The best of the best: Xbox Elite Controller

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If you want the cream of the crop, you want the Xbox One Elite Controller. It's the same overall design as the regular controller. But it's just ... well, better.

Everything has been upgraded. The thumbsticks are removable, as is the D-pad, and they can be replaced with different options depending on your preferences for the games you play. There are four additional paddles on the back, configurable firing mechanisms, and custom button mapping with the Xbox Accessories app for Xbox One and Windows 10. The only downside is that it has no Bluetooth.

The materials are as close to wear-resistant as Microsoft can get, and once you hold one next to a regular controller, the differences are clear — and astounding. Microsoft studied professional gamers to create the Elite and produce a product to fit their needs. It'll set you back around $125.

Bottom line: The best console controller gets even better.

One more thing: Gradually more third-party accessories are becoming available to brighten up the look.

Why the Xbox Elite Controller is the best

It's comfortable to use for long periods, sturdy, and it has a great feel. But like all things, it has a lifespan, and more serious gamers can wear them out fairly quickly.

It's hard to imagine anyone making a better controller.

Then comes the Elite. Microsoft worked alongside professional gamers to design this controller, which keeps the same great design but improves just about everything else. The sticks are removable and more durable, as is the D-pad. There are now paddles on the rear which can be mapped to any button on the controller using the companion app for Xbox One and Windows 10. The whole thing is covered with a soft-touch finish. There are hand-grips, and there are trigger stops.

Some may look at the price tag and declare there's no way a controller is worth that much. And that's fine. But to the people willing to pay top dollar, the Elite Controller is the very best around. It'll last many years longer than a regular controller and is packed with serious features. It's hard to imagine how anyone could make a better controller.

Best Bluetooth: Xbox One Bluetooth controller + Design Lab

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The latest revision of the official Xbox One controller has a tweaked design, adding more grippy parts on the rear side than were present on its predecessor. Inside there's now Bluetooth, which makes it much easier to connect to a PC for wire-free gaming.

It lacks the total customizability of the Elite Controller, but there are still aspects that can be changed in the Xbox Accessories app. And with the new Design Lab (select countries only, for now) you can come up with the wild design of your dreams. Choose from a whole array of colors and even get your own Gamertag stamped on it, so forever it shall be yours.

Bottom line: Microsoft's newest regular controller is better than it's ever been. Pricing starts from $79.99.

One more thing: Bluetooth means wireless gaming on your Windows 10 PC without a dongle.

Best wired: Razer Wolverine Ultimate

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Razer was never going to make just an average controller, and following on from its eSports focused Wildcat is the Wolverine. And this time, Razer brought the Chroma.

The Wolverine is a fully customizable, wired (that's important for a lot of gamers who still prefer this over wireless) controller that's a variation on the standard design. You've got built in hardware audio controls down the bottom, paddles on the rear, and RGB lighting around the Xbox button.

It's not cheap at around $160, but it's well built, looks the business, and is packed to the gills with features.

Bottom line: It's well-made, customizable and perfect for serious gamers.

One more thing: It has Chroma lighting, and there's nothing to not like about that.

Best budget: Amazon Basics

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If you're simply looking for a cheap, solid Xbox One controller then this one from Amazon Basics will do the job nicely. You don't get any fancy features like paddles, nor is it wireless, but it's white like the Xbox One S (or black if you prefer) and importantly, only costs $25.

It's not exactly the same size and shape as the regular controller, but it's pretty close, all the buttons are in the right place and the headset jack is on the bottom. No frills, but great value.

Bottom line: A no-frills, great value controller.

One more thing: It's only available as a wired controller.

Best arcade stick: Hori Real Arcade Pro.V Kai Fighting Stick

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If you're a fan of beat-em-up games then you might find that a dedicated arcade stick is your best method of input. The Hori Pro V isn't cheap at $150, but it's the best choice out there for Xbox One fight fans.

It's packing an original Hayabusa stick and KURO buttons, and if you're into modding it up a little that's OK, too, it's pretty easy to do with this stick. There's ample cable storage and it looks pretty sharp, too.

Bottom line: The best arcade stick for Xbox fight fans.

One more thing: Hori also does a slightly different model in a rather outrageous Tekken 7 paint job.

Best racing wheel: Thrustmaster TS-XW

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You've driven cars with a worse wheel than this. The TS-XW from Thrustmaster and Sparco is the very pinnacle of what you'd want a console wheel to be. It's based on a real Sparco wheel, made from metal and trimmed in alcantara with precise feeling paddle shifters and an amazing force feedback.

It's not for the feint at heart, and driving with this wheel gives you a bit of a workout. The pedals are lifelike and adjustable, and thanks to Thrustmaster's system you can even swap out the wheel itself for a different design to use on the same base. It isn't cheap at around $700 but you can't do better.

Bottom line: The best wheel you can get for Xbox One racing.

One more thing: The detachable wheel can be replaced with different designs running off the same base and pedals.

Conclusion

There are a lot of great Xbox One controllers out there, but it's still hard to look past Microsoft's own Elite controller if you want the absolute best. Pro-grade gamers will also be happy with Razer's controller, and there are good choices too for wireless fans and those on a budget. Even in more niche areas like fighting and racing games, the Xbox One has some really top-class controllers on offer.

The best: Xbox Elite Controller

See at Amazon

If you want the cream of the crop, you want the Xbox One Elite Controller. It's the same overall design as the regular controller. But it's just ... well, better.

Everything has been upgraded. The thumbsticks are removable, as is the D-pad, and they can be replaced with different options depending on your preferences for the games you play. There are four additional paddles on the back, configurable firing mechanisms, and custom button mapping with the Xbox Accessories app for Xbox One and Windows 10.

The materials are as close to wear-resistant as Microsoft can get, and once you hold one next to a regular controller, the differences are clear — and astounding. Microsoft studied professional gamers to create the Elite and produce a product to fit their needs. It'll set you back $159.99.

Bottom line: The best console controller gets even better.

One more thing: Gradually more third-party accessories are becoming available to brighten up the look.

Updated March 27, 2018: We've added a new category to our lineup for the best racing wheel controller.