Comparing gamepads for Windows - Microsoft Xbox Series vs. Sony Dualsense vs. 8BitDo Pro 2

I started playing games on consoles, so its natural that i still consider a gamepad the way to go for certain genres of games.

I’m always curious to see what’s out there and constantly like to try new models, this time around i had the opportunity to try these 3 controllers at the same time.

The experience will be focused on Windows 11, since its my current OS of choice for games, i also often play games sitting on my couch from some 3 meters away from the computer, therefore i’ll also be focusing on how these controllers work via bluetooth, connected to my Intel AX200 network card.

The goal here is not to say which one of these is the definitive answer for everyone, but rather to showcase in which departments each excels, to perhaps help you find which one is the best option for you.

Gamepads and comparison with older siblings:

Microsoft Xbox Series X/S Controller:

What is considered the de facto standard controller for Windows, the Xbox Controller, this time around in the Series X/S trim.

Comparing this to my friend’s old Xbox One controller, its noticeable Microsoft decided to play safe, stick to their already solid design and only tweak a few areas, such as the dpad and the textures of the controller itself.

On the hand it feels almost the same as the old Xbox One controller, albeit slightly smaller.

Once again Microsoft decided to design the controller to be powered mainly by AA batteries, selling an optional rechargeable battery pack for those who want it, which I’m not particularly against.

Sony Dualsense:

This controller, on the other hand, is not meant to work with Windows, but with minor tinkering, it works almost flawlessly.

I had my old rev. 2 Dualshock 4 to compare it to this, they’re completely different beasts on the design department, the Dualsense is a larger controller, more solidly put together, it doesn’t squeak or rattle (yet) like the DS4 did when it came out of the box.

I think Sony listened to some feedback from people with larger hands, the button sizes and shapes were tweaked, mainly on the triggers and bumpers, making it more comfortable in general.

Sony decided to maintain the tradition of shipping the controller with an internal rechargeable battery, which I’ll later tell why I’m not a fan of this approach.

It also had a strong chemical smell out of the box that took a few days to vanish, not sure what’s the deal with that.

8Bitdo Pro 2:

This, being a revision of the well regarded SN30 Pro+, also received some quality of life improvements over its older brother.

While i no longer own my old Pro+, i used it as my main gamepad for a year and i remember it feeling almost exactly the same as the Pro 2, the only fundamental differences between them being the additional programmable buttons near the battery compartment, a mode switch (modes were selected by button combos on the Pro+) and a profile button.

This is by far the most versatile gamepad of the bunch, being compatible with the PC on Xinput and Dinput modes, macOS, Nintendo Switch and Android, it also comes packaged with a rechargeable battery that can be exchanged for a pair of AAs on the fly, best of both worlds here.

Topics of comparison:


Winner: Xbox Controller

Since I mainly play racing games, good triggers are of utmost importance to me, the Xbox controller came ahead in this category due to them having the smoothest feel and what i to be the most correct weight of the bunch, it also has tiny rumble motors on both triggers, which gave out a nice extra bit of immersion as well.

The Dualsense came close to it, while on its original hardware it has the super interesting feature of being able to adapt to games, changing the weight or even adding actual “trigger points”, this feature is still in its infancy on PC, with softwares such as Dualsense X being able to adjust and set the triggers to different states, but not yet able to completely replicate the same experience as you’d have on the PS5.

Ignoring these points, the triggers on their passive state also have correct weighting, but don’t feel quite as smooth as the ones on the Xbox controller.

The Pro 2 is by far the worst here, its triggers are too light and flimsy, which result in a poor experience in games that utilize them, they also have no additional features like the other controllers have.


Winner: Sony Dualsense

Arguably the most important aspect of any controller, the ergonomics can make or break the entire experience of playing games, i have medium-to-large hands, and to my grip, the Dualsense feels the best, when i pick it up my fingers just fit correctly where the buttons are.

While the Xbox excels on the trigger feel, the Dualsense has the best trigger and bumper shape, they fit between the first joint of my index fingers, while the Xbox design seems to want to entertain the middle joint a bit more, which isn’t a problem while using the triggers, but its slightly uncomfortable to press the bumper buttons in a hurry.

