Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Chances are you’ll not notice it, however we’re residing in a golden age of gaming controllers. The gamepads in the marketplace now are larger high quality, extra versatile, and extra customizable than something from only a few console generations in the past. For those who’re gaming on an Xbox Collection X or Collection S (or a Home windows PC), you now have a plethora of nice third-party choices from the likes of PowerA, Scuf, Nacon, and Turtle Seashore, in addition to high-quality first-party controllers. The times of a budget, “little sibling” controller that seemed cool however barely labored are over.

I’ve spent a ton of time taking part in all types of video games (first-person shooters, fighters, third-person action-adventure, racing, indie roguelikes, and so on.) to check a large swath of Xbox controllers, and it could be unsurprising that the usual Xbox Wi-fi Controller is one of the best Xbox controller for many. It makes a terrific PC controller, too.

However whereas the de facto Xbox gamepad strikes the appropriate steadiness of high quality, consolation, versatility, and value, there are a number of options price cross-shopping if in case you have particular wants — starting from high-end choices just like the Xbox Elite Collection 2 and Scuf Intuition Professional to high quality price range picks just like the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller.

The perfect Xbox controllers

The usual Xbox controller appears to be like nice, feels nice, performs nice, and is out there in cool colours.

Finest Xbox controller for most individuals

Microsoft Xbox Wi-fi Controller

Connectivity: Xbox wi-fi, Bluetooth, wired / Connector kind: USB-C / Mappable rear buttons: No / Software program customization: No / Energy: AA batteries or add-on rechargeable

Okay, I already know what you’re pondering. “The perfect controller for Xbox is the one which comes with the Xbox?” Which will seem to be a no brainer, however this “commonplace” controller actually does earn this title as the most suitable choice for many Xbox avid gamers. It might lack a few of the additional options that we’ll go over on premium choices, however this controller is the distillation of 4 generations and quite a few first-party controllers earlier than it — and it reveals.

That is the one inexpensive wi-fi Xbox controller on the market, due to Microsoft’s proprietary protocol. Whereas some might hate that it comes with AA batteries as a substitute of a built-in rechargeable cell, that additionally means it’s versatile, permitting for rechargeable AAs or a battery pack. It additionally works as a wired accent with a USB-C cable, and user-replaceable batteries imply you’re not caught with a controller that doesn’t maintain its cost after years of use.


The official Xbox Wi-fi Controller has a devoted share button for saving clips and screenshots and sharing them on-line, Bluetooth help, and a USB-C port for charging up Microsoft’s play-and-charge rechargeable battery.

However the standard-issue Xbox pad isn’t simply nice due to its connectivity. The {hardware} itself is great for the controller’s $60 asking value. The sticks, buttons, triggers, and the sunken dish-shaped D-pad all really feel impeccably tight, with the latter having a satisfying clickiness to it. For those who’re a hardcore combating sport fan, it’s possible you’ll be higher served by an arcade stick or a controller geared towards that style — one with an impeccable D-pad like Hori’s Horipad Professional — however the Xbox Wi-fi Controller is an distinctive jack-of-all-trades.

AA batteries might not be very best, however it’s also possible to use add-on rechargeable packs, like this one from Hori.

Consideration to element: Microsoft color-matches the light-up Xbox button to the controller.

The one issues it actually lacks in comparison with pricier choices are additional, customizable buttons and software program tuning for issues like stick sensitivity, although Microsoft does supply beauty customization by way of its Xbox Design Lab, which ranges from $69.99 to $99.94 relying on the configuration. There’s so much to like about these controllers, whether or not you make your personal or select one from the varied colours Microsoft continues to supply.

PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller is sort of a terrific cut price, with all types of colours and distinctive designs.

