Best Xbox Series X, Series S Controller Windows Central 2021
To play games on the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, you'll need a controller, and it's worth having the right controller. Microsoft's Xbox Elite Series 2 wireless controller is the best you can buy for the latest generation consoles if you're really looking to take your experience up a notch.
- Best overall: Xbox Elite Controller Series 2
- Best Bluetooth: New Xbox Wireless Controller
- Best wired: Razer Wolverine Ultimate
- Best budget: PowerA Spectra
- Best racing wheel: Logitech G923
Best overall - Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
The regular Xbox controller is incredibly comfortable to use for long periods, which is why it's so good Microsoft didn't really change it for the Series X and Series S. It's sturdy, and it generally feels great to hold and use. However, like all things, it has a lifespan, and more serious gamers can wear them out fairly quickly.
Then comes the Elite Series 2, the latest incarnation of Microsoft's professional-grade controller. It essentially 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 paddles on the rear which can be mapped to any button on the controller using the companion app for Xbox and Windows 10. The whole thing is covered with a soft-touch finish, and there are also hand-grips and trigger stops.
Some may look at the price tag and declare that no controller is worth that much, and that's fine. 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. The Series 2 also adds Bluetooth into the mix for easy wireless pairing with your Windows 10 PC.
- Excellent design
- Great build quality
- Custom button and paddle mapping
- Changeable sticks and D-Pad
- Heavier than a standard controller
Best Bluetooth - New Xbox Wireless Controller
You honestly can't go wrong with the controller Microsoft bundled in the box with your new Xbox console. Since the Xbox One S debut, Microsoft included Bluetooth capabilities, which were not utilized properly on the console. It does open up to using the controller with a PC and an Xbox console. Especially useful if you're a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber with access to all the included PC games.
The new Xbox Wireless Controller controller design is a continuation of arguably the best there has ever been on any platform, with its offset analog sticks and perfect size leading to many, many hours of comfortable gaming. The latest update adds a dedicated share button, which is more convenient for snapping clips and screenshots than the older controller's method.
It works seamlessly with the PC, too, either wired over USB-C or over Bluetooth. If you're not a fan of dumping batteries inside it, there's also a play and charge kit available that transforms it into a rechargeable controller.
- Excellent design
- Dedicated share button
- Bluetooth for easy PC use
- Ergonomic and comfortable to use
- Not rechargeable without extra purchase
- Won't last as long as an Elite
Best wired - Razer Wolverine Ultimate
The Wolverine is a fully customizable, wired controller that's a variation on the standard Xbox design. You've got built-in hardware audio controls down the bottom, paddles on the rear, and RGB lighting around the Xbox button, so everything you need while in-game is right at your fingertips.
The Wolverine, as with the Xbox Elite Series 2, is targeted at the competitive scene — those who need a controller that not only has added durability but additional features such as those paddles, which can all be mapped to your own customized layout. Wired is also a better option for competitive play since the connection will be more reliable and less prone to potentially game-ending interference.
The included cable is long enough to allow you to sit far away from the screen if you wish, and it also means you're never going to run out of power when the going gets tough. The Wolverine also closely resembles Microsoft's controller design, so it's comfortable to use for long periods and is well built to survive even the hardest use for a long time.
- Excellent design
- Best for competitive players
- Long, braided cable
- Customizable paddles and buttons
- Integrated audio controls
- Paddle design is unusual
- Fairly expensive
Best budget - PowerA Spectra
If you just want a robust controller that costs as little as possible, you can't do much better than this nifty controller from PowerA. It's inexpensive but well made and enjoyable to use, and since Xbox One controllers are forwards compatible, it's an ideal second controller for the times you want some local multiplayer.
It's not exactly the same size and shape as the regular Xbox controller, but it's fairly close. All the buttons are in the right place, and the headset jack is on the bottom. You also have a little flair in the form of illuminated strips around the edges, buttons, and sticks.
It only comes wired, but for something so affordable, the killer feature is the rear paddles and two-stage trigger stops. This controller offers some of the experience you get from a Series 2 Elite but at a much, much lower price. And it's hard to argue with that.
- Solid construction
- Great price
- Design close to official controller
- Trigger stops and rear paddles
- Only comes wired
- Soft-touch coating gets very grubby
Best racing wheel - Logitech G923
For the budding virtual racer on Xbox Series X and Series S, you can't do better right now than this wheel. Thanks to a partnership with many top titles, the G923 and its included Trueforce system allows for feedback and feel like never before seen on a console.
The actual design is almost identical to Logitech's previous wheels because if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The latest incarnation has some neat features that are new to Xbox, including a double-clutch system, a dial, and integrated LED shift lights. The wheel is compact and trimmed in leather, while the whole unit is small, light, and easy to mount to either a desk or a dedicated racing rig.
The G923 also features upgraded pedals that are less spongy and more responsive than previous models, albeit still without a load cell, and while it was launched for the Xbox One. It's confirmed to fully support both the Xbox Series X and Series S.
- Great design and build
- Class-leading console force feedback
- Integrated shift lights
- Compact and lightweight
- No load-cell brake pedal
There are so many excellent Xbox Series X and Series S controllers out there right now, not least because of forwards compatibility with Xbox One controllers. Better still, there's a good choice for virtually any type of gamer.
The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 is the top dog, though, mixing the brilliant design of the standard controller with additional features and swappable parts, as well as a more durable, longer-lasting build.
But whether you're into racing games, shooters, or want something a little more unique looking, there's something out there for you. There's never been a better time to be an Xbox gamer.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.
Matt Brown is a staff writer at Future for Windows Central. Following years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he's focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.
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