I made one of the best gamepads even better with this essential $12 accessory

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 - Core Edition with 3rd party rear paddles
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 Core Edition doesn’t just possess a ludicrously long official moniker, it’s also the best PC controller.

Obviously this pad pairs perfectly with both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S too, but as I do most of my Xbox Game Pass gaming on PC, my rig gets the most action with the Core Edition controller.

Despite a fetching bone-white color change, this is exactly the same gamepad as the already brilliant Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2; albeit sold at a lower price.

The original Series 2 now retails for around $163 / £160, whereas the Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 Core Edition is on sale for $110 at Amazon — at time of writing, it’s reduced from $130.

So why the price cut if the two controllers are essentially identical? Accessories, that’s why.

The Series 2 comes with a fancy case that houses a charging dock, but its key advantage over the Core Edition are the swappable components it comes boxed with as standard.

Swap 'til you drop

The original Xbox Elite Series 2 controller next to the Xbox Elite Series 2 Core controller

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Series 2 gives you two additional pairs of thumbsticks that you can swap out for the default classic concave design ones that come installed by default. Pleasingly, switching them out is a breeze, as they’re simply held in place by strong magnets. You also get an extra satellite-style D-pad, and the big one: four metallic rear paddles that snap to the rear of the gamepad.

The Core Edition misses out on all of the controller treats, which is annoying, but understandable when you consider it’s being sold for considerably less than the Series 2.

I can go without the replaceable thumbsticks, but when I recently bought my Core Edition, there was no way I was going to miss out on those rear paddles.

Core concerns

A rear shot of the Xbox Elite Series 2 Core with 3rd party rear paddles installed

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Happily, every swappable component that comes boxed with the Series 2 controller works just fine with the Core Edition, so snapping those rear buttons on the less premium gamepad is a doddle. I just had to find a third-party set of paddles, and I was off to the races.

I recently bought these XINKEEN Elite Controller Paddles for $12.90 on Amazon, and they feel exactly the same as the paddles on my old Series 2 that I recently sold (along with its paddles). They sport the same metallic finish as Microsoft’s components, so they definitely don’t feel like a downgrade quality-wise.

I use these rear buttons for pretty much all of the best PC games I play these days. They’re technically called ‘P1’, ‘P2’, P3’ and ‘P4’ and you can assign any button on your pad to them via the Xbox Accessories app. Personally, I always use P3 as the Xbox controller’s A button — the input that’s most pressed in the majority of games — as I simply prefer the click of those paddles to the regular face buttons.

So if you’ve recently purchased a Core Edition controller, I’d definitely recommend picking up these sturdy paddles.

Whether it’s been Eldin Ring, Read Dead Redemption 2 or Cyberpunk 2077, I’ve used them across some of the best Steam games, and these little accessories have levelled up my enjoyment at every turn. Nothing beats their oh so satisfying click.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.