Picking the best PC controller for you can be tough. Do you need a controller for your new gaming PC or are you looking to replace an old one? Regardless of your reasoning, this guide is here to help. After reading this guide, you’ll know what to look for in a PC controller and how to find the perfect one for you.
PC, console or both?
The demand for video game controllers is not just limited to a single market or platform. From the PC gamer who wants the best of the best for his gaming rig, to the console gamer who just wants an extra controller for friends to join in on the fun, to the cross-platform gamer who wants to use the same controller on his PC and console – the market is there. The decision of which controller to buy, then, rests on a few factors: do you want to use it exclusively on a PC or console? Or are you happy with a controller that is compatible with both? And finally, are there any video games that are exclusive to one platform or another and that you would like to be able to play? If so, you will need to buy a controller for that specific platform. Otherwise, any gamepad will work on both PC and console.
The controller’s connectivity is important because it dictates what devices the controller can connect to. For example, controllers with a Bluetooth connection can connect to devices that are up to 30 feet away. This gives you a lot of flexibility when choosing where you want to play your games. If you have a gaming PC in one room and the TV in another, you can easily move the controller between the two without having to unplug anything.
Controllers with a wired connection, on the other hand, need to be physically connected to the device they’re controlling. This might not be a big deal if your PC is right next to your TV, but it can be a hassle if your setup is more complicated. Controllers with a wireless connection are a better option in this case.
Wired or Wireless?
Wired or wireless? That is the question. Although the function and features of most controllers have remained more or less unchanged, much has been done to improve the way these devices connect to their respective platforms. Traditionally, the connection was done via cable, limiting your range and making it difficult to play comfortably if your PC was located too far away. Thankfully, with the advent of wireless technologies, that's no longer an issue. Many controllers now offer a wireless connection that is both lag-free and reliable. So, which should you choose? It ultimately depends on your needs and preferences. If you prefer not to be tethered to your PC, go for a wireless controller. If you don't mind being limited by a cable, wired controllers tend to offer a more responsive connection.
Naturally, wireless controllers rely on a battery to be able to work without a direct connection. Some of them have rechargeable lithium batteries (in some cases also interchangeable) and a cable to recharge the controller when the battery is low. Others use disposable batteries, completely eliminating the need for a cable.
When it comes to range, it's important to think about the size of your playing area. If you're mostly going to be playing in one room, a wired controller might be suitable. But if you want more flexibility and the ability to wander around your house or apartment, a wireless model is the better choice. Just keep in mind that the wireless range is usually shorter than the wired range, so make sure you have enough space for uninterrupted play.
Number of buttons
The gaming controller has come a long way since its early days. The original controllers for the Atari 2600 had a single joystick and one button. As gaming evolved, so did the controllers, adding shoulder buttons, triggers and more. Today, most video games require between 17 and 18 command keys. This is also the number of buttons (including sticks, triggers, D-pad and face buttons) we find on almost all modern controllers on the market. If you're looking to buy a new controller for your PC, it's important to make sure that it has enough buttons to cover all the commands required by your favorite games.
Many PC gamers start out playing on a console. And many of those gamers stick with the console controllers when they make the switch to PC gaming. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, console controllers are much more comfortable for longer gaming sessions than the traditional keyboard and mouse setup. Secondly, many controllers incorporate a vibration system that has the function of making the gaming experience more engaging. And this is now an indispensable feature for many gamers. Lastly, many popular console games such as Halo and Gears of War have been ported to PC, and offer an experience that is faithful to the originals.
Another interesting feature increasingly present in modern controllers, is the audio jack. This headset port can be very useful if you are a fan of multiplayer games since communicating easily with your teammates is considered an added bonus. You can also use it to listen to your game's audio privately without any distractions. It's a great way to fully immerse yourself in your gaming experience.
The last, but certainly not least, factor to consider when purchasing a controller is ergonomics. How the controller feels in your hands is just as important as how it looks. You'll want to make sure that it's comfortable for long gaming sessions. If you can, try out the controller before you buy it. See if your friends have one you can borrow for a little while, or find a physical store that carries them so you can test them out.
When it comes to controllers, one of the most important factors to consider is weight. This may not be a big deal for casual players, but for competitive gamers, weight can make a big difference in comfort levels during long gaming sessions. Most controllers weigh between 200 and 400 grams; this weight is determined mostly by the internal components. A particularly sophisticated vibration motor or a touch-pad, for example, can significantly increase the weight of the gamepad. The optimal weight for most sits around 300-320 grams.
The design of a PC controller is one of the main factors you should consider when making your purchase. Different designs work better for different people, so it's important to find one that feels comfortable in your hands. You also want to make sure that the buttons are easy to reach and respond quickly. Other elements that can improve ergonomics can be the design of particular buttons and their responsiveness. For instance, a button that's further away from your thumb might require more of a stretch to reach, which could lead to discomfort over time.
Are the materials important?
Yes, the materials are certainly important when it comes to PC controllers. The type of plastic and silicone used in the construction of the controller’s shell will have a big impact on its strength and durability. In most cases, you won’t see any major differences between controllers made of different materials, but it’s still something to consider when making your purchase. The controls on the controller will usually be covered in soft plastic, which feels comfortable in your hands and helps prevent wear and tear.
Is the brand important?
Yes, the brand plays a decisive role in the quality of the product. Big manufacturers like Microsoft, Sony, Logitech, Razer and 8bitdo ensure good quality products. For this reason, we advise against buying no-brand controllers, as you will definitely encounter compatibility problems and the device will be fragile and poorly assembled.
When it comes to controllers for PC gaming, you have a lot of different options to choose from. Do you want a controller that's specific to PC gaming, or can you use the controller you already have for your console? Do you want a wired or wireless controller? And how important is battery life to you? By considering these factors and more, you can find the perfect controller for your needs and preferences.
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