Best PS4 controllers 2021: top options for smarter gaming

Why would you buy any other PS4 controller than the Sony DualShock 4? That's the question we need to answer today. 

For many after the best PS4 controller replacement, the DS4 is still the best option, particularly if your budget is $60, not $160. 

However, take a step away from Sony and things open up in several ways. No, you won't see the features of the DualSense PS5 controller added in. But you can get more control over how the pad feels and responds. 

Digital triggers will improve your reaction times in FPS games. Rear control paddles lets you approach play differently. Smaller pads might be perfect for the kids, or to carry around with you. And many of the best PS4 controllers come in far more design variations than you'll see in the DualShock 4 range. 

Convinced? Here is are our pick of the best PS4 controllers you can buy today. 

Best PS4 controllers

Sony DualShock 4 Wireless Controller (Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony DualShock 4 Wireless Controller

The original

Great look and feel
Built-in speaker
Highly sensitive motion sensors
At times feels a little too light
Track pad has deficiencies

The trusty DualShock 4 is always our first recommendation when we're asked about replacement PS4 controllers. 

The DualShock 4 is perfect for its purpose: sleek, small and wireless. Not to mention the built in speaker, varying light bar colors, touch pad and motion sensors, which enhance play. 

This need not be a cop-out option either. You don't have to make do with the plain old black style shipped with the console. Jazz things up a bit with a red, blue, gold or green camo DualShock 4. 

You can attach a gaming headset or headphones to the controller easily too (unlike the Xbox One pad). However, battery life can be a pain. The controller holds charge for around four to eight hours. Frequent top-ups are required so you might want to buy a charge dock, particularly as they use microUSB charging. 

Many of us have already moved onto USB-C for our phones, so there are fewer suitable cables lying about the house. Read more about Sony's official charging station in our best PS4 accessories round-up.

We find the DualShock 4 is a great PS4 controller for someone who just simply wants to get on with playing and isn’t fussed about the customization available in some of the third-party pads below.

Check out our full DualShock 4 controller review.

Scuf Impact

(Image credit: SCUF)

2. Scuf Impact

Like a DualShock 4 custom made for paddle control

Comfortable
Highly cusomizable
Features offer a smooth DS4 transition
Expensive

If you took a Sony DualShock 4 and redesigned it to fit in four well-spaced paddle controls on the back, you'd end up with something like the Scuf Impact. It is a little wider than the first-party pad but you get four paddles that replicate the inputs of the face buttons. 

Buy the EMR Scuf Impact and these can be remapped on-the-fly, with the help of a little magnet that sticks on the back. 

If you don't care about the Scuf Impact's mappable paddles or the incredible array of tweaks you can make to the design you should probably stick to a DualShock 4. It's a whole lot cheaper. 

However, one of the elements we like most is how easy it is to switch to this pad. Its spacing is a little different, but all the core features of the DualShock 4 are replicated here and there are no odd-feeling or low-quality parts that stick out. 

We reviewed the digital trigger version of the Scuf Impact, which has ultra-fast triggers made for FPS games. They're a hit, but are not ideal for other types of game, particularly racers. Do a little research and you can design your own Impact to suit your play style. 

Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller (Image credit: Nacon)

Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller (Image credit: Nacon)

3. Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller

Customization for the serious gamer

Truly ergonomic
Plentiful customization options
High-quality build
Button mapping not obvious
Can't amend profiles on PS4

If you are a PS4 player, but prefer the design of the Xbox One controller, the Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller might be a better fit for you. Like the Vantage Controller, the Revolution Pro is built for gamers (more specifically esports) with a directional pad that can move eight ways - instead of four - alongside four shortcut buttons. 

However, it’s not quite as complicated to operate as the Vantage, nor is it as expensive.

If you want a PS4 controller with a few extra bells and whistles, but not an overwhelming amount, and prefer a chunkier controller that is a bit more resilient, the Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller could be for you. 

Check out our full Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller review.

SCUF Vantage Controller (Image credit: SCUF)

SCUF Vantage Controller (Image credit: SCUF)

4. SCUF Vantage Controller

A mostly advantageous (and expensive) modular PS4 controller

Feels great to hold
Modular elements work well
Audio touchpad adds convenience
Customizable aesthetics
Analog sticks can become stuck
Cross d-pad is too rigid
Dicey R1 and L1
Sax buttons can be difficult to press

The SCUF Vantage Controller is a great option if you want your PS4 controller to have a bit more bite, and are more specific about your controller’s performance. 

