The PlayStation 4 (also known by its abbreviation, PS4) is one of the most prestigious consoles on the market. The very first PlayStation model was launched by Japanese multinational Sony in December 1994. Almost two decades and a world of improvements later, the current model came out in November 2013.

The PS4 controller is essential for you to make the most of all your favorite games. However, Sony’s console is generally only delivered with a single joystick. This is why you may be looking to buy an additional one — or maybe you want to replace the model you already have. We know this can be a tricky task, so we’ve prepared the following guide to help you pick the best PS4 controller on the market.

Key Facts

  • The most fundamental aspect to consider is the compatibility between the controller you want to buy and your PS4. Spending money on a joystick with great features is pointless if you can’t actually use it. In that regard, Sony’s joystick, the DualShock, is your safest bet. However, there are naturally other options available.
  • The layout of the buttons is another criterion you should pay attention to. You should be familiar with the design of these controllers if you’ve ever played PlayStation, and most manufacturers imitate the Sony model. But others don’t, which is why you have to take this factor into account when searching for the best controller for you.
  • The use you plan on making of the product is also important to help you make the right purchase. A DualShock controller is more than enough for the vast majority of games. That being said, you may favor joysticks with different features for arcade games or flight simulators, for instance. Make sure you read the specifications and characteristics of any controller before buying it.

Ranking: The best PS4 controllers on the U.S. market

Various PlayStation packs are available out there, each including different game combinations. However, most of these startup packs only feature a single PS4 controller. While opting for the original Sony joystick is always a great idea, you also have access to quality alternatives on the American market. Here is our selection of the very best PS4 controllers:

No. 1: Sony DualShock 4

This is undoubtedly the great winner when it comes to PS4 controllers. With thousands of very satisfied users, The DualShock 4 is your safest bet when it comes to choosing the right model. This is the original PlayStation controller, and the PS4 is always sold with one of these joysticks. You’re probably familiar with it if you’ve played the PS4 before.

This controller features a built-in speaker and a touchpad, as well as a headphone jack connection. The DualShock 4 works wirelessly, and you can charge it via a USB cable. Note that the cable is not included with the controller, and you will have to use the cable included with the console. The DualShock 4 is available in a wide array of color sets to best fit your style.

No. 2: Qanba Drone Joystick

Chinese company Qanba specializes in the manufacture of top-quality arcade joysticks for all gaming platforms, and the Drone model has become a fan favorite in the community. It needs to be connected to your PlayStation via a USB cable, which eliminates the possibility of having connectivity issues. What’s more, this product has obtained the official Sony license.

This means you don’t have to worry about it not being compatible with your console. In addition, the Drone joystick will also work with your PlayStation 3 and computer so your gaming potential isn’t limited. Its design is extremely sleek, and the bottom pad features an anti-slip material for greater playing comfort. World champion e-players use Qanba, so why not you?

No. 3: Thrustmaster T. FLIGHT HOTAS 4

Thrustmaster is an American brand of controllers for PC and video game consoles, and all their PS4 accessories are officially licensed by Sony. The Thrustmaster T. FLIGHT HOTAS 4 is a joystick specifically designed for flight simulator games. Despite the PS4 license, you must check that this controller is compatible with the game you want to play.

This type of joystick for PS4 is not very common, and Thrustmaster stands out as a leader in the market. It’s very easy to set up: simply connect it to your console and you’re ready to play. It features two detachable parts for greater gaming comfort. All of its buttons are programmable, so you can truly customize your in-game experience.

No. 4: Bowei PS4 Controller

This PS4 controller by Chinese company Bowei presents a design very close to that of the DualShock. It’s a great alternative if you’re looking for something a little more affordable than the Sony model. In addition to being very similar to the DualShock, the Bowey controller is fully compatible with the PlayStation 4, as well as other PlayStations and computers.

It works wirelessly and is charged using the 3-meter micro-USB cable provided with the product. The dual vibration system and front lighting enhance your gaming experience, while the touchpad allows you to navigate your console seamlessly. The Bowei PS4 controller is available in four different color sets, and it’ll be difficult to find better value for money.

No. 5: Mayflash F500 Arcade Fight Stick

Mayflash is another specialist in the production and marketing of video game accessories, and the F500 has received very positive reviews from gamers who have used it. If you like to play on various platforms, this model offers the great advantages of being compatible not only with the Sony Playstation, but also Nintendo, Xbox, and Android consoles.

