What's the biggest brand in PC gaming? Some would say it might be Steam, but there would be no Windows or Xbox without Microsoft. After my review of the SCUF Prestige last year, I wanted to see what Microsoft had exactly done with the SCUF patent licenses for the popular Xbox Elite Controller, now in its Series 2 iteration. It's nearly two years long in the tooth now, released long before the new Xbox Series X or S even had their names. Sony PlayStation has come out with a new DualSense controller too, so does the Xbox Elite Series 2 merit a place amid all the competition in 2021? Thanks to Microsoft for sending a review sample to TechPowerUp as we aim to find out for ourselves!
I have been a fan of the Xbox controllers for PC gaming since the days of the Xbox 360, and I still have a wired Xbox 360 controller, too. However, the days of wired-only game controllers are long gone with the public demanding wireless gaming for the living room. When Microsoft announced the first Xbox Elite controller at a then-staggering $150 in 2015, things were shaken up and then some. There had never before been as much customization on a first-party offering, and the company upped the ante further with the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 with native Bluetooth functionality without the need for a dongle adapter, USB Type-C connectivity, and plenty of other quality of life improvements we will go over in this review that begins with a look at the product specifications in the table below.
|Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2|
|System Requirements:||For use with Xbox systems and PCs running Windows 7 or later. Windows 10: requires Bluetooth, included USB cable, or Xbox Wireless adapter (sold separately). Windows 7 or 8.1: requires included USB cable; some functionality not supported.|
|Xbox Accessories App Requirements:||Available on Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs.|
|Audio:||Includes 3.5 mm stereo headset jack. Also compatible with the Xbox One stereo headset adapter and all other Xbox controller accessories made by Microsoft.|
|Haptic Feedback:||Features impulse triggers and rumble motors. Motor control can be adjusted in the app.|
|Weight:||345 g (+/-15 g) when using with 4 paddles, faceted D-pad, and standard thumbsticks attached.|
|Connectivity:||Connect to Xbox Series X, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, or Xbox One consoles with Xbox Wireless, or using the included 9' USB-C cable. Wirelessly connect to Windows 10 PCs, tablets, Android, and iOS devices using Bluetooth, or with the included cable. Connect to Windows 7 or 8.1 PCs with the included cable; some functionality not supported.|
|Thumbstick Control:||Use the included thumbstick-adjustment tool to manually change thumbstick tension, with 3 tension setting to choose from. Adjust thumbstick sensitivity curves with the Xbox Accessories app, or swap thumbstick inputs so that the left thumbstick controls the right thumbstick input and vice versa.|
|Battery:||Internal, rechargeable battery with up to 40 hours of battery life per charge. Battery life varies with usage and other factors.|
|Assignable Buttons:||A, B, X, and Y; D-pad up, down, left, and right; left and right bumpers; left and right triggers; left and right thumbstick click; 4 paddles.|
Packaging and Accessories
Microsoft operates a web shop for its Xbox brand through which the Xbox Elite Series 2 can be purchased. This sample was sent directly from Microsoft, so we begin with a look at the shipping packaging consisting of an appropriately sized cardboard box with a good amount of paper packing material all around the actual product box. No complaints here since the product box arrived in perfect condition.
The product box has a plastic wrap, removing which we are greeted to a lot of monochrome to match the actual controller design. Under the hang tag on the front is the Xbox logo, a render of the controller from the side, and the name at the bottom to confirm this is an Elite Series 2. An interesting touch is the grip pattern as a background, and turning the box around, we see another render of the front and back of the controller alongside salient marketing features. This continues on the sides where we see a content list of what is inside, as well as two seals that need to be removed to access them.
Microsoft is using a two-piece packaging with the top lifting off to reveal a carry case inside a molded layer snugly holding it. There is a hole in the top layer to remove it and access the bottom layer, which has two other cardboard boxes. The larger of the two houses paperwork, including a code to try out Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is amazing value even on the PC, by the way. A regulatory guide has also been included, but more useful is the quick start guide in multiple languages that goes over the setup, pairing, charging, and customization options.
The second box has the expected USB Type-A to Type-C cable. It comes braided in black and white and is a nice 9' (2.74 m) long for the controller to be used wired from the couch as well if need be. Should you forget who made the cable, there are Xbox logos on the plastic housing on either end.
Going back up to the primary layer, we now get a better look at the case that is quite nice and rounded for comfort and carrying. There is no actual handle, however, which makes it more of a "dump inside a bag" than a "carry by itself" case. The sturdy, textured finish and Xbox logo in the middle greet us on the outside, with good quality stitching and a zipper in use as well. Opening the box, we see a pouch for some accessories in the lining underneath the top cover, and the main compartment then shows off the controller right away. Take it out and you see the other accessories that come with the controller, which are all placed in a well-organized manner within a plastic mold, allowing you to have all these add-ons inside the case with the controller for when you need them.
The first of these accessories is a charging dock sculpted to fit the underside of the controller, as we will see on the next page. A rubber base with certification information provides grip against the resting surface and prevents scratches to the plastic exterior. There is a USB Type-C port, which you can use with the provided cable to have power pass-through to the controller via the 3-pin connector jutting outward.
The other accessories are more for customizing the user experience of the controller and consist of a replacement D-pad, four replacement thumbsticks, and a thumbstick adjustment tool. The D-pad is more of a classic design, and two of the replacement thumbsticks are also from the Xbox 360 era in terms of grip and design. The other two thumbsticks include a taller one and one of the same height as the others, but with a wider dome. We will take a closer look at these in action over the course of the review, and will compare them with the pre-installed default options.
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