Finest low cost Xbox controller

PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller

Connectivity: Wired / Connector kind: Micro USB / Mappable rear buttons: Two / Software program customization: No / Energy: Wired

For those who’re searching for a terrific controller however you don’t have some huge cash to spend — and also you don’t thoughts a cable — PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller provides an impeccable worth with out sacrificing an excessive amount of. Its full retail value is $37.99, however some colorways can dip as little as round $25. Talking of colours, the Enhanced Wired Controller is available in all kinds of hues and designs, together with licensed ones from sport franchises like Mass Impact and Fallout. A few of these designs might make you observed these are low cost, cringe-inducing knockoffs, however the high quality of the controller might shock you once you use it.


The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is a budget-minded wired controller for Xbox and PC that connects by way of Micro USB and options two customizable buttons on its rear. It’s provided in many alternative colours and licensed designs.

First off, let’s get its greatest draw back out of the way in which: it makes use of a Micro USB connection (gross, I do know). You a minimum of get a prolonged, removable cable with it, however not having a reversible connector is annoying. Fortunately, nothing else about this controller feels so outdated. Its construct high quality is simply fantastic, and it even has two mappable rear buttons constructed into the grips — which is nice to have at such a low value.

The remainder of the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is an entire lot of desk stakes, but it surely executes all the things fairly nicely for a ridiculously inexpensive value. There’s no impulse set off rumble, but when there’s any characteristic to low cost out on, I’d say that’s the appropriate alternative. On the flip facet, the Enhanced Wired Controller comes with a two-year guarantee, which is twice so long as expensive choices like Microsoft’s Elite Collection 2 supply.

The customizable rear buttons are simple to function with out getting in the way in which.

If solely this controller had USB-C as a substitute of Micro USB.

PowerA provides an entire lot of bang in your buck with the Enhanced Wired Controller should you’re on a good price range. When you have Elite controller tastes however commonplace controller price range, the PowerA Fusion Professional 2 is one other nice possibility. It appears to be like just like the Microsoft Elite Collection 2, full with 4 rear paddles and rubberized grips, however its full value of $89.99 normally drops as little as $62.99.

The PowerA Fusion Professional 2 additionally provides nice worth for these looking for premium options however nonetheless on a price range.


The PowerA Fusion Professional is an inexpensive various to the Xbox Elite Collection 2 controller. It comes with swappable sticks, mappable rear paddle buttons, friction rings, and a zip-up case. This wired controller additionally has a 3.5mm jack for enjoying with headphones and connects by way of USB-C.

The Xbox Elite Collection 2 is comprised of premium supplies however has a pleasant, subdued aesthetic.

Finest premium Xbox controller

Microsoft Xbox Elite Collection 2

Connectivity: Xbox wi-fi, Bluetooth, wired / Connector kind: USB-C / Mappable rear buttons: As much as 4 / Software program customization: Sure / Energy: Constructed-in rechargeable

The Xbox Elite Collection 2 controller is Microsoft’s fancied-up, premium model of the inventory controller. It’s additionally older, having been launched a yr earlier than the Xbox Collection X / S consoles arrived. So whereas it does sport a USB-C port and wi-fi help, it lacks the handy Share button discovered on the newest Xbox Wi-fi Controller. Nonetheless, it makes up for that in droves with distinctive construct high quality, additional buttons, user-swappable sticks and D-pad, and many customization.

For those who choose up an Xbox Elite controller, you immediately acknowledge the standard of supplies put into it. The place the usual controller makes use of an unassuming plastic construct, the Elite mixes higher-quality plastic with rubberized grips and bits of metallic. Mix this with its built-in rechargeable battery, and the Elite is noticeably heavier than its cheaper brethren. It additionally comes with a charging dock and zip-up case with passthrough charging.


The Xbox Elite Collection 2 is well one in every of our favourite controllers at The Verge. It’s an enchancment on the already wonderful Elite Controller, with deep customization, non-compulsory rear paddle buttons, and a swappable D-pad and analog sticks that mean you can tailor its format to fit your play model.

