The Best Controller for PC for Every Type of Gamer

A PS5 controller set up for a PC

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PC purists swear that using a mouse and keyboard is the ultimate way to play. That said, some games feel better with a controller, and you may be more comfortable with one if you’ve grown up playing consoles. If that’s the case, you’ll want to find the best controller for PC.

Like many things in gaming, the best PC controller depends on your budget and the types of games you play. With that in mind, here are top picks for every kind of gamer. 

White Xbox controller on a computer keyboard

The Best Overall: Xbox Wireless Controller

The best PC controller for most people is the Xbox Wireless Controller — the one that comes with the Xbox Series X. At around $60, it’s relatively affordable, and it’s hard to find a better value for your money.

Xbox controllers have a reputation for comfort, and this version has new grips and a slightly different ergonomic design to make it even more comfortable. It’s also one of the most widely supported controllers across different games. While you can’t customize it much, you can connect it wirelessly or with a cable, depending on your preference.

Honorable Mentions

The PS5’s DualSense is a good alternative if you prefer the PlayStation layout, but it costs a bit more and doesn’t have as much support. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and GameSir Kaleid T4 are solid, too.

The Best High-End Controller: Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra

Want better performance and don’t mind splurging? The Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra is the best PC controller for gamers with deep pockets or those at a competitive level. Its $200 price tag is hard to overlook, but you get what you pay for.

The biggest upside to the Stealth Ultra is its Hall effect sensors in its joysticks. These eliminate the dreaded stick drift that affects virtually every major console gamepad. The Stealth Ultra also has loads of customization options, a big, comfortable grip, mechanical buttons, RGB lighting and extra programmable buttons on the back.

Honorable Mentions

The Xbox Elite Series 2 and Sony’s DualSense Edge are solid premium options, too. Neither is as customizable or reliable as the Stealth Ultra, but they’re a step up from their baseline versions. 

Black Xbox 360 controller on grass

The Best Budget Controller: Xbox 360 Wired Controller

On the other end of the spectrum is the beloved Xbox 360 wired controller. Yes, this is an old piece of hardware — so old that you’ll almost certainly have to buy one used. However, the Xbox 360 was one of the best-selling consoles of all time, so you shouldn’t have any issue finding a controller.

Because of its age, the wired 360 controller often sells for under $20. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of newer options, it’s still a remarkably comfortable and precise gamepad. It also integrates beautifully with many PC games, making it an easy choice for the best budget controller on PC.

Honorable Mentions

Is a 20-year-old controller a little too old for your tastes? You could go with 8BitDo Ultimate C for around $30 or the HyperX Clutch Gladiate for $35.

The Best Controller for Customization: Victrix Pro BFG

The best controller for PC in terms of personalization is the Victrix Pro BFG. It’s certainly not in everyone’s budget at $180, but its modularity is hard to beat. Not only can you remap and reprogram the buttons as you please, but you can change the entire layout.

Want symmetrical joysticks? No problem. Do you prefer an Xbox-style layout with staggered sticks? You can do that, too. There are also four back paddles you can assign to give yourself even more options. It does lack rumble, which is a shame, but if you’re particular about your controller layouts, this may be the best gamepad for you.

Honorable Mentions

The Scuf Instinct Pro is similarly customizable but retails for $200, making it even less accessible. Alternatively, you could go with the ever-popular Xbox Elite Series 2, but it’s not quite as modular.

An 8BitDo Pro 2 controller

The Best Retro Controller: 8BitDo Pro 2

Sometimes, you just want to play the classics. The 8BitDo Pro 2 is the best gamepad if that’s what you’re after. The SNES-reminiscent design not only looks cool but will feel better when playing old-school indie games or emulating older titles.

Despite its retro appearance, the 8BitDo Pro 2 has a few modern conveniences, like programmable buttons and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s also just $35, making it a solid budget pick, too. It may not be the most comfortable for modern AAA games — apart from JRPGs and fighting games, perhaps — but it’s by far the best for old-school gaming.

Honorable Mentions

The market for retro PC controllers is admittedly small. That said, the Retro-Bit Legacy16 is a good alternative at $30, though it lacks some of the features of the 8BitDo Pro 2.

The Best Arcade Stick: Hori Fighting Stick Alpha

Fans of fighting games will want an arcade-style fight stick. Whether you’re into big names like Street Fighter and Tekken or prefer more innovative indie fighting games, the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is the best PC controller for you.

Hori’s Alpha range comes in several iterations for different consoles and designs. All of them are compatible with PC, though, and feature swappable art plates. The Alpha isn’t cheap — it goes for around $200 — but it’s comfortable, responsive and perfectly emulates the arcade experience.

Honorable Mentions

The Nacon Daija is a good alternative, but it costs about $50 more and doesn’t have all the Alpha’s features. You could also go for the much cheaper 8BitDo Arcade Stick, but you’ll sacrifice some functionality for the price.

The Best Controller for PC Depends on Your Needs

No matter how much you can spend or what your preferences are, there’s a controller for you on this list. The best controller for PC may be up to you, but you can’t go wrong with these options.

Find the right PC controller for your needs by starting with your budget. Once you know that, determine what’s most important to you — comfort, customization or functionality with a certain type of game. From there, you’ll be able to find a gamepad that works for your kind of gaming.

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