TL; DR ̵
1; These are the best Xbox Series X / S controllers:
1. Xbox Core Controller
Best Xbox Series X / S Controllers
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 only speaks for itself. It is a solidly built, reliable, standard adjustment part that is friendly to many different hand sizes and control layouts. It’s almost like the platonic ideal of a game controller. There is nothing extra fancy about it, because it does not need any gimmicks to do what it does best. It simply gets the job done.
The only thing I’m not excited about 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 keep buying the giant blister packs like it was 1999 or something. And the core controller comes with a USB-C plug that works on PC and console, if you do not need to handle batteries at all.
2. PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
Best Budget Xbox Series X / S Controllers
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
At the other end of the spectrum, PowerAs Enhanced Wired Controller (see our review) continues a tradition of offering cheaper alternatives that still hold up well. If you want to be the great friend who has a full controller ready to go, whether your buddies remembered to bring one or not, you probably will not blow up four Elite controllers. It would be a powerhouse, so let me not tell you how to live your life if those are the kind of balls you are.
But for the rest of us, these cheaper workhorses are perfect for the P3 and P4 tracks. They can withstand a lot of penalties, and do not feel as cheap as many other options in this price range. They also come with a built-in split button and a microphone mute switch, which is great if your pet suddenly demands attention in the middle of a fight. The face buttons are not as tactile as those on the core controller, but the general ergonomics feel good.
3. Xbox Elite Series 2
Best Advanced Xbox Series X / S Controllers
Xbox Elite Series 2
The Xbox Elite Series 2 (see our review) is the fancy sports car for Xbox controllers. It’s going to cost you, but you’re paying for premium components, adaptability and luxury. The thumb sticks, D-pad and triggers can be replaced, 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 looking 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 the face buttons when you hold them 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 tag that is more than twice as high as a Core controller. But you get what you pay for.
4. Razer Wolverine V2
Best tunable Xbox Series X / S controllers
Razer Wolverine V2
Priced at a fine midpoint between 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 give to your little brother during the Halo night of the day. Razer has gone out of its way to ensure that it stacks up to, or even surpasses, the official hardware Microsoft has released.
As you might expect from the Razer, this thing is very customizable. The face buttons are completely remappable, and there is even a hair release mode you can activate right away using physical switches. This means that LT and RT will register an entrance with just a little pressure, instead of having to push them down all the way, which is a big advantage in fighting games and shooters. This is an ideal option for competitive players who do not want to drop 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 controllers
Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback
The next Forza game may not have a release date yet, but there are already many great driving games on Xbox and PC that are best played with the right steering wheel layout. Thrustmaster always impresses me with the robustness and feel of the components. When I buy something from them, it feels like it came from an industrial assembly line in a car factory, not out of a toy store. TMX provides seriously realistic power feedback with its finely tuned internal motors and non-slip wheel grip feels good.
It only has two pedals, so you change gears with the mounted paddles instead. But it’s also relatively cheap for the quality you get for only $ 200. You can definitely spend a lot more than that on a racing setup. I also really 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 amazing on Xbox Series X and modern PCs, and for the right experience you will want to play it with stick and gas. Thrustmaster brings excellent all-in-one controls to your virtual cockpit with the T-Flight HOTAS One, which is easy enough for even brand new pilots to get the hang of quickly, but also satisfying for experienced aces.
This is a one-piece controller, ideal for console gaming, and it has a very modern, streamlined look that does not seem to be out of place around your living room. The switches and buttons on both pin and gas are raised and shaped in such a way that you can easily find them without looking down, which can be more difficult on other pins such as Logitech where all the buttons feel the same. It also has a split button built right into the base to capture the scenic views you want to swipe over, which most custom PC sticks usually do not.
Leana Hafer is an avid PC player. Talk action-RPG, strategy games and more with her on Twitter at @AsaTJ