Windows Central Verdict
The latest FUSION Pro wired controller from PowerA is a subtle refinement over its predecessor and is carefully targeted at hardcore gamers who need more control. As a wired-only controller, though, you're definitely paying extra for the extras, with comparable controllers available at far lower prices.
Great build quality and feel in hand
Controls are reliable and responsive
Extras like the trigger locks, rear buttons, and carrying case are nice to have
Only includes one of each tall joystick variant
You need to want to pay for the extra features
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If you're in the market for an affordable Xbox accessory, chances are you'll come across PowerA sooner rather than later. The company has been known for its quality controllers and other Xbox accessories for years, and the latest one to land in my hands is the premium FUSION Pro 3 Wired Controller for Xbox and PC, a more affordable wired alternative to Microsoft's flagship Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.
Positioned between incredible low-cost options like the GameSir G7 and far more expensive competitors like the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma, the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 is targeted at hardcore gamers that need extra features, don't mind a wire, and want to save a little bit of cash versus Xbox's official solution. PowerA has built a fine controller here, with a handful of welcome improvements over the previous PowerA FUSION Pro 2. Still, you do have to want those extra features to justify paying the price for it thanks to steeper competition at the low-end.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review unit provided by PowerA. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
FUSION Pro 3: Build quality and ergonomics
Connectivity: Wired, 3m USB Type-C to USB Type-A braided cable
Controls: Standard Xbox controls and layout, four rear remappable buttons, volume dial / mic mute switch
Extra features: Dual rumble motors, three-way trigger lock, impulse triggers, textured rubber grips, anti-friction joystick rings, swappable joysticks, 3.5mm audio jack, swappable faceplates, premium carrying case
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC
If you're going to ask $80 for a wired Xbox controller, it better be built to last. Fortunately, PowerA is no stranger here and the FUSION Pro 3 does feel sturdy in the hand. Crafted out of primarily matte black plastic, there's no creaking or concerning seams anywhere to be found on this controller. In this respect, it's actually an improvement over the standard Xbox Wireless Controller.
The USB Type-C cable is braided and deeply recessed into the controller to protect it from snags and jerks, ensuring its longevity (even if it means some replacement cables probably won't work with this controller if the connector housing is too large). The faceplate is removeable, but you honestly can't tell even when holding the controller, as the connection is reliable, and it doesn't seem to add any structural weakness.
Unfortunately, the only real point to the removeable faceplate seems to be to swap the replaceable joysticks, as PowerA isn't selling alternative faceplates for the FUSION Pro 3 separately, from what I can tell. There is the Midnight Shadow Special Edition of the controller with a unique faceplate, though, which is the model I was sent to review. Rather than matte black plastic and rubberized grip inserts, the Midnight Shadow edition features a unique texture and swirling, abstract designs.
Visually, the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 looks very similar to a standard Xbox controller, but with a volume wheel down at the bottom. It looks good and is built well, so I have no complaints here. The rubberized grips on the back don't feel very rubberized, though. While it is far more comfortable than having no texture at all, it's still not as good as the standard Xbox Wireless Controller or the GameSir G7.
PowerA FUSION Pro 3 Wired Controller
The latest Xbox and Windows PC controller from PowerA delivers premium features at a reduced price, as long as you're willing to be tethered to a cable. You can find retailers selling the FUSION Pro 3 below.
FUSION Pro 3: Controls and performance
As you'd expect, the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 has a very similar layout to a standard Xbox controller, but with some changes to cater to more "pro" players, such as four remappable rear buttons, an integrated volume dial and mute button, switches for the three-stage trigger locks, and another rear button to control the remapping process.
For the most part, these controls are perfectly good. They're all responsive and consistent, with satisfying and tactile action. I had no issues acclimating to the controller and performing well in games, but I do have some complaints.
For one, I had multiple instances where the D-Pad seemed to register the wrong input, even when I was certain I had pressed it correctly. I'm also not a fan of the rear bumpers, which have a similar design to the HyperX Clutch Gladiate I reviewed and feels flimsy, in a way. Finally, while most of the controller is constructed of matte plastic, both the triggers and bumpers are made of glossy plastic with only light texture on some parts. This is probably my biggest single complaint with the feel of the FUSION Pro 3, as the bumpers and triggers felt slick and cheap under my fingers.
As I said, though, things are mostly great here! PowerA absolutely nailed the action and texture for the rear remappable buttons, which feel great and are positioned well. The combination volume dial and mute button is useful to have, too. The trigger locks feel sturdy and work well, and you can change the level without having to massively adjust your hands while holding the controller.
