If you're looking for the best controller for PC, then you want an Xbox Elite. Period.
As we start January 2017 there are no new additions to be made to the list. You still want an Xbox Elite Controller!
Xbox Elite Controller
Microsoft really knocked it out of the park with the Xbox Elite Controller. At its core, it's the same great design that arrived with the Xbox One, which means it's well laid out and oh so comfy to use. But the Elite has been given a 'pro' makeover with grippy, soft-touch finishes, interchangeable rear paddles, thumbsticks, D-pad and trigger locks. The components are all made of a higher grade material, so they shouldn't wear out nearly as quickly under heavy use. Right now, this is the Ferrari of controllers for the Xbox, and with Windows 10 natively supporting it all you have to do is just plug in and play.
Bottom-line: For the controller best around, grab the Xbox Elite.
One more thing: To use the Elite wirelessly with your PC you'll need to pick up the Windows USB adapter which plugs into your PC and acts as the interface for the controller.
Why the Xbox Elite Controller is the best
This Ferrari of controllers is good for both Xbox One and Windows gaming, and it's worth every penny.
'Pro' grade customizable controllers aren't a new idea, but the Elite is Microsoft's first take at that tier. Every single part of the Xbox Elite Controller oozes quality. From its sleek, soft-touch exterior to the metal thumbsticks and D-Pad via the removable paddles on the rear. This is gaming your way, and it's good on both Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming.
This is gaming your way on both PC and console
Since Microsoft added native support for officially licensed Xbox accessories into Windows 10, there's zero hassle getting going. You plug it in, you start playing. It's that simple. If you prefer a wireless approach you will need the extra USB dongle, but that's your call.
Through the free Xbox Accessories app for Windows 10 you can configure the button layout of your controller, remapping things to your own personal tastes. You've got the ability to store two profiles on the controller at once, which is great, because it helps limit the amount of time you need to spend going back and forth into the app! Set up all your favorite profiles and load up the two you're going to use at any one time.
The Xbox One controller is a fabulous controller in its own right; it's well-designed and very comfortable to use. The Elite Controller is all that good stuff but with an added kick in the pants to make it something very special. It's not the cheapest peripheral around, but you can't argue with its value.
On a tighter Budget
Steam Controller by Valve
The Steam Controller is pretty unique among its peers in both design and approach to controller based gaming. The big idea is that it makes keyboard- and mouse-focused games easier to play from the couch. The innovative trackpad has a learning curve to it, there's little doubt of that, but for those who get to grips with it it's pretty effective. And don't be fooled by it's somewhat cheap looking exterior. The Steam Controller is sturdy and well made and offers very good value.
Bottom line: There is a learning curve to the Steam Controller but once you're over that it's an effective way of playing PC games on your couch.
One more thing: If you're on the fence, check out our review to help you decide!
A custom dream
Xbox One controller (third generation)
The latest revision of the official Xbox One controller has a tweaked design over its predecessor, like adding more grippy parts on the rear side. Inside there's now Bluetooth, which makes it much easier to connect to a PC for wire-free gaming. It lacks the total customizability of the Elite Controller, but there are still aspects that can be changed in the Xbox Accessories app. And with the new Design Lab (U.S. only at the time of writing) you can come up with the wild design of your dreams.
Bottom line: Similar experience to the Elite but at half the price. And it has Bluetooth.
One more thing: Visit the Xbox Design Lab to get wild with the paint and design your very own custom controller!
The cheap option
The Horipad Pro is an Xbox controller that's perfect for Windows gaming but doesn't cost a ton. This wired, third-party option is officially licensed by Microsoft and has a layout representative of the official Xbox One controllers. It's a little glossy and something of a fingerprint magnet, but it does have some extra paddles on the rear you can map to give you an edge in your games. It's not quite an Xbox Elite, but it offers some of the features at a fraction of the price.
Bottom line: It's a fingerprint magnet but it's solid and extremely well priced.
One more thing: If you're not familiar with Hori as a brand, check out our review of this controller to help you make your mind up!
For Windows PC gaming with a controller it's hard not to recommend something from the Xbox One family. There are plenty of official and third-party options out there, but you simply cannot beat the Xbox Elite if you're looking for the very best you can get.
Best overall controller
Xbox Elite Controller
Microsoft really knocked it out of the park with the Xbox Elite Controller. At its core, it's the same great design that arrived with the Xbox One, which means it's well laid out and oh so comfy to use. But the Elite has been given a 'pro' makeover with grippy, soft-touch finishes, interchangeable rear paddles, thumbsticks, D-pad and trigger locks. The components are all made of a higher grade material, so they shouldn't wear out nearly as quickly under heavy use. Right now, this is the Ferrari of controllers for the Xbox, and with Windows 10 natively supporting it for easy plug in and play.
Bottom-line: For the best controller around, grab the Xbox Elite.
One more thing: To use the Elite wirelessly with your PC you'll need to pick up the [Windows USB adapter which plugs into your PC and acts as the interface for the controller.