Xbox One Elite controller evaluation: A greater gamepad at a steep worth

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

Is a gamepad value $one hundred fifty? That is the query Microsoft is asking with the Xbox One Elite controller, a revamp of its virtually two-yr-previous paddle that shipped with the Xbox One. The corporate is not concentrating on this as a tool for the mainstream, although. Slightly, the Elite is as an alternative for extremely aggressive players — the sort that’d mod their controllers with third-get together equipment for larger precision. The customization it presents comes at a steep worth, costing over twice as a lot as the usual $60 controller.


Xbox One Elite wi-fi controller

$369.ninety five Purchase Now


  • Feels nice in-hand; very grippy end all through
  • A great deal of customization choices
  • Mature, understated design
  • Improves on the usual Xbox One gamepad in each method
  • Bumper buttons are lastly, truly usable


  • Costly
  • Levers and faceted d-pad do not feel safe
  • Feels heavy at first
  • Clamshell case does not maintain all the things in place
  • Customization choices could possibly be overwhelming for some


The Elite controller is the perfect Xbox gamepad Microsoft has ever made, nevertheless it does not come low cost. At $one hundred fifty, your greatest guess is ready for a worth drop or a bundle deal until you are lifeless-set on getting a leg up towards people on-line. 

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

Why do you have to care? As a result of the vanilla Xbox One controller looks like an affordable knock-off of the vaunted Xbox 360 pad that got here earlier than it. Microsoft stated it spent over $one hundred million designing it, contemplating odor-o-imaginative and prescient and even a constructed-in projector for the gamepad, solely to wind up with a principally inferior clone. It has too many sharp edges, feels extremely hole and appears, properly, low cost. Truthfully, one of many largest causes I do not play my Xbox One a lot as my PlayStation four is as a result of I want the latter’s DualShock four controller. Hold all that in thoughts when you think about the next assertion: I have been utilizing the Elite controller for nearly every week and I have never needed to place it down; that is the Xbox One gamepad we should always’ve had from the outset.


Out of the field, the Elite appears like a superficial improve. Apart from the three.5mm headphone jack up entrance and the brand new slider management beneath and equidistant from the Menu and Choices buttons, you would be forgiven for complicated the Elite pad with the usual one. It is once you begin futzing round with the totally different thumbstick choices or snapping metallic levers into the underside that the gamepad begins wanting distinctive.

The Elite comes with a clamshell case that has a molded area for the controller, a cargo pouch for spare earbuds, batteries and the pack-in, braided micro-USB cable (a requirement for many tournaments) that may tether the pad to a console. There’s additionally a molded rubber holder that retains the 4 management levers, two units of thumbsticks and spare directional pad in place. The thought behind the latter is that it will hold your additional elements safe throughout journey so they do not fall out after unzipping the case. In apply, every thing stayed in place for me apart from the faceted directional pad — its part is just too unfastened to maintain that from bouncing round. On the flip aspect, the cross-type choice match extremely snugly.

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

The very first thing I observed once I picked up the controller to pair it with my console was how heavy it was in comparison with the usual gamepad. Microsoft says that with all 4 levers hooked up, a pair of included Duracell AAs and normal thumbsticks, the Elite weighs 348 grams, give or take 15. That is 12.three ounces in comparison with its predecessor’s 9.9 ounces. Truthfully, although, the one time I observed was once I picked it up since most of the time, once I’m gaming, my palms relaxation in my lap.

That heft probably comes from the Elite’s revamped innards. The thumbsticks really feel extremely springy and exact, because of their metallic development. I’ve by no means been a fan of the sticks on the Xbox One pad. They’ve all the time felt tough and simply weren’t snug to me. With the Elite, I had the choice of selecting amongst three totally different units (commonplace, tall and a pair of convex heads) and altering them on the fly, however more often than not I used to be completely proud of the usual set. All are extremely snug, although, and have the identical premium really feel as the remainder of the controller.

Customization station

Relying on the sport, I opted for various configurations. For Halo 5: Guardians, I caught an ordinary stick on the left and one of many twice-as-tall choices on the suitable. With Forza Motorsport 6, I reversed that. Why? With shooters, the additional peak gave me extra leverage and ensured I would not hit a face button accidentally whereas aiming my assault rifle at my quarry. In a racing recreation, the added peak made steering rather a lot simpler.

Not solely have the thumbsticks gotten an overhaul, but in addition the pots they sit in did too. Microsoft added a low-friction ring to the place the stick makes contact with the faceplate and the result’s fairly dramatic. Motion simply feels smoother as a result of the metallic shafts glide effortlessly round if you’re pushing them towards the sides. It makes utilizing the controller a bit quieter, too.

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

The sync button’s now sharing a lime inexperienced hue with the d-pad socket, hair-set off locks and call factors for the management levers. What are these? Metallic items between an inch and an inch and a half lengthy that act as secondary inputs for any button on the controller. There are 4 complete (two angled, two straight) and you may organize them in quite a lot of alternative ways, some right and others much less so. It is potential, for instance, to rearrange them in a method the place they will overlap. Like the remainder of the customized choices, these maintain in place magnetically and in case you’d fairly not use them, that is completely as much as you.

One among my largest complaints about the usual controller is how stiff the correct and left shoulder buttons are. They’ve an extremely slender candy spot to register a melancholy and utilizing them has all the time felt actually hit and miss to me, with the innermost edge being rattling close to unattainable to press in. With the Elite, that gripe’s been eradicated. Right here, they’re slightly simpler to press at their outermost edges, however even on the reverse finish (the place the actuators reside) it takes dramatically much less effort and is extra even all the best way throughout. Each the shoulder buttons and the triggers under function a matte silver end versus the usual’s slippery black gloss, and the latter’s throw is about three/sixteen of an inch shorter. And moderately than the usual triggers’ squishy really feel, these make a agency click on whenever you backside out.

