Sure, gaming on a mouse and keyboard is fun. But every once in a while, you want to just lay back and relax on your couch while you’re gaming. This is only possible with a gamepad. And if you want the best experience out there, we reviewed some of the best gamepads for you.
Now, keep in mind that all of the gamepads we’ll be taking a look at are not only compatible with your PC. They’re also compatible with some of the more popular consoles that are out nowadays. And they all come at various price points, so there is something for everyone.
One thing to keep in mind that, similarly to choosing a gaming mouse, a controller is an individual thing. The thumbsticks layout, the buttons, the triggers, are all things that you may like a specific way. But we’ll get to that in a minute – let’s start with our buyers’ guide first.
Before we get into the gamepads themselves, let’s take a look at a few things that set them apart from each other.
First things first, you should consider whether or not you’re getting a wired or wireless controller. Wired is almost always cheaper, and has zero latency. However, you’ll be tethered to your couch and you’ll have cables all over the place. With a wireless, there might be minimal latency, but you’ve got a bit of freedom. And if you want to eliminate latency, you can just plug it in.
Thumbsticks position is the other big thing, and this one is all about personal preference. Some gamers will prefer the symmetrical PlayStation controller layout, while others will go for the Xbox-style thumbsticks. There’s also the possibility of getting a higher-end controller where you can customize the position and swap it out as you see fit.
Last but not least, you might want to consider any optional extras on your controller. A prime example of this are paddles that go at the bottom of your controller and basically give you extra buttons to press, like on the Xbox Elite controller, or the SCUF controllers. Others will allow you to remap all the buttons via software. The good ones will also get you excellent rumble and vibrations for a more immersive experience.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the best gamepads.
The Series 1 was a big hit for Microsoft. But the Series 2 improves on it and gets you an even better controller. While expensive, this is a controller you can customize to your heart’s content.
You can change the position of the thumbsticks, you’ve got different ones to choose from (D-Pads, too), and you can even adjust the triggers’ biting point. The paddles on the back can be removed if you don’t need them. Quite frankly, if you want to set things up just right for you, this is the best gamepad to do that with.
You also get a rather neat carrying case as well as all the tools you need to change things up. All this makes the Elite an excellent top pick in our list of best gamepads. Yes, it might be a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it.
If you’d rather stick to a more value approach, PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller takes the Xbox One controller shape and makes it an excellent budget pick. If you like this shape and controller layout, it’s just perfect for you.
The controller also comes with two extra buttons at the back that you can reach easily. You’ll be able to program them to whatever you want, basically. There’s a 3.5mm audio port, and a button that lets you adjust the volume or mute your microphone. The dual rumble motors do a great job at making your experience a bit more immersive, which is great.
The overall texture and feel of the controller are rather premium. This is something you wouldn’t expect from a controller at this price point. If you want great performance and don’t mind remaining tethered, by all means, go for it – it’s one of the best gamepads on a budget.
The Core Controller came out with the Xbox Series X, and it has some small improvements over its predecessor that you’ll probably enjoy. To begin with, the shape is more or less the same. You’ve got the asymmetrical thumbsticks, the button layout is the same, and the grippy surface is just as good as it used to be.
The D-Pad has changed, though, and it’s a lot better. This is the D-Pad that came on the Elite controller. It’s a huge step up over the previous one, which we love. The Core controller also has support for the Xbox Accessories app, so you can remap your buttons if you want.
Last but not least, the port is now USB-C, which is a neat touch. An excellent wireless controller for a more than reasonable price, the Core controller is a great choice for any gamer.
The first thing you’ll think of when you see the C40 Tr is “Oh my is that expensive”. And it is – it’s almost as expensive as the console it was meant for. But it’s an incredibly versatile choice, which somewhat justifies the price.
To begin with, you can completely customize the layout on the C40 Tr. You can change the position of the thumbsticks and buttons. You can even activate trigger stops that do come in handy when playing FPS games. Also, you get paddles at the bottom that you can map to pretty much whatever you want.
Overall, the controller just screams premium in every possible regard. It’s built really well, it checks all the boxes in terms of performance, and it’s as versatile as they come. And if you’re prepared to pay for the pleasure, it’s one of the best gamepads out there.
