The best Xbox controller in 2023 isn’t really a surprise. The first-party Xbox Wireless Controller has held the top spot on our list since the Xbox One era, and that probably won’t change during the Xbox Series X|S lifecycle either. Similarly, the best premium Xbox controller is still the superb Elite Series 2–though now there are a few different models to choose from. Having said all that, there are a bunch of truly great third-party Xbox controllers that are worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for pro-style customization features without breaking the bank. We’ve rounded up the best Xbox Series X|S controllers available now.
Outside of the pair of first-party Xbox controllers that are probably always on your mind when shopping for a new controller, there are compelling alternatives from popular third-party brands, including 8BitDo, HyperX, Razer, Turtle Beach, and more.
For instance, if you prefer aligned joysticks or play a lot of games that work better with D-pad controls, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is a better pick than Microsoft’s controllers. If you are focused on competitive multiplayer, you may want to consider the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma, which features ultra-quick actuation and other features aimed at improving multiplayer performance. Also, Xbox gamers might be nostalgic for the Duke–the ill-fated original Xbox controller that some folks fondly remember for some reason. Of course, Xbox is also home to the most inventive and important gaming controller of our time. The Xbox Adaptive Controller helps gamers with limited mobility enjoy more gaming experiences than ever before.
If you also own other platforms, we have roundups of the best controllers for PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS5.
Xbox Wireless Controller
No surprise here. The first-party Xbox Wireless Controller is the most obvious choice if you’re looking for a new controller. Slightly revised when the Xbox Series X|S launched, the “Core” model has some nice improvements that make an already great controller even better. It’s a tad smaller, has textured grips and triggers, and swaps the standard D-pad for an eight-way design that’s has a bit more click to it. One of the most notable additions is the Share button, which gives Xbox players an easy way to quickly snap screenshots and record footage.
The Xbox Wireless Controller is available in a wide variety of colors. For the price, you can’t beat it–and it’s not uncommon for this controller to be on sale. The Xbox Wireless Controller remains one of the most comfortable and solid controllers in 2023–across all platforms. All Xbox owners already have at least one, but this is definitely a controller that players wind up owning multiple of. It’s also a superb option for PC and mobile devices via Bluetooth.
Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller
Though the standard Xbox controller is the “best” due to performance and price, if you want the highest-performing controller with an ultra-premium build, the Xbox Elite Series 2 is the clear winner.
Made with sturdier materials and weighted just enough to give it an unparalleled feel, the Xbox Elite Series 2 is one of those controllers that’s impressive before you even start gaming with it in your hands. It boasts textured hand and trigger grips as well as metal analog sticks and D-pads.
The analog stick caps and D-pads can be swapped on the fly with the included customization kit. Four additional stick caps (domed and different heights) are included in the hardshell carrying case. It comes with an eight-way D-pad and a standard cross model.
Other customization features on the actual controller itself include adjustable stick tension and trigger stops. An included tool lets you alter stick tension to your liking, and switches on the back of the controller allow you to lock triggers at three different pull distances.
Perhaps most importantly, the Elite Series 2 has four removable back paddles that easily snap into place. These are located in just the right spots to make them feel natural to press.
You can use the Xbox Accessories App to remap inputs and save up to three unique controller profiles that can be cycled through on the fly. You can also tinker with rumble intensity in the app and create custom “shift” keys to add even more control inputs.
The controller and all of the spare components are conveniently stored inside the included carrying case. It comes with a USB-C cable that gives the Elite Series 2 an impressive 40 hours of battery life on a full charge.
The Elite Series 2 is roughly three times as expensive as the standard Xbox controller. It may not be worth it unless you are serious about online multiplayer games, but it’s arguably the best controller on the market today (for any platform).
Xbox Elite Series 2 Core Controller
The Xbox Elite Series 2 Core Controller released last year as a “budget” alternative to the standard Elite Series 2. It’s the same exact controller from a build perspective, but it does not come with the carrying case filled with swappable components.
What that means: no back paddles, extra analog sticks, or extra D-pad. However, it still has the built-in trigger stops and analog stick tension adjustment tool. The D-pad and included pair of sticks can be removed on the fly–just like the original Elite Series 2.
Essentially, this model will appeal to those who want the premium build of the Elite Series 2 without all of the customization.
Of course, you can buy all of the swappable accessories separately. Down the line, if you decide you want everything, you can pick up the Complete Component Pack for $60 to turn your Core controller into a standard Elite Series 2.
Alternatively–and this is probably the route to go for most users–you can pick and choose which accessories you want to buy and purchase them from third-party manufacturers. For instance, you can get Scuf’s excellent back paddles for $20, or you can buy paddles that look pretty much exactly the same as the official ones for around $10.
The Elite Series 2 Core controller now comes in red, white, and blue.
Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma
Razer’s latest Xbox iteration of its Wolverine controller is the company’s best yet. The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a marked improvement in terms of form factor. The L-shaped chassis design makes it comfortable for long gaming sessions, and it’s now easier than ever to manage the Wolverine’s plethora of inputs.
The Wolverine V2 Chroma has four back paddles that resemble triggers as well as a pair of extra shoulder buttons. Essentially, the Wolverine V2 Chroma is the best Xbox controller for those who like to customize their inputs. One of the hallmarks of the Wolverine line continues with the V2 Chroma: Mecha-Tactile buttons. The face buttons and D-pad have feedback that’s similar to clicking a mouse, and they also offer lightning quick response times.
The Wolverine V2 has interchangeable thumbsticks and comes dome-shaped and taller sticks. Additionally, it has trigger stops for the left and right triggers. Customizing your input layout and overall experience (creating profiles) is easy with Razer’s proprietary software that’s available on the Xbox and Windows Stores.
The only downside here is that the V2 Chroma still can only be used with a wired connection. It comes with a lengthy, detachable USB-C cord. That said, if you’re picking up an Xbox controller for competitive play, it makes sense to grab a wired controller when considering latency. We’d recommend the V2 Chroma for those who routinely play competitive multiplayer games.
8BitDo makes some of the best controllers around, so it was great news when the manufacturer announced it would produce Xbox controllers. The 8BitDo Ultimate is a wired controller with authentic look, great sticks/triggers/buttons, and excellent customization features. Best of all? It’s available for under $50, which makes it a steal considering what you’re getting here.
The 8BitDo Ultimate has two programmable back buttons and can store up to three custom profiles. You can download 8BitDo’s Ultimate software on your Xbox, PC, or smartphone to tweak several settings to get the controller operating the way you like it. You can change stick and trigger sensitivity and adjust the force of the rumble. All of the buttons can be remapped using the software, too. You can cycle through your trio of profiles whenever you want with the press of a button, which makes this wired controller awesome for those who play multiple online games regularly.
8BitDo Pro 2
The 8BitDo Pro 2 was the first officially licensed Xbox controller released by the manufacturer. It has the same design as the Pro 2 that has been popular for the Nintendo Switch for years. As such, the analog stick layout mirrors PlayStation’s approach to controllers. If you play fighting games a lot, this stick and D-pad layout may be preferable. It’s also great for retro games or modern side-scrollers that play better with a D-pad. Outside of the reversed position and its retro-inspired form factor, the 8BitDo Pro 2 has the same great features as the 8BitDo Ultimate.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate
HyperX’s new Clutch Gladiate controller is super impressive for the price (just $35). It has all of the inputs you’d find on a standard Xbox controller (including the Share button) and a superb ergonomic form factor.
The Clutch Gladiate has textured grips, a pair of remappable back buttons, dual trigger locks, and a pair of rumble motors. The D-pad is just a standard cross layout, but it’s responsive and has a nice feel.
Even without its suite of competitive-focused features, the Clutch Gladiate would be a good pick for those looking for a budget-friendly wired controller.
Turtle Beach Recon
The Turtle Beach Recon is another affordable pro-style controller that’s worth checking out. This officially licensed controller has a lightweight but sturdy design. Its face buttons look and feel nearly identical to the regular Xbox controllers. While the sticks are a bit looser, they still feel great. The Recon also has a pair of excellent back triggers with textured grips that are located in the perfect spot. The handle grips also offer an improvement on the regular Xbox controller. The D-pad is a bit underwhelming, as it has a rigid feel to it. On the plus side, you get all of the same menu buttons here, including the new Share button.
The main perk of the the Recon is that it has built-in audio features when using a 3.5mm headset (it doesn’t have to be a Turtle Beach headset). Dubbed “Superhuman Hearing,” the audio tech can help you identify the nature of sounds and where they came from in competitive multiplayer games. You also get full control of your game/chat mix, EQ, and other general audio settings directly on the controller.
The Recon plugs into your Xbox via the included USB-C to USB-A cable. Overall, the Recon falls just short of the 8BitDo in terms of feel and performance, but it’s still a solid controller and the audio features are unique for sure.
Scuf Instinct Pro
Scuf has been making Elite-style controllers for years, and it shows. The company’s controllers are some of the most comfortable you can find, and the new Scuf Instinct Pro controller is a great example of this. The Scuf Instinct Pro is very similar to a standard Xbox Series X pad, though it definitely feels different. The plastic is much smoother on the Scuf controller, and the backside features comfortable textured grips. It also has an interchangeable faceplate. Unlike some older Scuf controllers, the Instinct Pro uses AA batteries for power.
The Instinct Pro actually bests the Elite Series 2 in one category: back paddles. The Instinct Pro has four built-in back buttons/triggers rather than traditional paddles. The placement of these buttons and the design makes them a bit more comfortable to use–especially if you plan on using all four. You can remap these inputs in seconds, which is a handy feature to have.
