Customizing controllers is a way to not only express your own creativity and make something unique, it's also pretty easy to do and there's no real need to pay someone to do it for you. The Xbox Design Lab has some amazing options to design your own controller, but like other options, it involves also buying a new controller.
For not a lot of money, there's a whole bunch of things you can do to create your own custom Xbox One controller. Be that adding some visual flair or some additional hardware to improve your gaming experience and even perhaps, give you an edge in some of your favorite titles.
What you need
Before changing parts on your controller, there are some basic tools you'll need to acquire.
These two items are universal to any work you'll ever do on your Xbox One controller, so they're worth keeping in your arsenal. You can also get a toolkit with both (opens in new tab) for about $10.
How to change the appearance of your controller
There are a number of easy modifications you can make to your stock controller to change how it looks. You can change basically everything, but the easiest jobs are swapping out thumbsticks and the shell for something with a little more razzle-dazzle.
The most visually appealing changes are applied by changing the shell on the controller. Thankfully it's a very easy process that involves little more than prising off some plastic and undoing a few screws.
A new faceplate or full shell is only around $15 (opens in new tab) and there are a lot of different designs to choose from, even including soft-touch finishes.
You might just need to replace some broken ones, or you might want to change the color or design, or maybe even swap out the plastic ones for some aluminum. Whatever the reason, a new set of thumbsticks (opens in new tab) can be had for around $10.
Much of the process is the same as changing the shell.
Colored home button
You don't need to get the tools out to change the color of the glowing Xbox logo on your controller. A very quick and very cheap alteration is to just add a transparent colored sticker to it. No, really!
For about $9 you can get a set of 16 different colors (opens in new tab) to choose from that will project a different finish when the controller is powered on.
Simple and effective.
More advanced - ABXY buttons
The standard colored ABXY buttons can be swapped out for a different look, or even a different style entirely and only cost about $10 for a new set (opens in new tab). If you're feeling wild, there are buttons out there that look and feel like brass bullet casings (opens in new tab), for example.
The only mild drawback is that changing these is a little more advanced and requires use of a soldering iron. For a full guide on how to do it, check out a comprehensive guide to not messing it up over at iFixit.
Adding performance parts
Besides changing how your controller looks, there are also some modifications you can make that will improve your gaming experience and performance while using it.
Things like trigger stops and paddles are included with the much more expensive Elite Wireless but you can add them to any regular Xbox One controller, too.
Having a good grip on your controller is important, and there's no shame in admitting your hands get a little clammy sometimes in the heat of competition. Plastic doesn't afford you the best grip in such times, so something you should consider is adding some quality grip panels to the back of your controller.
For around $12 you can get some new ones (opens in new tab) that simply snap onto the controller in place of the standard smooth plastic ones. There are different styles and colors out there, but ultimately all offer the same end performance: A better hold on your controller.
Trigger stops are great for fans of FPS games because they shorten the travel of each trigger, giving you a quicker response time from the press to the shot in the game.
Products like the Bionik Quickshot (opens in new tab) are available to not only add trigger stops to a standard controller, but to also add some serious grip, too, killing two birds with the same stone. You'll only need to spend about $20, too, and you'll almost certainly feel an immediate impact on your favorite shooter.
A paddle kit from Collective Minds can do much more than the paddles you'll find on pre-configured pro-class controllers, and such mods aren't allowed in some competitive games. However, the fact remains you can add paddles and therefore extra control to your standard controller.
The kit is wired and replaces the standard battery door on the controller. You then connect to the micro USB port on the controller so the paddles will never suffer from lag or broken connections. They're around the $30 mark, too, so not overly expensive, and might be just the thing you've been looking for.
So, that's a quick guide on building your own custom controller from the one that came in the box with your Xbox One. The beauty of doing it yourself is that you can do as much or as little as you want, and you can spread out the cost over time if you wish.
If you have any great custom controller modifications to share, let us know in the comments below!
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, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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