Best Controllers for PC Gaming

Review & Comparison, Last Update December 4, 2018
When keyboards are of no use in arcade games there is no better device than a PC game controller. The design defined by generations of games and consoles, PC game controller today is an ultimate tool in defeating your opponents. Especially if you value the comfort of your couch more than one of gaming chairs. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Compatability
Connectivity
Buttons / Switches
Vibration
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

Both the gamepad and the nano USB receiver operate on the frequency of 2.4 GHz, which makes it easier to pair with your gaming system. On top of that, if two or more joysticks are connected no compatibility issues will occur.

CONS

Battery drains much faster with the vibration on.

OUR VERDICT

A rock-solid solution for PC gaming - an excellent quality of build paired with a top-notch connectivity makes this gamepad a go-to choice for all gamers out there. Additional non-slip grips on the side of the device make it an ideal model for long gaming sessions.

detailed parameters
Compatability

PC, PS3

Connectivity

Wireless (2.4 GHz USB-receiver with range-extending receiver cable)

Buttons / Switches

8-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, Left button/trigger, Right button/trigger, 2 analog mini-sticks, Mode / Vibration / Start / Back buttons

Vibration

Yes (2 vibration motors)

Extras

XInput / DirectInput mode support, Non-slip grips, Customizable with Logitech Profiler software

Warranty

3 years

PROS

R1/R2 and L1/L2 buttons are conveniently positioned close to the main buttons and that makes it easier to operate the gamepad for children and for individuals with small palms.

CONS

The gamepad lacks non-slip grips.

OUR VERDICT

Even though this gamepad from ZD has a strong resemblance with DualShock 3 it has its own set of features that make it a great alternative to the original. The main among them is the compatibility with a large number of gaming systems and durability of the external parts.

detailed parameters
Compatability

PC, PS3, Android phones (Android 4.0 and above)

Connectivity

Wired (5-feet USB-cable)

Buttons / Switches

4-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, R1/R2 buttons, L1/L2 buttons, 2 analog mini-sticks, "V" / Start / Back buttons

Vibration

Yes (2 vibration motors)

Extras

XInput / DirectInput mode support

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

An 8-way programmable and highly sensitive D-pad is what makes this model so unique. You can adjust the settings at any time, which will affect the gameplay drastically.

CONS

Build quality leaves something to be desired.

OUR VERDICT

A true landmark of PC gaming - the F310 has proven that it still has a punch even after almost 10 years since it became available on the market. Its ease of use and ergonomic design make it one of the best budget models out there.

detailed parameters
Compatability

PC, PS3

Connectivity

Wired (6-feet USB-cable)

Buttons / Switches

8-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, Left button/trigger, Right button/trigger, 2 analog mini-sticks, Mode / Start / Back buttons

Vibration

No

Extras

XInput / DirectInput mode support, Non-slip grips, Customizable with Logitech Profiler software

Warranty

3 years

PROS

A double-motor vibration system is located in the bottom part of the grips for an extra-realistic feel of action-packed gameplay moments. On top of that, the vibration mode works smoothly enough even after a long period of use.

CONS

Driver updating might become quite a tiresome task.

OUR VERDICT

A decent alternative to a more expensive Xbox One model, the ESM-9100 has all it takes to be a great PC controller - it is compatible with virtually any modern system and possesses a build quality of a high-end gamepad.

detailed parameters
Compatability

PC, PS3, Android phones (Android 4.0 and above)

Connectivity

Wired (6.5-feet USB-cable)

Buttons / Switches

8-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, R1/R2 buttons, L1/L2 buttons, 2 analog mini-sticks, Home / Turbo / Start / Back buttons

Vibration

Yes (2 vibration motors)

Extras

XInput / DirectInput mode support, Non-slip grips

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

This PC controller from GameSir features a 1-feet cable that can be paired with a 6-feet micro USB extension cable, which makes it perfect for both gaming on the couch or right in front of the PC monitor.

CONS

R1/R2 and L1/L2 buttons make loud clicking sounds, which can be quite distracting.

