We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Hey, you—yes, you, gamer—what are you doing with just one Xbox controller that comes packaged with the console? Couch multiplayer isn’t dead, and quite frankly, it rules. Plus, that wireless beauty occasionally runs out of sweet, sweet battery juice, so you better have a backup. Oh, but I hear you—controllers are expensive. It’s true! Aren’t there options that are a little less brutal on the wallet? You’re in luck, my good gamer, there are. Despite their lower prices, budget Xbox controls are a good-looking, good-performing, and durable bunch, with options for those who want a little more style, a retro feel, and even a bargain-basement price. Official Xbox controllers are great for pwning but expensive for owning. Talk just as much trash without as much cash when you’re dominating online with the best cheap Xbox controllers.

How we chose the best cheap Xbox controllers

We’ve combined some hands-on experiences, critical consensus from around the web, and trusted recommendations from professionals and fellow gamers to prune our list down to these recommendations. All these are solid buys, some offering more bells and whistles than others. Third-party controllers have come a long way since the early days of console gaming when they were almost always inherently inferior to the 1st party controllers offered by Nintendo, Sega, or Sony. Brans like PowerA, 8Bitdo, and GameSir offer high-quality, officially licensed products that look just as slick and play just as slick as Microsoft’s offerings. So be assured that your cheap Xbox controller isn’t going to look or feel cheap; it’s just going to save you some money.

The major consideration with these controllers is performance vs. price. What do you get for your money? Because the quality of third-party controllers is relatively high, “does it work” is pretty much a baseline. The secondary consideration is looks. To be honest, these are all good-looking controllers, but some may fit your ideal aesthetic more than others.

The best cheap Xbox controllers: Reviews & Recommendations

The base Xbox controller, also known as the Xbox Wireless Core Controller, retails for $60, nearly as much as—sometimes even more than—a new game. That’s pretty disheartening. Luckily, there are affordable alternatives.

However, a bit of caution: Most of the cheaper options for Xbox Controllers are going to be wired. Wireless tech is expensive, and quite frankly, that $60 Xbox Wireless Core Controller is probably still your best overall value for a wireless controller, even if it’s not exactly cheap. We only have one wireless recommendation in our list; it’s not officially licensed and occupies one of the USB inputs on your console (which you might otherwise be using). It’s hardly a bad buy of a controller but wired is where you’re headed when you want to save cash on a new joystick.

But there’s good news, too! Due to Microsoft also being the company behind the primary gaming operating system for computers (Windows), every single one of these cheap Xbox controllers doubles as a PC controller with minimal set-up and often some nice customization options. So, beyond getting yourself a good, cheap Xbox controller, you’re also getting a good, cheap PC controller for the occasional battlestation exclusive you will surely want to be playing. Bonus!

Without further ado, here’s the rundown of the buttons and sticks. There is a controller and brand that ekes its way to the top of the list, but the gulf between “best overall” and the rest overall is very small.

Best overall: PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X/S




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack with volume dial
  • Features: Share button, one-touch chat mute, officially licensed 


  • Classic style available in lots of colors
  • Extra onboard buttons for useful functions
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive controls with satisfying grip


  • Not wireless
  • May not hold up long to heavy use 

PowerA has, in recent years, become the primary third-party option for console gamers’ controllers, with Xbox, of course, but also Switch and PlayStation 5. The reason is simple: their controllers are good. The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox looks a lot like an Xbox Wireless Core Controller, but with a wire and a few extra buttons, a bit more height, and a different directional pad. There are many colorways, so you can ensure your controller fits with whatever decor your living room (or gaming cave) has cultivated. Construction is seamless, with a really nice feel and weight. There are two extra buttons on the back that can be programmed as different single- or multi-button presses, which can be advantageous. Audio is on-board with one-touch muting and an on-controller volume control. Essentially, everything you need from a controller is there, plus more.

Unfortunately, there have been reports of this controller starting to show problems after several months of heavy use. Most are cosmetic—paint in different spots might change color or wear off. However, some users have reported issues with the directional pad cropping up. Luckily, PowerA’s willingness to service their products still under warranty is well-regarded, so if you get unlucky and your controller doesn’t last too long, you can contact them and see what can be done. If you’re a casual gamer and only play games for a few hours a week, you’ll probably not see any significant difference in the lifetime of this controller and your first-party Xbox controller. That’s what makes it the best overall cheap Xbox controller.

