There is a lot more to a controller than the one that comes with your Xbox Series S or Series X console. Fortunately, the gaming gear market has many official Xbox controller alternatives that can provide additional buttons or more customization options.
Premium controllers also typically offer less input lag, back paddles, and customizable button mapping. Here are the best options to consider:
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
Like the original Xbox Elite controller, this new version is designed with a more premium build and features that are tailored to gamers who want to take their gaming to the next level. This includes a metal D-pad and rubber grips to make the device feel more solid in your hands and improve overall gameplay. There are also more customization options, including a set of replacement thumbsticks and a faceted D-pad that can be swapped out to suit your preferences. It also comes with a charging dock and carrying case, which are all nice touches.
While the physical improvements are a nice touch, the real power of this controller lies in the software. Through the Xbox Accessories app on your PC, you can configure the buttons and paddles to suit any play style, tweak the sensitivity of the sticks and triggers, and even add more vibration feedback for each button. It’s easy to see why this controller is a hit with serious players, but it does come with a significant price tag of $175 (PS150).
If you’re not willing to shell out that much, consider the cheaper Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core instead. It’s a great gaming device but lacks some of the more advanced features like a 40-hour internal battery and four extra paddle buttons. It’s still a great option for serious gamers, though, especially since it usually comes on sale at a much more affordable price. For those who are willing to pay the premium, this is one of the best Xbox One controllers around.
Xbox One Wireless Controller
If you’re looking for an Xbox wireless controller to use with your favorite games, the Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller is a great choice. This gamepad is designed specifically for the Xbox One gaming platform and features a sleek design, intuitive button layout, and responsive thumbsticks. The Xbox One Wireless Controller also has support for a pair of AA batteries, which makes it easy to play for extended periods of time.
While the original Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Controller may be a bit outdated in terms of its design, it still works well and offers a solid gaming experience for any console gamer. The newer Xbox One S and Series X controllers feature subtle improvements over the original model, but they also come at a slightly higher price point.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is a pro-orientated controller that offers players over 30 new ways to customize their gameplay experience. This includes shorter hair trigger locks for faster shooting in competitive FPS titles and the ability to adjust the tension of all six of the thumbsticks. This controller also has the advantage of working seamlessly with PCs, a feature that was not available on previous Xbox One controllers.
Despite its impressive feature list, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is not without its flaws. For starters, it uses a Micro USB connection, which can be problematic for gamers who prefer a reversible USB connector. It also has a small build, which can be awkward for gamers with large hands. Fortunately, Hyperkin has addressed these concerns by creating the Duke, a larger version of the Elite that is more comfortable to hold.
Xbox Design Lab Controller
The Xbox Design Lab offers the most unique way to get a personal controller. You can design your controller to look like anything you want—your favorite game, sports team, movie or TV show, character, and more. And the Xbox Design Lab website features a gallery of reference designs to help you out.
The best part about the Xbox Design Lab is that it doesn’t cost much more than a standard controller. And it works just as well. The controller uses official Xbox One Wireless Controllers that debuted with Series X|S and features a new D-pad, improved ergonomics for smaller hands, and snappy trigger and button actions. It also has dual Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth radios so you can use it on both consoles and PC.
However, it’s not as good as Microsoft’s Elite Series 2 controller, which is a premium controller for hardcore gamers willing to spend extra money for greatness. The Elite Series 2 has re-mapped face buttons, four additional rear paddles that function as extra triggers, and a suite of other custom options. And while it doesn’t have as great of an ergonomic shape for smaller hands, the paddles are still a lot easier to reach and less susceptible to accidental touches than those on the Design Lab.
Other than the Xbox Design Lab, there’s not a whole lot of competition for a highly personalized controller. Some third-party manufacturers like PowerA offer various colorways and designs, but the customization doesn’t come close to what you can do with the Xbox Design Lab. And while the Design Lab has some drawbacks, it’s still the best option for someone who wants a customized controller.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
While Microsoft rightly got a lot of stick for the Xbox One launch with its high price and enforced Kinect bundling, the basic controller itself actually performed well. The design is robust, the sticks and buttons have satisfying resistance and the textured plastic grips are comfortable in the hand for extended gaming sessions. It also has a useful extra button in the center that lets you record screenshots and video without needing to navigate to the Xbox menu.
Unlike the Elite Series 2 controller, which was designed for serious gamers like esports athletes, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is specifically created for people with limited mobility. It features 19 3.5 mm ports for accessories that can work as inputs, letting players connect buttons, mounts, and other specialty peripherals to the two-button slab. For example, Kumar and Kaufman demonstrated plugging in a foot pedal from a company called PDP and a joystick commonly used for flight simulators as compatible devices that can act as a single control unit.
This version of the Adaptive Controller is much cheaper than the Elite and comes with a full suite of additional features for those who need it. It includes a set of four swappable elements underneath the controller that can be used as paddles or extra buttons for directional movements, plus taller or rounder analogs and an eight-directional D-pad.
All Xbox Adaptive Controllers have a simple design that belies their depth and functionality. It can be connected to a Windows 10 PC over USB, and the Xbox Accessories app provides a range of customization options, including mapping any button on its face to any other function. It’s also a native XInput controller, meaning that games will recognize it as the standard gamepad and support all of its functions at the system level.
Razer Wolverine Ultimate
Designed to be a more premium, customizable alternative to Microsoft’s Xbox Elite controller, Razer’s Wolverine Ultimate is a modular, remappable beast. A strip of Chroma lighting and swappable buttons make it an option for gamers willing to spend extra cash on their next controller.
