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(Pocket-lint) - The Xbox Wireless Controller may have been tweaked for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, but the design has largely remained the same over the last few console generations.

This is a testament to a great bit of design, but that doesn't mean it's the only good Xbox controller you can get your mitts on.

Whether the out-the-box option isn't quite the right shape, you want some extra features, or you're looking for a second controller to enable some couch co-op with friends and family, picking up a different controller could be a game-changer. 

There are a wealth of controllers to choose between, as well. Some will offer more options, others different sizes and textures, and we've tested a huge range of them. We put these controllers through their paces in a variety of games and genres just to see how they hold up to the competition, testing latency, comfort and features to come up with a comprehensive final ranking.

Whether they're wireless or wired, budget or premium, or come with extras come bundled in - all of these factors count in our estimation, alongside the overall build quality and craftsmanship. Read on to find out which are the very best on the market right now. 


What are the best Xbox controllers?

  1. SCUF Instinct Pro
  2. Microsoft Xbox Elite Series 2
  3. Xbox Wireless Controller
  4. PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired controller
  5. Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition

Our Top Pick: Best Xbox Controller

SCUF best xbox controllers photo 16

SCUF Instinct Pro

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For

  • Make it however you want
  • Superb build-quality and official design

Against

  • Can get ferociously expensive
  • Better value alternatives

If true customisation is your priority, look no further than a SCUF controller. These modded versions of official Xbox pads bring an almost boggling range of options.

You can choose colours and finishes for almost every bit of the controller, as well as features like extra buttons and paddles, different grips and thumbsticks and much more.

The more you add, the more your price adds up, but if we had an unlimited budget we might well go for a fully kitted-out SCUF controller. 

Xbox controllers we also recommend

We've spent more hours than we could keep count testing out the top Xbox controllers, and although we consider the pick above as the top overall choice to consider, there are also others we've tested that we love to recommend. Check them out below.

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 1

Microsoft Xbox Elite Series 2

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For

  • Excellent customisation
  • Extra buttons

Against

  • Expensive
  • Has been known to have hardware problems

Microsoft spied that people were getting into custom controllers a few years ago and decided to take the market itself, and the second version of its controller is formidable.

Like many pro controllers, this thing is pricey, but it's got the bonus of official status, and a huge range of customisation options to let you tune it perfectly.

Whether that's rear paddles in whatever arrangement you like or thumbsticks that resist you the right amount, this is the best controller for most people right now - if they're willing to pay!

Xbox Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 9

Xbox Wireless Controller

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For

  • Well-priced
  • Comfortable and great to use

Against

  • No extra buttons
  • No rechargeable battery by default

The next generation of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, has brought with it a new controller.

If you don't want all the fancy customisation and are just seeking easy wireless play, the official controller is the best bet for you.

It's got some nice improvements over the Xbox One version, including a dedicated button for screenshotting and capturing video clips, with improvements to its grip and texture, too. 

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 13

PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired controller

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For

  • Impressive build quality
  • Swappable front plates and customisable back-paddles

Against

  • Wired
  • Not the cheapest option

If you want a controller that offers some seriously pro-level options, including swappable faceplates, extra paddle controls and different sticks, this is a great way to get them.

PowerA's sequel to its own great controller manages to keep the cost moderately controlled, primarily by sticking to a wired connection.

If you can live with that, it feels amazing to use and offers extreme responsiveness.

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 11

Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition

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For

  • Loads of custom options including trigger stops
  • Cheaper than in-house Xbox options

Against

  • Still fairly expensive
  • Wired option

Razer makes a whole range of peripherals that are great for Xbox gamers, including some excellent headsets, and its Wolverine Tournament Edition is a similarly impressive controller.

This is very much modelled on the official size and shape, but adds a similar bevy of options to the Xbox Elite controller. Those include trigger stops (hugely useful in shooters) and programmable buttons to set up your own shortcuts easily - you can even trigger higher or lower stick sensitivity on the fly, a real boon. 

It's a superb pad that also impressively undercuts the price of Microsoft's own pro controller, although it is also wired (which most serious gamers will tell you is better for latency anyway). 

Pocket-lint best xbox controllers photo 15

AimControllers custom Xbox controller

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For

  • Total customisation
  • Great optional paddles
  • Premium build

Against

  • Really expensive

If you want a professional controller with extra paddles and quick-fire triggers, but are also looking to make one that perfectly matches your brand or design desires, then AimControllers is perfect for you.

