If you’ve ever had to stop gaming because your hands got too sweaty, you’re in luck now.
Gaming product company Razer has launched so-called “finger sleeves” for gamers to fend off thumb sweat so it doesn’t ruin your mobile gaming experience.
The sleeves look like thimbles for your thumbs, and they’re made from lightweight, breathable fabric to keep your fingers cool and dry, according to Razer’s website.
The product listing also says the thumb gloves are 0.88 mm thin and non-slip, so they won’t cost you the game. They’re made from nylon and spandex, so they’re meant to stretch to conform to all finger sizes. The sleeves are also made from highly conductive silver fiber for better control and touch sensitivity on your device.
The finger sleeves can be washed by hand for repeated use and are compatible with most mobilegaming devices. They’re available now for $9.99 on Razer’s website.
Between wireless controllers and wireless headphones, Bluetooth is one of the most popular technologies around today. Nearly every major device uses Bluetooth in some way, and that includes the Nintendo Switch.
When it first launched, the Switch’s Bluetooth features were pretty limited. And while it’s still not the best device for Bluetooth fanatics, it now supports both Bluetooth headphones and controllers.
Here’s how Bluetooth works on the Switch, and how to connect your headphones or controllers.
Yes, the Nintendo Switch has Bluetooth
The Nintendo Switch uses Bluetooth to connect with both wireless controllers and audio devices.
To pair Bluetooth headphones or speakers with your Switch, make sure the console is updated and then open the Settings menu. Scroll down to Bluetooth Audio and select Pair Device, then connect your headphones.
Just note that once you’ve connected a pair of Bluetooth headphones to the Switch, you can only connect two wireless controllers (or one pair of Joy-Cons). And your headphones will disconnect while playing local multiplayer.
Most official Nintendo Switch controllers are wireless, and they all connect in the same way.
On the Switch’s home screen, select the Controllers icon and then Change Grip/Order. At that point, you’ll likely just need to press your controller’s shoulder buttons at the same time. If you’re trying to pair a totally new controller, you might also need to press the controller’s SYNC button.
But what if you want to play your Switch with a controller from another system – say, the PlayStation DualShock? There’s no built-in way to do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
If you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can go on Amazon and buy a Nintendo Switch Bluetooth adapter. These adapters plug right into your console or dock and let you connect extra Bluetooth devices.
The best Nintendo Switch Bluetooth adapters to buy
You’ll plug it into your Switch’s charging port when in handheld mode, or into the Switch’s charging stand when it’s docked. Just note that you might experience some audio delay compared to the built-in wireless headphone feature.
If you’re instead looking to connect a non-Nintendo controller to the Switch, check out 8BitDo’s Wireless USB Adapter. Not only will it let you use controllers like the DualShock, it’ll let you remap the buttons too.
The Switch’s native Bluetooth features will absolutely be enough for most users. But if you’re a big Bluetooth aficionado, you might want to invest in a Bluetooth adapter or two.
It took a few years, but the Nintendo Switch finally supports Bluetooth headphones right out of the box. It only takes a few moments to set the feature up, but it has a number of limitations.
That’s why you can also use a Bluetooth adapter, which is more work but gives you more options.
Here’s how to connect Bluetooth headphones to your Nintendo Switch, using either the built-in Bluetooth feature or a Bluetooth adapter.
How to connect Bluetooth headphones to your Nintendo Switch
Using the built-in Bluetooth
Before anything, make sure that your Nintendo Switch is updated. The Bluetooth pairing feature is only available in the most recent versions of Switch’s operating system, so you’ll need to update to unlock it.
Your Switch should let you know when there’s an update available, but you can check manually by opening System Settings and scrolling down to the System tab.
Once you’ve updated:
1. Open your Switch’s System Settings menu by selecting the gear icon on the home screen.
2. Scroll down to the Bluetooth Audio tab, and then select Pair Device.
3. Put your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode and hold them close to the Switch.
4. When your headphones appear as an option on the Switch, select them and let the devices connect.
Once connected, all sound will come through the Bluetooth headphones until they’re disconnected. In the future, the devices should connect automatically. You can disconnect or unpair your headphones from the Switch by returning to this menu and selecting your headphones.
But connecting Bluetooth headphones to the Switch comes with some restrictions.
While connected, you can only use up to two wireless controllers (or one pair of Joy-Cons).
Your headphones will be disconnected during local multiplayer.
Bluetooth microphones won’t work.
Some users have also claimed that using the built-in Bluetooth feature makes the console very quiet. If you feel the same, go to the System menu and make sure that the Lower Max Headphone Volume option is turned off.
If you don’t feel like dealing with these restrictions, you can connect your headphones with a Bluetooth adapter instead.
Using a Bluetooth adapter
Bluetooth adapters are tiny dongles that connect to your Switch’s charging port or dock and let you connect Bluetooth devices. These don’t just have to be headphones – some, like the 8BitDo Wireless Adapter, will let you connect non-Nintendo controllers to your Switch too.
When it comes to Nintendo Switch games, the more the merrier. Multiplayer gaming only enhances the fun, especially when you and your friends or family are playing together in the same room.
A Switch console can support eight controllers connected at the same time. This means four pairs of Joy-Cons (or eight if you’re playing them individually), eight Pro Controllers, and up to two controller hubs (each of which supports four controllers, again adding up to eight).
Once you’ve got your controllers, here’s how to sync them.
How to sync a Nintendo Switch controller with your console
The best way to sync a Nintendo Switch controller will depend on what sort of controller you have.
The easiest way to sync a pair of Joy-Con controllers to a Nintendo Switch is simply to slide them onto the physical console. The right- and left-hand Joy-Con controller will then be linked to that Nintendo Switch until affixed to a different console, or until the remote pairing steps below are followed.
You can also sync a Pro Controller by connecting it to your Switch’s dock with a USB-C cable.
To pair controllers remotely:
1. From the Switch’s homepage, scroll down to the “Controllers” tab – it looks like a single gray Joy-Con – and click it.
2. Select “Change Grip/Order.”
3. If you’re trying to pair a new controller or Joy-Con, you’ll want to press and hold its SYNC button (a small circular button, usually on the top) for about five seconds before moving on to the next steps.
4. If you want to use a Joy-Con (or multiple Joy-Cons) as an individual controller, take it out of the Switch and press both its shoulder buttons at the same time – they’re labeled “SL” and “SR.” It may take a few presses for the Switch to recognize them.
5. If you want to use two Joy-Cons as a single controller, press the shoulder buttons on each Joy-Con at the same time. They’re labeled “ZL” and “ZR.” You can add up to four Joy-Con pairs.
6. If you want to pair a Pro Controller, press its shoulder buttons, “ZL” and “ZR,” at the same time.
If a controller that worked before won’t sync, press the SYNC button anyway (again, the small circular button). Your Switch may have forgotten the controller and needs to be reminded of it again.
If you’re using a controller hub, just connect the hub to your Switch’s dock via USB and plug your controllers into the hub. They should work automatically.
As the video game industry continues to grow, more and more people are gaming online via PS5, PS4, Xbox, PC, and the Switch. But, not all gaming setups are created equal. For the best multiplayer experience, you’re going to want a an over-ear headset with a built-in microphone.
Thankfully, gaming headset options are plentiful. We’re no longer forced to use cheap bundled headphones with limited features. Instead, 3.5mm ports, stereo support, surround sound capabilities, and wireless connectivity abound. This means that everyone can plug in, hear better, communicate better, and be more comfortable – all while alleviating noise pollution for everyone else in your home or office.
To meet today’s gaming needs and beyond, we put together the following headset recommendations. Through hands-on testing, our picks represent the best gaming headsets you can find across a range of budgets and platforms. We’ve selected our picks based on a number of important factors, and we personally own or have thoroughly tested every headset on this list.
Cons: Uses Micro USB cable for charging, no game/chat mix control when used on PlayStation, mobile cable has a proprietary port on the headset side
SteelSeries’ Arctis 7X, carries over several familiar options from previous models while adding some important new features. Chief among those new features is a handy USB-C dongle for convenient multiplatform wireless support.
The dongle is compact enough to connect directly to a smartphone or Nintendo Switch when it’s in tablet mode. Thanks to the included USB-C to USB-A cable, it’s also easy to connect to larger systems, like the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and even a PC.
There’s a little switch on the transmitter that lets it go from Xbox mode to USB mode for everything else. The headset uses a 2.4GHz wireless connection which has a strong signal that avoids dropouts and lag.
The 40mm speaker drivers are the same ones that SteelSeries uses in more expensive headsets, and they’re not overpowering or bass-heavy. Audio performance is strong in single player and multiplayer games, letting quiet environments breathe while keeping chat audio clear.
