The best PC game controllers in 2024

When it comes to playing the best Steam games, I'm going with one the best PC game controllers over a keyboard and mouse each and every time. Pulling off headshots in Doom Eternal may feel more slick on the best gaming mouse for some folk, but nothing beats that feel that comes from wrapping your mitts around a weighty, well-balanaced gamepad. 

My pick as the best PC game controller for most people? That would be the Xbox Wireless Controller as it proves itself the most reliable option when you want to enjoy your favorite titles on one of the best gaming PCs. I love also its textured grips and premium design. 

Having tested dozens of the best PC game controllers during my time at Tom’s Guide, they're simply a better fit for playing racing games like Forza Horizon 5 or for taming the brutal terrors you'll find in open-world Elden Ring. Stick around to keep reading my picks of the best PC game controllers on the market.  

The quick list

Below you'll find everything you need to know about the best PC game controllers at a glance. Whether you're looking for a premium wireless controller with great customization options or a reliable wired controller that still has plenty of useful features, there's something here for every budget.

The best PC game controllers you can buy today

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The best PC game controller overall

An image of an Xbox Series X next to an Xbox Series S on a wooden TV stand next to a TV, with a black controller leaning on the Xbox Series X.

(Image credit: Future)

1. Xbox Wireless Controller

The best PC game controller overall

Specifications

Size: 6.0 x 4.0 x 2.4 inches
Weight: 10.1 ounces
Analog Sticks: Staggered
Wireless: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Compatible with everything
+
Optimized for most games
+
Three kinds of connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
No rechargeable battery
-
Wireless USB requires adapter

The Xbox Wireless Controller is the best PC game controller for most people due to the fact that most PC games offer native support for it. This means you won’t have to configure it yourself using a program like reWASD and all of the prompts you see in games will be identical with the buttons on your controller which isn't the case if you’re using a PlayStation controller like the DualSense Edge. Another great thing about the Xbox Wireless Controller is that it can connect to your PC with a USB-C cable or wirelessly with Bluetooth.

The Xbox Wireless Controller for the Xbox Series X/S offers a number of improvements over its predecessor including USB-C support, a new D-pad design and textured grips that make it easier to hold in your hand. There’s still one big downside though as it isn’t rechargeable and requires two AA batteries. Still, if you don’t need back paddles or other customization options, the Xbox Wireless Controller is a solid choice for gaming on PC.

The best PC game controller on a budget

HyperX Clutch Gladiate Design

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best budget PC controller with some Pro-level features

Specifications

Size: 6.1 x 4.3 x 2.5 inches
Weight: 9.87 ounces
Analog Sticks: Staggered
Wireless: No

Reasons to buy

+
Detachable cable
+
Lightweight with solid build quality
+
Remappable back buttons and trigger locks

Reasons to avoid

-
Not wireless
-
Trigger locks could be more precise

Unlike with a console, when you're gaming at your PC, you're most likely sitting at your desk. For this reason, many PC gamers actually prefer wired controllers over wireless ones. A wired controller will have less latency and you don't have to worry about it being charged. The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is the latest PC controller from the PC accessory maker HyperX and it packs in quite a few pro-level features for just $35.

On the backside of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate, you'll find two remappable back buttons along with trigger locks. The back buttons are easy to program and you can configure what they do on the controller itself instead of having to download yet another app. The trigger locks may not have as many settings as the Elite Series 2 or other Pro-style controllers but they let you reduce how far you have to push the triggers down by half. The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is lightweight, very comfortable in the hand and it also works on Xbox Series X/S.

Read our full HyperX Clutch Gladiate review.

The best pro PC game controller

xbox elite series 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Xbox Elite Series 2

The best premium PC game controller

Specifications

Size: 6.0 x 4.0 x 2.4 inches
Weight: 12.2 ounces
Analog Sticks: Staggered
Wireless: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Highly customizable
+
Extremely comfortable
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Incredibly expensive
-
Limited benefits over standard controller

The Xbox Elite Series 2 and the cheaper Xbox Elite Series 2 Core both build upon the best parts of the Xbox Wireless Controller. You have the same button layout but a whole lot more customization options like a more traditional D-pad you can swap out on the fly and four rear paddles. Microsoft also lets you adjust the tension of the controller’s analog sticks as well as the triggers. You won’t need batteries with the Xbox Elite Series 2 either as it comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 40 hours and the included carrying case doubles as a charger.

