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Best Xbox Series X controller 2023: The finest official and third-party gamepads for your Xbox Series console

Searching for a new controller for your Xbox Series X or Series S? These are the best Xbox pads money can buy

If you’re reading this article, then there’s a good chance you’ve managed the seemingly impossible: you’ve finally purchased an Xbox Series X or Series S. Following months of stock issues and sky-high scalper pricing, your new next-gen games console is at long last taking pride of place under your TV. However, you might also be considering picking up a brand-new Xbox controller to go along with it.

And so you should. A decent Xbox Series X or Series S controller will make all the difference to your gaming experience. Regardless of whether you’re blasting Covenant foes in Halo: Master Chief Collection, or zipping across the Lake District in Forza Horizon 4, if you’ve got the right gamepad in your hands, then you’ll likely be unstoppable.

Below, we’ve listed all of the best Xbox Series X and Series S controllers you can buy right now, from official Microsoft pads to top-of-the line third-party alternatives you might not have previously considered.

How to choose the best Xbox Series X and Series S controller

Will a new controller work on both systems?

All Xbox Series-branded controllers will work with either system. Regardless of whether you’ve picked up the Series S or the Series X, all of the controllers listed below will be able to connect to your console of choice, without any compatibility issues. They’ll also work with your Windows PC and can be paired with your smartphone or tablet if you plan on streaming games using your Xbox Game Pass subscription.

What about Xbox One controllers?

In more good news, if you’ve got an old Xbox One controller lying around, then there’s a good chance these will work with your new console as well. Microsoft’s previous gamepads will work as usual, and the majority of third-party Xbox One controllers should connect to both the Series X or Series S, too.

What features should I look for?

If you’re planning on picking up a new controller for your Series X or S, then there are a handful of things to consider. Above all else, the most important feature is the weight and size of the controller you’re planning to buy and making sure it will feel comfortable even after a few hours of play.

Next up is customisability. Some premium Xbox Series controllers come with the option to swap out the buttons and sticks, as well as the ability to add extra rear-mounted paddles (ideal for driving games) or change the faceplate. If you’re willing to pay a lot of money, you might even be able to fine-tune the strength of the haptic feedback, triggers and sticks to your liking, too.

You also need to check whether you’re buying a wired or wireless controller. If you’re planning on buying the former (which are usually cheaper), then you ought to measure the distance between your sofa and TV, as well as make sure the controller cable is long enough to reach comfortably. Wireless controllers usually come with a removable charging/sync cable.

How much should I spend?

As for how much you need to spend on a Series X or Series S controller, that depends entirely on your own needs and play style. For most people, Microsoft’s own wireless controller (£55) does the job well enough – either as a second controller or their main gamepad – but for those that want extra customisability and added features, then the price can creep closer to triple figures.

How we test Xbox Series X and S controllers

To test Xbox Series X and Series S controllers, we start by evaluating general usability. This includes assessing whether a controller fits comfortably in the hand, how sturdy/weighty it feels, and whether buttons are sensibly placed and working correctly.

In addition, we also examine how any buttons, triggers and paddles feel when pressed. Is the key action satisfyingly clicky, or do they feel spongy or soft? We also take into consideration Bluetooth range and connectivity, noting any potential latency issues, as well as any bundled cables. If a controller has swappable buttons, faceplates or macros, we test these, too.

Since controllers will be used to play a variety of games, we always test models by playing a range of titles. From Halo to Forza to Killer Instinct, it’s crucial that we put them through their paces on all manner of games before making our final decision. Lastly, we consider a controller’s battery life, noting the remaining battery percentage after a play session, as well charging speeds, if applicable.

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The best Xbox Series X and Series S controllers in 2023

1. Xbox Series Wireless Controller: The best-value Xbox controller

Price: £55 l Buy now from Microsoft

It might not look hugely different, but Microsoft’s brand-new official Xbox controller has received a handful of changes, and it’s still the best-value pad you can buy. The new textured rear grips and triggers are much more comfortable in the hand, and the matte coating isn’t quite as prone to picking up greasy fingerprints as before.

The biggest change is the switch to USB-C charging, as well as the addition of a new share button, which is located next to the dish-shaped d-pad. The former has delivered an increase in charging speeds, while the latter allows you to quickly capture screengrabs or 4K clips and share them via social media.

Sure, the new Xbox Series Wireless controller is slightly more expensive than the previous model, but since you can no longer buy the Xbox One original, Microsoft’s latest gamepad yet again takes the crown as the best all-rounder.

