If you're looking for a new Xbox controller, you have plenty of options outside of Microsoft's official wireless controller. Many third-party Xbox controllers are officially licensed and offer bonus features such as mappable back paddles, customization, profile support, and even modular designs. Looking beyond the standard Xbox controller is particularly useful if you play online multiplayer, as many of the third-party options out there contain features specifically designed to help your performance. Of course, Microsoft also has a pair of first-party controllers outside of the standard Xbox controller that are absolutely fantastic: the Xbox Elite Series 2 for competitive gaming and the Xbox Adaptive Controller for accessibility. We've rounded up the best Xbox controllers you can buy in 2022.
With all of these great Xbox controllers on the market, you can rest easy knowing that if you drop a large amount of money on a pad, you'll be able to use it with any version for the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC. That means if you buy the Elite Series 2 controller now to use it with your Xbox One, you can upgrade to the Xbox Series X whenever you like and still be able to use the controller.
Of course, even with all these options, the basic Xbox controller is perfectly suitable. It features excellent ergonomics, smooth triggers, and accurate analog sticks, and if you need to face someone 1-on-1 in a fighting game, its clicky D-pad will serve you well enough. However, some of the alternative options will give you customization features, a more accessible experience, or even an edge over the competition.
If you need to keep your thumbs on both sticks during a tense firefight, there are several controllers from Microsoft, Scuf, and Razer that feature remappable back paddles. If you want to relive the past with a hefty dose of nostalgia, the Xbox One has two excellent options in Hyperkin's Duke and X91 pads. And if you're looking to streamline the gameplay experience as, or for, someone with limited mobility, then Microsoft has an excellent, accessibility-focused controller.
Editor's Note: Article updated on September 26, 2022
- Stark improvements have made for an excellent standard controller
- Affordable price
- New Share button makes taking screenshots and videos easy
- Textured grips and triggers are a nice addition to a standard controller
With the release of the Xbox Series X, Microsoft revised the Xbox wireless controller once again. Featuring a slightly smaller shape, every version of the Xbox wireless controller now dons textured hand grips and triggers. It also features a more clicky D-pad that feels similar to the Xbox One's controller, yet is shaped more like a circle pad. Perhaps the biggest addition is the introduction of a Share button, which lets you screenshot and records video more easily.
With this new variation of the controller, Microsoft didn't mess with it too much. However, the company made some smart changes that make it a more useful and appealing controller.
- Newly added grips keep controller firmly in your hands
- Trigger stops automatically adjust sensitivity
- Three profiles for controller customization
- Adjustable analog-stick tension
- New thumb-stick heads emulate Xbox 360 controller
- 40 hours of battery life
- Uncomfortable with all four paddles attached
The Xbox Elite Series 2 controller is hard to beat. With its textured hand and trigger grips, refined trigger stops, and adjustable stick tension, it's quite the step up from the original Elite controller. It features all of the same customization options as well, but instead of only two profiles, there are four--one of which returns the controller to its default settings. It also boasts a built-in battery that can last up to 40 hours and Bluetooth connectivity, which was introduced to Xbox controllers after the release of the Elite Series 1 controller. It also features charging via a USB-C cable rather than micro-USB, which is an improvement.
There is a downside, though. Microsoft's layout for the Elite controllers' back paddles is a bit uncomfortable when you have all four paddles attached. Thankfully, two paddles is usually enough. However, when companies like Scuf (hint, hint) make controllers with a comfortable layout for all four paddles, it is slightly disappointing by comparison. When it comes to forwards-compatibility, it lacks the "share" button that the regular Xbox controllers have.
Despite these setbacks, the Elite Series 2 is a delight to use. The extra hand and trigger grip feels nice, and being able to adjust the thumbstick tension is a huge positive. The tighter analog sticks feel great, and when paired with the larger thumb stick heads, it emulates the Xbox 360 controller except with the more comfortable ergonomics of the Xbox pad. On top of that, there are now two trigger stop positions as opposed to one, and by default, the controller adjusts trigger sensitivity on its own--previously, you'd have to do this in the Xbox Accessories app on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, or PC. The clicky home button also has a more premium feel when compared to the mushy-ness of the basic Xbox controller. All of this makes the Elite Series 2 feel like a next-gen controller for the cutting-edge gamer, perfect for using with the Xbox Series X.
