Level up your gameplay with these ergonomic and responsive PS4 controllers

Level up your gameplay with these ergonomic and responsive PS4 controllers
We picked up the best wired and wireless PS4 controllers and gamepads to take your game play to the next level, from Sony, Razer, Amazon and more

This November it’ll be 25 years since Sony’s original dualshock controller first landed in our lives, and at a stroke changed the way we haphazardly piloted polygonal heroes around computer generated landscapes.

Its two joysticks and vibrating rumble-pack soon became standard across following generations of controllers. It was farewell to the D-pad and its Eighties clumsiness – the Nineties had arrived at last.

But now, as then, there were options for the more demanding, competitive, or just parsimonious gamer. Alternative controllers for the PlayStation 4 abound, each subtly tweaking Sony’s own controller design to add little competitive advantages and flourishes – and, occasionally, undercutting the officially sanctioned kit.

Of course, part of the consideration here is down to your own personal tastes. A controller which feels right in your hand might feel entirely alien to your mate who’s popped round for a Cuphead session.

There are other considerations too. You might be a pro who needs the milliseconds of extra responsiveness which a wired controller has over a wireless one, or like the idea of endlessly reconfigurable extra buttons to give yourself the edge.

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There are a couple of things to be aware of before you leap into buying a non-Sony controller though: if yours isn’t officially licensed by Sony, you might find that lower end controllers can be foxed by firmware updates to the PS4. Oh, and your home button won’t turn the machine on like it does on Sony’s own model. Cheaper controllers can end up being a false economy, with sketchy functionality and cheaper parts that break more readily. But there are still decent bargains to be found, it’s about knowing where to look.

How we tested

To put each controller through its paces, we used each over three hours of gaming. We tested out the latency and responsiveness of each controller along with how comfortable it was to use over an extended gaming session, and ran the rule over several different types of games, from sports sims and platformers to puzzlers and first-person shooters.

We were looking primarily for smooth functionality, reliable pairing and comfortable ergonomics, as well as a design which made gameplay feel instinctive and satisfying. Bonus points came for customisation options and outside-the-box ideas. These are the ones that will level up your gaming set-up.

The best PS4 controllers for 2022 are:

  • Best all-rounder – Sony Playstation dualshock PS4: £44.99, Currys.co.uk
  • Best for converted Xboxers – Gioteck SC3: £50.59, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for serious gamers – Nacon revolution unlimited: £120.90, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for innovative ideas – Scuf impact: £174.99, Scufgaming.com
  • Best for the pros – Razer raiju: £244.41, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for little hands – Hori mini wired gamepad: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best budget controller – Gioteck VX4 wireless: £29.99, Argos.co.uk
  • Best for pro move swithout the price tag – Gioteck VX4 wired: £19.99, Argos.co.uk

Sony Playstation DualShock PS4

Best: All-rounder

Rating: 10/10

  • Weight: 300g
  • Dimensions: 19cm x 13.5cm x 3 cm
  • Extra features: N/A

Quelle surprise, Sony’s own DualShock for the PS4 is excellent on pretty much every level. The classic DualShock design hasn’t changed enormously since its arrival in 1997, though it has filled out a bit. That’s down to the array of different features that now come as standard. A built-in speaker, light bar, headphone jack and touchpad – not that any game has made good use of it – are all here.

It’s a smooth, super-comfortable playing experience. Having used a lot of controllers, one small thing that stands out is how much those R2 and L2 triggers really feel like triggers. Firing at varmints on Red Dead Redemption 2 is all the more satisfying.

Gioteck SC3

Best: For converted Xboxers

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 172g
  • Dimensions: 10cm x 4cm x 10 cm
  • Extra features: Swappable thumbsticks and facia, integrated lighting system, mappable back buttons

British company Gioteck’s models tend to have what we’re going to call “clackiness” to their buttons, especially with the right-hand buttons, which can be an acquired taste. But look beyond that and there’s much to like about the SC3. The shape feels more like a Xbox One controller, a little rounder and chunkier and with the left-hand joystick swapped with the D-pad, but with a deeply funky light display and design. You can customise the facia and swap out the joysticks too, should you fancy it. Connection is smooth and simple, and the bigger case is comfy for extended sessions.

