Today’s PC controllers offer deep customization options with modular designs and interchangeable components. Most also come with conclusive software that allows you to customize button mapping.
Whether you want to dominate fighting games like Mortal Kombat 11 or get top tier in Apex Legends, the right controller can make all the difference. A suitable controller is the best replacement for a mouse and keyboard.
Video game controllers have evolved a lot since the days of a joystick and a single button. The peripherals now feature multiple buttons, D-pads, thumbsticks, and rumble feedback. They can also be wireless and support motion tracking, allowing gamers to move around in virtual space while playing games.
The ergonomics of gaming controllers can play a big part in how comfortable they are to use. To ensure they’re well-designed, the designers run them through human-centered testing. This testing focuses on how easy it is for different users to hold the controller and where they put their fingers while using it. The results of this testing are then used to tweak the design.
For example, if the curves on a controller are too pronounced, it may be less comfortable for people with smaller hands. By adjusting the angles and other factors, the designers can ensure everyone can use the controller comfortably.
While some PC controllers are geared exclusively towards gaming, most peripherals designed for the most recent consoles work well with Windows games. Most devices offer customization options, whether they connect via Bluetooth, wireless 2.4GHz signals, or USB cables. In addition to software remapping, gamers can swap out buttons, d-pads, and analog sticks. This allows them to find a configuration that feels most natural in their hands and gives them a competitive edge.
While you can buy a cheap controller suitable for most games, spending more on something high-quality is best. A few key points to look for in a quality controller include the number and type of buttons, the design, and the number and types of inputs. It’s also important to check user comments and reviews to ensure the device is worth your money.
The best PC controller is modular and has many features that gamers love. One of the top options boasts luxury features like a textured back, instant triggers, and adjustable thumbsticks, with modularity and an assortment of extra inputs. This includes a swappable fight pad module that adds microswitch low-actuation buttons primed for fighting games.
A suitable controller is essential for gamers who want to play the latest console games on their PC. The best PC gaming controllers are also compatible with other systems, allowing you to use your old Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch gamepad on your computer without buying an extra USB adapter or mucking around with settings menus.
Microsoft made minimal changes to its standard Xbox controller when it upgraded to Series X in 2020, making it the ideal option for PC gamers looking for a comfortable hand-feel and simple design. Its Bluetooth compatibility makes it easy to pair with a Windows or Mac laptop, and works well with the new Apple Arcade games and Xbox streaming service on your iPhone.
Other options offer premium features like a customizable RGB lighting system and a modular layout that lets you swap out thumbsticks and triggers—another excellent choice, offering pro-level features at a reasonable price.
Another excellent option for PS5 and PC gamers is offering a familiar analog stick layout and gyro aiming support. This controller is slightly less comfortable than the Xbox Series X, but it’s a better fit for PlayStation fans who prefer a symmetric layout. The wired controller is another good option, ditching Bluetooth connectivity for a low price, and is often on sale.
Whether you’re using a mouse or a keyboard to play on your PC, you may miss out on some of the best features controllers offer. A quality gaming controller can provide a more precise input system than a traditional keyboard and mouse, which can be especially helpful in games that require you to control multiple units or build structures.
While many gamepads aren’t specifically designed for Windows gaming, the most popular models from recent consoles will work fine with a bit of help from software remapping tools. You can also find controllers designed specifically for PC that offer a more nuanced experience than console controllers.
The best gaming controllers can be expensive but offer a more comfortable and precise experience than a standard pad. They usually feature grippy handles, sleek designs, interchangeable components, and customizable buttons. They might even have special effects that respond to certain in-game events.
Some are known for their mice and keyboards, but the company also has a good track record of making great gaming controllers. A slick wired controller with RGB lighting that runs subtly on the edges of the pads. It has responsive sticks and swappable caps, while a pair of extra shoulder buttons and hair trigger locks add to the versatility.