The 9 Best PC Controllers to Buy in 2018

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Plenty of gamers will never stray from their trusty gaming mouse and gaming keyboard when playing video games on the PC. But, the keyboard and mouse combo isn’t for everyone, as it can be hard to get used to mouse controls. And, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to setting up a mouse to work consistently. Plus, a good keyboard and mouse can each easily cost more than a gaming controller for PC.

On top of usually being easy to get a feel for, controllers can be useful in a lot of different video game types that don’t benefit from the somewhat more strict binary inputs of a keyboard. So, it’s reasonable to have a great controller for PC to round out your gaming accessories.

Since all of these controllers serve a very similar purpose, we’ve gone through the some of the options and landed on the ones we think are the best bang for your buck. So read on to find the best pc controllers to buy today.

Our Top Picks

Xbox Wireless Controller (Xbox One S version)

Xbox Wireless Controller

Courtesy of Amazon

If you want something simple that will be plug-and-play with your PC and support most of the controller-friendly games you come across, then there’s no easier option than the Xbox Wireless Controller. Since it’s designed by Microsoft, it’s not too much of surprise that it plays nice with gaming PCs that run Windows 10. It’ll also work with Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X consoles.

The Xbox Wireless Controller uses Bluetooth for its wireless connection, so you should have an easy time pairing it with a gaming laptop, a tablet, or a desktop if it supports Bluetooth as well. Of course, you also have the option of connecting the controller to your computer via USB cable.

The Xbox Wireless Controller has a simple design, with dual analog sticks, a D-pad, and all the standard buttons and triggers you’d expect to find on a current-gen controller. Plus, it has a 3.5mm jack so you can plug headphones directly into the controller. While the standard is white with black accents, Microsoft offers a wide variety of color customization options.

DualShock 4 controller

DualShock 4 controller

Courtesy of Amazon

Choosing between Sony’s DualShock 4 controller and Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller largely comes down to your ergonomic preference — which feels more comfortable in your hand. The DualShock 4 controller has large, rounded hand-grips, and it mirrors the positions of the two analog thumbsticks. If you also own a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Pro, this one is an easy choice.

The DualShock 4 controller supports wireless connections over Bluetooth ​and can connect over USB as well. However, it may take a little extra work to make a DualShock 4 controller work on a PC at first. But, once you’ve got everything set up, you’ll be able to game with the DualShock 4 just as easily as you would with Microsoft’s controllers.

The DualShock 4 controller has a 3.5mm headphone jack, similar to the Xbox Controller. And, it also has a built-in speaker and touchpad, though few games, if any, are likely to take advantage of those features on PC. One feature you can occasionally use though is the built-in gyroscope, which can allow you to tweak your in-game aim using the controllers positioning in addition to the thumbsticks.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller

The Xbox One Wireless Controller might be a fine pick, but if you want to go with the Xbox One controller style and need more flexibility with how your controls work, then the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is ready to offer that. It includes all the usual buttons, sticks, and triggers, but adds onto them with a set of paddles underneath the controller, and toggles for the triggers.

The paddles underneath copy the controls of the ABXY buttons, allowing you to press them without having to take your thumb off the right analog stick. The Hair Trigger Locks will make the triggers depress a shorter distance in use, so when you need to shoot quickly, you’ll be able to.

The Xbox Elite Wireless controller has premium hand-grips and includes standard, tall, and domed thumbsticks, as well as faceted and standard D-Pads. If you expect to travel much with the controller, it also comes with a convenient carrying case that can store the controller, paddles, cable, extra thumbsticks, and D-Pad. And, of course, this one works on Xbox One consoles as well as PC. However, for wireless use with a PC, you’ll need a special adapter.

Scuf Infinity1

Scuf Infinity1

Courtesy of ScufGaming

If you like the shape and feel of an Xbox One controller but want something that’s more advanced and far more customizable, you should look at the Scuf Infinity1 controller. These controllers take the Xbox One controller’s design and level it up in a similar way to what the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

The Scuf Infinity1 gives you plenty of visual design options, but what really makes this one special are all the options and performance perks you get with hand grips, thumbsticks, the D-Pad, buttons, paddles, and triggers. You can shorten the trigger travel distance, change out the hand grips, choose your thumbstick height and cap type, and take advantage of the rear paddles so your thumbs don’t have to leave the analog sticks. 

Much of the customization available to the Scuf Inifinity1 is also made to be easy to use. The analog sticks can be swapped quickly using the controller’s ring and lock system. The rear paddles can be reassigned on the fly without jumping into the software. And a simple key allows you to adjust the hair triggers quickly to suit your needs from game to game.