OUR VERDICT

One of the top budget-friendly picks available today, the G3w features a breakaway extension cable that will disconnect the gamepad from the gaming system to prevent further damage in case something trips the cord. Additional features include a Turbo button that enables Auto-Fire mode - a vital aspect for online shooters.

detailed parameters
Compatability

PC, PS3, Android phones (Android 7.0 and above are not supported)

Connectivity

Wired (1-foot micro-USB cable with 6-feet micro-USB to USB cable)

Buttons / Switches

4-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, R1/R2 buttons, L1/L2 buttons, 2 analog mini-sticks, Home / Select / Turbo / Start / Back buttons

Vibration

Yes (2 vibration motors)

Extras

XInput / DirectInput mode support, Non-slip coating

Warranty

1 year

Logitech F710

Perfection in a Form of a Controller

The F710 model from Logitech has been updated and improved numerous times throughout the years after it became available on the market, which contributed to its popularity. But what exactly makes this model so good after all?

The Logitech F710 is one of the best controllers for PC out there and there is no doubt about that, the model features a high quality of build and a faster response time than its predecessor models. In order to diminish the lag, Logitech came up with a simple yet efficient solution, a 2.4 GHz USB transceiver and coupled it with an extending cable that increases the maximum operational range from 2 feet up to 10 feet. That fact alone makes this model a great choice for users that prefer big TV screens to PC monitors.

Although the controller utilizes regular alkaline batteries, it doesn’t consume a lot of power and you will definitely be surprised how long it can work on one set of charged batteries. Nevertheless, we recommend purchasing a set of rechargeable ones in order to keep the gas in the tank for the future virtual battles, just in case.

Review of Logitech F710 Gamepad for PC

An Ideal Alternative to DualShock

The controller doesn’t have any software right out of the box, you will need to visit the Logitech website and download the latest drivers that also include Windows 8 and 10 compatibility patch. With this piece of software, you will be able to easily connect your gamepad and customize the button layout to your liking without too much of a hassle.

As for the buttons, the F710 has a standard set of triggers, analog sticks, and a D-Pad. In addition to the standard Mode, Start, and Back buttons this model also features a special Vibration button that lets you enable or disable the vibration motor without tinkering with game settings, which is a neat addition. The overall response time is quite good despite the fact that the 8-way D-pad is a bit stiff at first. However, this issue usually goes away after the gamepad is used for a week or two and the D-pad becomes more responsive and easy to press.

The design of the controller has a classic DualShock appearance but the buttons are similar to those of the Xbox controller. On top of that, the sides of the gamepad have special non-slip paddings that give you a tight grip and a great sense of control over your character in-game.

All in all, the F710 proves to be one of the go-to solutions for PC gaming when it comes to high-precision input and overall reliability.

Logitech F710 Gamepad for PC in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

ZD ZD-V108-B

Achieve More With ZD

Despite its modest price, the ZD-V108-B gamepad is a worthy solution for all gaming challenges you might face.

Right off the bat, there is one feature that makes this model distinctive among many other similar models - the Android OS support. The only hiccup with this is your device must support the USB On-The-Go (or simply OTG) in order to use the gamepad. Additionally, if you want to fully enjoy the mobile gaming you will need an additional OTG cable that doesn’t come with the gadget, unfortunately.

As for the looks, the V108-B has a strong resemblance to a classic PlayStation SIXAXIS model, but with a cable. A black body has a glossy finish that is surprisingly nice to the touch without a cheap feel to it. The only problem with it is its slippery nature. Even though it is hard to accidentally drop the gamepad, during long game playthroughs or sessions the device might start to slip out of your palms.

Moving on, the bottom parts of the analog sticks are painted with a bright blue color so it is always easy to see which direction they are facing. To add more, the front panel of the pad has a bright LED light that will come in handy during the nighttime gaming sessions.

Review of ZD ZD-V108-B Gamepad for PC

Perfect for All Platforms

Contrary to other budget models, this gamepad features both XInput and DirectInput software right out of the box. With that in mind, you can easily use the device right from day one in a true plug-and-play fashion. All you need is installed DirectX 9.0 since the gamepad is only compatible with newer Windows OS versions where the latest libraries are installed. Remember, if you are experiencing any compatibility issues, be sure to install the latest drivers from the official ZD website.

As for the main part of the gamepad, it has all the standard buttons and sticks as well as triggers on the back panel. The non-standard options include a special Switch Function that swaps the D-pad and Left-Stick functions without you even looking at the settings screen, which can come in handy for a platformer, arcade, and fighting game genres.

