Do you own a PlayStation 4 and want to know how to use it with a computer? The DualShock 4 can be used with a PC. You have found the correct location! The DualShock 4 was developed for the PlayStation 4, but it can be easily connected to a computer, making it a more natural and efficient alternative to using a mouse and keyboard for gaming.
- Grounded How To Get Started Update 12/2023
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons Guide – How To Buy And Sell Turnips? Update 12/2023
- Satisfactory Guide for Beginners: Tips and Tricks Update 12/2023
- Bennett Build Guide Genshin Impact Update 12/2023
- Overwatch Guide for Beginners: Tips and Tricks Update 12/2023
When playing a game that calls for quick reactions and fast movements, many of the best PC games are best experienced with a controller. If you’ve spent the money on the best gaming PC, a controller will let you kick back and relax while you play, maximizing your satisfaction.
The PS4 controller is one of the best PC controllers because it has all the buttons that the vast majority of PC controller-based games call for. This makes the transition from keyboard and mouse to controller seamless. As long as you’re running a supported OS, using a DualShock 4 controller from a PlayStation 4 with a computer is a breeze. If so, the controller, a computer running Windows or Mac OS X, and a USB port are all you need to get started. If you’d rather not wire anything, Bluetooth may be an option on your computer.
The PS4 DualShock 4 controller can be used on PC, with the exception of the audio jack. It is not a major problem, though; just connect your headphones directly to your computer, or better yet, get the top wireless headphones so you can play games without tripping over wires. Some gamers find the minor inconvenience of using a console controller instead of a mouse and keyboard to be well worth the benefits they receive when playing their favorite games.
So, without further ado, let’s walk through the process of connecting a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller to a computer. Try one out with today’s cutting-edge PC games, and you might never go back to your old rig.
How to use the PS4 DualShock controller in Steam
Steam, a popular digital distribution platform and video game client, has updated its software (opens in new tab) to support the use of the PlayStation 4 (PS4) DualShock 4 controller on the PC.
The Dualshock 4 controller works flawlessly with PC games and simply plugs into a USB port. In-game PS4 button prompts have been added, and the TV-friendly Big Picture Mode of Steam can be controlled with the DualShock 4.
Start Steam, click “Check for Updates,” and wait for the latest update to install before plugging in your DualShock 4 (or connecting via Bluetooth) and playing PS4 games on your PC.
Not everyone will benefit from this workaround, so keep reading to learn how to use a DualShock 4 controller on a PC without the aid of Steam.
How to use the PS4 controller on PC
1. Download DS4Windows
While it’s not particularly difficult to learn how to use a DualShock 4 controller from a PlayStation 4 with a computer, you will need to download and install some additional software in order to make it work.
Connecting your PS4 controller to your computer has never been easier than with this program, known as DS4Windows(opens in new tab). The DualShock 4 can be used with Windows by tricking the computer into thinking it is an Xbox 360 controller.
Simply grab the most recent release from the DS4Windows GitHub page to get your hands on it.
2. Install DS4Windows
Find the archive you just downloaded, and then click the right mouse button and select “Extract All.” ’
There will be a window that prompts you to select a destination for the extracted files. You have the option of extracting the files wherever you like, including the folder from which you originally downloaded the zip file.
Both of these files will be present in the destination folder once the extraction is complete. One is DS4Updater.exe, which, if problems arise in the future, can be run to ensure that the DS4Windows program is always up-to-date with the most recent drivers.
To get the PS4 DualShock Controller working on your PC, double-click the second file, DS4Windows.exe.
3. Set up DS4Windows
We suggest leaving the default option of “Appdata” selected when prompted to save your preferences and profiles the first time you launch DS4Windows.
The current tab will close and a new one will pop up. To use the PS4 DualShock controller with Windows 8, 8.1, or 10, select “Install the DS4 Driver” from the drop-down menu.
If you’re using Windows 7 or an earlier version of Windows, select “Install 360 Driver.”
4. Connect the PS4 controller to your PC via USB
It is now possible to link a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller to a personal computer. Either a USB cable or wireless Bluetooth can be used for this purpose.