The battery tray is in the identical place as earlier than, however now it has markers indicating what place the hair-set off locks are in. Instantly on both aspect are the recessed metallic knobs that take the analog triggers and dramatically scale back the space you might want to pull earlier than your on-display gun fires.

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

I could not discover a use for the faceted d-pad throughout my assessment, however supposedly it is higher for pulling combos in preventing video games. As a button masher (relaxation assured I am not quitting my day job for eSports) it felt just like the magnet was barely capable of maintain the concave piece of metallic in place. Positive, it seems cool, however as soon as I put in the metallic cross d-pad, I by no means took it out. The A, B, X and Y buttons modified from inexperienced, pink, blue and yellow, respectively, to all black. And the aforementioned normal headphone jack rests off to the aspect of the place the beforehand required headset adapter did on the usual controller, whereas a legacy connection for function-constructed headsets just like the Astro A40 Xbox One Version sits subsequent to it. It is a sensible transfer as a result of it does not alienate anybody who purchased a selected headset beforehand.

To me, the usual controller has all the time felt like a prototype slightly than a ultimate product — with its tough edges and different questionable design decisions. That is not the case right here. The Elite contains a smooth rubber end on a majority of its floor, with a extra aggressive diamond-sample grip the place your palms relaxation beneath. The DualShock four has a textured underside too, however it could actually’t maintain a candle to this. For instance, sliding the Elite throughout the glass desk in my house workplace proved fairly troublesome. I’d as nicely have been dragging a pencil eraser throughout it. Even after a 4-hour Halo 5 session, the controller did not really feel prefer it’d slip out of my moist palms.

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

The app

The customization choices do not cease with the hardware — there’s an app that provides you the prospect to utterly rebind each button’s perform (except for Menu and Choices) to a unique one. Need the digital shoulder buttons to carry out the set off duties? I can not advocate that, however go proper forward. How about adjusting the A, B, X and Y buttons in order that they mimic Nintendo’s non-commonplace format? Have at it. Successfully, this provides you full management of how your gamepad works, with out being topic to the tyranny of pre-outlined management schemes on a recreation-by-recreation foundation.

Past that there is a raft of different customized settings. The brand new slider button permits for swapping between two onboard management schemes, however you possibly can create and save as many as you need to your system profile and entry them from anyplace with an web connection. There are unbiased changes for thumbstick sensitivity (sluggish begin, quick begin, on the spot, default) that govern how a lot distance the sticks have to journey earlier than in-recreation motion registers. An choice for adjusting set off sensitivity and lifeless-zone is right here too. Additionally, for those who’ve ever needed to show down the haptic suggestions, or flip it off utterly, there’s an choice for that as properly. Actually, all that is lacking is the power to show the information button’s mild off utterly and the choice to completely invert the correct stick’s Y-axis. The latter’s particularly puzzling contemplating you possibly can swap left and proper thumbstick assignments (so motion maps to the suitable stick and aiming goes to the left) inside the app.

In use

As an example you are like me and are extremely overwhelmed by the complexity of remapping each button on the controller. That is the place recreation developer-made presets come into play. There are solely a handful obtainable proper now they usually’re all for first-social gathering video games like Halo, Forza 6 and Gears of Struggle, however Microsoft guarantees extra are en route for Star Wars: Battlefront III and Name of Obligation: Black Ops III. The Halo 5 preset tailor-made to marketing campaign mode, for example, liberates squad instructions and waypoint location from their cumbersome place on the d-pad to the management levers. Reaching right down to the d-pad to inform Workforce Osiris to assault an enemy is awkward, however assigning that process to the levers makes good sense as a result of it is all the time inside attain.

Extra dramatic is the distinction the levers make in Forza 6, the place they function paddle shifters and a clutch for guide transmissions. They’re actually helpful; I’ve by no means been snug utilizing a stick shift with a gamepad, however since I haven’t got the area in my house, a racing wheel is not possible. That is not the case anymore. However, having all 4 levers in place (guide requires two; guide with clutch doubles that) clutters issues up a bit. Anytime I put all 4 on whatever the recreation, I ran the danger of by accident urgent a couple of concurrently. What’s extra, of every thing on the controller, the levers really feel almost certainly to fall off whereas enjoying as a result of the magnets do not appear as robust as elsewhere on the gamepad.

Xbox One Elite controller review: A better gamepad at a steep price

The earlier controller’s battery life is unimaginable, and after roughly 15 hours throughout my evaluation, the recent set of ordinary AAs had solely worn right down to seventy five % capability. I’ve little question that the Elite will match or greatest its forebearer’s battery lifespan, particularly contemplating the choices for adjusting haptic motor depth.


Once more, is all of this value $one hundred fifty? That reply is dependent upon how a lot and what you play on Xbox One — no matter your professional-gaming aspirations. Even disregarding the hardware customization choices, there are appreciable enhancements. Have been the Elite a $30 premium over the usual controller as an alternative of $ninety, my suggestion can be so much simpler. As an alternative I am hesitant: One of many controllers will set you again virtually half of what the console you’d use it with prices. Positive, the Elite does not really feel like an affordable toy, however everybody else may need to maintain out for a worth drop contemplating that the customization app is coming for the usual controller too, and the rubber handgrips I am so keen on exist on one other official gamepad. In case you’ve been ready to purchase an Xbox One, go for the upcoming Elite bundle that packs the controller and a console sporting a 1TB hybrid drive for $499 as a result of for now the controller’s worth is just too arduous to justify by itself.


Xbox One Elite wi-fi controller

$369.ninety five Purchase Now