The drivers go well with the headset’s retractable microphone which does a great job of minimizing background noise. There’s a mic mute button on the left ear cup and, when muted, a red light on the mic activates.
Even though the headset supports just about every gaming device under the sun via wireless, it still comes with a mobile 3.5mm cable to ensure compatibility with wired devices, like a 3DS or older iPad.
On the downside, while the included dongle uses USB-C, the headset itself is charged via Micro USB, which is less convenient. Fortunately, the build quality and general feel are both top-notch.
The best gaming headset for PS5
Sony’s Pulse 3D is wireless, seamlessly pairs with the PlayStation 5, and has helpful controls for game and chat mixing built right in.
Pros: Integration with PlayStation consoles, wireless support, game/chat mix controls, PS VR compatible, stylish design, USB-C charging, 3.5mm port
Cons: No boom mic, some questions about long term durability
To coincide with the launch of the PS5, Sony debuted the Pulse 3D. It’s a wireless headset that uses a small USB-A dongle, and it should be very familiar to gamers who owned the PlayStation Gold Wireless or Platinum Wireless headsets.
Like those headsets, the Pulse 3D integrates seamlessly into the PlayStation ecosystem, with an onscreen UI indicating power, battery level, and volume level. The Pulse 3D also has controls on the left ear cup for setting game/chat mix, volume, power, mic mute, and even a toggle for turning mic monitoring on or off.
The Pulse 3D works with the PS5, PS4, PC, and even a docked Nintendo Switch. The performance of the drivers is similar to the PlayStation Gold headset, which I really like. Unfortunately, the invisible mic design is similar as well. It works fine, but this style just isn’t as good as a boom mic as it lets in a lot of background noise.
On the plus side, the headset achieves the rare feat of not only being compatible with PlayStation VR via its 3.5mm jack, but also actually being able to fit over the VR headset. It’s a nice match for the DualSense controller as well since the Pulse 3D can charge over USB-C.
When it comes to aesthetics, the Pulse 3D has been designed to complement the PS5, as it perfectly matches the color scheme and general style of the console and its controllers. Coupled with the headset’s solid performance and easy integration, this look helps make the Pulse 3D an ideal fit for PS5 owners.
Pros: Xbox Wireless radio support without dongle, works with gaming PCs, simultaneous support for Xbox and Bluetooth devices, physical dials for volume, game audio and voice chat balance, microphone mute button
Cons: No 3.5mm headphone port, plain design, lacks versatility for use with PlayStation and Switch
Xbox consoles use a proprietary radio signal to give wireless headsets and controllers a better connection than Bluetooth offers. Microsoft’s official Xbox headset isn’t the only set that works with this signal, but it is one of the most affordable while offering quite a few premium features.
The headset also works with Bluetooth devices, and you can even pair it with an Xbox and Bluetooth device at the same time, so you can listen to music from your phone or computer while still hearing game audio and voice chatting on Xbox Live.
The Xbox Series X|S headset feels lightweight but sturdy; the headband contains a steel band with foam cushioning, while the ear cushions use polyurethane leather and foam. Like the PlayStation 3D Pulse headset, the Xbox wireless headset features two dials on either ear cup, allowing you to control the volume and manage the balance between your game audio and voice chat. The microphone can be folded around the left ear cup when not in use and features a physical mute button as well.
The Xbox Series X|S headset has an average battery life lasting about 15 hours, and can be used in wired mode with a USB-C cable on Windows computers.
The best budget wired gaming headset
The HyperX Cloud Stinger is the ultimate distillation of everything important in a wired headset, and it has a price that’s tough to beat.
Pros: Good build quality, comfort, and sound at an affordable price, swivel to mute mic, on-ear volume control
Cons: No mesh ear option, fixed cable
To be sure, the majority of first-time or repeat headset buys happen right around the price point where the HyperX Cloud Stinger lands. The Stinger is a wired passive stereo headset with 50mm drivers, a flip-down boom mic, swivel ear cups, a volume slider on the right ear, and a fixed in-line volume control.
It’s suitable for connecting to PS5/PS4 controllers, Xbox controllers, the Switch, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and most anything modern with a 3.5mm jack. Unlike many nicer and more expensive headsets, the HyperX Cloud Stinger isn’t impedance hungry. This means it works fine connected to a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller, but does still have some headroom for improved performance with a better source.
When it comes to HyperX and its headsets, the company owes much of its reputation to the imperfect but still stellar HyperX Cloud. With the Cloud Stinger, HyperX has taken almost everything that made the Cloud great and put it in a lighter, more essential, and more original package.
The build of the Stinger is light but solid, and the headset is comfortable while having a sedate look. It’s a purposeful headset that should satisfy the majority of users looking for something wired to connect right to the headset jack. When HyperX made the Cloud Stinger, it made sure that anyone trying to dip their toes into gaming headsets would have a quality option.
Pros: Painless multiplatform wireless support with good sound, strong mic, excellent battery life
Cons: No chat/game mix controls on headset, headset and mic don’t sit well when not being worn
The Arctis 1 Wireless was pretty incredible when it debuted as a PlayStation-focused headset, and the Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox is not only just as good, it’s better. That’s because the new model adds support for Xbox platforms.
There’s a little switch on the USB-C wireless dongle. Buyers can simply flip the switch to Xbox for Xbox platforms, and to USB for everything else. The small USB-C dongle is also compatible with the Nintendo Switch (both in dock and tablet mode) and even some smartphones (including my LG V40) for 2.4Ghz wireless audio.
Under the hood, the Arctis 1 features speaker drivers taken from the main Arctis line. This helps the Arctis 1 provide well-tuned sound out of the box. The mic is also excellent, with performance so good it’s likely to draw compliments from fellow players. The battery life is stellar as well. It’s rated at 20+ hours, and boy, does it last.
While the headset is wireless on just about every recent console, the device also retains a 3.5mm jack and cable. This means that it can be used on a ton of devices in wired mode. That extra bit of functionality is a handy feature, and it doesn’t seem to make the headset bulkier, heavier, or more expensive.
Pros: Open-back design, comfortable, good mic, fabric pads, won’t break the bank, on-ear volume wheel and flip to mute mic, detachable cable
Cons: Needs a Mixamp rather than controller jack for optimal performance, will leak sound
Combining a gaming headset with audiophile performance is tricky. The audio punch that we seek when we game isn’t necessarily the same tuning we’d enjoy when listening to music. And often, the microphones on certain audiophile headsets just don’t impress.
Fortunately, I’ve found the Sennheiser Game One to be one of my favorite headsets in all aspects. What really gives it that audiophile feel is the open-back design. Open-back headphones are known for their sublime audio performance, and this design allows the ears to breathe more. With that said, open-back headsets are prone to sound leakage, so they’re not ideal if you have someone sitting within a few feet as they are sure to hear everything you hear.
The heavy duty boom mic doesn’t merely look serious, it delivers — as I can attest since it’s my choice for gaming while having a sleeping newborn in the next room. Likewise, the headset contains a volume wheel on the right ear, a satisfying click -to-mute function in the mic, and a composition of fabric, padding, and shape to achieve maximum comfort. The cabling is detachable, and this is really helpful when choosing between a long split cable on PC or a short combined cable on console.
While the comfort, feel, and quality are ever-present, to get the best sound performance, you’ll need a dedicated source such as a MixAmp or GameDAC. With that in mind, we recommend pairing the headset with an Astro Gaming MixAmp Pro TR.
Other gaming headsets we considered
The $150 Hyper X Cloud II Wireless is an excellent wireless headset that will suit most gamer’s needs on PlayStation, PC, and Switch. It boasts an impressive 30-hour battery life, USB-C charging, and a detachable microphone with physical mute and volume controls. However, it lacks wired support, and physical controls to balance game and chat audio. Ultimately, there are more versatile choices in the $100 range, so the Cloud II Wireless ranks below our top recommendations.
The $200 SteelSeries Arctis 9X can connect wirelessly to an Xbox console without the need for a dongle, while also being able to simultaneously pair to a mobile device via Bluetooth.
The headset’s ski goggle headband is also convenient since it’s removable for cleaning or even replacement — and there are some different designs available. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking around much while using the Bluetooth function as the Arctis 9X will tend to move around on your head.
The Arctis 9X has a retractable mic with a mute light, 40mm drivers, and reliable controls built right onto the headset. These functions include a mute toggle, volume wheel, power button, and chat/game mix controls. The battery life is rated for 20 hours, which is solid but not as good as some competing models. Another minor drawback is that the headset still uses a Micro USB connection for charging rather than USB-C.
The $270 Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT gaming headset offers an impressive set of features, including memory foam earpads, multipoint Bluetooth connection, customizable lighting, a Dolby Atmos license, and an automated sleep function that will detect when you put the headset down. Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT also boasts a wider frequency response range than competing headsets, reaching up to 40 kHZ as well as support for hi-res 24bit, 96KHz audio, but those features usually won’t come into play when gaming.
