Have you ever been secretly jealous of console gamers who can grab a controller, sit comfortably on the couch in the living room and enjoy their favorite games? Even if you are a diehard PC gamer, I bet you have considered getting a controller just out of curiosity. In case you are mainly a console player dying to play the games from your Steam library on a big screen, you will be delighted to find out more about the Steam Link – Valve’s magical streaming box.
Since the release of the Steam Link in the not so distant 2015, there has been a lot of uncertainty regarding the compatible controllers. Valve has made it clear that the Steam Link works natively with the following devices: the Steam Controller, the Xbox One or 360 Wired Controller, Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710, or keyboard and mouse. However, that is not by any means, the full list of controllers you can pair to the Link. So, let’s evaluate the specs of the best Steam Link compatible devices we have handpicked for you.
- Steam Link Controllers
- Steam Controller
- Wireless Xbox 360
- Steam Link Wireless Xbox One Controller
- DualShock 4
- Dualshock 3
- Logitech ChillStream Controller
- Logitech F710 Review
- iBuffalo Classic USB Gamepad
- Asus TV500BG Wireless Gaming Controller (Bluetooth)
- SteelSeries Stratus XL
- Best Keyboard and Mouse for Couch Gaming
- What is Steam Link and How Does it Work?
Steam Link Controllers
There is something extremely seductive about the Steam Controller. It is a way different from all controllers you have ever put your hands on and the overwhelmingly different design may be the dealbreaker for some of you guys. You’d better be prepared for a steep learning curve to master the Steam Controller buttons. As seen on the pictures, the Steam Controller is a bit bulkier and if you have small hands, chances are that you will not find it too comfortable.
Is the Steam Controller Any Good for First Person Shooters?
Once you train your muscle memory and fiddle with the configuration settings, you will enjoy your favorite MOBAs and MMOs without any issues, but is the same valid for shooters where pinpoint accuracy is critical? Can the Steam controller help you achieve higher accuracy than you normally do with a corded mouse and keyboard?
My most honest answer is yes, you can, but as the saying goes: “The best things do not happen overnight”. It will take some time to get used to the Steam controller so don’t get surprised if you find it impossible to hit even a dead body in the first few days. Once you master the controls, you will see that the Steam controller is actually great for shooters. I agree that a controller that perfectly mimics a mouse and keyboard is yet to be crafted, but Valve’s gamepad is pretty close. If you use the right pad set at a higher sensitivity, and the gyro for low sensitivity aim corrections, you will get an awesome performance.
As for games where precise movements are not so important (Dark Souls, for example) the Steam Controller is a good fit, too. By the way, if you manage to add a non-Steam game, you will be able to enjoy Overwatch in Big Picture mode, but keep in mind that it requires some exhaustive tweaking.
- Experience a new level of precise control for your favorite games. The Steam Controller lets you play your entire collection of Steam games on your TV-even the ones designed without controller support in mind.
- Features dual trackpads, HD haptic feedback, dual-stage triggers, back grip buttons, and fully-customizable control schemes.
- Dual trackpads allow for 1:1 absolute position input via virtual controls like a trackball, adaptive centering joystick, or steering wheel
- Dual-stage triggers can be used as analog, digital, or both types of input at the same time.
- Each of the Steam Controller's input zones and buttons has been positioned based on frequency of use, required precision, and ergonomic comfort.
Steam Link Xbox Controllers
The Razer Wildcat might not be among the officially supported controllers, but it does work with the Steam Link. During my tests, the controller disconnected once or twice so I had to reconnect it. Other than that, I had no troubles whatsoever.
It seems like this time around Razer has focused on performance rather than ergonomics. A friend of mine defined the Wildcat as a “hideous” controller, although it sounds like an overstatement to me.
The controller has the standard face buttons and thumbsticks, as well as four extra inputs you can program as you wish. Mapping these buttons will probably make you clench your fists until you figure out how it works. You need to hold down the remap button located at the bottom of the controller, then hold the button you would like to remap and tap the button you want it to mimic. You are enabled to remap your controls even during a game, too. The Wildcat does not have magnetic paddles, so you will need a special tool to unscrew the M3 and M4 buttons if necessary.