It's important to note, though, that the FUSION Pro 3 isn't better than the Xbox Wireless Controller in basically any way, apart from the extra features like the remappable buttons and trigger locks. My current gold standard for a wired Xbox controller, the GameSir G7, has superior bumper, trigger, and face button actions for a lower price, too. The FUSION Pro 3 is good, but not good enough to justify the higher price tag. What you're paying for... Are the extras.
FUSION Pro 3: Extra features
What are you getting with the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 that's above and beyond a standard Xbox controller? Well, I already mentioned the three-stage trigger locks, four remappable rear buttons, and integrated volume dial and mute button. These are great to have for the right players and positions the FUSION Pro 3 between alternative options. The GameSir G7 has two fewer rear buttons and trades a physical trigger lock for a hair trigger mode, while the more expensive Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma has two more customizable buttons and RGB lighting.
The FUSION Pro 3 also has swappable joysticks! Although, I have to admit, this feature isn't particularly impressive. Don't get me wrong, it's better to have it than not, but the joysticks themselves aren't the highest quality, and PowerA only includes two additional joysticks in the box: one tall convex, and one tall concave. I can't imagine these joysticks are that expensive to produce, so why on earth would we not get two of each, for three full sets? This is a complaint we had with the FUSION Pro 2, as well, so it's unfortunate that this hasn't been addressed.
You also get a nice, proper carrying case, with room for the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 controller, the cable, and all your joysticks. I'm not sure how often people are travelling with their controllers, but this is still great to have for storage and for when you do need to take your controller with you.
Finally, I did check to see if PowerA offers an app that provides more granular control over settings for the FUSION Pro 3, and the answer is mixed. There is a PowerA app, but it's basically just a troubleshooting app to test that various parts of the controller are working (and doesn't even support the FUSION Pro 3's rear remappable buttons). This is far shy of the great GameSir and Razer apps available on Xbox and Windows PC.
FUSION Pro 3: Competition
Unless you've skipped to this section and haven't read the rest of the review, the controllers I mention here likely won't surprise you. The PowerA FUSION Pro 3 is a very good Xbox controller, but competition in this space has gotten even better in recent years, especially in the budget price range.
My current favorite wired controller for Xbox and PC is absolutely the GameSir G7. At just $44.99 (with frequent discounts), the G7 offers greater overall controls and comfort to the FUSION Pro 3, a superior app with more options, and equally fantastic build quality. You're losing out on two of the rear remappable buttons, the swappable joysticks, and the three-stage trigger lock, but the G7 also offers a fantastic hair trigger mode taking advantage of its lovely hall effect trigger sensors.
If you want to spend even more money, the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma offers the killer feature the FUSION Pro 3 lacks. Razer's flagship wired controller is just as good (and usually better) than the FUSION Pro 3 in every area, but you gain two more remappable buttons, customizable RGB lighting, and the incredible sensitivity clutch, which can change the speed at which the joysticks actuate with the press of a button. Yes, you'll spend a lot more money, but you are getting the best wired controller for Xbox and PC you can buy.
Of course, the biggest compromise with all of these options is that they are wired-only. If you want a wireless controller, your options are more limited. The standard Xbox Wireless Controller still sets the bar for quality, controls, and comfort, but it's a basic controller that lacks a lot of the extra features other controllers offer. You can splash a lot of extra cash for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, which is just as premium as the Wolverine V2 Chroma but with a wireless connection.
FUSION Pro 3: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You don't want to pay more than $100 for a great Xbox and PC controller with lots of extra features
- You need physical trigger locks and at least four additional, mappable buttons
- You don't mind being tethered to a wire
You should not buy this if ...
- You don't need or want all of the extra features, like the carrying case and swappable joysticks
- You want a wireless controller
- You want the best value for your money
At its core, the PowerA FUSION Pro 3 is a good, reliable wired controller for Xbox and Windows PC. It's not exceptional or innovative, and it's sandwiched between hefty competition that offers comparable (sometimes superior) quality at a lower price or impressive features at a higher price. However, PowerA has nailed the balance between these options to offer a great product right in the middle. For that reason, it deserves to be considered one of the best Xbox controllers you can buy.
There are just as good controllers for less money, but you'll lose out on features. There are better controllers with more features, but you'll have to pay a lot more. If you want a wired Xbox and PC controller that has plenty of remappable buttons, trigger locks, swappable joysticks, a quality carrying case, and doesn't fail in any category... You can't go wrong with the PowerA FUSION Pro 3. It's a nearly perfect middle ground, and that's often a very hard balance to strike. Just make sure you actually want those extra features.
PowerA's latest premium wired controller sits between incredible competition, but finds a balance between quality, features, and price point. You're paying for extras a lot of players won't need, but you could be paying a whole lot more for those same features elsewhere.
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.