As wonderful because the match and end are, the important thing parts which will offer you a aggressive edge are the hair-trigger locks and rear paddle buttons. In principle, the hair set off will get pictures off quicker when taking part in shooters, and the rear paddles mean you can soar, crouch, reload, and so on., with out taking your thumb off the appropriate stick for aiming. Nonetheless, utilizing that many buttons on the again of the controller positively takes some adjustment. You must practice new muscle reminiscence, and because it requires dexterity with extra fingers, they’re not for everybody.

These premium options come at a steep value, too. The Elite Collection 2 is generally priced at $179.99, and despite the fact that it sometimes drops to $139.99, it’s nonetheless greater than twice as costly as a daily Xbox controller. You must actually need its additional options and person customization, and should you’re not utilizing its rear paddles or the software program changes for stick sensitivity, you’re not getting your cash’s price. (And if you wish to customise the colours, you’re $209.99 for the Design Lab “Elite Package deal.”)

Microsoft additionally has a stripped-down Elite Collection 2 “Core” model for $129.99, which is similar controller in a white-and-black end with out the rear paddles, accent charging case, or additional stick toppers and D-pad. You may get all of these in a $59.99 equipment pack, which turns the Elite Collection 2 Core again into an ordinary Elite Collection 2, however that units you again $10 extra than simply going for the Elite Collection 2 to start out with.

The metallic, dish-like D-pad is a small murals. Sadly, nonetheless, it’s a far cry from one of the best D-pad round.

The 4 detachable paddles on the rear sit beneath the set off locks and charging dock pins.

You have to additionally remember that the Elite has a little bit of a repute for lackluster high quality management, with horror tales from customers about going by way of a number of replacements below guarantee. Microsoft prolonged the controller’s guarantee from 90 days to a yr in late 2020 to assist deal with issues, however shopping for an Elite Collection 2 should really feel like a barely dangerous proposition. Nonetheless, once you nail that excellent sequence — switching to your pistol and touchdown a headshot with a fast pop-pop of the hair set off whereas your thumbs keep firmly planted on the sticks — it may well really feel price it.

Scuf’s Intuition Professional is ultra-premium and really customizable — for an added value.

A formidable various to the Elite

Scuf Intuition Professional

Connectivity: Xbox wi-fi, Bluetooth, wired / Connector kind: USB-C / Mappable rear buttons: 4 / Software program customization: No / Energy: AA batteries or add-on rechargeable

The Scuf Intuition Professional finds itself in a little bit of a bizarre spot, because it’s the one wi-fi possibility from a 3rd get together, but it surely’s by far the most costly Xbox controller round (it begins at $199.99). The one I examined clocked in at $263.91 with a particular faceplate and added shade accents. That’s greater than the Xbox Collection S sometimes sells for, which is a whole console. Nonetheless, you’re in for a deal with should you’re okay with spending that sort of cash, because the Intuition Professional is arguably higher than Microsoft’s Elite in some very particular methods — primarily, its consolation and implementation of rear buttons and hair triggers.


Scuf’s Intuition Professional is its top-tier controller for Xbox consoles and PC. It’s the solely third-party wi-fi possibility round, and for its very excessive value, you get rubberized grips, built-in mappable rear paddle buttons, hair-trigger locks, swappable sticks, and user-configurable cosmetics.

The Intuition Professional has very distinctive rear buttons, and I really desire them. As an alternative of paddles, there are 4 rocker-like buttons constructed into the controller’s physique that you simply push towards or away out of your hand with a center finger. It nonetheless requires coaching your mind a bit to get accustomed to it, however I discovered them extra intuitive.

Rear buttons apart, the Scuf’s different massive characteristic is its hair triggers, which have the quickest response of all of the controllers examined right here. Simply flick a change on the again, and the left and proper triggers really feel such as you’re clicking a mouse — it’s extremely satisfying. The hair triggers, rear buttons, and the superb textured grip materials on the controller’s underside make this controller a pleasure to make use of.

The magnetic faceplate and sticks are simple to pop off and swap out.