Besides the bumpers, i have no complaints about the overall shape of the Xbox controller, over the years i’ve heard equal amounts of people complain or praise the switched position of the left analog stick, ever since i first held an Xbox 360 controller, the high mounted trigger felt right, it always fit the design of the Xbox controller very well.
I do wish, however, that the Xbox controller were about 5 to 7% larger in all sides, because at this current size, i feel my hands are a bit too close together.

I also don’t have many complaints about the 8BitDo design, in fact i think its way more comfortable to use than it seems if you just look at it, considering this is an extensive modification of an SNES controller shape, i think 8BitDo did really well, triggers and bumpers are easy to use and the programmable buttons on the wings feel natural to activate with my middle fingers, the only real complaint is that the farther face buttons (X and Y) are a bit of a reach due to the flat “face” of controller, which often left my thumb feeling sore at the joints when required to press these buttons continuously (common occurrence in Yakuza games, for example).

Button feel:

Winner: Sony Dualsense

Hard to pick here, and honestly i don’t dislike the button feel of neither controller, but in my opinion, the Dualsense feels slightly better than the other two, the depth of the membranes and the feedback feels right to my hand.

On the dpad department, again i like the Dualsense better than the other two, on fighting games it was easier for me to connect moves, i also have no complaints about any other usage it might have.

The 8BitDo has a SNES style dpad and while many people enjoy it, i’m honestly not a fan, besides the fact the added stiffness in comparison with the Dualsense doesn’t help me in fighting games.

The Xbox has the most uncommon dpad, its a wheel with clicky metal contacts underneath, instead of membranes like the other two have, it feels reassuringly stiffer, which is good for navigating through menus, but i saw myself reaching for the analog stick more often when playing fighting games.

Build quality:

Winner: Xbox Series X/S

The Xbox controller feels substantial, even without batteries, it feels denser than the other two by a considerable margin, the plastics are noticeably hard wearing, the mate finish of this Pulse Red unit also leaves no room for easy scratches.
I haven’t yet heard of any QC issues with these units, and if the older model from the Xbox One era is anything to go by, its going to last a long time and only require new thumbsticks a few years from now.

Triggers notwithstanding, the 8BitDo could’ve tied with the Xbox controller on build quality, however, i’ve had some QC issues with this unit, namely loose fitting AA battery contacts and a dodgy USB C connector, which often caused the controller to disconnect in the middle of gameplay and often refuse to charge the included battery, adjusting the contacts to use AA batteries solved the connection issue, but i still contacted 8BitDo about the USB C connector, and after some messages back and forth, they sent me a new unit free of charge, its being held in customs now, and for sure i will test this new unit extensively to make sure its up to snuff and post the results here.

The Dualsense is a paradox, it feels alright, certainly better than any Dualshock 4 i’ve held, but the materials here feel inferior to the other controllers, the plastics feel ever so slightly thinner than the ones on the Xbox and 8BitDo, it seems like it would scratch easier due to satin finish of the black bezel at the bottom and the randomly scattered glossy touches, there’s also the subject of QC here as well, seeing as the early white Dualsenses were prone to analog stick drift, i can only hope that this model, being one of the new Cosmic Red units, also has had some tweaks inside to prevent this from happening, unfortunately only time will tell.
P.S.: Aaaand as time told, my Cosmic Red unit had a defective battery or charging circuit, which my current Midnight Black unit doesn’t have, second time’s the charm…

Battery Life

Tie: Xbox Series X/S and 8BitDo Pro 2

These two controllers are really good with battery life, they averaged roughly the same battery life using the same pair of high quality Panasonic Eneloop batteries, a full week of gameplay and then some, if you’re using the internal battery on the 8BitDo (assuming its working as intended, and fully charged) its a bit less than a full week, but still very good.

The Dualsense on the other hand is honestly awful with battery life, i only averaged around an afternoon and a half of gameplay with it, lowering the brightness of the leds via software doesn’t seem to help much with battery life, at this rate it will only take a few years before this battery is cooked and you’ll have to open the entire controller to replace it, adding insult to injury, it takes around 3 hours to charge completely IF you’re not using it, i haven’t even bothered to try using it while charging

Doing my due diligence, i’ve bought another unit and retested the Dualsense’s battery life, my second unit wasn’t defective and provided a much, much better battery life.
I was on vacation and used it extensively, i was able to play for almost two full 8 hour sessions with the controller 100% charged.
I also revised my charging solution, i found an old Motorola power brick at home that was able to provide the perfect 5v 1500mA the controller requires to charge, from 0 to 100%, it took three and a half hours.
Also, enjoy this picture from it feeding itself directly from the wall:


Winner: Xbox Series X/S

In an Apple-esque way, i turned on the Xbox controller and clicked the sync button at the top, i didn’t even have to open the bluetooth menu on my Windows 11 system, it give me up a pop up notification saying the controller was ready to sync with my system, i clicked the ok box and i was ready to enjoy, it also notified me of a new firmware available for the controller, which meant i had to eventually connect it once with a cable to upgrade.

