Transparency means its addressable RGB isn’t diffused in any subtle way, and the circuit board underneath is a look that can still come across as tacky. But with some proper pro features by way of two programmable back buttons, the HyperX Gladiate Clutch RGB justifies its buzzwords. You can just get the same solid performance at a marginally cheaper price from the non-RGB variant.
- On-board profiles
- Comfortable shape
- Fast sticks, programmable buttons, and clicky, adjustable triggers
- Looks won’t appeal to everyone
- Vastly more expensive than the non-RGB version
- Button feel won’t be to everyone’s flavour
- Programmable paddlesTwo extra buttons on the back can be quickly programmed to mimic other buttons.
- Software and tool-free useEvery customization effort can be performed on-device in a few steps.
- Transparent shell and addressable RGBSix evenly-spaced LEDs can be controlled individually and shine bright through the clear shell
Tacking on RGB lighting and swapping its typical black shell out for a colourless transparent one to bring the bulbs front and center, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB can’t be the budget pick for the gamer in need of another pad. So how can it justify the price jump over its sleeker, non-illuminated predecessor?
Coming in at just shy of £20 more than its impressive non-RBG offering, the wired-only HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB controller for Xbox One, Series X/S, and PC runs close to the price of a wireless first-party controller. You might think that it’s a bargain comparison with fancy lighting to boot, but you’d be forgetting that it’s wired only. You’ll save on disposable batteries and never risk a power-based disconnect, but the possible inconveniences are worth bearing in mind.
It’s never going to be for everyone. The gaudy, naked look is always firmly at the bottom of my priority list. But these types of designs continue to exist because there’s a market for them. And for that, the brand name carries it forward. It’s not the cheapest glowy transparent pad you’re likely to find on store shelves, but there’s a good chance it’s among the best you can get for the money, with the easy-to-use rear programmable buttons setting it apart from a customized first-party pad.
- Ultra smooth
- Six individually-addressable RGB LEDs
- Fully clear chassis
The HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB controller wears its “full-body” lighting badge boldly. The bright box struggles to convey how it looks in the dimly-lit dwellings it’s likely to wind up in, however, instead it turns to focus on how the six LEDs are symmetrically positioned around its face.
Despite the box image and the one below, they can’t be individually controlled to display different static colours: they can only cycle through them like a rainbow. Static images unfortunately confuse matters.
In the hand, this is one seriously smooth pad. There’s a natural grip to it, if that’s even a word, and a peculiarly morish roundness to the handles, despite having an obvious and entirely necessary ergonomic drop to facilitate a proper grasp.
Outside of the obvious differences, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB is just another transparent Xbox controller. Everything is in the right place, perfectly positioned as all Xbox layouts tend to be. On the back, however, you’ll note that you’re ring fingers naturally curl around to rest on the single back paddle button on each side of the grip.
These are small and flat, so more closely resemble the style of those found on the Steam Deck to the proper paddles of more expensive offerings like the PowerA Fusion Pro 3, Scuf Instinct Pro, or official Xbox Elite options. Like the rest of the buttons, they’re quite loud when pressed.
There’s little dampening to talk about there, and very little of that nice mechanic click you might get in more luxurious offerings aside from the hairline triggers that can be accentuated by limiting their actuation distance via their respective toggle switches on on the rear. For private and party use, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom as expected.
For the rightfully environmentally-conscious gamers out there, rest assured that, aside from some shrinkwrap along the top of the controller, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB comes in completely recyclable paper packaging.
- Intuitive button assignment
- Fast joysticks
- Adjustable clicky triggers
When plugged in, the six front-facing LEDs spring to life without any input, remaining on a static green to indicate life – which is a job dedicated to the smaller light just below the large Xbox key.
Quickly double-pressing the tiny profile button on the back of the controller causes this single bulb to breathe, with a press on either side of the d-pad then cycling the larger LEDs between three preset behaviours and the face buttons to control the colour. The remaining two directions dictate brightness. You can turn them off, but the centre light will remain active whenever the controller is plugged in and operational.
In use, both joysticks are particularly smooth. There’s no hint of the scratchiness you can get around the outer ring. If you’re used to stiffer sticks, you’ll lack of resistance will be apparent, which might stand out more in games that need very precise and gradual movements like racing sims or games with stealth elements.