In the end, ZD has proved that their products are more than capable of competing with premium-grade models.

An ideal pick as both replacement of your existing gamepad and as a mean of getting into gaming, this controller for PC from ZD will suffice your needs. The V108-B will definitely find its place near your gaming table or couch if you prefer playing computer games on TV.

ZD ZD-V108-B Gamepad for PC in the use

 

Logitech F310 Gamepad

Built to Meet Your Gaming Demands

Being one of the most affordable models on the market, the F310 is definitely worth looking into, especially if you are seeking a reliable wired controller.

To start off, although it is not quite a Steam controller, this particular gamepad is compatible with most of the modern PC systems including Windows 7, Windows 8, and the latest versions of Windows 10, as well as macOS and various versions of Linux.

Thanks to the integrated Xinput and DirectInput the F310 can become a must-have for numerous game genres, modern and classic titles alike. It wouldn't be an understatement to say that this versatile gaming joystick will become your best friend if you decided to play through some classic games using emulators of older consoles on your PC. Furthermore, the connectivity means of this wired USB controller feature a 6-feet cable that will be more than enough to accommodate the needs of small to medium rooms.

Review of Logitech F310 Gamepad for PC

A True Gamepad of the People

With compatibility and connectivity issues out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the actual moving parts of this controller. Like many other models, the F310 has an 8-way D-pad, 4 action buttons, a set of triggers, 2 mini-sticks, and 3 select buttons. The triggers on the back panel of the handheld device are somewhat stiff and may produce a distinctive loud clicking sound when pressed. Although not crucial, this minor flaw might become annoying for some users.

Other than that small inconvenience, all of the other buttons work perfectly and do not make any odd noises. What makes this model an ideal pick for fans of fight games as well as racing games and various simulators is the mode selector button that lets you switch main controls from D-pad to analog sticks and back. Since this is not a high-end model, it doesn’t have vibration motors, and thus there is no means of active feedback. On the other hand, this con is well covered by the Logitech Profiler software that allows customizing all the buttons in just a few clicks.

Built to meet the demands of both average and professional gamers, the Logitech F310 has all it takes to be called a true “Gamepad of the people”. Sturdy and exceptionally reliable, this model puts other products in its price range to shame. The reliability of the Logitech devices has been proven over the years and this particular controller for PC is no exception. Compatible with a number of different systems (including PS3), the F310 is still kicking, despite its age, and the versatility alone makes it a standard of PC controller compatibility.

Logitech F310 Gamepad for PC in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

EasySMX ESM-9100

Compatibility Is the Key

What might look like an Xbox 360 controller from the first glance is actually a well-made budget product from EasySMX. This model can act as a decent alternative to the regular X360 peripheral.

On top of the similar look, the gamepad features the quality of build that can compete with its original counterpart. But what makes this model so special you would ask? And the right answer would be its compatibility features. The ESM-9100 is compatible with PS3, Windows 7, 8, 10, Android, and TV smart boxes and that is simply stunning for a budget model.

Although there are no perfect products, the only noticeable drawback of this particular gamepad model is its bright LED light on the top side of the front panel that can become annoying quite fast. And unfortunately, it is impossible to change the brightness level of the light using a software program that is supplied with a gamepad. Other than that, the device is decently built and that shows in a well thought-out design.

Review of EasySMX ESM-9100 Gamepad for PC

Premium-Like Quality

Just like a 360 model, this gaming joystick has 2 analog sticks, D-pad, left and right triggers as well as selection buttons. The sensitivity of the sticks is comparable to the premium models, which is nice since you won’t have to tinker with settings in FPS or sports games. This also contributes to the accuracy of input as you can set up the sensitivity level from 0% to 100% without even touching the settings menu. As for the other buttons, they are definitely not cheaply made and do not make any sounds, sitting firmly in their membrane spots. The overall rigidness of the housing is achieved thanks to the premium-quality materials used to manufacture this model.

To add more, the gamepad features two rubber grips on the sides to prevent accidental drops as well as slipping out of your palms during long gaming marathons. And if you happen to fall asleep during one of those, the ‘pad is equipped with 2 vibration motors that produce enough vibration for you to feel every bump on the virtual road, every hit or missed attack with your fingers.

