How we test controllers on GamesRadar+

Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Given that controllers are the crucial means through which all console, and many PC, players play and enjoy games, we know how important they are. We know that getting the right one is a critical decision when it comes to accessories and enhancing the way you play so we take reviewing and testing them seriously so we can offer the best advice. As our Hardware Policy states, we want to be able to recommend everything to you in good faith and cut to the chase, avoiding any marketing waffle or bias - and the controllers we use and test get the exact same treatment as anything else. Be they the best PC controllers or a budget entry for the latest console, we will put them through the ringer.

They become our go-to pads

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Official console controllers, as well as third-party contenders, are the daily drivers of console players - and a lot of PC players - so we use them as exactly that, ensuring they are the ones we play games with every day so we can give you a precise breakdown of how they feel in the hands.

New controllers replace our usual ones for testing and we live with them as if they were our normal go-to pad. We play them with all the games we're playing currently, while also expanding the testing to ensure all bases are covered from racing games to shooters, to RPGs, to sports games, and more. Getting a good spread of observational data about how the controller reacts as an everyday pad for all games, as well as those that it excels in particularly is incredibly important for you. Some controllers are geared for different folk than others; some promote customisation, some present themselves as differently shaped and designed alternatives. It's only through time with the pads in your hands that we can then advise you on which one is best for you.

Logitech G923

(Image credit: Logitech)

Specialist controllers get the treatment too

Elsewhere, steering wheels are also put their paces in a host of racing and driving sim games, while there's been renewed interest and enjoyment in testing joysticks and flight gear in games like Microsoft Flight simulator, Star Wars Squadrons, and more.

These are some of the bulkiest bits of gaming gear you can try to incorporate so we pay particular attention to what they’re like to connect, set up, and live with. It’s only once we've spent a heavy amount of time with them that we feel best placed to make our informed recommendations.

As always, we judge excellence with value

It might be inevitable that the most expensive controllers will have all the bells and whistles and features crammed into one pad, but that isn't always (ever?) going to be the right thing for everyone. We always face off a controller's performance and features and what it offers against its price, and the price of others to ensure we give you the best idea. We understand the choices and compromises that such a premium controller purchase can mean, and this consideration is particularly pertinent when it comes to our guides. We always have a great spread of options in our controller guides to ensure that you will find the best one for you, and one that handles that delicate balance of performance and price.

Rob Dwiar

Rob is the Deputy Editor of sister site, TechRadar Gaming, and has been in the games and tech industry for years. Prior to a recent stint as Gaming Editor at WePC, Rob was the Commissioning Editor for Hardware at GamesRadar+, and was on the hardware team for more than four years, since its inception in late 2018. He is also a writer on games and has had work published over the last six years or so at the likes of Eurogamer, RPS, PCGN, and more. He is also a qualified landscape and garden designer, so does that in his spare time, while he is also an expert on the virtual landscapes and environments of games and loves to write about them too, including in an upcoming book on the topic!