You can use any standard micro USB cable, like the kind that comes with most modern smartphones, to link your PS4 DualShock controller to your personal computer.
Once you connect the DualShock controller to your PC via the provided cable, Windows should recognize the controller and allow you to use it to play games on your computer.
5. Connect the PS4 controller to your PC via Bluetooth
Using a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller on a PC is great because it allows you to play with much more mobility thanks to the controller’s wireless functionality.
For use with the PS4 DualShock 4 controller, a Bluetooth-enabled computer or laptop is required. You can get a Bluetooth USB dongle if that doesn’t work; for suggestions, have a look at our rundown of the best wireless adapters.
Simply press and hold the central PS Button and the Share button for three seconds, until the lightbar at the top of the controller begins to flash, and the PS4 controller will connect wirelessly via Bluetooth.
It’s next necessary to access your computer’s Bluetooth configurations. A speech bubble icon can be accessed in the Windows 10 Taskbar by pressing the right mouse button. This brings up the Control Panel; from there, go to the Bluetooth section and pick the Wireless Controller option.
If prompted for a pair code, enter “0000.” Your PlayStation 4 DualShock controller can now be used with your computer via its wireless USB dongle.
Best PC controller 2022: the Digital Foundry buyer’s guide to gamepads
How did we choose?
We put every listed controller through its paces in games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Forza Horizon 5, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider over the course of at least two weeks, and in some cases, years. In order to find the best PC gamepad, we looked at each one’s compatibility with a variety of games, their level of usability, and the features they offered. Besides our top pick that should work for the vast majority of gamers, we also have recommendations based on price range, compatibility with games that don’t have native controller support, and the ability to play on mobile devices as well as desktop computers.
Please note that some ad blockers remove our “where to buy” widget, so if you want to see pricing information you may need to disable ad blockers for this page.
Look down to see everything included, or use the links to jump to specific sections!
Best PC controller: Xbox Wireless Controller
Most people find the Xbox Wireless Controller to be the best PC controller. This Xbox controller from the Series X/S era is compatible out of the box with a wide variety of PC games, can be used with a wire, Bluetooth, or 2.4GHz wirelessly, and comes in a variety of colors at a reasonable price. Similarly well-made is the Microsoft controller, which features responsive triggers and a generously sized, ergonomic design.
Although the controller has benefits, it also has some drawbacks. The Xbox Series controller is powered by AA batteries and can’t be charged without the additional purchase of a £20/$25 Play and Charge Kit, which includes a Micro USB cable. Additionally, Microsoft’s low-latency 2.4GHz wireless isn’t supported natively on most PCs, necessitating the purchase of a £20/$25 Wireless Adapter.
- Support for PC games that is unrivaled, and doesn’t rely on additional software
- Connectivity via low-latency 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth
- Variety of colors and designs to choose from
- Uses AA batteries, and a rechargeable option is available for purchase.
The Turtle Beach Recon is an inexpensive wired alternative that is well suited for Xbox gamers. It’s surprisingly feature-rich for a £50 controller, with remappable rear buttons, multiple modes, and textured grips, and it works well with a wide variety of PC games. It’s a clever way to make even the most basic headset feel more expensive than it actually is, as the 3.5mm port gives you access to convenient audio controls for any device you connect to it. If that sounds like a good balance of features, we’d recommend it over the standard Xbox controller — though we know it will be tough for some to give up wireless.
Runner-up: Sony DualSense (PS5) Controller
Aside from the Xbox Wireless Controller, we also recommend the Sony DualSense PS5 controller. It has superior triggers, is more comfortable to use than a DualShock for all but the smallest hands, and is symmetrical, which is a plus for some. It’s more cost-effective in the long run than the Xbox controller because it can be charged with a USB-C cable, eliminating the need to purchase expensive rechargeable batteries or replace disposable ones. Even though most games will display Xbox button prompts instead, the included gyroscope makes it possible to play some emulated games that require it.
The controller only has one minor drawback, and that’s the requirement of installing third-party software to make it work on Windows. The DS4Windows software, which is available for no cost and with minimal learning curve, surpasses the Xbox Accessories app in functionality. Big Picture mode in Steam works with both Steam and non-Steam games, and it features native support for the DualSense.
