How to Connect a Console Gamepad to a PC

If you have a console and a PC, it is not necessary to buy a separate gamepad for the computer, just use the familiar controller from the console. If there is no console, but you want to take a gamepad for games of certain genres like fighting games and racing, it is better to pay attention to branded gamepads from console manufacturers. Their compatibility with PC is the topic of today’s material.

First , let’s briefly recall why it is worth taking an expensive branded manipulator, and not a cheap replica. The fact is that Chinese (and not only) copies are often made from low-quality plastic. Their sticks can have noticeable dead zones – areas where the movement of the stick is not recorded. It happens that the buttons quickly fail or infuriate you with a squeak. Controllers from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are free from these shortcomings. Well, unless you come across a copy with a marriage – then do not pull, return it under warranty.

DualShock 4 (PlayStation 4) and PC
Sony has won the eighth generation console race, so the first thing to consider is the compatibility of the DualShock 4, the PlayStation 4 controller with PC.

By wire. The method is good because you don’t have to configure anything and you don’t have to worry about battery power. Cons: the cable dangles underfoot, restricts movement.

Use a micro-USB to USB cable to connect. Windows will detect the DualShock 4 as a DirectInput device. DirectInput and XInput are APIs, application programming interfaces. Through the API, the manipulator sends commands to the game. Microsoft developed both DirectInput and XInput. DirectInput is the old format, XInput is the current one, it has been widely used in games since the end of 2005. Windows easily recognizes XInput gamepads: for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series. Any game that has been released on the PC in the last 16 years is at odds with XInput controllers, if it supports gamepads in principle. Since the DualShock 4 is a DirectInput controller, get ready to tinker with it a bit.

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Planning to use DualShock 4 on Steam? There will be no problems. Open Steam, go to the “View” menu on the top left, activate the Big Picture mode. The interface in this mode differs from the usual Steam one, because it was created with gamepads in mind. In Big Picture, go to Settings → Controller → Controller Settings → check the box next to PlayStation Custom Settings. Your DualShock 4, if you plugged it into a USB port before entering Big Picture, will show up in the Controller Settings menu. Here you can turn on the vibration, play around with the backlight, set the shutdown time in case of inactivity.

“Controller Settings” on Steam

Planning to use your DualShock 4 with games outside of Steam? Everything is not so smooth here. The DS4Windows application or its alternatives – InputMapper and DS4Tool will help out. DS4Windows makes the system think that it is not a DualShock 4 (DirectInput), but an Xbox controller (XInput).

You can find the latest version of DS4Windows on GitHub. In the application, customize the controls “for yourself” and, if you want, create presets for different games. Don’t forget to check the box next to “Hide DS4 Controller” in the “Settings” menu. Thus, two DualShock 4 profiles in the system (real and emulated via DS4Windows) will not conflict.

Gamepad PlayStation Dualshock 4 Camouflage Ver.2 Camouflage 9 999 *
By bluetooth. When connecting the DualShock 4 via Bluetooth, there are two options. First, your laptop/PC is equipped with a Bluetooth module. The second one is not equipped. Laptops are usually equipped with them, computers – not always.

Let’s assume that your laptop/PC has Bluetooth. Turn it on: “Settings” → “Devices” → “Bluetooth and other devices” → drag the slider opposite “Bluetooth” to “On”. Next, hold down the PS (PlayStation) and Share buttons on the DualShock 4 for a few seconds, the controller will enter the search mode for another Bluetooth device. On the computer, go to “Settings” → “Devices” → “Bluetooth and other devices” → click on “Add Bluetooth or other device” → in the window that appears, click on “Bluetooth”. When the Wireless Controller (your DualShock 4) is listed, click on it.

“Add Bluetooth or other device” in Windows

Then you need to add the controller to Steam or download DS4Windows. By the way, when connected via Bluetooth, the DS4Windows program will inform you about the low charge level of the gamepad. You can also check the battery charge in the “Controllers” tab.

If there is no Bluetooth module in a laptop / PC, then you will have to fork out for a USB adapter , aka “whistle” or “dongle”. You can buy a branded adapter from Sony, you can look for an analogue. The algorithm of actions is as follows: we press the button on the USB adapter, then on the PS and Share on the gamepad. Once the devices are paired, move on to setting up Steam/DS4Windows. While the adapter sticks out in the computer’s USB port, you don’t need to re-sync – press the PS button, and the manipulator is ready for battle.

