Last Updated on July 1, 2020 by Scott Krager
When it comes to controlling a PC game, a keyboard + mouse combo is suitable for a majority of the people out there.
But there are some people who don’t want to rely only on K+M combo, and always want to try something new (which I think is the beauty of the PC gaming, everybody can customize his/her gameplay according to his/her liking/disliking).
For those people, the best thing is a controller.
Yes, there are some other options in the form of fight sticks and keypads (or even trackballs, LoL) but nothing beats the controllers. Also, there are some games you would prefer to play with a controller (such as FIFA 20) even if you have a good-quality gaming keyboard.
But here’s a thing:
Just like the case with any gaming accessory out in the market, not all controllers are same. So, to make your task easier, we have tested 5 most popular controllers for pc gaming.
Let’s see what we found out about each of ’em and which one is the best among them.
Best PC Controllers 2020
8Bitdo SN30 Pro: Check Price On Amazon
If you want a classic-looking controller to make you nostalgic about that arcade era gaming, SN30 Pro by 8Bitdo is your best option.
I’ve already used another product by 8Bitdo in the past and found it to be best fight stick for the Nintendo Switch.
Let’s see how this one goes.
Design-wise, it’s based on the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) gamepad which gives it a pretty retro look. It’s a wireless controller that can be connected to different types of devices such as PC, Mac, Android phones, and Nintendo Switch. It’s compatible with new games as well as older (read classical) ones.
A USB-C cable comes with this controller using which, you can charge it up. It has a rechargeable battery which can last many days on a single charge, but it depends on how much you play with it.
Setup wise too, it’s easier than its predecessors. You just need to configure it once after switching your device type (like switching from the Nintendo Switch to the PC and vice versa), and it would remember that configuration until you switch again.
Button Layout of this controller is like the SNES gamepad, but buttons here have been distanced a bit in order to fit two analog sticks. In my opinion, there should’ve been a little bit more space.
Currently, there very little space between the B and right analog stick, and you’ll be hitting that stick a lot. Those sticks also get in the way of the start and select buttons sometimes.
These aren’t deal-breakers but definitely annoying.
For current games, it performed very good but can’t be compared to a full-sized controller like the one from Xbox. But the area where it really shines is the portability. Yes, you can easily take it wherever you want without any hassle.
Here’s what Adam Murray of PCWorld has to say about it
the SN30 Pro is for gamers who appreciate retro nostalgia, want contemporary functionality for current games, or are looking for a great portable option.
Whether pairing it with your home PC, a gaming laptop at a friend’s house, or even your Nintendo Switch, the SN30 Pro can tackle all of that in a stylish package.
AmazonBasics Xbox One Controller: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget PC Controller 2020
Just like any other roundup here, we include a budget product mainly because, let’s face it, everyone cannot afford to buy sub-$100 gaming accessories after every year or so.
For PC controllers, our budget pick is the AmazonBasics Xbox One wireless controller.
In design, it’s similar to the Microsoft’s Xbox One controller which means some may find this one to be too large for their hands.
All the regular buttons, shoulder buttons, and triggers are responsive and certainly feel best among those of other budget controllers. The shoulder buttons are a bit loud and give you nice clicky feel.
One handy feature we like in this controller is that it features a headset jack through which you can connect a gaming headset to it. It doesn’t produce high-class sound by any means, but it’s good to have a that feature in your armor just in case your PC ports are full.
Another goodie is the USB cable which is 10 ft long and has a breakaway segment too.
There’s plastic texture on the analog sticks is what makes them less premium than those expensive controllers such as DualShock 4, but they (and D-pad too) are still accurate and smooth.
In terms of support, it works with steam as well as Windows (and even MacOS), and you can use it with any gaming console that accepts USB-based connection.
Like all other cheap controllers, this one isn’t without any shortcomings though.
First, the texture on the backside doesn’t feel as smooth as it does in other premium options. Then, there’s the vibration motor which doesn’t feel as strong as it does in Sony and Microsoft’s controllers.
In addition to that, the breakaway section isn’t as solid as it should be. Sometimes, it can accidentally disconnect from the rest of the cord, without any significant force at your end.
All in all, though, it gives you almost all the major functions of the Xbox One controller while being twice as cheaper as the aforementioned device. That’s why this is the best cheap PC controller you can have in 2020.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller: Check Price On Amazon
Best High End PC Controller 2020
Like all other gaming accessories, the gaming community is divided between wired and wireless controllers for PC. There are both pros and cons for each type.
