The PS5 Controller vs. the Xbox Series X Controller: The Ultimate Gaming Showdown
Updated: July 27,2022
Picking a gaming controller is like picking the right tools for a job. It’s not just about the branding, or even the color. You want ideal ergonomy for your hands, the layout you’re most comfortable with, and a feature set that will help you dominate the competition.
For many gamers, the choice falls to the PS5 controller vs. the Xbox Series X controller. When the current console generation dawned upon us, millions of gamers started debating which of these is better. That’s what we’re set to solve today: We’ll be looking at both controllers’ features and design, and help you decide which controller to buy.
PlayStation 5 Controller Overview
With each console generation, SONY has introduced improvements to its DUALSHOCK formula. But, for the PlayStation 5 console, the Japanese manufacturer had to basically reinvent the wheel. The controller needed to provide an authentic next-gen experience, help with immersion, and offer even more features than the already jam-packed DUALSHOCK 4.
The official PS5 controller is simply called DualSense. No numbers or other markings. It’s a completely new chapter for gaming on the PlayStation, as it introduced a brand new design, more comfort, and an impressive list of features. Without a doubt, its biggest change is using haptic feedback technology to simulate various effects in games, like walking on different surfaces, rain droplets, or turbulence.
Another addition is the adaptive triggers, which simulate tension from firing weapons and even work as a two-step button for more features.
These two features are the main reason for the DualSense name, and, in certain PS5 exclusives, they make the experience more immersive than ever before.
Xbox Series X Controller Overview
Microsoft’s Xbox team, on the other hand, wasn’t keen on innovating for its latest controller. Staying true to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage, the Xbox Series X|S controller has undergone just a few slight changes from its predecessor.
First, the name: Just like with previous Xbox consoles, Microsoft didn’t name its controllers anything fancy and just used the name of the console they were made for instead. Granted, the naming of the console is still confusing.
All the novelty is in the details, really. The d-pad is now an eight-way platter instead of a four-way cross, and there’s a dedicated button for snapping screenshots and videos. Many thought there was no need to change the controller touted as the best option for PC gaming at all, as it was still a great piece of tech and durable as a tank, but we would have liked to have seen some innovation from the Xbox team.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X Controller: Design Comparison
Both controllers look out of this world and match their respective console designs. Build quality is impressive, and we’re sure they can withstand even the most intense gaming sessions. Additionally, the controllers are available in various colors, so gamers can match them to their style. Let’s take a closer look at SONY and Microsoft’s designs.
The DualSense controller is all curves, with a black-and-white color scheme accentuated by the indicator light around its touchpad. Just like the PS5 console, the controller is made out of several plates, somewhat reminiscent of a high-tech sandwich. The button layout is the same one you’ll recognize from all previous PlayStation controllers, but this time, SONY decided to mute the colors on the face buttons. Its iconic keys are gray now, which can cause some confusion if you’re a player that associates colors with the layout.
Ergonomy-wise, DualSense is a massive improvement over the DUALSHOCK 4. It’s slightly wider, and the grips are textured, making it harder to drop due to sweaty hands. The texture isn’t random either - over 40,000 tiny PlayStation button symbols create a surface that’s not too rough on your hands, but provides enough grip.
Since the new PlayStation console and its controller launched, SONY has pushed out several PS5 controller designs, each with a black base. Aside from the default white accents, you can now get black, red, purple, pink, and blue. There were also a few limited edition designs, including one reminiscent of the original DUALSHOCK controller, but they weren’t officially manufactured by SONY.
The Xbox Series Controller
The Xbox team hasn’t made radical changes to the controller’s design. At a glance, the latest iteration is identical to the Xbox One controller, which was already an outstanding piece of gaming tech. The wide boomerang shape still provides great ergonomy, and the controller isn’t too heavy, even with batteries inside.
However, just because they’re not glaringly obvious, that doesn’t mean improvements over the last-gen device haven’t been made. For example, the new directional pad offers better precision and a very satisfying “click” sound when pressing buttons. The underbelly, as well as triggers and shoulder buttons, are textured for improved grip.
Those buttons also provide less resistance, which in turn reduces the chances of cramping during long sessions. Of course, the button for syncing the controller with the console is also present, as well as a USB-C port for wired gaming.
The controllers for Xbox come in either black or white, depending on whether you purchased an Xbox Series X or Series S color. Other color choices include blue, red, and a green tint Microsoft calls “Volt.” There are also limited edition shades, like Aqua shift, camo, a see-through 20th-anniversary edition, and others. Finally, you can also order a fully customized controller via the Xbox Design Lab.
PS5 Controller vs. Xbox Series X Controller: Feature Comparison
As we’ve seen, both controllers look the part of the top-choice contender. However, looks aren’t everything. Their features are equally important for that ultimate gaming experience. In this section, we’ll go over each controller’s features, what distinguishes them the most, as well as how well they work.
SONY’s controller is filled to the brim with awesome tech, and is a direct upgrade to the already impressive DUALSHOCK 4. It comes with a touchpad, gyroscope for precise aiming, light indicator, speaker, and headphone jack. Also, the controller not only has audio output, but input, too, thanks to the built-in microphone.