Nacon revolution unlimited

Best: For serious gamers

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 700g
  • Dimensions: ‎20.5cm x 9.5cm x 21.5 cm
  • Extra features: Compartments for adding extra weight, swappable joystick heads, assignable shortcut keys, customisable button sensitivity, also compatible with PC

If you’re serious about gaming, you’ll want everything about your controller just so, and pretty much everything about the revolution unlimited is tweakable. Would you like the concave or convex joystick heads today? Or perhaps a little extra heft via the additional weight compartments in the handles? Four extra buttons operated with your ring and middle fingers, easily mappable buttons and a lovely, velvety feel to the material itself add to the high grade vibe. It even comes with its own carry case.

Scuf impact

Best: For innovative ideas

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 243g
  • Dimensions: 17.2cm x 11cm x 5.3 cm
  • Extra features: Four mappable paddles on rear

Another quite Xbox-leaning design is slightly misleading – there’s a lot of imagination under the bonnet here. Most obviously, four paddles on the back are a radically different way of adding customisability to your set-up, and there are trigger stops and sensitivity tweaks available as well as a huge variety of colourways which you can remix to your heart’s content when buying. It’s a bigger unit, so you might struggle if you’ve got tiny little hands, but it’s neatly done.

Razer raiju

Best: For the pros

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 370g
  • Dimensions: ‎10.6cm x 15.5cm x 6.6 cm
  • Extra features: Hair trigger mode, mobile app, mode switch, customisable joysticks and D-pad

If you thought the options available to you with the revolution unlimited (£120.90, Amazon.co.uk) were dizzying, you should probably sit down before you take in the Razer raiju’s list of extras. The mode switch makes it simple to swap between PS4 and PC, a flick of a mechanical switch shortens the travel of the triggers so you can get shots off quicker, you can swap out the joysticks and D-pad for different options and it has its own mobile app for mapping buttons and tweaking their sensitivity. The action and touch of the buttons is as classy as you’d hope for £250, too.

Hori mini wired gamepad

Best: For little hands

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 100g
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 4 x 6.9 cm
  • Extra features: N/A

Hori’s cute, scaled-down and officially licensed controller is perfect for younger gamers. It’s about 40 percent smaller than the full-sized dualshock (£44.99, Currys.co.uk), and though its functionality is simplified – no light bar, speaker, headphone jack or motion sensors here – it’s got more than enough going on for the pros of tomorrow to get a feel for gaming.

Gioteck VX4 wireless

Best: Budget controller

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 190 grams
  • Size: 11.5cm x 16.4cm x 7.3 cm
  • Extra features: Programmable back buttons

Compared to the more expensive, feature-laden controllers here, the VX4 does feel lighter and cheaper, but at this price point it’s as comfortable, sharp and user-friendly as you could hope for. Though the buttons themselves are a little clackier than the more expensive models and the case creaks a little, there’s no faulting the responsiveness and accuracy. And a few little touches like the programmable extra back buttons elevate it above other low-cost dualshock imitators.

Gioteck VX4 wired

Best: For pro moves without the price tag

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight: 300 grams
  • Dimensions: 10cm x 15cm x 10 cm
  • Extra features: N/A

We know what you’re thinking, and yes: it is the SC3 Wireless, but with a 2.5m wire attached and minus the extra back buttons. But it makes more of a difference than you might think. The idea of a budget wired controller might feel a little backwards – surely, as a pro, you’d be laying out more than 30 quid on your tools – but when wired controllers can run to £60, a budget option that gives you that little edge in speed on wireless models is good to have. The VX4 wired does its job solidly but the need to update the firmware is a niggle.

The verdict: PS4 controllers

So, while there are a lot of challengers for the title of the finest PS4 controller out there, the king still reigns. The official Sony controller isn’t a surprise pick, sure, but its responsiveness, reliability and build quality keep it ahead of the pack.

However, if you’re looking for a competitive edge that your rivals won’t have then Nacon’s revolution unlimited and Razer’s raiju offer the kind of tweakability and extra options which could make the difference. And while you shouldn’t expect the same quality from them as the bank-breaking examples, Gioteck offers a deeply reasonable way to add more mates into the fun for your outlay.

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