Xbox Design Lab is back so the T3 team went head-to-head to make the best controller

The T3 staff made their own custom Xbox Wireless Controllers but who came out on top?

Customised T3 Xbox Series X controller
(Image credit: Future)

Customising your Xbox controller is a joyous activity that Microsoft temporarily pulled the plug on last year with the launch of the Xbox Series X; but it's back in action again, waiting for you to concoct some truly questionable creations. 

Xbox Design Lab lets you personalize your Xbox Wireless Controller down to the finest detail. You can choose the colorway for the body, rear case, bumpers, triggers, D-pad, thumbsticks, ABXY buttons, and the View, Menu, Share buttons. Combined with the 18-strong palette of colors, you've got a ton of possibilities to work with. 

So of course, I asked the T3 team to put forward their designs and share the inspiration behind their creations. Is it technically a competition? Not that they're aware of. And while it's not for me to decide whose is best, I think the answer is pretty obvious...

Xbox Design Lab custom Xbox Wireless Controller creation (opens in new tab)
Give your new Xbox Wireless Controller a splash of personality with the huge range of customisation options available in Xbox Design Lab. You can tweak almost all of the external parts of the controller, so whether you want it to bear the colors of your favorite football team, video game character, or just make it look pretty, you can mock it up in the lab and place your order. The custom Xbox Wireless Controller costs $69.99/ £59.99 (opens in new tab) with optional laser engraving for $9.99/ £7.99. Xbox Design Lab is available in "the US, Canada, and most Western European Countries."

Custom Xbox Wireless Controller - Paul Douglas

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Paul Douglas, Content Director: Paul went with this interesting color combo that brings to mind a strawberry yogurt speckled with a few errant blueberries. When asked for his inspiration, Paul likened the "retro pink" chassis to a "velvet sofa from the 60s". Very swish. But then he also mentioned blancmange and prawns, so try striking that from your mind when you go to pick this up every day.  

Custom Xbox Wireless Controller - Spencer Hart

(Image credit: Xbox)

Spencer Hart, Style and Travel Editor: Spencer quietly added his rather stern-looking controller to the pile with no comment. As mysterious and subdued as our boy himself, we can only speculate on what inspired Spencer to forgo the 18 color options and opt for this understated piece, framed with a shock of orange on the bumpers. Is it Halo inspired? Does Spencer just really like olives? When prompted to elaborate, he said, "My living room is green and I wanted it to blend in." A fine choice.

Custom Xbox Wireless Controller - Duncan Bell

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Duncan Bell, Lifestyle Editor: Duncan deposited his lime green Xbox controller into the chat, which was aptly described by Matt Bolton as "what every unofficial controller in 1998 looked like." Colorful, audacious, zesty; this thing looks like a Skittles ad and makes me want to eat it. I'd call that a success.

xbox design lab custom controller

(Image credit: Xbox)

Ruth Hamilton, Outdoors and Wellness Editor: This Xbox Wireless Controller wouldn't look out of place in a nautically-themed room, or even a bathroom. Fresh, vibrant, and probably smelling like the ocean, Ruth's final product was forged under the pressure of my springing this request on her out of nowhere. Her feedback on the whole process was that "there was too much choice for a Tuesday morning and I found it surprisingly stressful." We appreciate you, Ruth. 

Custom Xbox Wireless Controller - Matt Bolton

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Matt Bolton, AV & Smart Home Editor: Matt's Xbox Wireless Controller sports the unmistakable colors of none other than Sega mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. The white bumpers are his eyes, the red, white, and gold buttons/ thumbsticks combo are a nod to his sneakers, while the pink visible at the bottom "is his unnerving pink belly and legs." Now we know what Matt's nightmares are made of, and we can make them into an Xbox controller!  

Custom Xbox Wireless controller - Josh

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Josh Russell, T3 Magazine Editor: Josh is coming in hot with a Yoshi-themed controller to take on Matt Bolton's Sonic the Hedgehog masterpiece. While it looks pretty similar to Duncan's at first glance, the detailing sets it apart as a video game character inspired aesthetic, rather than making you want to taste the rainbow. Both look equally delicious, but Nintendo fans might prefer this one.  

Custom Xbox wireless controller Matt Kollat

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Matt Kollat, Fitness and Nutrition Writer: Well color me pink! Another Nintendo-themed Xbox Wireless Controller enters the fray with this Kirby controller. Matt's creation went down well with everyone. I'd have liked to see a splash of red for Kirby's cheeks and shoes, but Matt may have wisely avoided doing that; red on pink sounds like it could get a but garish, so minimalist may have been best. A solid design.

Custom Xbox Wireless controller - Shabana

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Shabana Arif, News Editor: With all of these Xbox Wireless Controller creations flying around Slack, I thought long and hard about what mine might look like. And as I was thinking, one face loomed into my mind and wouldn't leave until I'd paid homage to him. Based on the real mascot of the Xbox Series X, behold: Craig. His namesake (opens in new tab) is pretty bland, color-wise, but his beady yellow eyes and black shoulder straps were points of reference for the detailing so it wouldn't just be olive drab all over. I even opted to have his name engraved on the front. If you're a Halo fan, this is the controller for you. 

Custom Xbox wireless controller Matt G

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Mat Gallagher, Managing Editor T3 US: Not to be left out, Mat G materialized at lunchtime when the US began to stir, with this beauty. His Fourth of July Xbox Wireless Controller is red, white, and blue (of course) in honor of the day his adopted countrymen defiantly fought off an alien invasion. With this in your pocket and Bill Pullman cheering you on, there's nothing you can't do. 

Customised T3 Xbox Series X controller

(Image credit: Microsoft )

Ian Morris, Editor: As T3 overlord, it was only right that Ian's custom controller be emblazoned with the website's colors. The red pops on the black, while the white buttons add a clean, crisp touch. Probably the most sensible colorway on the list, and the one that will lead to the least amount of regrets later on. But where's the fun in that? 

Xbox Design Lab

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you've been holding off on visiting Xbox Design Lab until the Xbox Series X supply at retailers picks up, that time is now. Loads of stores have been getting more consoles in, which you can keep up with using our Xbox Series X stock tracker

What's more, if you're in the US, Walmart is back on the Xbox All Access train which means you can pick up an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S with no upfront cost, from as little as $25 per month. 

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). She's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down here at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies. If you have any tech or gaming tips, shoot over an email or DM her on social media.