5 best high-quality budget controllers for Xbox & PC to buy

The Turtle Beach React-R controller rests on a rubber mat.

image: Kotaku

If you need a gamepad with a detachable USB-C cable, two rear buttons, in standard Xbox form, and just want to spend around $40, you should consider the Turtle Beach React-R.

React-R has a slightly hollow and lightweight feel, which makes it feel like the most “budget” of the “budget” devices here. It also means that this controller is quite large. Button presses and thumb movements ring out at a very audible level. The USB-C jack can also cause problems for larger cables because they run the risk of not fitting into the case. Use the supplied cable (not pictured) or attach to a slim USB-C cable. But don’t skip this one.

The buttons and triggers all feel responsive enough, if not as fast and snappy as the more expensive controllers (or even some on this list, in fact). They have almost the same feel and similar sound when pressed. However, there can be shake or miss on PC, as it doesn’t always work with some games. When it happens, this is sure to rumble.

The two assignable rear buttons are shaped like a wide, upside-down L, which means you can press them by squeezing the grip on your middle finger toward your palm, or you can push your fingers up. controller to activate them.

The standard d-pad “satellite dish” on modern Xbox controllers is a bit spongy, but it doesn’t float in the slot or anything. The gamepad also has a lot of textured surfaces that feel a bit prickly at first, but those surfaces will likely wear down over time. Given its extras, especially the rear buttons, it’s a good value if you just want that simple backup controller, which you pull out of a drawer a few times a month. It also uses a USB-C cable, so you won’t need to track down another or proprietary cable if most of your peripherals have migrated to the newer standard.

But really the best part of this controller is the low entry cost to get started with professional setups with assignable rear buttons. The rear buttons aren’t for everyone, and arguably they’re mostly beneficial for competitive games (especially shooters). But consider Turtle Beach React-R (and even some of the other controllers on this list) as an affordable way to try the feature out if you haven’t already. Think of it as a “trainer” and develop a bit of muscle memory for the rear buttons before using it two or three times on an Xbox Elite or Scuf controller. You may find you don’t use them, and can then hook up this controller or upgrade to something like a regular Xbox Core gamepad and save yourself the money on a professional controller. be fooled when you may not ‘don’t need or use those features.

Luckily, mapping the rear buttons on this controller is easy. Double tap the center button, then tap the back button you want to assign, followed by the button you want to assign to it and you’re done. Fast enough even to reset it while the counter respawns if you want to try some different setups.

Figuring out how to take advantage of the back-end buttons can involve some trial and error if you’re new. That’s why it’s sometimes better to count those training hours with something more affordable than putting the mileage on a more expensive piece of equipment when you’re just learning. Basically, when you’re ready to switch to this controller because it runs its process or you’re interested in a more advanced device, React-R will let you know if you want to prioritize the the button is assignable behind or not. So I think this is a solid value.

React-R also has a unique feature called “Superhuman Hearing”. You press a button in the center area, and if you have headphones connected to the gutsy 3.5mm jack at the bottom, the game’s audio will be handled differently. I’m hesitant to call this a gimmick, but honestly, I can’t think of a scenario where this would actually work for me, even in a game that requires more hearing like , such as, Surround (and I won’t be caught playing that game on a controller). So yeah, I think it’s a gimmick.

But what does this even do? Well, I ran a quick EQ test of the audio’s output with this mode enabled, and I deduced that it must be running the game’s audio through some kind of gentle low-pass filter and/ or it could be enhancing some of the mids and highs on the EQ spectrum. It basically means that the controller squeezes the game volume and higher frequencies, so theoretically loud, squeaky, squeaky sounds like reloading and footsteps should be loud. than. It is remixing game audio to highlight the areas where those sounds are most clearly defined. That really makes sense, but I don’t see this catching on in the way that the rear buttons are assignable.

Listening to this mode at high volume for a significant amount of time can tire you out, if not potentially damage your hearing. Turtle Beach intends this to be a quick thing that you turn on in the moment to get a sound advantage of stealth objections, but I’m not playing the game right or am not convinced of this. It’s a neat feature, but I’ve never used it other than running some audio tests on it to find out what it’s doing.

Turtle Beach React-R also has a slightly more expensive sibling that will sometimes show up in search results when you’re searching for this: The Recon. While it usually sells for under $60, its list price makes it more competitive with the Xbox Core controller than anything else on this list. For that reason, Recon will be a topic for another day… but if you can get one that sells for the same price as React-R, it’s a higher-end device and has similar features. self — including silly listening mode. .

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