Windows Central Verdict
HyperX's wired Xbox controller packs a solid number of features into a well constructed chassis, but inconsistencies in the quality of controls and an average user experience means there are better budget options.
Good number of extra features like remappable buttons and trigger locks
Very solid build quality
An extremely low price point that's tough to beat
The feel of controls is inconsistent
Trigger locks are unreliable
Customization experience is worse than competitors
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There are great Xbox controllers available at practically every price point, with many wired options available for those who need a dependable peripheral on a budget. HyperX's Clutch Gladiate wired Xbox controller aims to fit that diminutive bill while still delivering some extra features not found in many more expensive controllers.
In the process, HyperX has crafted a decent wired controller that can't be adequately described with any adjectives apart from "average" and "okay." It gets the job done, and it's nice to have remappable rear buttons and trigger locks at such a low price point, but there are similarly priced competitors to the HyperX Clutch Gladiate that, for many players, are just a little better.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review unit provided by HyperX. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Pricing and availability
The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is available through the official HyperX US store, although you can also find the controller at some third-party retailers like Amazon. HP, as the parent company of HyperX, may sell the Clutch Gladiate controller. At launch, the availability of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate globally is limited but should increase as time goes on.
|Connectivity||Wired, USB Type-C to Type-A, 3 meters|
|Controls||ABXY face buttons|
|Row 2 - Cell 0||Dual analog triggers, joysticks, and bumpers|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||D-Pad|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||Xbox, Share, View, and Menu buttons|
|Row 5 - Cell 0||P1 profile button|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||Remappable rear P2 and P3 buttons|
|Row 7 - Cell 0||Dual trigger lock switches|
|Features||Dual rumble motors|
|Row 9 - Cell 0||On-controller remapping|
|Audio||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Platforms||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, & Windows PC|
The HyperX Clutch Gladiate Xbox & PC controller retails for USD 34.99, which aligns with other extremely affordable Xbox controllers. My current top pick for an affordable wired Xbox controller is the GameSir G7 Wired Controller, so expect lots of comparisons throughout this review. In the box, you get the HyperX Clutch Gladiate controller and the 3m USB Type-C to Type-A cable.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Build quality and design
Most controllers more or less look the same, with matte black plastic in use everywhere, but there are ways for manufacturers to differentiate their products with unique designs or stellar build quality. The HyperX Clutch Gladiate struggles with the former but excels at the latter. Overall, HyperX's wired controller is a similar shape and design to practically every other Xbox controller, but with a few differences.
There are red accents around the analog joysticks and other areas to give the controller a splash of color, for example. Distinct lines separate the controller grips from its body, as well. There's also an odd "shelf" at the top of the controller that houses the bumpers and triggers (this irks me, for some reason, but it's functionally completely fine). The USB Type-C cable connects to the Clutch Gladiate with a satisfying click, and I had no worries it would dislodge while playing.
It's all put together very well, with no unsightly gaps or concerning creaking and flexing. There are no swappable faceplates like with the GameSir G7, so you are stuck with the standard black colorway. Apart from inconsistencies and annoyances with the control themselves, there's little to complain about when it comes to the HyperX Clutch Gladiate's physical construction.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Comfort and ergonomics
HyperX's respectable build quality mostly translates to solid comfort and ergonomics as well, at least for the price range at which this controller sits. The thoughtful shape nests nicely in your hand, and the curvature of the grips isn't as severe as the GameSir G7 (one of my only complaints about the controller). I wish there were more to the grips besides a subtle texture in the plastic, but it's still better than nothing.
HyperX chose a good position for the rear remappable buttons as well, so I feel comfortable recommending this controller for gamers with all hand sizes. My daughter had no issues playing Minecraft with the Clutch Gladiate and told me repeatedly how much she enjoyed the rear buttons because they were easier to reach than the face buttons. I didn't notice any fatigue or cramping after extended play sessions, although I still found the official Xbox Wireless Controller to be more comfortable to use despite its increased weight.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Controls and performance
So far, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate performs well in every category, but it stumbles when it comes to the single most important aspect of any controller: the controls. I'll preface this section by saying that Clutch Gladiate's controls aren't bad (with one exception). They're just not as good as even similarly priced controllers. The entire time I used the Clutch Gladiate, I categorized its controls as being "meh."
The only controls on the Clutch Gladiate that can be considered good are the rear remappable buttons, which offer a nice, tactile click and are well-placed. The joysticks are perfectly fine, except the button action feels mushy. The face buttons are perfectly fine, except they also feel a little mushy. The D-Pad? A little less fine and a little mushier. See the trend? The View, Menu, and Share buttons are ridiculously tiny for some reason, but I admit their actions are nice.
