Best Xbox controllers 2021: top gamepads for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One

Play your Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or Xbox One the way it should be played

Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller
(Image credit: Nacon)

If you're shopping for the best Xbox controllers then we're assuming you want to get the best gameplay experience possible from your Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One X or Xbox One S console – and that's something we applaud you for.

Upgrading your Xbox controller can mean more input options, better responsiveness, and a more tactile and personalised feel – while the controllers that come with your Microsoft gaming machine will certainly be able to do a job, they're by no means the final word when it comes to the accessories that you're able to connect up.

That's why we've brought you this definitive list of the best Xbox controllers on the market at the moment: the very top controllers rated and reviewed, with all the specs that you need to know about detailed and explained.

When it comes to picking the best Xbox controller for you, it's a good idea to weigh up exactly what you want from your new input device, as well as how much you're wanting to spend – various advanced features are available on the most expensive models, including weight adjustment and game profiles, but you don't have to spend over-the-odds if you're not going to use these features.

The best Xbox controllers to buy today

Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller

(Image credit: Nacon)

1. Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller

The best Xbox controller for most people

Specifications
Gaming profiles: Yes
Button mapping: Yes
Adjustable weight: Yes
Wired/wireless: Wired only
Reasons to buy
+Huge level of customisation+Premium fit and feel+Officially licensed
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than most-Wired only

If you want to know what the gold standard for Xbox controllers looks like, this is it: the Nacon Revolution X Pro Controller is absolutely packed with features, and feels like a superior product as soon as you put your hands around it. This controller doesn't come particularly cheap, but we don't think you're going to be disappointed if you invest in this for your next controller upgrade.

There's full button mapping support for customising your controller, as well as four extra shortcut buttons around the back. You can save different profiles for different games, adjust the trigger and stick responsiveness, set up four or eight directions for the D-pad, personalise the amount of vibration you get back from the controller, and even adjust its overall weight for that perfect feel. 

The customisations don't stop there, because you also get a choice of concave or convex tops for the joysticks, and you can even play around with the lighting effects on the controller as well. Throw in some really neat extras such as Dolby Atmos support from the integrated headphone jack, and it's not difficult to see why we think this is the best Xbox controller for most people right now.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 best Xbox controllers

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

The best wireless Xbox controller

Specifications
Gaming profiles: Yes
Button mapping: Yes
Adjustable weight: No
Wired/wireless: Wired and wireless
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of customisation options+Solid and very well built+Wireless functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Above-average price-Will you use its extra features?

As Microsoft put together the Xbox consoles in the first place, it makes sense that the engineers at the company would know what makes a great controller – and in that spirit we present to you the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, probably the best wireless controller for Xbox that you can get your hands on right now. Enjoy the freedom of not having wires with battery life that's good for around 40 hours between recharges.

Everything about this Xbox controller has been finely tuned and configured, from the adjustable-tension thumbsticks and the wraparound rubberised grips, to the shorter hair trigger locks and the interchangeable thumbstick and paddle locks. You can save different profiles for different games, as well as remap the buttons on the controller to suit your own particular gaming style.

In short, if you're still failing in games while using the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, it's not the controller that's the problem – it's you. It's fair to say that they're at the expensive end of the spectrum for accessories like these, but given the versatile gaming options you get with them, and the fine design and build quality, we think that the device justifies its higher-than-average price.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller best Xbox controllers

(Image credit: Turtle Beach)

3. Turtle Beach Recon Controller

The best budget Xbox controller

Specifications
Gaming profiles: Yes
Button mapping: Yes
Adjustable weight: No
Wired/wireless: Wired only
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price point+Premium audio options+Tunable accuracy settings
Reasons to avoid
-No adjustable weighting-Wired only

For a very reasonable price, the Turtle Beach Recon Controller has an awful lot to offer, from the ergonomic grips that keep your hands nice and cool during long gaming sessions, to the two mappable buttons around the back, it's a great package – and one of those buttons supports what Turtle Beach calls Pro-Aim Focus Mode, a way of tuning joystick sensitivity to suit whatever is currently happening in a game.

The audio options that you get with this Xbox controller are worth mentioning as well, because once you plug in some wired headphones into the 3.5mm audio jack, you get a variety of features to play around with: the Turtle Beach Superhuman Hearing sound system, for example, which is designed to make key sounds (such as footsteps and weapon reloads) easier to hear during the heat of battle.

There's plenty of feedback in terms of vibration to add to the immersive feel, while the two volume rockers on the top of the controller let you adjust game and chat audio separately. A quick moment of appreciation for the design too – Turtle Beach has done a fine job with the aesthetics of both the white and the black versions of this controller, with a small control panel at the top of the device one of the highlights.

PowerA Enhanced Wired Gaming Controller best Xbox controllers

(Image credit: PowerA)

4. PowerA Enhanced Wired Gaming Controller

The best Xbox controller for different style choices

Specifications
Gaming profiles: No
Button mapping: Yes
Adjustable weight: No
Wired/wireless: Wired only
Reasons to buy
+Wide choice of designs+Robust build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not packed with features

What's likely to strike you first about the PowerA Enhanced Wired Gaming Controller is just how many designs and colour schemes you can get this in – from Blue Camo to a special Cuphead design and everything in between. If you've always felt that Xbox controllers are a little dull and uninspiring when it comes to their appearance, this could be the perfect device to help you change your mind.

This controller doesn't come with a huge number of features, but it's very affordably priced, and it offers a level of performance and responsiveness that you can rely on (there's only a wired option, so you don't have to worry about connection drops). Pick the style and colour that best suits the rest of your gaming setup and your own personal taste, and away you go.

You don't get a huge array of features on this Xbox controller compared to some of the others in this list, but there are two mappable advanced gaming buttons added on top of the usual selection, with a volume dial on the front – that dial doubles up as a one-touch mute button as well, so you can quickly cut yourself off from the rest of your squad if you need to focus on what's happening on screen.

Lampelc Wireless Controller best Xbox controllers

(Image credit: Lampelc)

5. Lampelc Wireless Controller

The best budget wireless Xbox controller

Specifications
Gaming profiles: No
Button mapping: Yes
Adjustable weight: No
Wired/wireless: Wired and wireless
Reasons to buy
+Connect without wires+Eye-catching design
Reasons to avoid
-Limited customisation options

Few people end up disappointed after buying the Lampelc Wireless Controller for their Xbox console – it might not push the boundaries of gamepad design in terms of cutting-edge features, but it's nevertheless an input device that you can rely on in those fractions of a second that really count. This is better designed than most Xbox controllers too – it's well sculpted and ergonomic – and it comes in a range of funky colours besides the basic black.

The features that you get here include a dual vibration function (which adds to the level of haptic feedback you can get from the controller), two pressure-point triggers to add to the usual buttons, four LED signal indicators and a d-pad that works in eight different directions to give you as much control as possible. You should find that your overall accuracy and control gets a boost.

Significantly, it works without wires too, so you don't have to feel tethered to your console (you can connect the controller up via USB as well if you prefer). The battery life is good for about 10 hours of gameplay between charges, and considering the very affordable price of the Lampelc Wireless Controller, we think this is comfortably one of the best Xbox controllers you can buy at the moment.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.