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Dualsense vs. Xbox Series X Controller – Which controller is better for PC?

The new console generation has given PC gamers a couple of new options for controllers. Both controllers are definitely good, a step up from their previous iterations, but which one is better to use for PC gamers? 

Let’s take a deeper look.

The Playstation Dualsense

Dualsense - Front

The Dualsense is a significant departure from the previous gen Dual Shock 4, while the core stick and button placements remain the same, the Dualsense has introduced a lot of new tech.

Adaptive triggers adds a dynamic resistance to the primary triggers, providing more immersiveness in games. The triggers can provide resistance and tactility to in-game actions like pulling a rope or firing a gun. 

Haptic feedback is the other major feature addition to the Dualsense, rumble and vibration is significantly more nuanced than the previous controller. 

There is now a built-in microphone on the Dualsense, allowing in-game comms without the need of a plugin microphone.

Half a year into its life cycle, I feel like the new tech is showing great promise. Games like Spiderman and Astro’s Playroom are making great use of this tech and I can’t wait to see what other developers do.

Dualsense vs Dualshock 4

The Dualsense is noticeably larger than the Dualshock 4, the controller is wider and taller with more weight in the hand. I’m a fan of the new size, with medium sized hands I had no trouble going to a large controller. The larger handles felt with a more curved shaped fit my hand better than the Dualshock 4. 

The touchpad has gotten more real estate on the face of the controller with the lightbar now appearing around it on the Dualsense, instead of beaming it straight ahead like the DS4 did.

The analog sticks are largely unchanged, featuring parallel obtuse sticks with an outer rim. 

The d-pad is largely the same as well, the DS4 d-pad might’ve been a tad bit more tactile.

The R1 and L1 bumper buttons are now quite a bit larger compared to the DS4 bumper buttons, they feel easy to locate and hit, without sacrificing any ergonomics. 

The charging port is now USB-C, a much welcome upgrade from the micro-USB of the Dualshock 4.

The Xbox Series X Controller

Series X - Front

The Xbox Series X controller is a more of a subtle evolution of the Xbox One controller, with most of the features, design and tech remaining largely the same. Considering how good the Xbox One controller is, I don’t blame them for leaving what ain’t broken. Older Xbox One controllers will work no problem with new Xbox Series X games and all backwards compatible games. 

Series X - D Pad

The d-pad is the largest noticeable change on the Xbox Series X controller, swapping out the old d-pad for a curved disc. The new d-pad is significantly more tactile than the older version with clear clicks on each of the 8 directions, it is a drastic improvement.

There’s now a share button the XSX controller, taking queues from Sony and Nintendo, the button will record and capture screenshots of gameplay for easy sharing afterwards.

The charging port on the controller is now USB-C, an improvement for sure, but do note that you can’t charge standard AA batteries through the cable.

Outside of those core changes, the Xbox controller remains largely the same and still great, fits well in the hand with zero learning curve if you’re used to the previous Xbox controllers.

PC Software Support

Which controller works better on PC?

Series X - Grip

From a PC standpoint, the Xbox Series X has much more out of the box support in wireless and wired mode, simply more (all?) games support the Xbox controller overlay. 

While the Dualsense does have some software support, it heavily relies on Steam to connect the dots on software support. Without Steam, support drops significantly, for example, at launch Rocket League on Epic Store didn’t detect a bluetooth connected PS5 controller, it required patched in support for the Dualsense. The special features of the Dualsense, haptic feedback and resistive triggers aren’t present in most PC games. 

If you’re willing to wait or tweak, the Dualsense is a great PC controller, but it doesn’t just work like the Xbox Series X Controller does. 

Winner: Xbox Series X Controller

D-Pad

Which controller has the better d-pad for fighting games and platformers?

Dualsense - Dpad

The Xbox controllers have long been maligned for having bad d-pads, the Xbox Series X controller looks to be a significant leap in that department.

But, I don’t think it beats out the Dualsense d-pad, the placement of the d-pad on the Dualsense is just more ergonomic for platformers and fighting games. The Dualsense d-pad looks quite different with translucent plastic and a slight curve in the center, the feel is largely the same, maybe a little bit mushier. 

Winner: Playstation Dualsense

Buttons

Series X - Buttons

The buttons have remained largely the same on both controllers, with the Xbox controller deploying rounded face buttons, while the Dualsense uses a flatter profile button. 

I personally prefer the flatter buttons, but I don’t think one style is superior to the other.

Winner: Draw

Triggers

Series X - Triggers

The Dualsense Adaptive Triggers would have a huge advantage here, if PC games supported it, but they don’t. If you’re looking to a buy a PC controller, a lot of the tech in the Dualsense goes wasted. Even without the adaptive resistance, the Dualsense triggers are solid, with a convex shape, smooth travel and a soft bottom out.

The Xbox Series X triggers are tried, true and familiar. The triggers are more sharply convex with a clean bottom out, no padding. Over a long play period, I suspect that the XSX triggers would be less fatiguing. 

Winner: Xbox Series X Controller

Ergonomics

Series X - Grip

Both controllers feel great in hand, with the Dualsense controller being the larger of the two. 

The Xbox Series X shape is time-tested and proven, while the Dualsense is Sony’s best shape yet.

I don’t think there is a clear winner between these two controllers and largely boils down to preference.

Winner: Draw

Input latency

Dualsense - Top

While this isn’t definitive yet, the Dualsense looks to have less input latency when compared to the Xbox Series X controller over Bluetooth. 

This isn’t too surprising, the Dual Shock 4 controller has some of the lowest latency you’ll find for a PC controller, I wouldn’t expect Sony to lose on this front.

The difference in input lag is pretty small however, in all likelihood, you will not notice any major difference between the controllers. 

Winner: Playstation Dualsense

Design

Dualsense - Contacts

Design is completely subjective, and both controllers have a lot of good things going for it design wise. 

I’m a fan of the Dualsense’s futuristic dual tone look and I love the colourway options of the Xbox Series X.

If you’re trying to match your controller to your PC aesthetic, the XSX controller is likely going to have an option that matches it. 

Winner: Xbox Series X Controller

Price

The Xbox Series X controller retails for $60 USD vs the Dualsense’s asking price of $70 USD. The Xbox controller is a better deal if you consider that most of the new featuers on the Dualsense are not used for PC.

Winner: Xbox Series X Controller

Playstation Dualsense vs. Xbox Series X Controller Conclusion

If I had to choose one controller to use for PC gaming, it would have to be the Xbox Series X controller, it just works too well out of the box and is better in certain aspects while being close in other aspects to the Dualsense. The new tech that has gone in the Dualsense is wasted on PC games that don’t make use of the haptic feedback, adaptive triggers or even the touchpad.

 

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