The 8BitDo is equally easy to get working on Windows, flick the switch at the bottom to Xinput mode, turn it on, hold the sync button for a few seconds, open the bluetooth devices list and sync it.

The Dualsense requires two extras steps, which are to install Dualsense X (and its required libraries, to use with games outside of Steam) and to activate Playstation controller support on Steam’s Big Picture mode, pretty common stuff if you already tried using a Playstation controller on Windows before.

As for bluetooth range, all 3 controllers had a really decent radio reach to my AX200 card, the 8BitDo is the weakest, the Xbox the strongest, and the Dualsense is between the two, but all far exceed the distance between my couch and computer, therefore i can play with all of them without issue.

Software and personalization:

Winner: 8BitDo Pro 2

Here’s where the Pro 2 shines, 8BitDo offers the Ultimate Software for the Pro 2, which apart from updating the firmware on the controller, it can change the functions of all buttons, dead zones and activity range of triggers and analog sticks, you can create macros and tie them to specific profiles, and you can even do it all through your phone, since it also has an Android version.

For the Xbox controller, Microsoft offers the Xbox Accessories app on Windows, it allowed me to update the firmware on the controller, remap the face buttons, swap sides of triggers and sticks, deactivate vibration and set the controller for “copilot mode”, which allows two Xbox controllers to function as player 1 controllers.

The Sony, rather obviously, has no official software, but it has Dualsense X, which allows the user to emulate an Xbox 360 input with the Dualsense, as well as set up the active triggers to a fixed or custom state, pretty neat stuff, and I’m sure its going to keep growing since the community has a genuine interest in it.

Cost to benefit

Winner: 8BitDo Pro 2

There’s no question that the 8BitDo is the better cost to benefit, it costs around US$47 on Aliexpress (US$62 if you add the mobile phone clip), comes with its own battery and works on a multitude of systems without any software adjustments needed.

The Pulse Red Xbox controller costs US$65 directly from Microsoft, and the Cosmic Red Dualsense costs US$75 directly from Sony, although I’m sure you can sometimes find better deals on these controllers on different retailers, but still, a harder sale than the 8BitDo.


After using these gamepads and enjoying each in their own respective ways, I came to the conclusion that I’m going to keep the Xbox Series controller as my main PC gamepad, largely due to its highly satisfying triggers, battery life and integration with the system, meanwhile I’m gonna keep the 8BitDo Pro 2 around for lighter duty, such as a player 2 controller and an emulation controller for Android.
The new Dualsense i’m also going to keep, if anything because i recently sold my Dualshock 4 and acquired a Brook Wingman XE converter, which allows me to use the Dualsense’s motion sensor on my PS3.


Yes need more of this.



Finally received the replacement unit of the Pro 2, i’m gonna test it for some days to make sure its alright.

What was wrong with the last one?

Also after this o ordered one too. I need an android game pad and another general purpose one is always good to have.

Literally just found the section again…

The battery wasn’t always charging and the usb connector wasn’t working properly, which possibly damaged the battery as well, i asked 8bitdo if they could send out a new battery but instead they chose to send me a new unit altogether.
I think i just got unlucky with the first Pro 2, my previous SN30 Pro+ didn’t have any issues.

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Yeah I am looking forward to getting mine. Also got the classic DMG colour.

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Its the best one, honestly, i don’t like the legends directly on the buttons of the grey model and on the black model, while super sleek, the legends are impossible to read.

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Yeah I was not fond of the other white none and I have far too many black controller and various other game and PC stuff any other colour is welcome.

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If they sold a completely red model like Sony and Microsoft, i’d be all over it.

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I dare you to throw in a steam controller comparison

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The one with the dual touchpads?