Best performance: GameSir G7 SE Wired Controller




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Features: Hall Effect sticks and buttons, two custom back buttons, pulse vibration, officially licensed 


  • Superior sticks and buttons
  • Attractive styling
  • Customizable back buttons
  • Switchable control set-ups


  • Sticks and buttons have a bit less give than you might expect
  • Pricer than the best overall

GameSir G7 SE is our best alternative choice to the PowerA Enhanced controller. In terms of overall performance, it actually outshines PowerA. However, it lacks a few features and retails for $12 more than the PowerA, and we’re talking about cheap Xbox controllers—$10 less than an Xbox Wireless Core Controller isn’t the cheapest.

But when it comes to performance, GameSir G7 SE is, indeed, the best. The sticks and triggers are Hall Effect, which means they stand up to use far better than other controllers. Stick drift—where the “neutral” position of your sticks begins to press slightly in a direction—is less of a problem, and the analog triggers have more precision. However, the buttons and stick may also feel a bit stiffer, which may or may not be comfortable for you, depending on the resistance you’re expecting.

In terms of customization, you can download software on your PC or Xbox to create multiple layout profiles—a default profile plus three alternates—which you can switch on the fly with a toggle switch. This can be very useful if you’re playing a variety of genres or if you have multiple players in the house who like their controller settings different. Two buttons on the back of the controller can be customized, much like the PowerA Enhanced.

The while-with-green-highlights aesthetic is clean and attractive, and while the controller is quite heavy, it feels comfortable in the hand. If you’re more concerned with how well a controller performs and less concerned with saving money, the GameSir G7 SE is the best-performance cheap Xbox controller in comparison to a standard Xbox Wireless Core Controller.

Best wireless: JORREP Xbox Controller




  • Connection: Wireless USB receiver (Bluetooth)
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Features: Share button, button mapping on PC


  • Wireless
  • Button-mapping available on PC
  • On-board audio


  • No vibration
  • Wireless receiver occupies USB input

Simply put, there are not many wireless options that would be considered cheap. In fact, none of the wireless options that cost less than an Xbox Wireless Core Controller are officially licensed. Microsoft clearly hopes you’ll buy from them if wireless is one of your requirements. There are non-official options, however, and the JORREP Xbox Controller is the best of them.

Visually, the JORREP apes the Xbox Wireless Core Controller to a tee. The big tell is the different symbol on the home button–as a non-licensed product, they can’t use the Xbox’s X symbol. Otherwise, they’re quite hard to tell apart. However, you’ll feel the difference when you hold the JORREP in your hands. There’s no vibration function in the JORREP, so it’s significantly lighter. For power, you need batteries, even if you use a USB connection to turn it into a wired controller–it will not take power from the console to function.

The wireless function for this controller is through a USB receiver that pairs with the controller. The range is probably enough for a smaller living room or TV/chair set-up, but the further you get away from the receiver, the more likely you will have a dropped connection, which can be frustrating. It also means that you can lose the ability to play if the receiver fails, even if there’s no problem with the controller itself.

Overall, the controller feels a bit less durable and long-lasting than the Xbox Wireless Core Controller, but also costs about half the price, meaning if you want a cheap alternative that’s still wireless, the JORREP can give you exactly what you’re looking for, making it the best wireless cheap Xbox controller.

Best style: PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X/S




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack with volume dial
  • Features: LED bed for sticks and buttons, share button, two mappable back buttons, one-touch mute button, officially licensed 


  • Awesome LED beds for sticks, buttons, and rim
  • Same quality as PowerA Enhanced, our best overall
  • Volume and muting controls on the controller
  • Extrable, mappable back buttons


  • Wired
  • Some users have experienced static when toggling between mute and unmute

Want our best overall controller but willing to spend a few more bucks so that it looks totally rad? That’s what the PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Controller for Xbox offers. At a slightly higher price point (though sometimes surprisingly cheaper due to ongoing sales), you get all the benefits of a PowerA Enhanced Controller but with really, really cool LED beds around the rim of the controller, the buttons, and sticks/directional pad. You can set these via software to pulse different colors, stay one color, or cycle. It really adds an awesome bit of flair to your controller and makes you feel like your hands are living in the movie Tron.

