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Steam Controller Review

If you are a devoted gamer, you most certainly want to find a solution to create a simple yet fun gaming environment. What if you could find a device that is almost as good as the mouse and keyboard? Well, you may wonder what that could be? What can replace my basic equipment?

Sounds odd but exciting…

Yes, it truly is, so let’s explain. What we will bring to your attention is the Steam Controller! It may not be as accurate as a mouse and keyboard, but it brings a new dimension to most games.

So, let’s take a closer look at them in our in-depth Steam Controller Review…

The Beginnings

Steam Controllers were developed by Valve back in 2015. They were designed to be modern, top-quality game controllers designed specifically for video gamers like you. A steam controller gives you precise aim for your games.

The question is, how?

It has a wireless feature, making it possible for you to play all kinds of video games, both old and new. You can also play games created for the mouse and keyboard but with the controller instead.

Steam Controller Review

What Do Gamers Prefer?

The DualShock 4 and the Xbox One controller seem to be preferred and have become ever more popular in recent years. Steam has now also fully supported the DualShock 4 with different features. But there is still plenty of room for the steam controller.

OK, got it, so what about the Steam Controller?

Well, we will look closer into this product and make comparisons. We will compare and see how it’s different from conventional controllers.

Our goal is to give you enough information to decide whether it is worth its price and worth buying. This product is enjoyable. The Steam Controller’s goal was to close the gap entirely between console gaming and PC, and it was created as the ultimate gamepad, the one that had it all.

But instead, it’s at risk of being an average gamepad even though it’s the best replacement for the mouse and keyboard.

What Does It Include?

When you buy the controller, it is supplied with a Bluetooth USB connector, two AA batteries, and an extender. The extender narrows the distance between the connector and your PC.

How To Set It Up

Take off the back slot and insert the two batteries. There are two grips, so one battery goes in either grip. The batteries are also straightforward to replace since they snap into place and have a small chord to help remove them.

Our PC ran out of power at one point, so we connected the controller using the micro-USB. Unfortunately, it didn’t charge the controller, which would have been a nice touch. Once we had the batteries in place, we plugged in the USB receiver, turned on the Steam Controller, and started testing. It was effortless setting it up, and we didn’t need any drivers or software to get started. And having done this once, it will be a piece of cake in the future.

The Button Layout

It is pretty easy to see that the Xbox One controller heavily influences the Steam Controller’s design. The main difference is the button layout and design.

The trackpads are placed where the Xbox has the left analog stick and the face buttons. Another difference is the analog stick. To make room for the enormous trackpads, Valve decided to place the analog stick and the face buttons on the lower middle of the controller.

It took some getting used to since this is where the Xbox has the controller’s D-pad and right analog stick. So, there is a massive difference in the layout between the two. Two programmable buttons on the back, large shoulder buttons, and triggers also make the similarity to the Xbox controller very noticeable.

The Trackpads

The Steam Controller has two humongous trackpads. Those trackpads make this controller stand out compared to the standard controller. So, we need to take a closer look at them. Even though the functionality is identical to the right trackpad, the left trackpad is designed to look like a D-pad. Both pads are susceptible and have high input accuracy.

The analog sticks have a tactical advantage, at least it feels like that, but the trackpads are highly customizable and rely on accurate feedback to make up for this. Accurate feedback is vital for the Steam Controller. When playing action games, we found that it gave us a feel for how far we moved without on-screen indicators.

What Is The Steam Controller Suitable For?

Steam Controller

Whether you like the controller or not, we have to admit that the Steam Controller is a bit strange. The question is whether it fits at all among your gaming peripherals. You could use your console’s controller if you own one, that is.

The question that came to our mind was if the Steam Controller offers anything significant compared to the Xbox One controller or the DualShock 4? And it does! But we will get to that…

Its greatest strength…

The greatest strength, but also its greatest weakness, are the trackpads. Why is that? While they improved the controller’s performance, the question is, are they accurate enough to replace the mouse and keyboard? The answer is both yes and no. Also, in action games, they are somewhat uncomfortable to use. And can be tiring during long sessions of gameplay.

The accurate feedback does play a considerable part, though, so using the trackpads is a massive improvement over using virtual sticks on a phone or a tablet and feels way better. Maybe it is because we are used to it, but honestly, it’s just not the same as using analog sticks.

Great for games that don’t support controllers…

But let’s not pass judgment too fast. The Steam Controller is highly customizable. Combining the trackpads makes this controller one of the best KB&M replacements on the market, even though we would have liked them to be more accurate. Where this really shows is when you are playing games that don’t support controllers.


What makes it truly unique is its loadout system. You can customize every button and axis to perform what you want them to do. You can even customize this separately for each game you play. You can even share your preferred controller settings that you created with the whole Steam community.

And The Best Part?

It is common for gamers to upload their customized controls to the steam library, making it a lot easier to find cool and useful control schemes for most games, even if the developers didn’t bother to create a Steam Controller setup. You may even find dozens of fancy profiles for each game, adding new control modes and new functions to the game. This is something that we found very useful.

There are some incredible profiles available. One popular modifier that got us excited was that you could change the whole controller into a gyroscopic aiming mode just by merely holding down a button.

Pros And Cons Of Steam Controller


  • Excellent accurate feedback.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Two programmable backpaddles.
  • The accuracy of the touchpads.
  • Great for strategy games.


  • Real analog sticks feel better than the trackpads.
  • Layout takes time to get used to.
  • Not as accurate as KB&M.
  • Tiring during longer gaming sessions.
  • Small buttons.

Looking For More Superb Products For All Of Your Gaming Needs?

Then check out our Best Gaming Monitor Under 100 Review, our Best Expensive Gaming Keyboards Review, our Best Gaming Desks Review, our Best Budget Gaming Chairs Under 200 Reviews, and our Best Network Switches For Gaming Review.

Or how about our Best Budget Gaming Headset Reviews, our Best CPU for Gaming Reviews, or our review of the Best Gaming Monitor under 300 Dollars you can buy in 2023.

Steam Controller Review: The Verdict

So, having gone through everything, is the Steam Controller right for you? How can you decide? Well, looking at it objectively, we would say yes. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the quality that determines a product’s success, even though the Steam Controller is a high-quality product. So, let’s ask the following question instead…

Is The Steam Controller Better Than The Console Controllers?

That’s a tough question and not so easy to answer. It was a real winner when we tested it on strategy games and other keyboard and mouse games. But we felt it lacked a lot when we were playing action games. It was simply not comfortable enough. Another reason is its track pad-centric design and the face buttons, which are not easy to reach.

All in all, it is worth it because of the price tag and the fact that it is well-designed and high-quality. If you already own a console and have a controller, the two reasons to buy the steam controller would be as a better replacement for the keyboard and mouse.

Otherwise, there is no greater meaning compared to the ordinary console controllers. The second reason is the thousands of customized controller profiles you can easily download from the Steam library.

Happy gaming!

About Paul S. Brunet

Known as the "Tech Lover", Paul is an expert of current and trending technology. Here at TinyGrab, he makes "tech" easy to understand for the average person.

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