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The Best PC Game Controllers to Buy in 2018 — Gain a Competitive Edge Over Your Enemies

By Vaidyanathan Subramaniam / October 24, 2018

PC gaming has traditionally been a mouse and keyboard affair and no doubt, these input devices offer great precision and control. Game controllers, on the other hand, are geared towards console users and sports features that are tailormade for them. However, many PC games are better suited to play via game controllers. Of late, we are seeing a lot of console-specific games being ported over to the PC so using a game controller will confer an advantage over a traditional mouse and keyboard combo.

Most controllers bundled with consoles can also be brought separately and used with a plethora of PC games. Controllers bundled with consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 offer a great deal of comfort and advanced features that can be used when paired with a PC as well. Apart from these, many third-party OEMs also make their own controllers at relatively affordable prices thereby, giving the freedom of choice to the gamer.

All PC game controllers in this list are cross-platform and work with at least one other platform apart from the PC. Since a controller would be something that will be used for long and intense gaming sessions, we took into account the comfort and build quality along with factors such as additional buttons, bundled accessories, and compatibility with popular Steam and non-Steam PC games. With that, here are the 10 best PC game controllers that are worthy of your wallet in 2018.

1. Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is the best controller Microsoft has to offer and it is made with pro gamers in mind. Almost all components of the controller are swappable and the package includes a few extra paddles, sticks, and a disc-like D-pad that you can use depending on your tastes. The Xbox Elite controller works with both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Windows 10 has native support for the Elite Controller but you need to purchase an extra Xbox One Wireless Adapter if you want to use it wirelessly.

The standout feature of the Elite Controller is the software that allows you to control and customize almost each and every aspect of the device. From setting max/min values for triggers to adjusting sensitivities, assignments, and creating custom profiles for each game, the Elite can do it all. While the build quality of the Elite is top-notch, the actual benefits of using one depend largely on the game you play and how long you play it. Casual gamers might not see much benefit, though.

2. Sony PlayStation DualShock 4

The Sony PlayStation DualShock 4 might not boast some of the advanced features of the Xbox Elite Controller but is a solid offering for those into PlayStation 4 gaming and also on the PC. The build quality is good and can withstand heavy extended use. The DualShock 4 offers precise control and comes with a dedicated share button for sharing in-game screenshots and video captures without having to actually leave the game. A neat addition is a light bar that glows according to the game to indicate player or health status.

While the DualShock 4 naturally pairs well with a PS4, getting it to work flawlessly on a PC does require some tweaking as PC games are designed with the Xbox button mapping in mind. Thankfully, Steam now supports DualShock 4 so it is easy to map the buttons using Valve's Stream Controller. You can also use the unofficial DS4Windows program, which mimics the DualShock 4 as an Xbox 360 controller to unleash the full potential under Windows.

3. Razer Wildcat

The Razer Wildcat is a good alternative to the Xbox Elite Controller but it does have a few approaches of its own. Razer claims that the Wildcat is designed for professional eSports players and is suited for intense long gaming sessions. It comes with additional programmable buttons, which can be customized alongside the other buttons. The ABXY buttons have an excellent tactile feel while the Quick Control Panel offers an easy way to switch game profiles and audio settings right in the middle of the action. A neat addition to the Razer Wildcat is that you can optionally use trigger stops to reduce the travel distance of the triggers from 18° to 5° for rapid firing in FPS games.

The Razer Wildcat is one of the best PC controllers available and at this price, it goes neck-to-neck with the Xbox Elite Controller. However, the extra buttons might not suit all hands and the overall implementation could have been a bit more elegant. It also does not offer the complete button replacement possibilities that the Elite offers. Still, for pro gaming, the Razer Wildcat is the one to beat.

4. Razer Wolverine Ultimate

The Wolverine Ultimate is another high-end PC gaming controller from Razer that focuses a lot of ergonomics and aesthetics for competitive gamers. The thumbsticks and D-pad are interchangeable and can be swapped out for ones that suit your gaming style. Similar to the Wildcat, the Wolverine Ultimate offers extra buttons not commonly found in other PC game controllers. You get 2 remappable multi-function bumpers, 4 multifunction triggers, and the characteristic Quick Control Panel. The Quick Control Panel gives easy access to the game and audio profiles. Razer's PC peripherals are known for the Chroma RGB lighting and the Wolverine Ultimate features it as well. It also features trigger stops for activating Hair Trigger to continuously fire at enemies.

The Wolverine Ultimate excels as an advanced PC game controller but falls short in a few areas. For instance, the extra bottom triggers are not mechanical unlike the other buttons and there is a firmware bug that causes audio issues requiring you to unplug and replug the controller every time. However, Razer has issued a firmware update but for that, you need to call Razer support.

5. GameSir G3s

If the other options seem to be priced on the higher side, take a look at the GameSir G3s. The G3s is not just a PC game controller but can also be used with Android phones and tablets, Nintendo Switch, and the Sony PlayStation 3. The controller is not officially certified for iOS devices so the performance can be unstable. The G3s offers both wired and wireless connectivity but the wireless connectivity for PC requires an additional dongle that is supplied in the box. The built-in rechargeable 600 mAh battery can offer up to 16 hours of play time and the controller also offers dual vibration feedback for supported games.

