There was a moment when I was testing the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra Wireless controller when it reminded me of a scene from my favorite film trilogy. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, three main characters are met with a wizard clad in white robes in a dark forest. Upon realizing it's not who they suspected, Gandalf tells them he has returned to Middle Earth in order to right the wrongs of his wizardly peer. He's now Gandalf the White, and he's everything Saruman should have been.
Last year, I was a little disappointed by what was prophesized to be one of the best Xbox series X controllers. The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro won loads of design and innovation awards at the start of 2023 for its mini OLED screen, RGB strikethroughs, and intriguing back buttons. When I finally got my hands on it though, I found that it was all style and no substance. A good controller, by any metric, but one that went down a dark path and didn't make the most of its potential.
At $179.99 / £179.99, the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra has arrived, and it's here to right the wrongs of that misguided Asus gamepad. For a start, it's the first-ever officially licensed third-party Xbox controller to feature wireless support, so it really is a trendsetter. More importantly, it takes all of those intriguing features Asus started and focuses more on function than form.
Over-the-top analogies about Lord of the Rings aside, it is really easy to compare the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra Wireless controller to the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro. This is an officially licensed pro controller for Xbox and PC which features Hall Sensor thumbsticks and triggers, a mini display mounted on the face of the controller, four unorthodox back buttons, and all the customization and profiling you could need.
Along the gamepad's grips lie some flashy RGB lighting arrays that shine alluringly at you and blend really well into the bronze faceplate and black body of the device. These lights really compliment the design, in my opinion, and give the Stealth Ultra an aura other gamepads wish they had.
On the controller's face, you'll find microswitch buttons that don't feel quite as spongy as the ones on the Razer Wolverine V2 Pro or its Xbox equivalents, but they are just as responsive. On the left, you'll find a metallic D-pad which appears almost minimalist compared to the ones found on the best PC controllers. Where rivals make strong divisions and rigid line work stand out, the Stealth Ultra lives up to its name by placing subtle grooves into the circular pad. I like this because when using it, your thumb feels this tactile clarification of which direction you're pressing, but it makes the D-pad feel easier and quicker to navigate.
Flipping the controller over, you'll find four back buttons which are integrated horizontally into its grips and spine. Now, I have to say, usually, this is a red flag for me. It reminds me a bit too much of the back buttons on the Thrustmaster eSwap XR, or indeed the Raikiri Pro, both of which are placed completely unhelpfully. These, on the other hand, are large, easy to find, satisfying to press, and are situated low enough that you can use them comfortably. They make use of a dotted texture as well which is a tiny detail that makes them so much more usable.
Next to a set of microswitch bumpers and excellent Hall Sensor triggers, you get some trigger stop switches. In terms of connectivity, you have the usual 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C charging port.
As mentioned, the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra is the first officially licensed controller for Xbox Series X/S that features wireless support. Until now, this has been a stipulation any gamepad has had to follow to secure its licensing deal, but thankfully that's now beginning to change. With the arrival of the upcoming Victrix Pro BFG, it looks as though Xbox players will soon have an increasing number of wireless pro controllers at their disposal.
As a result of that wireless connectivity, the gamepad comes with a 30+ hour quoted battery life, which, I have to be honest, I couldn't get through in weeks of testing. Even if you do somehow manage to eat through over 20 hours, the gamepad comes with a wee charging stand that helps you to display your controller - and its grip lighting will even indicate its charging progress with different colors. This is a brilliant little accessory to throw in and one that will likely keep this controller as a mainstay in my TV unit's display.
Speaking of displays, the Stealth Ultra features a tiny one of its own. Unlike the Raikiri Pro, this doesn't feel limited at all and is super easy to navigate using the controller's usual buttons. In addition, the UI feels as though it's had some time and effort put into it, unlike Asus's bizarre and robotic menu which feels like a total afterthought.
What's really impressive is that there is accompanying PC software for the gamepad, but almost everything in that application is already in the controller's display menu. It's usually a point of praise for me when a pro controller lets you customize back buttons without the aid of a gaming PC, but the conclusive options you can footer with on the Stealth Ultra Wireless are so impressive. If you want to change your axis-mapping, your audio settings, or your lighting, it's all accessible in the controller itself. There's even a little social section that'll allow you to see Whatsapp messages and other notifications.
Just like the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro, the manufacturer didn't hold back when allowing profile storage. There are 10 profiles storable on board here. That's no short of excellent and puts pro controllers with four profiles to shame.
