Although wireless controllers are now the norm for game consoles, there are still many reasons to use a wired model. For one, you don’t have to worry about connection issues or battery levels. Wired controllers, such as the PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller, are generally cheaper. This is important considering that first-party gamepads are becoming more expensive.
The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller has all the features of the official version for just half the cost—it can be yours for under $30 most days. The controller also includes programmable buttons as well as a volume toggle. The cable is the biggest drawback, but the feel and build quality also take a step down compared to Microsoft’s Series X/S controller. If nothing else, the PowerA Controller is a great “little brother controller.”
A quick glance
It is lighter than an official controller
Physical volume toggle
Uses an older microUSB port in place of USB-C
No wireless connectivity
The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller might be a budget option, but it’s no slouch. It can be used with the Xbox or for PC gaming. The final result is that it performs almost the same as the official controller while costing half as much.
PowerA Enhanced Xbox controller at the best price today
PowerA Enhanced controller: Design quality and build quality
The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller may not be obvious at first glance. It is a third-party accessory. The controller is the standard Xbox shape with a glowing Xbox button at the center and all the buttons in their proper places. However, it’s a bit chunkier, giving it a hand-feel closer to the previous-gen Xbox One controller. There’s a diamond texture etched into the grips, but it’s far less grippy than the tiny dots on the official controller that ships with the Series X and S.
Although the chassis is bigger, the PowerA controller measures just 208g (7.33oz). The Series X controller stock with AA batteries is a staggering 300g. Although the cable can be easily removed, the microUSB port located between the triggers and the controller is still functional. The USB-C standard is used by current-gen controllers made by Sony and Microsoft. These cables are reversible. They are also more durable. However, microUSB is fine and comes with a long, 10-foot cable.
The volume toggle is located just above the headphone jack on the bottom edge. This is the most obvious departure from the stock controller, which doesn’t have any dedicated hardware buttons for volume control. Flip it over, and you’ll see the other hardware tweak—a pair of programmable buttons on the grips and a button in the middle to configure them. The PowerA controller has eight visible screw holes under it, making it much more affordable than the official one.
You may also notice that the dpad is not the standard plus-shaped, while the Series X/S controller now has a precise dish-shaped pad. The PowerA ABXY cluster has more travel (they protrude a bit more from the body) with less tactility than Microsoft’s controller. The other buttons look about the same—PowerA even has the share button introduced with the Series X and S (although, it’s round instead of pill-shaped, and it’s a bit wobbly)
PowerA enhance controller: Features and hands on experience
As we pointed out in the Xbox Wireless Controller review, Microsoft’s latest gamepad is louder than the last one. This PowerA makes the previous one sound almost whisper-quiet. The triggers and thumbsticks are very loud when pressed. The thumbsticks are also stiffer and rougher than the official controller, but the difference is negligible enough that you won’t notice unless you have both of them side-by-side for comparison.
The programmable buttons are placed conveniently on the inside of the grips—perhaps a little You can also conveniently. It doesn’t take much force to depress them, so they’re easy to hit accidentally if you squeeze the controller too tightly. That said, they can be handy if you don’t like the location of one of the other buttons. You can simply long-press and hold the program button located in the middle section of the rear panel. Then, press the control you wish to reproduce.
This d-pad is a physical downgrade from the original Xbox X/S. The classic plus-shaped design and classic mushiness are the hallmarks of this controller. Fighting games and others that make heavy use of the d-pad won’t be as enjoyable with this controller. However, the addition of the volume control toggle is a nice touch. You can adjust the volume to suit your needs if you are using an online headset. To muffle the microphone, you can press the switch.
While the lack of wireless connectivity is a bummer, you’d have to expect that buying a wired controller. However, the controller’s lighter weight is a welcome consolation. The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller will be comfortable for long periods of use as long you have a 10-foot cable that can connect to your console or PC.
PowerA Enhanced controller: Compatibility
PowerA controllers should work just as well with Xbox as official controllers. A USB port is all you need on your console and the same for your Windows PC. The only hardware feature you’ll completely lose is the option to attach accessories, like a keyboard or headset, that use the expansion port, which does not exist on the PowerA controller. Another problem is that this controller cannot turn on Xbox Series X/S.
Although this controller works with smartphones, it is not as easy as the stock one. The official gamepad supports USB-C so you only need a C to C cable to connect to your Android phone. It also supports wireless Bluetooth connectivity. With the PowerA, you need to use the cable (or another micro USB cable) and an adapter that can turn the rectangular USB-A into USB-C. We’ve tested this with Google’s Pixel USB adapter, and everything works despite being clunky.
The official Xbox Series X/S controller is undoubtedly a better device—it’s wireless, looks nicer, and has better build quality. It’s also expensive at $60. The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller is half the price and offers 90% of the same functionality. We are also grateful that PowerA provides the controller in so many different colors.
PowerA controllers don’t require batteries, making them lighter than wireless ones. Many buttons feel almost the same as official controllers. You can also replicate the standard controls from the programmable grip pads with a few additional buttons. We don’t love the old plus-shaped d-pad, which is mushier than the one on the latest Microsoft controllers, and the programmable buttons are a bit too easy to press by accident.
The Xbox comes with one controller, and that’s enough for some people. If you need extra controllers for your console and don’t fancy spending $60 on each of them, the PowerA is a good purchase. The PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller for PC gamers is a great way to save money on all your Windows Xbox integrations. But, anyone searching for a mobile controller must read this. The lack of wireless connectivity or a USB-C port means you’ll have to deal with cables and adapters just to get the PowerA Enhanced Xbox Controller linked to your phone.