If I had to point the strongest selling point of the Wildcat, it would be the quick control panel. In other words, you are enabled to mute your headset mic and adjust the volume without purchasing a separate adapter.
To me, the Wildcat is the perfect controller for shooters as it allows you to change your weapons in a breeze, not to mention that the trigger locks enable you to lower the travel on the trigger and produce rapid fire. However, make sure you activate the hair trigger mode prior to using the locks.
Razer Wildcat vs. Microsoft Elite Controller
Now, some of you may ask “Why should I choose the Wildcat over the Microsoft Elite controller”? The two devices are similarly priced, and they are both designed with pro gamers in mind. Well, it all comes down to personal preferences. In terms of design, the Elite has no rival, but the built-in audio controls, the four extra buttons, and the weight give the Wildcat an edge over the Elite. Also, the Wildcat is predominantly tailored to live up to the needs of first-person shooter fans, while the Elite is more like an all-purpose controller. It enables you to swap the paddles, play any game you wish, and remap all buttons you want. (the Wildcat allows you to remap the four M buttons only). Last but not least, the Elite controller is a wireless device, but if you want, you can plug in the cable and go wired.
To sum up, the Wildcat is a wonderful controller you can use to perform critical in-game actions without even lifting your thumbs off the sticks. It is lightweight and comfortable so, if you are likely to put up with the setbacks mentioned above, the Wildcat will help you make the most out of your Gears of War or Halo play.
It would not be excessive to call the wireless Xbox 360 controller the coolest cat in town. It was launched quite a long time ago and still, it is one of Amazon bestsellers in the Video Games’ department. The controller works with the Steam link and it is a practical solution to your day to day issues regarding charging and wrist fatigue.
The wireless Xbox 360 controller has a solid battery life, great ergonomics, and excellent wireless capabilities. It can get you through 15 to 20 hours of usage before it needs battery replacement. The Quick Charge kit also comes in handy.
The gamepad design is quite unobtrusive. The top houses the input for the Xbox 360 Play and Charge kit, the headset input is on the bottom. You cannot expect a wireless controller to be featherlight and this one is not an exception. The controller is heavier than any corded controller that has ever passed through my hands, but that is understandable as the batteries add to the weight.
Now, let’s say a few good words about its performance. The Xbox 360 controller is superior to the majority of wireless devices I have tested so far. It felt as responsive as its wired siblings. Well, the force feedback might be a little weaker, but after all, this is a wireless controller, and it is not the one to put an end to the battle for supremacy between wired and wireless gaming peripherals.
To cut a long story short, the wireless Xbox 360 controller is simply destined for greatness and I totally recommend it as one of the best gaming controllers you can possibly find on the market.
The wireless Xbox One controller is among the officially supported Steam Link devices, so you should expect flawless pairing and performance. The Steam Link and a wireless controller combo gets you living room gaming without the irritating cables dangling across the floor.
The Xbox One controller itself has the best analog sticks I have ever tested, as well as rumble triggers. Well, the controller does not have a rechargeable battery, it runs on AA batteries. Also, the shoulder buttons are … let’s say a bit stiff but other than that, I don’t really have anything to nag about.
The Xbox One controller is a refinement of the 360 gamepad, so you have a familiar design here – two thumbsticks, a D-pad, an offset, four face buttons, two middle buttons, and an Xbox Home button. The concave thumbsticks design ensures that you will not accidentally slip off no matter how you hold the thumbsticks. As usual, the stick movement is pretty accurate.
The rumble triggers perform admirably in racing games, although it is quite challenging to put into words what a neat addition are they. You just need to feel them and appreciate their performance. The triggers are very quiet for the delight of your roommates ?
The gamepad has a solid battery life. Although it runs on AA batteries, the affordable price totally justifies the lack of a rechargeable battery.
PS4 Controller for Steam Link
The DualShock 4 is the best PS4 controller that has ever existed and I doubt I will ever find anyone who would disagree. The controller works brilliantly with the Steam Link so let’s see the additional features it won me over with.
As far as the design is concerned, the DualShock 4 is a big improvement over its predecessor. It is not only more comfortable to use during long gaming marathons but it also has a subtle, yet eye-pleasing addition – glowing light on the bottom.