Scuf’s rear rocker buttons and textured rubber grips are intricately detailed.

The Intuition Professional seems like Scuf primarily hot-rodded a inventory Xbox controller, however like every boutique merchandise, it comes with a large value. In the meantime, it nonetheless makes use of AA batteries and lacks software program customization, in order a lot as I get pleasure from utilizing it, I’d solely advise getting one should you’re tremendous keen about its very particular qualities otherwise you completely love the colourful accents and magnetically swappable faceplates on Scuf’s configurator.

The Nacon Revolution X appears to be like a little bit low cost at first, however its premium options are steeped in deep customization.

The perfect customizable controller

Nacon Revolution X

Connectivity: Wired / Connector kind: USB-C / Mappable rear buttons: 4 / Software program customization: Sure / Energy: Wired

RIG’s Nacon Revolution X could also be worthy of an award for horrible naming, however its actual strengths are in its deep customization. For those who’re the sort that likes to endlessly tinker with a number of detailed settings, that is the controller for you. Usually priced at $99.99, the wired Revolution X and its added options don’t come low cost, however the value is a little bit fairer when you think about the competitors it squares up towards.

Whenever you first choose up the Revolution X, it appears very unassuming — and borderline low cost. Whereas it’s not a looker, it’s a form-follows-function kind of controller. It’s comfortable to make use of, and its 4 rear buttons constructed into the grips are massive and properly contoured. The actual stars of this present, nonetheless, are the analog sticks and their software program customizations, in addition to the expansive customized choices for different interior workings of the controller.


The RIG Nacon Revolution X is a wired controller for Xbox consoles and Home windows PCs that provides a slew of detailed software program customization choices. It’s additionally received 4 customizable rear buttons, adjustable sticks, and non-compulsory weights to insert into the grips to offer it extra heft.

Whereas different user-customizable controllers have three person profiles you may swap between on the fly, the Revolution X has 4 — plus a “basic” mode with fundamental settings and a hoop of RGB mild round the appropriate persist with remind you what mode you’re in. The software program app is just not essentially the most user-friendly, however the controls go very in-depth. Fortunately, there are useful beginning factors with presets for arcade combating video games, racing, FPS video games, and even sniping, which makes the choices a lot simpler to know. Add the power to customise and remap each button on the controller, in addition to a Dolby Atmos for Headphones app license, and also you’ve received quite a lot of customization choices.

The rear grip covers divulge heart’s contents to enable the non-compulsory weights to be added.

The controller, cable, stick tops, grip weights, and stick rings are all packaged within the included zipper case.

The customization doesn’t cease with software program, audio, or lighting, nonetheless. The Revolution X comes with ring spacers to regulate the vary of the analog sticks, too, in addition to a sequence of small weights starting from 10g to 16g, which you’ll insert into its grips to offer them an extra quantity of heft.

Including up all these options, you see why the Nacon is such a terrific controller for tinkering. It took me time to heat as much as it, however upon setting it up the way in which I most well-liked, it made for a really compelling controller in quite a lot of sport sorts.

The Turtle Seashore Recon controller’s greatest strengths lie in its plethora of audio controls.

The perfect controller for shooters

Connectivity: Wired / Connector kind: USB-C / Mappable rear buttons: Two / Software program customization: No / Energy: Wired

Turtle Seashore is thought for its headsets, so it is smart that its Recon wired controller options some strong audio controls. Its strengths actually come into focus when taking part in first-person shooters, the place its Superhuman Listening to mode tweaks the audio of any wired headset to attract out footsteps and distant gunfire within the combine. At its common value of round $60, and as soon as promoting as little as $39.95, the Recon is a reasonably inexpensive technique to achieve a slight aggressive edge in multiplayer video games with out spending nicely over $100 on a controller.