If price is holding you back from picking up an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, then you’re in luck as Microsoft released a cheaper version that comes in several different colorways called the Xbox Elite Series 2 Core. The catch is that it doesn’t come with any accessories like extra joysticks, rear paddles or the carrying case. However, you can easily fix the back paddle situation with a $12 accessory which I highly recommend as having four back paddles means that you won’t have to take your thumbs off the controller’s joysticks since you can map all of the face buttons to them. The Xbox Elite Series 2 is the best option for those that want one of the best PC game controllers but the Xbox Elite Series 2 is a better choice for those on a budget who still want a ‘Pro’ controller.

The best PC game controller for connectivity

An overhead view of the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller in black

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. 8BitDo Ultimate

An excellent controller that comes with a charging dock

Specifications

Size: 6.04 x 3.96 x 2.5 inches
Weight: 8.042 ounces
Analog Sticks: Offset
Wireless: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable
+
Charging dock included
+
Multiple connectivity options

Reasons to avoid

-
Bluetooth version has Nintendo Switch button layout

The 8BitDo Ultimate controller is another great choice for PC gamers as it comes in several different varieties to meet every budget. The new 8Bitdo Ultimate C controller is the cheapest at $20 for the wired version and $30 for the wireless version but you miss out on the two back buttons. Meanwhile, the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4g can be had for $50 and comes with a charging dock and a USB dongle so that you can use it wirelessly. The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth on the other hand lets you connect over USB-C or wirelessly with either Bluetooth or the included 2.4Ghz dongle.

One thing to keep in mind is that the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth uses Nintendo’s button layout with B at the bottom instead of A. However, it does come with Hall Effect joysticks which means you won’t have to worry about stick drift. Regardless of which version of the 8BitDo Ultimate you pick up, it’s an extremely comfortable controller to use and it also has one of the best D-pads if you’re into platformers or retro titles. You can also use 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software to remap buttons and to calibrate the controller’s joysticks, triggers and vibration. The 8BitDo Ultimate is as versatile of a controller as it is comfortable to hold in your hand.

Read our full 8BitDo Ultimate Controller review.

The best designed PC game controller

GameSir T4 Kaleid RGB lighting

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Plenty of pro-level features at a budget price

Specifications

Size: 6.14 x 4.21 x 3.31 inches
Weight: 7.478 ounces
Analog Sticks: Offset
Wireless: No

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in RGB
+
Mechanical face buttons
+
Hall Effect joysticks and triggers

Reasons to avoid

-
Wired only
-
Short 6 foot cable

The GameSir T4 Kaleid is an interesting controller to say the least because it gives you quite a few ‘Pro’ level features at a much more reasonable price. However, the one caveat is that this is a wired controller and can’t be used wirelessly. Still though, you get two customizable back buttons, joysticks with Hall Effect sensors, mechanical face buttons, turbo functionality and even RGB for just $42. In addition to PC, the GameSir T4 Kaleid also works on Android as well as on the Nintendo Switch and there’s even a setting for swapping the A and B buttons.

While the front face plate of the GameSir T4 Kaleid is clear, the controller’s handles are frosted and have etchings on them just like the Xbox Wireless Controller to give you a better grip. Besides being able to see the controller’s PCB, there are two customizable RGB lightstrips on either side of the controller. One thing I really like about the GameSir T4 Kaleid is that you can remap the back buttons, control its RGB lighting and even enable turbo right on the controller itself. The mechanical face buttons give a nice audible click with just the right amount of travel too. The GameSir T4 Kaleid is a great choice if you want to add a little RGB to your battlestation without going too overboard.

Read our full GameSir T4 Kaleid review.

