The Best PC Gaming Controllers of 2024

PC gaming isn’t just about using a mouse and keyboard: It’s about choice. Some games are just better with a controller in your hands, especially with so many console games launching on PC. But not all controllers are equal.

UPDATE: 01/02/2024

We’ve updated this buying guide with a number of new controllers. Take a look!

What to Look For in a PC Gaming Controller in 2024

Using a console-style controller with your PC used to be a complicated ordeal. For the longest time, the PC controller was some kind of alien artifact you bought in your local game store. It might have resembled a Playstation or Xbox controller, but it didn’t look or feel right.

Thankfully, PC gaming is much more controller-friendly these days. Now you can plug any modern controller into your computer via USB and it will likely work instantly. With so many options available though, which controller is right for you?

There are a few factors to consider when thinking about buying a PC controller. First and foremost, what are you planning to play? Some games just aren’t suited to a mouse and keyboard. While they are perfect for first-person shooters or real-time strategy games, they’re less ideal for action-adventure or fighting games. Sometimes the keys just can’t give you what an analog stick can, and that’s where controllers come in handy.

That said, there are many options to choose from when buying a controller. There are all kinds of price points and a range of features, as well as game-specific controllers such as arcade sticks for fighting games or HOTAS for flight simulators. Whatever genre you’re playing, there is a perfect controller for you.

So, if you’re a PC player who has yet to invest in a controller, below are some options for various games, styles, and prices!

How Did We Research

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Xbox controller next to mechanical keyboard on space mousepad
Elizabeth Henges / How-To GeekElizabeth Henges / Review GeekElizabeth Henges / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Widely available

✗ Official controllers are not cheap

✓ Reliable

✗ Lacking extra features

✓ Easy to use

Xbox has been the gold standard of controller design for years now. The Xbox 360 controller was considered the only choice for PC gaming in its day, and that legacy has been passed down through two console generations to its current iteration. The core of the Xbox 360 design is still there, but it has been refined and tweaked into the best controller readily available on the market today.

The modern Xbox Wireless Controller is light, durable, and well-made, being ergonomic and with grips built into the design. The controller can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth or with a USB wireless adapter, although this isn’t required—you can also simply plug it in with a USB-C cable and get to gaming.

Unfortunately, first-party controllers are not the cheapest. The Xbox Wireless Controller is $60—cheaper than the Sony DualSense, but still more expensive than most third-party options on the market. That said, they are high-quality controllers and good value for the cost.

xbox core controller
Xbox Wireless Controller

Best Overall PC Controller

A modern classic, the Xbox controller is practical, easy to use and reliable, making it perfect for most PC gamers.

8bitdo ultimate c 2.4g
8bitdo

Pros

Cons

✓ Competitive price

✗ No trigger rumble

✓ Low latency 2.4GHz connection

✗ Some gamers prefer clicky D-pad and bumpers

✓ Sturdy build quality

✗ The wireless receiver can have spotty performance when connected via USB hubs

✓ Fantastic D-pad

✓ Impressive battery life

As someone who’s been using the 8Bitdo Ultimate 2.4g controller for almost a year, I can say it’s a fantastic controller, almost on par with the Xbox Wireless Controller. Considering that the 8Bitdo Ultimate C 2.4g controller is more or less the same controller, albeit without the charging cradle and bottom paddles, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone looking for a quality PC controller that won’t break the bank.

This is the best wireless controller you can get for $30 or less. The 2.4GHz connection is stable and without perceptible lag, and while the analog sticks used aren’t Hall Effect, they are accurate and have just the right amount of tension to feel great when playing any game, including first and third-person shooters. When it comes to the size, the controller should feel great if you have average or smaller hands, and it comes with grippy plastic on the bottom part of the handles. Those of you with bigger hands might find it too cramped, though.

The controller is well-built, and while it feels lighter than the Xbox pad due to packing smaller rumble motors, the lightweight design doesn’t hurt the sturdiness the slightest, and the rumble intensity is strong enough. The best thing about the 8Bitdo Ultimate C controller is the D-pad, which uses conductive rubber pads and feels so much better than the clicky D-pad found in the Xbox controller without being less accurate or responsive. The same goes for the L1 and R1 buttons, which have that nice old-school mushy physicality when you press them.

As for the battery, it’s built-in and can give you about 20 hours of playtime on a single charge, a highly respectable result for a budget controller. And once it discharges, you can recharge it with any USB-C cable you have lying around.

No controller is perfect, and the 8Bitdo Ultimate C wireless is no exception. The wireless receiver needs lots of juice, so you might face connection issues when you connect it to your PC via a USB hub. Also, while the lilac and green color options look great, it would’ve been even better if 8Bitdo offered a darker, preferably black, color option.

