There are manufacturers like MSI that offer both wireless and wired versions of a particular version. This is great for bargain hunters. Those who are satisfied with the wired Force GC20 V2 pay more. Meanwhile, those who want the wireless model can choose the Force GC30V2 at half the price of the wired version.
Controllers are offered both wirelessly and with a USB connection cable. Some manufacturers, such as Microsoft (Wired Controller for Xbox One/Xbox One Wireless Controller) or MSI (Force GC20/30), even offer a wireless and wired version of one model.
Wired controllers are always better but sometimes costlier than wireless gamepads. So forgoing wireless freedom is rewarded with fewer lags. But note that some wired versions may be more or less expensive. It depends on other features on board. Moreover, wired versions are great if you also want to play from your PC or console.
Do you want to avoid tangled cables or tripping hazards? Is your PC more than two meters away from your sofa, office chair, or gaming chair? Then I recommend a wireless controller.
The wireless controllers currently available on the market can be divided into the following classes:
1. Wireless controllers with 2.4 GHz radio transmission
A receiver is required if a wireless controller sends its data to your gaming device (phone, PC, or console) via the 2.4 GHz band. This can, for example, be in the form of a nano receiver with a USB connection. The power supply comes from either standard AAA or AA batteries or, even better, from a rechargeable battery inside. This is charged via a micro USB cable.
If the wireless gamepad is connected to your smartphone via cable, it can continue to be used for gaming during the charging process. (Examples: MSI Force GC30). If, like Logitech’s F710, the controller relies on battery power or external AA rechargeable batteries, I advise you to have spare or charged rechargeable batteries on hand.
2. Wireless controllers with Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz radio transmission
These gamepads can send their data to the PC using all three transmission standards (USB cable, 2.4 GHz, and Bluetooth). As with the Steelseries Stratos Duo, these controllers are equipped with a switch between the two wireless transmission modes and a 2.4 GHz receiver.
The charging cable (micro-USB connection) supplies the internal battery with power. You can also use it to connect the Steelseries Stratos to the phone or PC for playing, for example.
Haptics, ergonomics, and button positions
Find out how the controller feels if you are buying from a store or online (through user reviews). Does it have a good grip? Is it the right size and weight? And does your wrist not get tense or tired during extended gaming sessions? If the purchase is about the feel and ergonomics of a gamepad, you should not compromise on these criteria.
With the length and the design for holding the controller, there are noticeable differences in the grip designed for the palms and fingers.
The shape and size of the grip horns are particularly important for optimal haptics. Furthermore, if the grip horns are also equipped with rubber elements, as with the Logitech F710, this improves the grip enormously.
For a gamepad with optimal haptics, the grip horns should be shaped so they nestle perfectly against the palms of the hands. These should also be provided with a rubber coating or a rough surface for a very good grip.
This also applies to the gamepad’s controls. A rubber coating or roughened plastic elements guarantee a good feel even when the hand is slightly sweaty.
When it comes to the weight and overall size of a controller, every gamer has their preferences. But, of course, we all have different-sized hands, so it is difficult to give a specific recommendation here.
But if you’re a very picky buyer, I advise you to try out a few models with different sizes and haptics in specialist shops before making your decision. Here you can also check whether the controller is too light or heavy for you.
However, note that the weight of a controller mainly depends on whether it is wired or wireless. Wireless controllers are often heavier than wired gamepads because of the built-in rechargeable or two AA batteries.
The ergonomics of a gamepad are no less important than its feel. If the controller doesn’t ergonomically fit into the anatomy of your hand, this can lead to tension or signs of fatigue.
The positioning of the buttons
The accessibility of all buttons is another criterion for evaluating ergonomics. All switches and controls should be positioned so your fingers can reach them without excessive bending or stretching. In practice, this means that the two analog sticks, the D-Pad, and the action buttons, must be intuitive to use with the thumb without bending or stretching it.
In addition, there should be a natural movement from the thumb joint to switch from the analog stick to the action buttons or the D-Pad. The same applies to the triggers and the shoulder buttons. Again, these should be positioned, so you don’t have to bend your index fingers too far.
Mobile controller prices vary widely. Some devices only cost a small double-digit amount (around $10 to $50). The premium models, like the Backbone One or Power A MOGA I reviewed earlier, are in the low three-digit range. They don’t get costlier than that, except if you want a full handheld console.
Which price range makes sense for which player depends on their budget and time spent with the device? Casual gamers are well advised to choose a cheap controller. However, if you want to play more often and intensively, you should choose the more expensive models.