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How to Connect an Xbox 360 Controller to a Laptop

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While most of the time a keyboard and a mouse is all you need in order to play games on your laptop, sometimes there are games out there that just work better if you use a gamepad to control your character. While there are many different types of gamepads created specifically for a PC, the original Microsoft certified Xbox controllers have built in Windows support and are often more readily available and reliable than many alternatives. Now that’s you’ve picked up a top of the range gaming laptop to suit your budget, let’s dive into how to connect an Xbox 360 controller to a laptop sop you can happily play games from the comfort of your couch.

If you have an Xbox One or Xbox 360, chances are you have a controller or three lying around your house. Many people believe that the Xbox 360 controller is one of the best controllers ever created for gaming, and the Xbox One controller, which takes much of its design from its older brother, isn’t far behind. But these controllers are for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One right? While “technically” true, remember that the Xbox is made by Microsoft, the same company that makes Windows which is installed on millions of PC’s around the world, and they have made it possible for you to use there Xbox controllers on a PC. All it takes is a little effort on your part and you could be on your way to using the vastly superior Xbox controllers on your PC’s in not time.

Types of Games that Benefit from a Controller

It is true that most games will run fine using a keyboard and mouse, and many PC gamers prefer this style of control for a vast majority of their games. Most games such as first person shooters, MMORPGS, roleplaying games, sim games, and more are actually easier to control with a mouse and a keyboard. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t games that don’t run better with a controller. Games such as driving or racing games such as Grand Theft Auto just work better on a gamepad and some people do prefer a gamepad for their first person shooter experiences. If you are into some classic games or emulator games, then a gamepad is often a better choice.

Which Controllers Will Work

There are several different controllers created by Microsoft for their Xbox line of gaming consoles. The controllers that you need to be sure you have if you want to connect them to the PC are:

  • Xbox 360 Controller
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
  • Xbox One Controller

Unfortunately, the first generation Xbox controllers won’t work without a little bit of extra effort on your part as they don’t connect with a traditional USB or wireless interface like the others. Of course, most people have an Xbox 360 or the newer Xbox One in their homes. But even if you don’t, and you have to go out and buy a new controller, the controllers for the latest Xbox consoles are hard to beat.

How to Connect an Xbox 360 Controller


The Xbox 360 controller is probably the most popular gaming controller ever created for a console, or even a PC. It features a design and a set of features that make it perfect for gaming on either your console or your laptop.

What You Will Need

Connect the Xbox 360 Controller

  1. If you have the installation disc, insert it into your PC’s DVD drive and install the drivers.
  2. If you don’t have the installation disc, visit Microsoft’s Hardware site to download the drivers you need.
    1. Once you are on the site, select Gaming as the product type.
    2. Next, click on Xbox 360 Controller for Windows as the product.
    3. Select the version of Windows you are using and click Download.
  3. Install the drivers from your download. You may have to reboot your computer when the installation is complete.
  4. Connect your Xbox 360 controller to your laptop.
  5. Test your controller by clicking on Start – Run, then typing joy.cpl.
  6. Select Xbox 360 controller, then click on Properties.
  7. Test the controller by pressing the buttons or pulling the triggers.
  8. Load up your favorite game and configuring your gamepad for your favorite game.

How to Connect an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller


The Xbox 360 wireless controller is essentially the exact same controller as the traditional wired controller featuring the same the design and features, but you don’t have to be tethered by a wire connecting to your laptop. If you are going to use the wireless controller, however, you will need to also purchase the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver.

What You Will Need

Connect the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

  1. Connect the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver to your laptop.
  2. The Add New Hardware Wizard should run and install the software. If it does not, follow the next steps, if it does, skip to step 6.
  3. If you have the installation disc that game with the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver and the device isn’t installed automatically for you, insert the disc and install the software. If you don’t have the disc, continue to step 4, if you do, skip to step 6.
  4. Download the drivers needed for the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver.
    1. Go to the Software Downloads section of the Microsoft Hardware website.
    2. Select Gaming as the product type.
    3. Select Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows as the product.
    4. Select the version of Microsoft Windows you have and click Download.
  5. Install the drivers you downloaded.
  6. Connect the Xbox 360 wireless controller to your computer.
    1. Turn on the Xbox 360 wireless controller by pressing and holding the Guide button in the middle of the controller.
    2. On the receiver, press the connect button. The light will begin to flash green.
    3. Press the connect button located on the back of the controller.
    4. Watch for the green lights to stop flashing. When they do, the controller is connected.
  7. Load up your favorite game and configure your new gamepad.

How to Connect an Xbox One Controller


The Xbox One is the latest generation console from Microsoft, and while there are some differences from the immensely popular Xbox 360 controller, it still sports the features and design of its older sibling.

What You Will Need

Connect the Xbox One Controller

  1. Download the drivers you need to connect your Xbox One Controller to the PC. You need to be sure you select the right drivers for your installation of Windows. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, download the x64 drivers, if you have the 32-bit version, download the x86 drivers.
    1. PC Drivers for Xbox One Controller (x86)
    2. PC Drivers for Xbox One Controller (x64)
  2. Install the drivers. Follow the prompts during the install process and take all the default selections.
  3. Connect the Xbox One Controller to the PC using the Micro USB cable.
  4. Watch for the controller to vibrate. Once it does, your installation was successful.
  5. Fire up your favorite game and go into the options to configure your new gamepad.

Elite Gaming

If you want to take your gaming to the next level, then consider purchasing the Xbox One Elite controller. While this controller is more than double the price of a standard Xbox One controller, it does offer extra features and feels way more comfortable to game with.

Congratulations! You now have setup one of Microsoft’s great gaming controllers on your PC so you can now begin to enjoy gaming on your PC just like you would if you were using your console. You will need to go into each of your game’s options to be sure the game sees your controller and to configure how the controls work in each game. That way you can customize your experience the way you want it.

What Won’t Work

Unfortunately, the Xbox One Wired Headset and the Xbox One Stereo Headset don’t currently work when they are connected to the Xbox One controller. If you want to use these devices on your PC, you will need to connect them to the audio jack on your laptop. In much the same way, the Xbox 360 headsets will often need to be connected directly to your laptop’s USB ports or audio ports in order for them to work as well. While it may take up an extra port, you can still use the headsets to get the same impressive sound quality on your laptop as you have come to expect on your console as well.


In the past, it was somewhat difficult to get a gaming controller such as the Xbox 360 or Xbox One Controller to work on a PC. Thankfully, Microsoft heard the cries of the gaming community and made it somewhat easy for you to start using your favorite console controller on your PC or gaming laptop. So, instead of running out and buying a new controller just for your PC, just head down to your television and grab that extra Xbox controller you have lying around and connect it to your laptop. You may purchase a tv bed from TV Beds Northwest so you can play your games in bed. In just a few minutes, you will be off to the races using your favorite controller right on your laptop while you play your favorite games.

By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

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