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The best PC controllers: All you need to know!

There are a few things to consider when buying a controller. PC controllers for your gaming PC or gaming laptop not only offer you maximum input comfort, in some games that require special moves on the analogue stick, gamepads are indispensable. Joysticks and HOTAS controllers for flight simulators, PC steering wheels for racing games and keypads with macro functions are also among the most common gaming controllers.

For PC gamers, it is therefore clear that whether you play best with a controller or mouse and keyboard depends on the game you are playing. Although the best input devices sometimes come with a correspondingly high price, you will find many recommendations for inexpensive controllers that meet all your requirements in buyer's guides and tests. 

In the accessories section of bestware, you can buy the perfect gaming controller for your needs. The online shop offers you a selection of the most diverse models - whether wireless controller or connected to the PC via cable. 

 

Buy wireless controller or controller with USB cable? 

Wireless gaming controllers connect to your desktop PC or laptop via Bluetooth. The power supply is provided by a battery integrated into the PC controller. If the battery is empty, you have to recharge the controller before you can continue playing. Many wireless controllers can therefore also be connected to the computer via cable.

This way, you can recharge the battery and continue playing at the same time. The advantage of the wireless Bluetooth connection is that you can cover a longer distance via a wireless signal than via a short cable. This is perfect, for example, if you connect your laptop or PC to the TV in your living room or use Steam Link for smart TVs to play games from the comfort of your armchair.

PC controllers that you connect to your laptop or PC with a cable, on the other hand, work without interruption: here you don't have to worry about the battery charge level. In addition, a wired connection is generally less susceptible to interference than a wireless connection. Before buying a controller from bestware, make sure that the connection cable is long enough for your setup. Wired controllers can be connected to the PC via USB-A or USB-C, depending on the model. 

 

What is the best PC controller for your Windows PC? 

Which gaming controller you need depends on the games you want to play with it - and which input devices the games are optimised for. Many console ports are also best played on the PC with a controller. However, if you are playing certain titles that are specially optimised for mouse and keyboard, you have more control with the classic input devices for some game genres: 

  • Construction simulation games, first-person shooters, strategy games or online role-playing games are usually optimised for keyboard and mouse. You can often use a PC controller as an alternative - but you will react faster and more precisely with a gaming mouse and gaming keyboard
  • Games whose controls work best with a controller include racing and flight simulations, role-playing games, sports games such as FIFA or action adventures. 

When choosing the right gaming controller, there are various approaches available to you. The most common version is the gamepad. However, there are also some special solutions that offer you either more control, additional functions or simply more fun. 

 

Gamepads: PC gaming as comfortable as on the console 

Gamepads are by far the most commonly used PC controllers. Depending on the model, you make inputs via one or more analogue sticks, function and action buttons, triggers, shoulder buttons and a directional pad (D-pad). Most designs are based on either Sony's Playstation controller or Microsoft's Xbox controller. 

So if you're coming from Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, or Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X or Xbox One, you won't have to worry about getting used to it when you're gaming on your PC. Gaming controllers such as the Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller or Sony's DualSense Wireless Controller also work on the PC and laptop.

The controllers of many other manufacturers who design their devices specifically for Windows PCs are usually based on the basic design of these models. However, there may be differences in terms of the number of keys and additional functions.

Before buying, make sure that you choose a gaming controller with good ergonomics and high quality workmanship. In addition, all necessary functions should be on board and all buttons should provide you with good, precise feedback. Very inexpensive controllers in particular can reveal weaknesses here and diminish your gaming experience. 

 

Joysticks and HOTAS controllers 

The joystick is one of the forefathers of PC controllers and was already widespread as an input device for gamers in the 1980s. While the early models offered very few rudimentary functions, modern high-end joysticks can do much more. Some of them are called HOTAS controllers (Hands On Throttle And Stick) - in reference to the feature-rich joysticks pilots use to control their planes.

Accordingly, HOTAS controllers are mainly used in flight simulations and are indispensable for the Microsoft Flight Simulator. They offer features typical for this field, such as a separate thrust controller.

Retro gamers still like to use classic, simpler joysticks, and even in many space shooters it doesn't have to be a complete HOTAS system: A simple model is often sufficient for tracking enemy spaceships and shooting. 

 

Keypads with freely programmable macro functions 

Keypads offer you additional, freely assignable keys as a PC controller. This allows you to optimally supplement your PC keyboard. Keypads come with additional software for programming macro functions. This allows you to assign any additional functions and key combinations to the keys: 

  • Especially when streaming, it is practical if certain special functions of your streaming software are available to you at the touch of a button. For example, you can fade in pictures or video sequences in your content, or also perform functions that would require complicated shortcuts by pressing several keys on a normal keyboard. 
  • For gaming, you can also assign any key sequence to the freely programmable macro keys. This is handy in MMORPGs, for example, in which you perform certain actions by pressing different keys in a certain sequence. On the keypad, you press a single key to start a sequence you have defined. 

In high-end keypads such as the Elgato Stream Deck, each individual key has a small LCD display. This allows you to display individual icons on the key. These enable you to immediately recognise which function is on which key. 

 

Connect the PC controller to the PC: Here is what you should pay attention to 

For an optimum gaming experience with your controller, there are a few points to consider: 

  • To use all special functions and buttons, you should install the appropriate Windows driver for your gaming controller.
  • If you use a wireless controller via Bluetooth, make sure that there are no obstacles or objects between the controller and the PC or laptop. These can interfere with the wireless connection. 
  • Many PC controllers offer extensive software for setup and calibration. Use the calibration function before you jump into the action in the game to play with the highest possible precision. 
  • Make sure to install the latest firmware from the manufacturer on your gaming controller. The updates fix possible problems and incompatibilities, especially with newly introduced models. 
  • Some gamepads offer a vibration function. This provides you with haptic feedback while playing: Motors are built into the gaming controller that make it vibrate in certain game scenes. The individual manufacturers give the function different names, such as Dualshock controller (Sony) or Rumblepad (Logitech). 

 

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