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Best PC controller 2024

Find the best game controller for you with our pick of the best gamepads for all budgets, including Xbox and PlayStation style controllers.

best pc controllers

Which is the best PC controller? That’s what we’re here to tell you, with our comprehensive list of the best gamepads including budget, high-end, wired, and wireless models. Whether you like a Sony DualShock-style layout or a Microsoft Xbox-style layout, we have a recommendation for you. Plus, if you need some guidance on what to look for when searching for a PC controller, check out our frequently asked questions (FAQ) at the bottom of the page, where you’ll also find a section that explains how we test the controllers on this list.

Why you can trust us ✔ Custom PC has over 20 years of experience testing hardware. We share honest, expert advice to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Here are the best PC controllers in 2024:

  1. Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller – best PC controller
  2. PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X – best budget PC controller
  3. Scuf Instinct Pro – best premium PC controller
  4. Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense – most immersive PC controller

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller review

1. Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller

The best PC controller overall.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller specs:

Weight 232g
Connections USB-C and Bluetooth
Button layout Xbox style
Extras Charge-over-USB, share button, swappable D-pad
Battery AA or internal rechargeable with 40hrs battery life


  • Great Windows compatibility
  • Wireless connection
  • Range of color options


  • Rechargeable battery costs extra money
  • Few frills

The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller is the best gaming PC controller. It’s a very well-made controller that’s comfortable to hold, and has easy-to-use controls. It’s also effortlessly compatible with Windows – no drivers or other software are required. It’s also very reasonably priced for a wireless controller, and it’s had some upgrades over the old Xbox One controller (such as adding USB-C), so it isn’t lacking any essential features. It may lack the stick shift-resistance of controllers with Hall effect sensors it’ll give you plenty of years of good service before that’s a concern.

Read our Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller review.

PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X review

2. PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X

The best budget PC controller.

PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X specs:

Weight 282g
Connections Wired-only with micro-USB socket, 3m cable included
Button layout Xbox style
Extras Three-zone RGB lighting, three-level trigger locks, two extra rear buttons
Battery N/A


  • Excellent build quality
  • Useful extra features
  • Fantastic value


  • Wired only
  • Micro-USB rather than USB-C
  • Slightly loose-feeling triggers

Ignore all the RGB lighting for a moment – other color options are available. The PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X is a fantastic quality alternative to an official Xbox Wireless Controller that includes several extra features, such as a volume/mute control, rear buttons, and multi-level trigger locks. The big downside is it’s a wired-only model, not wireless, but that’s why it costs just $35 and it comes with a 10ft cable. Build quality is also far better than you would expect for such a low price.

Read our PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox Series X review.

Scuf Instinct Pro review

3. Scuf Instinct Pro

The best premium PC controller.

Scuf Instinct Pro specs:

Weight 280g
Connections USB-C and Bluetooth
Button layout Xbox style (Scuf Reflex offers Sony DualSense style)
Extras Four rear paddle buttons, profile switch, interchangeable front panels and thumbsticks, instant triggers
Battery AA


  • Masses of features
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Loads of custom color options


  • Very high price

The whole premise of Scuf gaming is to offer high-end versions of existing game controllers, with it offering both Xbox and PlayStation-style gamepads. The Instinct Pro is its Xbox model and it offers everything you could want from a premium gamepad.

The controls nearly all have interchangeable tops, the faceplate can be changed, there are rear buttons (a feature Scuf pioneered), and of course the build quality is exceptional. The Microsoft Elite Wireless Controller is nearly as good, and has hair-trigger rear buttons that some gamers may prefer, but it ultimately offers less customization.

Read our Scuf Instinct Pro review here.

4. Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense

The most immersive PC controller.

Sony DualSense review

Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense specs:

Weight 280g
Connections USB-C and Bluetooth
Button layout Sony DualShock/DualSense style
Extras Touchpad, adaptive triggers, inbuilt speaker
Battery Inbuilt rechargeable, up to 12 hours per charge


  • Fantastic haptic feedback and adaptive triggers
  • Integrated touchpad
  • Great build quality and comfort


  • Requires third-party software to work on Windows
  • No option to swap the battery
  • Headphone socket doesn’t work on PC

If you’re looking for a game controller to enhance the sensory experience of playing games, the Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense is the gamepad to buy. The addition of reactive triggers, an inbuilt speaker, and excellent haptic feedback really draws you into your games.

Add in a touchpad that can be used just like a laptop touchpad – ideal for controlling your system from the couch – and you have an experience that truly feels next-generation. It’s also a really comfortable and well-built gamepad that’s not overly expensive either.

The big caveat is that to even get the controller working properly on a PC you need to install special software, and even then many of the haptic extra features only work when the controller is plugged in via USB and only in certain games.

Read our Sony DualSense review.

Here’s how we choose the best PC controller

When it comes to PC gaming, game controllers can be useful if you just like to sit back and game on the couch, so even a really cheap, basic model without analog controls can serve that purpose. However, most of the time, the big advantage of game controllers is that they have analog sticks and analog triggers, providing you with a precise, fluid way of controlling movement in racing games, flight sims, and more.

As such, it’s this factor that’s crucial when it comes to our game controller recommendations – cheaper controllers without analog controls don’t make the grade. PC compatibility is also key (this is a PC site, after all) so some controllers don’t cut it as they don’t work well with PCs. We also test for build quality, comfort, design, extra features, and more, before a controller qualifies for inclusion on this list.

PC controller frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What controllers work with PC?

Nearly all game controllers can be made to work with a PC, it just depends how much effort you want to put in. Older or niche controllers might need a special adapter or special software to work correctly while other controllers will be entirely plug and play. The Sony DualSense doesn’t work fully without extra software, for instance, whereas the Xbox One controller does. However, once you get the DualSense working properly, it’s even more feature-rich than the Xbox model.

Do PC controllers work on PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox, and Xbox One?

Many simple wired USB controllers will work on a wide range of consoles, old and new. Likewise many wireless USB controllers will work. However, you’ll generally have to check compatibility of any given controller against the specific console in question. Generally, the older the console, the less likely it is to have USB and the less likely you’ll be able to just plug in a console.

How to connect PS5 controller to PC

DualSense is recognised natively by Windows and Steam has included emulation support that means any Steam game will work with a DualSense controller. However, for any other games, you’ll need to download emulation software, such as DS4windows, to convert the DualSense’s DirectInput signals to XInput. Just load the software, run it in the background and it will provide full support for all Windows activities, even enabling you to use the DualSense’s touchpad as a normal laptop touchpad, so you don’t need a separate mouse in a living room PC setup. Although the latter only works when connected via USB, not via Bluetooth.

Found the best game controller for your needs? You can complete your setup by looking at our choice of the best gaming mouse or the best gaming keyboard. Or check out our best gaming headsets guide for wireless and wired headset options.