Best PC Controllers for 2018
The keyboard and mouse will always be the first “weapons” that will be used to play games on a computer. However, with more and more console games being offered on PC platform, some games are better suited to be played with a controller. Many gamers now prefer playing a computer game with a gamepad, as it allows them much more possibilities that enhance the overall gameplay experience.
Also, the fact that third party manufacturers are now offering top class controllers has also helped gamers. The controllers nowadays include improved paddles, thumbsticks of varying shapes and sizes, better directional pads and superior controller grip – all of which improves the gaming experience.
However, picking the right controller can be a difficult choice, as it is a highly personal object. It all depends on the kind of games you play, your gaming style, the size of your hands and even the operating system you’re using. We’ve reviewed some of the best controllers chosen for their control and comfort they offer, as well as their compatibility with PC.
Best PC Controllers for 2018
- 1. DualShock 4 Wireless PC Controller
- 2. Xbox One Elite Wireless PC Controller
- 3. Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller for Windows
- 4. Steam Controller for Computers
- 5. Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller
- 6. Razer Wildcat – eSports Customizable Premium Controller
- 7. ZD-V+ Vibration-Feedback USB Wired Gamepad Gaming Controller
- 8. Thrustmaster GPX Controller
- 9. Logitech Gamepad F710
- 10. SteelSeries Stratus XL, Bluetooth Wireless Gaming Controller
- 11. Logitech Gamepad F310
Buyers Guide Questions
What is a PC controller?
A PC controller is the device that controls and regulates the transfer of data between the personal computer and a device that is not connected to the computer. So any output or input device, such as the monitor, keyboard, ergonomic mouse, printer, SSD disk drives and so on all require controllers that allow the interchanging of data between them.
Generally, as most of these devices come along with the computer itself when you purchase it, the controllers for the general parts of the computer have already been installed. However, in order to add a device, one would have to install a controller for the device on an expansion board.
PC controllers are designed to communicate with the computer’s expansion bus. However, as there are three types of personal computer expansion buses, the AT bus, the PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and the SCSI (Small Computer System Interface). Therefore, when an additional controller is bought, the user must check if it matches and is compatible with the expansion bus of the personal computer.
Gaming PC controllers are generally in reference to handheld controllers that avid gamers use to play games on their PCs. These gaming controllers resemble console gaming controllers and are usually used by PC gamers for certain games that demand the use of a controller, or for the added ease of using the controller instead of a regular keyboard and mouse format.
Console gaming controllers can generally be adapted for the PC format by downloading a drive from the internet, which helps change the input format of the controller to Xinput or DirectInput, depending on the requirement. However, it is best to check with the manufacturer if the feature is available for that particular product.
Several companies cater to the needs of the PC gamer in terms of gaming controllers, and several console game controllers have been adapted to the personal computer format. These controllers help play the game more efficiently and with greater ease, as it is easy to hold and press the buttons of. Unlike a keyboard, which is made to type, the PC gaming controller is made only to play games, which allows it to be better adapted to the comfort and efficiency of the gamer.
How do you choose the best PC gaming controller?
In order to pick the perfect PC gaming controller for your computer, there are several factors to look into, namely:
- The type of PC you have
- The operating system of said PC
- The kind of games to be played using the controller
- The kind of PC controllers which match these characteristics
Figuring out what type of PC you have
There are mainly three kinds of PC’s, Microsoft Windows computers, Apple Macs, and computers that use the operating system Linux. The differences between these three kinds of computer systems are stark, and they may only use operating systems that come from their particular family of operating systems.
For Windows, to find out which operating system you have, go to the Start menu, right-click on My Computer and select Properties. The window that opens will display all the prominent information about the system, such as the name of the operating system, whether it is Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 or even Windows XP. It also displays the processing type and speed of the computer, as well as its memory capability.
For the Apple Mac, just click on the Apple button on the home screen bar, and then select the option named ‘About This Mac’. All the information required to be known about the Mac in question such as the operating system, processing type and speed as well as the memory capability will be displayed.
All of this information will be integral to the choosing of the ideal gaming controller as well as appropriate games to be played on this personal computer.
Kinds of PC controllers
There are several kinds of PC controllers in the market, of different types and for gamers of different preferences and needs, such as:
- Joystick Controller
- Flight Stick Controller
- Steering Wheel Controller
- Console Game Controller
- Joystick Controller
These controllers are generally outdated at this point, but they can still be used for particular games for their sturdy design and easy controls. It consists of a gaming stick attached to a base and contains several buttons to push at the base in order to widen the gaming options this controller brings with it. While they are not extremely versatile, they make up for it with stability, efficiency and affordability.
