Initially mysterious device, gamepads have later become the continuation of our hands on the way to a console and not a distinct gadget. But firstly personal computer and video game console were walking their separate ways that did not even overlap. The long-awaited meeting has recently taken place. Games for various consoles and personal computer become the same. Of course, the format is different but the game itself is the same.
This is the moment the Golden Age of gamepads starts with. And don't call me, like, a boy. I know that they were attached to the computer long ago but it is now the dawn of this industry. Today a miracle is going to happen right in front of your eyes. Or it isn't.
We'll hover over today's market, consider the leaders' positions, learn how to choose the right gamepad and, without any doubts, do our bit in the long discussion: Does a computer need it?
Traditionally, let's firstly understand how the exposed is organized, go over its basic characteristics. In the beginning, we highlight that a gamepad by definition differs from other computer accessories and iron.
While any other device can be designed for office, work, games, gamepad is designed only for gaming. It is impossible to make a poor shot and buy a model unsuitable for games. You can choose a good or bad, expensive or cheap gamepad. Let’s get started.
IMPORTANT FEATURES OF GAMEPADS
Cross-platform capability is quite a considerable aspect. While buying a gamepad for good money one expects it to function with any platform. It is not as simple as that. Firstly, even the operation system will not always suit. It is so, as sad as it sounds, but one will have to knock down their beloved old Windows and install its up-to-date version, at least the 7th one.
Problems may occur with drivers installation. All the best to Linux-lovers, but these guys got used to misfortune of life and will find a solution somewehere on the Web.
And finally, slot type. Of course, typical slot for PC is USB. But having bought an expensive gamepad, we nurture the hope that it will function with our console and even kettle. This is what is called cross-platform capability – the capability to connect with any device, preferably on the fly.
Wire or wireless – it is very difficult to give recommendations concerning this point, so I'm going to explain the difference to you and let you choose on your own.
The major positive points while using a wire unit is that gamepad is as light as possible and there are no limits of the play time. If you buy a wireless version, then you can play in any position and everywhere at home (what is essential is that the signal should be accessible). And if you are punished in a bicker, you always can clear your name by saying that it is the battery that has run down. This happens not fairly unfrequently.
Number of buttons – don't feast your eyes on models with buttons all the way around. How would you carry them in your hands? But minimalism is of no use as well. The number of buttons of choice is 10. If not all of them are needed, a pair of those remaining won’t bother you and when you need more, then there is a native-mode keyboard. Odd buttons at hand in tensioned arcade fights are of no use.
Analog sticks are those placed a bit lower than the buttons and are rotated with fingers. Groovy doodah. It is silly to buy a gamepad without them. I'd say it in other words but kids might be reading us. If you are going to play various simulators, full-immersion will occur only by using analog sticks. Generally, this kind of upgrade is missing only buy the cheapest. Don't have an itching palm, and if you don't have enough money – save it and buy a normal model later on.
Feedback – vibroback or simply punishment. It was you to lay open, and it is Sub-Zero to be knocked down. That’s unfair! Take that. You have crashed into a lamp post. Take that! You’ve been wounded in a shooter? Take that! The function allows to feel to the fullest what’s happening at the most accessible level of our time. Did it give an electric shock – it would be worth its weight in gold.
Establishment – to choose purely your gamepad, you must take it in your hands. It is to be very comfortable. Some have big palms, others – small palms. Some are butterfingered, others are not so butterfingered. Only having felt that it is comfortable, pleasant, doesn’t slip out, crack and creak, you can say for sure: this one is suitable.
If you are nervy, select the model after its crash-test, because mostly gamepad is a fragile device. You don’t need to throw it twice onto concrete to crash it. Well, who would do it…
9 BEST GAMEPADS REVIEW
As I have already said, the gamepad is a special thing on the market of computer devices. That is why the review of the best ones of the market is going to be in a bit unusual manner.
Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller & Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
You can't even say that these two are just leaders. These gamepads are firmly holding the market. Reasons for this are more numerous than needed. Their own ergonomic aspect which turned out very comfortable and practical. Full set of all the necessary functions. Non-standard placement of analog sticks and conventional buttons appeared comfortable. Gamepad gamers appreciated it.