The gamepad connects to your gaming system of choice via a regular USB cable, which is long enough (6-feet) to meet the needs of the armchair and couch loving gamers out there.

To wrap things up, the ESM-9100 from EasySMX is a surprisingly good replica of a more famous model and will definitely come in handy during its quite long service life. Even though it has its flaws, we can say with utmost certainty that this is the best PC gaming controller in a low price range.

EasySMX ESM-9100 Gamepad for PC in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

GameSir G3w

Elegant Appearance

The GameSir G3w is one of those models that you might confuse with more expensive peripherals, and that is no wonder - the gamepad really looks like a high-end device. However, you won’t be picking a gamepad solely by looking at it, will you?

In this case, cheap doesn’t mean bad, and GameSir really proves it with their G3w gamepad. The overall quality of build is quite good and durable housing materials ensure a long service life of the device.

Forget about disconnecting controllers once and for all, the G3w features a high-quality connection cable that offers top-notch linking to your gaming system. Additionally, if you prefer sitting on the couch instead of your gaming chair you will be glad to know that a regular 1-foot cable is equipped with an extending cable that is 6 feet long. A perfect solution for retro gaming, this controller for PC is capable of connecting to any existing console emulator to date.

The emulators detect the gamepad without compatibility issues and with little to no actual key or button remapping. In case you ever need a button remapping, though, the joystick hardware is fully compatible with DirectInput and Xinput software that allows you to change the key bindings in a matter of seconds.

Review of GameSir G3w Gamepad for PC

Sheer Performance

Both joysticks feature a backlighting function that turns on each time you connect the device to your gaming system. Unlike some other similar models, the backlighting is more useful than harmful and will definitely won’t hurt your eyes if you prefer playing in the dark.

Moving on, the buttons of the controller are positioned just as in a DualShock 4 gamepad and have a similar build quality as well as the response time. On top of that, the sticks of the device are pressure sensitive so if you push them harder the characters in games will go faster, respectively. Additionally, the controller has a special turbo button that activates a non-stop firing mode, which will come in handy in online and single player FPS games as well as in flight simulators.

As for the compatibility, the G3w easily plugs and connects to PS3, PC (with both Linux and Windows operating systems installed), and Android devices. Speaking of the latter, the Android with version 7.0 and above are not supported, unfortunately. But hey, there’s not much you could possibly ask for from a device that costs less than a high-end gamepad and has the same level of quality.

If you are getting sick of lag with wireless gamepads and you don’t want to spend a fortune on a new model, look no further - the GameSir G3w will be right up your alley, especially if you value reliable connection at all times over bells and whistles.

GameSir G3w Gamepad for PC in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

What Is a Controller for PC Gaming?

Initially designed as a secondary peripheral solution for the gaming consoles, the original DualShock controller became one of the most famous and widespread models on the market back in the 1990s. The model for the original Xbox came along soon after and added a much-needed variety to the analog stick layouts.

However, since PC received a lot of game ports from consoles and had a much bigger library of video games by a wide margin at that period, it was just a matter of time when PC platform receives its own set of controllers. And they eventually did.

Arguably, the controllers are more comfortable to use with a big number of games of various genres, from arcades and fighting games to racing and platformers. Nowadays, most of the things you would normally do using a classic mouse + keyboard combo you can perform with a gamepad without too much of a hassle.

In case you are looking for a more specific kind of gaming gear we also recommend taking a look at our racing wheel reviews to dominate your opponents in racing games. Alternatively, if you are more into retro gaming we would like to introduce you to the top retro gaming consoles available today.

What Features to Compare

With a vast number of different gamepad configurations today one might find it hard to get the head around picking the right model. Hence, it is important to know what makes some of them better than the others.

Design

Depending on your personal preference, you may or may not like a certain button, trigger or analog stick layout. Keeping in mind that some controller models may not be the best option for your palms or fingers is vital. If one particular design is making your arms sore try out a different one. Once you feel that you are comfortable with the layout of buttons and when you can easily reach each trigger - this would be your go-to gamepad pick.

Dimensions & Weight

Although the majority of gamepad manufacturers tries to maintain the golden standards of the classic DualShock model, some products might be slightly bigger or smaller compared to it. This factor might be crucial since the size of the pad will determine your performance in games. Depending on your palm size and finger length it is important to figure which size works for you best and make your choice towards the model that suits you the most.