More importantly, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT only works in wireless mode with PlayStation consoles and PC, forcing you to use 3.5mm wired mode for Switch. Additionally, you need to use Corsair’s iCue software to make the most of the headset’s lighting and EQ features, which might be disappointing for console gamers.
The $250 SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC was previously one of our top picks but has been downgraded in favor of newer models. That said, the headset continues to be an excellent choice, particularly for the PC and PS4/PS4 Pro. On the PS5, it loses the ability to control game/chat balance and its integrated surround sound feature, so it’s not as easy to recommend for gamers primarily using Sony’s new console.
How to pick the best gaming headset
Wireless versus wired support: Determining whether you want a wireless or wired headset is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a gaming headset. Wireless headsets are untethered by pesky cables so they’re typically more comfortable to use. Wireless headsets tend to use a 2.4GHz signal in order to avoid the audio lag associated with Bluetooth.
With that said, since many home Wi-Fi networks also use 2.4GHz, a smaller home (like an apartment) that’s saturated with a bunch of different Wi-Fi signals can be problematic due to interfering signals. If interference is an issue for your setup, then a wired headset is probably a better choice. Wired headsets also don’t require charging, and are generally compatible with any system that has a headset jack.
Platform support: With gaming spread over PC, consoles, and even tablets and smartphones, it’s important to know which platform you plan to use your headset with. Though most wired models offer compatibility across different devices, platform support is especially important to keep in mind when choosing a wireless headset.
Xbox consoles, in particular, only support specific wireless headsets. Meanwhile, the Switch has a headphone jack on the console but not on the Joy-Cons or the Pro Controller. Pay close attention to the connection specifications and compatibility details listed by the manufacturer in order to ensure that the headset you choose has the necessary wired or wireless connections for your devices.
Comfort and build: A good headset should be comfortable to use for hours on end, but that comfort will be influenced by both the ambient temperature and the size of a user’s head. These factors are nearly as important as the design of the headset itself. Generally speaking, if a headset doesn’t feel comfortable to wear after a few gaming sessions (around two hours each), then it’s likely a poor fit. The more durable headsets tend to use stronger materials, but that means that they’re likely to be heavier. On the other hand, plastic headsets are lighter but more fragile.
Surround Sound: One attractive feature that’s pretty common in nicer gaming headsets is surround sound. This effect is usually done by processing sound to the left and right drivers to simulate the effect of audio coming from multiple directions. Though not true surround sound in the strictest sense, these simulated effects can create a more immersive experience.
In addition to surround sound options included with certain headsets, both the PC and Xbox One have an array of virtualization solutions (like Windows Sonic) to enable surround sound on any headset model. Meanwhile, the PS5 features Sony’s Tempest 3D audio tech. Of course, it’s worth noting that regular stereo sound is still quite good on many platforms, including PS4 and Switch. Stereo sound also tends to be less laggy since it isn’t as processed as surround sound.
Price: Most gamers should be satisfied with a headset in the $50 to $150 price range. That said, if a headset is being used every day, it becomes difficult to expect years of use out of cheaper models. Frequent users can expect their headsets to wear out a bit faster than their controllers. Headsets that cost $300 or more usually include extra features, some of which can help extend their lives, such as replaceable earpads and even batteries.
The best deals on gaming headsets from this guide
Whether you’re a pro gamer or a first-time player, a quality headset is essential for sprucing up your interactive experience. Not only will a good pair help give you an edge during gameplay, they will save those around you from hearing your game.
Gaming headset deals are scattered throughout the year. The best time to shop for one is Black Friday or Cyber Monday, since they’re popular gifts. Discounts on our SteelSeries picks rarely exceed $15, but the affordable HyperX Cloud Stinger drops by up to $20 during the holidays.
Below, you’ll find deals on our picks for the best gaming headset, from top brands:
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Gaming keyboards can make or break your game, so we rounded up the best for you to choose from.
The best gaming keyboard overall is the Corsair K100 RGB, combining sheer performance with a deep feature set.
We’ve picked out the best mechanical, optical, and mini keyboards too, meeting every PC gamer’s need.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
When it comes to choosing a gaming keyboard – or even just narrowing down your choices, you might have your work cut out for you. Not only are there several types and sizes encompassing all price points, but every keyboard manufacturer boasts several models and versions as well.
We’re here to make it easier to find the best gaming keyboard for you. We’ve found and tested the best gaming keyboards for every need and even budget. More of an optical switch fan? We’ve got the best out there. Prefer a traditional mechanical keyboard? We found the one lauded by most gamers. Working with a small space? We have our pick of the best mini keyboard as well.
Of course, the final decision is still yours, which is why we’ve also included a short yet detailed guide to choosing the right gaming keyboard just below our list. When you’re done going through our picks, be sure to read through that. By the end of this guide, you’ll know in your gut the one that’s a perfect fit.
If you’re looking for a premium experience, the Corsair K100 RGB brings sheer performance that is only surpassed by its feature set.
Pros: Solid construction, top-notch performance, a host of great features
Cons: More expensive than most, takes up space, bulkier than others
Competitive gamers want the best, and the Corsair K100 RGB is the best. But, even if you’re more about getting the most features for your money, this gaming keyboard is also a win.
We’ve used it on games like Marvel Avengers, Death Stranding, and Cyberpunk 2077 – and it really delivers on performance. Touting Corsair’s impressive OPX switches and Axon Hyper-Processing technology, it boasts a 4,000 polling rate, 1 millimeter (mm) actuation point, and the N-key rollover with anti-ghosting. That means that it’s as fast as it is responsive, which matters in games where every fraction of a second and every key press count.
The Corsair K100 RGB is also one of the most robust and premium feeling gaming keyboards we’ve ever tested. You just know it’s going to survive years of button-mashing and pounding, as well as resist everyday wear and tear, swimmingly while staying elegant-looking and comfortable to use.
What gives the Corsair K100 RGB even more value, however, is its host of incredible features. Corsair really took advantage of its sizable footprint by stuffing it with a whole bunch of useful features.
There are extra media keys and six dedicated macro keys on top of its already fully-programmable design. There’s also a very accessible control dial that lets you cycle through five different functions and adjust their settings.
Passthrough charging via its USB port allows you to attach another device to your rig. And, its RGB lighting is also grouped into 44 zones, so you can get as creative as you’d like without spending too much time on customizations.
To really make it worth your money, Corsair also gave it an 8MB onboard memory so you can create up to 200 key remap, macro and RGB lighting profiles that you can take with you.
K100 RGB (button)
The best mechanical gaming keyboard
Touting premium features without the premium price, the Razer BlackWidow V3 is a terrific and affordably priced mechanical keyboard.
Pros: Great value, solid build, a whole lot of customization options
Cons: Sizable form factor, wrist rest is not comfortable, minimal keycap curvature
If there’s one thing the Razer BlackWidow V3 proves, it’s that those features we don’t pay much attention to really do matter. The minimal curvature in its keycaps and lack of foam on its wrist rest make this keyboard an adjustment to use, especially if you’re upgrading from something that keeps your fingers and wrist resting nice and comfortable.
Still, this full-sized keyboard is much-lauded and for good reason. Those green or yellow mechanical switches are not only very precise and solid with a rating of 80 million keystrokes, but they’re also extremely satisfying to use. In fact, we love typing on this keyboard as much as we love gaming on it. Of course, it’s in gaming where it really shines, boasting a 1,000Hz polling rate and N-key rollover that allows its performance to be as responsive and accurate as its pricier rivals.
There aren’t as many features here, sadly, with Razer putting its focus on making it among the best mechanical keyboards out there. However, it’s not bare-bones either – at that price, it better not be. You’re getting onboard memory for up to five profiles, a multifunction media button, a multifunction roller wheel, and a handy cable routing solution in the back.
Plus, as much as this keyboard belongs in the entry-level category of gaming keyboards due to its more stripped-down approach, it still has a robust set of customization options to match its excellent performance. Via the Razer Synapse software, you can personalize its RGB lighting (though not per-key), program per-key remaps and macros, and take full advantage of Razer’s Hypershift feature that basically gives you a whole new set of shortcuts and key reassignments.
Razer then rounds those out with the BlackWidow V3‘s keycaps and matte aluminum body, both of which feel like they can take their share of beating. Speaking of those keycaps, they’re labeled using a doubleshot molding process, which means you’ll never wear those letters off no matter how much button-mashing you do.
BlackWidow V3 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (button)
The best optical gaming keyboard
The Roccat Vulcan Pro packs robust performance and solid build in a beautiful and elegant design. If you’re looking for an optical option, you’ll fall in love with this one.
