If you don’t know where to start, there are a handful of principles worth keeping in mind that apply to virtually all prospective controller shoppers.

Trusted Brands: In terms of brands to trust, you can always look first and foremost to the first party. In this case, that’s Microsoft. From the Core to the Elite, every one of these controllers is trusted and reliable.

But there are also plenty of brands that Xbox has put its trust in too. Names we love around here like 8Bitdo and Turtle Beach have controllers that have been officially licensed by Microsoft.

Back Paddles: Paddles are small mappable buttons that some premium controllers have around the back near the controller grips. They are supposed to be easy buttons for pro gamers to hit without needing to move their thumbs off the sticks. They are reprogrammable buttons that you can put any action unto, allowing for more efficient maneuvering and faster APM.

Customizable Components: Hardcore gamers love to tinker. It’s not necessarily an appeal for me, but hardware customization like swappable thumbpads and d-pads, and adjustable triggers and paddles are a big part of the premium controller experience. Some controllers come with more extras than others, so always be sure to check what’s in the box before buying.

Software Customization: Controllers also offer software level customizations like the ability to create custom player profiles for switching between two or three people’s difference set of preferences.

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