The only difference between Microsoft Xbox Wired 360 Controller (~$28) & Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (~$34.95) indicated above is following: the first one is wire, the other one is wireless.
As it arises from the name, the gamepad is suitable for using both with PC and Xbox console. Certainly, there are some nuances that are funny rather than negative. Without them Microsoft would not be true to itself.
Its nearest competitors, which we will touch upon later, have sewn-in drivers which install automatically. These models don't. The gamepad by Microsoft doesn't identify Windows developed by Microsoft. I don't know if they amuse people on purpose or not. Everything works after drivers have been installed from a drive which goes as a set.
Moreover you need to go to the Microsoft website, search for and download suitable drivers to install a wireless version.
Price: ~ from $28 Check the current price
Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller
This is a decent descendant of its glorious ancestors and a #1 Best Seller in Xbox One Controllers category on Amazon.com. Advanced accuracy of work. The previous version was faultless, but you always have what to aspire at. That’s what we are going to. Classic ergonomics is preserved, but the hardware of Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller is improved, and the utility of major physical controllers is somehow changed.
Analog sticks suffered changes from Microsoft designers. D-pad has changed completely. The developers have made an announcement which is, to my mind, quite sound. What brings joy is the desire to move ahead and, hopefully, traditional bugs of the production by this IT-giant will also be fixed.
Price: ~$52.68 Check the current price
Razer Sabertooth Elite Gaming Controller for Xbox 360
Cross functional gaming controller from top developers of game devices Razer. Wire. This was the deliberate decision of the developers motivated by reducing lags and weight of the gamepad. The wire of the Razer Sabertooth Gaming Controller is portable and fixed by anchor bolt, which brings considerable advantages while taking it to a champ.
Battery's missing improved ergonomics and gave the possibility to add four more buttons. But if bottom buttons are useless, they can be undone with a screwdriver which goes as a set.
Don't think that you can profit from the button abundance during a game. Six of them are used only to program the other. The programming process is rather full-on, you’ll succeed only after a little jiggery-pokery with the manual. Analog sticks are placed asymmetrically. This is very comfortable with such a design of the gamepad. Both of them are covered with green hats. Coupling and game accuracy are improved. The price for this wired device is high. It is up to you to decide whether use it or not.
Price: ~$69.97 Check the current price
Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 & Logitech Gamepad F310
The nearest competitors of Microsoft. They also are an inseparable pair. Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 (~$39.99) is a wireless version, the second gamepad has a wire and USB interface. Logitech Gamepad F310 (~$19.99) lacks vibroback. All in all, everything is similar to the above-mentioned major competitor of Logitech in developing gamepads.
We recommend you the wireless edition!
Price: from ~$19.99 Check the current price
DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4 - Jet Black
This controller succeeded such a familiar, powerful and beloved DualShock 3. Let's begin with disadvantages. A relatively weak battery. Smart game mode indicator with very powerful LEDs, accelerometers and etc that mercilessly drain battery charge. It's enough only for a relatively short marathon – 5-7 hours.
You can save the situation by switching to the wired mode. However a cable is short! To charge the controller and play simultaneously sitting on the sofa, you should buy a special extension cord. While ordering an extension cord add stick covers. They wear off very quickly by themselves.
But what's important: these small disadvantages didn't prevent the controller from becoming #1 Best Seller in PlayStation 4 Controller category – and by the way this is over 7000 customers reviews on Amazon.com! DualShock 4 is appealing to the eye, the trackpad became a really cool solution – I would even call it the modification of the era. The Steam Controller went even further, and I suppose, Xbox guesses that it would be nice to attach such a thing either. The additional trackpad helps when navigating a browser, can be used as a mouse, helps to type text requests. In shooters, for example, you can throw a grenade by swiping a trackpad.
And for sure the controller is perfectly composed and rather robust. Falls on a tiled floor left no marks. It sits in the hands perfectly, doesn't slide off. The majority of users noticed that the new model is more comfortable and have given it an overall score 4.5 out of 5 stars. Just don't take fakes, use the original.
Price: ~$47.95 Check the current price
All of us have been waiting for it for a long time. And now after all the releases and expectations the controller finally came out. The tests have shown a pretty good result with the score 9 out of 10. So far the Steam Controller has already become one of the best sellers in PC Gamepads & Standard Controllers category on Amazon.com.
