Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Review: Is It The Best Gaming Controller?

elite wireless controller series 2

Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Review: Is It The Best Gaming Controller?

The Xbox Series X and S have been on the market for over 10 months, and if you've been fortunate enough to get your hands on one, you might be ready to discard the batteries and upgrade your controller game. Before turning to a third party, Microsoft offers the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, the most recent version of one of the most well-known premium controllers from the Xbox One generation. Its price has recently dropped to $157.99, so we decided to give it a review to see whether it may help you improve your game.

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System Requirements

Xbox consoles and PCs running Windows 7 or later are supported. Bluetooth, supplied USB cable, or Xbox Wireless adapter are required for Windows 10. (sold separately). Some functionality is not supported on Windows 7 or 8.1 without the accompanying USB cable. Xbox One PC Controller drivers are available at

Xbox Accessories App Requirements

Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs are both supported.


A 3.5mm stereo headset jack is included. It also works with the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter and all other Microsoft Xbox controller accessories.

Haptic Feedback

Rumble motors and impulse triggers are included. The app's motor control can be modified.


When employing 4 paddles, a faceted D-pad, and conventional thumbsticks, the weight is 345g (+/-15g).


Xbox wireless or the provided 9' USB-C cable can be used to connect to Xbox Series X, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, or Xbox One consoles. Bluetooth or the included 9' USB-C cable can be used to connect to Windows 10 PCs, tablets, Android, and iOS devices wirelessly. With the provided 9' USB cable, connect to Windows 7 or 8.1 PCs; some functionality is not supported.

Thumbstick Control

Manually modifies thumbstick tension with the provided thumbstick adjustment tool, which has three tension settings to choose from. With the Xbox Accessories software, you can adjust thumbstick sensitivity curves or swap thumbstick inputs so that the left thumbstick controls the right thumbstick and vice versa.


Internal rechargeable battery with a battery life of up to 40 hours per charge. Battery life varies depending on how often you use it and other things.

Assignable Buttons

A, B, X, and Y; up, down, left, and right D-pads; left and right bumpers; left and right triggers; left and right thumbstick click; four paddles

Accessories App

The Xbox Accessories offer access to a staggering array of customization options, all of which may be kept as part of a profile, whether you use them on Windows 10 or Xbox One. You may not only remap the paddles, but you can also shift the face buttons around, adjust the triggers, and even disable buttons you don't want to press accidentally.

Additionally, you can separately change the vibration functions for each trigger, the left and right grips, and even configure custom or preset sensitivity curves for the analog sticks and triggers. Only the Astro Gaming C40 TR offers a similar range of remapping and sensitivity settings over two profiles, both of which are selectable through a mechanical switch.

You can also manually adjust the tension of each analog stick if that isn't enough. A little plus-shaped recess is seen when the cap on a stick is removed. You can twist the stick left to make it seem looser and right to make it feel tighter using a tool that fits into the recess. The Xbox Accessories program allows you to separately modify the input sensitivity while it modifies the stick's tactile feel.

Although the Elite Controller Series 2 lacks the interchangeable analog and digital direction modules that enable you to switch the layout between Xbox and PlayStation (parallel analog stick arrangements) models, the C40 does allow you to manually alter stick tension.

The gamepad, together with all of its attachments, fits in the accompanying, beautifully constructed hard-shell zip-up case. All four paddles, the adjustment tool, either direction pad that isn't in use, and four of the six analog stick caps are cut out of a foam block. The nine-foot charging wire that comes with the case has storage as well.

Microsoft states that the internal, rechargeable battery in the Series 2 may last up to 40 hours between charges. The controller may be charged directly through the top USB-C connector, but since a charging cradle is housed inside the casing, you won't likely use that as your preferred method. The charger, which has a USB-C port facing a small hole at the bottom of the casing covered by a rubber door, sits on top of the controller.

This allows you to charge the gamepad while it is safely stored in its case. The cradle may also be removed from the case (it is held in place by a magnetic base and a metal plate at the bottom of the case) and placed on a desk to charge the controller without having to plug it in.

Overview and Key Features of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

It's hard to believe that the original Xbox Elite Controller was released in 2015, but it's been one of the most popular upgrade alternatives for Xbox and PC players ever since. The controller was updated in 2019 with the Series 2, which we're talking about today, and it's currently at one of its lowest prices ever at $157.99. If you've been debating whether or not to buy it, now is a great moment to do so.

When it comes to Microsoft's Xbox Elite controllers, versatility is the big thing, and that hasn't changed with this second series. With the Xbox Accessories app, you can reconfigure any button, enable trigger locks for quicker firing, replace joysticks and D-pads, and even modify stick tension until it's exactly right for your playstyle.

There are also four configurable (and detachable) paddings on the rear that can be rebounded to a face button or Xbox shortcut, so you don't have to use your thumbs to move or drop-shot. The Series 2 is up there with the best alternative controllers when it comes to personalization.

The Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 isn't just a small update, though. Microsoft has improved the controller's capabilities and functionality, making it more adaptable than ever. For instance, the trigger stops are shorter than on the initial Elite Controller, and USB Type-C is now supported. You'll be able to attach your Elite Controller and have complete control over your controls if you're playing on a tablet with xCloud.

