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The 6 Best Gaming Controllers for PC Today

Kid holding game controllers in yellow background

The 6 Best Gaming Controllers for PC Today

Key Points

  • The Xbox Wireless Controller is the best overall gaming controller for PC, with excellent ergonomics and native optimization for many games.
  • The 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller offers fantastic customization opportunities and includes a dock for easy charging, but it is slightly pricier than the Xbox controller.
  • The Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller is the best premium option, with improved thumbsticks, paddles, and grip, but it is the priciest controller on the list.

When it comes to PC gaming, there are generally two types of gamers: those who like to use a keyboard and a mouse and those who love controllers.

The good news is there is a lot of crossover, but for those who prefer the controller experience while gaming on their PCs, there are a ton of options available. Of course, with so many options available, it begs the question of how you know which ones are the best. 

Well, that’s where this list comes in, as you’ll find the best gaming controls for PC that you can buy today listed below. You can rest assured that each one of these options works across the many different gaming services like Epic, Steam, Amazon Luna, and more. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 6 best gaming controllers for PCs that are worth buying. 

#1 Best Overall: Xbox Wireless Controller

#1 Best Overall
Xbox Core Wireless Controller
$49.00
  • Works with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PCs, Android, and iOS
  • Connect via USB-C port for direct plug-and-play to console or PC
  • Battery life up to 40 hours
  • Capture and share content using the new Share button
  • Hybrid D-pad and textured grip on triggers, bumpers, and back case
  • Custom button mapping
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02/29/2024 08:02 am GMT

It should come as no surprise the Xbox Wireless Controller is the absolute best gaming controller for PC gaming that you can buy today. 

Officially licensed by Microsoft for use with the Xbox, Microsoft builds compatibility into the Xbox Wireless Controller for Windows as well. This proven design has been around for years and Microsoft has only made slight tweaks between the Xbox One era and the Xbox Series X because of how reliable and beloved this controller design has become. 

Today, the Xbox Wireless Controller adds a USB-C port for easy charging if you opt for the add-on rechargeable battery pack. Alternatively, you can plow through two AA batteries that last around 30 hours while playing wirelessly. 

An included headset jack enables you to plug in any pair of headphones you own with a 3.5mm connection and the audio quality is really solid overall. The textured grips on the “handles” of the Xbox Wireless Controller allow you to hold a firm grip while enjoying the outstanding ergonomic layout Microsoft has found. 

Best of all, a large number of PC games are automatically optimized for this controller, so it’s an out-of-the-box experience for many gamers. 

Grab an Xbox Wireless Controller from Amazon today. 

ProsCons
Excellent ergonomicsRequires two AA batteries
Natively optimized for many games

Best Runner-Up: 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller

Best Runner-Up
8Bitdo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller with Charging Dock
$60.97
  • 2.4g wireless
  • With back buttons, hall joystick, motion controls, and turbo function
  • For Switch, Steam Deck, and PC Windows
  • white
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03/01/2024 02:35 am GMT

Widely regarded as the best alternative to the Xbox Wireless Controller, the 8Bitdo Ultimate controller is easily just as good as what Microsoft has delivered. 

In fact, the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller even has some advantages over the Xbox Wireless Controller when it comes to customization. While the Xbox controller doesn’t allow any customization, 8Bitdo lets you use its Ultimate Software and custom map buttons, adjust stick and trigger sensitivity, as well as increase or decrease vibration levels. Oh, and you can create macros with any button combination. 

With these advantages, it’s easy to see why the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller is so popular, but it also comes at a higher cost. Part of the extra cost is the inclusion of the 8Bitdo dock that you can use to charge up the Ultimate controller when it’s not in use. 

Another highlight of the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller is the inclusion of Hall Effect joysticks, which means you should never have to bother with dead zones or stick drift ever again. Add in 2 pro-level back buttons that can be programmed via the 8Bitdo software and it’s easy to see why this gaming controller is such a popular option.  

Score the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller from Amazon right now. 