Otherwise, this is the exact same controller as the PowerA Enhanced. It has the same solid construction, the same tendency to wear a bit with heavy use, the same comfortable feel, the same programmable buttons, and the same on-board audio options. However, some users have reported that when muting and unmuting with the on-controller button, they’ve experienced static in their headphones. This may be a headphone/controller compatibility issue, or a game issue, but just know that’s out there. It’s a rare complaint, however.

If you’re willing to turn cheap into slightly less cheap to be totally awesome, the PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Controller probably has the best style of any cheap Xbox controller on the market.

Best for headset audio: RIG Nacon PRO Compact Controller 




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack with Dolby Atmos compatibility
  • Features: App for button and stick sensitivity customization, share button, officially licensed 


  • Dolby Atmos compatibility
  • Compact design
  • Customizability app
  • Officially licensed


  • Not particularly attractive
  • Shorter grips might not be to everyone’s liking

The RIG Narcon offers a really nice surprise that none of the other controllers in this list can match: Dolby Atmos compatibility with a plugged-in headset. Dolby Atmos is the most advanced audio on the market, placing sounds in unique positions and really making you feel like you’re in the game. Most other inputs in this list only offer stereo sound in your headset and require you to plug your Atmos-compatible headphones directly into the console. Being able to connect to the controller gives you less worries about cords and, more specifically, other people or pets tripping over cords.

As a controller, the RIG Narcon offers some nice customization options via an app downloadable to either PC or Xbox. This includes button and stick sensitivity. The design is compact, with smaller grips, which might be better or worse for you depending on your hands and preferences. There are no back buttons with customizability, which is why the RIG Narcon is down here and not the best overall. However, it’s still an excellent controller that might be best for those with small hands and a love of immersive audio, which makes it the best cheap Xbox controller for headset audio.

Best retro: 8Bitdo Ultimate Wired Controller




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Features: Two back paddle buttons, switchable profiles, trigger vibration, customization software, officially licensed 


  • Cool retro styling
  • Durable
  • High level of customization
  • Comfortable


  • Wide-body design may not be preferable for everyone
  • Software is not particularly good

8Bitdo is known for two things: cool retro looks and really durable controllers. These Xbox controllers are meant to resemble a superior version of the original Xbox controllers with a wide body, but they’re much more comfortable than those behemoths were. It is still quite heavy, though. The width and more square grips may also be a little more uncomfortable for some users. 

The 8Bitdo can really take heavy use. The finish and the function will continue at like-new quality well into the life of your 8Bitdo Ultimate Wired Controller. The programmable back buttons can replicate any other button on the face, but that’s it. It’s a bit disappointing that they can’t be mapped to other functions when the controller is used with a PC, as a lot of PC games could benefit from additional actions rather than just alternate buttons. The software is also not the most user-friendly.

Overall, it’s a great controller, but even better if you can get it on sale, as at its MSRP, it’s not quite as full-featured as you’d like, and the size and weight may not be the best for everyone. Despite those drawbacks, the 8Bitdo Ultimate Wired Controller is the best cheap retro Xbox controller.

Best value: PowerA Wired Controller for Xbox Series X/S




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Features: Share button, officially licensed 


  • Very similar design to Xbox Wireless Core Controller
  • Light and comfortable
  • Reasonably priced
  • Responsive


  • None of the advanced features of the PowerA Enhanced
  • Finish may not stand up to heavy use

This one is pretty simple. PowerA has an Enhanced Wired Controller. This controller is not Enhanced. Thus, they’re essentially the exact same form factor but without the bells and whistles that make the Enhanced the best overall cheap Xbox controller. That means you get the same size and feel, the same responsive controls, and the same stylings, but you don’t get the onboard audio options, the same level of customizability, or the programmable back paddle buttons.

What you do get is a much cheaper price. You can buy two PowerA Wired Controllers for the price of one Xbox Wireless Core Controller, based on MSRP. This makes them the best value option, especially for controllers that will only get used when friends or family want to play multiplayer with you.

