The best PC controllers can completely change the experiences of those who just don't get on with mouse and keyboard for certain genres - or all their play. However, there's more to see than just a set of thumbsticks and a d-pad here. Today's PC controllers pack a whole host of customization features, with remappable buttons, extra paddles, and even the ability to swap out whole components with a modular design. That means there's something for everyone on the shelves right now - and we're rounding up all the best PC controllers across the full price range, so you can make your money work its hardest whatever your budget.
The market is stocked full wired and wireless options, with some gamepads featuring mechanical microswitches and Esports-centric feature sets to suit any preference and budget from all the established names. Below you'll find our top picks for the best PC controllers available in 2022 that we've put together through testing ourselves and from extensive research. We use these controllers everyday (when we're not writing about them, at least), so keep this page regularly updated with all our findings as soon as we come across them.
The best PC controllers 2022
The Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro is the best PC controller on the market right now. From its solid feel in the hand to its massive array of customization options, from its speed and response times to its endless supply of extra buttons - there's something special about this gamepad. We particularly enjoyed the accessibility options baked into this modular design in our own testing. That goes hand-in-hand with the build quality - being a larger than average gamepad with a suitably heavier, more substantial, feel. We did notice that this extra weight makes the whole controller feel a little front heavy, but it never influenced comfort or the ability to reach any of the buttons.
Similar to the Razer Wolverine line, it's wired, but this approach means that there is zero latency in the response time; perfect for those gaming sessions where milliseconds matter. Plus, we appreciated the ability to circumvent Microsoft's wireless connections when hooking the eSwap X Pro up to a console.
It's in the surplus of extra buttons - including the phenomenal feeling triggers and the four on the face - that elevate this controller above its similarly priced competition. There are many customisation options due to the modular components, and we found it easy to adjust the controller as needed when switching games. It also means you are able to chose between a symmetrical or asymmetrical style depending on what you prefer.
If you've been waiting on a great feeling modular controller that finally allows you to swap the positions of the D-pad and left analog stick at will, as well as offering customisation and extra inputs, then this is the one. The Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro will see you through every genre comfortably and quickly, making it the go-to for the best PC controller available right now.
Read more: Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro review
The Turtle Beach React-R is the latest gamepad from the budget-minded brand, and the $39.99 / £34.99 Xbox and PC controller excels in its price category. While a little lighter than more premium offerings, and sometimes feeling a little cheap because of it, the attention to detail, streamlined aesthetic, and on the fly remappable paddles make this feel like a far more expensive product than it is.
These kinds of budget gamepads can sometimes feel unbalanced in the hand, with gaudy form factors, oversized buttons, and non-standard spacing. However, everything feels solid here, with plenty of tactile resistance beneath the thumbsticks and triggers, and a comfortable press to each of the face buttons.
The real stars of the show are the paddle buttons to the rear. We were particularly impressed by the ease with which we were able to remap these paddles on the fly during gameplay. Not only that but, compared to budget options from PDP and PowerA, these larger buttons could be hit far more reliably.
The Turtle Beach React-R shares the same Superhuman Hearing features of the Recon model further down the page. While we didn't find the boosted footsteps or reloads too game-changing during our testing, it's a solid feature to maintain considering this newer model comes in $20 / £15 cheaper. You are sacrificing the rubberized grips of the Recon, however we found the plastic grooves to provide plenty of security - especially employed across the trigger and shoulder button. If, however, you feel a Pro Aim mode would help your gameplay, we'd recommend checking out the more expensive release.
Overall, minus some personal frustration with the slightly hollow shoulder buttons and a lack of chat mix on PC, the Turtle Beach React-R is the best PC controller under $40 / £40 right now. The value for money on offer here is outstanding, making it a must-see budget option.
Read more: Turtle Beach React-R review
It should be of little surprise to anyone that the latest revision of the Xbox gamepad lands so high on our list for its performance and comfortable feel. Couple that with the fact that it works natively on PC - just plug it in or link up via Bluetooth - and it's ready to go with no further messing around.
