Best Xbox Gaming Controller: If you invested in an Xbox Series S or Series X console, whether for yourself or someone else, you’re probably eager to start playing.
But if you haven’t already, and you want some additional or custom features, it’s worth considering upgrading the Xbox controller as well.
Now, the wireless one that comes bundled with every console is stellar. Microsoft offers its iconic accessory in many colors, including fully customizable finishes. There’s also a duo of feature-rich Elite wireless controller iterations for demanding gamers with deeper pockets. Like Sony’s DualSense controllers for the PlayStation 5, the original Xbox controllers are excellent and always solid options to replace the current ones.
However, the market is full of officially certified and quality Xbox controllers from gaming gear brands, affording plenty of choices to consider whether it’s for gaming with a friend in person, having an extra one to play with while charging up the other, or simply for having features tailored for a specific game. To determine the best alternatives to Microsoft’s controllers, we spent a few weeks researching and gaming on top-rated controllers from PowerA, Razer, and Turtle Beach, to name a few top brands.
The Best Third-Party Xbox Gaming Controllers
What to Consider
Wired Versus Wireless
Most of today’s best third-party Xbox gaming controllers are wired. Dealing with a cable guarantees that you or another player won’t ever have to worry about swapping or recharging batteries. For this reason, the wireless controllers we review also work in wired mode.
A wired USB connection brings more instant input responses than a Bluetooth link. But of course, the tradeoff is that you might have to sit a little closer to the TV.
To make it worth the money you splurge on a controller beyond the one included with the console, the model needs to have additional customizable buttons. The good news is that even budget-friendly options have them. The handy add-on buttons are typically integrated into their grips, allowing you to easily press them while operating the thumbsticks.
Triggers with adjustable sensitivity via a dedicated button are another handy feature to keep an eye out for. If the controller is mostly for action-packed single- or multiplayer games, you’ll want the triggers to have a faster response. Racing simulators, on the other hand, require trigger buttons with longer travel for enhanced gas and brake pedal controls.
Depending on your budget and gameplay style, look for controllers with elaborate sets of additional buttons or swappable paddles. The button customization process usually requires installing a companion app (which is a quick and easy process).
Additional Features And Compatibility
Some of the best third-party Xbox gaming controllers have cool additional features like onboard RGB lighting and more elaborate audio controls. Other customization features, like swappable thumb sticks and faceplates, are also worth considering.
Save for the mobile-only Razer Kishi, the controllers here are compatible with the latest Xbox Series S and Series X consoles and the older Xbox One. They’re also great for PC gaming.
How We Selected
Having spent hundreds of hours gaming with the current lineup of original Xbox controllers, including the premium Elite iterations, I focused my research on third-party wired and wireless gamepads that are strong alternatives to the ones made by Microsoft. Every controller I looked into has a standard button and thumb stick layout, ensuring you don’t waste time getting used to it.
I scrutinized budget-friendly models that cost less than those that came with your console without skimping on performance. I also evaluated pricier high-end gamepads that offer unique designs and additional features worth spending on. They included unique designs with swappable plates, customizable lighting, and additional buttons for tailoring the layout to your exact preference, to name a few significant bits.
After selecting the most promising controllers, I spent hours gaming with each pick, taking note of their feel in my hands, button tactility, responsiveness to my inputs, and haptic feedback.
Find the best Xbox gaming controller for your gameplay style and budget among the thoroughly evaluated offerings below.
1. Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma
Razer’s Wolverine V2 Chroma is the best third-party Xbox gaming controller. It has everything a great one should: an ergonomic design, tons of customizable buttons, and adjustable triggers. As its name suggests, the controller also rocks the gaming giant’s signature Chroma RGB lighting.
I also really like the mech-tactile buttons and D-pad. The controls are not only super precise but also nicer to interact with than the standard Xbox controller buttons. You can order this with an Xbox-matching black or white housing. A cheaper version sans RGB lighting is also available.
2. PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Xbox Controller
The Fusion Pro 2 controller offers a set of customizable controls that rival those of the wireless Xbox Elite Series 2, just in a wired form with a much lower price tag. The accessory also has swappable faceplates, comfy rubber grips, and a convenient volume dial, to name a few extra features. It’s hands-down the most feature-packed Xbox gaming controller under $100.
I tip my hat to PowerA for treating the Fusion Pro 2 to a retail package that belies its agreeable sticker. It includes additional thumb sticks, removable paddle buttons, an extra faceplate, and a premium storage case.
3. Scuf Instinct Pro Wireless Xbox Controller
The Instinct Pro is a solid alternative more directly comparable to the Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. It has swappable faceplates for customization, more robust grips, and controls you can re-map. Though naturally, with that comes a higher price. You can save and switch between up to three control configurations for different gaming titles.
A six-month warranty is the only Instinct Pro downside you should know about this controller. I’ve been testing it for months without experiencing any issues, so the short-term coverage is strange. The retail package includes an extra set of thumb sticks, but replaceable faceplates cost $25 each
4. PowerA Moga XP-Ultra Xbox Controller
The all-new Moga XP-Ultra is worthy of its epic name due to its incredible versatility. Unlike any rivals, the controller can transform from a compact to a full-size gamepad by snapping into a grip with mappable buttons. Also nice: Such a dramatic transformation doesn’t compromise on vibrating feedback or audio jack access.
Believe it or not, the latest Moga controller also comes bundled with an excellent phone clip, allowing you to enjoy its versatility with your go-to Android. The gadget’s beefy battery can deliver up to 60 hours of Xbox wireless gameplay between charges or up to 40 hours in Bluetooth mode.
5. Turtle Beach Recon Xbox Controller
Cutting-edge audio tech dubbed Superhuman Hearing is the main reason to upgrade to the Turtle Beach Recon. Also found in the brand’s excellent gaming headsets, the feature will give you an edge over your opponents by enhancing the sounds of footsteps and other background noises. Impressively, the elaborate audio controls are organized on a control panel above its Xbox button.
The Recon also has high-quality controls with a duo of re-mappable buttons and enhanced cooling grips. Turtle Beach offers the gaming controller in black, white, and Arctic camo colors.
A version of the controller with Bluetooth connectivity for PC and Android gameplay is also available. Dubbed Recon Cloud, this iteration even comes with a smartphone holder.
6. RIG Nacon Pro Xbox Controller
The reasonably priced Nacon Pro wired gaming controller has a compact design with smaller grips and larger buttons. This combination makes this Xbox accessory ideal for long gaming sessions. RIG claims that its compact size reduces fatigue, and that held up in my experience.
Unlike its similarly priced rivals, the Nacon Pro also brings Dolby Atmos support for more immersive in-game audio. It also has customizable controls and the ability to switch between a standard and a custom layout via a button. You can snag one in black, white, or a camo pattern.
7. Backbone One Mobile Xbox Gaming Controller
The Backbone One mobile controller — the best product of its kind — allows you to enjoy cloud-based Xbox gameplay by attaching it to your phone. The accessory is available with a Lightning or a USB-C connector, ensuring compatibility with any smartphone. Each version also rocks a Lightning or USB-C port for charging your phone while gaming.
The wired link mentioned above will provide more instantaneous input responses than a Bluetooth controller. The buttons and thumbsticks have excellent tactility, plus there’s an onboard audio jack. An intuitive app allows you to customize the controls and organize your game library.