For the fighting fans out there, the Dpad is a little on the mushy side, with an Up press on my review unit feeling a little shorter than the other directions. The whole thing is set into a circle, so while it’s not physically omnidirectional like the current stock Xbox controller, it does attempt to guide you into those diagonal movements: something the aforementioned PowerA Fusion 3 omits in favour of one largely uniform shell.
While the vast majority of the controller’s buttons fall on the soft and squishy side, the triggers use an unidentified method to provide a tactic click. You’ll get this whether you use the toggles to set the travel distance to its default full squeeze or short hairline-style actuation point.
It’s not excessively loud, but it’s enough to likely irritate those with a certain disdain toward the purposefully clicky mechanical switches on keyboards and mice. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll be tapping away on them to no end. Maybe mute your lobby mic if you’re listening to music between matches. The dual rumble motors aren’t anything to shout home about, but feedback feels good, balanced, and not too loud or punchy.
Conveniently, just as it does the lighting, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB lets you program its two paddle buttons without the need for software. That means you can assign them on-device and immediately carry them from your PC, to your Xbox, and to a laptop or a friend or establishment’s machine, too.
The multi-second button hold necessary to trigger it makes it difficult to pull off in the heat of the moment, but if you take your time with it, it’s smart to set a face button to either one. You’re not going to be tying any complicated input sequences here, but you can keep the need to lift your thumb off the right joystick to a minimum by giving your middle fingers the ability to reload a weapon, open the map, toggle between grenade types: that sort of thing.
- There isn’t any – and that’s (mostly) great
- Three onboard profiles
- Easily switchable presets
In a rare twist in today’s gaming landscape, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB can hit its peak without any annoying installs, sign-ups, or sharing of personal data. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world constantly demanding your details for trivial gains. Manufacturers will claim it keeps costs low, but HyperX manages to do the same whilst going against the grain.
What this means is that any setting you’re able to tweak can be done on-device, regardless of platform, and carried effortlessly to the next. The instructions poorly explain it, but the lighting profiles work for button assignments, too, letting you feasibly keep custom commands for your three most-played games accessible at the press of a few buttons.
Just be aware that a lack of software support means there’s no way to tell which of the three profiles you’re toggling through if they all mirror the same LED colour and effect. So if you set up profiles for three different games but use your favourite colour, effect, and brightness for each (or turn the lighting off completely) you might have to repeatedly cycle through each and test them before you hop into a serious session.
Should you buy it?
You want a customizable controller you can trust
The HyperX brand continues to get attention for all the right reasons, and the Clutch Gladiate RGB adds more to an already well-reviewed pad
You prefer function (and price) over form
If visible electronics and glaring, undiffused lighting aren’t your cup of tea, you can save the headache (and your wallet) with the legacy Clutch Gladiate controller.
Will the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB change your game? The lighting won’t. I see it as a huge distraction. There’s no way to have it react to things like depleting health. It’s purely for show and self-expression, and the lighting commands too high a price hike.
The same potential in-game benefits are available in the drastically cheaper alternate that, in my view, is a darn sight more pleasing to the eye. Still, if you have the cash to price up from one to the other and enjoy that kind of flair, grabbing the HyperX name means something. They’re economically conscious efforts with a solid reputation for quality.
The two-year warranty likely doesn’t apply to damage from external pressures – sore losers beware – but it’s reassuring to know there’s belief in the product’s clicky switches that, on first use, can feel like a major failure waiting to happen mid-match. Rest assured: they can take a squeeze.
Instead of the Clutch Gladiate RGB, the value seems to be in going for the non-RGB option or simply opting for the straightforward Xbox controller, which is great in its own right. If you’re tied to a budget-wired pick, then the Nacon Pro Compact remains a solid option. You may have to up your budget if these picks don’t have everything you’re after, which you can find in our best game controllers and best PC game controller buying guides.
How we test
We use every game controller we test for at least a week. During that time, we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through its paces by playing a variety of different genres.
We also check the controller’s software support and battery life if applicable.
We used as our main controller for at least a week.
Played a variety of games to test all the features.
Tested out the battery life.
You might like…
No, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB is wired only.
Yes, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate RGB comes with a bendable USB-A to USB-C cable at around 2.8m length.
The LEDs can display one of seven colours but cannot be individually controlled.
Yes, dual rumble motors are present.
A 3.5mm headphone port is found on the bottom just like other Xbox controllers.