8bitdo ultimate c 2.4g
8Bitdo Ultimate C Wireless Controller

Best Budget PC Controller

$25 $30 Save $5

The 8bitDo Ultimate C Controller is one of the best budget PC controllers around thanks to its competitive price, excellent ergonomics, and impressively long battery life. 

xbox elite controllers
Microsoft

Pros

Cons

✓ Best version of the best controller

✗ Premium price

✓ Very customizable

✗ Overkill for only occasional use

✓ Excellent grips

The Xbox Elite Series 2 is the gold standard of controllers. But like gold, it doesn’t come cheap.

The build quality is superb, it has sleek and satisfying back paddles, the analog sticks and directional pad are swappable, and the buttons are easily remapped both on Xbox and PC. All of this is for less than what many of the third-party alternatives would ask for something similar, as well.

But when we say premium, we mean premium. These controllers are nearly $200, a big step up in price from the $60 you pay for the normal Xbox controller. An Elite S2 is a big financial commitment, and a hard one to justify.

The original Elite controller was also great, apart from an issue where the grips started to peel off after extended use. Thankfully, this revised version has the grips integrated into the body so that peeling should no longer be a problem.

The Elite Series 2 of the controller is a refinement of an excellent formula, as near perfection as is available today. If you’re looking to splash out and you want the best controller for your money, this is the best choice for you.

xbox elite controller 2
Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

Best Premium Controller

$160 $180 Save $20

The ultimate Xbox controller features adjustable tension thumbsticks, additional rear paddles, customizable button mapping, replaceable components, and 40 hours of (rechargeable) battery life.

SCUF ENVISION 01
SCUF

Pros

Cons

✓ Excellent ergonomics

✗ Expensive for a wired controller

✓ A ton of extra buttons, all fully remappable

✗ Lacks Hall Effect thumbsticks

✓ Fancy RGB lighting

✗ The provided cable could’ve been longer

✓ Mechanical switches made by OMRON

✓ Lots of customization options

The SCUF ENVISION is made for gamers who swear by the cable and are ready to pay extra for a high-end wired PC controller. The ENVISION packs most of the features found in the wireless ENVISION PRO version while being more affordable while lacking wireless support.

This means you’re getting the same mechanical, clicky OMRON switches, four remappable bottom paddles, two side action buttons, and five G buttons found right under the thumbsticks, which are also featured on the ENVISION PRO. You can assign any Windows function, as well as macros, to the five G buttons with the Corsair iCUE software. That said, you can use the ENVISION without iCUE, but you’re losing most customizability features, one of the main selling points of the controller.

The selling package includes two plastic plates you can replace the side buttons with, as well as two plates to replace the inner paddles, allowing you to turn the controller into a design with only two bottom paddles. As for the thumbsticks, they feature a concave design and are very grippy and accurate. That said, themechanical sticks prone to stick drift, which is our main issue with the ENVISION. Given the price, it’s disappointing that it isn’t equipped with drift-free magnetic sticks.

The size and weight are just right. The controller fits well in most hands, although users with smaller hands might find it too wide. The removable USB-C cable is braided and 6ft/2m long. Now, this should be long enough for most gamers, but we’d prefer a longer, nine-foot cable because the extra headroom is always welcome when it comes to wired controllers. As for the design, we like the looks of the controller, and while it doesn’t feature non-slip grips, it’s far from being slippery when held.

Check out the Razer Wolverine Ultimate if you’re looking for a more affordable wired PC controller with a ton of remappable buttons. If you don’t want to pay the premium for a wired controller and are okay with a ton of RGB, the PowerA Spectra is a quality budget alternative.

SCUF ENVISION
SCUF Envision

Best Wired PC Controller

Among the wired PC controllers, the SCUF ENVISION is a rare premium option. Superb ergonomics, lots of extra buttons, and slick design are just some of the reasons why you should consider it if you swear by the cable. 

8Bitdo Pro 2 wireless controller in hand
Jordan Gloor / How-To GeekJordan Gloor / Review GeekJordan Gloor / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Ergonomic, retro-inspired design

✗ Missing a few -quot-Pro-quot- features

✓ Also works with Switch and mobile

✓ Customizable profiles

Although it boasts a retro design, the 8Bitdo Pro 2 doesn’t skimp on modern amenities. Beyond its wireless Bluetooth connection, you’ll benefit from customizable profiles, a lengthy battery life, and the ability to pair it with your smartphone or Nintendo Switch.

On the front of the Pro 2 controller, you’ll find the usual assortment of face buttons and analog sticks, while the back features two programmable buttons. That’s a nice touch for a retro controller, although it lacks swappable analog sticks and other features many “pro” controllers tend to offer. That’s a minor complaint, as you can still remap buttons, adjust analog stick sensitivity, and shorten the activation distance for the left and right triggers.

That’s a lot of functionality for a retro controller, making it well-suited for all sorts of retro games. Whether you disliked the original button layout or need some extra keys for macros, you should be able to handle just about every retro game with this versatile controller.