It has a sleek, no-frills design that is sure to attract you. Experiences gamers have loved the fact that you can easily modify this arcade fighting joystick, allowing you to customize it to your personal needs. It has a jack connection to plug your headphones in, and a vibration function that is rarely found on this type of video game controller.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about PS4 controllers

The controller of your console is absolutely essential if you want to make the most of your gaming experience. We understand that you may have some doubts regarding this very important purchase, and we want to help you in this process. In the following section, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions by past users regarding PS4 controllers.

PS4 controllers offer a non-slip design thanks to their partially rugged surface, giving greater comfort of play.
(Source: Jeshoots.com/ unsplash.com)

What types of PS4 controllers are there?

The most common joystick for the PlayStation 4 is the DualShock, Sony’s original controller designed for this console. This is the model that is always delivered with the PS4 upon purchase, but there’s usually only one in each pack. This is why many users opt for this model they are already familiar with when they decide to purchase a second controller.

However, other manufacturers and models are also available on the market. Brands such as Nacon or Thrustmaster have an official PlayStation license to manufacture accessories for this console. You will have an additional guarantee if you opt for one of these options.

However, the fact that a brand doesn’t come with the Sony seal doesn’t necessarily mean the product is of poor quality. The most important is to make sure that it’s compatible with your PS4 and the games you want to play. You can also purchase products that are different from the classic controller, such as arcade joysticks or flight-specific models.

Type of controller Features
DualShock You need both hands to hold it. Your thumbs handle the front controls (sticks, crosshead, circle or triangle buttons, among others), and your indexes use the back ones. It is the most commonly used, and works with most games: FPS, sports, racing, etc.
Joystick (control column) Your right hand controls the lever, while your left hand is on the accelerator. It is designed specifically for flight simulator-type games.

How do I link my controller to my PS4?

You will have to link your controller to your console the first time you play with it. This is the case whether the controller was included in the original package or if it’s a new one you bought separately. The process is very straightforward: simply connect the joystick to your console using the USB cable. Press the PS button on your controller, and you’re done!

You will need to repeat this process with every joystick you want to play with. The PlayStation 4 allows you to use up to four controllers simultaneously. While the process may vary slightly with non-official devices, it should remain very simple. Again, the thing that most matters is that your controller is compatible with the PS4.

How do I charge my PS4 controller?

The most common way to charge your joystick is by connecting it to the console using a USB cable. The PlayStation needs to be on or in standby mode in order for your device to charge properly. You can view how the charging is going by pressing the PS button on your controller.

The life of their battery will naturally depend on how much you use them. You are advised to let them charge fully at least once a year to increase their useful life. Another option to charge your controller is to have a charging base. Several models are available on the market, but you will have to purchase them separately.

You’re probably used to the DualShock controller if you’ve already played PlayStation 4.
(Source: Vadim Guzhva: 40996540/ 123rf.com)

Can I use my controller while it’s charging?

In principle, there shouldn’t be any problem with you playing with the joystick while it’s charging. As we mentioned earlier, your PS4 controller is charged using a USB cable. As long as this cable is connected to your console, you can use your joystick while it charges.

The length of the charging cable can often limit how far you can be from your PlayStation 4. That being said, playing with your controller while it charges shouldn’t cause any issues such as overheating. If the rare event that this happens, stop using the joystick immediately and contact the manufacturer or technical service.

What is the PS4 controller’s Share button?

PlayStation’s official joystick, the DualShock, features a button called Share. This element allows you to take screenshots or record video clips of your gameplay. Many avid gamers take advantage of PlayStation’s most social feature.

Indeed, this Share button allows you to share your experience with other players. This application even lets you capture photos taken directly from your screen and publish them on Facebook or Twitter. It also supports the publication of videos of up to 15 minutes on your social networks. However, the most interesting option is probably the ability to broadcast your game sessions live on Youtube.

Jane McGonigalAmerican Video Game Designer

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”

How was the PS4 controller born?

The most recent PS4 controller is quite simply the natural evolution of PlayStation’s first joystick. The original models were extremely basic, and their first improvement was to add the two small thumb sticks we still use today. This more advanced controller was called DualShock, a name that it still holds today.

Some of the elements of the original controller still exist in the latest models. These include the trademark triangle, circle, square, and X buttons, as well as the L and R buttons. Other features were added over time, such as the wireless connectivity of the current controller, the vibration, or the built-in speaker. The touch panel is one of its latest innovations.