- Retains premium Elite Series 2 feel
- White and black color scheme stands out
- A cheaper way to get an Elite controller
- Compatible with affordable third-party components
- Official add-on components are pricey
If you want a premium pro-style Xbox controller but don't want to shell out as much cash as the Elite Series 2 costs, Microsoft now offers another option: the Elite Series 2 Core controller.
The Elite Series 2 Core controller has a white-and-black design that makes it stand out more than original model. Outside of the different look, though, the Elite Series 2 Core is functionally the same controller in terms of general feel and build quality. It has the lovely heft to it as well as excellent analog sticks, buttons, triggers (with trigger stops), and the brilliant raised, eight-way metal D-pad.
So, what's the difference?
The Core controller does not come with the extra components--back paddles, extra analog sticks, or carrying case. That said, it still supports the additional components; you just have to buy them separately.
But here's the thing: The analog sticks that come with the Elite Series 2 are probably the ones most people use because they are wonderful and familiar. You can get by without a carrying case if you don't travel with your controller often. The most-notable omission is definitely the back paddles. So, you could get all of the extras for $60 down the line--which means you'll spend more than you would on the standard Elite Series 2--or you can pick and choose which extras you want, if anything, after trying the controller as it comes out of the box.
For many people, picking up a set of third-party back paddles will get the job done. You can get third-party back paddles that feel very similar to the first-party attachments for around ten bucks. We'd also highly recommend Scuf's Elite Series 2 paddles , which cost $20.
- Excellent ergonomics
- Authentic look
- Great customization features
- Ergonomic back buttons
8BitDo makes some of the best controllers around, and it recently released an officially licensed pro-style controller for Xbox. The 8BitDo Ultimate is a wired controller with authentic look, great sticks/triggers/buttons, and excellent customization features. Best of all? It's available for under $50, which makes it a steal considering what you're getting here.
The 8BitDo Ultimate has two programmable back buttons and can store up to three custom profiles. You can download 8BitDo's Ultimate software on your Xbox, PC, or smartphone to tweak several settings to get the controller operating the way you like it. You can change stick and trigger sensitivity and adjust the force of the rumble. All of the buttons can be remapped using the software, too. You can cycle through your trio of profiles whenever you want with the press of a button, which makes this wired controller awesome for those who play multiple online games regularly.
- Excellent ergonomics
- Authentic look
- Great customization features
- Ergonomic back buttons
The 8BitDo Pro 2 was the first officially licensed Xbox controller released by the manufacturer. It has the same design as the Pro 2 that has been popular for the Nintendo Switch for years. As such, the analog stick layout mirrors PlayStation's approach to controllers. If you play fighting games a lot, this stick and D-pad layout may be preferable. It's also great for retro games or modern side-scrollers that play better with a D-pad. Outside of the reversed position and its retro-inspired form factor, the 8BitDo Pro 2 has the same great features as the 8BitDo Ultimate.
- Extremely comfortable back paddles
- Rubberized grip feels great
- Interchangeable analog sticks
Scuf has been making Elite-style controllers for years, and it shows. The company's controllers are some of the most comfortable you can find, and the new Scuf Instinct Pro controller is a great example of this. The Scuf Instinct Pro is very similar to a standard Xbox Series X pad, though it definitely feels different. The plastic is much smoother on the Scuf controller, and the backside features comfortable textured grips. It also has an interchangeable faceplate. Unlike some older Scuf controllers, the Instinct Pro uses AA batteries for power.
We'd actually argue that the Scuf Instinct Pro is better than the Elite Series 2 controller in some ways. Most notably, the Instinct Pro has four built-in back paddles. These paddles are effectively designed as triggers, and their placement makes them far more comfortable and usable than the four back paddles on the Elite Series 2.
