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Xbox Elite Series 2 vs Elite Series 2 Core: what's the difference and which should you buy?

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The Xbox Elite Series 2 Core is here to offer a more affordable entry point to the world of Microsoft's pro-level controllers. While the name may be longer, this next addition to the lineup actually slims things down. Pitched as an affordable alternative to the all-singing, all-dancing Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless, the Core model comes in at $129.99 / £114.99 ($50 / £45 less than the $179.99 / £159.99 MSRP of the original). 

Put simply, the difference between the Elite Series 2 and the Elite Series 2 Core lies in the accessories. The original Series 2 offers everything you need to customize your buttons, thumbstick, and paddles straight out of the box as literal, physical items, alongside a neat case to keep everything contained. However, the Core drops these bits, and instead makes them additional extras and a separate bundle should you wish to customize in the future. That cuts a good chunk off the price tag, and you're still getting the tension-adjustable thumbsticks and luxury rubberized grips of the original gamepad. 

We're breaking down the differences between the Xbox Elite Series 2 and the Elite Series 2 Core in finer detail just below, should you wish to explore more in this Xbox Series X controller standoff. If you already know the Core is right for you, though, you can pre-order straight away via Amazon (opens in new tab) in the US and Microsoft (opens in new tab) in the UK. 

TL;DR Xbox Elite Series 2 vs. Series 2 Core

Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

  • $179.99 / £159.99 
  • Adjustable tension thumbsticks
  • 40 hour battery life 
  • 3 custom profiles
  • Custom button mapping
  • PC compatible
  • Additional thumbsticks / paddles / D-Pad included

Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller Core

  • $129.99 / £114.99
  • Adjustable tension thumbsticks
  • 40 hour battery life 
  • 3 custom profiles 
  • Custom button mapping 
  • PC compatible 

Xbox Elite Series 2 vs. Series 2 Core: what's the same?

The Xbox Elite Series 2 and the Elite Series 2 Core both share the same fundamental design principles; an ergonomic gamepad with grippy rubberized legs and tension-adjustable thumbsticks. You'll still be able to assign and switch between custom profiles and assign your own button mapping configurations. Combine that with an identical 40-hour battery life and out-the-box compatibility with PC and you're all set.

Xbox Elite Series 2 vs Series 2 Core: what's different?

The only two differences between the two controllers lie in the price and the additional accessories. There's a big caveat here, though. Losing those additional accessories also means dropping paddles altogether, and there are far cheaper controllers that still manage to pack these extra buttons in. It's a considerable drop with just $50 off the price tag. 

Xbox Elite Series 2 vs Series 2 Core: which should you buy?

If you're after the feel of a professional gamepad without getting too close to $200, we'd recommend taking a look at Xbox controller deals on the original Elite Series 2. We've seen this price fall to as little as $139.99 in the past (though discounts may not return to this level for a while considering the new Core price point), and you're getting all the pro-level accessories built in.

We'd recommend buying the Core, however, if you're looking to replace your original model without re-buying all the extra kit, or if you're looking for the absolute lowest price on a premium controller right now. 

We're also rounding up all the best PC controllers on the market right now, as well as the best mobile controllers if you're looking to take things on the road. After something cheaper? Check out the best Xbox One controllers available today. 

Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.