The 8Bitdo Pro 2 is built for long play sessions, with a rechargeable battery pack that should last you around 20 hours before needing to be plugged in. When the battery dies, you’ll be able to continue playing via a wired USB connection. Rounding out the package is a reasonable price tag, as you can scoop up the gamepad for less than $60.

8bitdo pro 2
8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller

Best PC Controller for Retro Gaming

The 8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller successfully merges old-school design with modern conveniences, making it the best way to experience your old favorite games all over again.

Thrustmaster USB T.16000M FCS
Thrustmaster 

Pros

Cons

✓ Feature-rich

✗ Pedals could’ve been more accurate

✓ Good price

✗ The joystick handle could’ve had more buttons

✓ Includes a ton of buttons and two 8-way PoVs

✗ The T.A.R.G.E.T. control app is due for a redesign

✓ Most buttons have physical markings, which is great for VR

✓ Fully ambidextrous

The Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack is one of the best mid-range offerings in the world of flight sim control setups. This HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle and Stick) and rudder pedals combo is everything you need for most flight sims, whether you’re just entering the world of flight sims with Microsoft Flight Simulator or want to go down the hardcore route offered by DCS World and X-Plane.

The mostly plastic design doesn’t mean poor build quality, however. The whole setup feels sturdy and should last a long time, which is confirmed by the popularity the Thrustmaster T16000M FCS has retained over the years. It’s also important to note that the TFRP (T-Flight rudder pedals) assembly is made of aluminum.

The joystick comes with 16 action buttons, and it’s fully ambidextrous and supports four axes, including a twist rudder you control by rotating the joystick itself. There’s also a handy 8-way Point of View hat switch, with the separate throttle control featuring 14 buttons and yet another 8-way-PoV hat switch, resulting in 30 total buttons and two 8-way PoVs for total control in most flight sims. The majority of the buttons feature physical markings, which is very nice to have when flying in VR.

While the overall package is one of the best mid-range flight sim setups on the market, the rudder pedals aren’t the most accurate and suffer from too strong reactivity in the latest edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Next, most of the joystick buttons are placed around the base instead of the handle. Also, the default control software is known for its flaky performance and occasional issues with recognizing the sticks. It would’ve been great if Thrustmaster updated its T.A.R.G.E.T. software to work better on newer versions of Windows.

If you’re brand new to the world of flight sims and don’t want to spend $250 for the whole setup or $170 for the HOTAS combo, check out the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas One, a quality budget option for newbie pilots. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a premium option, you can visit the VKB or VIRPIL websites to hand-pick your ultimate flight sim control combo.

Thrustmaster USB T.16000M FCS 01
Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack

Best PC Controller for Flight Simulators

A classic favorite that has stood the test of time, the Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack is one of the best choices for up-and-coming virtual pilots.

HORI Fighting Stick alpha
HORI 

Pros

Cons

✓ Well-built yet lightweight

✗ Some fighting game fans prefer metal housings

✓ Easily moddable

✗ Not everyone likes lightweight fight sticks

✓ Supports artwork swaps

✓ Super-long cable

✓ High-quality Hayabusa parts

If you’re in the market for a new fight stick, the HORI Fighting Stick α is one of the best bang-for-buck offerings on the market. The whole setup is lightweight and features a slim profile, which is spot-on for long gaming sessions.

The housing features sturdy build quality while being quite straightforward to open, and mod-friendly. You can easily replace the buttons and the stick with different ones, although the default Hayabusa parts are well-made, with the buttons being super responsive and the stick’s spring feeling a tad looser than what you’d get with a Sanwa stick.

The Fighting Stick α works out of the box on Windows and you can also download the HORI companion app from the Windows Store, which allows you to remap some of the buttons and create custom profiles you can switch between on the go. Another strong point of the HORI Fighting Stick α is its super-long cable. Finally, you can relatively easily replace the default artwork, with Hori offering the default artwork template on their website.

On the flip side, the plastic casing might turn some people off despite the stick’s high build quality. Further, some fighting game fans prefer weightier fighting sticks, with this one being lighter than most sticks with metal housing.

If you want something fancier but still lightweight and with a slim profile, HORI also sells the Street Fighter 6 Edition of the Fighting Stick α. This one’s made for the PS5 but works fine on Windows and supports the companion app. Those looking for the ultimate fighting stick that packs Sanwa parts, is mod-friendly, and has a metal housing should look no further than the PDP Victrix Pro.

HORI Fighting Stick alpha 01-1
HORI Fighting Stick Alpha

Best PC Fight Stick

While not the absolute best offering on the market, the HORI Fighting Stick α is a superb option for most fighting game fans. It’s lightweight but sturdy, features quality Hayabusa parts, and is mod-friendly. 


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