Similarly, the textured grips now extend around the controller, solving the peeling issue that some users had with the earlier iteration while also providing a more secure grasp. There's also a profile indication LED on the Dashboard, so you'll understand which profile you're using.

The Elite is a significant upgrade over the included Xbox Series X/S controller in every manner. It's all in the subtleties, such as how each button feels more haptic and rattles less when pressed. For example, the default concave joysticks have a more apparent edge, while the trigger buttons have a smidgeon more scoop to cradle your thumb. The D-pad is likewise a step forward and feels more precise.

Other changes aren't quite as subtle. The controller is in control. Because it has a built-in battery, the days of changing batteries in the middle of a match are officially over. Long gaming sessions are made more pleasant with the new wraparound textured grips, which also help it feel more stable in hand. In this aspect, the original Series X/S controller was also quite fantastic, but having a textured finish on everything your hand touches just feels better.

Microsoft did an amazing job of making this controller seem like a premium bundle as a whole. The controller has a little increase in heft, making it feel more robust immediately. It also comes with a charging dock in the form of a hardback cover. A USB wire may be fed through a cutout in the back and plugged into the charging cradle, ensuring that your controller is safe and fully charged throughout the charging process (though you can let that slide owing to its 40-hour battery life).

Users also appreciate Microsoft's design choices. This is a controller with a low profile. It's black, just like the default Xbox controller, but the colored face buttons have been replaced with dark gray legends. Metallic gray is also used on the bumpers, triggers, paddle, and D-pad, which looks fantastic.

Performance of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

After nine months of using the conventional Xbox Series X controller, we've spent the last week using the Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 as our daily driver. To be honest, we were expecting to be less impressed with the Elite 2 than we were with the standard controller. It's a costly improvement, but now that we've experienced the good life, it's difficult to go back.

For starters, they can't say enough about how much they enjoy the charging system. It's been a joy to play with the controller. It's comfortable to hold, and the customization choices let you fine-tune the feel and level of control you want.

Four different joysticks (one of which is exceptionally tall), a separate D-pad (with a typical cross instead of the circular grid), and a tensioning tool are included in the package. In Call of Duty, users discovered that utilizing the tall stick for pointing with medium tension makes aiming easier.

With hair triggers and the ability to map jumping and prone to rear paddles, we can certainly state that this controller improved our game. The adjustments were very simple to implement. You may see a diagram of the controller using the Xbox Accessories app. Simply choose the button you wish to remap from a pop-up menu and select the alternative button or application shortcut you desire. Similarly, replacing sticks, paddles, or the D-pad is as simple as removing them and putting the new component into position.

The advantages aren't only for shooters, either. The back paddles, for example, were game-changing in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Forza Horizon, as well. The back paddle, which could prod the horse and block and punch with two others, felt more natural than the face buttons. In Forza, the same can be stated of the e-brake. A paddle system like this should be standard on all controllers.

Another significant upgrade over the regular controller was the headset audio, which was significantly improved. The Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 performed as expected and provided dependably reliable audio.

Design of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

With a few design improvements, the new controller looks very similar to the previous Xbox Elite controller. The majority of the body forgoes the original's dazzling metal highlights in favor of a darker metal. The original's green highlights are also gone. For the Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, it's all about monochrome.

There are a few fresh additions to it. Most notably, it includes Bluetooth compatibility, allowing the controller to communicate wirelessly with additional computers and mobile devices. However, when connected through Bluetooth, the 3.5mm headphone jack will not handle audio. It also features a USB Type-C port and profile indicator LEDs.

The controller comes with a carrying case and a wireless charging pad that snaps into the case and magnetically attaches to the controller. The charging pad may be used both outside and inside the case, as there is a little port on the rear of the case that allows a USB to be plugged in.

The 2 has a similar shape to its predecessor (and the normal Xbox One controller), but it has different grips. The controller's palm grips now have a diamond-textured rubber substance all the way around, an update from the prior material that only showed on the bottom of the palm grips. A soft-touch coating covers the main body.

The Elite version, like its predecessor, introduces a few additional buttons in the shape of four paddles to the controller's undercarriage. While playing games, everything but the little fingers has something to do. A profile switch button is also included.

Because of its personalization options, the Elite controller stands out. You can remap all of the buttons, so if you don't enjoy jumping with A, you can use a bumper instead. The back paddles, D-Pad, and thumbsticks are all magnetically attached to the controller and can be removed with a simple pull. They're nearly too easy to remove.

 They all come off so that various ones can be substituted. This also means that individual elements of the controller can be replaced if they break, so a broken thumbstick doesn't demand a new controller.

Though the paddles cannot be replaced, the thumbsticks and D-Pad can be rearranged. There are two more "traditional" thumbsticks without the textured rubber and groove to exfoliate and collect thumb skin, in addition to the two regular, textured thumbsticks that collect dead skin faster than nearly any other tech accessory we've used.

