The best Xbox Series X controller is the tool you need to take you to the top of any online leaderboard. Or, if you're not that big into multiplayer performance, maybe a controller upgrade will just give your hands the comfort boost that the standard Xbox gamepad can't. With today's controller market, there's a perfect gaming tool for everyone, no matter the game you play. If you want something that'll keep you competitive with mouse and keyboard players on PC, there are plenty of back button-filled options. If you want more comfort and battery life, there are options for you too.
Due to excellent forward, backward, (and sideways - many of these gamepads double as some of the best PC controllers) compatibility, a lot of the best Xbox Series X controllers are also top Series S contenders. Candidates for the best Xbox One controllers will likely work too, and vice versa. That's excellent value for money, especially if you're spreading your library across a range of devices.
The easiest way to determine which gamepad is for you is by thinking about what features you'll get the most use out of. Do you want something that fits your hand shape a bit better? If so, you might be able to forgo some pricier options. If you want something to give you a competitive edge, raising the functions of a controller closer to a mouse and keyboard, there are plenty of back button options to be had. We've gathered together a list of the best Xbox series X controllers down below, and we're continually testing and updating our findings. One to watch for this year, which we're eagerly awaiting, is the ASUS ROG Raikiri Pro - it looks like it'll take the market by storm.
The best Xbox Series X/S controllers 2023
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You probably knew it was coming but near the top of any best Xbox Series X controller list, we simply have to feature the Elite Series 2 pad. It really is the one to beat for many Xbox (and PC) users, with none bettering its performance and feature set.
Naturally, it often demands a price tag to match its premium nature, but we have seen this level out at a new, lower price range which is encouraging (or potentially is heralding the arrival of the Elite Series 3 perhaps...). But anyway, what that means, in reality, is the Elite Series 2 is just more affordable than it has ever been and if you want a premium beast for the new-gen of consoles then this is still the one to beat.
Included are replacement thumbstick heads, a classic cross-design D-pad, and tools to tailor the feel of the controller to your liking - with physical adjustments to almost every part of the controller. Also, there's a better, extended 40-hour battery life which represents a good 8-hour bump up from the Xbox Series X gamepad's lifespan between charges. From our testing, the experience of using the Elite Series 2
On the whole, if you can stretch the budget, the Elite 2 justifies its asking price through its premium design and suite of features.
Read more: Xbox Elite 2 controller review
The Xbox Elite Series 2 Core takes the high quality of the full-fat Elite Series 2 and brings it down to a more affordable price point, making it one of the best Xbox Series X controllers out there. It's quite tough to know what the differences between these two controllers really are - besides the obvious colour changes. In fact, these two gamepads are practically identical in every way, and the main difference is the accessories you get bundled along with them.
The original Elite Controller Series 2 will set you back $179.99 / £159.99 and comes with all the customizable goodies you could ever need for it. The Elite Series 2 Core only costs $129.99 / £114.99 and comes with the exact same body and features, but none of the accessories. These are available to purchase separately and can be used with the Core, but they will bring the total investment back up to $179.99.
Although I'm disappointed that there aren't any attachments on offer here, and really would have appreciated some form of back paddles or extra stick caps, I can't seriously fault the Elite Series 2 Core. It feels like going to a bougie, Michelin-star restaurant and being served something as basic as bread and butter. It's stripped back, simple, and you expect a more complicated course for how much you pay. But it's probably the best bread and butter you'll ever eat.
All in all, this is one of the top-performing controllers for Xbox and PC that you'll find, which in many ways, is no surprise.
It's fair enough to be skeptical of the design-it-yourself Scuf Instinct. For starters, it's expensive. Incredibly expensive. But if you can move past that, you'll find a genuinely excellent Xbox Series X controller with the best back buttons we've ever used. These things are a revelation.
Sure, you can mix and match designs ranging from simple color-swaps to golden Japanese Koi art. It also has a satisfyingly ergonomic rubber coating at the front for better grip. Oh, and you can change the shape of the thumbsticks before checkout as well. That's not what stays with you when you boot up a game, though. Rather, it's the savvy back button placement that makes them so easy to activate in the middle of a Destiny firefight or Call of Duty battle. Because they form a shell of sorts around your index finger, all you need to do is press down or lift up to activate them. It's much more intuitive than the other alternatives we've tried - and we've tried more than our fair share.
The trigger locks are right on the money as well. They enable much faster responses than you'd find from the console's standard controller; we're definitely not that quick on the draw in Halo the rest of the time. Even the thumbsticks feel bouncier and more taut than usual.
So, is the result worth the money? Should you buy one instead of the Elite Series 2 - the current gold standard? It's a subjective matter best left in your capable hands, but if you do decide to invest, you'll find a handset at the top of its game.
Read more: Scuf Instinct Pro review
If a specialist, feature-filled third-party Xbox Series X controller is what you're after but you don't have the budget to throw money at the situation then the Razer Wolverine V2 is a great candidate for you, and one we can heartily recommend.
Tweaking and tinkering really is the name of the game with this controller; especially for its 'mecha' tactile buttons - which were satisfyingly clicky in our testing - and the adjustable sensitivity of the two analog sticks. It is wired, however, something that may not gel with those looking to sit a decent distance away.
We really think that this successfully builds on the initial iteration of the Wolverine from the last console generation, (still a great controller in itself for Xbox consoles), and given the V2's price is not too much more than the MSRP of the standard Xbox gamepad, it's worth a second look if some extra features and button are what you're after.
Read more: best Razer controllers
All things considered (so to speak), it really is no shock that we think the best Xbox Series X controller for most people is the official console controller - now also called the core Xbox pad.
