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The Best PC Gaming Controller in 2017

If you’re a PC gamer, controllers can be a touchy subject. While not every game is designed with gaming controllers in mind, there are plenty of games that are best played using a controller rather than a mouse and keyboard. So what makes for the best PC gaming controller on the market right now? Well, here’s our guide.

In this article, we’ll go through some of the best PC gaming controllers around right now and what makes each of them great in their own ways. Sure, some PC games will stay true to their mouse and keyboard roots but there’s no denying that not every game is best played that way. No one is getting any extra advantage by playing Dark Souls 3 with a mouse and keyboard or charging through Street Fighter V with the fiddly keyboard controls that game offers. All in all, if you’re a PC gamer, it really serves you to have a PC gaming controller on-hand just in case.

For this list, we’ve split our top PC gaming controller picks up by category since not every situation will call for the same controller. Sometimes budget constraints take precedence over luxury and sometimes versatility overrules design. Our tried and tested list of PC controllers below should hopefully help you make a decision as to which of these is the best PC gaming controller for you.

Best ‘money is no object’ PC gaming controller


Xbox One Elite Controller

If all of these controllers cost the exact same amount, it would be no contest. The Xbox One Elite controller is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest gaming controllers to have been created in the past decade. It is, by all means, a luxury controller. From the extra weight, giving the controller a nice heft when holding it, to the impeccable build-quality and rubberised palm-grip that fit into each hand perfectly – the whole package feels tremendous.

Things don’t stop at build-quality, though, since the Xbox One Elite controller prides itself on its customisation options. Not only does this pad feature an extra four switches in the form of paddles that click into place on the controller’s back – all of which are completely assignable to whatever task you give them – but each of the two thumbsticks are removable, along with the D-pad. As a bonus, each of the triggers can be switched from regular to ‘short’ mode, which will adjust the level of ‘pull’ in order to fire a bullet quicker.

In the box, you’ll find a handful of variants for each of these components including a more standard ‘plus shaped’ D-pad and thumbsticks of varying heights. Within the software, all of the Elite controller’s buttons and paddles are able to be tweaked and re-assigned to your heart’s content. For PC users, an extra USB adapter will need to be purchased in order to make sure the controller works on your system, so keep that in mind.

In short, the Xbox One Elite controller is designed to be your controller – one which you can tweak to suit your needs completely. With an RRP of over £100, though, it’s hard to say it’s a must-have rather than a luxury. If you have the money and a burning desire for the best controller money can buy right now, it’s a no-brainer.

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Best PC gaming controller for customisation

Steam controller

Steam Controller

Near the end of 2015, Half-Life creator and all-around video game leviathan, Valve decided it wanted to get involved in the world of PC gaming controllers. Its answer to the PC controller problem was the Steam Controller. Any gamer used to using an Xbox One or PS4 controller will be instantly perplexed by one of these, as it has what is possibly the strangest layout of any controller to date.

Rather than the industry standard of directional buttons on the left of a controller and a set of four face buttons on the right, the Steam Controller opts to use two haptic-feedback-enabled touchpads on either side. The four face-buttons are shifted downward, just shy of the centre of the entire pad, next to the controller’s one and only thumbstick. On the back, you’ll find two very clicky paddles that work as extra buttons as well as two triggers and two sets of ‘bumper’ buttons to complete the layout. It’s a controller layout that is extremely out of the ordinary and somewhat alien to most gamers but it’s not without its merits.

Where the Steam Controller really comes into its own is that it’s designed to be a controller that will work with any and all games. The touchpads present the ability to play games that are designed with mouse and keyboard in mind – anything from Football Manager to Civilization – since a user can move cursors with their thumb.

The way the controller accomplishes this is through sheer versatility – every single button and function of the controller can be changed, reworked or customised through bespoke software. This software also allows users to upload their own configurations on a per-game basis. That means you can load up any and all games available through Steam and if you don’t like the way it plays using the default controls, you’re able to check out any number of user-generated configurations instead.

All in all, the Steam Controller offers the most unique of controller experiences. It is easily the most divisive controller on this list and, as such, will be perfect for some and absolutely wrong for others. If this one happens to click for you, though, you’ll be able to open up a world of possibilities for PC gaming.

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Best overall PC gaming controller

Dualshock 4z

DualShock 4 Controller

The DualShock controller is usually the pad of choice for those who grew up with a PlayStation. For most, this will be one of the most identifiable gaming pads in the world. Sony has done well to keep the general layout of its controller the same through four generational shifts – two central thumbsticks, the iconic face buttons and a segmented D-pad. This controller will be instantly familiar to video game players all around the world and probably to a majority of non-video game players, too.

