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(Pocket-lint) - Sony's not afraid of change when it comes to the controllers it sends out alongside each iteration of its famous PlayStation consoles - from the original DualShock and its three follow-ups all the way through to the amazing new DualSense, the PS5 controller.

Consoles only ever come with one controller, though, outside of a few bundles, so most people will soon find that they need a second pad for coop gaming or playing against their mates on the sofa. That, or you might have worn out your current controller, or fancy a few extra benefits like customisation and even extra buttons. If you're hunting for a new pad to go with your PS5 or PS4, we've gathered some of the best available right here.

All the models here have been tested thoroughly to check how they hold up to extended use, and to see how impressive their features are compared to both standard first-party pads and the competition.

Do note for now, though, that only the DualSense works with PS5 games on the new console at present, until Sony opens up the ecosystem and allows new pads to hit the market. 


Our top pick is the Sony DualSense. Other great options include the Razer Raiju Ultimate, Sony DualShock 4, Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro and PowerA Fusion Pro.

The best PS4 or PS5 controller

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Sony DualSense

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For

  • Astonishing haptics
  • Great triggers
  • Comfortable to use

Against

  • Can be prone to breakages
  • Only works with PS5 or PC

The latest in Sony's long line of great controllers is perhaps its best ever, and it makes loads of sense to get a second DualSense to go with your PS5. 

The controller has upgraded haptic feedback and triggers to make for enhanced immersion as you play, plus an on-board microphone for more ways to interact with games and your friends. It's also got an eye-catching color scheme. Be warned though - it won't work on your PS4!

Other great PlayStation 4 and 5 controllers

Here are five other great options for PlayStation controllers.

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Razer Raiju Ultimate

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For

  • Great pro options
  • Super responsive

Against

  • Won't work with PS5 games
  • Very chunky in the hand

If you've got a PlayStation 4 for now, and want to give yourself a leg up on the competition in online games or get more options for solo adventures, the Razer Raiju Ultimate is your best bet, a supreme wireless pad. 

It's a serious chunk more expensive, but it's aimed at serious gamers, with four extra programmable buttons to give you easier fine control as you game, and buttons and triggers that simply feel better to use than Sony's own stuff. It's also nice and chunky, making it really comfortable compared to the DualShock 4. Being able to swap out the thumbsticks and D-Pad easily according to your taste is an added bonus. 

This is an enthusiast's controller, but we've enjoyed our time using it so much that going back to a regular DualShock 4 would feel like a wrench. However, be warned that the Raiju will only work with PS4 games on the PS5. 

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Sony DualShock 4

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For

  • First-party so reliable
  • Comfortable to use

Against

  • Won't work with PS5 games
  • Battery life isn't great

If you're still on PS4 but don't want to spend too much, there's nothing quite like the old classic of the DualShock 4 - it's an absolutely superb gamepad, and for our money the best official pad Sony had made when it released. 

It's got great thumbsticks and the obvious benefits of wirelessness and seamless connections to your console. However, it should be noted that it'll only work with the PS5 in a limited way - when you're playing backward-compatible PS4 games on the new console, to be specific. That means it's hardly the most future-proof investment right now. 

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Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro

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For

  • Xbox-style stick layout
  • Well-made and adjustable weight
  • Great pro options

Against

  • Pricey
  • Won't work with PS5 games

Nacon's got a real contender for your PS4 against the Razer pad we've featured above in the form of the excellent Revolution Unlimited. It's a great wireless pad that brings a lot of the customization you might be seeking, including weights to change its overall heft!

There are extra buttons where your fingers grip, interchangeable thumbsticks, and even more besides, and one key change in the asymmetry of the thumbstick layout, more like an Xbox pad. If that's something you want, this is a great option for hands used to Microsoft's layout. Similarly, though, it'll only have limited compatibility with the PS5 for now.

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PowerA Fusion Pro

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For

  • Really comfortable
  • Well-made
  • Pro controls feel great

Against

  • Expensive
  • Won't work with PS5 games

Although, like all the other third party options, this will only work for PS4 games on the PS5, it's the closest we've tried in shape and size to the DualSense. 

You get extra paddle buttons on the back, and can choose how many to keep attached easily, as well as trigger stops that are really nice and tactile, plus easier-to-click buttons. It's a really comfortable pad, too, and connects easily via Bluetooth. If full PS5 compatibility were unlocked, this would be even more of a stormer. 

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Scuf Impact

For

  • Amazing quality
  • Stunning customisation

Against

  • Really expensive even for pro options
  • Won't work with PS5 games

When it comes to true customization, though, we're not sure anything can hold a candle to Scuf's controllers for PS4, which let you choose practically every element that goes into them. That means thumbsticks, colors, textures, D-Pads, back-paddles, and more. 

To be honest, that's also what holds it back slightly. It can be slightly overwhelming to consider, and you'll also find the cost of the pad going up quite steeply the more you add bells and whistles. Still, you'll get a pro-level controller at the end of the process. 

How to choose a controller for your PS4 or PS5

Here are some questions to help you pick out a great controller for your PlayStation console, since we know things can get a little confusing!

Are you playing on a PS5?

We said it up at the start of our guide, but to reiterate - if you're playing PS5 games on a PS5, you can only use the official DualSense controller right now. PS4 games on a PS5 can work with any of the options we've listed, but for totally next-gen experiences it's sadly limited.

Do you want to go wireless?

Wireless controllers are a must, in our view, letting you play more freely and without worrying about tangled cables. Still, if you want to save on costs you can often get more "pro" controllers for less by opting for wired versions where they exist. This will net you some of the extra benefits, without tying you down to a huge price tag.

Do you fancy some extra controls?

One of the biggest benefits to picking up a third-party controller for a PlayStation is that you can get one with pro options like back paddles and other additional buttons that you can remap yourself. These can give you a real advantage by letting you set up a control scheme that keeps your thumbs on the sticks at all times, for example, or any other number of configurations.

If you don't think you need this, though, you can steer clear. In fact, some pro controlls like those from PowerA actually let you remove the extra buttons when you're not using them, for the best of both worlds.

What sort of layout works for you?

When the Xbox 360 exploded into enormous popularity, one of the big changes it brought into the mainstream was an analogue stick layout on its controller that was asymmetric. This has become really comfortable for many players since, so if you want that sort of layout be sure to pick a third-party option that offers it. Sony itself is clearly committed to the twin sticks it's used for so long.

More about this story

Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.

Testing controllers is something we get a real kick out of - in all cases, we make sure to use the controller for at least a couple of weeks of intensive play. This helps us to get a sense for how it performs under regular use, and across a number of genres. In particular, we play a lot of Call of Duty with them, a great way to see how they work under stress and to take advantage of whatever pro options they have.

Extra buttons are welcome, but only if they work reliably and are easy to both remap and reach. Similarly, how the pad feels to hold overall is really important, alongside how well its components perform. If it looks pretty decent, too, that's a bonus, although more important is the pricing, which helps to determine if we think it's worth it.

We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.

We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Originally published on 30 September 2020.