So you’re looking to buy a new controller for your PC, but you can’t decide between the PS5 DualSense or the Xbox Series X controller. The PS5 and the Xbox controllers are both very sturdy, cost about the same, and can connect over Bluetooth.
But which one is better for PC games? I was struggling with the same decision, and after making the wrong choice, I wanted to share what I learned with you. Let’s do a quick comparison and then run through the pros and cons of each option.
DualSense or Xbox Series X Controller for PC?
The DualSense controller has adaptive triggers and haptic feedback which are a nice-to-have but only a few games support it at the moment. The PS5 controller is not natively compatible with most games or gaming platforms. You will need to use an emulator to use the PS5 controller with non-supported games.
The Xbox Series X controller only has basic vibration, but it’s natively compatible with Windows, and it will work with practically every game. You don’t need to use an emulator with an Xbox controller.
When it comes to these two options, I would choose the Xbox Series X controller it’s also more compatible with PC games than the DualSense. If you have some extra money, the Xbox Elite Series 2 is another good option. Xbox controllers are less of a hassle to set up than PS5 controllers.
Shopping options on Amazon:
The only good reason to buy a PS5 controller over the Xbox controller is if you plan to buy a PS5 console in the near future.
Otherwise, for PC games, the Xbox controller is the best choice. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering it’s a Microsoft product.
Using a PS5 DualSense Controller on PC:
I actually really like the ergonomics and feel of the PS5 controller, it’s very comfortable and looks modern and sleek.
What makes the DualSense controller special are the haptic feedback and adaptive trigger features.
But here’s the catch:
While those features are attractive, the problem is they don’t work on the majority of games.
PS5 Controller Quick Features:
- Haptic Feedback
- Adaptive Triggers
- 3.5 mm Headphone jack
- Built-in Speaker
- Touchpad& Lightbar
- Rechargeable Battery
Very Few Games Support Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers:
On PC, there are only a handful of games that support DualSense haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The most notable game that supports adaptive triggers is Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition.
Eventually, more games should support adaptive triggers on PC, but at the moment, the list is very small. Read my guide on how to use adaptive triggers on PC here.
The PS5 DualSense controller can work on a PC over Bluetooth or a wired connection, but not all games or gaming platforms support it. Thankfully Steam does support the DualSense controller. Most of your Steam games should automatically detect your new controller.
While you can use the PS5 controller on Steam, none of the special features will work, unless they’re supported by the game. In other words, it’s basically a generic controller.
Adaptive triggers can be game-changing for video games, but it will take some time for developers to integrate them into their games.
Lacks Compatibility with Games:
As mentioned earlier, the main downside with the DualSense controller for PC is that most games don’t support it. Non-Steam games or games from other platforms likely won’t work with the DualSense controller.
For example, almost all the games on Xbox Gamepass won’t natively work with the PS5 controller. However, you can usually get the controller to work on non-support games by using an emulator to emulate an Xbox controller.
The emulator I use is DS4 Windows. But if you use an emulator, none of the special PS5 controller features will work.
There are a couple of issues worth talking about. For one, you have to open a third-party program every time you want to play a game. You can’t turn the controller on and jump into the action (unless the game is on Steam). The extra step is a little bothersome.
Secondly, when using an emulator, the in-game button prompts will be mapped to the Xbox buttons. If you’re not familiar with the layout of the Xbox controller, it can take you a while to figure out which button to press. It can also be bothersome for people with OCD.
For example, you’ll see a command such as “Press A to jump” but on your PS5 controller “A” is actually “X”.
I played through the entire Halo Infinite campaign with the PS5 controller.
Xbox Series X Controller for PC:
The Xbox controller hasn’t changed much over the generations. It doesn’t have any particularly interesting features, no microphone or headphone slot either. It does support Bluetooth.
However, the controller is very durable and is natively supported by Windows. Pretty much any game that will run on Windows will be compatible with the Xbox controller out of the box. No need for emulators.
The problem with these controllers is even the Xbox Elite Series controllers still use AA batteries. You can use them with a cable for power, and you can buy rechargeable AA batteries, but it’s still a bit of a hassle. I much prefer never to have to worry about buying batteries.
While that is a bit frustrating the Xbox controller is still the best option for PC gamers.
The Bottom Line:
Ultimately it’s up to you. When it comes down to it, you can use both the PS5 and Xbox controller for gaming on a PC.
However, the PS5 controller can be a bit of a hassle to get working because you need to use an emulator on most games. On the other hand, while the Xbox controller is more compatible with games, it requires AA batteries.
What would I choose? I personally would choose an Xbox controller. The PS5 controller is not bad though, and if you already bought one, don’t regret your decision.
You can always enable DS4 Windows to launch at Windows startup, so you won’t have to worry about opening it every time you want to play a game.