HTPC solutions are fast becoming a popular choice for gamers. With Kodi causing a huge growth in the number of HTPC solutions sat under living room TVs it is only natural that you would want to use it as an all-round solution and incorporate your games. To ensure that you give yourself the best game playing experience similar to that of the latest games consoles it is important that you get the right controller. There are many wireless and bluetooth controller devices out there but most are poorly built and highly unresponsive. In this post I will take you through some of the best PC game controllers for HTPC for the best possible gaming experience. If you are looking to pickup the very latest gamepad for PC then this list will provide your options.
Best Wireless and Bluetooth Controllers for PC
Find a top wireless or bluetooth controller for PC. Whether you are looking for something retro or the best PC game controller for Steam you should find something that meets your needs.
Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC – Emulators & Steam
In this list you will find a series of wireless controllers for PC and the odd bluetooth gamepad. Our focus is around HTPC gaming and we address controller use with both steam and system emulators. Some of the best PC game controllers for emulators come from vendors you may not have heard of. For each wireless controller for PC or bluetooth gamepad we look at what it can do and suggest its best uses with HTPC systems. [Read: Top 5 Handheld Games Consoles]
XBOX 360 Wireless Controller – All Round Wireless Game Controller
The first device in our Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC list is the XBOX 360 wireless controller. Without a doubt this is still one of the best controllers for the PC despite newer incarnations. It is very similar to the newer XBOX One device but being from a previous generation of console it comes with a lower price tag. As with all Microsoft gaming products the build quality is excellent. You won’t have any connectivity issues to interrupt your games. The controllers are available in black and white and so will suite the majority of HTPC media centre solutions. Each wireless gamepad features two analogue sticks, a directional pad, 6 configurable buttons on the face and a series of triggers. These can easily be configured to work with both your steam libraries or retro emulators. [Read: Xenia Project – The Working XBOX 360 Emulator for PC]
The XBOX 360 wireless controller uses 2.4 GHz high-performance wireless technology to connect to your PC or games console. This provides flawless connectivity and a range of up to 30 feet. Stream content to other rooms in your house and use the XBOX 360 controller to navigate on your main system. XBOX 360 controllers also give you the ability to connect XBOX live headsets adding another dimension to your gaming. The controllers are extremely responsive, look great and are available at the right price. To connect an XBOX 360 wireless controller to your PC you will need the XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver (sold separately).
Read our full XBOX 360 Wireless Controller review.
The XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver is a USB device designed for a Windows PC. It allows connectivity of multiple XBOX 360 controllers to your system. You can connect up to four controllers opening the door to multiplayer HTPC gaming. Installation is simple. The device is plug and play on the later versions of Windows and can be setup in minutes. It comes with a long USB cable allowing you to position the receiver in the optimum place in your living room.
To connect an XBOX 360 wireless controller simply
press the Pairing button on both the receiver and the gamepad. The two devices will hook up in seconds ready for gaming. Although this isn’t a gamepad it is an essential accessory when looking for the best PC game controllers for HTPC. This receiver only supports XBOX 360 wireless controllers. If you have a Bluetooth controller for PC you will need a Bluetooth gamepad dongle.
Read our full XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver review.
Steam Controller by Valve – Best PC Game Controller for Steam
If PC titles are your thing then without doubt the best PC game controller for Steam is the vendors own device. This is the first PC game controller by the leading online PC game vendor and it’s a truly excellent device. The Steam Controller is built to be used with most game titles and even those that were not designed for gamepad use. The biggest unique selling point with this controller is its use of mouse pads (track pads). The controller features two track pads on either side meaning that you can easily operate your point and click games. As with all good game controllers you get an analogue stick, a set of actions buttons and a number of triggers on the rear/top of the gamepad.
