It’s possible you don’t realize, but gaming controllers are in their golden age. Gamepads are more advanced, versatile and customizable today than they were a few generations ago. You can now choose from a wide range of third-party controllers, including those made by PowerA, Scuf and Turtle Beach. If you play on an Xbox Series X, Series S, or Windows PC, you also have a number of high-quality, first-party controllers. The cheap “little brother” controllers that looked cool, but barely worked, are gone.
I’ve played a lot of different games, including first-person shooters and fighters. Third-person action-adventure games, racing, independent roguelikes etc. I’ve tested a variety of Xbox controllers and the standard Xbox Wireless Controller has proven to be the best Xbox Controller for the majority. It’s also a good PC controller.
The defacto Xbox controller is a great choice for those who want a gamepad that strikes the perfect balance between quality, comfort and versatility. However, if your needs are more specific, you may also consider other options, ranging from the high-end Xbox Elite Series 2, Scuf Pro, to the quality budget choices like the PowerA Wired Controller.
- Connectivity: Is it wireless? Does it support Bluetooth technology? Is it only wired? Is the cable easily replaceable?
- Quality: Does the product feel cheaply made or well-made? When testing, did you encounter any glitches or reliability problems?
- Additional features: Is it equipped with extra buttons or remappable ones?
- Customization :Can it be tuned with custom software profiles or remapped buttons? Is the design fun and colorful?
- Value: Does it have a reasonable price, a fair one, or if it is a premium, how much?
The best Xbox controller for most people
The Xbox Wireless Controller features a share button that allows you to save clips and screenshots, then share them online. It also has Bluetooth and a USB-C connector for charging Microsoft’s rechargeable play-and charge battery.
You already know what I’m going to say. This may seem obvious, but the “standard” Xbox controller is actually the best choice for many Xbox players. This controller may not have all the features of premium controllers, but it is the culmination of many first-party controllers over four generations.
Microsoft’s proprietary protocol makes this the only wireless Xbox controller that is affordable. It’s true that the controller comes with AA batteries, not a rechargeable cell. However, this flexibility allows it to be used with rechargeable AAs, or even a battery pack. The controller can also be used as a USB-C accessory. Its user-replaceable battery means you won’t have to deal with a controller which has lost its charge over time. The standard Xbox Controller looks, feels, and plays great. It is available in cool colours.
The standard Xbox pad isn’t only great because it’s connected. Hardware is great for $60. The buttons, triggers and sunken dish-shaped D pad all feel tight. It has a satisfying clickiness. The Xbox Wireless Controller may not be the best choice for a fighting game enthusiast, but it is a great all-rounder. While AA batteries are not ideal, you can use rechargeable packs like this one by Hori .Microsoft has paid attention to detail by matching the color of the Xbox button with the controller.
Microsoft offers cosmetic customization via its Xbox Design Lab. Prices range from $69.99 up to $99.94, depending on configuration. These controllers are great, whether you choose to make them yourself or select one of the many colors Microsoft offers.
The best cheap Xbox controller
The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller, a wired controller that is budget-friendly for Xbox and PC, connects via Micro USB. It has two customizable buttons at the rear. The controller is available in a variety of colors and licensed designs.
PowerA’s Enhanced Wired controller is a great option for those who want a good controller, but don’t want to spend a lot. If you don’t mind a wired connection and don’t care about the price, it offers a fantastic value. The full retail price of the Enhanced Wired Controller is $37.99. However, some colorways are available for as little as $25. The Enhanced Wired Controller is available in a variety of hues, as well as licensed designs from popular game franchises such Mass Effect, and Fallout. The controller’s design may lead you to believe that it is a cheap knock-off, but you may be surprised by its quality. PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller comes in a variety of colors, and has a unique design.
Let’s start with its biggest flaw: It uses a Micro USB connector (gross! I know). It comes with a long, detachable cord, but the lack of a reversible plug is annoying. This controller is not outdated at all. The build quality of this controller is excellent, and the two rear buttons are mappable. This is a great feature at such an affordable price.
PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller has a lot of standard features, but they are executed well at a price that is ridiculously low. The impulse trigger rumble is not present, but I would say it’s a feature that can be sacrificed. The Enhanced Wired Controller, on the other hand, comes with a 2-year warranty. This is twice as long compared to expensive options such as Microsoft’s Elite Series 2.The rear buttons can be customized to make them easy to use without being in the way.This controller would be better if it had USB-C instead Micro USB.
If you want an Elite controller but have a standard budget, the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 is a great option. The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 can be a great alternative if you want an Elite controller but your budget is more standard. The Microsoft Elite Series 2 looks similar, with rubberized grips and four rear paddles. However, its full price is usually as low as $89.99.PowerA Fusion Pro 2 is a great option for those who want premium features, but are on a tight budget.
The PowerA Fusion Pro controller is a cheaper alternative to the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller. The PowerA Fusion Pro comes with swappable stick, mappable back paddle buttons, friction ring, and zip-up case. This controller is also equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack and can be connected via USB-C.