I can forgive all of this and even chalk up many of my misgivings to personal preference, but I genuinely do not like the triggers and bumpers on the HyperX Clutch Gladiate. The triggers are shallow and hollow, and the left trigger often "sticks" for a moment before depressing (this could be a small manufacturing defect, but still worth mentioning). The bumpers have a weird, slanted shape and a bizarre action placement; it's difficult to describe how it feels, but they're far too easy to accidentally press and don't feel satisfying in the least to do so.
Finally, the trigger locks... The Clutch Gladiate has physical switches on the back to enable the one-stage trigger lock, which gives the triggers a shorter press time. This is useful for games like first-person shooters, where a faster reaction can mean the difference between victory and defeat. However, enabling the trigger locks meant the triggers just didn't work sometimes. It was inconsistent but frequently happened enough that I died multiple times in Halo Infinite because nothing happened when I pulled the trigger. That means that one of the Clutch Gladiate's biggest feature additions to differentiate it in this price sector isn't reliable enough to use regularly.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Extra features
The HyperX Clutch Gladiate isn't a barebones wired controller; it includes a handful of "pro-level" features to help entice potential customers. For one, the aforementioned trigger locks are technically extras, despite their reliability. There are also perfectly good, remappable rear buttons that can be assigned to practically any other control on the Clutch Gladiate.
Those rear buttons are programmed via a third, non-customizable rear button labeled "P1." You hold it down until the front LED light flashes slowly, press any button on the controller until the front LED light flashes rapidly, and then press the rear button (P2 or P3) that you wish to assign that button to. It's... Fine. Sure, it works, but it's an extra step over the solution offered by the GameSir G7 and doesn't offer any extra features, such as volume controls on the D-Pad.
Having the P1 button on the back also makes the controller a little more difficult to customize on the fly when you're in the middle of a game. This is a minor inconvenience, but it's yet another way I was spoiled by the thoughtful "M" button of the GameSir G7. There's also no optional app you can install to grant you more granular customization of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate, and it all has to be done on the controller itself.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Competition
The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is a functional controller, but I'd likely recommend any of Windows Central's best Xbox controllers over this value-driven peripheral. My current top pick for a budget-wired controller is the GameSir G7, which I've mentioned repeatedly throughout this review. In my GameSir G7 Wired Controller review, I described it as a "stellar peripheral," regardless of where you game.
Sure, it retails for $10 more than the Clutch Gladiate, at USD 44.99. Still, for that price, you're getting far superior and more consistent controls (including a fantastic hair trigger mode that functionally replaces trigger locks), more seamless onboard customization, a great optional app for additional customization, and even swappable faceplates that can be personalized to your heart's content. Additionally, the GameSir G7 can often be found on sale for prices very close to the Clutch Gladiate, making it a no-brainer. Even at full price, it's worth the extra $10.
If you need something the same price as the Clutch Gladiate or even cheaper, I would suggest the PowerA Enhanced wired Xbox controller. PowerA has an excellent track record of building reliable, affordable accessories, and the Enhanced controller is no different. It's available in many colorways and designs, still features remappable rear buttons, and throws in an onboard volume wheel for added measure. Its soft-touch finish may annoy some players, but the PowerA Enhanced wired controller is a fantastic alternative to the HyperX Clutch Gladiate.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Should you buy it?
You should buy the HyperX Clutch Gladiate controller if ...
- You absolutely need physical trigger locks at this price point
- The GameSir G7 is out of your budget and you can't find it on sale
You should not buy the HyperX Clutch Gladiate controller if ...
- You're able to buy a better alternative, like the GameSir G7
- You need consistent, high-quality button actions and controls
If I hadn't used the GameSir G7 first, I might have given the HyperX Clutch Gladiate a higher score, forgiving my concerns simply based on its stupendously low-price tag. However, GameSir offered shocking levels of quality and performance at a very similar price point in the G7, and the reality of this unsurmountable competition makes it difficult to recommend the Clutch Gladiate.
This is a fine controller. Genuinely, it works, and it's designed relatively well. Its control woes can be forgiven, and its few extra features are nice to have. It's just not great, and the competition that's available to buy right now is. That being said, HyperX is well-known for crafting fantastic value-driven peripherals and gaming accessories, so I hope the company keeps striving to improve its products. When the successor to the HyperX Clutch Gladiate arrives, I'll be here to review it with an open mind.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.