Should you really spend £130 on an Xbox One controller?
Ever since Microsoft unveiled the customisable Xbox One Elite Controller at E3 2015, there’s been quite the buzz around it. Going on sale alongside the long-awaited Halo 5: Guardians, the professional eSports-grade pad has proved exceedingly popular and is still seeing limited stock levels at most major retailers.
But as you refresh that Amazon page for the millionth time, you might want to take some time to consider whether the Xbox One Elite is really worth the investment, even if it can now be had for less than its original £130 RRP.
To help you make up your mind, we’ve put the Elite Controller through its paces to let you know how it compares to the regular Xbox One Wireless Controller.
Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – Price
The first stumbling block for the Xbox One Elite Controller is the price. If you want to buy a regular pad, you’re looking at an investment of around £45 or £50 with the Play and Charge Kit as well.
The Elite Controller is a whopping £129.99, if you manage to grab it from a retailer that has it in stock. And that doesn’t even include the rechargeable Play and Charge Kit either. The Elite Controller still runs on a pair of AA batteries.
Due to stock issues, we’re currently seeing the Xbox One Elite Controller retail for around £175, so make sure you wait for some fresh stock before hitting that Buy Now button.
Basically, if you’re on a tight budget, the Elite Controller is definitely not for you, unless you’re willing to save up for it.
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Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – Design
The most obvious change with the Xbox One Elite Controller is its visual design. It’s still got the same genetic make-up as the original Wireless Controller, but it now features a matte black finish with metal detailing, as well as customisable paddle, analogue stick and D-pad options. The interchangeable items can be swapped out for the other options you’ll find in the box, and it’s all done via magnets.
The most striking and important change is the “rubberised diamond grip”, which means you’ll never drop your controller again. Or find your hands getting sweaty in the heat of the moment.
The analogue sticks have also been kitted out with a reinforced ring to make them more durable for a longer lifespan.
But there’s a downside to all the customisable tech and improvements, and that’s an increase in weight.
At its heaviest the Xbox One Elite Controller weighs in at 363g with all four paddles attached, while the Wireless Controller is around 260g depending on whether you’re using batteries or the Play and Charge Kit.
The Elite Controller is therefore a lot heavier than the regular controller, but with the improved grip you’ll get used to it very quickly.
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It’s worth noting that the Xbox One Elite Controller comes with a braided Micro USB cable too, which is an absolute necessity for tournaments.
Related: Xbox Scorpio vs PS4 Pro
Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – Triggers and Bumpers
Although we much prefer the force feedback triggers of the regular Xbox One pad to the PS4’s DualShock 4, the Elite Controller takes it all a step further.
The Elite Controller features what Microsoft are calling “Hair Trigger Locks”, which make sure you can respond quicker. This takes the form of two luminous green sliders on the back of the controller, which can be used to physically limit how far you need to depress the triggers.
If you download the Xbox Accessories app (for Xbox One and Windows 10) you can further customise the trigger settings to reflect your personal play style too. You can adjust dead zones for the individual triggers and even choose the vibration intensity.
It’s all about it taking less time for you to shoot in a firefight, especially for the eSports crowd where every nanosecond counts. The half-cocked triggers take a lot of getting used to, but once your fingers get adjusted to them, you’ll find that you’re a lot faster regardless of your skill level.
As for the bumpers, Microsoft has improved them too. Gone is the overly clicky-sounding triggers of the classic Xbox One controller, replaced by the metal, less noisy versions found on the Elite.
In terms of functionality, though, you’re looking at exactly the same bumpers.
Related: How to upgrade your Xbox One’s HDD storage
Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – Analogue Sticks
As we’ve mentioned before, the Elite Controller improves the durability of the regular analogue sticks with a reinforced ring. But there’s much more to the Elite’s sticks than that.
When you open the carry case for the Elite Controller, the pad is kitted out with similar analogue sticks to the regular controller – albeit reinforced with metal. They’re the standard concave version with a grip around the edge. But underneath the controller sit two additional options in the case.
First up you’ve got the tall versions of the concave sticks, but you’ve also got a set of domed analogue sticks that fall in between the other two options in terms of height.
The customisations go further than that when you get into the Xbox Accessories app, with the option to choose from various sensitivity curves ranging from Delay or Smooth to Aggressive or Instant.
Having the option to really drill down into the sensitivity of your sticks and having the choice of swapping out for alternative options is definitely a boon over the regular pad.
Related: Xbox Scorpio
Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – Buttons and Paddles
Aside from the swappable analogue sticks and D-pad, the big bonus of having the Xbox One Elite Controller is the fact that the Xbox Accessories app allows you to completely customise your button mapping. You can even add four extra buttons using the four paddles on the rear of the Elite Controller.
These will automatically be assigned to the four face buttons, so you don’t need to move your thumb as much – thus decreasing reaction times.
For us, the paddles initially became useful as an alternative to the L3 and R3 button presses, as it’s much faster to sprint away from enemies this way.
The Elite Controller can store two button configurations at any one time. All you need to do is program them from the Xbox Accessories app and assign them to slot one or two. There are some presets for top games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Halo 5: Guardians, Forza 6 or even Sunset Overdrive, but you can also take the time to make your own.
This button mapping is something you do now have on the regular Xbox One Wireless controller via the app, though. You just won’t get the paddles.
Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Controller – D-pad
With the Xbox Elite Controller you also have the option to choose the D-pad you’d like to use. Both are metal, for increased durability (and to keep your thumb cool). But one is the normal cross-shaped D-pad, while the other is faceted.
The latter is our preferred one now – although it doesn’t function as much like the touchpad on the Steam Controller as we’d like – as it allows you to roll your thumb between options without having to reposition. It’s perfect for fighting games, as it allows quicker combos, and also it just looks more visually impressive.
Related: Best Xbox One games
If you’re looking for the best controller money can buy, the Elite Controller is it – unless you like the look of the more garish SCUF Infinity 1.
Microsoft has obviously honed its Wireless Controller design by adding vital tweaks and upgrades to make the Elite Controller, well… Elite.
Start saving those pennies!
Have you upgraded to the Xbox One Elite controller and, if so, what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.