Likewise, manufacturers like Scuf and MegaModz are starting to release the first custom PS5 controllers. For this review, we put MegaModz’s custom DualSense controller through its paces; it featured a unique shell, mechanical shoulder/face buttons, and detachable thumbsticks. Thanks to these mechanical improvements, the controller is a joy to use, and it’s refreshing to see a PlayStation 5 controller in a color scheme other than black, white, and gray. Although the price of a custom controller is higher than that of a standard DualSense, it may be justified if you spend a great deal of time playing games that support controllers on PC and PS5.
- An ergonomic joystick with top-notch triggers
- No batteries or dongle needed for wireless operation
- The trackpad is a good alternative to the mouse if you don’t have one on hand.
- Needs additional driver software to function properly.
- Inconsistencies between controller design and button prompts are common.
- Pricey, but the DualShock 4 can be had for a lower sum
Best premium PC controller: Xbox One Elite Series 2 Controller
The Xbox One Elite Series 2 is the best controller we’ve tested if you’re willing to spend a little more money. It has responsive and tight controls, with clicky face buttons and a generous grippy coating for a comfortable grip. Stick sensitivity can be adjusted, and you can choose between a standard four-way d-pad or a circular eight-way d-pad, among other customization options. It’s also impressive that you can switch between three different trigger sensitivity settings with the flick of a switch. Even if you want even more control, you can rebind the paddles to keyboard commands with third-party software like ReWASD, though the built-in tools have been greatly improved.
The Series 2 is an upgrade over the original by adding Bluetooth connectivity, a headphone jack, and USB-C charging via the included stand or a USB-C cable, making it functionally equivalent to the latest standard Xbox One controller. While the included rechargeable battery may be more practical than the old AA-battery setup, it is not user-replaceable. You can learn more about the improvements made in this newer version of the Elite Controller by reading our review of the previous version.
Unsurprisingly for a high-end product, the Series 2 has not had the smoothest launch, with some early adopters reporting quality control issues such as face buttons that only work sometimes or sticks that wander. In spite of its flaws, the Elite Series 2 is still a great choice; just make sure to put it through its paces during the return/exchange process and shop at a reputable store. Please take advantage of Microsoft’s own 90-day warranty in the United States and Canada, or one-year warranty in the United Kingdom, if your device ever stops working properly.
- Extremely flexible configuration of both hardware and software
- Excellent tactile feedback and a smooth, pleasant texture.
- With convenient extras like Bluetooth and USB-C charging
- Concerns about durability are warranted for a luxury item.
- A rechargeable battery cannot be swapped out by the user.
Best cheap controller for PC gaming: Xbox 360 Controller
One of the least expensive ways to get into console-style PC gaming is with an Xbox 360 controller, especially a wired one. In today’s market, it’s simple to acquire enough controllers for everyone, as both imitation and used versions are widely available. While the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers are more comfortable to hold and less likely to show signs of wear and tear, this controller will do the trick and cost much less if you only occasionally use a gamepad.
- Used versions are cheaply available.
- PC games typically support it.
- The ergonomics and feel are inferior to more modern controllers.
- Those who want to play their PC games wirelessly with a wireless model will need to purchase a wireless gaming receiver.
Best third-party PC controller: Razer Wolverine V2
Even though Microsoft and Sony have been in the game controller business for decades, many gamers prefer to use a different brand of controller. The Razer Wolverine V2 is a great choice because it has mechanical buttons that are both clicky and satisfying to use for the face button, hair triggers, and two additional buttons on the back. A more comfortable shape replaces the extra paddles found on the older Wolverine Tournament Edition. Hours were spent playing games like Tetris Effect on this pad without a hitch; the only drawback was that switching back to a regular controller, which lacked that tactile feedback, was difficult.
You can remap the buttons and adjust the Wolverine’s sensitivity in the Razer Controller Setup for Xbox app, which is downloadable for both Xbox and PC. The Wolverine V2 is more expensive than a regular first-party controller, but if you play a lot of PC games that support gamepads, it is an investment well worth making.