Razer’s Wolverine Ultimate is an interesting choice of controller. The thumbsticks and D-Pads are interchangeable and remappable. This gets you quite a lot of customization, and you have a variety of extra buttons, too.
The included thumbsticks and D-Pads come with different heights and shapes. You can have things set up just the way you like them. And in terms of extra buttons, you get two remappable buttons, four multi-function triggers, and a panel with quick voice control commands. The remapping function works on the fly, or you can do more extensive customizations with Razer Synapse for Xbox and PC.
The Ultimate version of the Wolverine gets you Razer Chroma lighting, and it’s overall an excellent gamepad. The ergonomics are great, and you have an available button for pretty much anything you can think of. A great choice as far as the best gamepads go.
With the PlayStation 4 around for so long, the DualShock controller that came with it is a bit of a classic. It’s available in a vast variety of colors and designs, meaning you can get something to suit everyone. The shape is the traditional DualShock shape. Also, you get Sony’s touchpad that you can use to control your mouse pointer.
The thumbsticks are pretty good, and they’re rather durable, too, unlike some of Sony’s previous gamepads. There are also the bumpers, which are honestly pretty great, as well as the headphone jack at the front of the controller.
One of the best things about the DualShock 4 controller is that via Bluetooth, the latency is almost unnoticeable. But if you don’t want even that little latency, you can plug it in and enjoy a wired controller with a micro USB cable of your choice.
Logitech’s F310 gamepad is quite possibly the most wallet-friendly gamepad on our list. But it’s still an excellent choice for budget-conscious users who can get behind the somewhat non-characteristic shape it has.
On the outside, the blue and black design is simple. It manages to look a bit more premium than it actually is, and it does feel great in the hand. The button layout is symmetrical, similar to a DualShock 4 controller, with the thumbsticks at the bottom. The D-Pad is a bit … unimpressive, but it does a decent job, functionally.
What we’re a bit disappointed in are the triggers. Even though this is an extremely value-oriented product, we feel like Logitech could’ve done a bit of a better job with the triggers. They feel stiff and cheap, something that’s not all that pleasant. But if you don’t mind that, the F310 is an excellent gamepad.
SCUF Gaming is a well-known aftermarket manufacturer of some of the best gamepads out there, and Impact is one of their best sellers. This is a bit surprising, especially when you factor in that the controller itself costs as much as Sony’s new console costs, but it does have a lot going for it.
While the layout is identical to the DualShock 4 controller, the SCUF Impact does have a bit of a meatier, fuller feel in the hand. It’s undoubtedly comfortable, and the textured surface makes sure it doesn’t slip or move around once things get heated when you’re gaming.
The four paddles at the rear are honestly, really well placed, and easy to work with. You can map them to whatever you want, which adds versatility. Oh, and if you prefer the Xbox controller layout, SCUF also offers the Vantage, with more or less the same functionality as the Impact.
With the new PlayStation, we also got the new DualSense controller, which improves on the DualShock 4 in a few key areas. The first one is the haptic feedback – it’s miles ahead of what was available in the previous generation, and this is something you’ll feel instantly when you’re playing fast-paced games.
The adaptive triggers are another improvement because they’ll give you varying levels of force and tension, which depend on the game you’re playing. The end goal is to get you a more immersive experience, and that does help quite a bit. You’ll feel a bit more connected to the game.
The built in-microphone and 3.5mm jack do come in handy, and you also get a Create button so you can capture and share your gaming moments. Overall, if you liked the DualShock 4, you’ll love the DualSense.
Here’s one for those of you who are nostalgic for the times when you played on your Super Nintendo – 8Bitdo’s SN30 Pro takes that design and turns it into a modern wireless gamepad you can actually game on. It connects via Bluetooth and comes with minimal latency.
There are motion controls and two extremely accurate thumbsticks, as well as rumble vibration and a USB-C port for charging your battery. What’s nice is that you can use it both with X-Input and D-Input, depending on the PC or console you’ll be gaming on. It’s even compatible with most Raspberry Pi boards, which is impressive and adds to its versatility.
Now, while the SN30 Pro might not be the most comfortable controller out there, we love the fact it takes a traditional design and adds things like bumpers, triggers, and most important, wireless technology. Certainly one of the best gamepads for vintage console fans.