Flight Stick Controller
These controllers are generally used to play flight simulator games. It has a large and sturdy base, with a single stick attached to it used to control most of its functions. It also has buttons and has generally been revamped in order to suit most modern games. They can also have programmable features and push buttons that help increase their versatility and capability to support and operate efficiently during games,
Steering Wheel Controller
Steering Wheel Controllers are used to simulate racing and driving games in a realistic manner. It may come with foot pedals for acceleration. These controllers are used exclusively for driving and racing games and cannot be used conventionally for normal gaming.
Console Game Controller
These game controllers are used by PC gamers to play games generally reserved for consoles. They are flat and fit easily into the hand, and thus PC gamers may also use them for normal PC gaming. They are comfortable, easy to use and can help improve the quality of gaming for gamers used to consoles and PlayStation controls.
Features of gaming PC controllers
Connection to the PC: The PC controller can be connected to the personal computer in three ways:
- Simple wire connection
- Connection through a USB: this wiring offers a connection to other devices as well as the personal computer by way of a USB.
- Wireless: this connection utilises batteries and a wireless connection to connect to the PC.
Vibration Feedback: The PC controller can be made to vibrate during high-intensity gaming. This helps get the gamer into the mood and is an optional feature which can be turned on or off depending on the gamer’s preference.
Programmable Action Buttons: This feature allows PC gamers to play shooting games with their controllers and allows multiple operations to be done at once.
Now that you know exactly how a gaming controller works, and how it integrates with the computer, the ideal gaming controller is easy to find for your computer.
How do you use a controller on your PC?
Gaming controllers for consoles can easily be used for the PC with a little help from the internet. There are two kinds of popular gaming console controllers: the X Box controller and the PS 3 controller. They are all entirely different console controllers, but all three of them can be used on the PC.
X Box 360
These controllers are the best console controllers for the PC, as they can be custom made for Windows operating systems. While X Box controllers can have drives downloaded from the internet to allow them to be compatible with PC’s, there are also X Box consoles out in the market that are directly compatible with both kinds of gaming, and are preferable to downloading the software, as these controllers are easy to move around and play with. All you have to do to make the custom made controllers is plug it in, and you are free to play it as you wish.
However, for authentic X Box controllers, there are dongles sold by Microsoft that help connect the controller to the PC and allow for easy connection and readability.
X Box controllers are also the easiest to play with while playing PC games, as they are convenient to use, efficient, affordable and popular with the gaming network.
Connecting the PlayStation 3’s DualShock 3 is slightly harder than the X Box controller. This controller connects to the PC using a bluetooth, which works well for laptops which understand bluetooth, but for desktops, a USB dongle will have to be bought to connect the controller to the PC.
Once the controller is connected to the computer, a software known as Better DS3 is to be downloaded in order to make the controller compatible with the PC. Once the software is downloaded, and the system is set up using the guided setup instructions, the gamer is good to go.
Are all PC gaming controllers Windows compatible?
The operating system Windows 10 supports X Box One and X Box 360 gaming controllers. However, apart from this operating system, the other operating systems do not adapt quite as well to console controllers.
The remedy for this is easy and simple to follow. Microsoft has recently released a $ 25 gaming adapter for X Box One and X Box 360 adapters, which allows the user to plug in up to 8 console gaming controllers and have them working perfectly for any PC game to be found online or offline.
This might prove a little pricey for a regular gamer, but is the best option for a hardcore gamer.
For other gamers, you may connect the console controller to a Windows 10 operating system using either Bluetooth or a USB dongle.
Windows 8 and Windows 7 have a slightly more complex process involved. These operating systems need for you to update their drivers in order to use the console game controller. After having updated the driver software for the particular console controller, you may connect it to the PC and have it working using either a Bluetooth connection or a USB dongle, just like for Windows 10.
These methods only work for X Box console controllers. For PS 3, you may have to download the software Better DS 3 in order for it to work, but in the end, even a PS 3 controller can work on a Windows operating system.
Therefore, yes, PC gaming controllers are compatible with the Windows operating system.
What are the best PC controllers?
PC controllers are highly valued and comfortable devices for gaming, which make gaming a much more relaxed and entertaining. Thus, the competition between PC gaming controllers has never been at a higher point. We have divided the gaming controllers into three categories: Budget Controllers, Luxury Controllers and Intermediate Controllers.
The best budget controller in the market is seen to be the Wired X Box 360 gamepad.
