A good gamepad for your PC makes gaming far more enjoyable, whether you just favour retroemulation or just prefer the feel of a controller for some games There are so many gamepads to choose from that finding a good one can be tough. This week we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.
The Xbox 360 controller is one of the most comfortable controllers available, and the fact that there are wired and wireless USB versions for PC games brings joy to gamers who prefer to sit in front of their monitors rather than their television screens. The 360 controller was designed with ergonomics in mind, and is comfortable to hold, even for long periods. The controller also sports vibration feedback, a nice long USB cable in the wired model, and the drivers are all but pre-packed with Windows 7 and Windows 8 so installation is a snap. Getting it to work on a Mac requires third party software, but it’s not too difficult to do either.
Sony’s DualShock 3 controller — the same controller that ships with the Playstation 3 — is also one of your favourites. How comfortable it is to use is a source of major debate. Getting it to work in Windows can be a bit of a challenge (one made much easier thanks to third-party tools like Better DS3’s offline Motion In Joy configuration tool. (There’s also the original Motion In Joy, but most people agree Better DS3 does the job better). On a Mac or Linux machine, it’s much easier to configure. The ability to connect via Bluetooth is handy, though you’re more likely to need to remap buttons than with the Xbox 360 controller.
Logitech’s gaming controllers update fairly frequently, but the Rumblepad 2 remains a reader favourite even though it’s technically not available anymore. Its spiritual successors are the wired Logitech Gamepad F310 and the wireless Logitech Gamepad F710. Since Logitech’s gamepads are designed for PC compatibility, they ship with out-of-the-box compatibility for Windows. Those of you who nominated them praised them for giving you the option to switch button and control layouts among classic game controller layouts, and support for thousands of games.
The Razer Sabertooth earned a lot of love as a PC and Xbox 360-friendly third party controller, and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s large and hefty without being bulky and overly heavy, it’s ergonomically designed and comfortable in the hand, and packs a lot of useful features. You can adjust the sensitivity of the Sabertooth’s backlit buttons and sticks, the buttons have a solid click to them, and the rocker triggers are firm. All of the buttons are completely programmable, and it even dsports a built-in OLED screen at the bottom to help you see what menu or mode the controller is in.
If the Rumblepad and its successors emulate the DualShock 3’s look and feel, the Sabertooth emulates the Xbox 360’s approach. If you’ve had problems with the Xbox 360 controller’s D-pad, the Sabertooth is worth a look, and vastly improves on it.
USB Retro Console Gamepads
Let’s be honest, most people who game on their PC use a keyboard and mouse, and are more than happy to do so. If you don’t really need an awesome, high-tech, programmable controller for the few games you want a controller for on your computer, a USB version of the retro game controller you love the most may be in order. If emulated games are your thing, and you prefer to play classic titles and old school games (whether it’s on your PC or a custom arcade machine, you might to use the controller that the games in question were designed for. Personally, I love the feel of the old SNES controller, and while I have more advanced controllers for my PC, sometimes I plug in my USB SNES controller and fire up MAME.
Have something to say about one of the controllers on the list? Want to make the case for your personal favourite? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.