Should I buy the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

A serious upgrade for your Xbox Series X/S gaming experience

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
(Image credit: Microsoft)

There's been a lot of interest in the best Xbox controllers since Microsoft unveiled the latest generation Xbox consoles, and the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 from Microsoft itself is one of the top picks if you're looking to buy a substantial input device upgrade.

If you own an Xbox Series X, an Xbox Series S or indeed a Windows PC that you game on, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 has to be on your radar as a way of enhancing your experience. It's packed with features, and it absolutely looks the part as well.

Here we're going to explain everything you need to know about the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 before you buy it (or buy something else instead) – and we'd also encourage you to check out our best gaming laptops and best gaming phones guides too.

Should I buy the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

You get an Xbox controller with your actual Xbox, but you always have the option of upgrading to something a little more professional, which is where the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 comes in (it's also handy to have extra controllers for guests too). The controller works with the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S, older Xbox One consoles, and Windows computers as well.

This is a wireless model, which means you're not encumbered by wires (though you can still plug it in via the supplied USB cable if you prefer). It's also on the more expensive side – but we'd say it's worth the investment if you're going to make use of its many features, which we'll take you through below.

There's no doubt that buying a premium Xbox controller can have a significant impact on your gaming experience, so in that regard: yes, you should buy the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. Just make sure that you spend enough time gaming to make it worthwhile, and check out some of the excellent alternative controllers that are around before you part with your money for this one.

What are the specs of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox controllers don't have specs in the same way that smartphones or laptops do, but everything here is in order and where you would expect it to be – no surprise considering this comes from Xbox maker Microsoft. The dimensions of the product are  177 mm x 175 mm x 73 mm, and it tips the scales at 345 grams.

All the standard Xbox controller buttons are included, plus an extra four paddles on the back of the device to give you even more options when gaming (and they can all be extensively customised too). As we've said, the controller runs on a rechargeable battery, and Microsoft reckons you can get around 40 hours of game time from the input device before the battery needs charging up again.

There are 24 buttons in total, 20 of which are programmable, and in the box you get the controller, a carry case, a set of six thumbsticks, a set of four paddles, a set of two D-pads, a thumbstick adjustment tool, a charging dock, and a USB-C cable that's a little over 2.7 metres in length. Wireless operation requires either Bluetooth connectivity or the standard Xbox wireless dongle.

What are the best features of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

As you can tell from the box contents list, this is a controller that's very customisable. You can swap out the thumbsticks, paddles and D-pad tops to get something that feels just right for you, and adjust the tension that you get from some of these buttons too. In short, you can make sure your controller is perfectly tailored to your gaming style.

Button mapping is included, so you can reassign different buttons for different tasks if you need to, and there's also support for gaming profiles. One default profile and up to three gaming profiles can be set on the device itself, which means you can take a custom approach to particular games (or keep your customisations separate to those set by someone you're sharing the controller with).

The customisation options continue when it comes to the configuration utility that Microsoft provides – you're able to set specific buttons to match up with voice commands like "take a screenshot" for example. Despite the wealth of options on offer, the software is simple and straightforward to use, so you can get gaming as quickly as possible.

What else do I need to know about the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is biased, but it calls this "the world's most advanced controller" and we don't have too many arguments about that. It performs really well and it looks fantastic too (there have been special editions of this controller released in the past, so keep your eye out for more arriving further down the line too).

The standard edition of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is only available in black, but there are some really nice aesthetic choices that we like here. They include the wraparound rubberised grip that really gives you a sense of control and certainty during gaming – it's one of the many subtle differences between this and the standard Xbox controller that make it worth considering an upgrade.

You also get a 3.5 mm audio jack on the controller for a more private listening experience, if you need it. The device is also compatible with the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter, plus just about every other Xbox controller accessory made by Microsoft – the Microsoft branding is perhaps one of the reasons to go for this over an alternative, considering it makes Windows and the Xbox as well.

What are the alternatives to the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2?

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Turtle Beach)

Take a look at the best Xbox controllers list that we've put together to see some of the main rivals to the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 at the moment. A lot of these controllers offer the same sort of features, but there are some subtle differences – and it's definitely worth comparing the latest prices on them as well.

Speaking of price, the Turtle Beach Recon Controller (pictured above) is one of the best-value Xbox controllers around at the moment. Turtle Beach is a brand you can trust when it comes to reliability and longevity, and the affordable controller brings with it some premium audio options for connected headphones, and customisable gaming profiles that you can swap between.

Then there's the Powera Enhanced Wired Gaming Controller. You don't get as many options and features as you do with other devices, but as well as button mapping support you have access to a host of funky, eye-catching designs – if you're keen to move away from the standard Xbox controller look, this is an alternative you should check out.

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.