The DualShock 4 also boasts about incredibly improved motion control. It is far superior to the Sixaxis and DualShock3 devices. The touchpad is intuitive, responsive, and adds a lot to your gameplay. It enables you to swap between modes in a breeze. Figuratively speaking, it seems that the “Empire strikes back” and the touchpad is Sony’s answer to the impulse triggers Microsoft has implemented in its controllers.
Now, a few words about the major setback you will probably stumble upon. The biggest pitfall of the controller is the short battery life. While the DualShock 3 offers up to 30 hours play, the battery of its successor gets completely drained in 8 hours or so.
Overall, the DualShock 4 is a sheer joy to use. It is not a controller you pick up to use until you save up some money and buy an upgrade. Quite the opposite, its sturdiness, responsiveness, and sleek design make it a wise investment.
- Precision control: The feel, shape, and sensitivity of the Dualshock 4's analog sticks and trigger buttons have been enhanced to offer players absolute control for all games on PlayStation 4
- Sharing at your fingertips: The addition of the share button makes sharing your greatest gaming moments as easy as a push of a button
- New ways to play: Revolutionary features like the touch pad, integrated light bar, and built in speaker offer exciting new ways to experience and interact with your games
- Charge Efficiently: The Dualshock 4 wireless controller can be easily be recharged by plugging it into your PS4 system, even when on standby, or with any standard charger with a micro USB port
- DualShock 4 Wireless Controller PS4 and PC compatible. Item PS5 compatible only when playing PS4 games.
PS3 Controllers for Steam Link
The DualShock3 works flawlessly with the Steam Link but keep in mind that some clones are not supported and in this case the saying “Buy cheap, buy twice” is totally valid.
As you may expect, the wireless controller is slightly heavier than its predecessor, the Sixaxis, but it seems that the weight and the rumble support are the only two distinctive features that set them apart. Given the price, and the fact that the DualShock 4 is already launched, I would totally go for the latter.
Logitech is a manufacturer I associate primarily with mice and keyboards, but they have some really cool controllers that work with the Steam Link like a charm. Let’s start with the ChillStream model that has an in-built 40mm fan intended to keep your hands cool during intense gaming battles. Is this fan a gimmick or a well-thought-out design solution?
The fan has three preset settings – off, low and high, respectively. It vents air on your palms and keeps them sweat-free. However, if you choose the “high” preset, the fan produces an annoyingly noise sound.
The ChillStream is a corded device, and the cord is a bit short which might be an issue if your couch is placed too far away from the TV. In this case, the best thing you can do is to have a look at some comfy console gaming chairs.
The controller bears striking resemblance to the 360 controller. It has the same dual joysticks, ABXY buttons, a D-pad, two shoulder buttons, two trigger buttons, start, select, and a center button.
The ChillStream is a nice gamepad and its price makes it an ideal choice for gamers on a budget. So, if you think you can put up with the irritating sound of the fan, you will have your hands cool, sweat-free, and most of all, you will enjoy a gamepad with great ergonomics and excellent responsiveness.
Steam Link PC Controllers
I know I said that the first thing that pops into my head when I hear Logitech are mice and keyboards, but here I am, introducing yet another Logitech-branded gamepad, compatible with PC and the Steam Link.
The F710 is among the officially supported devices, although its coded sibling, the F310 also works well. The F710 is a wireless controller with a vibration function. Logitech has also made some design improvements and added soft plastic for improved grip.
Other than that, the F710 is identical to the F310. It has the same button layout, but it feels heavier and sturdier, which is attributed mainly to the batteries that add extra weight. Logitech does not provide battery life estimate. I guess it depends on how often you use the gamepad.
So, which gamepad would I recommend for using with the Steam Link? If you are dying to cut the cord, go for the F710. If you are looking for a comfortable, high-quality controller under $30, grab the corded F310 version.
The buttons of both controllers have great tactile feedback, the sticks ensure the right amount of resistance. The dual triggers are a bit stiff, but they get the job done. The D-pad is where the F310 falls short, though. So, if you don’t have wads of cash, don’t think twice and grab the F310. If you want a controller with some fancy features and you want it to pair to the Steam Link in a breeze, opt for the wireless F710.
The iBuffalo gamepad is a sweet reminder of the past. The round edges and the Turbo and Clear buttons make it appealing to the retro gamers.
