PC gaming can be daunting. It starts with choosing whether to build your own PC or pay extra for something that works out of the box. Every couple of years, you have to consider upgrades. And even after you’ve settled on your graphics card, processor and monitor, you still have to pick peripherals.
When you’re zipping through Best Buy or clicking around Amazon, it’s hard to tell if a nice-looking gaming headset actually sounds great. And is a wireless mouse reliable enough, or should you stick with wired? It’s a pain to parse the world of PC peripherals.
That’s why we at Polygon have researched and tested many of the best peripherals on the market, so we can tell you definitively which ones are worth your time.
Best gaming mouse
Winner: SteelSeries Rival 600
The most impressive feature of the Rival 600 is its proprietary sensor. It features 12,000 counts per inch (CPI) resolution and 350 inches per second (IPS) tracking speed. In other words, this mouse is able to track more minute movements thanks to its ability to read inputs faster and more accurately than most other mice.
The Rival 600 is extremely comfortable, though people with smaller hands might find it a little too big for their taste. The look is a slight update on SteelSeries’ classic Rival design, with a bit of extra flair. Thankfully, the overly textured rubberized grip on the side has been removed — it tended to peel on the older versions. Instead, the Rival 600 features smooth silicone on its sides.
The mouse pairs with SteelSeries’ Engine software, which allows you to customize its RGB lighting and CPI, along with nitty-gritty preferences like lift-off distance. The software is easy to use and isn’t a resource hog, something that other accessory apps often struggle to accomplish.
The SteelSeries Rival 600 is compatible with both Mac and Windows, and retails for $79.99.
Best wireless gaming mouse
Winner: Logitech G703
Just a few years ago, the idea of a wireless gaming mouse would have sent competitive PC players’ heads spinning. Whether you play strategy games, MMOs or first-person shooters, your mouse must be accurate and responsive. For years, wireless options lagged behind wired mice — sometimes literally. But now, wireless works.
No company on the market does wireless mice quite as well as Logitech. While its recent update to its catalog includes a top-of-the-line pro series mouse, the best option remains the G703.
The mouse features a simple design with a high-quality hard plastic shell and comfortable rubber grips on the sides. The G703 also includes some of the most impressive mechanical buttons we’ve seen, with each click giving just the right amount of tension and response.
As for performance and accuracy, it’s pretty much pass/fail for wireless mice. One dropped wireless connection resulting in a loss might be enough to send certain players back to wired options. But the G703 passes the connection test with flying colors, delivering reliable accuracy. The mouse’s battery lasts 20-30 hours and recharges quickly with a provided cable.
The Logitech G703 Wireless mouse is compatible with Chrome OS, Mac and Windows and retails for around $99.99.
Best gaming keyboard
Winner: Logitech G512 Carbon
Gaming keyboards have changed significantly in the last few years. We’re finally saying goodbye to the gaudy plastic, extra buttons and gigantic bezels of older keyboards. Today’s are a little bit ... less. They take up less space, yet they’re sleeker and much better made.
Enter the G512 Carbon, one of Logitech’s mid-priced keyboards. It’s also its most stylish one. The board itself is made of aluminum alloy, giving it a bit of necessary heft. It sits shallow and close to the desk, with a small bezel that doesn’t force your hands or wrists backward, keeping things comfortable for long sessions of playing or typing.
Logitech offers a variety of mechanical key switches, which all come from its original Romer-G switch. The Romer-G Linear is a little bit like Cherry’s MX Red switch. It has a low actuation force, meaning you don’t have to push very hard for the key to register as pressed, and it doesn’t have anything to stop the key from hitting the bottom of the board, which makes it perfect for people who do press their keys hard.
Meanwhile, the Romer-G Tactile option is the closest to Logitech’s original switch, and is probably best for most people. It has a slightly higher actuation force — so you have to press the key just a little harder than with the Linear switches — but it also provides a tactile response when a key press actually registers. That means that you don’t need to press the key all the way to the board to know that it was pressed. This is perfect for people who often need to type with their keyboard.
Lastly, Logitech has the GX Blue, which is essentially just like the popular Cherry MX Blue switches, which have the highest comparable actuation force and provide an audible click every time a key press registers. That makes them a favorite for typists, but slightly less so for gamers.
All versions of the G512 Carbon are compatible with Mac and Windows, and sell for $99.99.
Get it here: Logitech
Best wireless headset
Winner: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless
What do we expect from our wireless headsets? They must hold a charge for a long period of time, be comfortable without being too heavy, have a good microphone, be consistently reliable and, of course, sound great. We’re well past the days when companies only managed to hit two or three of those check boxes; the field of wireless headsets finally has some strong standouts. These are headsets that go beyond the standard feature sets and give people a little something extra.
For SteelSeries’ Arctis Pro Wireless, that something extra is the sound quality. While wireless headsets may be catching on, there still isn’t a wealth of gaming headsets that actually sound great. But the Arctis Pro Wireless sounds outstanding for a gaming headset, thanks in large part to the included digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which eliminates electronic noise and interference.
The bass notes in the Arctis are clear and solid, without ever coming close to the overpowering muffled rumble that most often plagues gaming headsets. (Note to headset manufacturers: Making gamers “feel” the in-game explosions is not done by overloading the bass drivers until the entire headset literally shakes.) The headset’s midrange is fantastic, which makes dialogue — or voice chat — come through crisply against other background noise. The only real issue with the sound quality is at the top end; the treble notes can get a bit muffled and tend to sound just a little flat. This only really affects things like bullet sounds and metallic clinking noises in games.
The Arctis Pro Wireless is comfortable and extremely light, making it easy on the neck, though it may take some adjusting to get it in a comfortable position around your ears. The headset also has a fantastic battery life that normally lasts around 20 hours, which also makes it perfect for all-day use.
Note: If wireless isn’t a concern for you, we’ve also got an extremely thorough look at 2018’s best all-around gaming headsets.
The Arctis Pro Wireless retails for $329.99.
Best budget gaming headset
Winner: Corsair Void Wireless
By far the most unappealing thing about the Arctis Pro is its hefty price tag. But there’s another good option if you’re looking to go wireless without spending quite so much: the Corsair Void Wireless.
As you would probably expect, the Void doesn’t quite have the sound quality to match the Arctis Pro, but it’s got similar battery life and one of the most comfortable — if a little heavy — headset designs around. The Void also has a slightly better microphone than the Arctis. While it can’t measure up to the SteelSeries headset’s overall quality, the Void is a more than serviceable option — for over $200 less.
The Corsair Void Wireless sells for $79.99.
Best PC gaming controller
Winner: Xbox One wireless controller
While they’re not likely to replace your keyboard and mouse for most PC games, controllers are the perfect thing for platformers, puzzle games or even third-person action games. There are a ton of options for PC controllers, but you may notice that most of them look almost exactly like an Xbox controller. So why not go with the original?
The Xbox One controller is five years old now, but the design remains as solid as ever. It’s surprisingly sturdy and feels great to use. The springy triggers and offset sticks remain fantastic, even if the D-pad isn’t quite as springy as it could be and can sometimes struggle with diagonal movements.
The only real downside to the Xbox One controller is that it’s still stuck using standard AA batteries. So you’ll have to either get the Play & Charge Kit or a supply of rechargeable batteries — or plug the gamepad into a USB port on your PC. The good news is that the Xbox One controller will last quite a while on a single charge, so this issue shouldn’t come up too often.
The Xbox One wireless controller sells for $59.99.