It is essential that you make sure your controller is compatible with the PlayStation 4.
(Source: Dolgachov: 51127483/ 123rf.com)

Shopping Criteria

There are several reasons why you might need a new PS4 controller. Maybe you broke the one you had, or maybe you want to have a second one handy for when your friends come over. Either way, you will have to evaluate various key criteria before buying a new controller. In the following section, we’ve discussed the most important aspects you keep in mind to be completely satisfied with your decision.

  • Design
  • Buttons
  • Compatibility
  • License
  • Budget

Design

The design is one of the most important aspects of any video game controller. It’s up to you to make sure you’re comfortable with the fundamental accessory needed to play your favorite games. PS4 controllers offer a non-slip design thanks to their partially rugged surface, giving greater comfort of play. The shape, and to a lesser extent the color, are also important factors.

If your controller has LED displays, you’ll need to ensure that they’re not a nuisance when you play, in particular with low-light conditions. You should also evaluate the weight of your joystick: you don’t want it too light or too heavy. Certain models, such as the Nacon, integrate a weight system to adjust this factor. Built-in speakers are also useful features.

Buttons

If you’ve ever played PlayStation 4, chances are you’re already familiar with its original controller. The DualShock, Sony’s official joystick, features a left stick generally designed to move characters around. Four buttons can be found to the right: the triangle, square, circle, and X. The function of these buttons will depend on the game.

Most other brands offer models with very similar button layout, but there are alternatives available. This is why it is important that you choose a controller with buttons that are tailored to your gaming needs. This criterion is essential if you want to get the best value for money out of your purchase.

Akio MoritaCofounder of Sony Corporation

“Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Compatibility

This aspect isn’t something you have to worry about if you end up opting for the Sony DualShock. Simply connect your controller to the console and link it as we explained earlier. That being said, you’ll need to be more careful with the compatibility if you buy a model from another brand. You don’t want an unpleasant surprise when the time comes to play with your new controller.

The vast majority of products will indicate which consoles they’re compatible with in the description of their package. Read this section carefully if the controller isn’t a Sony product. You won’t have any problem if it says that it is compatible with the PlayStation 4. If you opt for a wired model, make sure the connection is achieved via USB.

License

This criterion is very much linked to the previous aspect. Some companies have obtained a license from Sony to manufacture accessories for PlayStation. This means that some joysticks that aren’t manufactured by the company that designed the PS4 can still offer a certain guarantee of quality. A PlayStation-licensed controller is naturally less likely to have compatibility problems.

However, this doesn’t mean that products without a Sony license won’t work. In fact, some of the PS4 controllers that offer the best value for money haven’t obtained that license. In those cases, you will have to pay particular attention to the manufacturer’s specifications. You may also want to read comments and check ratings from other users on the Internet.

Controllers Benefits Drawbacks
Sony controllers They offer the guarantee of the PlayStation’s manufacturer. If you’re a regular PS4 user, you’ll be familiar with them. They’re not the most affordable option.
Controllers from other brands There tend to be cheaper. Certain models have a PlayStation license. You’ll need to make sure they’re compatible with the PS4. Some controllers have different features than the original joysticks.

Budget

Nowadays, you can quite easily purchase a second controller for your PS4 without having to spend a lot of money. You can find really affordable options on the American market. However, you should always make sure that the model you’re interested in meets the requirements you need to play. There’s no point in making savings if the product isn’t compatible with your console.

On the other hand, Sony’s official PS4 controller — the DualShock — is somewhat more expensive than other options. Its main perk is that it is guaranteed by the official PlayStation manufacturer. Nacon is another great choice if your budget allows it. Their controllers offer characteristics that are truly professional.

Summary

We know you’re dying to keep playing that game you had to pause halfway, but buying a new PS4 controller is no small matter. It is important that you take a few minutes to really evaluate your purchase in order to make the most of it in the future. After all, the right controller needs to suit your tastes and needs.

Remember to make sure that the controller you want to buy is compatible with your PlayStation. You should also check that it’s the right one for the way you play video games. Is the button layout the most appropriate? When you’ve answered all these key questions, all that’s left is linking your new controller to your PS4 console and start playing!

We hope that our guide helped you pick the right PS4 controller. If that’s the case, feel free to share our article on Facebook or Twitter — you never know who might need them! You can also leave us a comment in the section below.

(Source of featured image: Ales nesetril/ unsplash.com)

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