The best premium Xbox controller
The Xbox Elite Series 2 controller is one of our favorites. The Xbox Elite Series 2 is an upgrade to the Elite Controller. It offers a wide range of customization options, including rear paddle buttons and swappable analog sticks and D-pads.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 by Microsoft is a premium, fancier version of the standard controller. The controller is also older. It was released a full year before the Xbox Series X / S consoles. It has a USB-C connector and wireless support but lacks the Share button on the Xbox Wireless Controller. It makes up for it with its exceptional build quality, extra keys, swappable sticks and Dpad, and plenty of customization.
You can instantly tell the difference in materials when you pick up a Xbox Elite controller. The Elite controller is made of a higher quality plastic, with metal bits and rubberized grips. The Elite controller is heavier due to its rechargeable battery and its higher-quality plastic. The Elite comes with a charging station and a zip-up case that allows passthrough charging. Although the Xbox Elite Series 2 has been made with premium materials, it still maintains a subdued and elegant aesthetic.
The hair-trigger locks, and rear paddle buttons are key components which may give you an edge in competition. The hair trigger is supposed to make it easier for you to fire faster in shooters. And the rear paddles let you jump, crouch or reload without having to take your thumb off of the right stick. Using the many buttons at the back of the control requires some getting used to. It takes some time to develop new muscle memory. Also, the controllers require more dexterity and are not suitable for everyone.
The premium features also come with a high price. It’s more than twice the price of a standard Xbox controller. If you don’t use the rear paddles and software settings for stick sensitivity you aren’t getting your money’s value. If you want to customize colors, the Design Lab ‘Elite Package’ will cost you $209.99.
Microsoft offers a stripped down Elite Series 2 Core version that costs 129.99. This controller is the same as the standard Elite Series 2, but without the accessory charging case or the extra stick toppers. You can purchase all of these in an $59.99 accessories package which will turn the Elite Series 2 core back into the standard Elite Series 2. However, this costs $10 more than buying the Elite Series 2 at first.The D-pad, which looks like a dish made of metal, is a miniature work of art. Unfortunately, this D-pad is far from being the best.
It is important to be aware of the Elite’s reputation for poor quality control. Users have reported horror stories about having to replace their Elites multiple times under warranty. Microsoft increased the controller’s warranty to one year late 2020 in order to address any concerns. However, buying an Elite Series 2 can still seem like a risky purchase. When you get that perfect shot — changing to your pistol, and landing a hit with a quick pop of the hair-trigger while your thumbs remain firmly on the sticks — the risk can be worth it.
A formidable alternative to the Elite
Scuf Instinct Pro, its highest-end controller for Xbox and PC. For its high price you get rubberized handles, hair-trigger locking, swappable stick, and custom cosmetics.
Scuf Instinct Pro is in an odd position, since it’s not only the only third-party wireless controller, but also the most expensive (starting at $199.99). The controller I tested cost $263.91, with a special front plate and color accents. This is more expensive than an Xbox Series S console, which can be purchased at times. If you can afford to spend that much money, the Instinct pro is better in many ways than Microsoft’s Elite, mainly in terms of comfort, rear buttons, and hair triggers.Scuf Instinct Pro offers a high-end, customizable product — at an additional cost.
The Instinct pro has unique rear buttons that I prefer. Instead of paddles there are four rocker buttons that you can push with your middle finger. You still have to train your brain to become accustomed to them, but they are more intuitive.
The Scuf is also notable for its hair triggers. They have the fastest response time of any controller we tested. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to flick the switch on the controller’s back and feel the triggers like a mouse. This controller is a delight to use thanks to the hair triggers, the rear buttons and the excellent grip material.The magnetic stick and faceplate are easily removable.The rear rocker buttons of Scuf and the textured rubber grips have intricate details.
It still uses AA batteries and lacks software customization. So, as much as I enjoy using it, I’d only recommend getting one if you are super passionate about its very specific qualities or if you absolutely love the colorful accents and magnetically swappable faceplates. It still uses AA Batteries and has no software customization. So, as much as I love using it, it’s only worth it if you are super passionate about the specific qualities of it or if you love the colorful accents, magnetically swappable faces and Scuf’s configurator.
The best customizable controller
RIG Nacon Revolution X wired controller is compatible with Xbox consoles as well as Windows PCs. It offers a wide range of software customization options. It’s also got four customizable rear buttons, adjustable sticks, and optional weights to insert into the grips to give it more
RIG’s Nacon Revolution X controller may have a terrible name, but it is a powerful tool for customization. This controller is for those who like to play with a lot of settings. The wired Revolution X is normally priced at $99.99. Its added features aren’t cheap but it’s a fair price when compared to the competition.
The Revolution X looks unassuming and cheap when you first pick it up. While it’s not a looker, it’s a form-follows-function type of controller. The grips have four large, well-contoured buttons on the rear. It is comfortable to use. However, the real stars are the customizable analog sticks, and the extensive custom options available for the controller’s inner workings.
