Best Xbox Series X and Series S controllers Windows Central 2021
You'll feel most at home on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S if you use a controller, and it's worth your time and money to find the best controller for your needs. If you're simply looking for the best overall controller for Xbox Series X|S, look no further than the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, which features excellent battery life and huge levels of customization.
- Best Overall: Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Best Bluetooth: New Xbox Wireless Controller
- Best Wired: Razer Wolverine Ultimate
- Best Budget: PowerA Enhanced
- Best Accessibility: Xbox Adaptive Controller
- 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 Xbox Elite Wireless Controller 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 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 Razer Wolverine Ultimate 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. The only feature you'll miss out on is the Share button included on newer controllers designed for Xbox Series X|S.
- Excellent design
- Best for competitive players
- Long, braided cable
- Customizable paddles and buttons
- Integrated audio controls
- Paddle design is unusual
- Fairly expensive
- No Share button
Best Budget: PowerA Enhanced
PowerA is well known for making affordable and surprisingly high-quality gaming accessories, and the PowerA Enhanced Controller for Xbox Series X|S is no different. An updated design from earlier PowerA Xbox One controllers, the Enhanced comes with a metallic D-Pad, a scrollable volume wheel for a plugged-in headset, two programmable buttons on the rear, and a Share button for capturing screenshots and video clips.
The PowerA Enhanced is at its best when you consider its shockingly low price, however. The features you get for your money are highly competitive, making this a fantastic option if you want to get the most out of your purchases. This controller doesn't slack on the extras, either, with a detachable cable and a wide variety of beautiful colors from which to choose.
If you're looking for a wireless controller, however, you won't find it here. The PowerA Enhanced comes only in a wired version. On top of that, the PowerA Enhanced suffers from the same problem as the previous PowerA Spectra: a soft-touch coating on the top plate. While this looks and feels great, it can get quite grubby over time.
- Solid construction
- Great price
- Design close to official controller
- Extra programmable buttons and volume wheel
- Only comes wired
- Soft-touch coating gets very grubby
Best Accessibility: Xbox Adaptive Controller
The Xbox Adaptive Controller isn't going to be the best controller for everyone, but its incredible customization and wide range of compatible accessories make this peripheral the best possible controller for accessibility. Microsoft carefully designed the Adaptive Controller to fit the needs of millions of gamers with limited mobility in a package that's easy to use and tailor to your specific needs.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller features large, programmable buttons and switches, and has a ton of additional ports to allow additional accessories and peripherals to be connected. Using the Adaptive Controller, you can make your gaming setup exactly what you need.
There's an unfortunately limited number of options for players who can take advantage of controllers like this, and the Xbox Adaptive Controller is absolutely among the best of them. Built with the Xbox One series and PC in mind, it's 100% compatible with Xbox Series X|S.
- True customization
- Wide range of options and accessories
- Great community support
- Compatibility with Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC
- Time-consuming to set up
- Accessories can be expensive
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 forward compatibility with the best Xbox One controllers. No matter your playstyle, favorite genre, or budget, there's bound to be the perfect controller accessory out there for you. More and more manufacturers are also updating their best products with new features from the Xbox Series X|S, like the incredibly handy Share button.
If you want the best of the best, however, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is the top dog. Mixing the brilliant design of the standard controller with additional features and swappable parts, as well as a more durable, longer-lasting build, you truly can't go wrong with this beast of a peripheral. Sure, it definitely carries a premium price tag to accompany its exorbitant features, but it's worth every penny for the hardcore gamer.
Of course, there are plenty of other awesome options, whether you're into racing games, shooters, action-adventure, or anything else. The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X|S, for example, still delivers great features at an incredibly appealing price. If you want to get the most for your money and you're on a budget, it's a great option. All in all, there's never been a better time to be an Xbox gamer.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Future at Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He has been gaming and writing for most of his life, and has been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.
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.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.