This pad isn’t going to win any magnificence contests due to all these awkward buttons positioned smack-dab in the midst of its brow, however each has a legitimate function. There are 4 ranges of microphone monitoring, general sport quantity controls, sport chat quantity combine, 4 EQ presets, 4 programmable modes for mapping the 2 rear buttons, and 4 ranges of non-compulsory right-stick sensitivity changes. That final characteristic, dubbed Professional Goal by Turtle Seashore, lowers the sensitivity of the appropriate analog stick whilst you maintain the right-hand rear button, permitting for very small actions like sniping, although it’s a bit clumsy to make use of.


Turtle Seashore’s Recon Controller is a USB-C-wired gamepad that provides an excessive amount of audio tweaking for wired headsets. Its Superhuman Listening to mode attracts out footsteps and gunfire within the combine, and the 2 rear buttons assist make it nice for FPS video games.

Studying to make use of all these controls might sound daunting, however the controller’s quick-start information makes it simpler. Superhuman Listening to may be very useful for shooters and value utilizing extensively for video games like Halo Infinite — simply remember that it’s going to muddy up the soundtrack a little bit, so it’s possible you’ll need to depart it off throughout story-driven, single-player video games.

It’s a bit a lot to absorb at first, however these buttons enable for very useful audio controls when utilizing a wired headset.

The bumpers, shoulders, and customizable rear buttons have a superb textured sample that feels nice.

Audio controls apart, the Recon lacks fancy options like hair triggers and swappable thumbsticks, and the D-pad appears to be like like the usual Xbox Wi-fi Controller however pales as compared. The controller’s plastic construct feels low cost, however the rubbery grips redeem it with a pleasant and comfortable really feel. As for the sticks, triggers, and extra rear buttons, all of them really feel tight and snappy. Mix that with Superhuman Listening to, and also you’ve received a terrific recipe for shooters. The Recon has a little bit of a studying curve, however should you play ranked matches and worth a reasonably priced wired controller with additional buttons and useful audio capabilities, you may’t go improper right here.

Different controllers price figuring out about

The GameSir G7 is a wonderful wired controller with textured grip materials feeling a tiny bit like a Scuf, clicky face buttons like a Razer and two programmable rear buttons. Its D-pad is a little bit too stiff, however what makes this gamepad distinctive is it comes with two magnetic face plates — one black, one white — which can be primed for personalization with spray paint or markers.Turtle Seashore’s React-R is a stripped-down Recon that maintains Superhuman Listening to and rear buttons however omits EQ presets, mic monitoring, and Professional-Goal for a decrease $39.99 value. It’s a superb worth, particularly should you discover it on sale for as little as $29.99, sustaining a few of the finest options of the Recon for cheaper. Razer’s Wolverine V2 Chroma is a feast for the ears and eyes, due to very clicky buttons and a strip of RGB lighting alongside the grips. It has extra customizable buttons than every other controller (six complete), although their positioning requires reaching, and it’s a bit expensive.Briefly talked about above, the Horipad Professional has among the best D-pads round. It additionally provides quite a lot of software program customization at an inexpensive value, however its shoulder buttons are a bit stiff.PowerA’s Nano Enhanced Wired Controller is an adorably smol man for individuals with tinier fingers or kids. Not like most kid-centric gamepads, it appears to be like identical to a full-size mannequin, and in contrast to our price range choose from PowerA above, this one ditches Micro USB for USB-C (hallelujah!).The Nacon Professional Compact Controller has a few of the Revolution X’s wonderful software program customization at a a lot lower cost. It’s additionally one of many smaller choices round, although the ergonomics might really feel hit and miss relying in your hand measurement.One of many dumbest but most adorable controllers is the Hyperkin Duke. This reissue of the unique Xbox pad is a love letter to the salad days of 2001. It’s simply not nice to make use of for contemporary video games. Fortunately it comes with a show stand, because it’s extra of a collector piece.

Another controller examined was the Turtle Seashore Recon Cloud. It didn’t make the lower on account of its excessive value and area of interest use case, however the suggestions above current higher options.

Images by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

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