Of course, its main attraction and upper hand in the DualSense vs. Xbox Series controller war is the haptic feedback. Gone are the rumble motors - the controller now lets you “feel the game” throughout its surface. The way haptics work changes in each game, so in Returnal, you may feel the rains of Atropos, while in Astrobot (the game pre-installed on the PS5), you’ll be able to distinguish different types of surfaces you’re guiding the little robot over.
The adaptive triggers are another significant upgrade. Each contains a mechanism designed to push or even lock in the triggers, all working together to provide physical feedback at your fingertips. Luckily, none of that reduces the controller’s input lag which is already better than what we’ve experienced on the PS4. Furthermore, you can adjust these features or disable them completely if you find them too distracting.
Like its predecessors, DualSense is a wireless controller that works via Bluetooth and has an integrated Li-ion battery. While its battery life has been upgraded over the previous generation, it’s still not impressive enough: In this part of the PlayStation and Xbox controller comparison, Xbox is the clear winner. At best, you’re looking at 10 hours of gameplay at a full charge, but turning on any of the features and keeping the lights at max will drain the battery even faster.
Since DualSense can be updated and SONY has been putting out patches pretty frequently, we expect the Japanese manufacturer will figure out a way to prolong the battery life, too.
Features of Series X Controllers
Just like their design, the features for the latest Xbox controllers aren’t much different from their Xbox One counterparts. The reason for that is very simple - Microsoft has been laser-focused on providing its customers with full backward compatibility, so your old Xbox One controllers can work with both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles without any setup. That means you won’t have trouble setting it up for Warzone or other popular games, as the settings are nearly identical.
Once again, this is a battery-powered controller, meaning you’ll have to get two AA alkaline batteries or, better yet, a pack of rechargeable ones. Microsoft does offer a play-and-charge kit that includes a USB-C cable and a Li-ion battery, but it costs nearly as much as the controller itself.
Still, this is where the Xbox controllers have the upper hand over SONY’s controllers - they have a significantly longer battery life. A single pack of batteries can last up to 25 hours, while a full charge on the official battery lets you play for 40 hours.
As for the immersive features, this controller doesn’t have anything close to the haptics on DualSense. Instead, it uses standard (but powerful) dual motors for its rumble features, as well as extra rumble on each of the triggers. Another interesting Xbox feature is in the field of accessibility. Using your Xbox console, you can remap all of the buttons on this controller to create your ideal button layout.
Playing PC Games with a PS5 Controller vs. an Xbox Series X Controller
Since many gamers purchase these controllers as an alternative to a keyboard and mouse for gaming on a PC, let’s look at how they behave when connected to one.
Every Xbox controller works out of the box when connected to a Windows PC via USB cable. That, of course, is thanks to native drivers in Windows. To use these controllers wirelessly, you’ll need a Bluetooth dongle (or integrated PC Bluetooth), and then it’s just a matter of syncing the controller.
Luckily, we’re past the woes of using expensive receivers for connecting Xbox 360 gamepads to a PC, so any generic brand of receiver will work fine. All games now recognize these controllers, and Steam offers deeper customization if needed.
Controllers for the PS5, on the other hand, require some tinkering to make a PC connection. There aren’t as many games that natively support them, and, for wireless Bluetooth connection, it’s advised to use Steam’s Big Picture mode to fully customize the controller and access all of its features, like the haptics and gyroscope. Without Steam, you’ll have to rely on third-party drivers to make this controller PC-compatible. Unfortunately, even with them, most of the games will still show keyboard or Xbox controls.
PlayStation vs. Xbox Controller Pricing
Lastly, we need to take into account the price of these controllers, as well as the value they provide for the consumers.
This is where the Xbox side gains a slight advantage. The controllers for PS5 consoles are priced at $69.99, while the Xbox controller is $10 cheaper. On the other hand, that difference does reflect the advanced features DualSense has, especially if you’re after gyro aim and other fancy stuff. What’s more, if you want to make your Xbox controller rechargeable, that’s an extra $24.99 for the official battery, erasing this difference.
Comparing the Xbox Series X vs. the PS5 controller, as you can see, isn’t as straightforward as comparing last-gen to current-gen consoles and video games. Each device has specific features that overshadow the competition. DualSense is more expensive (unless you want the Xbox controller to be rechargeable, which makes it the pricier option), but offers some really high-tech features.
On the other hand, the Xbox device has better battery life and compatibility with PC games. Ultimately, it should fall to personal preference and how you plan to use these controllers. Whichever you choose, though, you won’t regret your purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Both controllers are amazing gadgets with state-of-the-art features. The Xbox controller is better for PC gaming and has better battery life, while DualSense has more advanced features and slightly better ergonomy.
The controller for Xbox Series X is truly the best controller Microsoft has ever shipped with one of its consoles. Millions of gamers like it for its durability, battery life, and unmatched compatibility with Windows PC games and devices.
That falls to personal preference - which layout, battery options, and features you’re more comfortable with. We recommend trying both controllers before making the decision.
No. As explained in our PS5 controller vs. Xbox Series X controller comparison, each controller is native to its console. Beyond that, they can both work on a PC, but not on the competitor’s device.
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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.