down on them.

Xbox Core Controller

The provides a lot of flexibility in how you use it to game on the PC. The controller can connect over a USB connection to cut down on input lag, or it can connect over Bluetooth for a wireless alternative (something the original Xbox One controller lacked). But there’s yet another option for a low-latency wireless connection if you have a Xbox Wireless adapter for PC.

That versatility comes on top of the exceptionally ergonomic design of the Xbox Core Controller. Much has been carried over from previous iterations from Microsoft, but this latest model will be a lot easier to hold onto thanks to added grip on the sides and rear of the controller. Even the triggers have more grip on them. The D-Pad has been upgraded with a new design like that on the Xbox Elite controller, and it’s more tactile now, too. You can connect headphones using the controller 3.5mm jack to limit the number of wires running between you and your PC. Thankfully one cable you can forget all about with the Xbox Core Controller is micro USB as this model has made the leap to USB-C.

Logitech F310

If you’re a devout keyboard and mouse gamer who only imagines themselves very rarely using a gamepad, the Logitech F310 is a great option. It only costs $15, but it includes everything you need including dual joysticks, bumpers and triggers, four standard face buttons, and even an eight directional D-Pad.

Those short, nubby grips don’t make for great ergonomics, but that shouldn’t matter if you’re only picking up a controller for short bursts to drive vehicles in games like Grand Theft Auto V or Battlefield V.

Do PC gamers use controllers?

You can find that many PC gamers do use PC controllers, however, as mentioned above whether or not you decide to use a controller or keyboard and mouse is entirely up to you and what you prefer. There are advantages to using a PC controller, such as comfort (as they are made to fit well in your hands) and familiarity (if you have migrated from console). However, you can also find advantages to using keyboard and mouse including a higher accuracy when aiming and the ability to perform skills such as flickshots (these can give you a competitive edge).

How we test PC game controllers

In brief, every controller that we have had our hands on is used in a series of different video games to accommodate for most genres. This means that we’ll test the responsiveness of the sticks, face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and any other additional features found on the unit. If a game controller is wired or relies on rechargeable batteries, then the duration of the lifespan is tested, too. The same can be said for any specialist software, such as drivers, that may be included with the gamepad as well.

Are controllers good for FPS?

Use whatever is the most comfortable to you. If you plan on putting hundreds of hours into a FPS game, the keyboard is usually the safer option. Keyboards are usually meant to take millions of taps from gamers and are very consistent. Controllers are a bit more sensitive and require you to take care of them a lot.

What controllers do pros use?

Scuf Gaming is the official controller partner of major gaming leagues, including CDL, MLG, ESL, UMG, Gfinity and EGL. With operations and production in North America and Europe, Scuf Gaming also provides a variety of accessories and apparel specifically designed for elite gamers.

Do PC gamers use controllers?

More PC Gamers Are Using Controllers Instead of Keyboard and Mouse. While playing on PC seems to be one of the most popular ways to game around the globe, players are slowly starting to use controllers more frequently. There has been a debate going on for many years as to the best method of playing video games.

Why is it easier to aim on PC?

Short answer: Unless you’re an pro PC gamer, it’s easier on Console. PC players use a mouse and keyboard for shooter games like Fortnite. They don’t rely on the auto-lock feature in most shooter games that use a controller. Playing on console, you only have to set your aim to approach a target.

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