With the Xbox Design Lab currently offline for renovations, we don't have a large range of colors available for our Xbox controllers. Right now, there's standard black, white, and blue, and now red and white, with no doubt more on the way. There is also a range of other controllers, like the Xbox Elite controller, and third-party options listed in our roundup of best Xbox controllers. Buying a whole new controller by itself is pretty expensive, though. What if there was a cheaper option?
Say hello to ExtremeRate, a company committed to all things customization in gaming. Without the Xbox Design Lab, it's currently impossible to get a red and black Xbox Series X/S controller from Microsoft, but for just $15, you can opt for a DIY option.
$15Bottom line: The ExtremeRate controller shells are easy to install, thoroughly affordable, and come in a huge variety of color options. This is a great option for a mini DIY project if you want to give your Xbox controller some added flair.
- Easy to install
- High-quality materials indiscernible from the real thing
- Huge variety of color options
- Pry tool is a bit flimsy
ExtremeRate Xbox shell: Set up
In the box, you're given three shell parts, some replacement screws, a pry tool, and a T5 security screwdriver. There are no instructions in the box, but there's a card with a YouTube link if you're unfamiliar with taking apart Xbox controllers. You can also take a look at our own guide over here: how to take apart an Xbox controller.
Set up is relatively easy, but does require a bit of elbow grease and time. The grips are the first parts you'll need to remove, and they're held in place by a row of teeth-like connectors that have to be prized up, using the pry tool. Sliding the thin part between the seams and then levering up can feel risky, but it's unlikely you'll break the plastic itself. In fact, I found that the pry tool was a bit flimsy for this task, getting bent quite easily. You may need to apply a bit of force, but once some of the teeth come loose, the rest will follow.
Once you have removed the grips, the next step is to remove the five T5 security screws in each corner. One is also hidden behind the sticker, inside the battery door.
With your controller now naked (ooh, lala) you need to be careful not to drop dust or other small objects into the controller, as it might hinder the action on the triggers or buttons. From here, it's a simple case of adding the new faceplate and then snapping the grips into place, applying force to the teeth and connectors so that they get properly housed. It can be a bit fiddly to get the screws back into their sockets, mind. The controller interior has grooves designed for you to rest the screw on, to help guide them into place. However, the magnets on the rumble motors inside the triggers can interfere with your screws if you're not careful.
ExtremeRate Xbox shell: Gaming and usage
Once set up, the ExtremeRate Xbox shell feels great in the hand. The one I got has soft-touch plastics, complete with an attractive shimmering color finish that looks great. The shape and fit of the pieces are absolutely perfect down to the micrometer, making it feel as though it could've come straight from Microsoft itself.
The modern versions have cutouts for the new Xbox share button and don't replace the textured grips on the back, so you still get the same modern Xbox controller experience. If you place and position all the parts correctly, you shouldn't have any issues whatsoever. I saw some comments online that said the ExtremeRate shell caused issues with buttons or parts, but in my experience taking apart and repairing controllers, this only happens if you allow one of the parts to shift inside, or get something stuck in the controller that shouldn't be there. After getting up, I went and played Overwatch and Little Nightmares without any problems.
Should you buy the ExtremeRate Xbox shell?
If you want to add a bit of color or change up your Xbox controller to match your decor, the ExtremeRate controller shells are a great option. They're high-quality, shaped perfectly, and are simple and easy to set up and install.
It can be a bit tricky to use the pry tool if you're unfamiliar, but it's not hard once you get the hang of it. And the end result is a sexy custom controller shell. This is a great product.
With the Xbox Design Lab out of commission, ExtremeRate is a great alternative DIY option that is so good that it feels practically official.
Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!