What is the best PC controller? These pads really push our buttons in a good way, each offering a great alternative to the classic clicker and clacker. We’ve spent hours testing all these buttons, triggers, pedals, and more, and just as long writing up reviews on all these peripherals to help you find the perfect gamepad fit.
Keyboard and mouse purists may scoff at the notion that a controller should be part of any gaming PC setup, but it’s hard to deny the convenience and ergonomic benefits offered by these perky pads. Following the release of the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 consoles, a new generation of gamepads has arrived and they’re better than ever. Of course, if you’re after something a bit more specialist, like a wheel or yoke, we’ve got you covered too.
Here are the best PC controllers in 2023:
1. Xbox Wireless Controller
The best PC controller.
Xbox Wireless Controller specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB|
|Power||2 x AA batteries|
- Hybrid D-pad
- Bluetooth support/plug-and-play
- Textured Triggers
- Requires AA batteries/play and charge kit
- Not customizable
The Xbox Wireless Controller is Microsoft’s latest attempt to perfect the default gamepad that ships with the Xbox Series X and Series S. While it might not look all that different from its predecessors, aside from dropping the console-specific branding from its name, there’s been plenty of changes four iterations on from the original Xbox One edition that makes this the go-to gamepad for gaming PCs. Plus, it looks great sitting next to you on the best gaming desk.
The textured grip on the rear has been extended to cover the triggers for extra grip and precision, and there’s now a hybrid domed D-pad which we’ve previously only seen on the high-end Xbox Elite controller.
Additionally, the pad’s iconic shape has been tweaked compared to the original Xbox One pad, meaning it fits a wider range of hand shapes and sizes. However, the slight changes may hinder compatibility with attachments, so keep that in mind
As it’s Microsoft, there’s native compatibility with Windows 10 so there’s no fiddling around with drivers – all you need is a Bluetooth or USB-C connection to plug and play.
2. PowerA Moga XP-Ultra
The most versatile PC controller.
PowerA Moga XP-Ultra Controller specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB-C|
|Power||Rechargeable 2000 mAh battery|
|Platforms||PC, Android, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S|
- Multi-platform versatility
- Mappable gaming buttons
- Battery level indicator
- Buttons lack travel
- Slightly awkward layout
- Slow to start after waking
Picking the perfect pad isn’t as easy as it once was, but the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra Wireless Controller is an attempt to solve a very modern problem of using multiple platforms. It’s compatible with Windows 10/11 PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Android Mobile, and many Smart TVs.
The Ultra-XP is a Bluetooth controller built for all eventualities, then – something echoed by its modular design. In the box, you get an attachable phone mount to turn your handset into a handheld, and it also features detachable grips, reducing the footprint for playing on the go or giving you an option if you prefer the size of old-school controllers.
We really like the modularity offered by the XP-Ultra. Playing retro games with the mini-pad is a blast, and having a sturdy way to mount a phone for cloud gaming is brilliant. The battery life of 40 hours in Bluetooth mode is immense, and, for some games, we love the D-Pad. The most adaptable and versatile controller we’ve ever used, the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra really is a jack of all trades – but you know how that saying ends.
Read our PowerA Moga XP-Ultra review.
3. Thrustmaster eSwap X PRO
The best thumbstick controller.
Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro specs:
- Modular analog sticks
- Microswitch buttons
- Thrustmapper software
- No wireless option
Thrustmaster’s Eswap Pro X is a premium gamepad through and through, but its modular design makes it one of the most versatile devices on this list. It’s also a great option for players who prefer PlayStation’s parallel controller layout, as you can easily swap around the d-pad and thumbstick.
Not only are these magnetic modules high quality, but if they do ever wear down, you’ll be able to replace them without becoming a gamepad surgeon. You could even balance substance and style by adding different colors using one of Thrustmaster’s optional kits.
The Eswap Pro X also comes with an impressive 22-button layout, four of which reside on the back of the bad. If you’re a fan of all things clicky, you’ll be pleased to know that the d-pad and face buttons use microswitches, which make all the difference compared to rubber dome membranes.
