Whether you're looking to play PC games in the living room or just want to play controller-friendly games such as Mortal Kombat 11 and Control 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. The new Xbox One Elite Controller Series 2 offers an incredibly comfortable, sturdy design with tons of customization options, while the 8BitDo SN30 is a great pick for retro gamers.
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. Sony's DualShock 4 is also becoming an increasingly solid PC controller option, thanks to its Steam integration and growing list of compatible games. Better yet, we expect many of these controllers to see solid discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so keep an eye out for deals.
No matter your needs, here are the best PC controllers to buy now.
Microsoft Xbox One Controller
The best overall PC controller
A great budget pick
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.
Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller was already the best high-end PC gamepad, and the Series 2 makes it even better. The latest version of Microsoft's pro-grade controller features improved grips, more trigger lock options for faster firing, improved swappable components and even finer software customization.
The incredible robust Xbox Accessories app lets you fully remap every button on the controller while tweaking the stick and trigger sensitivities to your liking, and you can store up to three profiles on the controller so that you're always ready for your favorite games. The Elite Series 2 also has a rechargeable battery (finally!) and USB-C port (also finally!), and can even charge up while in its included carrying case. If you take your Gears, Fortnite or Forza seriously, this is the controller to own.
Read our full Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 review.
Astro C40 TR
The Astro C40 TR is one of the most premium, feature-rich PC controllers available, and a solid alternative to Microsoft's popular Elite Wireless Controller. Like other high-end gamepads, the C40 TR sports fully remappable buttons and trigger/stick sensitivities, as well as hair-triggers for faster fire and swappable components.
But the C40 doesn't stop there -- you can also fully rearrange the pad's stick and d-pad layout, allowing you to opt for Xbox-style offset sticks or PS4-style parallel sticks. The C40 is a bit hefty and one of the more expensive high-end options out there. but it's an excellent choice for those willing to pay up for a ton of customization tools.
Read our full Astro C40 TR review.
Sony DualShock 4
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.
8BitDo SN30 Pro
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.
If you want the SN30 Pro's old-school feel but with proper triggers, grips and a ton of customization options, we recommend checking out the $50 SN30 Pro+.
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.