Windows Central Verdict
The PowerA Advantage Wired controller with Lumectra is an excellent start for PowerA’s new line of lighting products. The controller is well-made and comfortable to use, and the price is very reasonable. While there is certainly more room for finesse regarding the IR technology and onboard controls for the Lumectra lighting, my interest is piqued by what PowerA will bring next to the range.
Multiple customization options for colors and placement
Great value starter set for those new to RGB
A comfortable controller with extra buttons
Customizing lights on the fly can be cumbersome
IR signal for LED strip can be inconsistent with controller
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The third-party Xbox controller market is fierce, made worse by the official Xbox Series X|S controller just being so damn good you'd not likely want to use anything else. However, that doesn't stop brands from trying, and PowerA is well known for throwing its hat in the ring. Where PowerA does manage to compete successfully is value for money. With its controllers competitively priced below Xbox's offerings and, in fact, the offering of many other third parties, they have a broader appeal.
This time, PowerA revived its popular Spectra controller and created something new but strikingly familiar. With an update to its RGB offering, PowerA is entering the lighting eco-system market, so how does its Lumectra range stack up against the best Xbox controllers?
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.
PowerA Advantage: Price, availability and specs
You can buy the PowerA Advantage Wired Controller with Lumectra for $44.99 at PowerA or other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. The controller is available in Black or White with a $44.99 MSRP. You can also grab a bundle of the black controller and a 4ft RGB LED strip for $54.99 or a standalone 18ft RGB LED strip for $19.99.
|Category||Hyperkin Xenon Wired Controller|
|Connectivity||Wired, detachable USB-C cable, 10ft|
|Compatibility||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10|11|
|Features||Multi-zone RGB lighting|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||Share button for Xbox Series X|S|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||3-way trigger locks|
|Row 5 - Cell 0||Vibration feedback|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||Advanced rear gaming buttons|
|Row 7 - Cell 0||Built-in IR transmitter|
|Audio||3.5mm headphone jack|
PowerA Advantage Wired Controller: What's good
I'm a simple woman who is relatively easily amused. Whether it was intentional by PowerA or not, the controller lights up green when you plug it into power. It gives off Xbox vibes straight away with the default color scheme. It's undoubtedly an appreciated, if small, detail.
On the surface, this controller looks exactly like the PowerA Spectra Infinity with the omission of the ugly front volume dial, but it's more than just a younger model. The PowerA Advantage comes packed with the new Lumectra lighting system, PowerA's latest tech and boasts extra lighting zones and modes to play with. While you can buy the controller on its own, an optional bundle comes with a 4ft LED strip, also powered with Lumectra, and the two are supposed to sync seamlessly.
When changing the color scheme to a personalized configuration, you have a wealth of options at your fingertips. There are three rear buttons on the controller for changing up the lights and four zones you have control over. Holding down an 'internal RGB' button takes you into the customization mode, and you can select exactly which section of the controller you want to change by hitting right on the D-pad. Then, using the A, B, X, and Y buttons, choose a color and continue to press them to cycle through 6 versions of your desired color. As I said, I'm a simple woman consistently settling on two colors from an almost endless rainbow.
That seems like a lot of instructions to absorb, at least to me; it did at first, but once you’ve done it a few times, it makes sense. It’s easy to forget after a few hours of playing, so you will randomly bash buttons on the controller, hoping the colors will change to your whim.
Once in customizing mode, other buttons on the controller let you adjust the brightness of the LEDs and whether they flash, breathe, or are static. The lighting looks fantastic, if not a little fiddly. This was a contention point on the Spectra controller, but it seems like PowerA is sticking to the format.
The controller is comfortable with a familiar Xbox configuration, layout, and shape. I also appreciate that while wired, this controller has a little weight to give it substance. That’s a personal preference, though, as I know many prefer a lighter controller when there are no batteries to contend with. The rumble motors are decent, if not weaker than the standard Xbox Series X|S controller.
For the price, at $44.99, this is a quality controller. The smooth and matte surface is comfortable, and you benefit from two rear programmable buttons and 3-stop trigger locks. I primarily look at value for money when reviewing products. Except for the MOGA XP-Ultra, I’m typically impressed with the punch PowerA manages to pack in the lower end of the price bracket. The build quality here is fantastic, and you’re getting a decent Xbox controller with extra buttons and the fun factor of some RGB lighting. What’s not to love? Well, a few things.
