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The video game industry took a huge leap forward in the 1970s when it arrived in homes all over the world, forever changing the entertainment world. During this era of great technological advances, few new accessories were as successful as controllers. If you’re not familiar with them, you’ll find out everything you need to know in the following guide.
Video games are designed for you to experience different virtual realities on your PC. However, there came a point when the keyboard-and-mouse combination didn’t provide enough interaction anymore. This is why PC controllers were invented; they improved the gaming experience and allowed for incredible innovations in the industry. This accessory is a necessity if you’re an avid gamer!
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our Selection: The Best PC Controllers on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About PC Controllers
- 3.1 What is a PC controller exactly?
- 3.2 What are the main elements of a PC controller?
- 3.3 Why should I use a PC controller?
- 3.4 What is the Plug&Play technology in PC controllers?
- 3.5 How are PC controllers configured without Plug&Play?
- 3.6 Are wireless PC controllers better?
- 3.7 What wireless connection system do PC controllers use?
- 3.8 How important are my PC controller’s buttons?
- 3.9 Can PC controllers be used in areas other than gaming?
- 3.10 What is the autonomy of PC controllers?
- 3.11 What are XInput or DirectInput connectivities?
- 4 Buyer’s Guide
- 5 Summary
- PC controllers are joysticks used to enjoy video games or virtual scenarios on a computer.
- While many of these controllers come with a cable, the most modern ones are wireless (with batteries). Not only are they designed to better control the video games you play on PC, but they also increase their realism and improve the gaming experience. Make sure you check that they’re compatible with your computer.
- PC controllers come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. Some models also offer various functionalities depending on the game you play, with more buttons and features than standard controllers.
Our Selection: The Best PC Controllers on the U.S. Market
Any gamer’s goal is to experience the greatest emotions while playing their favorite video game. You need three essential things for this: talent, a challenging game, and a quality PC controller. However, picking the right model isn’t particularly easy if you don’t know what to look for. In the following section, we’ll introduce you to the best models on the American market.
- The Best Wired PC Controller
- The Best Wireless PC Controller
- The Best PC Controller for Flight Simulators
- The Best Retro PC Controller
The Best Wired PC Controller
The ZD-V+ is a very versatile and affordable PC controller, so it’s no wonder that it has become Amazon’s Choice in the category. Compatible with Windows operating systems but also PlayStation 3 and Android devices, this wired model offers the Plug&Play technology for XInput-enabled games and has a vibration function. Its ergonomic design features two non-slip directional sticks for greater comfort and precision.
The Best Wireless PC Controller
In case you didn’t know, Microsoft’s Xbox controllers are also compatible with Windows computers. This means that you can use some of the very best joysticks out there while gaming on your PC. Simply plug the adapter into a USB port on your PC and you can start playing. Microsoft has made this controller evolve over the year, and that experience ensures top-quality gaming experience and comfort. It offers a 20-foot range.
The Best PC Controller for Flight Simulators
Logitech is a leader on the PC accessory market, and the high-precision Extreme 3D Pro joystick has everything you need for your flight simulators. Fully compatible with Windows operating systems, it features twelve programmable buttons and an eight-way hat switch for an enhanced gaming experience. Its ergonomic design includes a rapid-fire trigger to take your targets down in a hurry, and a weighted base for more comfort.
The Best Retro PC Controller
With a design inspired by the classic Super Nintendo, this Bluetooth-enabled PC controller was created for wistful gamers who long retro consoles. It is compatible with an incredible range of devices, which include Windows and Mac operating systems, Android equipment, and the Nintendo Switch itself. Delivered in a stylish travel case, it is charged via a USB-C cable and offers an autonomy of up to 18 hours of gaming.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About PC Controllers
The PC controller market has grown a lot since video games became one of the most profitable industries in the world. And since this universe is incredibly varied, you can find very different models out there. Choosing the best controller for your personal needs can be tough, which is why we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions in the section below.
What is a PC controller exactly?
What are the main elements of a PC controller?
- Trigger button
- Additional buttons
- Start and Options buttons
Why should I use a PC controller?
|PC controllers||PC keyboards|
|They’re compact and more portable.||You need to configure them once they’re installed on your PC.||They’re built into computers.||They don’t have directional sticks or steering wheels, which are required in various games.|
|Their ergonomic design makes them very comfortable to use.||You need to make sure that they’re compatible with your operating system.||Their use is universal: everyone knows how they work.||Excessive use of the keys can lead to wear.|
|Buttons and sticks are easy to use.||They’re additional devices you need for your PC.|
|They’re specifically designed for video games.||You will have more cables lying around unless you pick a wireless model.|
What is the Plug&Play technology in PC controllers?
