Regardless of whether you're playing games on Xbox Series X or Xbox One, there's a large variety of first- and third-party controllers to choose from. The best part? All of the best Xbox controllers work on both Xbox Series X and Xbox One, and it's almost a guarantee we'll see steep discounts on Xbox controllers this holiday. While you can't go wrong with the updated Xbox controller that comes with the console, there are plenty of other options out there that are worth checking out. From the accessibility-focused Xbox Adaptive controller and the premium Xbox Elite Series 2 controller to the growing numer of third-party alternatives, it's no easy task finding the best one for you. That's why we've collected all of the best Xbox Series X controllers that can make your favourite first-person shooter, fighting game, and other titles more comfortable.
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 it on the next-gen console.
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.
We'll keep this article updated as we test new controllers, leading up to the release of the Xbox Series X and throughout its lifespan. While you wait for the next-gen console, be sure to read through our list of the best Xbox One controllers that will work with the Series X. It's important to note that the prices indicated below may not reflect each product's current price.
Quick look: The best Xbox Series X controllers in 2020
For more gaming controller guides, check out our recommendations, check out our picks for the best PS4 controller, the best Switch controller, the best gaming keyboards, and best gaming mice.
And for more Xbox-related guides, check out our guides to Xbox Series X restock updates, the best Xbox Series X and Xbox One games, and Xbox Game Pass. Also be sure to take a look at the best VPN services for streaming TV and movies.
- 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 has 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, and while it's not terribly difficult to get used to, I do find it hard to get my hands into a comfortable position with all four paddles attached. Thankfully, I don't feel the need to have all four paddles attached--I'm perfectly content with two paddles for crouching and jumping in my shooters of choice. However, when companies like Scuf 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 Xbox Series X controllers will have on launch.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Easily moddable
- Excellent 8-way stick
- Great buttons
- Sanwa parts
- Removable USB cable
- No right-stick control or L3/R3 buttons
- No official PC support
If you're looking for an Xbox fight stick that will last, then the Razer Atrox is the one you want. Not only will it be forward-compatible with the Xbox Series X, but it's also fully moddable, which means you can replace the joystick and buttons of this wired controller as you wish--and it's as easy as pushing a button to pop the Atrox open and access its various wires and components. Despite its modding potential, it's more than ready to go right out of the box. The Sanwa joystick and buttons feel great and are satisfying to tap combos out on. The USB cable is also completely removable, making it easy to store inside the fight stick's compartment.
The Atrox may be the best stick I've used for the Xbox Series X so far, but it's not quite perfect. Unlike Razer's Panthera Evo PS4 stick, the Atrox is not officially compatible with PC and does not feature a switch that lets you swap the joystick from D-pad to either analog stick or a way to press L3 or R3. The cases in which you need these inputs in a fighting game are rare, but needing a regular controller for character customization or anything else that uses these inputs is a little disappointing.
Thankfully, the Atrox makes up for this when you get into the action. I tested it with Dragon Ball FighterZ, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, Tekken 7, and Dead or Alive 6 and was very happy with how it performed across different styles of fighting games. If you're looking for a great, future-proofed Xbox Series X fight stick, then the Atrox is an excellent one to go with.