Pros: Aircraft-grade aluminum body, thin and light, excellent performance
Cons: Hard wrist rest, keypresses may take some getting used to
We cannot deny that we’re big fans of Roccat’s gaming accessories. The manufacturer has a knack for producing luxurious peripherals that masterfully combine robust performance and rugged build with sexier aesthetics.
The Roccat Vulcan Pro certainly doesn’t fall far from that high-class tree, and is the best performing and best feeling optical gaming keyboard we’ve ever used.
Optical keyboards are generally considered to be faster and more durable than the traditional mechanical ones. However, they tend to also have a bit more resistance. If you’re unfamiliar with optical switches, you should do your due diligence before buying.
If, however, you are a fan, then the Roccat Vulcan Pro is the one to get. We love the bounce its keys offer, as much as we do the curvature of those keycaps that are incredibly effective in keeping our fingers in place.
Gaming on this thing is a pleasure, which isn’t surprising. After all, it boasts an actuation point of 1.4mm, which is much shorter than other premium keyboards, a 1,000Hz polling rate, and a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor for incredibly fast responses. And, its Titan optical switches are rated at 100 million keystrokes.
As far as features, you’re getting an onboard memory to save five profiles in, a set of mixer-style audio controls, and a detachable wrist rest that magnetically snaps onto the keyboard.
It’s beauty and brains in one, and there’s certainly a lot of beauty here. The floating keys on an aluminum plate aesthetic are designed to let that customizable RGB light up like the Rockefeller Christmas tree. And, even though it is a full-sized keyboard, its 3.20cm-thin profile makes it feel less in your face. So much so you won’t be embarrassed to use this at the office, especially because those keys are also elegantly quiet.
Vulcan Pro (button)
The best customizable gaming keyboard
Perhaps the most feature-rich and most customizable gaming keyboard we’ve ever tested, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog makes gaming incredibly seamless and easy.
Cons: Pricey, a bit of a learning curve with some features, heavy
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog isn’t what most would call cheap, but it’s also among the best value gaming keyboards out there thanks to its treasure trove of features.
We’re not just referring to its unbelievably plush wrist rest that magnetically snaps onto the keyboard and makes your wrists feel like they’re resting on clouds or the USB passthrough that offers another port to which you can connect other peripherals or the underglow RGB lighting that extends to the wrist rest. Although those do add to this keyboard’s appeal.
Most importantly for gamers, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is incredibly customizable, offering per-key adjustments and remapping like you’ve never seen on other keyboards. Via the Razer Synapse software, you can toggle each key’s actuation point from 1.5mm, which is the default, to 3.6mm, so the keyboard responds to your presses exactly how you want it.
That’s nothing, however, next to the keyboard’s dual-step actuation function, which actually lets you assign two different functions at two different actuation points on the same key. It’s an incredibly nifty feature to have, as it gives you the ability to press fewer keys for similar game actions.
A great, if basic, example of this would be to keep the W key’s default forward action at 1.5mm actuation point while assigning the run action as its secondary function at 3.5mm in games like Valheim. It essentially eliminates the need for extra key presses and makes your gaming experience much more seamless, mimicking the dynamism of analog gamepads.
Of course, essentials like customizable RGB lighting, macro recording – which can be done on-the-fly, onboard memory for up to five profiles, media keys, and robust doubleshot PBT keycaps are on hand as well. That’s not to mention its super responsive and accurate performance thanks to its 1,000Hz polling rate, optical switches and N-key roll-over with anti-ghosting.
Huntsman V2 Analog (button)
The best TKL gaming keyboard
The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro stands out by combining elegance and style with sheer performance and durability, making it our tenkeyless champion.
Pros: Compact form factor, quiet operation, short actuation distance
Cons: Pricey, FN shortcuts take a bit of adjustment, bouncy feedback not for everyone
If you want the best tenkeyless (TKL; lacking a number pad) gaming keyboard, take a look at the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro, which is among our favorite gaming keyboards at the moment.
This optical option takes the classy route with its elegant and stunning aesthetic that features a floating keys approach on a brushed gunmetal finish. The whole thing seems to be designed to allow its customizable RGB lighting to shine brilliantly, which it does even in broad daylight.
Don’t let that elegant exterior fool you. The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro is as robust as they come, boasting aircraft-grade aluminum and optical switches that are rated at 100 million keystrokes.
Speaking of those optical switches, they are Roccat’s Titan optical switches, renowned for not just being durable but also for being extremely responsive. With an actuation distance of 1.4mm, you don’t have to press those keys all the way for them to register — and accurately, we might add. In fact, we’ve typed up a song verse on this keyboard with very light presses, and it did not miss a single key. Combined with its 1,000Hz polling rate, you’ll find this keyboard a huge advantage when gaming.
Because it’s incredibly quiet, you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you can game late at night and not piss off your roommate with all the button-mashing.
Don’t worry about the more compact form factor, either. Its Function (FN) key shortcuts allow for quick access to media controls, settings, or RGB lighting presets, while the Roccat Swarm software lets you adjust keyboard settings, program key remaps and macros, and fine-tune the RGB lighting. There might just be an adjustment period — it’s the price you pay for compactness. However, you definitely won’t be missing out on full keyboard functionalities.
Vulcan TKL Pro (button)
The best 60% gaming keyboard
The Corsair K65 RGB Mini packs the performance, feel, and customization of the company’s flagship keyboards into this tiny 60% keyboard.
Pros: Very small form factor, fast performance, quality build
Cons: No dedicated arrow keys, software not user-friendly, thicker than most 60% keyboards
TKL and mini keyboards seem to be the latest trend in gaming keyboards, and for good reason. The Corsair K65 RGB Mini, for example, packs most of the quality, performance, and customization of the Corsair K100 RGB in one of the smallest form factors out there – 11.6 x 4.14 x 1.74 inches to be exact.
Performance-wise, it has an impressive 8,000Hz polling rate with a 1.2mm actuation distance, as well as N-key rollover and anti-ghosting. Essentially, it can keep up with you, whether you’re bashing away in Sayonara Wild Hearts or the latest stress-inducing e-sports game.
The Corsair K65 RGB Mini is also fully customizable. You can create a Macro for every key via the iCue software. And RGB customization is versatile, letting you cycle and adjust through a number of presets or use up to 20 different lighting layers to create your own psychedelic effects. Plus, thanks to 8MB onboard memory, you can take up to 50 profiles of customization on the road. All this versatility comes at a price however, since the iCue software comes with a learning curve.
A 60% size keyboard also comes with some inherent drawbacks. Only the most necessary keys are included. However, Corsair was clever enough to include a ton of built-in shortcuts to make up for all the missing keys you would have on a full keyboard. Still, having to press FN plus the H, J, K, or U for the arrow keys makes us miss dedicated arrow keys.
Luckily, there’s not much else to complain about. The Corsair K65 RGB Mini‘s profile might be thicker than other 60% keyboards but it is a tank. It looks and feels top quality from the durable key caps down to the removable USB-C cable.
K65 RGB Mini (button)
The best wireless gaming keyboard
It doesn’t just go by looks alone, however. Despite being one of the thinnest gaming keyboards out there, it also feels robust, its aluminum alloy top case supported by a steel-reinforced base. Meanwhile, its GL switches feel like they can take their share of button mashing.
There are a lot of other things to love here. Though it may not have an expansive feature set, it does come with its share. Those dedicated media keys, all round in shape, as well as the volume dial, are definitely useful additions. Meanwhile, the dedicated wireless, Bluetooth, game mode, and RGB brightness buttons are a boon to multitaskers who either use two devices at once or want to go from being productive to gaming in seconds.
Because, honestly, you’ll love using this keyboard for typing up documents and writing those work emails as much as you would gaming with it. Combining a 1 millisecond response time and 1.5mm actuation distance with its satisfying tactile feedback, it’s just as comfortable to use for work as it is responsive and accurate for gaming.
Of course, being our top wireless contender, there are a few noteworthy things here. It has two connectivity options — one via its Lightspeed USB receiver, the other via Bluetooth. This is something we often see with Logitech’s wireless keyboards, but it isn’t something we often see with wireless gaming keyboards.
While Logitech didn’t specify its Lightspeed USB receiver’s range, we’ve used this keyboard six to seven meters away from the laptop it’s connected to in another room with the door closed, and it didn’t miss a single keypress.
G915 TKL Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless RGB (button)
The best gaming keyboard for less than $50
The Corsair K55 RGB may cost less than $50, but it still looks like a fully-featured gaming keyboard and boasts many of the same features.
Pros: Cheap, RGB lighting, customizable keys
Cons: Keys aren’t mechanical, not fully programmable,
This is the third time Corsair has featured on this list, though for good reason. Not only does the company build excellent top-tier keyboards, it also builds great affordable keyboards for the gamer on a budget. The best of those is the Corsair K55 RGB, which comes in at less than $50.
