Best Xbox Series X controllers: get ahead of the competition with these pro gamepads
These are the best Xbox Series X controllers we've tried and tested
The best Xbox Series X controllers can raise your game, take you back to your childhood and let you personalize your pad in various ways. Even though Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller is a fantastic pack-in option, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a second gamepad, especially if you dream of dominating other players online.
While you won’t be able to enjoy as many Xbox Series X controller colors from third-party pads, the many options available means you’re more likely to find one that fits your needs. Like the best Nintendo Switch controllers, these controllers are designed to enhance your gaming experience.
If you’re good to go when it comes to controllers, check out the best Xbox Series X accessories to take your gaming setup to the next level.
Why you can trust my best Xbox Series X controllers list
I’ve held every generation of Xbox controller, from the formidable Duke to the ergonomic Xbox Wireless Controller, so I can safely say I have a firm grasp on what makes a great gamepad. I’ve cradled the controllers below for hours at a time, and over the course of many months, days and years. That’s the type of experience you won’t find in the palms of other people.
How I test the best Xbox Series X controllers 🧪
With my own two hands, of course! My fingers and thumbs have become well acquainted with the controllers below, so I’m confident in recommending them.
I play a variety of genres spanning the full breadth of the best Xbox Series X games, from competitive online multiplayer shooters like Halo Infinite, to more laid-back narrative adventures like Pentiment. I primarily play on an Xbox Series X but have also used some of these controllers with an Xbox Series S, or when using Xbox Cloud Gaming and when playing on PC.
Best Xbox Series X controller 🎮
Release date: November 4, 2019
➕ Countless customization options
➕ Rechargeable internal battery
➖ Durability concerns
Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller is the best Xbox Series X controller due to its incredible number of customization options, internal rechargeable battery and comfortable design.
If you care even remotely about playing online competitive games, the Elite Series 2 should be on your radar. The four back paddles mean you’ll never need to take your fingers off the sticks to press the face buttons, and you can adjust every element of the pad to suit your playstyle.
Is the analog stick tension too loose? You can tighten them up. Went to use convex sticks over concave ones? No problem. Want to change how the Xbox registers directional inputs? Use the Xbox Accessories App. More rumble? Less rumble? You can change practically every element to suit you.
My only gripe with the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller is that durability concerns are still valid. I’ve noticed a slight bit of stick drift occurring in my controller, and the right button can be a tad mushy. Microsoft at least provides a one-year warranty on all controllers, but when you’re paying $179.99, it would be nice to get a product that you know is guaranteed to last.
Best Xbox Series X pro controller 🥇
Release date: March 3, 2021
➕ Your kill/death ratio is bound to improve
➕ One of the only wireless third-party controllers
➖ Six-month warranty for an expensive product
The Elite Series 2 may be the most obvious pro controller of choice, but the Scuf Instinct Pro gets my personal vote as the best competitive gamepad for Xbox Series X. The controller’s Instant Triggers are a joy to use, turning your trigger into something that mimics a mouse click for super-fast firing.
The controller’s remappable paddles are also fantastic and are far more discreet than the large four paddles on the Elite Series 2, meaning you can play other games without feeling like you’re overcompensating. The non-slip comfort grip is yet another plus point, and you can change the thumbsticks or pop off the face plate to personalize your pad further.
The Scuf controller only comes with a six-month warranty, which is extremely stingy at this high price point. I’ve had my Scuf Instinct Pro for around a year, and it’s thankfully held up really well. Still, the lack of security offered by the warranty should be noted.
Best budget Xbox Series X controller 💰
Release date: May 23, 2021
➕ Oversized face buttons and customizable profiles
➕ Dolby Atmos license included
➖ Teeny-tiny D-Pad
The RIG Nacon Pro Compact controller may have a mouthful of a name, but fortunately it’s easy to fit in your hand. It doesn’t quite match the ergonomics of the official Xbox Wireless Controller, but it’s well-made, sturdy, and has oversized face buttons that are a pleasure to use.
You also get some additional features over the standard Xbox pad, like a free Dolby Atmos license to get the most out of the best Xbox Series X headsets, and various customization options. You can remap buttons, adjust stick and trigger sensitivity, and even change the rumble intensity.
The mini D-Pad is disappointing, but if you can look past that, this is a great budget option over the standard Xbox pad and is well-suited to those with smaller hands. It also works on PC thanks to its wired connection.
Best retro Xbox Series X controller 😎
Release date: April 10, 2018
➕ The most faithful way to play original Xbox games
➕ LED screen plays the original boot sequence when turned on
➖ Still just as uncomfortable as you remember
Mercilessly mocked in Japan and generally regarded as one of the worst controllers around, it’s hard not to love the original Xbox Duke controller despite its detractors. Those who grew up with Microsoft’s gigantic gamepad still have a soft spot for the Duke controller, which is why Hyperkin’s reveal that the gamepad would return went down extremely well with older Xbox fans.
The Hyperkin Duke Wired Controller is exactly like the monster-sized gamepad you remember, albeit with a few modern-day flourishes. The pad features an LED screen that displays the original Xbox boot sequence when the controller is turned or the large Xbox button is pressed down. You also get a nine-foot-long cable with a breakaway point, rumble support, and additional bumpers on both sides of the controller.
The old start and back buttons have been replaced with the Xbox One’s view and menu buttons, making the controller fully compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC. If you want to recreate the joy of playing original Xbox games the way Bill Gates first intended, the Hyperkin Duke Wired Controller is a must.
Hyperkin also announced its bringing back the Xbox 360 controller to celebrate the popular console’s 17th anniversary, but no release date or price has been given.
Still can’t decide between the PS5 vs Xbox Series X? Our in-depth comparison will help you make a well-informed decision. More than happy with team green? Keep up to date on which titles are on the way with our Xbox Series X games 2022 list.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.