TL; DR ̵
1; These are the best Xbox Series X / S controllers:
1. Xbox Core controller
Best Xbox Series X / S controller
Xbox Core Controller
The reigning champion. Go-to gamepad for general use on Xbox and gaming PCs. There is not much to say about the Core Controller (see our review) because it just speaks for itself. It is a solidly built, reliable, standard-setting piece that is friendly to many different hand sizes and controls. It’s almost like the platonic ideal of a game controller. There is no extra urge for it because it does not need any gimmicks to do what it does best. It simply gets the job done.
The one thing that I am not thrilled with this one is that it requires AA batteries to play wirelessly. But if you get rechargeable and a wall charger, you can get away with charging one set of batteries while using the other and not have to buy the giant blister packs as if it were 1999 or something. And the core controller comes with a USB-C connector that works on PC and console if you do not want batteries at all.
2. PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
Best budget Xbox Series X / S controller
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
At the other end of the spectrum, PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller (see our review) continues a tradition of offering cheaper options that still hold up well. If you want to be the amazing friend who has a full flight of controllers ready to go, whether your friends remembered to bring one or not, you probably will not splurge on four Elite controllers. It would be a power movement, so let me not tell you how to live your life if that’s the kind of balls you are.
But for the rest of us, these more affordable workhorses are perfect for the P3 and P4 slots. They can stand up to a lot of punishment and do not feel as cheap as many other options in this price range. They also come with a built-in share button and a microphone switch, which is nice if your pet suddenly demands your attention in the middle of a fight. The face buttons are not as tactile as those on the core steering, but the overall ergonomics feel good.
Xbox Elite Series 2
Best Advanced Xbox Series X / S Controller
Xbox Elite Series 2
Xbox Elite Series 2 (see our review) is the fancy sports car from Xbox controllers. It will cost you, but you pay for premium components, customization and luxury feel. Thumbs, D-pad and triggers can be swapped so you can choose the parts that feel best for you. It also comes with a rechargeable battery that can last up to 40 hours, so you do not have to go hunting for batteries as you might with the Core controller.
It even comes with four extra paddles on the back that can be programmed to do things like change the function of your face buttons when held down. This is especially great if you use it on PC for games like Final Fantasy XIV, where you may have more abilities than a standard controller can handle. All of this comes with a price that is more than twice as large as a Core controller. But you get what you pay for.
4. Razer Wolverine V2
Best tunable Xbox Series X / S controller
Razer Wolverine V2
Priced at a good midpoint between the Core and Elite pads, the Razer Wolverine (see our review) is the overall best third-party pad for the Xbox. This is not like the janky off-brand controller you used to hand over to your little brother during Halo night back in the day. Razer has gone out of its way to make sure it stacks up to or even surpasses the official hardware that Microsoft has put out.
As you might expect from Razer, this thing is very customizable. The face buttons are fully reusable and there is even a hair release mode that you can activate immediately using physical switches. This means that your LT and RT register an input with just a light tap, rather than having to push them down all the way, which is a huge edge in fighting games and shooting games. This is an ideal option for competitive gamers who do not want to lose a fortune on something like the Elite controller, but need more features than what the Core controller can offer.
5. Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback
Best upgradeable Xbox Series X / S controller
Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback
The next Forza game may not have a release date yet, but there are already plenty of good driving games on Xbox and PC that are best played with a proper steering wheel setup. Thrustmaster always impresses me with the robustness and feel of their components. When I buy something from them, it feels like it came out of an industrial assembly line in a car factory, not out of a toy store. TMX provides seriously realistic power feedback with its fine-tuned internal motors, and the non-slip wheel grip feels good.
It only has two pedals, so you change gears with the attached blades instead. But it’s also relatively inexpensive for the quality you get for only $ 200. You could definitely spend a lot more than that on a race lineup. I also like the button layout and styling on this one because it looks more like something you would see in a professional race car as opposed to on a standard controller.
6. Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS One
Best Xbox Series X / S Flight Stick
Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS One
Microsoft Flight Simulator looks incredible on Xbox Series X and modern PCs, and for the right experience, you’ll want to play it with a stick and throttle. Thrustmaster brings an excellent all-in-one controller to your virtual cockpit with the T-Flight HOTAS One, which is simple enough for even brand new pilots to grab quickly, but also satisfying for experienced aces.
This is a one-piece controller that is ideal for console playback, and it has a very modern, streamlined look that does not seem to sit around your living room. The switches and buttons on both the stick and the throttle are raised and shaped in such a way that you can easily find them without looking down, which can be more difficult on other sticks like Logitechs, where all the buttons kind of feel the same. It also has a Share button built right into the base to capture the scenic views you want to swim across, which most PCs made for PCs usually do not.
Leana Hafer is an avid PC player. Talk action-RPGs, strategy games and more with her on Twitter at @AsaTJ