The Corsair K55 RGB, as the name suggests, offers full RGB lighting, making it look much more expensive than it really is. It also boasts a total of six programmable buttons, which can be programmed through the same great software you’ll get with the K95 Platinum. It also has dedicated media controls, and well-built keys.
So why is the keyboard so cheap? Well, those keys may be well-built, but they’re not mechanical keys, and as such, they may not be as satisfying to press or durable as other gaming keyboards.
Still, that doesn’t make this a bad keyboard, it’s just something to keep in mind.
K55 RGB (button)
When it comes to buying computer peripherals, gamers often need something a little higher quality than everyone else. After all, when you’re gaming, every millisecond counts, and the feel of a keyboard and mouse can have a pretty major effect on a gamer’s performance. Those are the things we test when deciding whether or not a particular gaming keyboard is a worthy addition to this list.
In terms of performance, we typically see what a gaming keyboard does in the face of the latest popular games, playing a good mix of game genres on it. For example, we tested our most current picks above on AAA games, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil Village, as well as lower-budget but equally popular titles, like Valheim and It Takes Two. Of course, since most people often just use the same keyboard for productivity as they do for gaming, we’ve done our fair share of typing up emails and articles on these picks as well, which also helped us gauge each one’s comfort level, tactile feedback, and overall typing experience.
We also make sure to test the software every keyboard utilizes for customizations, especially when it comes to macros, remaps, and RGB lighting. After all, many gamers rely on those supporting apps to improve their gaming experience. Naturally, if a gaming keyboard is wireless, we test its range and amount of latency as well, typically by taking it as far as we can from the PC it’s connected to or in another room and using it like we normally would. Finally, we test specific features as well — for example, if a keyboard has some specifically for MMORPG and MOBA, we make sure to utilize such features for such online multiplayer games.
The right pair of headphones can help players feel fully immersed in their games, whether they’re exploring a fantasy world or listening closely for enemy footsteps. Headsets with microphones are essential for communicating with teammates online, whether you’re playing on your computer or a console.
The HyperX Cloud II headset with 7.1 surround sound is available for $150 right now, and it works with PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. It uses a USB dongle for a faster, more consistent wireless connection than Bluetooth can provide, at ranges up to 60 feet.
The battery can last for up to 30 hours on a single charge, and even without power, you can always connect the HyperX Cloud II to your phone or controller with a 3.5mm audio cable. There’s a physical mute button for the microphone, and you can even remove it when you only need the headset.
PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch have different headphone requirements than the Xbox, so you’ll have to pick up a pair of Xbox licensed headphones like the HyperX CloudX if you know the gamer in your life prefers Xbox.
If you’re willing to go with a more affordable wired headset, the Razer Kraken X provides 7.1 surround sound on PlayStation, Switch and Xbox, and it’s only $50.
Cloud II Wireless Headset (small)
A gaming monitor for 4K resolution and competitive play
Sharing the living room TV with a gamer can be tough, so consider getting your favorite player a dedicated screen so they can play in peace. Monitors have become increasingly popular for gamers of all types, including console players, since they offer less delay than TVs and sport smoother frame rates while playing.
The best games of the year can vary based on a gamer’s platform of choice, so it’s essential to know if your gift recipient owns consoles (like the PlayStation, Switch, or Xbox) before buying a game.
Some of the best games released in 2020 and 2021 are console exclusives, like “Ghost of Tsushima” and “The Last of Us Part II” on PlayStation 4. “Ghost of Tsushima” is an open-world samurai adventure set on a scenic Japanese island, while 2020 Game of the Year winner “The Last of Us Part II” features impressive cinematic storytelling and cutting-edge graphics.
Nintendo’s offerings are known for being more family-oriented; the casual village-building game “Animal Crossing New Horizons” helped millions of people spend time together amid social distancing. “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury” is a four-player platforming adventure that’s reminiscent of classic “Mario” games, with an extra open-world mode called “Bowser’s Fury.”
for PlayStation 4 (small)
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (small)
A rare collection of classic Mario games
“Super Mario 3D All-Stars” is a collection of three classic Mario adventures remastered for the Nintendo Switch, but it was discontinued on March 31. That means you can’t buy it digitally, and Nintendo isn’t planning on making any more copies; you’ll have to find one of the remaining ones in stores.
With the Switch continuing to grow in popularity and the longstanding legacy of “Super Mario,” you can expect “3D All-Stars” to become a collector’s item in the years to come. “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” includes “Super Mario Sunshine,” which hasn’t been re-issued since its release in 2002, along with “Super Mario 64” and “Super Mario Galaxy.”
A subscription to hundreds of games on PC, Xbox, and Android
Millions of people picked up Microsoft’s Netflix-style subscription for video games to help pass the time at home during 2020. The library has more than a hundred games, ranging from Xbox classics, like “Halo,” to some of the most popular games of 2020, like “Among Us” and “Doom Eternal.”
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate isn’t exclusive to Xbox consoles; games can be played on Windows computers and streamed on Android phones. For Xbox owners, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold, a $10 monthly service required to play games online, so you get a ton of value for just $5 more per month.
A premium controller with customizable buttons
If you know a gamer who has been playing with the same old Xbox or PlayStation controller for years, you can give them a major upgrade. The $180 Xbox Elite 2 controller has a rechargeable battery, four extra paddle buttons on the rear, and comes with extra tools to customize and tighten your joysticks and directional pad.
The Xbox Elite 2 works on PC, is Bluetooth compatible, and will work with the Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X.
Extra storage space to spend more time playing, and less downloading
The latest games can require anywhere from 20GB to 200GB to install, so gamers of all types will appreciate an upgrade in storage space. PlayStation and Xbox both allow external USB drives for storing games, screenshots, and your video recordings. You’ll need a USB 3.0 drive with between 250GB or 8TB of storage.
We recommend buying a drive from a reliable brand like Seagate or Western Digital — 1TB is enough to at least double the space available on consoles, and there’s not much of a performance advantage if you buy a more expensive solid state drive for your consoles.
The Nintendo Switch uses MicroSD cards to expand beyond its 32GB of internal storage. The Switch supports MicroSD cards up to 2TB in size but we recommend a 128GB or 256GB card, which offer plenty of space at a significantly lower price.
A retro console for nostalgia and preserving the classics
Retro consoles like the Sega Genesis Mini pack a bunch of classic games into a nostalgic replica of consoles past. The Sega Genesis Mini comes with 42 games from the ’90s console including “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Street Fighter 2.” Games are displayed in high definition and the digital copies let you instantly save.
Nintendo set off a craze for retro consoles a few years ago with the NES Classic and Super NES Classic, but those consoles had a limited run and have less games than the Genesis Mini. The PlayStation Classic also collects 20 games from that console, but the selection isn’t as impressive as the competition.
An all-in-one VR headset to explore gaming from a new perspective
Released in May 2020, the Oculus Quest 2 has set a new standard for virtual reality headsets with finger tracking, greatly improved image quality, and no external sensors needed for setup. Oculus Quest 2 can be used as a standalone device for gaming, chatting, and watching movies, or connected to a PC for even more immersive performance.
Iconic collectibles inspired by popular games
Not every video game series is popular enough to have its own set of collectibles, but you can find a wide selection of gaming-inspired figures and statues from brands like Pop!, Nendoroid, and Kotobukiya. Prices can range from $10 to $250 or more depending on the item, but what’s important is finding a collectible that matches your gamer’s style.
The collectible shop iam8bit also offers lots of rare and limited collectibles, like vinyl video game soundtracks and customized cartridges for old games. Limited Run Games also puts together physical releases for popular indie games and retro titles that include unique collectibles like t-shirts and art books.
However, there’s no denying that leaning back with a controller in your hand is much more relaxing than crouching over a mouse and keyboard.
Fortunately, just like you can connect your mouse and keyboard to a PS4, you can likewise connect your PS4 controller to a PC.
Here are three different ways to connect your PS4 controller to a Windows 10 PC.
How to connect PS4 controller to PC with USB
If you want to connect the controller with a micro-USB cable (the same cable you use to charge the controller), you have two options.
Connect via Steam
If you’re a PC gamer, chances are that you have a Steam account. Luckily, Steam makes connecting new controllers easy.
1. Open Steam and click the “Big Picture Mode” icon in the top-right – it looks like a square with two arrows pointing out.
2. Once in Big Picture Mode, select the gear icon at the top-right to navigate to Settings.
3. Under the “Controller” tab, click “Controller Settings.”
4. Check the box for “PlayStation Configuration Support.”
5. Plug the PS4 controller into your PC using the micro-USB cable. Make sure the backlight on the controller glows to indicate there’s a connection.