As you would expect from such a vendor the build quality of the Steam Controller is excellent. The device feels great in the hand and is easy to navigate. The buttons are positioned in terms of frequency of use providing the most comfortable gaming experience. The connectivity is seamless and you should not see any connection dropouts in your gaming. The Steam Controller allows you to configure profiles for different games and there is also an extensive library of these in the Steam Community. The Steam controller is one of the best purpose built PC game controllers on the internet today and is available at a fantastic price. With its touch pad functionality the Steam controller is also one of the best PC Game Controllers for Emulators.
PS4 Dual Shock Controller Wireless – Classic Controller Design
Generally speaking PC controllers seem to be the poor relation when compared to games consoles. The games console market is extremely competitive and this leads to better quality products. The good news for PC users is that the latest games console controllers are compatible with PC. Here we feature another games console controller. The original Playstation controller was an innovative design and the Playstation 4 Dual Shock controller is vastly improved. The PS4 Dual Shock is available in both wired and wireless forms. If you opt for the wireless version you will need the Sony DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor.
The controller features two analogue sticks and the standard Playstation action buttons including the 4 triggers on the top of the device. It also features the rumble packs that came in at the time of the PS2 console. New to the Playstation 4 Dual Shock controller is the multi-touch and clickable touch pad on the face offering a new dimension to your gaming. It also has a built-in speaker and stereo headset jack on the controller providing wireless audio to the user. The Playstation 4 Dual Shock controller is an excellent choice for the PC gamer and is also one of the best PC game controllers for emulators and retro classics. [Read: How to Play Games on Kodi]
XBOX One Elite – The Luxury Game Controller
If you are looking for a luxury game controller and want something special then look no further than the XBOX 360 Elite. This controller offers pro-level precision and a whole host of customisable features to give you an edge over your opponents. The Elite has the same initial layout as the XBOX 360 controller with many of the parts being interchangeable. You can adjust both the directional pads and analogue sticks to better suite you and your style of gaming. If required you can connect a set of rear paddles to add additional control options to your play. The accompanying easy-to-use app allows you to customise your controller to its limits and in ways you never thought possible. [Read: Top Mini ITX Cases for the Smallest HTPC Build]
The XBOX One Elite controller is certainly pricey when you compare it to a standard XBOX One device but this is the Ferrari of the game controller world. It’s rubberized diamond grip feels great in the hand and the whole device has a feel of class about it. To add to its prestige the XBOX One Elite comes with its own carry case. This will ensure that it stays in excellent condition. To use an XBOX One Elite controller with a PC you will need an XBOX Wireless adapter (sold separately). If you want a controller in a league of its own and you are happy to pay for it then the XBOX One Elite is for you. [Read: RPCS3 – The Working Playstation 3 (PS3) Emulator]
Logitech Gamepad F710 – Best Wireless Controller for PC
The Logitech Gamepad F710 has a similar layout to the Sony controllers. Logitech are one of the leading manufacturers of PC controllers and offers a broad range of gamepads, joysticks and mice. The Logitech Gamepad F710 is a wireless solution that uses 2.4GHz wireless connectivity. The controller comes in silver with a black rear and is fairly light in weight. It has the layout of the majority of modern gamepads with twin analogue sticks, directional pad and 4 action buttons. On the top of the controller there are 4 triggers and the F710 has built in rumble packs for in game vibrations. With the F710 you also get the option of profiling software where you can create separate profiles for individual game titles. The Logitech Gamepad F710 provides great value for money and you get a good all-round gaming device. [Read: Launchbox & Bigbox Emulator Frontend Review]
SteelSeries Stratus XL – Best Bluetooth Controller for PC
If you prefer a controller with a bit of meat to it then we recommend the SteelSeries Stratus XL bluetooth gamepad. Similarly to the very first XBOX controller the Sratus XL has an intentionally bulky size to it which many gamers prefer. You get two directional pads, four action buttons and the top triggers that we have all become accustomed to. Running along the mid section is a series of LEDs to let you know your player number when multiplayer gaming.