In addition to the interchangeable faceplates with cool designs, you can swap out the default thumbsticks for the included pair of longer, flat sticks. The Instinct Pro also has adjustable trigger stops and supports up to three profiles that can be cycled through on the fly.
If you're looking for a premium wireless controller with a myriad of inputs, the Scuf Instinct Pro might be a better option than the Elite Series 2. That said, it does fall short of the Series 2 in one respect: It doesn't have adjustable stick tension. Also, it's a tad pricier than the Elite Series 2.
Scuf also makes a standard Instinct controller for $30 less, but it doesn't have the textured grip. We'd recommend opting for the Instinct Pro if you go the Scuf route.
See our Scuf Instinct Pro review.
- Excellent, clicky face buttons
- Six programmable buttons
- Excellent form factor
- Trigger stops
- Only usable with a wired connection
Razer's latest iteration of its Wolverine controller is the company's best yet. The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is a marked improvement in terms of form factor. The L-shaped chassis design makes it comfortable for long gaming sessions, and it's now easier than ever to manage the Wolverine's plethora of inputs.
The Wolverine V2 Chroma has four back paddles that resemble triggers as well as a pair of extra shoulder buttons. Essentially, the Wolverine V2 Chroma is the best Xbox controller for those who like to customize their inputs. One of the hallmarks of the Wolverine line continues with the V2 Chroma: Mecha-Tactile buttons. The face buttons and D-pad have feedback that's similar to clicking a mouse, and they also offer lightning quick response times.
The Wolverine V2 has interchangeable thumbsticks and comes dome-shaped and taller sticks. Additionally, it has trigger stops for the left and right triggers. Customizing your input layout and overall experience (creating profiles) is easy with Razer's proprietary software that's available on the Xbox and Windows Stores.
The only downside here is that the V2 Chroma still can only be used with a wired connection. It comes with a lengthy, detachable USB-C cord. That said, if you're picking up an Xbox controller for competitive play, it makes sense to grab a wired controller when considering latency. We'd recommend the V2 Chroma for those who routinely play competitive multiplayer games.
See our Wolverine V2 Chroma review.
- Modular design
- Great ergonomics
- Plenty of customization options
- Great triggers and buttons
- Trigger stops
- Back buttons are small
- Uses microUSB
Thrustmaster's eSwap S and X controllers are solid options for competitive gaming, and they have a feature not found in other controllers on this list: a modular design. The analog sticks, D-pad, triggers, and side panel handles can be easily swapped out with different color scheme kits you can purchase from Thrustmaster. You can also change the stick caps with different styles, including domed options and other sizes. In addition to the modular design, you can tweak trigger pull sensitivity with the trigger stop switches on the back of the controller.
In terms of feel, the eSwap S and eSwap X both offer stellar ergonomics. These controllers are a bit larger than the regular Xbox controller, which makes them great for people with bigger hands. Another great feature is the mechanical build on the components. Similar to Razer's Wolverine Chroma line, the eSwap series has mechanical face buttons and D-pad. This feature allows the eSwap to be faster when it comes to inputs. That said, it takes a bit of time to get used to the face buttons, as they are pretty darn flat and mimic clicking a mouse even more so than the Wolverine Chroma.
The main difference between the two controllers is the number of programmable back buttons. The eSwap S has two, and the eSwap X has four. However, these buttons are quite a bit smaller than the conventional back paddles, especially on the eSwap X, which has four small, round buttons. Even the eSwap S' elongated buttons are a tad too small. Both controllers are wired and use a microUSB connection to the controller. That's somewhat unfortunate considering USB-C is the standard these days.
Nevertheless, modular controllers aren't super plentiful, and the eSwap series offers great ergonomics and performance. We'd recommend the less expensive eSwap S over the X.
- Works with a wide range of assistive devices
- Extremely flexible customization
- Officially compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC
- Works on Nintendo Switch with Bluetooth adapter
The Xbox Adaptive controller is much different than the rest of the control options in this round-up. It's intended first and foremost as a device that helps those with limited mobility play games. It works with a wide range of assistive devices that users can plug in and assign to specific controller inputs to give them the ability to play any game on the two platforms.