- Recommended mapping and editing software
- Solidly built with controls that are tight, tactile, and often clicky
- For a wired controller, it’s quite pricey (though less so than the Wolverine TE).
- does not have the metal parts of the Xbox One Elite controller despite being priced similarly.
Runner-up third-party PC controller: Astro C40 TR
The Astro C40 TR is a third-party alternative that performs admirably. A semi-modular design allows for thumbstick and d-pad placements compatible with both the Xbox and PlayStation, and the controller’s high quality of construction and design are fitting of its high price. We appreciated the inclusion of the taller thumb sticks, which, after a short learning curve, provide a greater degree of control. The two buttons on the back are also ingeniously placed, providing just the right amount of resistance to prevent accidental presses while still being easy to reach. It’s convenient that you can assign each button to anything else in a flash, without having to fiddle with the settings or switch profiles.
The software is well worth exploring; you can tweak a wide variety of settings, from trigger sensitivity to stick dead zones, and the profile creation process is simple enough that you won’t mind doing it before each new game. It connects to your device via a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle, though a wired Micro USB connection is available if you prefer. The C40 TR’s battery life impressed us during testing, and it only needed to be recharged twice over the course of two weeks. A sturdy carrying case is included for the controller and its extras. This is a great option if you own a PS4 and a PC and want to upgrade your gaming experience with a premium controller.
- Controls are responsive, and the shoulder buttons click with ease.
- Modularity and user-friendliness in abundance
- Unlike the Razer Wolverine, it does not have any additional face buttons.
- PlayStation 5 compatibility not ensured.
Best small PC controller: Nacon Rig Pro Compact
The Nacon Rig Pro Compact is a more portable alternative to official Xbox controllers. For the large population segment with smaller hands, this is a more practical option. Even the controller’s middle buttons—Menu, Select, and Share—have been moved to the sides to make them more accessible. Additionally, the gamepad features unusual short-throw triggers, which are ideal for shooters where the trigger is essentially a binary input and where being able to actuate it more quickly can help you win some battles, but are less desirable for racing games where you need more precise throttle and brake control. Though it’s tough to crack the Pro Compact’s sturdy exterior, the device’s light weight gives it a hollow sensation. Dolby Atmos for Xbox and PC is included with this Nacon controller; to activate it, download the Dolby Atmos app from the Windows or Xbox store and run it while wearing a compatible headset to receive a free permanent license (normally $15). The Pro Compact app is available for both systems, and it lets you change things like button mapping and analog stick sensitivity. When compared to the price of a regular Xbox controller, the total package is quite convincing.
- Compact design is ideal for those with smaller hands.
- A Dolby Atmos for Headphones license is included for Xbox One and PC users.
- Short-travel triggers are preferable for shooting.
- Totally wired; no wireless access allowed.
- Close proximity of menu button and other controls
- Compact triggers with a short travel distance.
Most customisable PC controller: Scuf Instinct / Instinct Pro
Both the Scuf Instinct and Scuf Instinct Pro are highly modifiable Xbox and PC gamepads. I went with a controller that featured a cool topographical map design in blue and gold, complete with gold face buttons, black sticks, and grey d-pad, shoulder buttons, and triggers. Eleven different parts of the controller can be customized, with options ranging from removing the rumble motors for a lighter gamepad to using sticks of varying shapes. (Scuf’s older Xbox One era Prestige controller has even more color options – the company assured me that the Instinct series will have the same number of options in the future.) Although the rubber grips and additional buttons on the back of the Pro model could come in handy at the highest levels of competition, they are unnecessary extras that could be cut from the budget if necessary.
The Instinct series employs the same circuit board and pairing mechanism as Microsoft’s controllers, allowing for their use on PC via wired USB-C, wireless Bluetooth, or lower-latency Xbox Wireless with a separate Xbox Wireless Adapter dongle. This also means they can take advantage of Microsoft’s latency enhancements and receive new firmware updates as they become available. Each Instinct gamepad has a button for muting the headset and three profiles that let you change the controller’s settings for individual games.
