9.0
PeripheralsReview

Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Review

5 Mins read

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In a Nutshell

The second generation of Microsoft’s Elite Wireless Controller corrects all the shortcomings of its predecessor and brings a number of excellent innovations. It is probably the best gamepad that exists, but also the most expensive one.


  • Excellent build quality
  • Outstanding customization options
  • Adjustable thumb stick resistance
  • Dedicated battery cradle
  • Infinite battery life
  • Reconfigurable buttons
  • Extremely high price
  • PC users need to buy a separate adapter

Along with its “standard” wireless gamepad for the Xbox One, which is the first choice for most PC gamers, Microsoft released an “elite” version of this device. The first edition of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller saw the light of day in 2018. It was an impressive piece of hardware, which began to show its shortcomings only after a few months of use. The two most prominent problems with Xbox Elite Wireless Controller were related to its quality of build. Namely, the left and right grips were stripped and the two rear upper buttons (LB and RB) often got stuck. These issues were so prominent and widespread that that it was not a question of whether they would, but when they would manifest.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Specifications

TypeWireless gamepad
Battery Life40 hours (rechargeable)
ConnectivityBluetooth, Wi-Fi, wired (USB-C)
Weight345 g (without cable)
PlatformsXbox One, Windows 10 PC, Android, iOS
FeaturesCustom button mapping
Rubberized grip
Swappable components
Hair trigger locks
Interchangeable paddles

Since “base” version of this gamepad was plagued with so many design flaws, Microsoft decided to release an updated version for which we hope it will redeem the sins of the past. For a price of almost $180, the new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is an extremely pricy piece of gaming peripheral. However, the new gamepad seems to be worth its price, since it comes with many new features that put its predecessor to shame.

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is compatible with all variants of the Xbox One and all devices based on Windows 10, Android and iOS. It supports connection via Bluetooth and radio wireless connection, and there is also the possibility of making connection using a wire, which uses the included USB-C cable. When it comes to wireless pairing, the lowest latencies and generally the best performance are achieved when using a radio connection. For PC owners, this means that they will have to set aside an additional thirty dollars for the appropriate adapter – Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 – which raises the price of an entire package to a huge 210 dollars.

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If, however, you decide to spend all that money on this gamepad, you will be able to find solace in the fact that there is probably no more luxurious and high-quality device of its kind in the world. Microsoft has not only corrected the biggest flaws of its predecessor, but has improved it in absolutely every relevant aspect. The problematic grips are now lined with a phenomenal, rubberized, rough material, which after several months of pulling on the hands shows absolutely no signs of wear, or any use. The LB and RB key switches have been replaced with much better ones, and some small but important details have been added, such as the rough surface of the left and right triggers. At the bottom of the gamepad there are two sliders, with which you can select one of the three levels of travel of the triggers themselves. At first level, their stroke is identical to the one on a classic gamepad for Xbox One, and at the third it is extremely short, to the extent that the triggers behave almost like keys. The middle position is, as expected, halfway between these two extremes.

Below you can also find four additional, elongated buttons, that you can use quite naturally, without straining palms or fingers. These keys are magnetically fixed to their slots and are very easy to remove, so youc can change their orientation and layout. For example, if you want to use only two of the four keys, nothing prevents you from taking out the two superfluous ones and storing them in an enclosed case. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 thus allows you to use one long extra key in the lower left position and a short one in the upper right, making the gamepad completely subservient to any holding style. Other gamepad manufacturers are also experimenting with increasing the number of conventional gamepad keys, but absolutely no one has done it as well and intuitively as Microsoft has with this model.

This is just one of several ways to customize Microsoft’s best gamepad to your preferences. Analog thumb sticks can also be changed, even easier than the buttons on the bottom: you can simply pull them up and replace them with others, which will, with the help of a magnet, sit in their place. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 comes with as many as six thumb sticks: two are standard, like on a regular Xbox One gamepad, two have an extended touchpad (like on the Xbox 360), one has a rough, convex “hat,” and the last has the same shape as the standard, only it’s almost twice as tall. Each of these thumb sticks has its own ergonomics, as well as unique feeling under the thumb.

You can also adjust the sensitivity of analog thumb sticks, which is one of the new features that first Xbox Elite Wireless Controller didn’t have. To do this you’ll have to use a small key that looks like a guitar pick and is supplied with the gamepad. When you remove the thumb stick, the tray into which the key should be pushed is revealed, and then one of the three degrees of rotation is selected. As you turn it clockwise, the resistance offered by the thumb stick to movement increases, i.e. the force with which it returns to the central position. Speaking of buttons, the four main buttons (A, B, X and Y) are no different from the standard controller buttons for the Xbox One, except they are not colored, but black-gray. Between the “View” and “Menu” buttons there is a button which enables you to switch between the stored profiles. These profiles can be configured using the Xbox Accessories app.

As already mentioned, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 comes in a spacious and sturdy case, inside which are slots for all its accessories (swappable thumb sticks, bottom keys, D-Pad, cable, analog thumb stick wrench), but also a cradle for charging the built-in battery. While the first Elite Wireless Controller drew power from two AA batteries, its successor has a rechargeable battery, sufficient for more than 40 hours of wireless operation. It’s an extremely long battery life, although in practice it doesn’t matter if the battery lasts 20, 30 or 100 hours – when you’re done playing, you’ll put the gamepad onto the cradle and it will be fully charged again the next time you use it. Thanks to this approach, battery life ceases to be user’s main worry, which is a huge improvement for any kind of a wireless device. You can place the cradle on a table, and you can also leave it inside the case – Microsoft has designed the case to allow the USB-C cable to be connected to the cradle while it is in the case. If you opt for this variant, you will return the gamepad to its holster after the end of the game session. The cradle itself is very compact so the mounted gamepad looks like it is hovering above the desktop.

When speaking of this gamepad’s disadvantages, other than the extremely high price, some users might complain about the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 being rather heavy. However, we would by no means call it too heavy or tiring when used for a long time. Overall, this is a spectacularly good piece of gaming hardware, which almost no one will buy. For the same amount of money, you can get three “ordinary” wireless controllers for Xbox One, which will provide you with a lifetime supply of great gamepads – and you’ll still have left for several pizzas.

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Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

9.0
The second generation of Microsoft's Elite Wireless Controller corrects all the shortcomings of its predecessor and brings a number of excellent innovations. It is probably the best gamepad that exists, but also the most expensive one.
10.0

Build Quality

10.0

Ergonomics

10.0

Features

6.0

Price

Pros

  • +Excellent build quality
  • +Outstanding customization options
  • +Adjustable thumb stick resistance
  • +Dedicated battery cradle
  • +Infinite battery life
  • +Reconfigurable buttons

Cons

  • -Extremely high price
  • -PC users need to buy a separate adapter
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About author
Frank is the Editor in Chief at ViCadia. He is an avid PC gamer, as well as a tech enthusiast. Besides being a tireless writer, he is also ViCadia’s web developer.
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