Be aware that much like the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller, the finish can wear off quickly, and the components might degrade. Still, if it happens particularly fast, the warranty likely covers you. The great play for the small price makes the PowerA Wired Controller the best-value Xbox controller.

Best budget: YUYIU Upgraded Wired Controllers for Xbox




  • Connection: Wired USB
  • Weight: 10.7 ounces
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Features: Vibration, share button


  • Cheapest option
  • Comfortable in the hands
  • Acceptable aesthetic


  • No additional features
  • Loose sticks and buttons

Budget means the lowest-cost controller we can reasonably recommend, but it also means no frills. YUYIU offers an Xbox controller with basically no features–there’s vibration, a share button, and that’s about it–but for an unbeatable price. It’s, of course, also PC-compatible.

The main drawbacks of going budget are the somewhat loose feeling on the sticks and buttons and having less durability than some more expensive but still cheap options. This is admittedly a pretty big drawback, as some of our other options have really solid construction.

If money is really the biggest factor, check our other options to ensure they’re not on sale. If they aren’t, you’ll get a decent no-frills controller from the YUYIU Upgraded Wired Controller, making it the best budget cheap Xbox controller.

What to consider when choosing a cheap Xbox controller

The first question you should ask yourself is whether you’re willing to play with a wired controller. While we do have a wireless option, it’s hard to recommend it over an Xbox Wireless Core Controller unless the price really is that important. If you don’t mind wires, you actually gain a lot of new options with some of our recommendations, particularly our best performance option, the GameSir G7 SE.

Once you know you can go wired, it comes down to what matters most to you: overall value with performance, pure performance, looks, or price. The cheapest controllers out there aren’t the best, and the best ones aren’t necessarily the nicest-looking. There’s unfortunately not one controller on the market that is so good it can be recommended over any other no matter what, or one controller that so outperforms its price that it would be silly to buy anything else.

Speaking as a gamer myself, I’d look at any of these options as a secondary or backup controller. If you want a controller that will help you improve your game performance, you’re better off spending the money and getting an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. It’s Microsoft’s official “pro” controller, and despite the high price, it really offers superior feel and performance to the Xbox Wireless Core Controller, even more so over the cheap controllers. However, if you’re looking for a controller for the occasional group multiplayer night, or in case of a dead battery or accidental break of your primary controller, our recommendations are aces.


Q: Are cheap Xbox controllers good for competitive gaming?

Unfortunately, while cheap Xbox controllers are excellent for competitions between friends, you’re not going to get the precision or customization that eSports players or highly competitive players truly crave. For that, you’ll need to go up in cost, not down, and consider an Xbox Elite Controller.

Q: Which cheap Xbox controllers are officially licensed?

Among our recommendations, the controllers from PowerA, GameSir, RIG Nacon, and 8Bitdo are officially licensed, which ensures compatibility and support from Microsoft.

Q: Can I use cheap Xbox controllers with my PC?

Yes! Every one of these cheap Xbox controllers double as cheap PC controllers, meaning you can double-dip your cost-conscious purchase.

Q: Can I use cheap Xbox controllers with my PS5?

Unfortunately, no. Sony is notorious for limiting the number of products that can be used with their machines, and the PS5 is no exception.

Q: Are cheap Xbox controllers wireless?

No cheap Xbox controller has built-in wireless support directly to your Xbox. The only cheap Xbox controllers that connect wirelessly to an Xbox do so through a USB receiver and don’t have the low latency that is offered by the official Xbox Wireless Core Controller, which is your best value if you want a wireless controller for Xbox. However, it can be pricey at MSRP $60. Cheap Xbox wireless controllers work, but they’re not going to have as good performance as the Core Controller.

Final thoughts on the best cheap Xbox controllers

In the end, budget is what budget is. If you can only afford a $22 controller, you won’t be upset with a YUYIU. If you’re looking for a secondary controller but want to save 25%, the PowerA Enhanced or GameSir G7 SE are really good controllers that won’t set you back what a second Xbox Wireless Core Controller will. Cheap Xbox controllers do the hard work of keeping you in the game, and we’ve done the hard work of telling you which are the best to choose. After all, the best cheap Xbox controller is the one that lets you play all the awesome games on your Xbox, isn’t it?

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.