Key specs – Wireless: Yes; Weight: 299g; Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 6.3cm; Customisable options: N/A

Buy now from Microsoft

2. PowerA Fusion Pro 2: Best customisable Xbox controller

Price: £80 l Buy now from Amazon

If you’re the sort of gamer that likes to tinker with your Xbox controller, either by adding extra buttons or tweaking various settings, then the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 is the ideal choice. The priciest controller on this list, and rightly so, the Fusion Pro 2 comes with a removable paddle system on the back, a pair of additional analog sticks, a second detachable faceplate and a carry case.

The four programmable rear paddles are a particular standout, as well as the three-position trigger sensitivity slider and dedicated headset volume control switch. Despite the large size, it fitted comfortably in my small-ish hands, and it felt quite weighty, too. In fact, the only downside is that the Fusion Pro 2 doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity, although the supplied 3m USB-C cable should be long enough for most living rooms.

Key specs – Wireless: No (3m); Weight: 370g; Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 6cm; Customisable options: 4x analog sticks, 2x faceplates, 4x paddles

3. Nacon Pro Compact: The most affordable Xbox controller

Price: £45 l Buy now from Amazon

If you’re on a budget but you don’t want to sacrifice features, then the Nacon Pro Compact is yet another solid pick. This wired controller costs £10 less than Microsoft’s official pad, and despite the smaller size and lighter weight, has large face buttons, well-spaced analog sticks and triggers with plenty of depth.

The best thing about the Nacon Pro Compact, however, is that it also comes included with a free Dolby Atmos for Headphones licence. All you need to do is plug it into your Xbox or Windows PC via the 3m cable, attach a pair of wired headphones to the 3.5mm headphone jack and download the Dolby Atmos app. From here, you can access all the Dolby Atmos audio settings, completely free – just make sure the controller is plugged in, otherwise you lose access.

Key specs – Wireless: No (3m); Weight: 306g; Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 5.8cm; Customisable options: Dolby Atmos

4. Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma: Best wired controller

Price: £150 l Buy now from Amazon

Sometimes a wireless controller just doesn’t cut the mustard. Whether you’re regularly replacing batteries, or you’re worried about Bluetooth connection interferences, a wired controller is a far better choice, especially if you aren’t sitting too far away from your Xbox. Razer’s third-party Wolverine V2 Chroma is a terrific wired alternative, and while it’s certainly sitting on the pricey end of this list, it’s well worth putting in your hands.

To start with, the 3m detachable USB-C cable is long enough for most living room setups, so the idea of a wire restricting your play doesn’t really apply here. Second, it’s one of the most comfortable controllers I’ve ever used: its ergonomics fit nice and snug in your hands, and it feels reassuringly weighty, too. It might lack the bevvy of customisation options that the SCUF Instinct Pro (below) provides, but there’s still plenty on offer here: it comes with four detachable analog sticks and it has six remappable buttons two extra top buttons and four rear triggers. Not to mention that it’s a good deal cheaper than the SCUF, too.

The icing on the proverbial cake is the customisable RGB lights on each of the Wolverine V2’s grips. If you’re the sort that likes to show off their gaming setup when your mates are around for a LAN party, then there’s no doubt that this controller really looks the part. It’s just a benefit that it’s also a terrific pad to use, too, with delightfully clicky buttons and tactile triggers.

Key specs – Wireless: No (3m); Weight: 277g; Dimensions: 16 x 11 x 5.6cm; Customisable options: 4x analog sticks, RGB lighting

5. SCUF Instinct Pro: Best for personalisation

Price: From £190 l Buy now from SCUF Gaming

It might be the priciest pad on this list, but nothing else comes close to the SCUF Instinct Pro when it comes to personalisation. Featuring a variety of different customisation options at checkout, including the ability to select from a wide range of faceplates, choose between different d-pad styles and button colours, the SCUF Instinct Pro is an exceptional choice for the vain gamer.

Ergonomically speaking, it’s up there with the very best that Xbox has to offer, too. With a variety of extras, including four mappable rear buttons, interchangeable thumbsticks, adjustable rear triggers (changing from gradient to clicky actions), as well as a rubberised grip, the SCUF Instinct Pro not only looks the part, but it’s an astonishing performer as well. If you’ve got the money, then it doesn’t get much better than this.

Key specs – Wireless: Yes (12m) and 2m USB-C cable included; Weight: 280g; Dimensions: 17 x 11 x 5.3cm; Customisable options: Analog sticks, faceplates, button colours, d-pad type, triggers

Buy now from SCUF Gaming

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