Connecting DualSense, the PS5 gamepad, to a PC is similar to what is described above for the DualShock 4. Therefore, we will only go over the nuances.

DualSense is equipped with a USB Type-C connector, not micro-USB. That is, you will need a USB-C to USB cable.
The Share button on the DualSense has been replaced with Create. To pair the gamepad with a computer via Bluetooth, you must simultaneously hold down PS and Create.
DS4Windows supports DualSense. So feel free to download this program if you need a new controller for games outside of Steam.

PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller for PS5 white 6 999 *
But what about the unique features of DualSense? Will they work on PC? Earn – by cable. We are talking about adaptive triggers and realistic tactile feedback. True, the developers have implemented these “chips” in a limited number of games on the PC. So, you can play around with adaptive triggers in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Deathloop, F1 2021, Metro: Exodus Enhanced Edition. You will feel the tactile feedback in the same place, minus Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War.

Xbox One/Xbox Series and PC controllers
With the Xbox controller, the situation is much more obvious to the average user, because Windows and Xbox consoles “understand” the XInput standard equally well. We will indicate what to look for when connecting.

The steps for Xbox One and Xbox Series controllers are the same. The only thing is that for the first one you need a micro-USB cable – USB, for the second – USB-C – USB. With the wire, everything is extremely primitive: plug it in – play.

Microsoft Aqua Shift controller blue

[for iOS, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Wireless, Bluetooth, Xbox Wireless, Vibration Feedback]
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Let’s move on to Bluetooth. On the manipulator, press the Guide (Xbox) button, then hold down the sync button for a couple of seconds, it is located to the left of the USB connector. On the computer, go to Settings → Devices → Bluetooth and other devices → click on the option “Add Bluetooth or other device” → click on Bluetooth.

Microsoft also sells an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows in case your motherboard doesn’t have Bluetooth. It works like an adapter from Sony: hold the sync button on the adapter, then on the controller.

Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows

An important point: not all Xbox One controllers support Bluetooth. In the early revisions of the controller – these are models 1537 and 1697 – this option is not provided. Microsoft supplies its gamepads with a Bluetooth module only from the 1708 model, which appeared with the Xbox One S. It is easy to distinguish between non-Bluetooth and Bluetooth models: for the former, the plastic surface near the Guide / Xbox button is the upper part of the case (along with bumpers), for the latter – part of the front panel.

Xbox controller models without Bluetooth (top) and with Bluetooth (bottom)

And one more important point: in contrast to Sony, the Redmonds, with rare exceptions, do not complete the Xbox controller with a battery. Instead, they suggest using AA batteries when playing wirelessly. So, you don’t have to worry about battery life. The main thing is to keep a spare pair of batteries on hand.

Switch Pro Controller and PC
For Switch, there are experimental controllers – “joycons” and a more traditional – Switch Pro Controller. We’ll talk about him.

Like the DualShock 4 and DualSense, the Switch Pro Controller is a DirectInput gamepad. Therefore, the operating system must be made to think that it has an XInput gamepad in front of it.

Switch Pro Controller

The Switch Pro Controller is connected to the computer via a micro-USB to USB cable. On Steam, in “Controller Settings” make sure to check the box next to “Switch Pro Custom Settings”. Outside of Steam, using the Switch Pro Controller is also possible. Download the x360ce emulator – it will pass off the Switch Pro Controller as an Xbox manipulator.

In the case of Bluetooth, again, hold down the sync button – on the Switch Pro Controller it is to the left of USB. Then we go to the “Bluetooth and other devices” menu on the laptop / PC, click on “Add Bluetooth or other device”, then on “Bluetooth”. The Switch Pro Controller will be highlighted as “Pro Controller”. Activate “Switch Pro Custom Settings” in Steam.

Nintendo does not release its own Bluetooth adapter. Instead, you can use the 8BitDo adapter. It works, judging by the reviews, well, but does not support vibration.

Although the keyboard and mouse have undeniable advantages, such as aiming accuracy and turning speed, there are also a bunch of pluses behind the gamepad. This is compactness, freedom of location and movement, unique “chips” from the category of tactile feedback. The use of a gamepad on a PC is more than justified, and for certain genres it is highly recommended. We hope our guide will help you “make friends” your favorite controller with a computer.