It features 20 ports for you to plug any kind of thumbstick, switch, button, and any other assistive device you want into it--19 of those are 3.5 mm ports, while the other two are USB 2.0 ports. There's also a 3.5mm audio output port for headphones or a headset. It's compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC, and there's quite the dedicated community behind it, discovering new ways to use the adaptive controller--you can even utilize a Bluetooth adapter to get it working with the Nintendo Switch.
The Adaptive controller may not be for everyone, but thanks to its ability to effectively bridge the gap between gamers with limited mobility and the games they want to play, there's no doubt in my mind that it's the most important controller on this list. And with a little savvy, you can make it compatible with Switch.
- Recreates classic Xbox feel
- Includes modern touches like shoulder buttons
- Feels great to use with big hands
- Can be quite cumbersome for smaller hands
- Only useable with a wired connection
The Hyperkin Duke was made purely out of nostalgia for the original launch Xbox controller from way back in 2001--it was this hulking gamepad with oddly shaped and offset face buttons. So there wasn't much surprise when it was quickly surpassed by the Controller S, which became the standard design moving forward. But if you have larger hands, the Duke might be a better fit.
Hyperkin has made a name for itself by recreating retro gaming experiences through its wide range of hardware, and its Duke controller very much resembles the original Xbox controller in terms of size and button layout, but with a few modern touches. While original Xbox controllers had black/white buttons instead of left/right bumpers, Hyperkin incorporated small bumpers so the Duke would make sense for playing today's games. The huge logo on the center of the controller is a screen that also acts as the home button--when you power on, the screen displays the old Xbox splash screen. Otherwise, it's a faithful recreation of the Duke that now works through USB for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
- Solid feel, nice grips
- Great buttons and sticks
- Bonus audio features come in handy
- Lightweight yet sturdy
The Turtle Beach Recon is another affordable pro-style controller that's worth checking out. This officially licensed controller has a lightweight but sturdy design. Its face buttons look and feel nearly identical to the regular Xbox controllers. While the sticks are a bit looser, they still feel great. The Recon also has a pair of excellent back triggers with textured grips that are located in the perfect spot. The handle grips also offer an improvement on the regular Xbox controller. The D-pad is a bit underwhelming, as it has a rigid feel to it. On the plus side, you get all of the same menu buttons here, including the new Share button.
The main perk of the the Recon is that it has built-in audio features when using a 3.5mm headset (it doesn't have to be a Turtle Beach headset). Dubbed "Superhuman Hearing," the audio tech can help you identify the nature of sounds and where they came from in competitive multiplayer games. You also get full control of your game/chat mix, EQ, and other general audio settings directly on the controller.
The Recon plugs into your Xbox via the included USB-C to USB-A cable. Overall, the Recon falls just short of the 8BitDo in terms of feel and performance, but it's still a solid controller and the audio features are unique for sure.
- Retro form factor
- Features every button a regular Xbox controller does
- Great for retro-style or D-pad-focused games
- Mushy triggers
- Only usable with a wired connection
In addition to Hyperkin's wide array of retro gaming hardware that lets you play old games easily, it has a few retro-inspired accessories. One of those is the Hyperkin X91, an Xbox Series X controller that's scrunched down into a SNES-like form factor. Despite the small size of this gamepad, everything you need in a controller is there and it all works surprisingly well. From the analog sticks to the face buttons, the X91 recreates the full controller feel almost perfectly. One downside is that the triggers can feel a bit squishy as opposed to the smooth feel of the triggers on a DualShock or regular Xbox controller.
And if you have a gaming laptop and play on the go often, the X91 is the perfect size for travel. Unfortunately, this controller only works through wired USB. While that means you don't have to worry about battery life, having a thick cord connected can make it a bit clunky to have around. The form factor may also make it slightly more difficult to be precise with the analog sticks since there isn't much you can grip to keep the controller steady. However, if you need a small, fully-featured gamepad for less intense games, the X91 is a fine choice.
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