In wired controllers, you’ll often get better response time, due to no interference, but many people hate wires. In wireless controllers, on the other hand, you’re free of any cords but response time tends to be worse in most scenarios and you also have to check out the battery timing.
The reason why I am discussing all of this is because our next PC controller, Xbox Elite Wireless controller, is wireless in nature.
In almost all the aspects, it’s an incremental improvement on the standard Xbox controller. It has a rubberized grip which makes it more comfortable and has smooth matte finish along with easy-to-swap stainless steel components.
It’s heavier than many controllers, but I think it’s because of its solid built quality.
In terms of features too, there isn’t any major overhaul, which means four input paddles on the back, hair-trigger locks (that can be set to different sensitivity levels), different types of D-pad, and three sets of joysticks – all of these features are present in the latest iteration of Xbox wireless controller.
You can map the paddles to any button of your choice, and it really helps during first-person shooters, while the triggers allow you to fire more rapidly. That being said, if they somehow fail to impress you (due to their interference with your fingers), you can simply remove them.
I didn’t face any interference from them during the time I had with this controller, but it’s good to see Microsoft allowing users to make their ultimate choice
The D-pad and joysticks are both magnetic and interchangeable. There are two types of D-pad here: Standard cross-like D-pad and the new D-pad with 360° solar panel design.
My only big issue here is rubber grip which tends to fall off over a long period of time – just like it would in the previous model.
Unlike most other controllers listed here, I have confused thoughts about this one overall.
Yes, it gives you an edge in FPS games, comes with many additional goodies, and has better customization-ability (up to the point where it might overwhelm first-time users), but there are some drawbacks too.
That’s why, to have or not, simply depends on you and what you want to achieve with this beast.
For most people, 150 bucks are simply not the ideal price for a gaming peripheral. But for some people who want to have a premium accessory available in the market, price doesn’t matter.
For those, this is the best high-end PC controller for 2020.
DualShock 4 Wireless Controller: Check Price On Amazon
DualShock controller series by Sony is very popular among consoles as well as PC gamers.
DualShock 4 is the latest addition to the family. So let’s see how this one goes.
For starters, it’s very comfortable to hold, have responsive D-pad, along with user-friendly triggers and face buttons.
These sticks are a bit smaller in size but have greater precision. Triggers button have been improved too. Now they provide a good level of tactile feedback and an audible click. They’re also slightly curvy, which prevents your fingers slipping from there.
Since the D-pad was almost perfect in DS3 controller, Sony hasn’t made any unnecessary changes here, which is certainly a good thing.
Perhaps the most important feature of Dual Shock 4 is its touchscreen. Yes, there’s a touchscreen above the analog sticks, and it does multiple things.
Firstly, it acts like the traditional start and select buttons, depending on which side you tap it.
In addition to that, you can use many swipe-based gestures but it also depends on the game you’re playing. You can even use this screen as a mouse cursor on some games.
Another goodie you’ll like in DualShock 4 is the built-in speaker. The Nintendo Wii was probably the first one to have that feature, so it’s good to see other companies doing that too.
Using this, you can listen to in-game sound directly on your controller, rather than through your gaming speakers.
In terms of connectivity, DualShock 4 connects to your PC through Bluetooth 2.1 but there are many other ports available such as:
- MicroUSB port. This port can be used for charging as well as wired gameplay
- Extension Port. This port is exclusive for charging stations.
- 5mm Jack. This jack can be used by gaming headphones and headsets, and you can use it as a mic input.
Support-wise, some feature (such as headset jack) won’t be available on PC. Although the steam is supported, unlike in Xbox controllers, there’s no official way to connect this controller with your PC either.
Still, there are many workarounds, like this, if you want to play non-steam games on your PC.
All in all, this is a great controller for PC with some caveats here and there.
Microsoft Xbox One Controller
Best PC Controller 2020 For Value
The biggest benefit of being a PC gamer is that when it comes to selecting the peripherals, you have limitless options to go with.
You are not just limited to keyboard or mouse; as a matter of fact, you can choose controllers from both Xbox and PlayStation sides, and play without any issues whatsoever.
The best part is that these controllers are natively supported by Windows, as well as Steam, and the games that are releasing on these platforms. This means that the controllers are in high demand, and it is only fair.