I’ve actually never tried that one…

I love it. Favourite controller, not perfect, but as a universal input device, nearly unbeatable.

That was a point I meant to raise earlier about the software compatibility section… That is largely completely done away with by the Steam Controller API. It can handle just able any game pad controller on the market and make them fully customisable in just downright ridiculous ways. They have aupprt for specific things like the PS controllers touch pads and RGB LEDs.


It would be really cool if they managed to implement the adaptive triggers from the Dualsense in the future.

In fact i used the Steam controller API to play Forza Horizon 5 with the Dualsense at the time of testing.

Yooooo look what was waiting for me when I got home. Wasn’t expecting it before Christmas, but I got it and its holidays for me now. Wool!

The battery door is all good and I forgot it came.with rechargeable batteries, I was very happy and really pleased with how they did it. Its like the perfect mesh of PSs internal rechargeable smooth case design, and the xBoxs AA battery support.

Now to get to playing with it… Installing GTA on my Phone hahahah.#

EDIT: Excellently good.I of course did the man thing and not read the instructions and tried to use it right away, connected to the phone just fine but would not be controller things. Ah yeah the SADX switch, A for Android right? still nothing, actually reads instructions, A is for mac… D is DirectInput and thats for android, huh okay. ~

All working good, great even.

Played some Particle Arcade Shooter (Geometry Wars) as I love that game but you need a controller, very nice. Played some Cannabalt, every button is jump haha even pushing up on the stick, but it is a one button game, I just like they made the effort to map everything possible to jump. Installed GTA, VC and SA, played some VC and man those 10th Anniversary edition on Android look and run great, not perfect but pretty good and great for messing around with every now and then on on a small screen, Shame they messed up the newest ones, kids will never understand the joy of the coke fuelled madness that it was and just how much it changed games today.

But this is getting way off topic, this is about the controller, It is WONDERFUL! Feel great, the grips are long enough and they have the underside texture of PS4 controllers, the vibration is really nice, the buttons feel great. I was thrown for a while with the default Nintendo buttons but I got their “Ultimate Software” and that is also really nice, Remapped them to standard PS/XB layout and I was terrorising Miami like the good old days.


You see, that was what made me upgrade from the SN30 Pro+ to the Pro 2 in the first place, the Pro+ was great on PC and even on the PS3 (with a Mayflash adapter), but it was so bad on Android since it retained the Nintendo layout, which i’m not accustomed at all, and the Ultimate Software basically only works on the Pro 2.
In fact i still wish 8BitDo would’ve made the software available for the old model.
Also, Microsoft claims the Xbox controller is compatible with Android, i guess i oughta try that out, even 8BitDo sells a clip to use it with cellphones.

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I know the standard xBox controllers, back to the 360 days work find on android.

Dualsense: Redemption

4 months have passed since i first got hold of (and sold) my first Dualsense controller.
Since the current owner is my close friend, he told me about some issues he was having with the unit, specially in comparison with his white Dualsense, thus revealing that i’ve, unfortunately, reviewed a defective unit.
He got that unit RMA’d and is going to receive a replacement, meanwhile i bought myself a second Dualsense, this time around a “Midnight Black” unit.
I’ve been using it since saturday morning when i picked it up at the store, it feels the same as the previous unit, but battery life is much, much better.
I’ll keep testing this unit for a few more days to come to a conclusion.
I also plan to use this unit with my Playstation 3, since it has motion sensors and i’ve ordered a Brook Wingman XE converter.


I did a bunch of shopping around for a wireless controller for PC a while back. My conclusion was that an old 360 controller with the dedicated wireless dongle had noticably less latency than any Bluetooth controller that I tested at the time. Any other features fell to the wayside at that point for me.

Maybe this has changed since? But I recall a similar latency with the xbone controller I tried a while back.

Was there much of a different between the units you tested?

Latency wise i personally cannot feel difference at all between those 3 units, even if i used them from far away (3 meters~), they are all pretty much instant.
Those 360 controllers with the radio adapter you mentioned are very good, i used to have one, used for almost 5 years before the sticks began to drift and the battery compartment began to play tricks on me (easily replaceable, though), it was a pretty good controller, the radio was very strong.

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My left stick occasionally drifts and I’ve had my battery compartment apart for cleaning twice :laughing:

Guess it wasn’t just me!

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