Built with gamers in mind, this fully customizable PS4 controller boasts enhanced grip, remappable paddles on the back, side action buttons and an audio touch bar. 

Those rear paddles are similar to those of the Xbox Elite Controller. You program them using a switch on the bottom, and flick them with an extended index finger. It's a different way to play, but offers something the DualShock 4 does not.

Essentially the Vantage controller is built so you can play more comfortably for longer. But unless you know how to optimize its abilities, maybe it's best to stick to a more straightforward PS4 controller. 

Especially because the Vantage Controller is much more expensive than your average DualShock 4.

Check out our full SCUF Vantage Controller review.

Razer Raiju Ultimate Wireless PS4 Controller (Image credit: Razer)

Razer Raiju Ultimate Wireless PS4 Controller (Image credit: Razer)

5. Razer Raiju Ultimate Wireless PS4 Controller

Go ultimate

Incredibly sturdy and durable
Responsive mechanical buttons
Reliable wired connectivity
Chroma lighting integration
Annoying latency
D-pad options feel cheap
Limited availability

The Razer Raiju Ultimate Wireless PS4 Controller is more suited to seasoned gamers and pros, allowing advanced customization via the Razer mobile app - that includes remapping and adjusting sensitivity. 

This is one of the smartest PS4 gamepads around.

If that’s not enough customization for you, you can also make use of interchangeable thumbsticks, the built-in quick control panel, and Hair Trigger Mode - allowing you to be more trigger-happy than ever before.

Much like the other pro controllers on this list, the Raiju Ultimate is chunkier than the DualShock making it more suitable for those who prefer the Xbox One controller style. 

When it launched the controller had an issue with latency when used wireless. This was improved, if not entirely fixed, with a firmware update.

The Raiju Ultimate is a fantastic PS4 controller, but it’s not exactly cheap. Make sure you will make use of advanced customizations before investing - but if you harness the controller's capabilities then you’ll find your gameplay experience all that much smoother.

Check out our full Razer Raiju Ultimate review.

Best PS4 controllers

Mini Wired Gamepad (Image credit: Sony)

6. Hori Mini Wired Gamepad

It's not exactly a DualShock – but it's cheaper

40% smaller than the DualShock 4
Great for kids
Limited amount of games it is compatible with

Looking for a PS4 controller for a young person in your house? The Hori Mini Wired Gamepad is a good fit for smaller hands. 

The Mini Wired looks like a retro controller. It is plug-n-play with 10ft cable (no pulling the console off the stand) and it’s 40% smaller than the DualShock 4.  The grip is minimal as a result, but that's a good fit if you want a small pad to stash in a bag.

However, there is no light bar, stereo headset jack, speaker, dual motors, or motion sensor - it’s a much more streamlined alternative to the DualShock 4. And that means a few games won't work with it.

According to Sony, the Mini Wired Gamepad is compatible with “most” PS4 games. We’re reading that as the less complicated ones, so don’t fire up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and expect the controller to be able to hack it - not that children should be playing it anyway.

The Mini Wired Gamepad is $30 (around £23/AU$38) from Sony affiliated retailers.

Best PS4 Controllers

(Image credit: Nacon)

7. Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller

For those who prefer the Xbox One controller

Suited to those who prefer Xbox controllers
Works on PS4 and PC
Comfortable and well built
USB Bluetooth receiver needed for wireless
No motion sensor or built-in speaker
Slight delay

The Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller is a comfortable controller that brings the Xbox One gamepad experience to PS4 (and PC) players. It's robust and well-made, with a chunkier design than the DualShock 4. 

Its name tells you the main selling point: the Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller has offset analogue sticks, like an Xbox One controller.

It may be a better choice for those who have dexterity issues or simply prefer a bigger controller due to its bigger buttons and triggers. 

However, there are a few performance issues to take into account. We noticed some grating lag at review, and there are no motion sensors inside. The light bar and speaker are missing too, features important for some games. It's a good choice if you want a second pad to use for some specific dual-stick titles. 

Check out our full Nacon Asymmetric Wireless Controller review.

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