In addition to the interchangeable faceplates with cool designs, you can swap out the default thumbsticks for the included pair of longer, flat sticks. The Instinct Pro also has adjustable trigger stops and supports up to three profiles that can be cycled through on the fly. However, it doesn’t have adjustable stick tension.
The Scuf Instinct Pro is more expensive than the Elite Series 2. Even the regular Instinct (sans textured grip) is pricier. We’d definitely recommend the Elite Series 2 over the Instinct Pro. But if your main concern is programmable back buttons, the Instinct Pro is worth considering.
Thrustmaster eSwap S/X
Thrustmaster’s eSwap S and X controllers are solid options for competitive gaming, and they have a feature not found in other controllers on this list: a modular design. The analog sticks, D-pad, triggers, and side panel handles can be easily swapped out with different color scheme kits you can purchase from Thrustmaster. You can also change the stick caps with different styles, including domed options and other sizes. In addition to the modular design, you can tweak trigger pull sensitivity with the trigger stop switches on the back of the controller.
In terms of feel, the eSwap S and eSwap X both offer stellar ergonomics. These controllers are a bit larger than the regular Xbox controller, which makes them great for people with bigger hands. Another great feature is the mechanical build on the components. Similar to Razer’s Wolverine Chroma line, the eSwap series has mechanical face buttons and D-pad. This feature allows the eSwap to be faster when it comes to inputs. That said, it takes a bit of time to get used to the face buttons, as they are pretty darn flat and mimic clicking a mouse even more so than the Wolverine Chroma.
The main difference between the two controllers is the number of programmable back buttons. The eSwap S has two, and the eSwap X has four. However, these buttons are quite a bit smaller than the conventional back paddles, especially on the eSwap X, which has four small, round buttons. Even the eSwap S’ elongated buttons are a tad too small. Both controllers are wired and use a microUSB connection to the controller. That’s somewhat unfortunate considering USB-C is the standard these days.
Nevertheless, modular controllers aren’t super plentiful, and the eSwap series offers great ergonomics and performance. We’d recommend the less expensive eSwap S over the X.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
The Xbox Adaptive controller is much different than the rest of the control options in this round-up. It’s intended first and foremost as a device that helps those with limited mobility play games. It works with a wide range of assistive devices that users can plug in and assign to specific controller inputs to give them the ability to play any game on the two platforms.
It features 20 ports for you to plug any kind of thumbstick, switch, button, and any other assistive device you want into it–19 of those are 3.5 mm ports, while the other two are USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a 3.5mm audio output port for headphones or a headset. It’s compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC, and there’s quite the dedicated community behind it, discovering new ways to use the adaptive controller–you can even utilize a Bluetooth adapter to get it working with the Nintendo Switch.
The Adaptive controller may not be for everyone, but thanks to its ability to effectively bridge the gap between gamers with limited mobility and the games they want to play, there’s no doubt in our minds that it’s the most important controller on this list.
The Hyperkin Duke was made purely out of nostalgia for the original launch Xbox controller from way back in 2001–it was this hulking gamepad with oddly shaped and offset face buttons. So there wasn’t much surprise when it was quickly surpassed by the Controller S, which became the standard design moving forward. But if you have larger hands, the Duke might be a better fit.
Hyperkin has made a name for itself by recreating retro gaming experiences through its wide range of hardware, and its Duke controller very much resembles the original Xbox controller in terms of size and button layout, but with a few modern touches. While original Xbox controllers had black/white buttons instead of left/right bumpers, Hyperkin incorporated small bumpers so the Duke would make sense for playing today’s games. The huge logo on the center of the controller is a screen that also acts as the home button–when you power on, the screen displays the old Xbox splash screen. Otherwise, it’s a faithful recreation of the Duke that now works through USB for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
In addition to Hyperkin’s wide array of retro gaming hardware that lets you play old games easily, it has a few retro-inspired accessories. One of those is the Hyperkin X91, an Xbox Series X controller that’s scrunched down into a SNES-like form factor. Despite the small size of this gamepad, everything you need in a controller is there and it all works surprisingly well. From the analog sticks to the face buttons, the X91 recreates the full controller feel almost perfectly. One downside is that the triggers can feel a bit squishy as opposed to the smooth feel of the triggers on a DualShock or regular Xbox controller.
And if you have a gaming laptop and play on the go often, the X91 is the perfect size for travel. Unfortunately, this controller only works through wired USB. While that means you don’t have to worry about battery life, having a thick cord connected can make it a bit clunky to have around. The form factor may also make it slightly more difficult to be precise with the analog sticks since there isn’t much you can grip to keep the controller steady. However, if you need a small, fully-featured gamepad for less intense games, the X91 is a fine choice.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
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