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Xbox One Mini Series controller review – Big performance from a small pad

Last week we promised to bring you more Xbox One accessory reviews, and we weren't kidding! I have no less than six controllers and other accessories in the hopper, just waiting to be put through their paces so that our readers can know what's up. First up will be the new Xbox One Mini Series Wired Controller from Power A (makers of the MOGA controllers.

The Mini Series Wired Controller is exciting for a number of reasons. Along with PowerA's Spectra Controller, it's one of the very first two wired controllers for Xbox One. Many gamers prefer wireless for comfort, but wired controllers can still be very handy. The Mini Series controller is also smaller than a standard Xbox One controller, making it more suitable for players with small hands. And last but not least, it sells for $39.99 – $20 less than the standard controller.

Read on to find out whether the Mini Series Controller is right for you.

Two colors, all gloss

This controller comes in two color variations: black or green. Only the plastic shells and USB cables differ in color. The buttons, etc. are identical in both controllers. You won't find an exposed black area on the green color or vice versa, unlike colored first-party controllers. For the purpose of this review, we picked up a black controller.

Whichever color you pick, the Mini Series controller comes in a glossy finish. That's not too uncommon for controllers, but it's a worse choice than a matte finish. Glossy controls show smudges basically any time you handle them. Even just shooting the photographs and video for this review, the controller got fairly smudged up. A matte finish would look cleaner after handling, and (in my opinion) a bit less cheap as well.

Plug it in

The first difference between the Mini Series and a regular Xbox One controller is the Mini Series' built in USB cable. As far as we know, Microsoft still requires third-party controllers to be wired, so it's not like PowerA had a choice in the matter. But the wire can be handy in many situations. You'll never need to worry about the controller powering off when left idle, or having to fish around for a cord when you need to plug it in.

The Mini Series cord itself is 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length. That's a generous length. You needn't fear anyone damaging the controller or console by tripping over the cord, either. The male end of the cable has a breakaway connector, just like wired Xbox 360 controllers. Glad to see that innovation carry over to wired Xbox One controllers!

Size matters

The Mini Series Controller's standout feature is (of course) its diminutive size. I don't know the exact ratio, but this controller seems about twenty percent smaller than the standard Xbox One controller (and about a centimeter shorter than a Playstation controller). That doesn't make it exceptionally small per se, just a bit more appropriate for children and people with smaller hands.

"They look like big, strong hands, don't they?" No, the controller isn't too small for adult male hands to use. I find it perfectly comfortable to use. Someone with extra-large hands like Mobile Nations' very tall Simon Sage might find it too small, though.

Parts and performance

Let's run down the controller's various sticks and buttons and see how they measure up to a first-party controller's.

Analog sticks

The single easiest thing for third party controllers to get wrong is the analog sticks. Even my favorite third-party Xbox 360 controller, the Hori EX pad 2, has shabby sticks. That's why I'm so happy to say the Mini Series has great analog sticks!

They have the perfect length and resistance. Their length is about 2mm shorter than the official sticks, which are slightly too long in my opinion. The tops are about a millimeter smaller in radius compared to the first-party sticks, and aren't nearly as prone to collecting debris, either.

D-pad:

On the Xbox 360, third-party controllers usually boasted superior D-Pads to the official controllers (whose d-pads were awful, even the slightly better transforming variety). The official Xbox One D-Pad is much better though.

The Mini Series D-Pad basically rates about the same. It's a millimeter or so smaller in diameter and has grooved arrows on each direction, but otherwise closely resembles the official D-Pad in shape and performance.

Face buttons

The X, Y, A, and B buttons are smaller and spaced farther apart from each other on the Mini Series controller. They're still larger than you'd find on a Nintendo portable though.

Home button and LED

Instead of resting almost at the top of the controller, the Mini Series' Home button sits closer to the center. It does not light up or have a chrome finish. It sticks farther out from the controller body and feels different to press. Other than not looking quite as nice as a light-up button, I don't see that as a problem.

The Mini Series does have a white LED, but not inside of the Home button. Instead, you'll find it a centimeter below Home. Again, not as aesthetically pleasing as the alternative, but at least we do get a light to indicate that the controller is drawing power.

View and Menu

The Back and Start button equivalents have a more elongated shape than on the official controller, and they sit on either side of the Home button. Menu (Start) is slightly too close to the X button, but it should only cause issues if you rest your thumb too far to the left or start mashing the buttons.