Sentiment aside, the controller ensures great response time and it is among the most affordable devices out there. However, the affordability does not come at the cost of poor build quality. The iBuffalo is compatible with Windows and Android devices, which is a great thing given the fact that Valve is going to release a Steam Link app so that you will be able to stream your favorite games on your smartphone as well.
The Asus controller works perfectly with the Steam Link but you will need to map the buttons after pairing.
The gamepad has quite tight analog sticks but still, those are preferable over the loose ones that in most cases indicate a cheap quality product. Unfortunately, there is no option to adjust the stick sensitivity. That being said, the TV500BG is a great all-purpose controller suitable for a wide variety of games. Well, some games designed exclusively for a mouse and keyboard simply do not work well with a controller, so if you pick such a game, get frustrated and blame yourself for having sub-par skills, switch to a mouse and keyboard for a complete peace of mind.
- Gamepad for both Android Lollipop and Windows operating systems
- Engineered for accurate control in Android TV and PC games
- Android TV brings stunning life-like 3D visuals to your HDTV.
- Play with friends or makes new ones with Google Play Games.
- Track your progress and earn achievements across your Android phone, tablet, and TV.
The SteelSeries Stratus XL works with the Steam Link via Bluetooth but during my tests I noticed that some buttons were incorrectly mapped.
Other than that, this is a high-end wireless controller that works equally well with Windows and Android-powered devices.
The SteelSeries claims that the controller ensures 40 hours of play before the batteries need replacement but make sure you turn it off when not in use, otherwise the battery will drain pretty fast.
If you are mainly into games that require polished skills such as landing precise headshots or throwing a grenade at the right time, the Stratus will not betray you. It will precisely read your inputs and you will be impressed by its consistency and responsiveness.
Personally, I think that the Stratus XL can compete with the Xbox One and the DualShock gamepads in terms of functionality and versatility. It might not be as sophisticated as the Elite wireless controller, but after all, SteelSeries has shaved the price off.
To sum up, if you are both a PC and mobile gamer, you will not go wrong with the Stratus purchase. If you are looking for a controller for couch gaming and Steam Link compatibility without being too fond of Android gaming, any of the gamepads in this section will suffice.
- Victory Royale is in your hands on Android mobile with the Fortnite ready Stratus XL
- Play any controller enabled game on Android, Windows, Steam, and VR with Microsoft’s X Input and Direct Input
- Dedicated Home and Back buttons for seamless gaming on Android and PC
- Upto 40 hours of nonstop wireless gaming with two included AA batteries
- Bluetooth adapter sold separately
Best Keyboard and Mouse for Couch Gaming
The Steam Link allows you to play your favorite PC games in 1080p resolution directly on your living room TV. If you think that a controller is not the best weapon for the gaming genre you prefer, you might want to have a look at the lapboards and peripherals some of the most renowned vendors have released so far.
The Razer Turret is a high-end Bluetooth enabled mouse and keyboard combo intended to take your couch gaming to a whole new level.
The mouse included in the Turret combo is similar to the Orochi model save for the textured grips and the lighting.
The keyboard is pretty small, but that’s an “optical illusion”. It is foldable and when you unfold it, you will find a built-in mousepad next to the keys. The Turret mouse itself has an ambi shape, although I have no idea how a leftie would use it, as the mousepad is not detachable. If you make large sweeping movements while you play, you’d better scroll down and have a look at the Roccat Sova model below.
The Turret is a tenkeyless keyboard meaning it does not have a numpad. It does not have an RGB lighting either.
The Turret combo is fully customizable via the proprietary Synapse software. You can adjust the mouse sensitiveness anywhere in the range between 200 and 3,500. The max DPI is 5 times lower than the established 16,000 standard, but it is more than enough unless you have a really huge screen. Each key of the keyboard is also programmable.
The Razer Тurret combo might not be as comfortable as the full-size keyboard on your desk, but it is Razer’s first product designed for living room gaming. Although there is nothing exceptional about it, it is still a hundred times more comfortable than a randomly picked mouse and keyboard.
- Designed with the single focus of bringing the PC gaming experience right to the couch, the Razer Turret consists of a fully-fledged PC gaming keyboard and a highly precise gaming mouse.