On the front, the Wolverine Ultimate sports quick buttons for muting your mic, shifting game and chat volume (with various preset levels that cycle), and changing profiles. There’s also a 3.5mm headset jack on the back for connecting your Razer headphones and microphone.
The controller itself looks similar to the standard Xbox One controller, with a few notable differences. Its top features a strip of LED lighting that’s fully customizable using the Razer Synapse app on Xbox One (PC customization is coming soon). You can set the Wolverine Ultimate to glow a single static color or cycle through a rainbow of colors. It can also be configured to light up when you press a button or switch to reactive mode where it lights up in response to your gameplay.
While some may find the Wolverine Ultimate’s price tag a little high, it offers a ton of features that make it a worthy competitor to the Elite controller. It’s especially appealing to eSports and competitive gamers who want a more customizable gaming experience.
Whether or not the Wolverine Ultimate is right for you comes down to your personal preferences and budget. If you’re looking for a controller that’s comfortable to hold and provides great button placement, this is the one for you. The only downside is that it requires a wired connection, which isn’t ideal for gamers who don’t like the added latency of wireless controllers.
In a world of third-party controllers that often skimp on construction or quality, Hyperkin Duke stands out as a powerful accessory that mixes nostalgia with modern improvements. The result is a great-looking and fun-to-play controller for Xbox One and PC gaming. The main drawback is that it’s wired, but the 9-foot USB cable makes it easy to connect to consoles and PCs.
When you first take out the Duke, the large size will surprise you. But once you open it up you’ll find a nice glossy box that shows off the classic Xbox branding and features. The front has a small OLED screen that powers on when plugged in, and it plays the original Xbox boot animation. The screen also serves as a home button when pressed, which is an impressive design feature.
The Duke is a wired controller, but it doesn’t feel cheap or plastic-y like some cheaper alternatives. The thumbsticks are smoother than the original but still offer a good grip. The back of the controller also features a more ergonomic shape, and the rumble is on par with modern Xbox One controllers.
Unlike the original, the Duke has two extra black and white buttons that serve as bumpers for games that support them. These are a welcome addition, as they’re much easier to reach than the regular shoulder buttons. The triggers are also a bit refined, with similar travel and resistance as Microsoft’s current controllers.
The Duke is compatible with the Xbox Accessories app, which allows full button remapping for console users. It’s also a great choice for PC gamers thanks to its support of the Xinput standard. This allows for the use of six face buttons, which are better suited to Genesis games than the current four-button setup.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
PowerA is known for its value-focused accessories and products, and this wired controller doesn’t stray too far from that reputation. It sheds wireless capabilities and a rechargeable battery to deliver a comfortable, grippy design with a diamond texture on the grips, a metallic D-pad, built-in audio controls a headset mute switch, and two programmable rear buttons.
The controller feels similar to Microsoft’s latest models in key areas, with a core button and stick layout that matches up well. The face buttons have a slightly longer travel but provide the same tactile press and responsiveness. It also sports the new Xbox Share button prominently on the front, making it easy to show off your achievements. The only real downside is that the controller uses an older micro USB port instead of the more durable USB-C standard found on current-gen controllers.
While it’s not a wireless alternative to the Xbox Wireless controller, the PowerA has plenty of extra features that make it a worthwhile purchase for many gamers. The aforementioned extra audio controls allow you to adjust your sound settings without having to open the Xbox app, and the dual rumble motors produce a satisfying rumble when you input commands or hit buttons.
The PowerA is a solid wired option for players who need a backup or want to switch to a mainly wired setup, especially since it offers 90 percent of the functionality of the Series X controller at half the price. It’s also available in a variety of colors, allowing gamers to find the best match for their gaming rigs. The only caveat is that this controller won’t stand up to intense play sessions over long periods of time, so it may not be the best choice for fans of more action-oriented games like Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.
For those who take their racing a little more seriously, there are a number of higher-end alternatives to the standard Xbox controller. One of the best is the TS-XW, which features Force Feedback that’s detailed and powerful enough to accurately translate what the car is doing to your hands. It’s also smooth and responsive and has the ability to maintain this level of performance without overheating. We didn’t notice any odd creaks or cracks during use either, which is a great sign and speaks to the quality of this device.
The TS-XW is the first high-end wheel created in collaboration with Sparco and is designed to please both Xbox One and PC fans alike. It utilizes all of Thrustmaster’s advanced technologies including a powerful 40-watt brushless servo motor, a Motor Cooling Embedded system, and a Turbo Power power supply. It also uses a 1:1 scale replica of the Sparco P310 Competition wheel (12.4″/31.5 cm in diameter) and is optimized for all racing games (GT, F1, NASCAR, Indy, road racing, etc.).
TS-XW is compatible with all detachable Thrustmaster add-on wheels (sold separately), including thrilling rally racing with the R383 Mod and extreme single-seater sensations with the TM Open Wheel. It is also fully compatible with all shifters and pedal sets in the Thrustmaster ecosystem for an unrivaled e-racing experience.
The TS-XW is a true joy to drive and will give you the edge you need on the track. It has a sturdy construction that allows for quick and easy mounting on any table or desk and can even be used as part of a custom-built e-racing cockpit. The price tag is a bit on the high side, but if you’re serious about racing then it’s an investment worth making. We can’t wait to see what else Thrustmaster comes up with next!