Bumper buttons

Another pleasant surprise: the Mini Series Left and Right Bumpers are better than the official controller's! Basically, they stick out from the controller more. They have a stronger click and feel more responsive in general. Many games don't require precision bumper presses, but a game like Killer Instinct will benefit from the Mini Series' responsive bumper design.

Triggers and vibration

You win some, you lose some. The Mini Series' triggers and vibration simply don't measure up to the official pad's. Not a big surprise as those are two of the official Xbox One controller's strongest points.

The triggers are much smaller and less concave in design. They have less room to travel, making it harder to press them with less than full strength.

As for the vibration motors, they present less low range vibrations than the official controller's. You'll still feel the rumble when you take a hit or whatever, but the milder vibrations are harder to notice.

Windows support

The Mini Series Controller is fully PC compatible. Oddly, my Windows 8.1 system registers it as both an Xbox 360 and Xbox One controller. But the controller only functions with the Xbox One driver, which is good enough.

Only one thing missing

The Mini Series' most obvious flaw is its lack of headset port. You simply can't use a headset while playing with this controller. That greatly restricts the Mini Series Controller's usefulness when playing online games (with the exception of Warframe, which supports keyboard chat).

Still, the controller's small size and low price make it perfect for use as a child's controller or an additional controller for local multiplayer games. Many players won't want to spend $60 for a set of four controllers, but you can easily save twenty bucks by making this one of your extra pads.

PowerA's Mini Series Controller is way better than you'd expect from an affordable third-party pad. The one big flaw, the lack of headset support, is something you're told about up front. Nearly everything else, from the sticks to the d-pad to the buttons, performs just as well as any Microsoft controller.

This controller is not available at Amazon in the US just yet, but you can find it at several other retailers. You can also preorder it at Amazon UK. We'll update with a US Amazon Link when that becomes available.

  • Xbox One Mini Series Wired Controller – $39.99 – BestBuy (opens in new tab)GameStop (opens in new tab)Amazon UK (opens in new tab)