As for compatibility, the Eswap Pro X’s PC drivers come with Thrustmapper, a configuration suite that allows you to remap the pad and fine-tune sensitivity. In other words, if you’re looking for a thumbstick experience that comes close to the accuracy of a gaming mouse, this gamepad could be what you’re looking for.
4. PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller
The best PC controller for immersion.
PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB|
- Unique Dualsense features
- High-quality feel
- Limited support on PC
Sony’s successor to the Dualshock 4 is a newcomer to the gamepad fold, but it’s already a promising PC controller. It’ll enhance physical immersion in big hits like Call of Duty: Cold War, Far Cry 6, Metro Exodus, and Deathloop, all of which boast adaptive trigger support.
The DualSense is also just an excellent gamepad, and it elevates everything that made its predecessor great. Its thumbsticks are still superbly comfortable, and it’s still comfortable to use after hours of use.
Sony is slowly branching out on the PC, but support for the platform is lacking. Official DualSense drivers aren’t a thing yet, and you’ll have to stick with specific games to benefit from the pad’s immersive features.
Using the DualSense wirelessly on PC also comes with an additional cord-cutting caveat. For whatever reason, haptic feedback won’t work on the pad over Bluetooth, meaning you’ll have to tether it to your rig using a USB-C cable.
That said, if you’re a fan of parallel sticks, or just Sony shenanigans in general, the DualSense is a killer pad with impressive capabilities. It’s pricey, but when you consider what it offers, it’s potentially a wise investment.
5. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
The best alternative PC controller.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB|
- Amazing D-Pad
- Stellar battery life
- Better than Joy-Cons in basically every way
- Shallow triggers
- Not available in a wide range of colors
The Nintendo Switch Pro has been made specifically for the diminutive console, but has been given its own Steam profile and can be connected to your gaming PC with either a wireless Bluetooth connection or, if you want to get configured in Steam, via a USB-C cable.
There’s something charming about the Switch Pro Controller’s build quality, particularly in terms of its plastics. In the hand, it almost feels like a gamepad from the early 2000s, something that differentiates it from other premium pads on the market.
The chunky buttons and triggers take a while to get used to, especially if you’re used to Microsoft controllers. However, once you’ve spent some time with the Nintendo pad, you’ll want to keep it near your PC setup.
Nintendo pioneered the d-pad back in 1985, so it’s no surprise that the Switch Pro controller upholds its gamepad legacy. While the pad lacks fancy features like analog triggers, its tactile buttons and comfortable feel make it a winner when it comes to precision-based platformers. It’s also got a whopping 40-hour battery life via Bluetooth, making it one of the best wireless options on the market.
6. Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
The best high-end controller for PC.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB|
- All the paddles
- Built-in battery
- High build quality
- Premium price point
- Black aesthetic isn’t as exciting
Spending well over $100 on a joypad might seem pretty crazy, but the Elite Series 2 is one seriously beautiful controller. Almost everything about it has been designed to just scream ‘QUALITY!’ in your face. It’s an evolution over the previous version rather than a revolution, but it’s got everything we loved about the original Elite, plus everything the competition has added to their high-end pads to try and compete.
Just like the Eswap Pro X, the Elite Series 2 is equipped with customizable buttons that’ll help you perfectly dial in your palm experience. It’s not quite as hot-swappable as Thurstmaster’s approach, but it offers a different array of options, like changeable stick heights and paddle-style triggers.
It’s a small thing, but the fact Microsoft includes a hard case with the Elite Series 2 speaks volumes. Not only does it give you somewhere to keep your bits and bobs, but it’ll also protect the pad and help it serve your gaming needs long into the future.
If you’re not into additional accessories, you could opt for the Series 2 Core, a cheaper package that only includes the pad and an adjustment tool.
Read the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 review.
7. Nacon Revolution Unlimited
The best hybrid PC controller.
Nacon Revolution Unlimited specs:
|Connection||Bluetooth / USB|
- Great build quality
- Asymmetrical layout
- Excellent thumbsticks
- D-pad isn’t the best
- Software is finicky
Many companies have tried to match the quality of Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite controller, but very few have managed to nail its mix of serious build quality and ultra customization. But Nacon’s pad succeeds in both and also manages to mix both the excellent PlayStation thumbsticks and touchpad with the Xbox asymmetrical layout.