PowerA Advantage: What's not so good
The combination of the controller lighting and the included LED strip in the bundle gives a warm atmospheric effect, and the idea is that you can control the strip directly from the controller with the IR sensor. I chose to stick my sample to the back of my monitor, and it did have a remote control attached to change the colors directly, but when it came to using the controller with the strip, I found it very hit-or-miss with its responses.
In some tests, I could change the colors, while the controller would fail to respond for no reason in others. The strip was positioned close to my Xbox and the controller at all times, so the distance between them and the IR transmitter shouldn’t be an issue. I was also sent the 18ft strip, which I haven’t gotten around to testing yet to see if there is a similar inconsistency issue, but considering PowerA’s Lumectra isn’t compatible with an external app or home assistants like Alexa and Google, you’d expect the two devices to at least work perfectly with each other.
And they do, but only around 70% of the time. If you already have one of the many other lighting strip products on the market, such as Govee, then it’s probably not worth purchasing this strip as it doesn’t have the compatibility of its competitors. However, I will say that the effect and color sync with the controller was striking when it worked.
Now, to discuss the elephant in the room with this controller: Yes, it's wired. To offer a significant update to the Spectra, I'd have liked to have seen a wireless version to make it worth the upgrade. While Microsoft has firmly held on to the rights to its proprietary technology to produce wireless controllers, the doors have been opened somewhat recently. PowerA was the first to release an official third-party wireless controller for the Xbox Series S|X in the MOGA XP-Ultra, so I wonder why they haven't used that in the new Advantage controller.
The MOGA XP-Ultra is in a much higher bracket, and perhaps they wanted to keep the cost of this release down. It's a shame that such a cool controller is still tethered to the console, and I would be happy to pay an extra $10 - $20 to match the price of Xbox's own wireless offerings to get a fully wireless RGB controller.
PowerA Advantage: The competition
The market for RGB controllers for consoles is surprisingly thin on the ground. I'm a huge fan of the GameSir T4 Kaleid controller, which is at a similar price point to the PowerA Advantage Controller. Alas, it's not compatible with Xbox consoles.
Your only real alternatives for Xbox compatibility are the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma and the PDP Afterglow controllers. The Razer option is a great controller; it has the 'pro' back paddles and, more importantly, more ease of use with its light customization, as it can be tampered with directly from an Xbox app
For that convenience, though, you'll pay extra, which comes in at more than double the cost of PowerA's offering at $99. For fans of the Razer brand, it's worth the extra cost. For me, the lighting on the PowerA controller is a lot more vibrant and has more placements on the controller, and I'm willing to take a bit of clunky customization settings for the price of $45.
The PDP Afterglow Wave and Prismatic controllers come in the same price bracket as the PowerA Advantage, retailing at $45 - $52, depending on whether you want a solid color or full transparent faceplates. You do have less control over the lights with these controllers, though; in my opinion, they feel cheap.
PowerA Advantage: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
- You love RGB everything
- You're interested in a controller and LED strip combo system
- You like the traditional Xbox shape and style controllers
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You don't like wired controllers
- You have little patience for controlling lighting systems
With these criticisms, You may wonder why I still gave the controller 4 out of 5 stars. Well, it comes down to price. Despite the shortcomings with the Lumectra controls, this is still a fantastic quality controller, and it's only $44.99. For an extra $10, you can get a bundle, a great starting RGB set, and an entry into the world of RGB lighting. Even the top picks on our best Xbox controllers roundup often lack such colorful options.
It's tough to criticize when PowerA has priced this so reasonably. While this was provided to Windows Central for review, I've purchased many PowerA controllers with my money, mainly because it has a great Nintendo Switch range. Over time, they have proved sturdy, long-lasting, and worth every penny, and this addition to the range looks no different.
A wired gaming controller that will brighten up your gaming setup, literally, with PowerA's Lumectra lighting. Comes in Black or White to match your chosen console, and syncs with PowerA Lumectra LED strips. Purchase together as a bundle, or buy the controller separately to add some fun to your game nights.
Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.