The Xbox One's controller is just as effective for many genres of PC gaming, particularly with title crossover via Microsoft's Play Anywhere. It's easy to set up, but there are a couple of tricks to it that can confuse people. Here's what you need to know to get your Xbox One pad up and running on your PC.
How to Connect Your Xbox One Controller to PC
Microsoft's last couple of Xbox controllers, unlike the Dual Shock 4, are specifically supported by Windows 10. Most Xbox One pads, whether they're official Microsoft products or from a third-party manufacturer like PowerA, can be connected directly to a Windows 10 PC via a micro-USB cable. Even wireless Xbone pads usually have a micro-USB port on top, between the two bumpers, and can be made into wired PC controllers with minimal hassle. If it doesn't work on your first attempt, try it with a different micro-USB cable, as the first one might've been only capable of charging a device.
Plug your controller in, and after a minimal period of automatic setup, you should be ready to roll. Keep in mind that if your pad uses batteries, it will still be draining power from them while it's hooked up to the PC. This isn't like the Dual Shock 4 where it connects and charges via the same cable; Xbox One controllers want those two AAs in place at all times.
The only real problems you can have with an Xbox One controller on PC come from their weird relationship with Bluetooth. While most new Xbone pads come with full Bluetooth compatibility, many don't, particularly older models. It can be confusing when you're holding a perfectly functional wireless pad that nonetheless can't be discovered by a Bluetooth-enabled device.
There's an easy at-a-glance way to figure out which controller you've got, though. With newer-model wireless Xbone controllers, starting around the launch of the Xbox One S, the molding around their Home buttons is the same color if not actually the same piece as the controller's face. These controllers come standard with Bluetooth and can be used with compatible PCs and phones. Older Xbone controllers often have a separately-colored molding around the Home button, and the oldest models won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom; these cannot be hooked up to anything besides an Xbox One. Check out the photo below for a visual comparison.
The Minecraft special edition controller, top, has full Bluetooth compatibility. The wireless controller that shipped with the Quantum Break edition of the Xbox One, bottom, does not. Observe the different styles of molding around the Home button.
As long as you've definitely got a Bluetooth-compatible Xbox One controller, you should be able to hook it up to a Bluetooth-enabled PC or laptop in the same way as you would any other device. Otherwise, your best bet is going to be using the micro-USB cable.
With the Xbox Series X on the horizon, it's a weirdly good time to get into the Xbox One; the end of a console's life cycle always sees some great deals. Check out our game hub for recommendations, reviews, and tips, including:
- Here's what Microsoft is saying about COVID-19's impact on its 2020 lineup
- Check out this purple, transparent special-edition Xbox One controller
- The Cyberpunk 2020 Xbox One X even glows in the dark
The Xbox One controller is great for all sorts of PC games, whether it's old arcade classics, new retro-styled platformers, or the occasional four-button fighting game. Pick your favorite PC game that plays better on a pad and let us know about it via our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.