The only issue is the software. It refuses to connect unless you’re wired in and some of its wordless icons are borderline impenetrable. But there are a whole host of customization options buried in there if you really want to go deep.
Read the Nacon Revolution Unlimited review.
8. Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma
The best RGB PC controller.
Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma specs:
- Clicky as heck
- Tasteful RGB
- Plenty of added functionality
- Not the best D-pad
The Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma is probably the flashiest gamepad on this list. Signature Chroma RGB lighting helps the controller stand out from the crowd, and it’ll look great both at LAN and on your desk
The Wolverine Tournament Edition Chroma is undeniably a looker, but it balances both style and substance. Microswitches help the pad’s buttons feel responsive and satisfying, while adjustable hair triggers will help you land shots in the best FPS games.
Just like other PC gamepads on this list, Razer’s light show controller comes with a premium price tag attached. If you’re looking for tournament-grade quality and extra visual flair, you might want to invest in this pad. However, if less-than-stellar D-pads tend to upset you, we’d suggest looking elsewhere.
9. Thrustmaster Warthog
The best flight stick.
Thrustmaster Warthog specs:
|Hat switches||4x 8-way, 2x 4-way|
- Satisfying clicky switches
- Chunky (it’s a good thing)
- Fantastic throttle action
- Super expensive
- No stick twist support
Thrustmaster’s Warthog flight stick is a replica of the controllers in the classic A-10 Tankbuster, seemingly hewn from the same military-grade materials, and probably only slightly cheaper than a second-hand plane.
Yes, the Warthog is frighteningly expensive, but if you’re already looking to pick up a controller for the best flying games then you’ve probably got pretty niche tastes – and this is the best way to satisfy them.
The Warthog has been around for a while now, but it’s still the best joystick for PC. It’s pricey but still manages to feel worth it when you’re hurtling through an asteroid belt, flipping on a pirate, and reducing their ship to tiny bits of melty scrap.
That said, we’re still keen to see what Logitech does with the Saitek brand in the future and whether it will offer some serious competition to the Warthog.
10. Nacon Daija Arcade Stick
The best fight stick.
Nacon Daija Arcade Stick specs:
|Connection||USB-A to USB-C cable|
|Customization||Two stick heads, changeable profiles|
- Premium and refined build quality
- Has every feature any fighting game player needs
Some players say you shouldn’t bring a gamepad to a street fight, and the Nacon Daija Arcade Stick could help you land the finishing blow in all the best fighting games. Developed alongside French esports player Marie-Laure ‘Kayane’ Norindr, precision and functionality are weaved into this stick’s DNA, two qualities that elevate it above other contenders.
Coming in at around $279, the Nacon Daija is far from being the cheapest arcade stick on the market. Weighing 3.4kg, you’ll struggle to forget it’s stowed away in your backpack.
Whether you’re new to tinkering with arcade sticks, or just looking for an easier time, the Nacon Daija has you covered. Its toolless design means you’ll be able to swap out buttons and switches without conflict, and handy diagrams will keep you right if you get in a tangle. On the outside, the Daija boasts a subtle aesthetic, but you can jazz things up by adding custom artwork underneath the stick’s plexiglass overlay.
Unfortunately, the Nacon Daija Arcade Stick isn’t available in the US at the moment, but you can import one if you’re itching to upgrade your fighting game weaponry ahead of Street Fighter 6.
Check out our Nacon Daija Arcade Stick review.
11. Turtle Beach VelocityOne
The best flight yoke.
Turtle Beach VelocityOne specs:
|Hat switches||2x 4-way|
- Easy to set up
- Unlimited profiles
- Temperamental menu controls
- High price
- Slightly cheaper feel
Turtle Beach built its Velocity One flight controller with Xbox in mind, but it still offers tremendous value for PC players. At this price, you’d expect a lot, and you do indeed get a lot for your money.