Nobody wants to have his or her arms tired in the first hour of playing with a gamepad. Realizing that your fingers are going numb in just 20 minutes into the game session is not cool either. Thus the gamepad by no means should be heavy since it will bring more discomfort than remote control over your video games.

Durability

Perhaps, one of the most important features of any gaming joystick is its durability. No matter how good or cool the gamepad is if it breaks within 2 weeks it is completely useless and definitely not worth your precious money. Additionally, checking the build quality of buttons and triggers is also deserving of your time since you will be spending quite a few evenings using them - their reliability will be the key to your victories.

Power Source

There are two types of game controllers out there, they can be either wired or wireless. Depending on the model of your choice it is important to realize how long the gamepad will work until it runs out of charge. Some models are equipped with rechargeable batteries, while the LED indicators will conveniently show you the current battery level.

Interfaces and Comfort of Use

Apart from the wireless option that modern devices offer, don’t forget to pay attention to the simple yet highly important features of any handheld device. Most gamepad models are connected to gaming platforms via USB cable or a USB Bluetooth receiver. That said, the ability to remotely control the pace of the game is a double-edged sword - if you are leaning towards wireless gamepads you will have to either purchase the batteries or to recharge the one inside the device itself. Likewise, once the batteries begin running out of charge the connection quality will drop drastically. Hence, keeping a set of newly charged batteries is essential for the quality of your gaming experience.

Compatibility and Additional Software

With a vast number of different PC system layouts and operating systems today the controllers are rarely compatible with every single system out of the box. Fortunately, there is a XInput and DirectInput software which is a direct solution for any incompatibilities. When the plug and play function isn’t really an option, the software that allows playing your favorite game titles will prove their worth. Without these applications, you will have a hard time pairing your gamepad with your Windows, Linux, or macOS system.

The History of the Gamepads or How the Evolution of Joysticks Defined the Modern Pc Game Controllers

Inception

  • The controllers for consoles has been around for more than 50 years now while their PC counterparts have become available just a few decades ago. From the input devices that were not supposed to be game controllers, like switches, to bizarre creations like the NES Robot Buddy, the gamepads came a long way to become the devices they are today.

Gamepads

  • The first real gamepads featured just a handful of buttons and didn’t have any analog sticks, not to mention wireless capabilities. The only “wireless” devices of that time were the ones that had infrared detectors such as Beam Gun from Nintendo that was supported by just a few game titles. Later on, more and more arcade gaming systems featured light guns but that wasn’t the case until the early 90s.
  • The game controllers of the 80s only had face buttons (the ones located on the front panel of the gamepad). It wasn’t until the early 90s when the first gamepads from Nintendo were equipped with shoulder buttons. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or simply SNES) added the first Left and Right buttons that provided some much-needed change to gameplay controls.
  • In addition to the side buttons, the SNES had an optional feature that allowed players to communicate with each other - a first built-in microphone. Its quality, however, was questionable at best and needless to say - this premium peripheral option did not become popular until the mid-2000s when the technology was refined enough for gamers to hear each other clearly.

Motion Controls

  • But the experimentation on how players should play their favorite game titles didn’t end there, there were a lot of other different concepts that defined modern gaming on both PC and consoles. One of the most ambitious ones was the Power Glove from Nintendo that allowed players taking over control of the TV screen with a simple wave of a hand. The technology was in its early days and required a set of infrared detectors in order to run. Although it was cool and badass, the initial sales weren’t successful and the project was eventually shut down. Despite the attempts of Nintendo that even produced a promotional family film in 1989, over the years, Nintendo has only managed to sell less than 1 million units of Power Glove.

Gamepads: Redefined

  • If you were born before the 1980s you wouldn’t know what an analog stick is until you finished high school. That’s right, the first commercially successful gamepad with analog sticks was first introduced by now globally known company - Sony. The first PlayStation had it all - a stellar design and ergonomics that proved to be ones of the best to date by generations of gamers.

Nowadays, you can grab your reliable controller and play virtually any game you have in your digital library without any issues or initial setup. This is achieved through trial and error of several generations of consoles and PC configurations from various companies throughout the years.

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Publish Date: 2018-12-04 15:15:49