Predictably, we've found it to work smoothly and beautifully via cable or the usual pairing mode, and it's got that excellent performance and comfort by default. It will be very familiar to Xbox One owners from the last generation but there are subtle tweaks that do make it an objectively better controller.
This time around we have USB-C charging which is faster than Micro-USB (if you use a rechargeable pack at least) and there's a 'hybrid' D-pad that takes its cues from a more premium Xbox controller that we'll mention later. Like with many other players, we have found the big inclusion to be the share button which was missing all of the last generation (while the DualShock 4 had it from the start) - which does exactly what it should, enabling you to take snaps or clips and share media easily.
However, there's an overwhelming reason why this iteration is easy for us to recommend and why it is similar to the previous generation's - if it isn't broken, you don't fix it. And that's why we have a superb Xbox Series X/S controller in the shape of the updated core controller. You cannot go wrong with this one, and our testing proved that the Xbox core controller is a brilliant one.
Read more: Our impressions of the Xbox Series X controller
Personally my favorite Xbox Series X controller (read more on that in our full Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro review). It's brilliant for accessibility and changing a controller to be exactly what you need it to be in terms of the 'main' features - the D-Pad and sticks - but beyond that, we also think this is just a brilliant Series X controller. And one that's very worthy of its price tag; as it'll give you more options, features, and customization options than you can swing a bat at.
The main core of the feature set of the eSwap X Pro is its modular design which can be changed to however you prefer - we even tried having three analog sticks for fun, for example. This enables a quick swap from symmetric to asymmetric with a wave of a tool and sets the scene for a great controller build. Elsewhere the rear buttons proved to us to be excellent to use and program, though perhaps not quite as intuitive as more paddle-like solutions. However, we did really like the actuation of the bumpers and face buttons which are satisfying and punchy, and the triggers are also excellent.
It's a chunkier pad than most, but I have managed it with smaller hands, and with it being wired you know you're getting the fastest input from your actions possible.
And if you want to top it off with even more customization options, be aware that you can swap out the wing panels, sticks, and D-Pad for different colors and LED parts to bring your pad to life. This is a great controller.
Read more: Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro review
The Turtle Beach React-R is a revolution in budget Xbox Series X controllers. You're getting some serious value for money baked into that $39.99 / £34.99 price tag, with a comfortable, grippy form factor, on-the-fly remappable paddles, Turtle Beach's Superhuman Hearing mode, and solid button feel to boot. This feels like a far more premium gamepad than it really is - we noted excellent balance overall and a particularly responsive tension in the thumbsticks in our own testing.
The React-R was introduced to sit alongside the slightly more expensive Turtle Beach Recon Controller. There's a $20 / £15 difference in these two rates, and the Recon still holds its value well with the addition of a precision aiming mode and rubber grips (the React-R swaps this for textured bumps). However, when it comes down to pure price to performance value, the React-R takes the cake.
You're spending far less than you usually would for these features. Compared to similarly priced (and sometimes more expensive) offerings from PowerA and PDP, for example, the differences in spec sheets and feature lists are stark. Even the paddles along the back feel larger (and therefore far easier to hit reliably in our testing) and more premium.
The only indication that this is a cheaper Xbox Series X controller is the slightly hollow shoulder buttons and the lack of chat mix on PC. Those are mild nit-picks though, this really is the best value gamepad we've had our hands on for a while.
Read more: Turtle Beach React-R review
Best Xbox Series X controller: FAQs
What is the Xbox Series X controller compatible with?
The official Xbox Series X controller is compatible with the new generation of consoles, the Xbox Series S, all Xbox One models, PC, Android, and iOS. If you use GamePass via your Smart TV, the Xbox Series X controller may also be compatible with that too, but check the specific TV models to be sure.
Is Scuf better than Elite 2?
We'd argue that the best Xbox Series X controller overall is the Elite Series 2 - there simply isn't a better all-round alternative. However for competitive players, Scuf's controllers are an excellent go-to. We list the Scuf Instinct Pro as the best Xbox Series X controller for eSports thanks to its superb back buttons and great overall build quality. You also have the added benefit of customizing the design for yourself.
Is the Xbox Series X controller different to Xbox One?
The Xbox Series X Core controller does differ from the original model released with the previous generation console. The most noticeable change is the redesigned D-Pad, offering a concave approach to ensure diagonal inputs are a lot smoother. The Xbox Series X controller also makes use of a low latency connection with Series X consoles and adds a Share button to the face. The newer gamepad also charges via USB-C, carries a slightly smaller form factor, and replaces the shiny plastic covering of the Xbox One model with a matte finish.
What is the best Xbox controller in the world?
The best Xbox Series X controller overall is the Microsoft Elite Series 2, but we'd recommend the majority of players check out the Xbox Wireless controller. It works smoothly and has all the features any casual gamers would need. The most affordable Xbox Series X controller, however, has to be the Turtle Beach React-R. It presents features which are typically only present in much more expensive controllers.
How we test Xbox Series X controllers
In brief, every controller that we have had our hands on is used in a series of different video games to accommodate for most genres. This means that we'll test the responsiveness of the sticks, face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and any other additional features found on the unit. If a controller is wired or relies on rechargeable batteries, then the duration of the lifespan is tested, too. The same can be said for any specialist software, such as drivers, that may be included with the gamepad as well.
For more on how we test controllers at GamesRadar+ check out our full article, and for something more representative of our holistic approach to the latest gear, check out our Hardware Policy.
We're also rounding up plenty more Xbox Series X accessories (and all the best Xbox One accessories if you're after something a little cheaper), like the best Xbox steering wheels and the best Xbox Series X hard drives.