The new additions this time around, though distinctively minor, are the inclusions of USB-C charging - much faster than Micro-USB (if you use a rechargeable pack at least) - as well as the 'hybrid' D-pad which takes its cues from another much more expensive Xbox model that we'll get to later. There's also a share button - as was found on the DualShock 4 - which does exactly the same thing; create and share photos and video clips to upload to social media; something which offers limited functionality for use on PC.
There's a reason why not much has changed in eight years - when the Xbox One controller launched - and it's because it was already damn near perfect. If you want to go even further back, it's only really been iterative since the Xbox 360's gamepad back in 2005 - because it all just works exceedingly well and continues to be the go-to pad for PC, balancing performance and value.
Here's where things start to get serious - with a price tag to match no less. I'll preface this by saying that this gamepad is, at heart, a mega-charged edition of the standard Xbox Series X controller.
Included in the box are replacement thumbstick heads, a classic cross-design D-pad, and tools to tailor the feel of the controller to your liking - with physical adjustments to almost every part of the controller. Also to note, the extended 40-hour battery life - akin to the Switch Pro controller - a good 8-hour bump up from the Xbox Series X gamepad's lifespan between charges. We found that that recommended battery life from Microsoft largely rang true in our own testing.
We were pleased to find new textured grips covering the legs of the Series 2 version of the Elite controller, offering low-profile tactile feel that didn't seem prone to wear or scratches during our romps with these buttons. We also found it particularly easy to swap in any of the alternative analog sticks or d-pad buttons.
However, we saw the greatest leaps in the software improvements under the hood. We were still able to fully remap each function, but there's plenty more going on here. You can assign system-level functions like taking a screenshot or opening up achievements in console play.
The Elite 2 does justify its asking price through its premium features but at the end of the day, these features and this price will not suit everyone's needs or budget. If are on the look out for a high end controller and do have the money to splash out then this could definitely be considered the best controller for you.
Read more: Xbox Elite 2 controller review
Sony's newest controller sees the biggest departure from the DualShock brand in, well - ever. For a start, it's not only the first PlayStation controller to forgo the moniker, but it deviates both in design and ergonomic feel almost wholesale - a change that was made for the better in our opinion.
Getting this controller to work on your PC has never been easier. Gone is the need to run third-party drivers like the ever-popular DS4Windows. Instead, boot up Big Picture, configure the controller with the PlayStation pre-set and you're away.
The biggest drawback to the Dualsense on PC is that those all-impressive haptic feedback rumble motors aren't configured to run at their full potential on the platform - if this omission is a deal-breaker for you - you may want to turn your attention to a different entry on our list.
Vibrating aside, one thing is for sure: this is a very well-made and comfy controller that serves as an excellent, symmetrical alternative for an Xbox gamepad.
Read more: DualSense PS5 controller review
There's a lot of impressive features that this $60 Turtle Beach Recon PC controller has that gamepads twice its price point don't. For a start, there's a whole host of audio options available through the dedicated audio bar atop the dashboard button.
Through this menu, you can toggle things such as what Turtle Beach calls 'superhuman hearing' which isolates and amplifies subtle noises that would have otherwise been washed out in the chaos, such as gunfire and footsteps. In our testing, we found that this audio boost worked well to help us focus in the few games we tested it out on where the music could drown out such sound effects; Katana Zero, Hotline Miami, and Sonic Mania. That's just scratching the surface of what the Turtle Beach Recon Controller provides from a purely audio perspective, though you will need a wired gaming headset. We tested the EQ and the four different levels of audio intensity and found the results were more than pleasing through a Razer Kraken Tournament Edition headset.
Sound aside, the two most interesting features relate to the physicality of gameplay; 'Pro Aim' mode and button remapping. The former is a form of sensitivity reduction that can be manually set to four different levels of force to suit the situation, with the 4th setting (highest) offering a restricted amount of stick movement for more precise inputs; it works surprisingly well. The button remapping refers to the two buttons on the back of the controller which can be programmed to cycle through four different profiles for different configurations of resistance and audio settings. This means that you spend less time desperately wading through the options and have your desired setup for any given in-game moment.