A sign that a controller has really won me over is when it makes me completely rediscover one of my favorite games. When I was working on our Elite Series 2 Core review, it made Dishonored feel brand new despite me finishing that game probably hundreds of times. When I reviewed the Victrix Pro BFG I was able to land shots in Hunt: Showdown like never before. It was a similar story here when I was doing my usual platforming tests in Celeste.
I've played Celeste loads of times, and it's up there with my favorite games of all time. Its controls are so tight that it makes for a brilliant test of how today's pro controllers will handle side-scrolly-platforming. I usually play a chapter or so with each controller I review, but as soon as I performed my first dash with the Stealth Ultra, I was completely re-hooked. I ended up playing for about two or three hours, loving every minute as Turtle Beach's ergonomics and best-in-class vibration reinvented Maddy Thorson's gameplay.
And therein lies probably my favorite thing about the Stealth Ultra. There are controllers with rumble, there are controllers with lackluster vibration, and then there are controllers like the DualSense Edge that change the game with precise haptic feedback. Turtle Beach hasn't put haptics in this gamepad, but if you told me the opposite I'd probably believe you. The game feel this controller gives you is quite honestly second-to-none and by far the best I've felt in an Xbox controller. It is as close to haptic feedback as Xbox controllers get, at least until the Xbox Series X Refresh brings us that leaked controller.
The other big point of praise for me is the back buttons on the Stealth Ultra. Usually, if a set of back buttons isn't integrated into the grips of a controller, it falls short of the mark. Different people will hold controllers in different ways, and hand shapes can vary a lot, but some back buttons can really make themselves difficult to use. Vertically positioned back buttons are usually the ones that work best for everyone since they lie exactly where your fingers naturally sit with a controller in hand. Horizontal ones, however, have never made sense to me since you can only comfortably use one finger on each hand with them. The Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra has bucked that trend, however.
Besides it being a little tougher to use both back buttons on one side simultaneously, I loved using these in Alan Wake 2 and Hunt: Showdown. I especially love that they're integrated into the natural curves of the controller and they're raised which makes it easy to find them with your middle fingers.
Speaking of Alan Wake 2, it was in that game that I really appreciated Turtle Beach's triggers. They feel snappy to use, and I never felt they were slow enough to warrant the use of their trigger stops.
If I had to nit-pick an issue or two, it'd have to be the thumbsticks. There aren't really any attachments for them to make them taller, just some covers you used to get on the best PS4 controllers to resurface them. Out of the box though, I was amazed at how slippy the sticks were. It's a pretty basic design aspect at this point that thumbsticks need to be shaped in a way that means your digits aren't going to slide off them as you use them. The material used and the lack of any real indentation means they just aren't very good. Luckily the toppers for them really improve things.
Lastly, the left menu button is placed symmetrically to match the main options button, but the asymmetrical thumbsticks mean it's a bit awkward to find when trying to reach over the left thumbstick. I know this was a design choice for symmetry's sake, but if you're going for offset Xbox sticks, maybe don't be afraid to place this button a bit lower so it's a case of moving your thumb to the right as opposed to reaching over the top. This button opens Saga's Mind Place in Alan Wake 2, so it's a frequent annoyance when it's placed jankily.
Should you buy the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra?
The Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra Wireless controller for Xbox and PC is one of my favorite controllers I've tested in the last 12 months. It's earned itself a four-and-a-half-star review score, which is high praise from me since it's the same achieved by the Victrix Pro BFG, which is arguably one of the best gamepads ever made.
This controller brings a lot of features to the table and is everything I wanted the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro to be when I tested it last year. Even disregarding that comparison, it's maybe the best third-party Xbox controller going at the moment, and its price is super reasonable too. For your money, you get four back buttons, a slew of customization, anti-stick drift assurance, and battery life that rivals the Elite Series 2.
The Victrix Pro BFG's Xbox arrival is sure to make for an interesting match-up, but since that gamepad doesn't include any vibration, it makes this look like an excellent all-rounder option for those not looking for the last word in Esports performance.
How we tested the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra
I tested the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra Wireless controller on and off for around a month before writing this review. I compared my use closely to my experiences with other pro controllers from the past year and lent particularly toward the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro as a rival.
I tested the controller across a wide range of genres, mainly using Hunt: Showdown to test its FPS chops, Celeste for platforming, and Alan Wake 2 as a touchstone for third-person games.
For more on how we test the latest gaming tech and accessories, take a gander at our hardware policy.