Whether you're looking to play PC games in the living room or just want to play controller-friendly games such as Madden NFL 20, Mortal Kombat 11 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice the way they're meant to be played, every PC gamer needs a solid controller. We tested over a dozen of the most popular PC-friendly gamepads out there in a variety of genres to help you find the perfect fit for your playstyle.
Our top overall pick is Microsoft's Xbox One controller, thanks to its comfortable design, impressive build quality and instant compatibility with pretty much every PC game out there.
But there are plenty of other great options available, from the retro-inspired 8BitDo SN30 to beefed-up premium options like the Xbox One Elite Wireless controller. Microsoft is set to release a $180 Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, which will bring improvements such as a wrap-around rubber grip, adjustable-tension sticks and shorter hair triggers when it arrives in November.
Astro's $199 C40 TR is a solid alternative to the Xbox Elite controller, offer a finer degree of physical customization and an impressively solid build quality. We're also testing out the new 8BitDo Pro+, which blends 8BitDo's signature retro design aesthetic with a robust set of customization options.
No matter your needs, here are the best PC controllers to buy now.
Microsoft Xbox One Controller
Microsoft's Xbox One controller is the gold standard for PC gaming, thanks to its ergonomic design and intuitive button layout. It's plug-and-play with nearly all modern PC games, and sports Bluetooth for easy wireless use.
The Logitech F310 is a great option for gamers on a budget, offering a solid d-pad, responsive buttons and support for a wide range of titles, all for less than $30.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller
Looking to go pro? The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is a premium version of the traditional Xbox pad, sporting a heftier, soft-touch design, tweakable triggers and a variety of swappable components.
Logitech has long offered PC users a wide range of quality accessories, both economical and high-end, and the F310 matches that pedigree well.
The button layout is similar to that of a PlayStation controller, with symmetrical, bottom-aligned control sticks. The F310's D-pad, which is sometimes an afterthought on other controllers, features a responsive design that lends itself well to platformers such as Shovel Knight and the simple menu surfing and button combos in Final Fantasy XIV.
By including support for as many games as possible, Logitech aims to make the F310 the only PC gamepad you'll ever need. The controller installs and operates instantly out of the box with most modern PC titles, but it has other pack-ins to allow for use with other games. If you're looking to game with older PC titles that existed before current input standards, such as DirectInput, you can toggle a physical switch to swap the device into that mode.
This premium gamepad is a cozier, sleeker and more durable version of the standard Xbox One controller, complete with a wealth of swappable parts that allow you to tailor the pad toward your personal style of play.
The Elite offers multiple thumbsticks with different heights and grips, as well as an optional disc-like d-pad that lets you better feel each point of articulation. The pad's triggers can be locked for faster firing in shooting games, and its optional rear-facing paddles let you execute an abundance of actions without taking your thumbs off the stick.
The DualShock 4's layout and grip are more comfortable than ever, with triggers and sticks that are particularly well-designed compared with their PS3 counterparts. There's also a front-facing touchpad, which brings some interesting possibilities to the familiar design. The DualShock 4 works well with titles such as Shovel Knight and Final Fantasy XIV, and more and more modern games are including native support for Sony's controller.
In fact, the DualShock 4 is now fully supported in Steam, meaning you can tweak the touchpad, light bar and enjoy the robust remapping and sensitivity options found on Valve's Steam Controller. You can even tap into the DualShock 4's gyroscope, allowing you to, say, aim your gun in a shooter by using motion controls.
If your Steam library consists of pixelated platformers and old-school action games, 8Bitdo's SN30 Pro provides a wonderfully authentic way to enjoy them.
This gamepad faithfully replicates nearly every detail of the original Super Nintendo controllers, while adding extras such as dual analog sticks, rumble functionality and rear triggers to make it play nice with more modern titles.
Thanks to its tight d-pad and clicky buttons, the SN30 Pro is an excellent companion for titles like Sonic Mania, Cuphead, the Mega Man Legacy Collection and the trove of indie fighting games available for PC. Just keep in mind that while its thumbsticks feel great, the controller’s ergonomics aren't exactly ideal for playing, say, an intense online shooter at a competitive level.
Still, the SN30 Pro (and its Super Famicom-inspired counterpart, the SF30 Pro) is an excellent and versatile retro pad for a great price. It'll also work with your Switch, Android device, and even that Raspberry Pi you've rigged up to imitate the SNES Classic.
Why Trust Us?
Tom's Guide has been reviewing PC controllers since 2015, and has rigorously tested all types of PC gaming gear for much longer than that. As devout gamers ourselves, we know what feels right and what doesn't — and what is and isn't worth your money. Testing controllers isn't a matter of performing a few quick checks in our lab; we make every controller we review a regular part of our daily gaming life to ensure that it'll hold up in the real world.
How We Test PC Controllers
We run every controller we test through the latest and greatest PC games in a variety of genres. We typically test at least one shooter, one fighting game, one action/adventure game and one driving game, which gives us a good idea of how a gamepad performs in different play scenarios. We also factor in battery life for wireless controllers, and if a controller offers swappable components and multiple modes, we test all of them. We use all controllers we review for days on end as our primary gamepad both in our labs and at home.
What PC Gaming Controllers Cost
A decent controller for PC gaming can be found for as low as $20, if you're willing to settle for simpler budget models. The Xbox One and PS4 controllers, both of which are considered the gold standard for most games, retail for $60, but can frequently be found for less than that.
Premium controllers such as Microsoft's Xbox One Elite and Razer's Wolverine Ultimate start at $150, largely due to their high-end construction and interchangeable parts. There are also Scuf's customizable pro gaming pads, which start around $130 but can end up much more expensive than that depending on which parts you outfit them with.
Need something more niche? Driving-game aficionados seeking total immersion can check out dedicated racing wheels. Driving wheels such as Thrustmaster's Ferrari 458 ($89) are just that — a wheel — while others, like Logitech's G920 Driving Force ($399), include pedals and stick shifts for the full experience.
Fighting-game fanatics looking for a more authentic way to play games like Tekken 7 and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite should consider fight sticks, which feature the kind of joysticks and extra-large buttons you'd find on a classic arcade cabinet. Be sure to check out our roundup of the best fight sticks for PC, PS4 and Xbox One to find the right fit for your style and budget.