6. Steam should automatically detect and configure your controller. Click it when it appears at the bottom of the page.
Connect via DS4 Windows Utility
If you want to use the wired controller with a non-Steam game, this is another option.
1. In a web browser on your PC, go to DS4Windows.com. Click “Download Now.”
2. You’ll be redirected to Github. Find and click the DS4Windows.zip file, and then download it onto your computer.
3. Find the downloaded .zip file on your computer and open it, and then double-click “DS4Updater” and click “Extract All.”
4. Pick a location for the files to be extracted to – it should be a location that you can find easily.
5. Once extracted, open the location you picked and double-click “DS4Windows.” If you’re asked to confirm that you want to run the program, click “Run.”
6. You’ll be asked where you want to save the program’s files. If you don’t care where they go, pick “Appdata” – if you want to be able to move them around, pick “Program Folder” and select a location.
7. Once you’ve picked a spot to save the files, click “Step 1: Install the DS4 Driver” and let the program install its files. If you’re asked whether you’d like to install the software, click “Install.”
You can now use the PS4 controller on your PC with a micro-USB cable, although you may need to restart your computer first.
How to connect PS4 controllerto PC with Bluetooth
If your PC supports Bluetooth – and if it was made in the last ten years, chances are it does – you can pair and connect your controller wirelessly.
This method also works for the newer PS5 DualSense controller, although that controller might not be supported by every game.
1. Open your PC’s search menu (you can press the Windows key + Q to open it immediately) and search for “Bluetooth.”
2. When “Bluetooth and other devices settings” appears in the search results, click on it.
3. Make sure your computer has Bluetooth enabled by setting the switch labeled “Bluetooth” to “On.”
4. Hold down the Playstation and Share buttons on your controller until the backlight starts flashing.
5. On your PC, click “Add Bluetooth or other device,” and select “Bluetooth.”
6. You’ll see your PS4 controller listed as “Wireless Controller.” Click it to finalize the connection. If you’re asked for a passcode, enter “0000.”
Dave Johnson contributed to a previous version of this article.
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is our top pick because of its versatility, familiar layout, and iOS features.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
There’s no denying the popularity of iOS games. Apple gave them their own section of the App Store in 2017 and introduced the Apple Arcade subscription service in 2019 because its customers play so many games.
Many mobile games can be played with nothing but a touchscreen. Some titles can benefit from more precise controls, however, and the lack of an official Apple controller means eager iOS gamers have to use a third-party gamepad. (A situation that Apple’s been rumored to resolve for years but has never delivered on.)
With so many controller options out there, it can be hard to figure out which iOS gamepad is best for your needs. The best controller for someone who owns an Xbox One and mostly plays on their Apple TV, for example, won’t be the same as the best controller for someone who doesn’t own a console and only plays games on their iPhone while they commute.
After testing several models across different iOS devices, we’ve selected the best controllers for playing games on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Our picks are divided into categories geared towards specific buyers based on Apple’s expanded support for console gamepads, compatibility with different kinds of devices, and potential use cases.
Here are our top picks for the best iOS Controller:
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the most versatile yet familiar controller you can find for gaming across the entire Apple ecosystem.
Pros: Built-in stand that fits most iPhones; supports all modern iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac models; familiar layout complemented by iOS navigation buttons
Cons: Attaching the stand can seem a bit sketchy, prominent battery indicator detracts from the design
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best iOS controller thanks to its incredible versatility. It can easily pair with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac devices via Bluetooth. It can be used standalone, like a traditional controller, or it can be used with an iPhone mount that makes it seem more like a handheld console than a gamepad. And, it can even be customized using the SteelSeries Engine software.
All of those features help the Nimbus+ slot easily into the Apple ecosystem. So does the Lightning port that makes it easy for most iPhone and iPad owners to keep the battery charged. With that said, iPad Pro owners who rely on a USB-C cable for charging will have to dig up one of their old Lightning cables. The battery lasts up to 50 hours on a single charge, which should be more than enough for mobile use or gaming sessions around the house on the couch.
The Nimbus+ was clearly inspired by other controllers — it features the same layout as Sony’s DualShock 4 with a shape that best resembles Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller. There are four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, a directional pad, two clickable analog sticks, and a trio of navigation buttons meant specifically for iOS devices. The controller should feel familiar to any experienced gamer.
This isn’t to say the Nimbus+ is perfect. Attaching the phone mount feels perilous, the prominent battery indicator is an eyesore, and the face buttons feel oddly slick compared to those found on other controllers. Yet, none of its competition manages to best the Nimbus+ when it comes to offering a great experience on every Apple device you own. That versatility more than makes up for a few design quibbles.
The best iOS controller for PlayStation owners
The DualShock 4 is included with the PlayStation 4, it features a reliable design for gaming, and it’s easy to swap between Apple devices and your console.
Pros: Familiar layout; PS4 owners won’t have to purchase another controller; easy to switch between devices
Cons: Not everyone will find it comfortable to use; battery life can be lacking, especially late into the controller’s life
Sony introduced the first DualShock controller as an optional PlayStation accessory in 1997. Until the release of the PlayStation 5, which comes with the new DualSense controller, every other PlayStation console debuted with a next-generation DualShock controller that built upon the original design. The gamepad is familiar to millions of gamers — and PS4 owners can easily use the DualShock 4 with all of their Apple devices.
Apple officially added support for the DualShock 4 to iOS and tvOS in 2019 to coincide with the launch of Apple Arcade. Pairing the controller is as easy as simultaneously pressing and holding the Share and PlayStation buttons until the light bar flashes. The controller can then be selected in the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV’s Bluetooth settings; the light bar will glow a solid color when it’s successfully paired.
Using the DualShock 4 is otherwise similar to using it with a PS4. The controller features the same basic layout as the original DualShock released in 1997: two clickable analog sticks, a directional pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and three navigation buttons are all here. Anyone who’s played on a PlayStation console in the last 23 years will have a familiar experience with the DualShock 4.
Unfortunately, support for all of the DualShock 4’s features varies by game. Some developers choose not to support “extra” features, such as the touch bar, light bar, and rumble-based feedback. Apple has made it easy for devs to customize on-screen control prompts based on the connected controller, which is nice, but they aren’t always perfect. And, the DualShock 4’s battery life often leaves a lot to be desired.
The best iOS controller for Xbox gamers
The Xbox Wireless Controller is a great all-around gamepad for iOS devices, and it features a shape many people with larger hands will find comfortable.
Pros: Easy to switch between devices, Xbox One owners won’t have to buy a new controller, comfortable shape lends itself well to longer gaming sessions
Cons: Might be too large for some hands, requires batteries
Apple didn’t just throw PlayStation owners a bone in 2019; it also officially added support for the Xbox One controller. It’s the same basic concept — make it easy for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV owners to use a gaming controller they might already own, but this time, applied to the gamepad Microsoft has shipped with every console since 2013.
Most people probably won’t have to choose between an Xbox controller or a DualShock 4 for iOS, as it’s more likely you’ll own one or the other, and both are great performers. For those who do have an option, however, there are a few differences to note.
The most obvious is the shape: Microsoft opted for an asymmetric layout, slightly larger body, and more trigger-like shoulder buttons with its controller. It also chose to use AA batteries rather than a rechargeable battery, which can give the Xbox One controller a longer battery life at the expense of convenience.
I’ve been a PlayStation owner for most of my life, and I’m used to the DualShock lineup, but I’ll admit the Xbox One controller is a lot more comfortable when playing for extended periods. People with larger hands will probably prefer Microsoft’s offering; those with hands on the smaller side might be better off with Sony’s. But, again, the point is to use the controller you already own with as many devices as possible.
Pairing an Xbox One controller with an iOS or tvOS device is as easy as pressing the Xbox button, holding down the Pair button for a few seconds if it’s already connected to a console, and then selecting the controller from the Bluetooth menu of the device you want to play on. I haven’t encountered any issues switching between my iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV while I was evaluating the Xbox One controller for this guide.
It should be noted, however, that the brand-new version of the Xbox One controller released in conjunction with the Xbox Series S and X does not yet have official iOS support. It’s expected to be added, but only the older model linked to in this guide currently works with iOS.
The best iOS controller for Nintendo Switch fans
The Backbone One turns a connected iPhone into a makeshift Nintendo Switch with a bevy of software features that aren’t available with other gamepads.
There’s no denying the Backbone One makes the iPhone look like a Nintendo Switch. The designs are practically identical: a gamepad on the left, a screen in the middle, and another gamepad on the right. Anyone who’s used a Switch will feel right at home with the Backbone One — and might even find themselves wishing Nintendo would copy a few ideas itself.
Setting up the Backbone One is as easy as pulling the gamepads apart, lining up the Lightning connector with an iPhone’s equivalent port, and letting the controller snap into place. This can be a bit nerve wracking the first few times, but I haven’t encountered any problems despite using the controller for dozens of hours over the course of several weeks.
