I'm pretty sure that Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller has ruined all other controllers for me. The Series 2 takes everything players loved about the Series 1 and improves in the ways most wanted, which is the reason why it tops our list as the best PC controller (that isn't a mouse and keyboard).
The Elite Series 2 is not only a premium controller, but it's also an expensive one too, coming in at $180 (opens in new tab). Its design and performance give you all the indication that this is a piece of luxury gaming tech, meant for those who want the very best or just have some serious disposal income to spend on gaming. The highlight here is the incredible level of customization, which allows you to fine-tune most aspects of the controller to the point of obsession.
So, what are the big improvements over the original Elite controller? For starters, the nice storage case that houses all the neat little customs doodads; 6 thumbsticks, 2 d-pads (cross-shaped and faceted) 4 rear pedals and one tool for adjustable thumbstick tension, now has a portable USB-C powered charging station. That's right, the Series now has a rechargeable battery that runs for about 30-40 hours.
The Series 1's surprising lack of Bluetooth is something that drew major criticism, given that normal Xbox One controllers have long been the standard in PC gaming. Thanks to the Series 2 adopting Bluetooth, you now have a market-leading PC controller and something that’ll pair with a phone to play the Apple Arcade offerings or mess around Project xCloud beta. It makes the controller that much more versatile, which is essential given the high price of admission.
The returning hair-trigger locks are still among one of my favorite things about the Elite. For those who haven’t used them, they control how far you need to pull the trigger, so there’s no wasted effort or time in competitive shooters, where milliseconds matter. When playing Crucible matches in Destiny 2, the shorter triggers allow for the quicker firing of scout rifles and hand cannons which works well for twitch-based shooters. The four additional back paddles are a neat feature too and can make for some interesting controller layouts. Never want to take your thumbs off of the thumbsticks? Simply assign the face buttons to the back paddles and you're good to go. In fact, the extreme flexibility of the Series 2 has the additional benefit of making the controller highly accessible, meaning that more people can use it to play PC games.
While it’s mostly positive, there are a few small issues to consider. Some people might find the more hefty controller a bit jarring at first since it's heavier than the standard Xbox One controller by a few ounces. And while it's nice to swap out the standard d-pad, both the cross and faceted alternative d-pads take some getting used to especially in fighting games like Dragonball FighterZ or Mortal Kombat 11. Directional inputs on more complicated combos felt very hit or miss on the d-pads. One fix I found was adjusting the left stick to a higher tension to simulate a fight stick. It won't replace a proper fight stick for a fighting game but it still works pretty well.
The more you use the Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller, the more you'll understand why it’s the best, and you’ll quickly start to see where that $180 went. Everything about the Series 2 screams luxury. Changing things, like d-pads or paddles on the fly is a godsend and there's a level of freedom to have your thumbstick tension levels set to the exact way you want them. The overall weight and feel of the build give you confidence that this is durable enough the handle to most intense sessions of Mortal Kombat 11, or your ninth hour outbursts in Apex Legends. It’s a well-rounded piece of kit.
Even with the price tag, the Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller may be the best controller you'll ever use. The additional customization options, new rechargeable battery, and Bluetooth enabled connectivity make this a decent upgrade over the Series 1 and, while perhaps not enough to convince most to replace their original Elite, it all adds to the value. If you’re in the market for a premium controller and have the cash to spare, this is easily the best one to spend your money on.