When it comes to gaming, sometimes you need a little more than just the traditional keyboard and mouse. While personally I do feel the keyboard and mouse are far superior when it comes to controls for some games, others need just a little more in order for you to properly control what you are doing. For example, in my opinion any type of game that has at the wheel of a car definitely needs a gamepad of some sort if you hope to properly drive the car and not go sliding all over the road.
But which controller should you buy? One trip to your local tech shop or one visit to Amazon will reveal hundreds of controllers all promising the same precision gaming control and comfort that you are looking for. Luckily, you have us to help you weed through all of your choices so you can pick the one that is right for you. Today, we take a look at our top 5 controllers that help round out your PC gaming experience and give you that little extra you need to properly play some of your favorite games.
Types of Games
Before we start our list, I want to take a moment to discuss what types of games you can and should use a gamepad when you play. While many games will offer gamepad support, that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to use it when you play. Still, others it is a must if you hope to properly control what is going on as you play.
First, let’s look at games that you simply won’t need a gamepad in order to play. Any type of simulation games such as The Sims 4 or SimCity, strategy games such as Civilization V don’t need a controller in order to play. In fact, using the traditional keyboard and mouse interface is actually a much more efficient way of controlling these games compared to a controller.
Some games, of course, a controller is simply a must have. Games such as Grand Theft Auto V and even the Just Cause series or any racing title, for that matter, will have you driving all over the map. Trying to steer your car properly is simply pointless with a keyboard and mouse, in my opinion. Adding a controller to the mix will help you properly drive your cars so you can perform the missions you need to perform and get where you need to go.
Other games, the use of a controller is somewhat optional as the game can be effectively controlled either by a gamepad or by the keyboard and mouse. First person shooters, for example, can be effectively controlled either way. It all comes down to you and how you like to play, really. Personally, I prefer a keyboard and mouse for these games, but I know other gamers out there that prefer to do their shooting with a gamepad instead. In most cases, these games provide effective controls for both styles of play so you can choose which way you want to play.
Top 5 PC Gaming Controllers
Now onto the fun part, let’s examine our 5 favorite gaming controllers for the PC. I’m sure one of these will suit your needs and playstyle and help you take control of even your most difficult games.
Xbox One Wired Controller
The Xbox One Wired Controller takes the fantastic design of the Xbox 360 Controller and adds a few features to improve the experience to make it one of the best gamepads for a PC. The controller’s D-pad has been altered from the original design to provide a more classic style improving the control and performance.
The Xbox One Controller doesn’t pack a lot of extra features, but it does what it is designed to do so well that it doesn’t need any extra features to still be a fantastic controller. Currently, the controller is only available for PC in a wired model but you can expect that to change in the near future. Overall, if you are looking for a controller that just works without any complicated setup, and you are looking for the latest and greatest control available on the market, then the Xbox One Controller is the gamepad you have been waiting for your entire gaming life.
Xbox 360 Controller
Until the release of the Xbox One and its new controller, the Xbox 360 was arguably the best controller available on the market. It features a very comfortable design that will help you play your games for long stretches at a time. It’s diamond button configuration has become the standard by which all other controllers are judged today and has been a staple design in the controller world for about a decade.
It comes in both wired and wireless versions and requires nothing to setup as the drivers are included with your copy of Windows making it the easiest controller to setup. If you want a controller that just works and comes with a design that is comfortable and easy to use, then without a doubt the Xbox 360 Controller is the gamepad for you.
PlayStation 4 Dualshock Controller
The design of the PlayStation controller hasn’t changed very much since the original PlayStation was released, and for good reason. Today, it is the model for many third party controllers including another gamepad I have included in this list. The PlayStation 4 Dualshock Controller has made a few new additions to the world of controllers that could prove interesting as games evolve. Unfortunately, not all games will recognize the controller. While many will, don’t be surprised if you fire one up and it doesn’t work.
Still, the PlayStation 4 Dualshock Controller offers a familiar and comfortable design with great grips and responsive analog sticks and D-pad that make it a great choice for PC gamers. If you have a PlayStation 4, why bother investing in a second controller for your PC, just grab your controller and hook it up. Of course, if you just like the design of Sony controller, there is nothing wrong with picking one of these up for your PC as well.
Razer is well known for its excellent line of gaming mice that it has long been selling. But did you know they also make gamepads as well? At first glance you may think that this is just another Xbox 360 controller, and you are sort of correct. The gamepad was originally designed for the Xbox 360 and because of this it looks and feels much like a fancy Xbox 360 controller.
The gamepad features two extra bumpers, meaning you don’t have to lift your thumbs at all while playing a shooter, which is always a good thing. The D-pad on this controller, however, feels more like an afterthought designed for only supplementary actions. The gamepad also features a unique LCD screen for displaying game data and other settings as well, although this really isn’t required for a truly great gaming experience.
Logitech F310 Gamepad
If you are shopping on a tight budget, but still want a quality controller, look no further than the Logitech F310 Gamepad. It features a button layout and form factor that is very similar to the PlayStation controller, so console players who love their PS3 and PS4 controllers will feel instantly at home with this gamepad. The D-pad, which is often an afterthought on many controllers, is highly responsive making this a great controller for platformers as well.
The Logitech F310 may feel a little basic, as it doesn’t even include features like rumble and force feedback, if you are shopping on a budget or looking to pick up more than one controller or even just a second controller for our PC, you can’t go wrong with the F310. Its controls are responsive and tight and you will find that you hardly miss some of the more advanced features when you begin using it to control your games.
What About Mac Users
Mac gaming has come a long way in recent years, but true serious gamers prefer to use Windows based PCs for their gaming, as every game is made for Windows. If you use a Mac, you will find that there aren’t as many games available for the platform. However, there are many games out there that you will want a decent gamepad to use while you play. Most Logitech gamepads will function on a Mac as Logitech is very good about providing cross platform drivers for their products. The PlayStation controllers should work as well, as they are compatible with Mac and Linux. Razer’s products are also cross platform as well. You may run into trouble getting an Xbox controller to function properly. People have done it easily with the wired Xbox 360 controller, but the wireless version will require you to purchase a receiver for the controller as well.
As you can see, if you do like to play games on Mac, you have plenty of options. Of course if you are serious about games but still insist on using a Mac, I would recommend using Boot Camp and installing a copy of Windows 10 or even Windows 7 on your Mac so you don’t have to even bother with the extra investment and steps to get your gamepad running.
I know, most of these controllers were actually designed for console gaming. But if you think about it, that makes sense. After all, on consoles you have to have a great controller as you basically have no other option unless you invest in potentially expensive accessories for the consoles. That means that the console makers spent a great deal of time designing the best gamepads. The fact that they have made these gamepads compatible PCs so you can replace your console with your gaming laptop is even better.
There are many types of controllers out there. The gamepads in this list represent my personal favorites when it comes to comfort, control, compatibility and ease of use. I encourage you to head out to your local gaming shop and test out many of the gamepads on display before you buy. You could find one that isn’t on this list that you like. Still, if you are having a hard time making the right choice, it is hard to go wrong with any of the controllers on this list. So pick out your favorite gamepad and hook it up to your PC today so you can get down to business and start properly controlling your games so you can win those missions and defeat those enemies so you can continue to advance and even beat some of those games that you have struggled with simply because you didn’t have the right controller for the job.