How are PC controllers configured without Plug&Play?
- Connect the USB end of the controller cable to a USB port on your computer.
- Click on the Start menu of your controller.
- Search for the Control Panel of your PC to find external devices that are connected.
- Press on the OK button of your controller to confirm the connection.
Are wireless PC controllers better?
|Criteria||Cabled PC controller||Wireless PC controller|
|Advantage||They always work correctly, since they won’t run out of battery.||No cables will interfere or bother you while you’re playing.|
|Battery||You won’t have to buy new batteries.||You can use rechargeable batteries to avoid having to purchase new ones.|
|Functionality||The data transfer rate is always high.||You can usually go as far as 10 meters away from your computer.|
What wireless connection system do PC controllers use?
Both of these wireless connections are effective. Simply check the settings of your computer to find out which Bluetooth version it has. If you’re unsure about the compatibility of your device, we recommend that you pick a PC controller cabled via USB — it should be included with the device.
The way buttons are distributed is generally practical. You find the directional buttons on the left side, while the classic buttons used to make your character jump, run or shoot are to the right. The upper buttons add valuable functionalities to most video games, and the Select, Home or Start buttons are naturally necessary to make configurations and navigate.
Can PC controllers be used in areas other than gaming?
What is the autonomy of PC controllers?
You will want to choose a controller with greater autonomy if you’re a professional gamer or at least an avid player. If you don’t mind having a cable, the best alternative is to buy a PC controller with a USB cable. This will guarantee endless hours of gaming without having to worry about energy consumption or running out of batteries.
What are XInput or DirectInput connectivities?
Gaming is a lifestyle. Video games are part of our daily lives, and we’re dedicating more and more hours to them. PC controllers help us improve that experience, but not all models offer the same quality. While the one you need depends on your use and gamer profile, you cannot overlook certain specific criteria. We’ve discussed those key aspects in the following section.
As you know, you use a PC controller with your hands. This is why you want to opt for a model with an easy-to-hold, ergonomic design that won’t tire you after long hours of use. It should be slip-resistant and offer an optimal distribution of the buttons and sticks to offer maximum standards of comfort and performance.
If you prefer wireless PC controllers — like most new models are, you need to ensure that it gives you a considerable autonomy of use. Nobody likes to be interrupted mid-game because their battery ran out. This is why you are advised to purchase a PC controller whose autonomy exceeds, at least, 5 hours.
We briefly explained earlier that the buttons of your PC controller are fundamental for your gaming experience. In that regard, don’t simply pay attention to the number of buttons available — although this remains an important aspect. You also want to check their distribution on the controller, as well as the features they offer during use.
Believe it or not, but life exists outside of the gaming world. PC controllers also need to respond to this reality. Nowadays, we use our computers for many more things than simply playing video games. This is why you might be interested in buying a PC controller that allows you to play music or movies, which will be a nice addition for your computer.
Our hyperconnected world can sometimes feel invaded by cables, which is why having a wireless device is so attractive. While cabled PC controllers don’t compromise on quality and can be just as efficient, it is undeniable that wireless models are more convenient. As you know, you should also pay attention to the type of wireless technology used by the controller.
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We’ve discussed this before, but we cannot emphasize enough on the fact that you need to check if the device is compatible with your computer before making your purchase. You can generally find which operating systems the device can work with in the product description. Don’t neglect this: you may not be able to use your PC controller otherwise.
The video game industry would never have been the same without the emergence and evolution of PC controllers. This form of entertainment has now taken over computers too, and offers for quality controllers have skyrocketed. These affordable accessories help us improve our gaming experience and increase realism.
PC controllers come with different designs and functions depending on the profile of the player. While some are connected via a USB cable, the most modern models are fully wireless. These will offer different degrees of autonomy. The installation and configuration of controllers are very simple, in particular those with the Plug&Play technology.
If you liked our shopping guide on PC controllers, feel free to share this article on your social media so that others can also learn all there is to know about them. And before you get back to your gaming session, don’t forget to leave us a comment in the section below!
(Source of featured image: Valeriy Tsimbalyuk: 96513457/ 123rf.com)