The main advantage is the new approach to the controller design. In any other controller everything is preset beforehand. The device will be either with analog sticks or buttons or d-pad or a trackball. When it comes to the Steam Controller – you decide this. 100% customization. It's up to you to decide what will help you in a battle, adjust it right up to small details. Blind area or compensation of it, sensitivity, gyroscope. Everything can be masterfully adjusted. (Editor's note: in my opinion, it's still more convenient to use the Microsoft controller for third person games, however, for strategies and RPG it's a really perfect decision).
The Steam Controller is equipped with batteries. You will forget where exactly they are installed as the discharge process happens very rarely. Good compatibility with old-school games. New products are already tailored for such devices, but during the times of the first Witcher and Heroes of Might and Magic III such marvels didn't even exist. The connection is perfect. Read over 700 customers reviews on Amazon.com, to convince yourself in all of this.
Among the minuses can be named software bugs in the Steam-client. Sometimes terrible glitches happen, that should be eliminated as soon as possible. However, in defense can be said that the manufacturers are aware of the problem and are working on it.
Taking into consideration all above mentioned pros and small cons – the price is quite affordable. Recommended for purchase!
Price: ~$49.99 Check the current price
MadCatz C.T.R.L.R Mobile Gamepad for Android, AmazonFireTV, SmartDevices, PC and M.O.J.O. Micro-Console
MadCatz C.T.R.L.R Mobile Gamepad is a multipurpose device among controllers. Basically, play on what you prefer, but for the consoles. This is an excellent wireless device for any conditions. It can be connected to PC without any tricks and troubles. It also works well with android. And a built-in handle provides an opportunity to fix a rather big device.
The controller works with the Amazon TV console. It's equipped with all control points – d-pad, two analog sticks and 4 buttons. The compatibility mode can be changed with one switch placed on the back panel.
Price: ~$49.98 Check the current price
That is all. This is that above-mentioned surprise and off-size. You might start to cry: «There are plenty of other gamepads!» Yes, there are. But their fraction of the market in sum equals 6-8% while there are more than one hundred names. So they are not deserving of their own place in my top rating. Of course, there is also anonymous and miraculous China. Or I'd say not anonymous, but having so many names that you can list them in a whole book. And another 10% belong to it. Well, that's cheap and nasty. But you will play only once with them, and some buttons might be not functioning, but it satisfies many people. And the remaining fraction of the market is taken by the three brands from my top-list.
Wired and Wireless Gamepads Comparison Chart
Type of connection
Number of buttons
|Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller||wired||
Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
|Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller||wireless||11||2||+|
|Logitech Gamepad F310||wired||
|Logitech Gamepad F710||wireless||
GAMEPAD GAMES: MY OPINION
Another point we agreed to cover. There are innumerable disputes and vines about who plays comfortably on PC with a gamepad and who doesn't like it. I did like wise Solomon and divided games.
One size doesn’t fit all. Today you can’t say “a game” meaning just a video game. Topics are varied. Every appearing game gives something new not only to common gaming. It also expands the edges of its genre.
I'd include the following games in the category of gamepad games: football, racing, simulators, fighting.
Counterindicated for gamepads: shooters, strategies.
I am doubtful about RPG.
I will expand on my decision. All the games in the category of games for gamepad have origins even in the old type consoles.
FIFA is far more comfortable and familiar with a gamepad. You don't need to straight your hand over the whole keyboard. Fighting on the keyboard, especially with somebody, well, that's seedy. It is very uncomfortable with all the romance of gaming missing. Moreover gamepads provide safe distance while gaming. And when your virtual rival is so close to you in reality, game fight can become a real one. And what if it is a fatality ? We are for safe fighting.
Talking about shooters, it's vice versa, I say my firm «NO» to first-person games with a gamepad. What about RPG, it depends on your mood. It may be comfortable and may be not. It was not bad in Diablo2.
Let's sum it up!
Does everyone need a gamepad – yes. But not for every game. Everyone has their own style and skills. The actual price for a top gamepad on today's market is around $40. I wouldn't say that it is much, but the impressions it gives are worth it.
Have a good time and war only in games!
Read the full review about gaming controllers for smartphones here.