Read more: Turtle Beach Recon Controller review
The Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller is one of the studier gamepads we've had our hands on recently, and it has exceptional build quality and a satisfying weight to it. Its suite of adjustability and customization options (both physically and through software) offers functionality comparable to high-end Esports controllers (like the Xbox Elite 2) for a fraction of their asking price.
You not only benefit from being able to swap out thumbstick heads, or adding or subtracting movement from your analog sticks but there is also the option to restrict trigger feedback too which can prove instrumental in certain competitive game genres. On the audio front, it's also nice to see Dolby Atmos present and accounted for, and while your tweaking options are a little on the thin side, the sound that comes through the Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller (through all the headsets tested) was suitably impressive.
Read more: Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller review
The best part of this controller is definitely the battery life on offer here. Most people will be used to the average lifespan of gamepads - such as the DualShock 4 lasting between 4-8 hours with moderate use. Whereas the Nintendo Switch Pro controller can last up to 40 hours on just a single 6 hour charge - something that we easily replicated in our own testing. The difference here is astounding and can be reason enough for many to get their hands on this controller.
If you've had hands-on experience with the ill-fated Wii U pro controller, then the look and feel should be somewhat familiar to you. We found the weight and sturdiness of this gamepad to be comfortable enough over long periods of time. It should be noted, it's a touch heavier than both Sony and Microsoft's current generation offerings, but that dissipated quickly.
It is another asymmetrical controller, which is something worth noting if you're on the look out for that familiar PlayStation feel.
Read more: Nintendo Switch Pro controller review
If you've been in the market for a solid E-sports gamepad - but didn't want to spend in excess of $150 - then you should find that the V2 proves its metal from the offset. Tweaking and tinkering really is the name of the game with this modular controller; especially for its 'mecha' tactile buttons - which were satisfyingly clicky in our testing - and the adjustable sensitivity of the two analog sticks.
It is wired, however, something that may not gel with those looking to sit a decent distance away. If you play a lot of fighting games with a pad - as I do - you should feel right at home with the options afforded to you. At just a touch over the MSRP of the standard Xbox gamepad, it's worth a second look if these features are appealing to you.
Read more: best Razer controller
What controller is best for PC?
The best PC controller overall in our opinion is the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro as it has great accessibility options which goes hand in hand with the build quality. If you are looking for a more affordable PC controller option then the Turtle Beach Recon Controller is likely the best way forward - for $60, it has features which gamepads at twice its price point don't. However, we believe that the best PC controller to suit most people will be the Xbox Wireless Controller. It is plug and play and can be used both wirelessly or wired.
Is it better to play PC with controller?
Overall, whether you want to use a PC controller or keyboard and mouse is entirely up to you and what you find comfortable. Some people prefer controller when they migrate to PC from console due to the familiarity. However, there are benefits to using keyboard and mouse, one being higher accuracy when aiming which can allow for a competitive advantage.
Do PC gamers use controllers?
You can find that many PC gamers do use PC controllers, however, as mentioned above whether or not you decide to use a controller or keyboard and mouse is entirely up to you and what you prefer. There are advantages to using a PC controller, such as comfort (as they are made to fit well in your hands) and familiarity (if you have migrated from console). However, you can also find advantages to using keyboard and mouse including a higher accuracy when aiming and the ability to perform skills such as flickshots (these can give you a competitive edge).
How we test PC controllers
In brief, every controller that we have had our hands on is used in a series of different video games to accommodate for most genres. This means that we'll test the responsiveness of the sticks, face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and any other additional features found on the unit. If a controller is wired or relies on rechargeable batteries, then the duration of the lifespan is tested, too. The same can be said for any specialist software, such as drivers, that may be included with the gamepad as well.
Looking for more ways to enhance your gaming setup? Definitely check out your control alternatives with the the best gaming keyboards and best gaming mouse candidates. And maybe it's time to upgrade to one of the best gaming desks or best gaming chairs. If your PC is getting on a bit, take a look at our guides on the best gaming laptops and best gaming PC.