How to use gaming controllers on your PC

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Using a controller on your PC is a popular alternative for gamers who don’t want the traditional mouse and keyboard combo, and the good news is that a number of classic and modern console controllers – including Xbox and PlayStation – are PC compatible. With brands offering their take on specially designed controllers for PC gaming each year, many gamers appear to find console controllers just as easy to use on PC.

With plenty of PC controllers on the market with varying features and ergonomics, sometimes it’s difficult to make the best choice for your dream gaming setup. Canstar Blue investigates below as to what controllers are available, and what to expect when setting up your new controller to your PC.

Can you use gaming controllers with your PC?

Gaming Controller & Keyboard

Contrary to popular belief, most controllers are actually built with PC compatibility in mind, whether it’s using a USB cord, or through Bluetooth technology to connect your controller wirelessly. Here are some popular controllers that are PC compatible:

  • Microsoft Xbox One Controller
  • Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller
  • Sony DualShock PlayStation 4 Controller
  • Sony DualShock PlayStation 3 Controller
  • Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
  • Logitech F310 Controller
  • Steam Controller
  • Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller

How to use a PS4 controller with your PC

PS4 Controller

The Sony DualShock 4 controller can be linked to your PC via Bluetooth or USB, with additional software available online if your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to connect your PS4 controller to your PC via USB and Bluetooth.

How to connect your PS4 controller to your PC via Bluetooth

  1. Ensure your PS4 console is turned off to allow your controller to link to your PC.
  2. From the menu tab of your Windows PC, select ‘Settings’.
  3. Click ‘Bluetooth and other device settings’ and make sure Bluetooth is switched on.
  4. Press down on both the middle PlayStation button and Share button on your controller until you see your controller flashing.
  5. Click on ‘Bluetooth and other device settings’ on your PC and select ‘Add a device’.
  6. Select ‘Wireless Controller’ on the list of available devices, where your controller should connect automatically.
  7. You’re good to go!

How to connect your PS4 controller to your PC via USB

  1. Ensure your computer is running the latest software updates.
  2. Plug in your DualShock 4 controller via micro-USB cable to any available slot on your PC.
  3. Configure any plug-ins for the controller.
  4. You’re good to go!

How to use an Xbox One controller with your PC

Xbox One Controller

With Xbox and Windows both being in the family of Microsoft, connecting your Xbox One controller to your PC is pretty easy. If you’ve bought an Xbox controller in the past few years there’s a good chance it is Bluetooth enabled, but for the traditional Xbox One controllers a wireless dongle will be required.

How to connect your Xbox One controller to your PC via USB

  1. Ensure your Xbox One console is turned off to allow your controller to link to your PC.
  2. From the menu tab of your Windows PC, select ‘Settings’.
  3. Click ‘Bluetooth and other device settings’ and make sure Bluetooth is switched on.
  4. Hold the guide button down (Xbox logo) on your controller until it starts to flash to search for a pairing.
  5. Click on ‘Bluetooth and other device settings’ on your PC and select ‘Add a device’.
  6. Select ‘Xbox Wireless Controller’ on the list of available devices, where your controller should connect automatically.
  7. You’re good to go!

How to connect your Xbox One controller to your PC via USB

  1. Ensure your computer is running the latest software updates.
  2. Plug in your Xbox One controller via micro-USB cable to any available slot on your PC.
  3. Configure any plug-ins for the controller.
  4. You’re good to go!

If you have the older Xbox One controller, or don’t have Bluetooth on your PC but still want wireless play, then you’ll need to purchase the Xbox Wireless Adaptor for Window, retailing for approximately $29. This adaptor is designed to mimic the console/controller pairing as you simply plug in the USB dongle and press the pairing button on each device to connect directly to your PC!

Are there any benefits to using a controller on my PC?

Gaming on laptop

There are several benefits to using a controller rather than the traditional mouse and keyboard combination, as the controller’s analog inputs allow for a much more diverse range of movements, including moving slower in stealth situations, fine-tuning angles in driving scenarios and arguably a more comfortable setup for some gamers, depending on your preference. The keyboard and mouse can also be detrimental to desk space, as handheld controllers take up little to no space and are easily portable, making it an ideal option for gamers on the go. However, you can still enjoy PC gaming without a console controller, but it’s always good to have the option!

Where can I buy adaptors or USB controllers for my PC?

If you’re looking to get on the PC controller bandwagon, electronic retailers and gaming stores offer a variety of PC compatible models, with stores including JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, EB Games as well as through brands directly such as the Microsoft store.

Is it worth using a gaming controller with a PC?

Gaming controller laptop

Working out what the perfect controller is for your PC will depend on a number of factors, including your PC setup, what games you traditionally play, and if you prefer wireless over having to navigate an extra wire during your gaming session. With both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers the order of the day for modern gamers, switching from a console to a PC while still using the same controller can help you enjoy games more with familiar controls, while other controller brands may be worth exploring if you’re looking to expand your gaming horizons, or looking for something more comfortable. However, at the end of the day, whichever controller helps you enjoy your games more is always a winner in our books.

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