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Published Sep. 24, 2021

Xbox One players still have a lot of choices when picking the best Xbox One controller. There’s a new pair of consoles in town, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, but every controller that works on the new consoles also works on the Xbox One, and all Xbox One controllers work on the Series X and S. As long as it’s an Xbox controller, you should be good.

And there are a lot of choices out there. The original “core” Xbox gamepad is great, but there’s a whole world of premium controllers with special features, and budget options for players who want something cheap to put in a friend’s hands. Regardless of what you’re looking for, picking the best Xbox One controller for your specific needs can be a lot of work. Luckily, we’ve played a lot of video games with a lot of controllers, so we have some ideas about what you should pick up.

How we selected the best Xbox One controllers 

To choose the best Xbox One controllers, I channeled my years of research and experience writing about video games. Every one of these controllers comes highly recommended from various playtesters, reviews from other publications, and my own testing. Also, should you ever upgrade to the Series S or Series X, these are the best controllers for those platforms as well.

What to consider when buying the best Xbox One controllers

There are a surprisingly large number of things to consider when picking out a new Xbox One controller. There are obvious factors, like what types of games you’ll be playing and what kind of customization you’re looking to get out of your peripherals, but there are also smaller details, like the size of your hands. All of these factors come into play when you’re seeking the perfect controller, so don’t be afraid to sweat the small stuff.

Cutting the cord

The standard Xbox controller is wireless, but that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to have a wireless controller. In fact, there are still several great wired gamepads out there. In many cases, manufacturers make wired controllers to keep costs down. The cheapest controller will, inevitably, be wired-only. That said, there are also wired controllers designed specifically for competitive players, who may be concerned about the potential input lag that inevitably creeps in with wireless controllers. Using a wired controller also cuts out the need to plug in a controller to charge between sessions or replace batteries.

In our experience, the difference in input lag between wireless controllers using Microsoft’s proprietary Xbox wireless connection and a wired controller are negligible, so most players should feel comfortable going wireless without issue. That said, don’t discount it automatically. Some of our favorite controllers are wired, and worth picking up if you sit near your TV or monitor.

Button it up

All Xbox One controllers come with the same array of core buttons. However, many also feature customizable extra buttons or paddles, which you can map to create new button layouts. That means you can personalize your game in important ways, like changing the action button or assigning a different one to running or shooting. For some players, a custom control scheme can make a huge difference, or it may not be important at all. It all comes down to how much you like to personalize your experience.

Additional accommodations

Some gamers may need a controller with extra options to ensure they’re able to play their favorite titles without compromising. This might mean larger buttons or controllers that offer multiple inputs. Whatever your needs may be, there’s a controller that can help you settle in and enjoy the fantastical worlds you want to explore — or just up your body count as you move through the levels of your favorite first-person shooter. 

Best Xbox One controllers: Here’s what we recommend

Our picks for the best Xbox One controllers range in price and have different features, but they all have something to offer. Whether you want something inexpensive, something more accessible, or just like crazy, cool RGB lighting, we’ve got you.

Best Wireless Xbox One controller: Xbox Elite Series 2

The ultimate upgrade

feels like an improvement over the standard controller. Xbox

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Why it made the cut: Microsoft’s second Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is an upgrade in almost every conceivable way making this controller the best wireless Xbox One controller. 

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: 40 hours
  • Notable features: Haptic feedback, Impulse Triggers, rumble motors, adjustable and swappable thumbsticks, assignable buttons, rear paddles, dual analog sticks
  • Connections: Wireless, USB-C wired
  • Colors: Black
ProsCons
Tons of customization options Expensive
Sturdy and stylish 
Long-lasting battery life  

Microsoft went all out when it sought to reimagine its high-end Xbox Elite controller. Building on the core Xbox One controller, the Xbox Elite Series 2 features a host of augments and upgrades, including customizable buttons and swappable D-pads, to a wireless charging dock. Simply put, the Xbox Elite Series 2 is the best Xbox One controller on the market right now, period. That level of quality translates to a high price tag, though. It’s also been difficult to find, lately, just like the consoles themselves. You’ve got to pay a lofty price for greatness, but this is the best gift you can give yourself as an Xbox player.

