Gamepads for PCs usually resemble the controllers of systems like the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and are great for games originally designed for consoles and for gamers used to playing on them. If you already have an Xbox 360, then you can simply use its highly regarded gamepad on your PC. If you need an additional gamepad, you can also purchase a nearly identical Xbox 360 Controller for Windows (*Est. $35) or the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows (*Est. $50). Reviewers loved this gamepad when it first came out, appreciating its vast improvement over Microsoft's controller for the original Xbox. IGN.com gives it an exemplary 9 out of 10 stars, calling it "easily one of, if not the, most ergonomically comfortable" gamepads.
Aside from the Xbox 360 controller, one gamepad receives widespread critical attention -- and universal acclaim. The Razer Onza Tournament Edition (*Est. $50), which is very similar to the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows and marketed as both a PC and Xbox 360 gamepad, adds a few convenient features for roughly the same price. The Razer Onza Tournament Edition's control layout is almost exactly the same as that of the Xbox's gamepad, but it adds an additional shoulder button on each side of the controller, located just above the left and right triggers. These extra buttons can be mapped to function as any of the standard buttons on the controller; for example, you could map one of the additional shoulder buttons to the standard back button in order to prevent having to move your thumb off of the left joystick. Critics say the extra buttons are very useful, but the editors at GamingShogun.com warn that in the heat of battle, it's possible to hit the wrong button if you're more used to the Xbox 360 controller's one-shoulder-button configuration.
Although the mappable shoulder buttons are the most noticeable alteration, reviewers say the Razer Onza Tournament Edition packs in several smaller changes that tweak the usability of the controller and make it the most functional gamepad available -- even more so than the Xbox 360 controller itself. The controller sports a rubberized finish that makes it less prone to slipping from your hands in the middle of a heated frag-fest, while the backlit face buttons use Razer's "Hyperesponse actuator" technology, which Wired helpfully translates to "just a fancy name for using mechanical switches beneath the buttons." Reviewers say this design change makes the Razer Onza Tournament Edition actually feel much more responsive than the buttons on the Microsoft controller. Additionally, critics say the control sticks on the Razer Onza Tournament Edition are a hair longer than the ones on the standard controller, which adds to their precision, especially when coupled with the ability to adjust the joysticks' resistance.
As positive as the reviews are for the Razer Onza Tournament Edition, critics say there are a few weak spots -- most notably, the change from the Xbox 360 controller's rocker-style D-pad to one composed of four separate pie-shaped buttons that join to form a circle. Critical opinion is split; while IGN.com and Wired contributor Bryan Gardiner considers the redesign a strong point, other reviewers say the D-pad performs slightly worse than a rocker-style D-pad, especially when trying to pull off complex sweeping motions in fighting games. Gardiner also doesn't like the location of the back and start buttons, while the reviewer at IGN.com complains that the redesigned trigger buttons and control sticks caused him discomfort in extended play sessions. Also, there's only a wired version of the Razer Onza Tournament Edition thanks to Microsoft's refusal to allow third-party manufacturers to create wireless controllers for the Xbox 360. (This gamepad works with both PCs and the Xbox 360.) While that could put some gamers off, reviewers say the controller's 15-foot cord and quick-release USB connection are actually a highlight of the controller.
Minor flaws aside, critics (though not users) heartily approve the Razer Onza Tournament Edition gamepad. "We'd recommend this one to anybody," Alex Castle writes at Maximum PC. "Hands down, this is the gamepad to beat." IGN.com gives the controller an 8.5 score (out of 10), while Wired's Gardiner ends his review by stating that "After using it for more than two weeks I can say it'll make going back to any other controller nearly impossible." Amazon.com users report more mixed results; many dislike aspects of the design as compared to the original Xbox 360 controller, and there are several tales of defective or broken hardware. Although the majority of users give the controller a positive score, the praise is much less overwhelming than the flood of enthusiastic reports coming from professionals.
No other gamepad receives much coverage. Michael Klappenbach, About.com's computer action games guide, names the Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 (*Est. $50) his pick as the best PC gamepad, but his write-up is exceptionally brief and other publications don't take a look at the controller. The Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 includes a number of features that don't make their way onto the Xbox 360-focused Razer Onza Tournament Edition; all of its 10 buttons can be mapped to correspond to either keyboard or mouse commands, and the controller is wireless. Almost 90 combined users rate the controller at Amazon.com and Newegg.com and give the controller an average score of just over 4 out of 5 stars, but issues with discomfort and dropped wireless connections are repeated fairly often.