For many computer games, a specialized game controller provides superior gameplay. With the crossover of many console games to PCs, a gamepad similar to the kind bundled with a PlayStation or Xbox will make games originally designed for consoles easier to play on your computer. In addition, PCs have their own unique motion-sensitive game controllers, one of which finally brings a variant of Nintendo Wii-style gaming to the computer. Racing and flight simulators have become even more realistic with the addition of a well-made peripheral.
The best sources for game controller reviews vary by the type, but generally are a combination of mainstream tech and gaming publications like IGN.com and Maximum PC, which provides objective, detailed reviews for many of the top controllers; niche sites like About.com's NASCAR website, which is particularly useful for PC steering wheels; and ultra-niche hobbyist sites like SimHQ.com and AVSim.com, which cater to a passionate, hardcore crowd and review racing and flight-sim peripherals in exhaustive depth. We found some sites, like BrightHub.com, that helpfully round up and rank game controllers, but no matter how spot-on the rankings are, their descriptions are too brief to get a full impression of the device in question. In contrast, some of the most thorough, in-depth reviews come from sites like HardwareHeaven.com, which review only a handful of game controllers, making it difficult to get a sense of how the reviewed devices stack up against their competition.
User feedback from sites like Amazon.com and Newegg.com is particularly important. While amateur gamers may be as passionate as professional reviewers, since they've actually laid out money for the controller, they tend to be more critical. On the other hand, consumers usually have not tested the wide range of controllers that reviewers at other sites have. Game controller owners typically offer insight into a company's customer service quality as well as a product's general durability. For example, Amazon.com and Newegg.com reviews reveal the frequency that faulty products are shipped.
Many PC gamers have no problem using a keyboard and mouse for all of their gaming needs. For basic games, these old standbys are the easiest option, and, even for first-person shooters (FPS) and other sophisticated games, they are arguably the most flexible and precise. See our separate reports on keyboards and computer mice for more information on how to maximize your gaming experience with this set-up.