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

99 Comments
  • No matter what console I've owned, whenever I've bought a 3rd party controller, it never lasted like their OEM brethren. It's $20 cheaper for a reason, is all I am trying to say. Thanks for the review, Big Tex!
  • I've been lucky with my 3rd party 360 controller I've had since march last year and it still works like a charm. It's the one with a transparent shell and has blue lights $21.99.
  • It must be your magic fingers.
  • I honestly just buy the "Windows" controller for 40$ instead of a regular 360 controller for 50$ it's the exact same thing only wired. The thing works wonderfully.
  • That's still a Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller, really. It is indeed nice to have.
  • I had that one before. The fact that it emitted a blue light made it seem better than it actually was but the lifespan of the controller itself was pretty short. It had a shortage within 3 months of me purchasing it.
  • For me there has only been one exception to that rule. Madcats did an awesome mini controller for the gamecube.
  • Gamecube?  What's that?
  • The father of Wii
  • Pretty sure this one officially licensed by Microsoft. So, it should last. It is rather small though.
  • I totally agree, and that rule goes all the way back to Atari.
  • Where is the October update?!
  • To the controller?
  • It's inside the controller. /facetious
  • @ Paul... How about some more high end device comparis;:;;::;.... Oh, I forgot. They don't make high end WP devices anymore.
    ........
    My bad.
  • My One (M8) begs to differ....
  • Your 1 device, year old, recycled chassis, One M8 begs to differ?
    .........
    Sorry, let me rephrase that.. They don't make any NEW WP devices anymore...
    .........
    It's already time for the new M9❗❗❗ SMH.
    Heck, my 1520 has more to offer than that old device lol!
  • Why are you so rude in every comment on this site? The One is a good phone, as high end as anything on the market. Also its not a year old. I agree that WP could use more high end devices, but why make them if no ones buying them?
  • Also: The 1520 is a good device but why bring it up and immediately try to disparage the M8? How is that relevant to anything? I give up....
  • If you're going throw another fit like that, then you might as well give up.... You know the M8 isn't ground breaking! Face the facts! It's nothing new.. Now, when someone asks for new WP devices think about what that's means. And, if you recognize me for being rude then spare me the childish fit next time, and ignore my comments.. SMH.
  • My comment hardly qualifies as a fit, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I've been in enough comment threads to know when to get out, and I will take your advice and ignore your comments.
  • What's wrong with the WP M8. I'd kill for one considering Verizon just shat in my face (and everyone else who bought that phone) with the Icon.
  • The M8 is a wonderful device.. Where did you hear anyone say it wasn't?... It's just when people are asking for new high end WP devices it's so annoying to bring up the M8.. New to WP, old to the world, as usual..
  • You implied it don't be cute, also what's wrong with android manufacture's rebranding existing phones? I would love an LG G3 or imagine a Sony Z3 with Windows Phone! It would be nice if they released simultaneously but as windows phone fans we gotta take what we can get.
  • What's wrong with Android OEM's recycling existing phones? Another thing that nobody said...
    ...........
    But, there is something wrong with how its done.. Too damn late!... They need to release no later than a month or two behind Android handsets... MS needs to work harder to make this happen.. No excuses❗
  • Perfection.
  • When is the 1030 coming? End of 2015? WP ever behind :-(
  • Maybe 2ndQ
  • He is on OUR side Rodney!
  • I know. I know.. Sorry.
  • You're extremely negative for no reason. Windows has plenty of high end devices people like you don't understand that the OS is fast even on low end devices. Stop trying to find bad things about Windows phone products and pay attention to why we're already superior to any other contending phone.
  • You're insane. How old are you, Norris?
  • I agree for the most part, but don't shut out any criticism of the platform.
  • How old?
  • I don't know, but you guys need to stop arguing. It's embarrassing and then we have to delete the comments.
  • Lol. Ok....it is off subject.. Sorry.
  • Paul you are great :)
  • "Paul you are great"..... Lol.
  • What about HTC One M8?
  • No.
  • Good review. I'm starting to like your reviews Paul!
  • Hahaha Me too! I didn't like most of his last reviews! But this one...
  • Thanks Mat! Glad you enjoy them.
  • I couldn't agree more Mat! Awesome review! Very detailed.  I only wish they made this controller wireless.  Bummer, eh?  Thx for the review ntl! 
  • Paul what name are u guys leaning towards for the site?
  • I lean towards WinCentral but it really comes down to Daniel's choice.
  • I say WinOneCentral/WOCentral (desktop, phone/mobile, xbone)... But I guess WinCentral makes sense, except for what exactly am I winning.... (you guys give awesome prizes mind you)
  • If you read our site regularly, you're a winner! :D
  • There's already WinBeta.org
    Seems 2 similar. Clearly you guys should just add plus to current name. Windows phone central plus... Meaning plus everything else
  • Then all the Apple fanboy's would say they're copying the use of the magical innovative word "Plus" Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • What's an apple and what's a fan boy ? Oh its those things that should never be spoken again along with 3rd world. I didn't know the earth had 3 parts
  • What about Windows Platform Central, so you can keep it at WPCentral.
  • Dan - Windows Pro Central. You will be saving DNS fees. And your new slogan: We make pros out of newbs! Welcome to the world of Windows Pros.
  • Usbotg - this thing was made for my 1520. And the sp3.
  • Will this work on windows phone? Confused me with the WP next to it with a game up
  • No, that's just there for a size comparison, so you can get a sense of how big (or small, rather) the controller is. WP does not support HID devices at this time.
  • I wish Microsoft would get USB OTG support enabled pronto. I have a blast plugging my 360 controller into my non-windows phones. Games like Asphalt 8 Airborn are fun to play this way.
  • No headset? What a joke.
