Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller review

The default XBox controller remains an excellent gamepad for PC gaming with its comfortable design, good build quality and excellent Windows compatibility.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller review

Now known simply as the Xbox Wireless Controller, the official gamepad that ships with Microsoft’s latest Xbox Series X and S consoles is essentially the same as the Xbox One controller that came before it. In many ways, it can be considered the de facto choice for a PC gaming controller thanks to Microsoft’s excellent support for it in Windows. You don’t have to leap through any of the hoops involved with hooking a Sony DualSense 5 controller up to your PC, for instance.

Software support aside, though, it’s also just a very good controller. Microsoft has been steadily honing its controller design and it’s telling that the latest update sees almost no change from the Xbox One design, and that Sony’s latest controller looks more like the Xbox controller shape than ever before. It’s just a very comfortable design to hold in your hand.

The build quality of this gamepad is surprisingly good too, considering its relatively modest price. It’s a solid unit with smooth, reliable control movements and plastics that don’t feel cheap, unlike the Logitech F310, Thrustmaster Dual Analog 4, and even the MSI Force GC20. The well-dampened triggers also make almost no noise when you press them, which is another example of this controller’s feeling of quality.

Another crucial upgrade over cheaper controllers is the inclusion of a wireless connection, with one of the only major upgrades of this latest iteration being the inclusion of a USB Type-C port for wired connection, instead of the micro-USB port that was used before. Moreover, the port can also be used for charging, as long as you buy a compatible battery pack ($30/£20 from XBox.com). Otherwise, you need to use a pair of AA batteries, which you install by removing a compartment on the back.

The wireless connection is Bluetooth-based, so the controller will also connect to other Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones. There’s a dedicated pairing button on the back for getting it connected to your chosen device.

Other smaller updates include the addition of a Share button on the front face for taking screenshots and game captures (although you can also reassign it). There’s also a new circular hybrid D-pad and a textured surface to the triggers, bumpers, and back surface.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller textured trigger closeup

The textured surface on the back is welcome, but the trigger and bumper surface changes aren’t game changers – most other gamepads make do with triggers with smooth surfaces and we didn’t find them any worse to use. The D-pad change is a welcome one, though, providing easier diagonal movement than the previous controller, and without compromising the clear up/down/left/right feel of the cross design.

Microsoft offers its latest controller in five color options of black, white, blue, red, and a fluorescent green Electric Volt option, which is reminiscent of the original Xbox green. Otherwise, you don’t get any customization options, with no removable faceplates, thumbsticks or other features. The range of colors available is a considerably better showing than the black or white-only options of the Sony DualSense, though.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller pros and cons

Pros

  • Great Windows compatibility
  • Wireless connection
  • Range of color options

Cons

  • Rechargeable battery is extra
  • Few frills

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller specs

The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller specs list is:

Weight 232g
Connections USB C and Bluetooth
Button layout Xbox style
Extras Charge-over-USB, share button, swappable D-pad
Battery AA or internal rechargeable with 40hrs battery life

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller price

The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller price is $65 (£50) making it decent value for a wireless gamepad.

Price: Expect to pay $65 (£50).

Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller review conclusion

Microsoft’s de facto standard Xbox controller remains a great option for PC gamers. Its design makes it comfortable to hold, its controls are accurate and its compatibility with Windows games is excellent. There are few frills here, such as custom color combos, replaceable parts, or motion controls, but the core experience is top tier and you get the option of a few different official color choices as well. With solid build quality and a modest price, it’s easy to recommend if your priorities are ease of use and compatibility.

Our Verdict

82

The latest official Microsoft Xbox Wireless controller remains a solid choice for PC gaming, with a comfortable design and great Windows compatibility.