The G3s works with a lot of supported Android games as well. While it passes off as a good PC game controller, it does have its own share of drawbacks. For instance, the phone stand might not be suitable for all phone models and the build quality is not really up to the mark when compared to Sony or Microsoft. That said, for the price on offer, the GameSir G3s is hard to beat.

6. Valve Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is Valve's attempt to bring a gamepad experience to all Steam games, especially those designed for keyboard and mouse gaming. The Controller is fully wireless and offers a fair degree of customizability. Steam, being a community-driven service, already offers presets for many games in the Steam library. You can, of course, create and share your own presets and configurations as well. The dual trackpads can perform virtual functions such as a trackball, adaptive centering joystick, or a steering wheel. Valve has given much thought into the placement and positioning of the buttons keeping in mind the precision and ergonomics.

That said, the Steam Controller is not without its fair share of shortcomings. If you are already used to an Xbox or Sony controller, adapting to the Steam Controller is not very welcoming. Prolonged use is known to be a tad bit uncomfortable for the hands as well. You also need to tinker around the software patiently to find the best settings for your game. However, this is one of the few gamepads that can support games that don't actually feature controller support.

7. Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

The Xbox 360 might be old but the Xbox 360 Controller is still a fan favorite. This is an Xbox controller for PC as well the PlayStation 2 and of course, the Xbox 360 console as well. The Xbox 360 Controller is known for its ergonomics and ease of use. The controller performs well is FPS games as it does in racing simulations. The D-pad helps in directional controls while the wheel-mounted paddles offer a realistic gear-shifting experience. A single Xbox 360 console or an Xbox wireless receiver for the PC can accommodate up to 4 such controllers at a distance of up to 30 feet. The vibration feedback is adjustable to help save battery life and the controller can also be paired with a wireless gaming headset. The Xbox button in the center is your one-stop access to all things Xbox.

Since this is a wireless controller, a wireless receiver is needed when connecting to PC. The problem is that some sellers bundle the wireless adapter while others don't. The Xbox 360 Controller also works with your old wireless adapter as well if available. There aren't too many complaints about its performance, which is expected. Most games have built-in support for Xbox controllers so it is very simple to setup and use.

8. AmazonBasics Xbox One Controller

The AmazonBasics Xbox One Controller is a certified Xbox One controller that can also work well for the PC. That means you get most features of the more expensive Xbox Controller at a fraction of the cost. This AmazonBasics controller is only available in a wired option and can be connected directly to an Xbox One console or PC. It is also compatible with a lot of Steam games without requiring any additional configuration. The controller sports dual rumble motors that provide force feedback. Those wishing to connect a wired headset can do so via the 3.5mm jack.

The AmazonBasics Xbox One Controller is a cheaper replica of the Xbox Controller so there are some inevitable compromises. The overall build quality is not really top-notch and there are also complaints of the vibration motors turning on randomly. The force feedback is also not very strong. The output from the headphone jack is also tinny and the buttons also aren't really on par when compared with more expensive options. That said, for the price, the AmazonBasics Xbox One Controller offers great value not found in other options.

9. 8BitDo SN30 Pro

Not everyone likes to play the latest FPS or RTS games. In fact, many gamers still swear by the exciting gameplay offered by classic retro games. For those whose game library is full of retro platformers and indie games, the 8BitDo SN30Pro is for you. The gamepad is a replica of the yesteryear Super Nintendo Controller with a few modern extras. These include a rumble vibration motor, dual analog sticks, and rear triggers. The SN30 Pro is compatible with a wide variety of platforms including PC, Mac, Android, Steam, and even the Raspberry Pi. It can pair wirelessly via Bluetooth or you can also use the included USB Type-C cable for a wired connection. Although the SN30 Pro works great for modern games as well, the ergonomics are not really suited for intense FPS models in AAA titles.

The overall build quality is great but users have reported that the joysticks sometimes tend to get stuck at random positions. This can, however, be sorted by slightly loosening the screws at the back but we wish 8BitDo had addressed this earlier. A few connectivity problems are also reported but overall, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro is a great companion for some retro gaming fun.

10. Logitech Gamepad F710

The Logitech Gamepad F710 is built with PC gaming in mind and works with Windows and Mac computer out of the box. It can also work on Linux, but for mapping the buttons you need to use xboxdrv as Logitech does not provide a native app. The Gamepad F710 appears like a mix of the PlayStation and Xbox controllers. When connected to the PC via the supplied wireless receiver, the controller is detected immediately as an Xbox 360 Controller in Windows with no extra setup required. The overall build feels smooth and sturdy and the buttons have correct resistance.

While the Gamepad F710 works great as a PC game controller, it does have some compromises. The buttons feel plasticky and are not in the same league as the original Xbox 360 Controller. The 8-way D-pad, while fine, is responsive as only a 4-way D-pad as other directions take some time to get it right.

Further Reading

At TechNadu, we have focused a lot of content on gaming and gaming accessories. For those looking at a good PC game controller, we hope this article has provided you with the requisite information to make a good purchase decision. If you would like to look at other gaming accessories, feel free to have a look at the articles below.

Final Thoughts

Dear readers, that would be all for our list of the best PC game controllers to consider buying today. Do remember that the most expensive is always not the most appropriate option when it comes to controllers. A lot depends on how comfortable you are with it personally and the kind of games you play. As always, if you have additional questions, don't hesitate to post them in the comments below and we will do our best to provide a timely response.

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