Retains familiar layout
Long battery life
Rubberized grips may wear quickly
Customization costs extra
About the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core
- Price: $130
- Connectivity: Detachable USB-C, Xbox wireless
- Dimensions: 6 inches x 4 inches x 2.4 inches
- Weight: .75 pounds
- Device compatibility: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One S, Xbox One, PC
- Material: Plastic, rubberized grips
- Battery: Built-in lithium-ion (up to 40 hours of battery life)
- Special features: Customizable thumbsticks, four rear paddles (with optional accessory pack), trigger locks
The Xbox Elite Series 2 Core and the Xbox Elite Series 2 are functionally the same controllers. The difference is which extras come bundled with each.
The more expensive Xbox Elite Series 2 ships with a carrying case and a variety of accessories. This includes four optional rear paddles, alternative thumbsticks, an alternative D-Pad, a thumbstick tension adjustment tool, a charging dock, and a USB-C cable.
Most of this is absent from the Elite Series 2 Core, which has only the thumbstick tension adjustment tools and USB-C cable. Microsoft sells the rest in an accessory bundle priced at $60. However, a variety of third-party companies sell them a la carte at lower prices.
There’s just one other difference between each model color. The Elite Series 2 is black with black grips, while the Elite Series 2 Core is white with black grips.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Elite Series 2 Core’s improvements over the standard Xbox Core Wireless Controller don’t immediately stand out. The Elite Series 2 Core’s black rubberized grips, which contrast against its white plastic body, is the only unique difference.
The Elite Series 2 Core is more rugged than the standard Core Wireless Controller. It weighs more (.75 pounds vs. the standard controller’s .63 pounds) and its plastics feel thicker. It’s not all good news, however. The rubber grips scratch more easily than the plastics of the standard controller.
If the Elite Series 2 Core looks and feels similar to the standard controller, what justifies the added cost? The customizability features.
The Elite Series 2 Core, like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, can be tailored to your liking. The thumbsticks and D-Pad are kept in place with magnetic mechanisms that snap away when forced, while up to four optional paddles slot into the rear.
The thumbsticks support adjustable tension, meaning you can adjust the force needed to move it. It’s handy if you like your thumbsticks to feel extremely twitchy or firm. Finally, the built-in trigger locks can be adjusted across three settings. This can reduce the distance the trigger must travel before it activates.
However, the thumbsticks aren’t fully removable: the top of the stick can be changed, but the joystick below can’t be removed. That means you can’t replace the stick for an alternative input or if it breaks. The Thrustmaster eSwap, which is less expensive at $120, supports this feature, and may appeal to gamers worried about joystick drift. The lack of Hall effect sensors, a type of joystick that’s immune to drift, is also an oversight in a new controller this expensive when they’re not replaceable.
The Elite Series 2 Core has a built-in lithium-ion battery which promises 40 hours of battery life and charges over USB-C. It survived a week of testing with battery life to spare. It’s a nice upgrade over the standard wireless Xbox controller, which doesn’t include a built-in battery.
Should you buy the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core?
Yes, if you want a customizable Xbox controller
The best thing about the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core is the fact it’s a better Xbox Core Wireless Controller. The default controller is superb, so an upgraded model with customization and a long-lasting, built-in battery is a win.
These features aren’t free, however. Priced at $130 (and as low as $110 on sale), the Elite Series 2 Core is double the price of the standard Xbox controller. It’s also priced similarly to the Thrustmaster eSwap S, a modular controller with swappable joysticks. The Thrustmaster has its own perks and downsides but may prove more alluring if customization is your goal. The Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma might be wired, but it’s packed to the gills with features and can sometimes be found for the same price, or cheaper, than the Series 2 Core.
Many gamers will prefer to stick with an official Xbox controller, however, and that gives the Elite Series 2 Core built-in appeal. If you want customization, and don’t want to consider third-party alternatives, the Elite Series 2 Core is a nice middle-ground between the base controller and the $180 Elite.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
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