It’s tough to recommend this controller over the similarly priced Xbox Elite Series 2. The Elite Series 2 is more satisfying to hold thanks to its solid construction, clicky buttons, and well-positioned triggers, but the Instinct Pro is more portable thanks to its shorter trigger travel and sleeker body. If not for the Elite Series 2’s reliability issues, I might choose it, but the Instinct Pro’s modifiable design makes it a viable alternative.
- Allows you to put your own spin on things visually
- The Instinct Pro version has shorter trigger travel and improved ergonomics.
- Functionally identical to the official Xbox Series X/S controller
- Once fully customized, the price is extremely high.
- The face buttons and directional pad aren’t quite up to par with the best controllers from Microsoft and Razer.
Runner-up customisable controller: Victrix Gambit
If you’d rather personalize your controller after purchase, the Victrix Gambit is a good alternative. Circular or octagonal rings can be used for each thumb stick, and there is also a rubbery top plate for noiseless gameplay. The included carry case, two- or four-way directional pads, short- or long-length thumb sticks, and two- or four-way rear paddles are also standards. The results of my adjustments were immediately apparent, and the rubberized top plate was a particularly nice touch. While the placement of the start and select buttons may take some getting used to, the overall build quality is excellent, with satisfyingly smooth triggers and slightly tactile face buttons. Due to its lack of wireless connectivity, I would recommend this controller more for use on a desktop computer than for couch-bound gaming. Unlike some other controllers I’ve tried recently, this one has a cable that is relatively pliable and soft. Victrix claims to have a dual-core design, which splits the input and audio processing into their own processors to decrease input latency, but I lack the resources to verify this, and I didn’t notice any significant improvement or degradation in the controller’s performance relative to other options. There’s enough here to keep the Gambit on my desk so I can keep playing Forza Horizon 5 for another hundred dollars, and I think that’s fair.
- Wide variety of personalization choices available.
- The controller’s high build quality makes it a joy to use.
- Similar in function to the official Xbox Series X/S controller
- The layout of some of the buttons that are rarely used is unconventional.
- The top plates conceal a cool, see-through body.
- There is no wireless access
Best controller for PC, iOS and Android: SteelSeries Stratus Duo
Another innovative controller from SteelSeries, the Stratus Duo focuses on cross-platform play. The Stratus Duo can be wired into computers with the help of a 2.4GHz USB dongle, but it can also pair with Bluetooth devices like smartphones and tablets with the flip of a switch on the back. Bluetooth mode drains the battery more quickly, but since your phone is optimized for quick bursts of gameplay, this isn’t a major issue. Even though the Stratus Duo is compatible with both iOS and Android, not all games have native support for gamepads. However, the Stratus Duo performs admirably when used to play Fortnite or an emulated Super Nintendo game. The controller appears to be well made, and the controls feel responsive, but the button layout is less than ideal; I had trouble reaching the middle buttons without my thumbs getting caught in the analog sticks. It’s disappointing that the SmartGrip accessory, which is required for actually mounting the controller to your phone, costs an extra $10/£10 on top of the purchase price.
- Permits 2.4 GHz wireless connections (laptops) and 4.0 Bluetooth connections (mobile devices).
- Solid choice for virtual reality gaming on the go
- The SmartGrip, a mounting accessory for your phone, can be purchased for $10.
- Bluetooth’s short battery life
Best MFi controller for iPhone and iPad: SteelSeries Nimbus
The SteelSeries Nimbus , while not as cross-platform as the Stratus we highlighted earlier, is larger and more comfortable and uses Lightning charging (the same as the iPhone). If you don’t need support for Android, it’s a better option. As a bonus, it comes with an iPhone clip in the packaging, which is something we criticized the Stratus for lacking. The iPad Mini is too large for the Stratus ‘s expanding jaws, so if you want to use the Stratus with an iPad, you should look for a case with a kickstand or a dedicated stand instead. The Nimbus ‘s d-pad, buttons, and thumbsticks all have a satisfying click when used. The Nimbus , which retails for just a tad more than a regular console gamepad, is a fantastic option for those who want to make the most of the App Store’s and Apple Arcade’s surprisingly extensive library of iOS games.
