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Best gaming controller

What you need to know:

There is nothing wrong with the stock controller offered for both 360 and PS3 as they do their jobs quite well, especially if you like having a wireless controller. Keep in mind that a lot of the fully featured third party controllers are all wired, so if that's a concern you may want to stick with your stock controller. There are gripes to be had with them though, d-pads being the prime example. As you make your way up the controller food chain there are definitely more features to be had. Unlike some peripherals, most of these features are actually useful, such as upgraded d-pads and interchangeable components. Controllers are an easy upgrade to make for yourself or even as a gift to a fellow gamer.

Budget: Razer Onza Tournament Edition $49.99

Notable Features
Available for 360 only
-Adjustable Resistance Analog Sticks
-Two Additional Fully Programmable Buttons
-Precision D-Pad
-Hyperesponse Action Buttons

The Razer Onza Tournament Edition is well worth the investment considering it only costs $10 more than a stock wired Microsoft controller. Have you ever wished that a certain button was in a different place, but couldn't change it because it would change every other button? The additional fully programmable buttons are the most noteworthy feature of this Onza. Instead of attempting to reach for the A button and right trigger simultaneously, you can map the crouch button to the programmable button (next to the right trigger), making it much easier to, say, drop to the prone position while shooting people in Black Ops II. Also, if your analog sticks feel too loose or too stiff, the Onza's adjustable sticks allow you to fine tune your controller exactly to your specifications. If $49.99 is still too much, there is a standard Onza available for $39.99 without the adjustable analog sticks and backlit buttons. 

Mid-range: Power A Fus1on Tournament Controller $79.99

Notable Features
-Available for 360 and PS3
-Interchangeable Grips
-Precision D-Pad
-Braided 9.8ft Cord

PowerA's new Fus1on tournament controllers offer a slew of options not available on stock units. For starters, it comes with a fancy carrying case and a braided cable that ensures minimal input latency and maximum protection, even against the chewiest of cats. Not all hands are the same size, so why should a controller be? The interchangeable grips allow you to customize the shape of the controller to the perfect size that fits your hands. It's got a precision D-pad, meaning each end point on the pad is raised to prevent accidental input; more accurate 8-way control is especially important for fighting game players that don't use fight sticks. The Fus1on has a smaller form factor than other tournament options, as well as stock controllers, and you can even toggle between five LED accent colors when gaming in the dark.

Premium: Madcatz MLG Pro Circuit Controller $99.99

Notable Features
-Available for 360 and PS3
-"No Slow" Analog Sticks
-ProModule Components
-Removable Top and Side Faceplates
-Durable 3-Meter Cable

Spending $100 on a controller might be a tough sell for a lot of gamers, but if you've got the money to spare, you can't go wrong with Madcatz' MLG Pro Circuit Controller. So what does $100 get you? A lot, actually. Like the Fus1on, the MLG controller has a braided cord--except you can detach it from the unit for storage and travel. It also has interchangeable grips and faceplates, which are easy to snap on and off thanks to a series of magnets, and you can fine-tune the controller's heftiness via removable weights. Best of all, the D-pad and analog stick modules can be removed and placed in any configuration you'd like. Playing on PS3 but prefer the layout of a 360 controller? No problem--the MLG controller can accommodate either configuration. It's one of the most durable and versatile options out there. 

Are there any other stand-out controllers that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Black Friday 2012 deals and Budget gaming hardware.

Topics

Gear

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13 comments

  • gh0stSurf3r - December 28, 2012 11:38 a.m.

    Best Controller for me is the Logitech Wireles Gamepad F710!!! It work's as a x360 Pad ....
  • VagueRaconteur - December 21, 2012 2 a.m.

    How you don't give the Onza TE credit for its braided 4m cable (12 foot) but give credit to a higher price controller with a shorter one is beyond me. There's also the style of the ABXY buttons - perfect for PC gamers, they feel more like a mouse click than a button press, and the adjustable resistance analogue sticks are insanely useful, helping with precision aiming on shooters so much I prefer using it over a mouse and keyboard (having triggers that actually feel like triggers is pretty nice, too).
  • sandplasma - December 13, 2012 1:26 p.m.

    Who cares, there are very few games that need a gamepad anyway.
  • brickman409 - February 23, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    except for like every console game ever.
  • LordGremlin - November 23, 2012 12:01 p.m.

    I can't use any controller that doesn't have symmetrical analog sticks. Hence I mostly play on PS3, but on PC Logitech provides some ok gamepads that mimic Dualshock. I wonder if there are top quality 3rd party gamepads like this.
  • BrunstigElg - November 23, 2012 1:18 a.m.

    And then there´s not a single one of them that works for PC XD
  • Shadow Of Death - November 23, 2012 2:14 a.m.

    I was going to say XD Article for "Third-party alternatives for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC controllers" Reviews some interesting 3rd party alternative controllers. Doesn't include a PC controller. Doesn't the PC have the most ample selection of controllers in the first place? Heck, the official 360 (wired, or wireless with dongle) and PS3 controllers work with PC (The PS3 controller requires a 3rd party driver though). Wouldn't be surprised if Gamecube, Wii, and eventually Wii U work with the PC, with adapters.
  • StrayGator - November 23, 2012 3:38 a.m.

    The Razers work for PC, for what it's worth.
  • gopher1369 - November 23, 2012 6:34 a.m.

    "Wouldn't be surprised if Gamecube, Wii, and eventually Wii U work with the PC, with adapters." I've had a Gamecube to PC USB adaptor for about 10 years. It's actually a triple adaptor, at one end is a standard USB2 cable to plug into your PC, the other end 3 ports for an Xbox, PS2 and GC controller. The Wii and Playstation controllers both use Bluetooth, so no adaptor required, they just work by pairing them to your PC the same way you pair up any bluetooth device.
  • gopher1369 - November 23, 2012 6:36 a.m.

    I meant Playstation 3 controllers use Bluetooth, in case that wasn't obvious...
  • SUCKxITxEZ - February 28, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    ya too bad hardly any pc games support splitscreen or controllers
  • gopher1369 - June 18, 2013 4:51 a.m.

    Almost all PC games support controllers (except the obvious like MMOs). Splitscreen, not so much.

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