The Revolution X is a user-customizable game controller that has four user profiles. It also includes a classic mode, which uses basic settings. A ring of RGB lights around the right stick reminds you in what mode you are. Although the software isn’t the easiest to use, the controls are very detailed. There are presets that make it easier to understand the options. You can customize the buttons on your controller and remap them, plus you get a Dolby For Headphones App License.The rear grip cover opens up so that optional weights can be added.The included zipper case contains the controller, cable and all of the stick tops, weights and rings.
However, customization is not limited to software, audio or lighting. The Revolution X also comes with ring spaces to adjust the ranges of the analog sticks. It also includes a set of small weights ranging between 10g and 16g that you can insert in the grips of the device to add heft.
Add all of these features together and you can see why the Nacon makes a great controller to play around with. After a while, I got used to it. Once I set it up how I liked, it was a great controller for many different types of games.
The best controller for shooters
Turtle Beach’s Recon controller is a USB C-wired gaming pad that allows for a lot of audio tweaking with wired headsets. Superhuman Hearing mode brings out gunfire and footsteps in the background. The two rear buttons make it perfect for FPS games.
Turtle Beach headsets are well-known, so it’s no surprise that the Recon wireless controller has some powerful audio controls. Superhuman Hearing, which can be used with any wired headset, allows you to hear footsteps and distant gunfire. The Recon, which is normally priced at around $60 and was previously sold for as little as $39.95, offers a competitive advantage in multiplayer games, without having to spend more than $100.The Turtle Beach Recon’s greatest strength is its wide range of audio controls.
The buttons on the pad aren’t particularly attractive, but they serve a purpose. Four levels of microphone monitoring are available, as well as controls for the overall volume of the game, chat volume, four EQ presets and four programmable mapping modes. There are also four levels to adjust right-stick sensitivity. This last feature by Turtle Beach is called Pro Aim. It lowers the sensitivity on the right analogstick while holding the right-hand rear buttons.
The controller comes with a quick-start guide that makes learning to use these controls easier. Superhuman Hearing can be very useful for shooters, and is worth using for games such as Halo Infinite. Just keep in mind that it will muddy the soundtrack, so it may not be suitable for single-player, story-driven games.These buttons are very useful for controlling audio when using a headset.The bumpers and shoulders of the car, as well as customizable rear buttons, have a great textured pattern.
The Recon is a good controller for audio controls, but it lacks some fancy features, such as hair triggers or swappable thumbsticks. Its D-pad also looks similar to the Xbox Wireless Controller, but pales in comparison. Rubber grips make up for the cheap plastic of the controller. The sticks, triggers and rear buttons all feel snappy and tight. Superhuman Hearing is a perfect combination for shooting games. It’s a little bit of a learner, but it’s worth it if you enjoy playing ranked matches, and you value a wired controller that has extra buttons and audio features.
Other controllers worth knowing about
- The GameSir g7 has a wired controller that is excellent. It features a textured grip similar to a Scuf and clicky buttons on the face, like Razer. There are also two rear buttons you can program. The D-pad of this gamepad is too stiff. However, it is unique in that it includes two magnetic faceplates — one white and one black — which can be customized with markers or spray paint.
- The 8BitDo Ultimate Wired Controller for Xbox and PC has a high-quality affordable gamepad, with two rear buttons. It also allows software customization. However, the USB cable cannot be detached. It is usually discounted from $44.99 to $35.99. It was once discounted to just $24.99. If this were to happen more often, the PowerA Enhanced Wired could be a serious contender for the title of best budget control.
- Turtle Beach’s React R, a stripped down version of the Recon, retains Superhuman Hearing, rear buttons, but omits EQ pre-sets, mic monitoring and Pro-Aim in exchange for a cheaper $39.99 price. The Recon is a great value, particularly if it’s on sale at a low price of $29.99. It still has some of the Recon’s best features.
- Razer’s Wolverine Chroma will delight your ears and eyes with its clicky buttons, and RGB lighting on the grips. The controller has six customizable buttons, which is more than any other. However, the placement of these buttons requires some reaching and it can be a little pricey.
- As we have already mentioned, the Horipad Pro comes with one of the most advanced D-pads. The software customization is also quite extensive, although the shoulder buttons can be a little stiff.
- PowerA’s Nano Enhanced Wireless Controller has a smolderingly cute design for those with smaller hands or kids. It looks like a regular gamepad, unlike most kids’ models. And unlike the budget model from PowerA, this one uses USB-C instead of Micro USB (hallelujah!) ).
- The Nacon Pro compact controller offers some of Revolution X’s excellent customization software , but at a lower price. The Nacon Pro Compact Controller is also one of the smallest options available, but the ergonomics can be hit or miss depending upon your hand size.
- is one of the most adorable yet dumb controllers. This reissue is a love note to the salad days in 2001. The pad is not ideal for playing modern games. It comes with a stand as it is more of a collectible piece.