You may not realize it, but we’re living in a golden age of gaming controllers. The gamepads on the market now are better quality, more versatile, and more customizable than anything from just a few console generations ago. That includes the plethora of third-party options from the likes of PowerA, Scuf, Nacon, and Turtle Beach, as well as first-party controllers from the console makers. The days of the cheap, “little sibling” controller that looked cool but barely worked are over.
Now, you can choose from a variety of controllers, and if you’re playing across Xbox and Windows PC, the same option works for both. So, let’s say your console of choice is the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S. What’s the best option for you? Well, we tested a whole slew of controllers to find the best Xbox controller you can buy.
The standard Xbox Wireless Controller came away as our top choice, which may sound obvious, but it’s the best for a reason — versatility, comfort, and much more. Beyond that, we’ll walk you through some strengths and weaknesses of other controllers worthy of your attention, ranging from premium options like the Xbox Elite Series 2 and Scuf Instinct Pro to some quality budget picks like the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller.
There are, of course, older, discontinued models that are still compatible — as Xbox One controllers are forward compatible with the Xbox Series X / S — but our focus is to guide you through what to buy that’s regularly available right now. We’ve got categories to help steer your purchasing decision and find the right one for you, including highly customizable options that may give you a tiny edge in competitive multiplayer games.
1. Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller
The best Xbox controller for most people
Okay, I already know what you’re thinking. “The best controller for Xbox is the one that comes with the Xbox?” That may seem like a no-brainer, but I assure you this “standard” controller truly does earn this title as the best option for most Xbox gamers. It may lack some of the extra features that we’ll go over on premium options, but this controller is the distillation of four generations and numerous first-party controllers before it — and it shows.
This is the only affordable wireless option out there, thanks to Microsoft’s proprietary wireless protocol. While some may hate that it comes with AA batteries instead of a built-in rechargeable cell, that also means it’s flexible, allowing for rechargeable AAs or a battery pack. It also works as a wired accessory when paired with a USB-C cable, and user-replaceable batteries mean you’re not stuck with a controller that doesn’t hold its charge after years of use.
- 17% off
The official Xbox Wireless Controller has a dedicated share button for saving clips and screenshots and sharing them online, Bluetooth support, and a USB-C port for charging up Microsoft’s play-and-charge rechargeable battery.