Best PC controller 2021: the Digital Foundry buyer's guide to gamepads
While PC gamers generally opt for a mouse and keyboard, millions of us also pick up a controller from time to time - and for good reason. In open-world games like Horizon Zero Dawn, controllers can offer a more comfortable way to play for long periods, while in racing titles a gamepad can offer fine-grained analogue controls to steer around corners. If you fancy a little local co-op, plugging in a controller is a great way to do that too. But there are a ton of PC-compatible controllers on the market - which are actually worth buying?
The most obvious answer is that the best controller is the one you already have. This seems to be supported by stats released by Valve in 2018, which show the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 controllers are the best represented amongst Steam users. However, are these gamepads necessarily the best options? In this article, we will answer that question by making our picks for the best PC gaming controllers on the market, including some you might not have considered.
As a little bonus, we're also recommending the best gamepads we've tested for iOS and Android.
How did we choose?
We used each of the controllers listed for at least two weeks - and in some cases, years - testing them in games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Forza Horizon 4 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We evaluated each gamepad in terms of its suitability for different PC gaming genres, its ease of use and its depth of features. We made one overall best pick that should suit most people, with additional picks for different criteria - like spending a lot or a little, gaming on titles that don't feature native controller support and gaming on both phones and PCs.
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