Easy to use, affordable and a classic in the field of gaming, X Box has a good compatibility with the Windows operating system and is also supported by almost all the games available nowadays. It is comfortable to hold and has a good analog stick layout, which makes it useful for games that require multitasking. It is simple to use, with a classic and easy to learn button layout and works well with X Box as well as PC systems. It is incredibly cheap, as compared to other gamepads, at a reasonable cost to quality ratio. While its D-Pad is not as developed as the D-Pads on more expensive controllers, it is still formidable and a great controller for PC games.
The luxury controller that stood out from its peers is the X Box One Elite Wireless Controller.
With an attractive, durable design and components that can easily be replaced as per preferences inside it, this controller is the best of its kind, surpassing all others in terms of feel, gaming control, sturdiness and reliability. It helps make the game feel more natural and fits into the hand easily. Its appearance is attractive, and it has a subtle rubber texture to prevent slipping, thereby giving the gamer a slight advantage over his opponents. Having robust software for mapping and easy installing processes, this controller is perfect for any gamer, hardcore or not. However, it is very expensive, at about triple the price of a regular gamepad with the same physical features.
The best intermediate controller for PC gaming is the PlayStation DualShock 4.
With a durable and attractive appearance, this controller is sturdy and sharp, with a great strain control on the buttons and analog triggers. The analog triggers are flattened for better grip and have a durable, long lasting feel. There is great tactile feel to the triggers and bumpers, which give a satisfying clicking feeling as they are pushed. They are comfortable to hold and fit well into the palms, with a slight roughening of their plastic in order to gain grip and a comfortable hold on the device.
The only downside of this device is the fact that it is not supported by Windows, and users must download unofficial software in order to make it compatible with Windows operating systems. The software DS4Windows is a good software to use, which allows the Windows operating system to treat the controller like an X Box 360 controller, thereby allowing it full access to various games and media.
What are drivers and which are the best drivers for Windows?
A device driver is software in your operating system which controls a particular kind of hardware. Device drivers are used to controlling several things such as printers, CD’s, disk drives, readers and so on. All of these drives are generally built into the operating system for convenience. However, in order to use console game controllers on the PC, for example, some drivers need to be updated or installed in order to allow the controller to work on the operating system.
There are several hardware drivers for Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Apple Mac and so on that may be downloaded for your console controller to work well on the PC.
Contrary to popular myth, drivers need not be made by the manufacturing company of the operating system for it to be effective. Several drivers sold for free online have also been proven useful for PCs. While most drivers, when installed, work well, some may require additional hardware such as CD’s to be added to ensure that they work well. Windows 10 only needs their pre-downloaded drivers updated for PC game controllers to work well.
Drivers for Windows can be found on Microsoft’s official web page, or on miscellaneous websites. As a side note, they can only be downloaded from the internet as software that helps translate and control gaming PC controllers for the best enjoyment of the gamer.
Which one to go for?
A gaming controller goes a long way in enhancing your gaming experience and so, picking the right one is crucial. The DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4 can be a good choice if you’re a serious gamer. Thanks to its precision controller, it offers great control for all PlayStation 4 games for a superior gaming experience. The newly added multi-touch and clickable touch pad on this controller offer endless gameplay possibilities and irrespective of whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran, you’ll love this feature. It also features built-in speaker and stereo headset jack that allows setting of new audio options for a top quality gaming experience on PlayStation 4. Overall, the DualShock 4 Wireless Controller is a top pick.
If you’re a serious gamer, having a top-quality controller is a must. The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller can be a really good choice if the price is not a big issue. This gaming controller is compatible with Xbox One and Xbox One S. It is also compatible with Windows 10 through USB connection or the Xbox Wireless Adapter that you can easily get in any store. The best feature of this controller is that you can swap thumbsticks and D-pads that ensures superior game-changing accuracy and speed for an enhanced gameplay experience. You can also fire a lot faster now, all thanks to the Hair Trigger Locks that allow a quicker response. And when it comes to control and accuracy, the interchangeable paddles and rubberized diamond grip offer firm grip, allowing for high precision. Last but not the least; you can customise the experience with the help of Xbox One Console app. This is truly a premium choice product, go for it!
Unlike a hardcore gamer, a casual gamer doesn’t need the most expensive products to enjoy a good gaming session. The Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller for Windows & Xbox 360 Console is one such product that offers great performance at an affordable price. The design and aesthetics of this product allow you to play for hours on your PC or Xbox One; enjoying every bit of your gaming session. The vibration feedback is really cool, as it gives you a truly amazing, riveting gameplay experience. The thumbsticks are precise, and the two pressure-point triggers along with an 8-way directional pad ensure that you have complete control over the game. The controls are quite accurate and enhance the gaming experience. Setup is easy, and you can connect this to your gaming console via USB. All these top quality features at an affordable price, this controller offers a great value for your money. Highly recommended!