In the search for a new controller that works reliably under Windows 10 and, if possible, directly on the Xbox, I inevitably stumbled across the PowerA Enhanced Controller. Wired is not a disadvantage for me on the desktop. Incidentally, I also have another controller for the Xbox One, which I don’t have to keep batteries in stock and which is ready for use at any time. Sometimes going wireless has its perks. If you already buy such a controller, you can also write a review about it. Especially when the Xbox Series X will support every Xbox One accessory anyway.
Not perfect, but neat
In contrast to many other controllers, the PowerA controller still comes with a plastic viewing window and the same insert in the box. In addition, it turns out pretty quickly that the supposed effect finish Sapphire Fade is not but a two-tone finish. The screws on the back are also not covered, but they are outside of reach and are therefore not noticeable in practice. After the three meter long micro-USB cable has been plugged in and the controller has been connected to the Xbox or PC, it is also noticeable that the status LED is not in the guide button but below it. Even cheaper controllers can do that better.
On the connection side, there is only the 3.5mm jack plug for headsets and headphones, which is typical for third-party controllers. The chatpad, for example, cannot be used in this way.
Apart from that, there is actually nothing to complain about. All buttons work well and with the right resistance, the sticks are neither too light nor too stiff and the ergonomics are very reminiscent of the original Xbox One controller. Even if it feels a little better in my hand. But the difference isn’t that big. I find the bumpers a little harder to reach. But there aren’t really any problems here either. And then there are the three buttons on the back. One, at the top in the middle, is used for programming, while EGR and AGL are pretty much perfect for being operated with the middle finger. There is a handy Velcro strap on the cable that keeps it together when rolled up.
By the way, even if you can sometimes read that the face buttons are smaller than on the Microsoft controller, my protractor stubbornly refuses to confirm that. The control pad and buttons appear to be exactly the same size. Apart from that, the lower weight without batteries is particularly noticeable, while the cable is not bothersome. Or rather, thanks to three meters longer only if you really sit very far away from the console.
Some lows meet many highs
There are negative points. But there are also enough positive points that cancel out most of it. And that’s why we first look at the minus points of the PowerA Enhanced Controller. For example, there is the Trigger Rumble. It’s usually rather subtle with the Microsoft controller, but it represents real added value for me, especially in racing games that use it well. It’s also a nice to have for Halo 5 and other shooters because it gives haptic feedback and at least for I can also improve the immersion. However, the PowerA Enhanced Controller only has classic dual rumble and simply simulates the haptic feedback with it. This, in turn, doesn’t feel comparable at all, but rather reminds you of times past. All in all, the feedback just seems a lot coarser than you are used to from the Xbox or from the HD rumble of the Switch.
The triggers are also less sensitive than those of the original controllers, which is due to a shorter trigger travel. This can make a certain difference in racing simulations, but the difference is usually not serious. And the analog sticks are indeed precise, but a little less grippy than the Microsoft counterpart. The edge is also ribbed and offers a good grip, but the somewhat flat trough gives a little less grip. With long-term use, when the ribbing on the edge is slowly worn away, this could have a negative impact.
But that’s definitely complaining at a high level. Because everything else is just right. The control pad is pretty precise and there is no room for complaining. The bumpers are absolutely clean, only the click between left and right sounds slightly different. The face buttons are precise and don’t rub, catch or cause any other problem.
The sticks have a little more resistance than the MS controller, but it’s more a matter of taste which one you prefer. The PowerA is definitely not too stiff. And the trigger buttons also click cleanly.
Thanks to the cable, the headphone connection is noise-free, but I think it’s a tad quieter than the original pad. On top of that, the controller is free of squeaks and really torsion-resistant, in short, there is simply nothing serious to complain about in terms of the perceived built quality. So what’s missing?
Extended, but also improved?
Clearly, the enhanced part, i.e. the two buttons on the back. They also go absolutely clean, i.e. without jamming, snagging or causing any other problem. Programming is done in no time. Press the program button, press the button you want to map and then press AGR or AGL. Each key can be mapped. Accidentally accessing the programming button is an impossibility. Whether better or worse than via app, you can argue about that. But it’s damn fast and without interrupting the game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Windows or Xbox.
Whether the keys are an added value again depends somewhat on the game. Personally, I’d say yes to anything that uses both sticks and face buttons. Whether it’s Dishonored, Gears or Halo – you have to switch around a lot less. At the latest in multiplayer, there are even real game advantages. In principle, everything that also applies to the paddles of the Elite Controller or the back buttons of the Wolverine applies to the Enhanced Controller. The latter, in my view, are rather modest. Are paddles or buttons better? Well, I think the paddles on the Elite are very successful. But I also find the buttons on the PowerA quite pleasant. They never bother me either. But are the two buttons enough? For me personally, definitely yes. Firstly, all four paddles on the Elite are somehow too much for me and secondly, I don’t find all the functions on the face buttons equally important in any game. Others will probably want twice the number of keys. Either way, they are real added value in the long run.
That should become standard. So the back keys. There are just enough games where I benefit from it. Be it pure comfort or a playful advantage. But the PowerA controller also leaves a good impression in other respects. Despite small blemishes. The only thing I really miss is the real trigger feedback. The fact that the controller is wired does not have to be a disadvantage per se. In theory, it should even work lag-free. In practice, I’m too stupid to notice a difference. And then there was the price. The PowerA Enhanced Controller should normally cost €39.99, but in practice you can almost always get most color variants somewhere for €32 or less. Not only is this a boot down from the original controller, you get a really good controller for the price.
PowerA Enhanced (Xbox One Controller)
Programmable rear buttons
Works absolutely reliably
Only available with cable
Shorter trigger paths, so not as sensitive in racing games
Bumper a little harder to reach than the original