  • You can still do party chat via the Kinect, though. No headset needed. In fact, sometimes I prefer chatting over Kinect when gaming with my brother or friends because then my wife can participate too.
  • If you use Kinect to chat during public multiplayer games, you're being a jerk. I meant to work that into the text of the review instead of just the video, but it ran too long.
  • Why is this?
  • Actually really like, would most likely chose to use it on PC rather than Xbox one. Sad there is no headset support, but I don't exactly play many games on the xbone
  • When will we be able to use Xbox One controllers with our Windows Phones? s/ Windows Phone promised Xbox gaming from the beginning but doesn't hold a candle to the hardware support and games available on competing platforms. Maybe Windows 10 will change things...
  • You'll never be able to use Xbox controllers with Windows Phone, unless the Windows 10 phones get either a USB input or the Xbox One's proprietary wireless support.
  • Well what's the point of a one core OS if the peripherals for one device won't work on another? Hope the Microsoft Mobile and XBoxOne devs are on this...
  • I had this model controler for the 360. Bought 3 of them in fact. They still work great and my kids love the size of them.
    I may pick up q couple of these for the Xbox one. I have three OEM controllers and two of them are already suffering from severe stick drift. Very frustrating.
  • So is this Windows Phone Central or XBOX Central?
  • Since it's not you central, you should stop complaining.
  • So need a like button for this reply alone
  • There is an arrow on the right, which you can use to vote his post "up"...same thing as a like button.
  • We need that in the app)
  • Honestly the pictures make it look like the controller is made out of cheap plastic. Heck the Xbox button doesn't even look centered. I wouldn't trust it to last very long.
  • It's centered horizontally. I don't expect it would break unless someone abused it.
  • This would be perfect for my daughter and I would save $20. I'm definitely looking into this soon.
  • Yeeeeaaah, no 3rd party garbage for me. I'll stick with my $100 million controller, made by the console manufacturer.
  • No headset support, No deal
  • What if they threw in a loaf of bread? Let's at least haggle a little. :D
  • Does the bread have headset support?
  • You can plug a headset into it for sure, but I can't promise sound will come out.
  • The phone in the picture. Looks like a sexy beast of an OS! Man, people should buy that!
  • Seems great for my surface. Also, while we speak of controller quality...while the ergonomics of the XB1 controller are nearly flawless...what a flimsy, junky, piece of junk they are.
  • Off topic but, how bout them cowboys!!!
  • ...crickets...
  • Ooh I might grab one of these instead of forking out for the cronos max. As I am too used to the size of the playstation pads, also due to the size the placement of the d-pad looks identical to a GameCube pad (another comfortable pad unlike the wii mote). Transitioning from the n64 pad to the playstation pad was a breeze. The xbox pad, not so much especially for games like street fighter after several matches I get cramps in both the adductor pollicis & dorsal interosseous muscles in both hands. Whereas on the ps pad I can play sf4 for hours without any cramps.
  • "The Mini Series Wired Controller is exciting for a number of reasons. Along with Power A's Spectra Controller, it's one of the very first two wired controllers for Xbox One. Many gamers prefer wireless for comfort, but wired controllers can still be very handy. " So yeah, this is totally wrong.  The official Xbox One controller is wired as well.  (Unlike a 360 controller, by the way...) As soon as you plug in a USB cable, it then transmits data over USB.  So literally, the first controller that was released for the system is also a wired controller if you choose it to be.  There is no reason to consider wired support on this third-party controller as an advantage over the official controller.
  • Disagree.
  • Not sure which part there is to disagree with.  It's the facts.  Xbox One "wireless" controller + microUSB cable = Xbox One wired controller.
  • jhoffg80 does have a point. It is indeed both.
  • There is plenty of reason to consider the Wireless Controller not a wired controller. For one, that's what Microsoft considers it: https://www.wow-online-handel.de/media/images/org/MicrosoftXBOXOneWirelessControllerPlayCharge1.jpg Just because you can plug a wire into it does not make the controller inherently wired. Also, I know very well that a wire can be plugged in and address that within the review. I just don't consider it a wired controller, because it is not that by default.
  • At this price point I think I could wait..  Afterall both the Xbox One and PS4 OEM controllers have been on sale at Amazon for $35. Have not cared much for 3rd party controllers post Sega Saturn/Playstation.  First party options have only gotten better over the years, but these 3rd party alternatives still reek of inferiority....    
  • What case is it on the Lumia 1520
  • MiniSuit Rugged Case. We reviewed it a while back.
  • "so it's a moot point." HAHA I read: "so it's a mooohh point" ... Joe!
  • How exactly is this "fully PC compatible"? I purchased this yesterday and went through hours of work arounds and this controller is anything but fully PC compatible. As far as I can tell, there is no driver even available for this mini series controller by Power A as the Xbox One Controller for Windows driver is not compatible with this controller. I'm curious as to how you got it working on your PC.
  • I just plugged it in, Windows downloaded the driver, and it worked. See screenshots. Not sure why you're having issues. Maybe find a way to manually download the Xbox One controller driver?
  • I think they changed it internally since you reviewed it, since it does the same for me. It identifies as "Xbox ONE mini", not Xbox 360/Xbox ONE, that might be why it doesn't work now, I think they changed the ID to give it a unique one, so Windows won't apply the Xbox ONE controller driver.
  • I might get something like this as a travel controller.  I carry my old wired 360 controller with my Surface Pro 2 when I go on trips so I can play games and such.  But having a smaller one would be better.  That being said, I really hate that glossy finish.  It does look cheap.  I'm going to wait for a more asthetically pleasing model to come out...
  • Any Xbox controller can be connect with windows phones??
  • No, unfortunately it's not possible. Windows Phones an be used with MOGA controllers, however.