The Steel Series Stratus XL uses both XInput and DirectInput making it extremely compatible with a wide range of games. SteelSeries build good quality controllers and the Stratus XL is a real winner for those who want a larger device. The Stratus XL is a Bluetooth controller for PC. Ensure that your motherboard supports this standard or that you have a Bluetooth gamepad dongle (sold separately). [Read: Gaming on your HTPC]
Classic Games Console Controllers – Best PC Game Controllers for Emulators
If you are into emulators and retro gaming did you know that you can now get a range of USB classic controller replicas for PC? Due to the simplicity of many of these devices they are all very cost effective. There is no better way to play the original Mario Brothers game than with a NES controller or Sonic the Hedgehog with that of the Genesis. With replica retro gamepads available for the majority of classic consoles collect your set now. Each controller is simple to setup and can be fully configured within each system emulator. Some are wireless and a you may find the odd bluetooth controller for PC use. Below are some examples of the best PC Game Controllers for Emulators. [Read: Top 5 Emulator Frontends for your HTPC Media Centre]
Remember the time before the gamepad when all gaming was controlled by the joystick? These days joystick devices tend to be used only for flight simulator gaming and few modern titles really support them. If you are into retro gaming then why not add a joystick to your HTPC system and enjoy the games as they should be played. For this reason our Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC post must feature a joystick. The Logitech 963290-0403 Extreme 3D Pro is a top choice whether you are using the latest flight sim or an Amiga 500 emulator. If you are looking for one of the best PC Game Controllers for Emulators then definitely consider a joystick. [Read: Dolphin – The Nintendo Gamecube / Wii Emulator]
The stick features 12 programmable buttons and an 8-way rubber hat switch to give you the very best possible feel. The stick offers precision control and the programmable buttons allow you to setup sequences to execute when you need them. The Extreme 3D Pro offers a great build quality and feels great in your hand. As a top seller on Amazon the Logitech 963290-0403 Extreme 3D Pro should be at the top of your best joysticks for PC list. [Read: Best Motherboard for Gaming]
Mayflash F300 Arcade Fight Stick – For Arcade Games & Emulators
And now for the first arcade stick in our Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC list. If you are into retro gaming and particularly old arcade classics then an arcade stick is a must. There are a number of these available on the internet but in most cases they lack quality and feel rather flimsy. A top PC arcade stick is the Mayflash F300 Arcade fight stick. It provides everything you need for the arcade gaming experience and looks great. It is compatible with PC, PS3, PS4, XBOX One, XBOX 360 and Android based devices. The Mayflash F300 is the perfect size and will sit niceley on a table top or can be used on your lap. The Mayflash F300 can be one of the best PC game controllers for emulators particularly if you are into arcade titles.
The layout of the device compliments that of the majority of modern game pads. It features an analogue stick on the left and then all of the action buttons and triggers found on most games console pads on the right. The Mayflash F300 supports both Xinput and Dinput PC drivers and there is a switch at the top of the base for easily switching between the two.
With retro arcade gaming you want the ability to use turbo buttons and the Mayflash F300 allows just that. Flip another switch on the base to unlock turbo fire. Decent arcade sticks are few and far between and if you want the true arcade experience the Mayflash F33 Arcade Fight Stick will not let you down. The only small negative is that it is not wireless. Without doubt the Mayflash F300 is one of the best PC game controllers for HTPC if you are using arcade classics.
Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC – Final Thoughts
Beware when buying a gamepad for PC that many of the cheaper options offer a low build quality and poor connectivity. It is fair to say that the PC gaming market is the poor relation when it comes to game controllers. A good gamepad can be hard to find. All of the game controllers in this Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC list are well built and will fully enhance your gaming experience. Whether you are looking for a traditional bluetooth controller for PC, a retro classic or arcade sticks there should be something for you. If you buy a bluetooth controller for PC please ensure that your motherboard support is or you have a dongle.