It lets you customise every element as you like, ideal for streamers or aspiring competitors, but you should know that each change adds more to what can become a really substantial pricetag. If you want the best, though, this is pretty close to it.

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 15

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

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For

  • Really well-priced
  • Good grippy pads, with back buttons
  • Comes with audio enhancements for clearer multiplayer sound

Against

  • Wired
  • Could feel more solid in the hand

Turtle Beach has a wired controller of its own, and it's also really nice to use, with pleasant grips and texture on its triggers and shoulder buttons. There are plenty of options, too, with two back buttons for more control.

You also get boosted audio thanks to Turtle Beach's audio tech, and the ability to hot-swap between profiles for quick changes on the fly, making for a really useful controller that's well-priced to boot.

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 14

Nacon Pro Compact Controller

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For

  • Smaller build for smaller hands
  • Lightweight but well-made
  • Good price

Against

  • Won't be comfortable for everyone

If you've got smaller hands, want a cheaper controller and don't mind going wired, this is a really impressive option from Nacon.

It's a compact controller that still feels really solid and good to use and grip, but is perfect for throwing in a bag, or for children who might find their hands struggling to grip the sizeable standard Xbox controller. We're big fans, so make sure to check it out if it ticks your boxes.

Pocket-lint Best Xbox controllers for 2020: Get the edge with these third-party and official pads photo 3

Xbox One Wireless Controller

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For

  • Increasingly affordable
  • Works flawlessly
  • As comfortable as ever

Against

  • No longer new hardware
  • No real customisation

While it might not be the latest official controller any more, the older Xbox One pad is still a great buy and might slip downward in price over time, too, becoming a superb deal that will still work with the newer consoles. 

It might just be the best ever first-party console controller in terms of comfort and reliability, and with Bluetooth on board the later versions, and the addition of a headphone jack, it's pretty a great pick for most people. 

Other products we considered

We know that the Xbox controllers recommended above may not suit everyone's needs, but we also only want to recommend what we believe are the very top options to consider. 

In order to provide some context to our decision making and testing, as well as give you more suggestions to explore, below are the devices that haven't quite made it into our top picks.

How to choose an Xbox controller

There are absolutely hundreds of options out there when it comes to new Xbox controllers, so we've laid out some of the areas you might want to think about before you make your choice.

Why should you buy a new Xbox controller?

This one might sound obvious, but there are plenty of reasons why you might need a new controller - you could be looking to play couch co-op with someone at home, or you could equally have worn out your existing controller already. Many of the options we've looked at, though, will also be attractive if you're simply looking for a controller that'll help you to upgrade your gaming with extra buttons or options, which can be really useful for competitive games.

What will you use the controller for?

This is key - further to the above, before buying your controller you should work out what you want it for. Is it for a child or younger person to beat up without costing too much? Or is it to help you learn some better movement and control options using extra paddles and switches? There's not much point in buying a pro controller if you don't really need it, after all.

What shape do you want for your controller?

Another good starting point to think about is whether you like the default shape of the controller that came with your Xbox. If so, most of the third-party options out there copy it, but if not there are still some alternatives that sit differently in the hand.

Do you need extra buttons?

This is a big one - many of the nicer controllers out there add extra buttons to the mix, which you can program yourself for custom controls. These are sometimes back-paddles or buttons, and are great for competitive games like Call of Duty where you'll benefit from more control without taking your fingers off the analog sticks. If you're looking to get better at a tough game, we think they're a great option.

Should you go wired or wireless?

Another major decision comes in the form of wirelessness - outside of the official Xbox options, this will typically add some money on to a controller's price. So, if you know that you want extra buttons and features and don't mind having a wired tether, that's fine, but if being free from cables is key then you'll have to take that into account.

More about this story

There's only one way to really test controllers, and that's to use them - every product on this list has been hand-tested by our team to verify that it meets not only the standards set out by its manufacturer, but our own exacting expectations, too.

We've played with them across multiple genres to get a sense of how they perform, tried out their customisation options to get our own perfect fit and seen how they cope under stress. Build quality matters to us, as does how solid and comfortable they feel to hold.

On top of that, we've experimented to check their wireless connectivity and range, battery life and stability - these aren't stats that we'll always surface in our mini-reviews, but they play a key part in forming our overall judgement.

We've been testing controllers for years, and have often tried not just the versions that you see on the list above, but also their predecessors, so you can be confident that we're not plucking our ideas out of thin air.

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.