Review of the Xbox Elite 2 controller: the best Xbox controller from Microsoft is now even better

When Microsoft announced the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 earlier this year, I was intrigued, but somewhat wary. I have been using an Elite controller for the past four years and it is simply the best Xbox controller I have ever used. But after replacing it once because the handles went off, it happened again, and since then I play with a broken controller. Combine that with similar stories I've heard of failed bumpers or the textured handles that slip out of place, and it's clear that Microsoft had some quality control issues with the original premium $ 150 controller.


I have tested the new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 (we are going to call it the Xbox Elite 2 controller) in the last two weeks, trying everything to test both functions and build quality. Microsoft has refined every aspect of this controller and added some great new additions such as adjustable voltage thumbsticks, even shorter hair-trigger slots, USB-C and Bluetooth connectivity. With a new, lighter design with enveloping rubber handles that reach your thumbs, the Elite 2 is even more comfortable to play for hours than the original.

The Xbox Elite 2 controller is simply the best Xbox controller that you can spend your money on. It is also one of the most expensive at $ 179.99, almost the same price as an Xbox One S bundle. Microsoft is now much bigger than competitors like Scuf with its design and customization, and if you are willing to spend $ 179.99, you will definitely get what you pay for. I cannot say if it will last longer than the 90-day warranty.

The design changes from Microsoft to the Xbox Elite 2 controller initially look mostly cosmetic, but they go much deeper and really change the way you can use this controller. The first obvious change from the original are the newly wrapped texture handles. As I wrote earlier, these handles were controversial on the original Elite controller. I have really tried to torture them in the last two weeks, and I think it is reasonable to say that the handles are better designed than the original. They now go all the way to your thumbs and extend around every part of where your palms rest against the Elite 2. It makes the controller much less slippery to hold, and it feels almost cooler for longer periods of gaming.

In addition to these new grips, Microsoft has made many smaller changes that are not immediately clear. The Xbox button that you use to navigate the Xbox One dashboard or control the Elite 2 controller is now a lot more robust and clicker. There are also three LEDs that light up to let you know which profile you have selected. As with the original, there is no immediate button assignment on the device, but you can create three profiles to switch directly.


With the Xbox Accessories app you can fully adjust all buttons on the Elite 2 controller. There are four extra paddles at the rear, which are probably a bit over the top for most people. I have always found it more pleasant to use one or two of these paddles and to remove those that I do not use. That choice and flexibility reflect the level of adjustment that you get with the Elite 2 controller.

I have assigned the jump button to one of the paddles, so that I can maneuver in shooters without taking my thumbs off the thumbsticks. It definitely gives me a small advantage of mobility in fast first-person shooters over rivals who use a regular controller. You can also include options such as & # 39; & # 39; to create a clip of your gameplay.

New to the Xbox Elite 2 is the option to use switch options for buttons. This means that you can hold down a paddle or button and activate a reassigned command for one of the other buttons on the controller. It seems that this macro-like functionality is especially useful for strategy games where you have to enter many movements in quick succession to build in Fortnite, or even to improve sensitivity for when you point down for crunchy headshots.

With the Xbox Accessories app you can really adjust so much here that it is almost an overwhelming level of choice. I love the flexibility and I am sure we will see lots of fun and interesting options for a variety of games here.

Microsoft has also adjusted the triggers on the Elite 2 so that they have a texture patch, and there is an option for even shorter hair-trigger slots. You can adjust these hair trigger locks on three levels, and both triggers can be adjusted independently of each other to these different lengths. I wish these could be linked to the profile switch because, in a game like that Destination 2, I discovered that I wanted shorter activation lengths for certain guns and I regularly change equipment and weapons during the PvP games.

The other important change in the way input works on the Elite 2 controller are the adjustable-voltage thumbsticks. I love what Microsoft did here. Inside the box is a small metal controller that looks like a SIM remover, and you can use it as a screwdriver to adjust the tension of the thumbsticks. You simply remove the cap from the thumbstick and slide the tool into position to choose between three voltage levels. The default setting is the loose style that is present on every Xbox One controller nowadays, but you can get a really tight tension on the third level. I'm still experimenting with every game, but I'm getting used to playing with the intermediate tension, so it's a bit tighter than normal.

Just like the original Elite, Microsoft also provides a set of six replaceable thumbsticks, with two standard, two classic (Xbox 360 style) and some long and wide dome options. There is also a faceted D-pad or the standard that you would find on all Xbox One controllers.


Microsoft has also added USB-C and Bluetooth support to the Elite 2 controller. This makes it much easier to travel with this controller and use it on a laptop, or even on an iOS or Android device for mobile games and Microsoft & # 39; s Project xCloud preview. The only drawback is that if you pair this with another device, it will delete everything you were previously paired with. So you cannot use it on a Windows 10 PC and then simply switch to your Xbox One without having to manually re-pair each time. It is a nuisance inconvenience, especially since Microsoft has already solved this problem with its Surface Headphones, which seamlessly switch between devices.

Charging via USB, however, is a great addition, and Microsoft has even included a smart charging dock in the carrying case for the Elite 2 controller. You can easily place the charger on this magnetic dock and connect a USB-C cable to the back of the carrying case for charging on the go. I removed the dock from the cover and placed it on a table, but the cover integration is great for when you are traveling. The only drawback of this charging station is that Microsoft has switched to a built-in battery for the Elite 2. Microsoft promises 40 hours of gaming with a single charge and I would say that for the past two years I have usually come close to that number. A small LED above the profile switch button lights up orange when it is time to charge.

Of course it is impossible to know how this battery will last over time. I have previously used solutions for rechargeable batteries on the Xbox One and they are all worn out within a few months. With the Elite 2, I was used to just docking it after most sessions, but if the battery of my old Elite controller ever ran out, I would simply change the battery. That is no longer an option and I have to stop playing or connect a USB-C cable to continue. I really hope that the battery life will remain good in the coming months.

The only thing really missing on the Elite 2 controller is now reassigning buttons on the device, which some professionals have wanted. Other than that, it feels like Microsoft has addressed most complaints about the original Elite controller and has introduced some great new options, such as adjustable voltage on the thumbsticks. I really hope that the Elite 2 will remain solid in the coming months. We will certainly keep an eye on the battery life, bumpers and textured grip in the coming weeks and months, but as it looks now, the best Xbox controller has become even better. If you are willing to spend $ 179.99 on an Xbox controller, then this is worth the upgrade.

Vox Media has affiliated partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. See for more information our ethical policy.