The Velocityone features an authentic 180-degree yoke handle rotation that pushes and pulls for ascending and descending respectively, ten programmable buttons, swappable lever handles, and a built-in display you can use to customize virtually everything about this device.
It’s designed specifically for Microsoft Flight Simulator and offers more functionality than most, but still works fine with plenty of other flight games like Star Wars Squadrons and Elite Dangerous.
Like most yokes, it’s quite a bit larger than a joystick and you will need to clear space on your gaming desk to piece it together, but it’s easy to set up, makes gaming feel like an event, and comes to life when the RGB lighting starts to shine.
12. Fanatec Clubsport
The best PC racing wheel.
Fanatec Clubsport specs:
- Incredible force feedback
- Precision engineered
- Costs as much as a gaming PC
- Wheel and pedals are sold separately
The Fanatec Clubsport setup costs as much as a powerful gaming PC, but it’s also the stuff of gaming peripheral dreams – and it’s all down to just how beautifully designed, created, and finished the Clubsport kit is. If you don’t go for one of the preconfigured bundles you’ll have to create your own, picking and choosing from a very long list of goodies.
The main wheelbase is the same across the board, but then you can fit different steering wheels, gearshifts, and pedals into the mix. And they’re all built out of solid lumps of metal and precision-engineered components. The Fanatec system is the perfect fit for the best racing games and is hands down the head of the pack when it comes to force feedback, even down to the pedals.
How we chose the best PC controllers
There were several considerations we kept in mind when deciding which controllers deserved a spot on this list. If you’re planning on buying one yourself, these are important things to keep in mind:
- Pricing: The price of controllers can vary enormously. We wanted to include options that would cater to readers on different budgets. We recommend using $70 (£60) as a yardstick – fancier options will cost a lot more, but that should cover the price for standard controllers.
- Customization: Do you just need a controller to play your games with, or do you want something that you can tailor to best suit your own style of play? If so, look out for programmable and swappable buttons, as well as the option to save profiles, but keep in mind that these premium features push up the price tag.
- Cross-compatibility: If you’re also a console gamer, you may want to find something that you can use on your Xbox/PlayStation/Switch as well. We’ve covered a number of broadly compatible options here, but we recommend double-checking before making a decision.
- Specialized controllers: Fans of the best simulation games might want a specialized controller to help them feel more fully immersed and give them a greater sense of control. Flight yoke and racing wheel controllers can do just that, so we felt that they deserved some representation on this list, but it’s important to remember that these things come at a higher cost.
- Aesthetics: Last but not least, you’re going to want to choose a controller that looks good and will fit in with your gaming space. Many controllers come only in a singular style, but we’ve tried to include a few that have RGB lighting or which come in various colors.
If you still have any questions about how we decide what to include in these lists, read our how we test page. We’ve also answered some FAQs below:
Can I use an Xbox controller with PC?
Yes, you can. As these controllers are manufactured by Microsoft, it’s especially easy to get them to work on PC. If you’re planning on buying for the first time, you’ll find that there are Xbox controllers specifically designed with PC use in mind.
Can I use a PS4 controller with PC?
Yes, you can. On Windows 10 or above, you’ll often find that it will even configure automatically. Read our guide on how to use a PS4 controller with Steam for more information.
Can you use any controller with PC?
While we wouldn’t want to definitively say that you can use literally any controller, it’s much easier to use different controllers on PC than it is on consoles. Most wireless controllers will be able to connect to your PC via dongles, wired ones use USBs quite often, and even if they use a more unusual type of plug, you can find adapters. Of course, if you go for a really old and obscure choice, you’ll have a lot of work to do in configuring it for new PC games, but you can practically get anything to work on PC, and it’s especially easy with recent pieces of hardware.
Is it worth using a controller on PC?
The line that divides console and PC gaming is much less defined than it was once. Most big console releases come to PC as well, and these have often been designed with the expectation that the player will be using a controller. We recommend having at least one PC controller as part of your gaming setup.
If you’ve been reading this list, you may find our guide on how to use an external controller on Steam Deck helpful. For more ways to control your favorite PC games, read our guide on the best gaming mouse for some recommendations.