Best Wired Xbox One controller: Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma

Wired for the win

The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma is the latest in a long line of feature-rich wired controllers. Razer

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Why it made the cut: Razer’s newest revision of the wired Wolverine controller has advanced Chroma RGB light strips, as well as faster actuation and response times.

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: N/A
  • Notable features: Haptic feedback, Hair Trigger mode, rumble motors, adjustable and swappable thumbsticks, assignable buttons, rear paddles, dual analog sticks, Razer Chroma RGB lighting
  • Connections: USB-C wired
  • Colors: Black
ProsCons
Customizable buttons and analog sticks Wired connection only
Razer Chroma RGB lighting Expensive
Excellent grip profile

Razer’s Wolverine V2 Chroma is a fantastic wired counterpart to the Series 2 Elite controller. With additional customization options and features, it’s a luxury controller for players who are willing to pay for something special, only in this case that specialty includes wired performance. The V2 Chroma is Razer’s third Wolverine. It looks similar to the original V2, but with customizable RGB piping, which launched in 2020, and its six multi-function buttons evoke the original Wolverine Ultimate, which came out nearly ten years ago. It also has many of the features found on the Elite Series 2, including trigger locks and a swappable D-pad. All in all, it’s just as expensive as the Elite controller series, and just as enticing for discerning players which is why this controller is our pick for best wired Xbox One controller.

Best audio-centric Xbox One controller: Turtle Beach Recon Xbox Controller

Competitive features, competitive price

The Turtle Beach Recon Xbox controller upgrades your gamepad and your headset. Turtle Beach

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Why it made the cut: Turtle Beach’s first controller brings a slew of headset-focused features for players who pair it with a wired headset.

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: N/A
  • Notable features: Haptic feedback, Hair Trigger mode, rumble motors, adjustable and swappable thumbsticks, assignable buttons, rear paddles, dual analog sticks, Razer Chroma RGB lighting
  • Connections: USB-A wired
  • Colors: Black
ProsCons
Superhuman Hearing and audio controls Wired connection only
Ergonomic cooling grips Audio features only work with analog headsets
Rear quick-action buttons

The Turtle Beach Recon Xbox One Controller is a solid wired alternative to the standard Xbox controller. In exchange for having to plug in, you get selectable user profiles, rear quick-action buttons, among other upgrades. However, the Recon stands apart from other controllers because of its audio-focused features. For players who plug a headset into the Recon with a 3.5mm headphone jack, the Recon gives you access to onboard audio controls, audio presets to mix your sound, and Turtle Beach’s competitive Superhuman hearing feature, which makes it easier to hear gameplay-relevant sounds like footsteps. It’s the best audio centric Xbox One controller and a very good option for players who want to optimize for competitive play without spending too much on a controller and/or headset.

Best budget wireless Xbox One controller: Xbox Wireless Controller (2020) 

Keep it classic

The standard Xbox controller sets the standard for all modern gamepads. Xbox

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Why it made the cut: The Xbox Wireless Controller is an affordable, reliable option that’s great for any gamer. 

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: 40 hours
  • Notable features: Rumble motors, dual analog sticks
  • Connections: Wireless, USB-C wired
  • Colors: Multiple
ProsCons
Affordable and sturdy Fewer customization options than high-end alternatives
Lengthy battery life
Multiple colors available

Do not underestimate the Xbox Wireless Controller. The standard Xbox gamepad is an affordable, sturdy, and versatile gamepad. This version, which comes with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, is fully compatible with the Xbox One, and features a very useful extra button. The “share” button right in the center lets you record a screenshot or video without accessing the Xbox menu. If you go for a second controller, the “core” controller, as it’s called sometimes, comes in a dizzying amount of colors and feels great in your hands, with buttons that feel good, hardy triggers, and a grippy surface that doesn’t get slick after lengthy gaming sessions. It may lack the bells and whistles of the other, more expensive controllers on this list, but it can handle anything you throw at it.