This brings us towards reviewing the Microsoft Xbox One Controller; note that I am not talking about the Elite controller, or the controllers that launched with the One S, or the One X.
I am talking about the controller from the original Xbox One, and how it matured. The purpose of this review is to find out whether or not the controller is still worth it.
With that out of the way, let’s start reviewing the controller.
To start with, the build quality on the controller is one of the most amazing I have seen; the controller is solid and feels nice to hold. The large portion is built out of plastic, but Microsoft has made sure to use good quality plastic that has excellent grip and feels to it.
Amazing build quality also leads to great comfort as this is perhaps one of the most comfortable controllers to hold. Whether you are playing in summers or winters, the controller will not be causing you any issues and will give you great comfort regardless.
Furthermore, the triggers on the controller are also extremely responsive, and they have really good rumble integration that gives them the proper haptic feedback. The thumbsticks are among my favorite as they are highly ergonomic and extremely precise.
If you are a fan of fighting games, these thumbsticks will make your job so much easier. Last but not least, the D-pad happens to be one of the most accurate ones and will allow you to input your moves, and combos without any issue.
With all the great things aside, there are a few downsides too. The D-pad can be loud in some situations, especially if you are one of those players who get rather aggressive while playing. Additionally, the shoulder buttons are great, however, at times, they can be cumbersome
Overall, the Microsoft Xbox one Controller is perhaps one of the best, if not the best controllers available in the market. The controller has a lot to offer with very little holding it back.
The best part is that it is one of the most affordable options available in the market, and if you are on a budget, you can definitely go with the controller.
- Excellent value for money.
- Solid build quality.
- Great comfort.
- Easy to use.
- Works on the PC without any drivers needed.
- Natively supported.
- Great D-pad.
- The D-pad can be noisy.
- The shoulder buttons are awkward and cumbersome at times.
Now we’ll discuss some pros and cons of PC controllers
Benefits of PC Controllers
Since this post is all about controllers, we’ll first discuss the pros of using a PC controller
Unlike gaming keyboards where your fingers do all the hard-work, PC controllers offer a thumb-based controlling mechanism.
Most of us spend the majority of our job times in front of a computer, where we do different tasks like typing, or scrolling documents and web pages etc.
So if you start playing games with your already-tired fingers, there is a high risk of you getting carpal tunnel syndrome and other finger-related injuries.
If that’s the case, PC controllers offer a nice change where your fingers are holding the controller instead of pressing keys, and your hands are in their natural position (not twisted like when using a mouse).
Of course, you can argue that thumb also works like a finger and can be over-stressed too. But most people don’t their thumbs as much as they use their fingers while typing.
That’s why thumbs don’t get as much stress as your fingers do in first place, and it’s better to utilize them for gaming.
More Comfortable For Some Gamers
Some people don’t like too many buttons gaming keyboards usually offer. Controllers, on the other hand, don’t come with that many buttons.
Also, in keyboards, you have to perform various combinations (such as SHIFT + A + L) in order to perform a special move/skill. Many times, those buttons (like A and K) are very far from each other. So you have to memorize the location of all these buttons.
This is not the case with PC controllers. Here all buttons are closed to each other and can be easily accessed. This thing is a huge plus for potential buyers.
Also, some games, like fighting or soccer games, don’t feel as natural as they do when you play them with a keyboard and mouse.
Limits of PC controllers
OK, now come some ugly truths about the PC controllers.
Can’t Use Them For Every Gaming Genre
It doesn’t matter how much you love controllers over your K+ M combo, you can’t use them with every game.
Don’t believe me?
Well, try to play an FPS game with your controller, and then play it with your mouse. The difference will be noticed from the first moment.
On top of that, a mouse can aim at a spot with far more accuracy than a controller.
No Key-binds and Macros
A big advantage gaming keyboards give is that you can assign functionalities to the keys, according to your own preferences. This is called key-binding and it not available in controllers.
Same goes for macros. In basic terms, macros are the combination of different commands assigned to different keys.
For example, if a game has a character with a special move for SHIFT + ALT + W + K, I can assign this macro to another key, such as X.
Now whenever I’ll press X in that game, it will perform just like SHIFT + ALT + W + K.
It should be noted that not all games support macros, but in the ones that do, you can really shine if you have a gaming keyboard + mouse.