Best Steam Link controllers

Game from the comfort of your couch.

Image via Valve

Valve’s Steam Link is a powerful tool that allows users to stream Steam games to their wireless TVs, other PCs, or mobile devices. But using a mouse and keyboard can be inconvenient when gaming comfortably on a couch or using Steam Link on a phone. Thankfully, many gaming controllers are compatible with the Steam Link. Below are the best controllers for the Steam Link and why they made the shortlist.

Best overall Steam Link Controller

Sony DualShock 4 V2

Image via Sony

Sony’s fourth iteration of the DualShock brings a balance of comfort and performance many controllers can’t compete with. In addition, the DualShock 4 comes in a wide range of colors to choose from. The DualShock is easy to use, working right out of the box without requiring any extra adapters. Instead, gamers connect the controller to their devices via Bluetooth or a USB cable. 

Those accustomed to previous iterations of the DualShock will find the DualShock 4 familiar to use. Additionally, the DualShock 4 brings subtle performance improvements while also adding valuable new features. One of the notable innovations of the DualShock 4 is its touchpad. A touchpad makes the DualShock 4 a perfect fit for Steam Link because not only can the touchpad be used in supported games, but the touchpad also functions as a mouse in the Steam Link menus. This feature is great for gamers who find navigating Steam Link’s menus using a controller to be unintuitive.

However, the DualShock 4 isn’t without its cons. One of the downsides of this controller is the battery life. It’s powered by one AA battery, and battery life can be anywhere from five hours to 10. However, you can charge the controller using the USB cable that comes with it and play while it charges. For gamers who hate having to plug in their controller frequently, the DualShock 4 might not be the right choice.

Best customizable Steam Link controller

SteelSeries Stratus Bluetooth Mobile Gaming Controller

Image by SteelSeries via Amazon

The SteelSeries Stratus is a controller explicitly designed for PC and android. Because of this, the Steelseries Stratus comes with solid driver support. Most importantly, the Stratus is compatible with SteelSeries Engine 3. SteelSeries’s gaming software lets users customize the sensitivity of their thumbsticks, manipulate dead zones, and remap buttons. Customizing a controller’s performance using dedicated gaming software is essential in giving competitive gamers a precisely tuned controller.

Another standout feature of the SteelSeries Stratus is its battery life. It has over 40 hours of battery life powered by 2 AA batteries. Unlike the DualShock controller, you won’t be able to connect to your device via USB to experience a wired connection or charge the device. Another thing to keep in mind is the SteelSeries Stratus won’t work on Macbooks. However, it will work on iPhones and iPads. 

Best budget Steam Link controller

PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X/S

Image by PowerA via Amazon

The PowerA Enhanced Wired Xbox Series X controller is an inexpensive Steam Link-compatible controller. Although PowerA is technically a third-party Xbox controller, it has been licensed and thoroughly tested by Xbox. What gives this controller its low price is its lack of wireless features. Instead, the controller connects to a PC using a Mini-USB cable. The Mini-USB cable gamers choose to use doesn’t matter, but the cable the controller comes with is a solid 10 feet long. Also, anyone looking to give their controller a unique aesthetic will be pleased with this controller since it comes in over 13 different colors and designs.  

Additionally, this controller brings the standard features users have come to expect from a PC controller, such as dual rumble. Dual rumble vibrates the controller in relation to what is going on in-game, and it’s all completely compatible with Steam Link. A feature unique to this controller is the headset dial. The headset dial, located on the front side of the controller, can be used to adjust game audio and mute the user’s microphone. It also features two mappable buttons on the backside of the controller to map extra commands. 

Best premium Steam Link controller

Sony DualSense

Image via Sony

It doesn’t get more premium than the Sony DualSense controller. The DualSense 5 is Sony’s newest iteration of the DualShock. It comes with many of the important features a quality controller needs while bringing superior build quality and new features. Unlike the DualShock 4, the DualSense doesn’t require batteries. Instead, the DualSense charges via a USB-C cable.

Some of the major new features of this controller are its haptic feedback, built-in microphone, and adaptive triggers. Haptic feedback technology is essentially rumble 2.0, giving the controller more advanced vibrations. Unfortunately, haptic feedback isn’t currently supported on Steam Link, but the controller will still function with basic vibrations.

Adaptive triggers are another selling point for the DualSense. Adaptive triggers allow gamers to feel different levels of force when pressing down on the trigger, depending on the game and scenario. For example, slamming the brakes when controlling a car will create tension in the trigger. Like the haptic feedback, the adaptive triggers aren’t currently compatible with Steam Link, but with this controller becoming the new standard, it’s only a matter of time before most games support this feature. 

Best Steam Link controller for emulation

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Image via Nintendo

The Switch Pro controller is designed for the Nintendo Switch but works great with any PC running Steam Link. The Switch Pro controller connects to devices using Bluetooth or the UBS-C to USB-A cable that comes with it. Unfortunately, this controller doesn’t feature a headphone jack. Not having a headphone jack is specifically annoying with the Steam Link because gamers will have to connect their headset directly into either the TV or their PC.

Because it’s built for the Nintendo Switch, the Switch Pro controller features motion controls. Thankfully, the Switch Pro Controller’s gyroscope, rumble, and motion controls work when connected to Steam Link. This is important as many of these features are needed to fully emulate some previous generation Nintendo Nintendo consoles like the WiiU.

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