Thursday, June 28, 2018

PowerA Enhanced Wired Xbox One Controller Review

It was only a couple of months ago that I said the AmazonBasics Wired Xbox One Controller was the best third-party pad I'd ever used but, surprisingly, we already have a new champ – the Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox One from PowerA. With the same shape and button layout as a first-party Xbox One controller, great feeling buttons, and a great selection of colors, the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is fantastic. Even better, they’re priced at just $30 ($35 for fancier colors) so you’ll get a great controller at an excellent price. Continue reading for all of the details.

Manufacturer - PowerA
Pros – Feels great; works very well; looks gorgeous; price
Cons – No haptic feedback; wired
Price - $30 (standard colors) $35 (Fade series)

Buy PowerA Enhanced Wired Xbox One Controller at

Buy PowerA Enhanced
XONE Controller at Amazon
It isn’t often that you look at a third-party controller and actually go "Wow", but that is exactly what I did when I opened the box from PowerA. They really, really went all out to polish this controller right down to having attractive packaging that does a great job of showcasing the controller. I know it’s weird to go nuts about the packaging something comes in, but I’m so used to third-party pads having junky packaging that when they actually do a good job it really stands out.

The PowerA Enhanced Xbox One controller comes in several colors with solid colors and camo patterns carrying a $30 MSRP while the (great looking) Fade colors cost $35. I was sent a blue Sapphire Fade controller and it looks freaking great. Obviously, if you want to save some cash you don’t need to drop the extra $5 for prettier colors, but dang they are really pretty.

The controller itself is almost (I can’t say 100% for sure) exactly the same as the standard Xbox One controller from Microsoft in terms of shape and button layout. It immediately feels super familiar and comfortable and there was no awkward “getting to know you" period like you have with most third-party pads. It just feels right the moment you pick it up. The fit and finish is great as well as it doesn’t have any rough seams (that the first-party pads do, actually ...) and the plastic has a high quality satiny feel to it. The last PowerA pad I reviewed, the FUSION a couple years ago, had cheap bad feeling plastic. Thankfully, the Enhanced controller is a massive upgrade there and feels great.

For the most part, the Enhanced controller is fairly standard save for two important features – 1. it is wired, and 2, it has two extra programmable buttons on the back. First, the wire. I know people don’t like wired controllers these days, but if you want to save some cash it is just something you have to put up with. The cable is 9.8 feet long and I didn’t have any problems with it. The cable is actually detachable from the controller as it is just a normal USB cable. I was initially a little skeptical about this feature as I worried that the connection would wear out or the cable would be loose, but it was designed in such a way that the connection point is reinforced and beefy and the cable stays very firmly in place.

The Enhanced controller also has two programmable buttons on the back similar to PowerA’s FUSION controller and other “Elite"-style controllers. These extra buttons are easy to program and are in great positions and just the right shape so they’re easy to use.

As far as performance goes it functions exactly like you'd expect for the most part, but I do have a couple of comments. The normal rumble is strong and feels great, but I don’t think it has haptic rumble in the triggers, or it’s just so weak I can’t tell. I played Forza Horizon 3 specifically to test the haptic feedback and can’t feel a thing. My only other complaint is that, on my unit at least, it doesn’t always register left and right d-pad presses. I can’t imagine that it is some inherent flaw to the controller, so I'm not going to dock it and assume they all do it, though. If you do buy one and have d-pad troubles, let me know. Most of the games I play don’t need extensive d-pad use, so I just put up with it. I want to stress, though, that everything else worked perfectly.
Comparing it specifically to the AmazonBasics Wired Xbox OneController, since that is the closest competition, the PowerA Enhanced controller comes out on top in almost every respect. The Enhanced controller looks much nicer and feels better thanks to the quality finish (and colors!) and familiar shape and button layout. The buttons also feel better on the Enhanced controller and aren’t nearly as loud and clicky as on Amazon’s pad. It also benefits from the programmable buttons on the back. The AmazonBasics pad does have a leg up thanks to its solid haptic feedback, however, so if that feature is important to you it is definitely something to consider. I’d probably recommend the PowerA Enhanced Xbox One controller overall, though.
All in all, the PowerA Enhanced Xbox One Controller is a fantastic controller that feels and performs far better than its bargain price tag would imply. It’s great not just for the price range but just in general as a very good controller option that you’ll actually want to use every day and not just as a last resort for Player 2 to use. I never expected third-party controllers to ever actually "git gud", but 2018 has seen two really solid ones so far. If you're looking for a new Xbox One (or Windows 10) controller, need to save some cash, and don’t mind a wire, the PowerA Enhanced Xbox One Controller is highly recommended.
Disclosure: A review unit was provided by the manufacturer.