While games, performance and special features are important, the choice between PS5 and Xbox Series X just might come down to the controller for many gamers. After all, if you’re spending hours a day with either console, you’re going to want to do so with the gamepad you’re most comfortable with.
Sony recently took the wraps off of its PS5 DualSense controller, which is a radical design departure from the company’s DualShock controller that features a two-tone design and advanced haptics and triggers for more immersive gameplay. The new Xbox Series X controller is a much more incremental upgrade by comparison, building on the familiar Xbox One controller design with better grips, an improved d-pad and a new Share button.
Wondering which upcoming gamepad is best for you? Check out our PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X comparison below to see how the two next-gen controllers stack up so far.
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X specs
|PS5 DualSense||Xbox Series X controller|
|Special features||Advanced haptics, adaptive triggers, built-in microphone||Improved d-pad, new Share button, textured triggers and bumpers|
|Charging and connectivity||USB-C||USB-C, swappable AA batteries|
|Compatibility||PS5 (so far)||Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC|
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller: Design
The PS5 DualSense is far and away the most eye catching of the two new controllers, with a two-tone black and white design that’s a far cry from the solid-color DualShock gamepads we’ve grown accustomed to. Compared to the DualShock 4, the DualSense has a wider touchpad that’s surrounded by a more prominent light bar, which should allow for more dynamic in-game lighting effects. The DualSense has the same familiar button and stick layout as the DualShock 4, but appears to have a heftier overall design that may have taken a page from the meatier grips of Microsoft’s controllers.
By contrast, the Xbox Series X controller is more of a refinement than a revolution. It has the same basic design as the Xbox One controller, but features slightly reworked ergonomics as well as textured grips on the shoulder bumpers and triggers. The controller’s new d-pad takes some cues from the premium Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, taking the shape of a circular, faceted dish in order to allow for more accurate inputs in genres such as fighting games. The shoulder buttons and d-pad now have a matte finish, which should allow for a more sturdy grip.
The Xbox Series X controller connects via USB-C, and will run on AA batteries (though Microsoft will likely sell a rechargeable battery pack as it has with previous generations). The DualSense also appears to connect via USB-C based on photos. If the DualShock 4 is anything to go by, the new controller will have a built-in battery. Both gamepads sport a headphone jack for use with your favorite gaming headsets or headphones.
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller: Special features
The DualSense’s two big calling cards are its advanced haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The controller’s haptics sound a lot like the Nintendo Switch’s HD rumble, promising detailed force feedback that can simulate the feel of driving a car over different surfaces, for example.
Adaptive triggers will allow developers to tweak the resistance of the triggers for their games, which could make the sensation of firing a bow and arrow or shooting a fun feel more realistic. Sony’s new controller also packs a built-in microphone, which will allow you to chat with your friends when you don’t have a headset handy.
The DualSense’s Share button has been replaced by a Create button -- we’re not quite sure what this means, but Sony suggests you’ll have even more options for capturing, sharing and streaming your play right from your controller.
Microsoft has finally caught up in this regard, adding its own dedicated Share button to the Xbox Series X controller for more easily showing off your best Halo kills or Forza driving tricks.
The Series X controller doesn't have many other special features besides the Share buttons and improved grips and d-pad, though Xbox is promising ultra-responsive inputs via its Fast Input Scanning technology. This can capture button presses at as fast as 2ms, which could lead to even more accurate inputs for competitive games.
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller compatibility
Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Series X controller will also be compatible with Xbox One and PC, which potentially makes it the more versatile option for folks that game on multiple platforms.
Sony hasn’t said whether the DualSense will work on anything besides the PS5, but it seems safe to assume that it’ll have some degree of compatibility with PC given that the DualShock 4 plays nice with many PC games. No word yet on whether you’ll be able to use a DualSense on your PS4.
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller: Price
We still don’t have a price for the DualSense or Xbox Series X controller (or the new consoles themselves). The Xbox Wireless Controller and DualShock 4 typically retail for around $60 each, and we expect the new gamepads to be in the same general ballpark in terms of cost. However, each controller’s new features -- particularly those of the DualSense -- could drive the price up.
PS5 DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller: Outlook
Sony looks to reinvent its controller for the PS5 generation, while Microsoft appears to be focused on making small but significant refinements to the Xbox One gamepad that’s become a huge hit among Xbox and PC players alike.
The DualSense is shaping up to be the more exciting controller, particularly when it comes to the kinds of immersive features that its haptics and adaptive triggers can open up. However, the Xbox Series X could prove to be the more versatile option for folks who bounce around different systems, as we already know it’ll work across Series X, Xbox One and PC. We’re hoping the DualSense will also work with computers, as the list of the best PC game controllers could soon get bigger thanks to Sony and Microsoft’s latest efforts.