ProsCons
Fantastic customization opportunities Not quite as ergonomically comfortable as the Xbox
Included dock for easy chargingSlightly pricier than Xbox

Best Premium: Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

Best Premium
Microsoft Bluetooth Elite Series 2 Controller Starter Bundle
$181.95
  • For Xbox One
  • Starter bundle includes 1x Microsoft Xbox One Elite Series 2 Controller and 1x Microfiber Cloth
  • New adjustable-tension thumbsticks, shorter hair trigger locks, and a wrap-around rubberized grip
  • Experience limitless customization with the Xbox Accessories app. Assign a button to act as a Shift key to enable alternative inputs for each of the other buttons
  • Up to 40 hours of rechargeable battery life
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03/01/2024 02:35 am GMT

When you want a premium-feeling Xbox controller around for your PC gaming, you turn to the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

The very best Microsoft has to offer for PC gaming, the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller handily lives up to its name thanks to a number of improvements over the original controller. First and foremost are the adjustable-tension thumbsticks, which provide a much greater sense of movement. 

Next up are the shorter hair trigger locks, which are great for first-person shooter fans as they require less tension to execute a move. The rubberized grip that wraps around the sides and rear of the controller takes an already outstanding ergonomic comfort level and takes it to even greater heights. 

Next up are the interchangeable thumbsticks, so you can choose which thumbsticks fit your comfort level and ignore the rest. The same goes for the paddles as you can adjust their shapes as well. Better yet, you can save up to 3 different custom profiles on the controller and use the profile button to switch between different users while PC gaming. 

Last but not least, the Elite Series 2 controller enables up to 40 hours of rechargeable battery life. 

Go big with the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller from Amazon today. 

ProsCons
Improved thumbsticks, paddles, and gripThe priciest option on the list
Rechargeable battery Requires Xbox Accessories app to customize profiles

Best Retro Look: 8Bitdo SN30 Pro 

Best Retro Look
8Bitdo Sn30 Pro Wireless Bluetooth Controller
  • Retro gamepad
  • For Switch, PC Windows, Steam Deck, Android, Raspberry Pi, iPhone, iPad, macOS, and Apple TV
  • G Classic Edition
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If you value the retro look of your PC gaming controller, you can’t do any better than the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro

With a body style that almost perfectly copies everything great about the Super Nintendo system controller, the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro takes something great and improves it in every way. 

While the Super Nintendo version only included buttons and triggers, the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro also includes two analog joysticks for navigating newer games. Plus, the joysticks are clickable so you have both L3 and R3 along with the top of the controller where you’ll find both L1/L2 and R1/R2. 

Along with the updated control layout, you also receive a 6-axis gyro sensor so the SN30 Pro works for any titles that require gyro controls. Additionally, built-in micro-vibration sensors work just as well as many default controllers from both Xbox and Sony. Whether you pick up the Classic Edition or go for the modern-looking gray edition, both controllers come equipped with wireless Bluetooth and a rechargeable battery. 

One big highlight of the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro that often gets overlooked is that it’s much smaller than other options on the list, so much so that it’s almost pocket-friendly, which makes it a great travel controller. 

Be sure to grab the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro from Amazon today. 

ProsCons
Terrific retro lookControls might be too tight for large hands
Excellent controls in a small packageOnly available in 2 colors

Best Budget-Friendly: PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller

Best Budget-Friendly
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
$33.21
  • For Xbox Series X|S
  • Seafoam Fade
  • Wired
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03/01/2024 03:46 am GMT

There are a lot of budget-friendly options on the market today for playing PC games but the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is the best choice. 

When you want something inexpensive but reliable for gaming on Windows 10/11, the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller delivers the goods. With similar ergonomics to the official Xbox Wireless Controller, you get just about the same button layout without sacrificing any features. 

After connecting directly to a USB-A port on your laptop or desktop, all you need to do is plug the PowerA in and Windows will download the right drivers to make everything work. Similar to the Xbox controller, most games should immediately recognize the layout and this should be a plug-and-play experience. 

As the PowerA is also officially licensed for the Xbox Series X/S, you also get a 2-year warranty plus your choice of over a dozen different color patterns to personalize to your own taste. Regardless of which color you choose, you’ll enjoy a diamond-textured grip on the rear of the controller for extra comfort plus a 3.5mm stereo headset jack. 