Once the hardware’s in place it’s time to set up the Backbone app for iOS. At its most basic level the app can be used to find and launch games that support the Backbone One. The app also lets you share experiences via screenshots, gameplay recordings, and social features such as the ability to join a friend’s game.
It’s clear the Backbone One was built with this platform in mind. It has a dedicated Backbone button for launching the app, an ellipsis button that can be pressed twice to mute the system’s microphone, and a capture button for recording gameplay or taking screenshots. (Plus the same menu button that can be found on many other gamepads.)
The result is a controller that offers a full console experience thanks to its dual analog sticks, bevy of face buttons, typical shoulder buttons, and its comprehensive social platform. It also includes ideal mobile features like a headphone jack, a Lightning port for passthrough charging, and the ability to operate without a battery.
The best iOS controller for travel
The Razer Kishi is an easy-to-transport controller with a small footprint and compatibility with a wide variety of iPhone models.
Pros: Great for travel, works with most iPhone models, doesn’t require a battery
Cons: Can be hard to set up the first time or reset between uses, can’t be used across the entire Apple ecosystem
Razer is mostly known for its PC gaming peripherals, but at CES 2020, the company announced a new Kishi controller for smartphones. (I’ve used the version made for iOS devices, but there’s also an Android version.) Unlike most of the controllers on this list, which emulate or simply are traditional gamepads, the Razer Kishi is at its best when it’s used as a travel companion that makes iPhone gaming more enjoyable.
Here’s how it works. iPhone owners can pull the Kishi apart, plug the right controller into their Lightning port, and then align their phone with the slot on the left controller. The peripheral then holds the connected iPhone securely in place while also offering the same inputs — two analog sticks, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, etc. — as more traditional gamepads. When it’s fully set up, the Kishi is very similar to the Backbone One, creating a makeshift Nintendo Switch out of your phone.
This setup lends itself particularly well to gaming on the go — especially for people who need their controller to take up as little space as possible in their bags. Unlike the Backbone One, which bridges the gap between its controllers with plastic, the Kishi relies on fabric bands. The resulting setup is less sturdy than the Backbone One but also smaller when the Kishi is collapsed. People who prefer a better gaming experience should appreciate Backbone’s offering; those who value space should opt for the Razer and its more transport-friendly design.
The Razer Kishi is an excellent option for iPhone gamers on the go. The controller is responsive, sturdy, and easier to carry around than most of its competitors. It also features passthrough charging that should make it easy to keep the connected iPhone charged during prolonged gaming sessions. Other controllers offer greater versatility, but when it comes to playing games on an iPhone while you’re out and about, the Kishi is an attractive option for all but the most hardcore gamers.
Our testing methodology
To determine the best iOS controller, I tested several models using a series of games and media applications. All of our controller picks were used to play a mix of iOS-native games, titles streamed from my PlayStation 4 Pro using the Remote Play app, and games streamed from my PC using the Steam Link app.
The goal was to evaluate each controller’s responsiveness in a variety of scenarios, to confirm that each gamepad could work with the iOS interface, and to gauge each controller’s performance across genres.
Controllers were evaluated based on how comfortable they felt while playing, how swiftly their batteries died, and how easy they were to set up. Some of these metrics, like comfort, are admittedly subjective. However, I’ve reviewed many peripherals and strive to make the line between objectivity and subjectivity clear where applicable. Still, your mileage may vary based on some factors.
Though our current picks represent the best controllers we’ve been able to test so far, there are always additional models we’d like to get our hands on. With the release of the PlayStation 5 as well as the Xbox Series X|S, there should be several new options soon.
I look forward to testing these new controllers when iOS support is officially added.
Sony DualSense Controller ($70): Sony introduced the DualSense controller alongside the PlayStation 5 in November 2020, breaking the DualShock line’s 23-year-long reign. Apple included support for the new controller with the beta release of iOS 14.5, so official support should arrive sooner than later. It will be interesting to see if developers take advantage of its unique features, like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
New Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller ($60): Microsoft also released a new controller alongside the Xbox Series X|S consoles in November. The new Xbox Wireless Controller features a slightly modified design with a Share button in the middle of the gamepad. Support for this controller arrived with the beta release of iOS 14.5, and with both Apple and Microsoft saying they want the gamepad to work with Apple devices, it seems like Xbox enthusiasts won’t have to wait long to use the controller elsewhere.
A gaming chair used to be whatever you happened to use for gaming, but nowadays there’s a whole category of purpose-built seats for playing video games. The best gaming chairs are solidly built, durable, and capable of withstanding occasional soda spills. They are also supremely comfortable and adjustable to accommodate your body and provide proper support as you shift positions.
We researched and tested to find the best gaming chairs and found options to suit different budgets and rooms, as well as choices to accommodate kids and big and tall gamers.
Cons: The seat and back can get warm, assembly required
Secretlab makes ergonomic gaming chairs that combine affordability, comfort, and quality construction. With black polyurethane leather and golden logos, the Secretlab Titan is unmistakably a gaming chair, but the design is classy enough that it can blend into a home office.
Comfort is a priority, so there’s generous padding beneath the durable PU leather. A knob on the side of the Secretlab Titan provides adjustable lumbar support, instead of a cushion. The armrests are fully adjustable, so you can angle them to suit your position. The top of each armrest is padded and concave, which helps to keep your elbows in the right place. There’s also a velour-covered memory foam pillow with a layer of cooling gel for your neck and head.
The Secretlab Titan can also tilt and fully recline, with a lever to lock it in place, and the pneumatics enable easy height adjustment. The PU-coated wheels allow for smooth movement across different floors.
You can customize many design elements, opting for fabric or leather, with different color combinations. There are special editions linked to esports, specific games, or even houses from “Game of Thrones.”
All these features will be appreciated by gamers, but it’s the $419 price that makes the Secretlab Titan so compelling. Secretlab keeps prices down by selling direct to consumers. While a fabric finish bumps the price to $449 and real leather makes it $699, these are still very competitive prices for what you get.
We previously reviewed the Secretlab Omega and loved it, but the Titan offers some improvements and is designed to accommodate taller and heavier gamers. It’s not suited for anyone under 5’9″, but the Omega comes in a smaller size. An XL version of the Titan is rated for up to 6’10” and 390 pounds.
This is a durable and thoughtfully designed gaming chair, and Secretlab offers a five-year warranty.
Overall, the Secretlab Titan strikes the right balance between comfort, style, adjustability, durability, and price. This is the best gaming chair for most people.
The GT Racing gaming chair offers padded comfort, adjustable support, and a colorful design without breaking the bank.
Pros: Affordable, some adjustable support
Cons: Can get uncomfortable after a while, prone to faults
If you need a seat that can carry you through hours of gaming but your budget is limited, then the GT Racing gaming chair could be ideal. With bucket style seats, covered in polyurethane leather, extra cushions, and logos all over, this gaming chair certainly looks the part.
There’s padding over the metal frame, so this is a reasonably comfortable chair to sit in for a few hours. More padding would be nice, and the raised sides and metal frame can make this chair uncomfortable after a couple of hours, especially for larger folks. While the height of the armrests and the seat can be adjusted, the armrests don’t go as high as we’d like.
There’s a removable headrest pillow, and you’ll find a lumbar cushion on the back that you can slide up and down. A lever at the side enables you to recline the chair all the way back to a 170-degree angle. This chair also spins 360 degrees, and the wheels roll freely and quietly on hard floors or carpet.
The GT Racing chair starts from just $169.99, which makes it the cheapest option on our list by a distance. You can get red and black, blue and black, or plain black in the polyurethane covering. While it wipes clean easily, it can also get sweaty, and it’s not something you want against your skin, so you may prefer to pay a little more for a fabric finish.
While this chair feels reasonably sturdy and does a good job of emulating more expensive gaming chairs, you can feel the difference when you sit in it. This is a budget gaming chair, and the quality reflects that. We can’t speak to longevity either. Online research reveals reports about different faults and parts of this chair breaking. Customer service looks to be good, but we have some concerns about long-term durability. Ultimately, although there are better gaming chairs, we can’t find a superior option at this price.
The best office chair for gaming
The Steelcase Leap V2 eschews loud design in favor of functionality, so this is a fully adjustable chair that will blend in seamlessly with your office.
Pros: Fully adjustable, very durable, understated style
Cons: The seat and back can get warm, expensive
Most gaming chairs have a certain style, and it usually involves bucket seats designed to emulate sports cars. Vibrant patches of color and prominent logos are also common. If you’re hunting for a great gaming chair that has to pull double duty as an office chair, then you probably don’t want a garish seat that will catch people’s eyes during video calls.