- A d-pad and buttons that are both tactile and responsive
- An iPhone clip is included for your convenience.
- This is not the most convenient choice due to its bulky dimensions.
Best controller for Android: PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus
The PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus, with its surprisingly high build quality, convenient clip-on form factor, and clever built-in 3000mAh portable charger, is one of the best Android controllers we’ve ever used. Mobile gaming is notoriously draining on battery life, so any measures taken to mitigate this issue are much appreciated. Tactilely, the controller is adequate, though it falls short of the brand new Xbox or PlayStation gamepad in terms of precision and firmness (the d-pad and face buttons are a little mushy). However, the value you receive is commensurate with the cost.
However, not all native Android games support wired controllers, while more games appear to work with Bluetooth gamepads like the Xbox One controller. If it is the native games that are inspiring you to think about a gamepad, then you should definitely do some online research on your favorite titles before making a final decision. However, the Moga XP5-X is a significant improvement in both tactility and control for games that have support for it.
Take into account the Razer Kishi as an alternate. As an alternative form factor, it clips around your phone like a giant Nintendo Switch. It has a wide frame that can hold all but the largest mobiles, like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and a USB-C pass-through port that allows for charging and gaming at the same time. Spongy buttons, however, fall short of Razer’s usual stellar standards and disqualify this option from first place.
- Portable gaming comfort in a compact package
- It’s convenient to be able to power up your phone while you play.
- Very helpful for playing Android games not only on your device, but also in the cloud.
- The art of striking the right phone-use balance
- Although it can be carried around easily, it is not exactly pocketable.
Best of the rest: other controllers we tested
Due to the length of the main article, we have limited our recommendations to just eight controllers. Here are some quick impressions of the other controllers we’ve tried, including a few that came close to cracking our top eight.
At £30, PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Xbox One Controller is a bargain compared to Microsoft’s official Xbox One gamepad. Wireless connectivity and a smidgen of build quality are sacrificed, but seven-color edge and button lighting, two programmable rear buttons, and three levels of trigger locks are added in exchange. The most restricted setting on both triggers resulted in different amounts of movement during our testing, but other than that, the controller provides a decent gaming experience and looks good doing it. If you don’t need wireless connectivity and the additional features are valuable to you, this is a good option.
Thrustmaster eSwap Pro: This controller is another great example of the modular controller concept and comes very close to making our top five. There is no wireless connectivity or hair triggers, and the small buttons on the back are more difficult to use than those on the Astro C40 TR, but the clicky buttons and tool-free hot-swappable modules are exceptional. Nevertheless, the C40 TR’s price tag makes this an attractive alternative.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is an excellent first-party controller with a long battery life, but it is more expensive than similar options and doesn’t have any special features beyond being compatible with the Switch and having a neat see-through design.
Although the Razer Raiju Mobile has clicky buttons, good ergonomics, and a built-in smartphone clip, its unusual default bindings on PC require manual remapping in each game. The SteelSeries Stratus Duo, in contrast, performs admirably on PC right out of the box.
Microsoft’s Elite Controller (Series 1) was a fantastic controller, but for the same price, you can get the newer, improved Elite (Series 2), which has even more features and a superior tactile feel. If you can’t stand the Series 2’s nonremovable battery or find a good used one for cheap, you should look elsewhere.
Poor design and construction mar the Nacon Pro Controller 3’s performance. Loose shoulder buttons and sluggish analog sticks are only part of the problem; where the controller’s extra buttons are located is a bigger turnoff. In place of paddles, Nacon included a quartet of small buttons on the lower grips. These buttons are within easy reach, which is helpful, but they are also easily triggered accidentally and difficult to distinguish. In a market as saturated as the premium controller segment, this makes the NPC3 a tough sell.
Wildcat by Razer: This Xbox 360 controller isn’t made anymore, but if you can find one used for cheap, it’s a good option. The Razer Wolverine, on the other hand, has superior ergonomics and a sleeker design.
This is the whole picture, then. We will keep testing new gamepads and controllers to update our suggestions, and we encourage you to share your experiences and thoughts with us in the section below.