Choose your favorite color with the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller from Amazon today. 

ProsCons
Plug-and-play Windows experience Doesn’t feel as solid as the official controllers
Great color optionsThe cord length is not long enough

Best for PlayStation Fans: Sony DualSense Controller

Best for PlayStation
Playstation DualSense Wireless Controller
$73.95
  • Feel physically responsive feedback to your in-game actions with dual actuators that replace traditional rumble motors
  • Experience varying levels of force and tension as you interact with your in-game gear and environments
  • Built-in microphone and headset jack
  • DualSense Controller PS5 and PC compatible
  • PS Remote Play requires a Remote Play App connected to Wi-Fi, PS4 or PS5 console with the latest system software and compatible game
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02/29/2024 05:34 pm GMT

This one is for the PlayStation 5 fans out there as the Sony DualSense Controller is another great choice for PC gaming. 

What the Sony DualSense Controller lacks in a native setup through Windows, it more than makes up for with a number of great features. First and foremost is the haptic feedback Sony delivers which is arguably the best overall haptic feedback available on any controller today. 

Adaptive controllers grace the top of the DualSense and create a great experience as you can vary the tension level depending on the game and your style of gameplay. 

A built-in microphone gives the Sony DualSense an edge over the official Xbox Controller all while still including its own 3.5mm headset jack. Should you want to remove playing PlayStation games on the PC, you won’t have any issues with the DualSense controller as it can connect over Wi-Fi and work right from the start. 

The dedicated create button helps you capture some or all of your PC gaming content, so you can share it with your friends or your YouTube following. Best of all, the Sony DualSense Controller is available in multiple colors. 

Get the Sony DualSense Controller from Amazon in your favorite color from Amazon today. 

ProsCons
Fantastic PC choice for PlayStation fansDoesn’t natively work with Windows
Dedicated create button to seamlessly share content onlineMight require some setup with different gaming platforms
xbox one platformers
The Xbox Wireless Controller is the best gaming controller for your PC thanks to its ergonomic design and great buttons.

What to Know Before Buying a Gaming Controller for PC 

Before buying any gaming controller for your PC, you should consider a few different things. First and foremost, ask yourself what you want to spend as the controllers on this list all fall within different budget ranges, so knowing your ideal cost will help. 

The second consideration is if you want some type of customizable software to help create a better overall gaming experience. The Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller and the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller both allow for downloadable software on a PC to help customize button functionality. The 8Bitdo even enables you to create macros so you can customize different button presses so they respond in a certain way by executing special moves in any game of your choice. This is a great way to really take your PC gaming experience to the next level. 

Another option is ergonomics as many gaming sessions can last for some time, so feeling comfortable while playing can matter quite a bit. The Xbox controller layout is widely believed to be the most comfortable gaming controller available so either it, the Elite, or the PowerA options are going to be the most comfortable choices. The PlayStation DualSense is a close second while the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller is right behind. 

Using a Gaming Controller for Your PC

No matter which gaming controller you choose, you might have an easier time gaming than those who are playing with a keyboard and mouse. There is a dedicated crowd of gamers who swear by playing games with a keyboard and mouse combination, but the additional flexibility of a gaming controller just makes gaming all the more enjoyable. 

You can step away from your computer and continue to play or even kick your feet up on a desk without ever looking up from the controller. Every controller on this list should work great with just about any game you can throw at it and a few, like the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller, will even help give you an edge with all of its customization abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best gaming controller you can buy for the PC today?

The Xbox Wireless Controller is the best option you can buy today for gaming with your PC. 

How much should you spend on a gaming controller for PC?

This is a subjective question, which can only be answered by your budget, but around $50-$100 dollars is a good amount. 

Is the Xbox controller better for PC gaming than the PS5 controller?

Ideally, yes, as the Xbox controller is natively supported on the Windows platform. 

Do you need to download any drivers for PC gaming controllers?

For the most part, no, Windows should handle everything with the caveat being downloadable software for the 8Bitdo controllers to customize their buttons. 

Should you go with a wired or wireless controller for your PC?

This is really personal preference though there is a common belief that wired controllers are less sensitive to latency. 

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