That said, the fourth iteration of Sony’s iconic design adds some much-needed heft and a hugely improved build quality onto an already excellent design. The DualShock 4 feels solid in the hand and comes as fully-featured as you could possibly want from a modern video game controller. To get a DualShock 4 to work with a PC, you’ll need an extra little dongle that Sony sells separately (of course) – the DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adapter for PC, to be specific – that is, if you don’t want to utilise the DualShock 4’s already built-in Bluetooth.

One of the additions that Sony made to this version of the DualShock is the central touchpad which is placed directly above two extra buttons (one for clicking the left of the touchpad, one for clicking the right), pair this with some customisable PC software and you can have yourself a whole lot of fun tailoring the touchpad to be used in various different PC games for a variety of reasons.

There’s not a lot to be said for the DualShock that hasn’t been said countless times before, of course. It’s iconic, familiar, comfortable, versatile and gets the job done as perfectly as you could hope for. It may not feature some of the fancier and more luxurious features that some more expensive controllers do, but if you’re looking for the best PC gaming controller available right now that won’t break the bank – this is your best bet.

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Best PC gaming controller on a budget

Wired 360 Controller

Xbox 360 Wired Controller

Of course, one of the most important things to consider that often gets left out of the conversation is budget. Frankly, not everyone can afford to shell out £40+ for a controller, especially when they don’t necessarily intend to use it for every video game that comes along. Few could justify the Xbox One Elite controller’s premium pricing but thankfully it’s not the only option on the table for PC gamers.

With that in mind, there’s one clear winner when it comes to which is the best PC gaming controller to get when you don’t want to spend a whole lot. It’s a near-timeless classic that almost single-handedly standardised the PC controller industry. Its design was emulated by virtually every third-party PC pad maker since its release and PC games to this day even include button-prompts in their PC builds specifically because of the widespread use of a single controller. We’re talking, of course, about the Xbox 360 controller.

Specifically, with a mind for cost-effectiveness, we’re talking about the wired version of the Xbox 360 controller. A PC gaming pad so simple to use, it’s almost baffling. The wired 360 controller is quite literally a plug and play device, with the vast majority of PC and Mac systems able to identify the pad within seconds and set each PC game to be used with its specifications. It’s a classic for a reason – a controller that feels good to hold, features a wealth of buttons and can be customised with third-party software that also happens to be plug and play that will cost you less than half of most games.

Put simply, if you’re not looking to spend a whole lot but still want a PC controller that will not only last you a long time but work flawlessly with practically every game you need it for, pick yourself up a wired Xbox 360 controller.

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Best alternative PC gaming controller

Logitech F310

Logitech F310 Gamepad

Which one of these controllers is not like the other? Oh, it’s definitely this one. Logitech’s F310 gamepad is the black sheep of this list, coming in with a typically third-party design and most likely not being one you will have heard a lot of people talking about. But is that enough reason to disregard a controller like the F310? Well, let’s see.

From the outset, it’s clear to see what Logitech was going for with this controller. It features the familiar (and widely used in-game) Xbox 360 face-button design – copying not only the lettering but also the colour scheme – and pairs it with a much more DualShock-style frame. It’s a shorter, stubbier version of both pads with a fairly distinctive blue paint job. That all being said, the Logitech F310 performs shockingly well, especially in comparison with some of the other third-party PC gaming controllers out there.

It also features an appropriately budget-level price point which, combined with the fact that its a wired plug-and-play device, means it is much more ideal to be used as a spare or a ‘just in case’ scenario. If you can’t see yourself playing more than a handful of games a year on your PC using a controller, then maybe this would be one of the pads to consider. Whether you choose the F310 gamepad or a wired 360 controller will largely come down to a choice of which style of controller you like the best. This is a no fuss, no frills, but impeccably solid controller that does the job you need it for without costing a whole lot along the way.

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With that, we’ve come to the end of our top picks for the best PC gaming controller available right now. Keep in mind that for many PC games out there – most especially twitch-based online shooters – a mouse and keyboard simply cannot be beaten. The ultra-fast response times afforded to players by that particular combination put it above most PC gaming controllers around, but there are plenty of examples of games that just don’t suit the mouse and keyboard setup. At the end of the day, it’ll always come down to personal preference and while we’ve gone ahead and tested this range of PC gaming controllers, it’s always best to get your hands on as many different types of controller as you can and find the one that suits you best.

At the end of the day, it’ll always come down to personal preference and while we’ve gone ahead and tested this range of PC gaming controllers, it’s always best to get your hands on as many different types of controller as you can and find the one that suits you best. Good luck!

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