Let’s be honest, a keyboard and mouse configuration can be uncomfortable and unintuitive. If you want to kick back, relax, and fall right into an immersive new game, you’ll need a wireless controller.
Update: The picks in this roundup are either no longer available or outdated. You can find the newest best wireless game controllers in our updated guide.
Thing is, wireless PC controllers come in a lot of shapes and sizes. It isn’t always clear when a controller will work with your PC, and some controllers are supported by more games than others.
That’s why we’ve taken the time to round up the best wireless PC controllers that money can buy. All of these controllers support Bluetooth connections, and they all work with popular clients like Steam and Unity.
If your computer doesn’t have any built-in Bluetooth hardware, you’ll need a Bluetooth USB dongle to use these wireless controllers. Yes, some controller manufacturers sell dedicated USB dongles, but they’re usually more expensive and less versatile than an all-purpose Bluetooth dongle.
The Steam Controller ($90)
If you’re a hard-line keyboard evangelist with a shameful lust for comfortable controllers, then you should check out the official Steam controller. This weird looking device is essentially a marriage between intuitive controller design and keyboard-mouse precision. You can use this controller to play games, type messages, or browse the web with amazing speed and accuracy. You can even use it to play play typing games, without the keyboard-induced carpal tunnel.
The Steam controller is a masterpiece of engineering, but it can also be a pain in the butt. There’s a steep learning curve to this controller, so it’s best suited for gamers that really need the customization and precision of a keyboard on a comfortable gamepad. If you just want to connect an intuitive controller and start playing a game, then you should try a more familiar piece of hardware.
The Xbox One Controller ($44)
Ah, the old tried-and-true Xbox One controller. This is the kind of gamepad that feels familiar right out of the box. It’s responsive, comfortable, and it’s sure to make your PC gaming experience a little more comfortable
The Xbox One controller is surprisingly easy to pair with a PC, and it works with the vast majority of games on Steam and Unity. Plus, customizing an Xbox controller on a PC is a breeze, so you can throw together a new control scheme for your games in a matter of minutes.
The DualShock 4 PS4 Controller ($46)
The DualShock 4 controller (the PlayStation 4 controller) is another familiar, easy to use wireless gamepad. Its buttons are responsive, its analog sticks are a dream, and it’s comfortable in most hands.
Like the Xbox One controller, the DualShock 4 is supported by most games, and it’s easy to pair with your PC. Not to mention, the touchpad on a DualShock 4 controller can be used like a mousepad on a PC, or it can be programmed to particular button inputs.
The Xbox One Elite Controller ($164)
The Xbox One Elite controller is, essentially, an ultra-customizable version of the standard Xbox One controller. It comes with a few sets of interchangeable directional pads and analog sticks, and it has four interchangeable (and removable) back-paddles, which can be assigned to different button inputs. Additionally, the Xbox One Elite controller has a “profile” switch on the front, so you can easily switch between different customized button configurations.
Should you spend $164 on a controller? Maybe. This gamepad is meant for hardcore gaming, and it’s a favorite among professional gamers. It’s worth the money if you want to be extra-good at shooters and fighting games, but it’s probably overkill for most situations.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller ($57)
The Nintendo Switch Pro controller is more versatile than you’d think. Since the Nintendo Switch connects to controllers via Bluetooth, you can connect the Switch Pro controller to a PC just like any other Bluetooth gamepad.
While most games don’t natively support the Pro controller, gaming clients (like Steam), will automatically map the Pro controller like an Xbox One gamepad. The buttons will still be responsive, and the sticks will still articulate a ton of detail.
As a sidenote, you can also connect the Nintendo Joy-Con to a PC via Bluetooth. But this setup isn’t ideal (yet), because your computer will recognize the left and right sides of the Joy-Con as two separate controllers.
The GameSir G3s Controller ($31)
If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the DualShock 4 controller, then you should check out the GameSir G3s. This controller is specifically designed to work with PCs and Android devices, and it instantly works with most games.
This controller has everything that you’d expect from a modern gamepad, including “clickable” thumbsticks and four shoulder buttons. Plus, it has programmable “turbo” and a “clear” buttons (intended for use with emulators), and a “home” button that can be used to access your gaming client’s menu.
The SteelSeries Stratus Controller ($33)
If you’re in the market for a cheap alternative to the Xbox One controller, then you should check out the SteelSeries Stratus. Like the GameSir G3s, the Stratus is designed specifically for PC and Android gaming. It’s one of the most popular 3rd-party controllers on the market, so it works well with the vast majority of PC games.
Like the Xbox One controller, the SteelSeries Stratus is comfortable, responsive, and modern. It has “clickable” analog sticks, and it has four shoulder pads. Just keep in mind that, unlike the Xbox One controller, the Stratus’ analog sticks run perpendicular—they’re on the bottom half of the controller, much like a DualShock 4 controller.
The PowerA GameCube Styled Controller ($40)
Are you a big fan of emulators? The PowerA GameCube styled controller is a cheap and easy way to get your wireless retro fix. It’s nearly identical to the original GameCube controller, aside from its extra set of menu buttons, and it can pair with your PC, phone, or Nintendo Switch.
Before you buy this controller, keep in mind that it isn’t ideal for modern gaming. For one, you’ll have to do a little remapping to get this controller working on Steam or Unity. Additionally, it doesn’t have a built-in rumble feature, and its design is a little outdated.