Best cheap Xbox One controller: PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller

A little extra

The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller brings something extra to the table, even on a budget. PowerA

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Why it made the cut: PowerA’s excellent peripheral pedigree means its latest wired Xbox controller is a great option at a low price point. 

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: N/A
  • Notable features: Dual rumble motors, mappable buttons, ergonomic design, textured diamond grip, dual analog sticks, headset dial, Share button
  • Connections: USB-C wired
  • Colors: Multiple
ProsCons
Solid list of features Lacks customization found in higher-priced controllers
Affordable
Multiple colors available

PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller is the best cheap Xbox One controller you can buy for less than the cost of a new Xbox Wireless Controller. It’s a solid wired option, and actually adds a couple of special features that the standard Xbox controller doesn’t have, including a pair of customizable rear buttons. There’s also a headset dial on board so you can adjust the volume or mute the wired headset you choose to attach. Its textured grip makes the controller feel great in your hands, even if you’re breathlessly riding out a shootout. That’s something you want in any gamepad, wired or otherwise. 

Most accessible Xbox One controller: Xbox Adaptive Controller

Video games for everyone

Microsoft’s unique adaptive controller makes it easier for everyone to enjoy video games. Xbox

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Why it made the cut: Xbox’s Adaptive Controller is the only one of its kind, and it’s an absolute triumph for accessibility. 

Specs:

  • Estimated battery life: 25 hours
  • Notable features: Multiple ports for accessible play, large face buttons
  • Connections: Wireless, USB-C wired, additional hookups for additional accessibility-focused peripherals
  • Colors: White 
ProsCons
Designed so anyone can play Can be a bit confusing to set up 
Decent battery life for multipurpose controller
Dizzying amount of input options

The Xbox Adaptive Controller offers a unique proposition among game controllers. Specifically created for gamers with limited mobility, the two-button slab acts as a hub for specialty peripherals that allow players who can’t hold and/or easily use a traditional gamepad. You can connect buttons, joysticks, mounts, and essentially anything that makes it easier for anyone to jump in and play. It also includes features such as Bluetooth, Xbox wireless support, USB connectivity, and a 3.5 mm jack. It may be a bit confusing to set up for the first time, depending on your needs, but it’s the only controller out there that does what it does. It’s unique capabilities open up the world of video games to many gamers who wouldn’t be able to play otherwise, and that’s a very special thing.

FAQs: 

Q: Are third-party Xbox controllers worth buying?

Choosing a third-party controller doesn’t automatically mean “settling” or buying something cheap. In many cases, peripheral makers offer features Microsoft hasn’t added to its controllers, like Razer’s RGB lighting. Even among “budget” controllers, though, the bar for quality among controllers is as high as it’s ever been.

Q: Do I need any extra accessories for my Xbox controller?

You’ll want to make sure you have batteries on hand, as Microsoft’s standard wireless controller still needs two AA batteries for wireless play. Alternatively, you can also buy rechargeable batteries or an Xbox rechargeable battery kit so you can plug in and avoid generating e-waste.

Q: Are Xbox controllers hard to find in stores?

It depends on what you’re looking for. The standard Xbox Wireless Controller or less expensive options like PowerA are usually quite readily available at most retailers. You’re better off looking for specialized options like Razer’s Wolverine V2 Chroma and the Xbox Adaptive Controller online, as they can be much more difficult to find.

Our final thoughts on the best Xbox One Controllers

Having one of the best Xbox One controllers can go a long way toward maximizing the immersion of playing games on an Xbox (or a PC). Whether you’ve snagged an Xbox Series X or you’re still happily gaming on an Xbox One, there are options for everyone. There’s no reason to purchase an uncomfortable controller from a mystery brand with flimsy analog sticks, frustrating D-pads, or sweaty plastic. We’ve come a long way when it comes to controller technology, so you should never have to deal with those “Player 2” gamepads ever again.

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