Choosing the best console controller

What with all the elite gaming controllers around, choosing the best console controller isn’t easy. But while an elite controller usually provides great functionality, a bad controller can ruin one’s gaming experience. If the controls are too light, or if the quality of the controller is too low, the penalty one pays for that is in terms of one’s gaming experience.

Even if the official controller delivered with a console is of good quality, there’s usually only one in the box, and you quickly have to decide what sort of controller you want to buy if you want more. And it’s not just console players who are affected. Often enough, a PC player will often have to bolster his keyboard and mouse with a good controller in order to comfortably enjoy certain types of games.

We’ll be listing not only the controllers that offer the best value for money, but also controllers optimised for different genres of games, and, of course, elite controllers for the pro gamer.

 At number one, The Microsoft Xbox One S controller

The Xbox One S offers the best value for money, and is an improved and lightweight version of the Xbox One, and is really a step up from the original controller. Entirely black in its first avatar, the Xbox One controller now comes in white with some bright black keys.

Oddly enough, the white surface has been designed to resist dirt

The granular plastic used limits traces of dust and grime, which are actually much more visible on the black plastic of the original controller. The finish is impeccable, without visible screws and with a facility for careful adjustments. The plastic used is of the best quality, and the controller is quite robust. Apart from this rather aesthetic change, there is a new coating on the analogue sticks of the controller, which are no longer smooth, but textured to improve the grip of one’s fingers, and to limit perspiration.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of the Xbox One S are roughly that of the original Xbox One. That’s because the ergonomics did not need changing, and comfort is optimal, with all the buttons falling intuitively under one’s fingers. The controller remains relatively light for a wireless controller, weighing in at 287 grams with the batteries in place. Admittedly, it is much more than SONY’s DualShock 4, which weighs in at 213 g, but nevertheless the weight of the Xbox One S isn’t unreasonable.

Perfect controls

As for the controls, there is no change in the quality and ergonomics of the analogue sticks, which are still as pleasant to use, thanks to their concave shape that perfectly accommodates the thumbs, and the rubberized and textured material used on their circumference, which ensure perfect adhesion.

Their small size, which is just 16.5 mm in diameter, requires that one rather use the tips of one’s thumbs. Nevertheless, this results in excellent handling, even for people with small fingers. This is the best console controller where handling is concerned.

Button functionality

The function of the directional cross is extremely precise, and actually activates with a slight click, just like the buttons of a mouse. This is something that will not please everyone, but which certainly adds to the precision of this controller. However, for some people, this clickability of the buttons makes the cross a little less pleasant to use in some combat games.

The buttons A, B, X and Y, for their part, do not ‘click’ in the game way, since they are based upon conventional rubber membranes. Their 10 mm size suits most people, and their relatively small stroke makes them very responsive. However, they cannot reach the speeds and response times of the dedicated buttons that Razer uses in their controllers.

The triggers

There is a small change in the triggers, since the large L, B and R are now a little less wide, but clickable over their entire width. The analogue triggers LT and RT, for their part, are still as precise and reliable as ever. The built-in vibration engine works perfectly, and is especially suited to racing games.

Bluetooth

A less visible, but extremely significant improvement to this controller is the addition of Bluetooth, allowing a wireless connection to your PC. Although you can only connect one controller at a time, many PC users will appreciate this facility. Interestingly enough, the mini jack on the lower edge of the controller actually allows you to connect a headset to it, that is if you do not wish to use the optional adapter. You can still use the adapter with the Xbox One S controller if you want to take advantage of the extra keys it brings.

Installation and wireless linking

The installation of this controller is elementary, and is virtually plug-and-play, whether you connect it via Bluetooth or via USB. A wireless USB adapter is also available if you do not have Bluetooth on your PC or if you prefer to use a radio link to minimize latency. Bluetooth is not known for its responsiveness, although the difference between Bluetooth and a radio link is minimal in practice. There are about an equal number of controllers for PS4, Xbox that use either system.

The most versatile controller, and the most value for your money

Whether it’s a first person shooter, an action adventure game or a racing or resource management game, the Xbox One S controller is perfectly adapted to any situation. There is no question of comparing its precision with that of a keyboard or a mouse, but where controllers are concerned, this controller is the most versatile and the most adaptable.

The only negative point about this controller is the clickable directional mouse, and even that is just something that takes a little getting used to. The vibration system is a joy to feel while braking, skidding, or accelerating in racing games. The Xbox One S is a very good buy, and certainly the best console controller for sheer value for cash.


The Mad Catz FightPad Pro – The ultimate fighting game controller

This is a controller that is specially adapted to playing fighting games, and is one of the best controllers on the market in that category. The ergonomics of this controller make it optimal for playing a game like Street Fighter 5. The analogue stick is of particularly sturdy construction, while the directional pad is replaced by a concave circle that allows for much better responses, with a little practice with it.

best console controller Mad Catz FightPad Pro 1

While the slightly out of the way feel of this controller means that there is a small period of adaptation, once you get used to it, it allows you an amazing number of programmable buttons, all within a highly accessible area. To all this is added exceptionally good quality in the manufacture, which makes this a highly recommended controller if you’re playing heavy duty fighting games that would destroy an average controller. The controller is compatible with the PlayStation 4 and the PC, and is really the best console controller where fighting games are concerned.


Steam Controller

Many people might be surprised at our including the Steam controller here. Rest assured, though, that we’re well aware of all the shortcomings of this controller. The Steam controller is of questionable quality, with the stick  and buttons being slightly too large, and too close together, and with extremely noisy haptic feedback.

best console controller Steam-controller 1

Nevertheless, the Steam controller fits certain types of games exceptionally well

Games that it suits best are management games, where you have to move a lot of things around. If you’re the sort of person who likes to play Civilization 6 or Planet Coaster, the Steam controller makes these games extremely intuitive and easy to play. The controller’s touch pads are precise and very effective, while the dual function triggers are very practical.

The options on this controller are numerous enough to completely optimise games that are usually unplayable on other controllers. Therefore we do recommend the Steam controller if games of this sort are your game of choice. This is without a doubt the best console controller for those who love strategy or resource management games.


The Nintendo Switch Pro controller

Since Joy-Con had such a bad reception, Nintendo has created a more traditional alternative in the form of a classic controller. However, the cost of the Nintendo Switch Pro controller is quite high, and it isn’t to be found in any of the starting packs or any game bundle.

best console controller Nintendo Switch Pro controller

While there is nothing exceptional about this controller other than its quality, that quality makes this the best console controller for sheer durability and long life. Buy the Nintendo Switch Pro controller if you would like a controller for extremely long term use.


The Xbox One Elite wireless controller

This is our preferred choice of controller because it outclasses virtually every other controller around. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive controllers in this selection. However, it does justify its cost. While the cost of this controller might be relatively high, the features it brings to the table really do make it worthwhile.

In addition to flawless manufacturing quality, and premium materials that ensure an optimal grip, there’s a customisable joystick and a vast range of options that can make your gaming experience with this controller truly unique.

best console controller Xbox One Elite

The controls exhibit an ice cold precision, the controller has a rock solid feel to it, and the balance of the controller as you hold it in your hands is perfect. Besides various accessories, and a hard storage case, this controller also comes with a very long USB cable, one that is around 3 meters in length. In short, the Xbox One Elite is a dream controller for pro gamers, and certainly the best console controller for the elitist.


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