Scuf Infinity4PS Pro

Scuf Infinity4PS Pro
 Scufgaming.com

While the Xbox One controller design has seen plenty of love, Scuf has also designed an upgraded version of the DualShock 4 controller called the Scuf Infinity4PS Pro. So, if you like the feel of a DualShock 4 controller but want to expand its capabilities, this is probably the controller for you. 

The Scuf Infinity4PS Pro adds onto the standard DualShock 4 controller with easily interchangeable analog sticks, rear paddles, optional trigger extensions, and enhanced triggers for shorter travel and quicker shooting in shooter games. Scuf also adds a grippier surface onto the back of the hand grips, so you’ll have a good grasp of your controller while gaming.

You also get plenty of options for the look of your controller. Basically, whatever game you’re playing on the PC or PS4, you can set up the Scuf Infinity4PS Pro to work better than a standard controller would. For racing games, you can extend the triggers for finer control of your acceleration. In shooters, you can extend the analog stick for more precise aiming. In fighting games, you can add a control disc onto the D-Pad for easier diagonal presses and improved comfort.

Razer Wolverine Ultimate

With a reputation in gaming like Razer’s, it’s no surprise the company has a serious gaming controller to offer. The Razer Wolverine Ultimate takes design cues from the Xbox One controller, but adds in some of the upgraded features seen in Scuf controllers and the Xbox Elite Wireless controller.

The Razer Wolverine has textured grips for a secure hold. In addition to the standard controls, it packs on four paddles to the rear side along with two extra bumpers next to the standard triggers and shoulder buttons. This gives you a lot of options for gaming. The main triggers also have trigger stops to help you shoot quicker in shooting games. And, of course, this premium controller has Razer’s signature Chroma lighting.

If you need a lot of button options for your PC gaming, then this may be the controller for you. You’ll also be able to swap out D-Pads, choose your height and style of analog sticks, and adjust the vibration intensity. A 3.5mm jack will let you plug headphones directly into the controller, and the USB cable slides snugly into a slot, so you won’t have to worry about bending the port out of shape, as can happen with some other controllers.

8bitdo N30 Pro

While most of the controllers on this list have been serious gaming controllers with all the best features in mind, 8BitDo’s N30 Pro and F30 Pro controllers do something a little bit different that earns them a place in this ranking. With a much smaller form factor, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and all the buttons you could ever need to play on a PC, Mac, Android device, or Nintendo Switch, they’re kind of like a Swiss Army Knife.

The N30 Pro and F30 Pro’s size and connection options make them a handy portable option, while the dual analog sticks, triggers, and bumpers complement the retro styling to make them viable controllers for modern video games. And, since they’re not cornering the pro market, they come in at a much more affordable price than most of the competition.

While you may not want to make either of these your main gaming controller because of the less ergonomic design, they stand out as a great on-the-go option for traveling, taking to parties, or just having around for guests to play with you.

Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is a contentious pick because not everyone can get on board with its atypical controls. While it has the triggers, bumpers, and ABXY buttons you’d expect from a game controller, the triggers have some tricks in store and the usual D-Pad and right thumbstick are instead replaced by touch trackpads.

Playing traditional games like shooters may take some learning on the Steam controller, as the trackpad doesn’t have the same feel as an analog stick. But, the trackpads offer some flexibility in how you control, which can make them more useful than analog sticks in certain types of games where something more like a mouse input would be preferred.

In addition to wired and wireless connectivity, the Steam Controller has advanced haptics, a gyroscope, and accelerometer for alternate control styles in certain games, and dual-stage triggers that can let you map different controls to a partial and a full press. While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the versatility they have for the wide variety of games that can be found on PC make them worth your consideration.

Xbox Adaptive Controller

Xbox Adaptive Controller
 Courtesy of Microsoft

Designed to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is all about customization and accessibility. The controller features large, user-friendly buttons, and offers a wide range of inputs and jacks, allowing you to connect a plethora of external devices (switches, buttons, mounts, and joysticks) to create an entirely personalized controller. The Adaptive Controller is also part of the Xbox family, meaning it is compatible with the Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 software, and includes features such as Xbox Wireless, Copilot, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. In addition to the controller’s physical functions, it connects to the Xbox Accessories app and allows you to further tailor your controls with the “button remapping” function. You can even create multiple profiles to save custom settings for up to three individuals.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller was a collaborative effort with The AbleGamers Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Warfighter Engaged, and SpecialEffect. Consultations from these community members helped create the controller’s design, functionality, and packaging. By emphasizing the importance of customizable features, the Adaptive Controller helps to make gaming a more accessible hobby.

Our Process

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular PC controllers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 21 different controllers overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers and tested 2 of the controllers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.