Our pick, which served as my office chair for more than a year, is the Steelcase Leap V2. It has a well-deserved place in our best office chairs guide. What sets it apart from the competition there and makes it especially suitable for gaming is the padding and adjustability. This is a chair that’s comfortable enough to sit in all day for work and then sit in all night for gaming. Trust me; I do it far too often.
The Steelcase Leap V2 is fully adjustable. It’s designed to support your body whether you’re leaning forward, sitting upright, slouching down, or reclining back with your feet up on the desk. There’s fully adjustable lumbar support. You can tweak the resistance of the back, change the height and seat depth, and adjust the height and orientation of the armrests. It also spins through 360 degrees, and the wheels roll easily across carpeted or hard floors.
You can get the Steelcase Leap in a wide range of fabric or leather finishes in various colors, with or without the arms and headrest. You can get just the right look for your office, though some combinations are very pricey.
It’s a relatively expensive chair to buy new. If you buy directly from Steelcase, prices start at $880, though it does offer a lifetime warranty. On the other hand, this is a chair that’s built to last, and if you shop around, you can find heavily discounted refurbished chairs with plenty of life left in them.
Pros: Affordable, built-in sound and vibration, sturdy
Cons: Not suitable for taller gamers, needs to be plugged in, limited comfort
For those looking for a purpose-built gaming chair, there’s the X-Rocker Pro Series 2.1. This curved, black, PU leather gaming chair offers reasonable comfort and support, but it’s the built-in sound that sets it apart.
The X-Rocker Pro Series 2.1 features a pedestal for stability, enabling you to tilt and swivel. There’s a cushioned headrest, lumbar support, and armrests, but this is not an adjustable chair. It’s not the most comfortable gaming chair either, especially for taller or heavier gamers. We think this chair will work best for kids, teens, and smaller adults.
The built-in sound support is an unusual extra. It has two forward-facing speakers and a subwoofer inside, along with vibration motors that make for an immersive sound experience you can feel. It can also pair with devices via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, this does mean it needs to be plugged into an outlet. The sound should work wirelessly, but as it relies on RCA technology to connect to your system, it may require extra accessories, such as an HDMI Audio Extractor.
The X-Rocker Pro Series 2.1 delivers surprisingly decent sound, and the vibrations add an extra layer of experience to gaming sessions and movies. A panel on the right-hand side houses controls and various wired connections. Assembly is required, and you’ll want help to do so. Once it’s put together, the chair feels pretty sturdy.
User reviews are mostly positive, with people praising the audio features, but there are also some negative reviews from taller and heavier gamers. If you’re 5’10” and up, this gaming chair is definitely not for you. There’s also a positive review at Lifewire.
Ultimately, the X-Rocker Pro Series 2.1 has a lot to offer for $250, but if you don’t care about the sound features, you should check out a more comfortable, adjustable chair.
The best gaming chair for kids
The Arozzi Verona Junior offers classic gaming chair looks with adjustable support, but in a smaller package that’s suitable for kids and smaller gamers.
Pros: Designed for kids and shorter gamers, adjustable, comfortable
Cons: 132-pound weight limit
If you’re below a certain height, some gaming chairs are just never going to work for you. The Arozzi Verona Junior is built for kids and shorter gamers, offering comfort, adjustability, and durability in a typical racing seat style. The chair comes in a choice of four colors, and it’s finished in PU leather that’s very easy to wipe clean.
It comes with foam padding and cushions for your head, as well as an adjustable lumbar support cushion. The armrests can also be moved up and down and rotated to different angles. You can set the chair to have some tilt if you want a rocking motion, and it reclines up to 165 degrees. The wheels allow for smooth travel across the floor.
There’s a positive review of the Arozzi Verona Junior at PC Gamer. Choices for kids and shorter gamers are very limited, so the Arozzi Verona Junior fills a niche. Arozzi suggests a maximum height of 5’2″ and a maximum weight of 130 pounds. It’s a shame that the weight limit is so low, because this gaming chair would probably suit a lot of shorter, adult gamers.
Known for its headsets, keyboards, cooling fans, and other essential gaming gear, Corsair also makes gaming chairs. The Corsair T2 Road Warrior caters to big and tall gamers, so it has a high seat back and a strong, steel frame that allows for a maximum weight of up to 300 pounds.
This is a classy-looking seat that comes in plain black or options that combine black with red, blue, yellow, or white highlights. It’s shaped exactly like a car seat and is finished in perforated PU leather. While it is clearly a gaming chair, it won’t look out of place in most home offices.
There are microfiber cushions for neck support and adjustable lumbar support. The armrests are also fully adjustable, so you can raise or lower them, slide them left or right, and swivel them for the angle that suits you best. Internal pneumatics afford easy height adjustment, and the chair reclines through 170 degrees. The rollerblade wheels finish off a smart design with the ability to coast smoothly across different floor types, though they’re best suited to hard floors.
There are positive reviews of the Corsair T2 Road Warrior at IGN and KitGuru. While this is a roomy chair that feels very durable, it’s also on the firm side, so not everyone will find it comfortable. It does also require some assembly, and Corsair offers a two-year warranty for the chair.
At $399.99, the Corsair T2 Road Warrior is a good choice for taller gamers or anyone seeking a wider seat. The racing style does mean this is firm and curves in at the sides to hug your body. If you need something really roomy and capable of supporting weights of up to 390 pounds, then we suggest you look at the $480 Secretlab Titan XL instead.
What we’re looking forward to testing
As a fast-growing product category, new gaming chairs come onto the market all the time. These are the gaming chairs we hope to test over the next few months.
Herman Miller X Logitech G Embody Gaming Chair, from $1,495: A dream partnership between popular gaming peripheral manufacturer Logitech and office chair king Herman Miller is something to get excited about. The Embody Gaming Chair promises a research-based ergonomic design specifically for gamers. Extra thick seat padding and a layer of cooling foam in the back set this apart from your average gaming chair, but it is very expensive.
AndaSeat Fnatic Edition Gaming Chair, from $419.99: With a range of gaming chairs featuring a typical racing-seat style, AndaSeat is a popular choice for many gamers. Building on its reputation for affordable gaming chairs, AndaSeat is beginning to turn out a range of higher quality seats with price tags to match. The Fnatic appears to offer a good balance between adjustability and price.
Razer Iskur, from $499: One of the top gaming brands on the planet, Razer has created a gaming chair for the first time, the Iskur. This synthetic black leather beauty has Razer’s signature green branding in the stitching with a prominent logo. The ergonomic design boasts an interesting, fully adjustable lumbar support system, thick foam padding, customizable armrests, and a memory foam cushion for your head. Sadly, it’s currently out of stock.
How to choose a gaming chair
With such a wide and growing choice of gaming chairs, it can be tricky to pick the perfect one. Here are a few of the important factors to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a gaming chair.
Size: It’s vital to find a gaming chair that’s suited to your height and weight. You’ll generally find a suggested range or maximum height and weight in the specs of each chair. Bear in mind that the ideal height and weight for a chair will likely be in the middle of the stated range. This is especially important if the chair isn’t adjustable or has limited adjustability. Make sure you read reviews and see what people are saying about the sizing. If you can, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy.
Adjustability: A good gaming chair will be fully adjustable, allowing you to tailor the chair to your body. Ideally, you should be able to adjust the seat height and the armrests and tilt and recline in the chair. The best chairs will also offer adjustable lumbar support and extras like seat depth adjustments, but these are often lacking in cheaper chairs. Bear in mind that you can always add a cushion for lumbar support, but make sure that you get one that can be strapped into the correct position.
Material: The majority of gaming chairs are finished in polyurethane (PU) leather, but you can also find fabric finishes and real leather chairs, though they will be more expensive. Fake or real leather has the advantage of being easy to wipe clean but can lead to an uncomfortably sweaty back. Fabric tends to be more breathable but may stain more easily.
Style: You can get gaming chairs emblazoned with esports logos or styled after videogame characters, but if you’re buying something for the home office it’s a good idea to consider what the chair will look like during a business video call. Some options bridge the gap between traditional office chair and gaming chair.
My gaming addiction stretches back nearly four decades to the days of the Atari 2600. I also spent eight years working in the game industry. I have a lot of experience playing games into the night, and I spent most of them in unsuitable chairs, as my back problems will attest. Nowadays, I take comfort and support more seriously, and I’ve tested out a lot of different gaming chairs over the years.
For this guide, I gathered recommendations from game developers and hardcore gamers, pored over authoritative reviews, and read countless user reviews and forum discussions to identify the best gaming chairs.
I tested our top pick, the Secretlab Titan, for several weeks to ensure it measures up to its reputation. I used the Steelcase Leap, picked as the best gaming chair for the office, for many months and it also features prominently in our best office chairs guide. I have also briefly tested our budget pick, the GT Racing gaming chair.