The best retro PC game controller

8BitDo Pro 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. 8BitDo Pro 2

The best retro controller by far for PC

Specifications

Size: 6.042 x 3.96 x 2.5 inches
Weight: 8.042 ounces
Analog Sticks: Asymmetrical
Wireless: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple colorways
+
Two rear buttons
+
Excellent D-pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Nintendo Switch button layout

The 8BitDo Pro 2 is a great choice if you’re coming from the PS5 or PS4 and want a PC game controller with symmetrical joysticks. However, it’s also a good fit for platformers and retro titles since its D-pad and face buttons line up. The 8BitDo Pro 2 is available in several different colorways including a GameBoy-styled one as well as a clear black and clear purple variant. It has a USB-C port at the back if you want to use wired, though you can also connect it to your PC using Bluetooth.

Just like the 8BitDo Ultimate, the 8BitdDo Pro 2 has two customizable back buttons and you can remap buttons and make other tweaks using the company’s Ultimate Software on PC or on mobile. It’s also a multi-platform controller with support for Switch, Mac, Android, iOS and Apple TV in addition to PC. A mode switch at the back makes it easy to switch between platforms. The 8BitDo Pro 2 has a 1,000 mAh battery pack but 8BitDo also gives you the option to use two AA batteries if you want instead. There’s even a wired-only version that’s slightly cheaper at $35 as opposed to $50. The 8BitDo Pro 2 is the best PC game controller if you prefer symmetrical joysticks.

How to choose the best PC game controller for you

A few pro controllers grouped together on a table

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to picking the best PC game controller for you, a lot of factors come into play and there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first. 

For starters, do you absolutely need a wireless controller or would a wired one be okay? Likewise, do you want an official first-party controller from Microsoft or are you open to trying out a third-party controller instead? Finally, are you fine with a stock controller or are you looking for a controller with ‘pro’ level features that you can customize? Whether or not you want back buttons or rear paddles is another thing to consider and will two be okay or do you want four so that you can remap all of the face buttons on your controller to them.

Once you’ve answered these questions and thought long and hard about which kind of controller is right for you, the next thing you’re going to want to consider is price. Controllers like the Xbox Series Elite 2 or the DualSense Edge are much more expensive than the standard Xbox Wireless Controller as well as third-party controllers from companies like 8BitDo, GameSir and HyperX. 

At the same time, if stick drift has been a problem for you in the past, then you’re going to want a controller with Hall Effect joysticks like the GameSir T4 Kaleid or the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth. Connectivity is another big concern, especially if you prefer a wireless controller. While Bluetooth may be more convenient, it introduces a bit more lag than using a controller that comes with a 2.4 Ghz USB dongle. However, if lag is something you’re really worried about, then going wired will always be your best bet.

Fortunately, there are loads of different controllers on this list for every kind of PC gamer and every type of budget. We’re also constantly reviewing new models and trying out different kinds of controllers to build out this list further, so stay tuned.

How we test the best PC game controllers

GameSir T4 Kaleid mechanical face buttons

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to testing the best PC game controllers, we take a two-step approach. 

First off, we play with them ourselves and put them through the paces with a variety of games from different genres. This helps us determine how each controller will stand up over time and if a particular controller is likely to experience stick drift or other problems down the road. We also test out each of their different connection options and see how well they perform using a wired or wireless connection or a USB dongle if one is available.

Customizing a game controller in reWASD on PC

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

From here, we then use Hardware Tester’s Gamepad Tester to check for errors with the joysticks and buttons. If a controller manufacturer has their own customization software, we load it onto one of the best gaming PCs and see how intuitive it is to use for button remapping and other types of customization like changing the dead zones on a controller’s joysticks. If there isn’t any customization software available, we use programs like reWASD to try and do it ourselves. 

For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom’s Guide.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home. 

With contributions from
  • Lokomalo
    If you like the Xbox Elite Series 2, look for the Elite Core Series 2. It's the same controller without the accessories. You can get it for $99 and buy a third-party accessories kit for $20, saving over $60.
    Reply
  • doombadger
    You forgot to mention the GameSir G7 SE. Hall effect triggers AND joysticks. Precision and no stick drift.

    I've got three Microsoft Xbox One wireless controllers now. They all had to be repaired under warranty for stick drift and they have all since developed stick drift again after the warranty has expired. I don't want to be buying a new controller that frequently.

    I will never buy a Microsoft controller again.
    Reply