There's also a thumbstick with a dome on top and a thumbstick that's exceptionally tall. When you remove the thumbsticks, you'll find a screw that allows you to change the tension of the sticks to three different degrees.

There are two D-Pad options to choose from. One is a spherical, faceted version, similar to the normal Xbox controller, and the other is a simple, four-direction version. Both are made of metal. One area where production quality appears to be lacking is the D-Pad. "After pressing up on the D-pad, there is a very plastic/cellophane sound that seems like an adhesive or the membrane underneath the D-pad is off a little," one user observed.

A slider on the primary triggers can reduce their travel, allowing for long, mid, and short-range travel for different game styles and play types. The paddles on the bottom can be swapped around, although this makes one paddle difficult to use while the other paddle simultaneously presses both buttons.

Regrettably, Microsoft appears to have left the ABXY buttons unaltered from the normal controller.

Software of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 has a lot of customization options thanks to the Xbox Accessories software, which is available on both Xbox One and PC. Button remapping, thumbstick deadzone changes, vibration control, and more are all possible with it. With the opportunity to adjust response curves and choose "calculation," which we can't make heads or tails of, the thumbsticks receive a lot more subtle control.

There's also the possibility to set up a Shift, which can provide additional capabilities to buttons and controls when another Shift button is held down. However, the Shift functions are still restricted to the conventional controls; thus, no macros are possible.

However, the software upgrades to the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 are the most significant. You may completely remap the controller using the Xbox Accessories app, just as you could with the original Xbox Elite. The number of inputs you may assign to each button, on the other hand, has grown significantly.

You can assign inputs to specific system-level actions like taking a snapshot, showing your achievements, or starting a certain app in addition to the buttons on the controller. You could assign it to a button if it were a Kinect voice command.

It's a tremendous help for players who wish to utilize the paddles and face buttons together rather than just as a finger-friendly substitute. You can also designate a "shift" button, which allows you to access the second set of alternate inputs.

A new button on the front of the controller, which replaces the profile switch on the first Elite 2, allows you to configure and rotate among three input profiles at any time. Don't worry; an LED indicator will show you whatever setting you're using. On your Xbox and Windows, you can also save additional profiles in the Xbox Accessories app.

The three profiles on your controller are saved in onboard memory and can be used when switching between devices. There's no reason not to try new things for every game when you can save and store profiles from your rotation in the Accessories app. All of your profiles, onboard and off, are synced in the cloud, so you can access them on any Xbox or Windows PC as long as you check in with your Xbox account.

The biggest improvement, in our opinion, is how the Elite Series 2 feels in hand. The Elite Series 2 is only three grams lighter than the Elite Series 1, at 345 grams vs. 348 grams, but it is much more balanced; thus, its weight is a strength rather than a problem. 

Gaming with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

When compared to the basic controller, Microsoft hopes that the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 significantly improves your gaming experience. Anyone who paid $179 for the controller would certainly hope so. In some ways, it certainly can.

The ability to shorten trigger travel is the most obvious advantage we discovered. Scoping in and firing at an adversary becomes considerably faster when playing The Outer Worlds, and this isn't even a fast-paced game. Hair triggers could mean the difference between shooting first and being shot in a fast-paced shooter like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It also relieves some of the strain on my fingers while trying to shoot a semi-automatic weapon quickly.

Other small customization tweaks were useful for a variety of gaming scenarios. The inside edge of the conventional left thumbstick became uncomfortable after wildly changing directions in the effort to stay alive; therefore, users loved swapping it out for the domed one while playing Dead Cells. In most instances, the faceted D-Pad seemed nicer to operate, especially when quarter turns were involved in any fighting game. In Dead Cells, it was also responsive, although we preferred the softer feel of the thumbstick.

The palm grips are nice to hold and may aid some players during frantic games, but we haven't had enough problems with a basic Xbox controller sliding out of our hands to make me feel like the extra grip is required.

For keyboard and mouse users, the thumbsticks alone have certain advantages. The ability to attach a longer thumbstick and increase the tension, in particular. Both provide a means to prevent users from slamming the thumbstick all the way to one side, as the tension can resist unskilled thumbs, while the lengthy thumbstick allows for more subtle control.

The extended thumbstick significantly improved performance over the conventional Xbox controller layout. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 has its advantages, but for the price, it doesn't offer nearly as much refinement as the conventional controller. The 40-hour battery is reliable, never dying throughout our tests, and the Bluetooth connection for gaming PCs is quick.

The casing, charging pad, and USB-C port are all excellent additions. It's simply that the controller itself isn't quite up to par yet. When paying a high price, it's realistic to expect perfection or something close to perfection. Microsoft accepts the money in this situation, but it doesn't go nearly as far in terms of offering excellence.

Final Thoughts

You've probably noticed that there aren't many downsides here. Apart from the prohibitively high entry fee, there aren't many. The Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is a well-executed accessory. It's simple, well-thought-out, and supremely high-end. It's costly at $179, but it comes with a built-in charging station and a travel bag, so it's worth much more than it appears. This is a satisfyingly fantastic addition to your Xbox or PC if you have the extra cash to spend.

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