- The Razer Turret comes with dual wireless connectivity, so whether you’re connected to your console via Bluetooth LE or to your PC, you’ll always be able to play lag free without a hitch.
- The Razer Turret’s ergonomic and ultra-slim form factor has been made to perfectly fit on your lap.
- The foldable hinge ensures that the lapboard is unobtrusive and dockable to be part of the living room when not in use.
If you are heavily into games such as the Age of Empires, StarCraft or RPGs in general, I totally understand why you skipped the controllers section above. I agree that playing these games with a controller is achievable but requires a lot of practice and many unsuccessful attempts to beat the level.
So, if you need a sturdy keyboard for your couch gaming itch, you will totally fall for the Roccat Sova. It carries a bit steep price tag, but it ensures everything you need for a comfortable gaming session in the living room.
The Sova is a backlit keyboard built into a large chassis. You also have a replaceable mousepad, wrist rest, and lap cushions at your disposal. You can choose between a mechanical and membrane keyboard with a slight difference in price. Every avid gamer would agree that mech is life, so, I don’t think we have anything to discuss here.
The Sova is considerably bigger than the Turret keyboard, but it is a wired keyboard, while the Turret combo is wireless and works via Bluetooth. Neither the Turret nor the Sova are the best gaming keyboards on Earth but they are definitely a step into the right direction.
The keyboard gaming market is currently dominated by Corsair and Razer and I am pretty sure there is no point in outlining the specs of Razer’s BlackWidow and Corsair’s K series’ keyboards. If you have recently upgraded to Corsair K65 or K70, all you need to do to tailor them for couch gaming is to “insert” them into the lapdog.
Corsair’s lapdog is a tray designed to fit the K70 and K65 keyboards. It does not have a wrist rest, but the two keyboards do, so you can place it on top of the lapdog and see how comfy you feel. If you are ready to make your hands dirty and do some screwing and unscrewing to prepare the lapdog for use, I do recommend it as the better alternative to the Sova and the Turret. Getting a K70 and a lapdog is will not cost you more than the Sova and the Turret but you will be able to use the keyboard when playing on the PC, too.
- Designed to work exclusively with Corsair K70/K65 series keyboards / Large 11" x 11" mouse mat area
- Removable memory foam lap cushion / Built-in powered 4-port USB 3.0 hub
- Additional ports for USB headset and game controllers / Durable aluminum surface
- Dedicated cable compartment / Support for USB fast-charging
- Keyboard and Mouse sold separately
And here is the real deal, the Couchmaster Cycon is the perfect lapboard for a hardcore PC gamer who wants to have plenty of space for their peripherals. If you think you can tolerate the cords, the Cycon is the perfect addition to your living room.
What is Steam Link and How Does it Work?
Steam link is a device that allows you to stream movies as well as the games from your Steam library directly on the TV, and tops us the max resolution at 1080p (full HD). All you have to do is to plug the Steam Link into the HDMI port of your TV, connect a compatible controller, connect to your Internet through WiFi or Ethernet cable and choose your gaming computer. To avoid lagging, Valve recommends using a hardline but if you are not in a position to drill holes across the house to hook the Ethernet cable to the Link, you should count on a stable 5Hz wireless connection.
It is essential to note that the performance of the Steam Link depends on all other components of your rig. If you do not have adequate CPU/ GPU, or you have slow Internet connection, you should not expect the Steam Link to make the games run any smoother than they already do on the host PC.
How Do Compatible Steam Link Controllers Work?
- Natively – Controllers officially listed as compatible with the Steam link work wirelessly via Bluetooth or proprietary protocol. You don’t need any additional hardware to make them up and running.
- Adapter – Most controllers that are not officially supported require an adapter. The dongle you use on your PC usually works. The Steam Link recognizes the adapter and sends the inputs as XInput.
- USB – If you have a wired controller, you simply plug it in the USB port and the Steam Link will recognize it.
- VirtualHere –The VirtualHere software has to be purchased separately. You cannot use more than one device via the VirtualHere. People familiar with the matter claim that it will become obsolete pretty soon, and they are reluctant to pay extra for it, but for now, we have what we have
- Beta build 572 – allows remapping of buttons on plugging in USB device
- Kodi software – free software that allows you to stream movies from your pc to your tv