reviews\ Dec 13, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Xbox 360 Controller for Windows - 360 - Review

PC Gamers and Xbox gamers can finally have one great item in common, an incredible controller.

With the release of the Xbox 360 the next generation of console gaming has debuted. This usually creates two warring factions within the gaming community, the next gen-console lovers and high-end PC lovers. Both camps try to outdo each other by spewing out specs for their newest gear. You hear bold claims from both sides in the hopes of making the other side jealous of what their machines cannot do. But rarely does an item get released by a console company that is cross compatible with both their next gen console and a PC. Since the Xbox 360 is a Microsoft product then it makes sense for Microsoft to try and bring some semblance of cross functionality to the console gaming market and the PC market.

The Xbox 360 controller for Windows is just the product to try and connect the two warring factions. Instead of waiting months and months for either the console version or PC version to come out, the Xbox 360 controller for Windows was introduced shortly before the 360 system was released in America. The purpose of the controller is let gamers have a standard controller they can use for either the Xbox 360 or a PC. There have been plenty of controllers released for PC gamers but none of them have been designed as the same controller for a console system or designed by the same manufacturer as the console version. Heck, I will even admit to buying a few USB adapters to use a PS2 Dual Shock controller since I have always enjoyed console controllers. This isn’t to say that there hasn’t been good PC controllers but it’s simply to point out that no one (to my knowledge) has ever decided to release a controller that will work for both a console unit and a PC.

The Xbox 360 controller for Windows is essentially the wired version of the Xbox 360 controller. The controller comes packaged with a CD-ROM that allows you to install the drivers to run the controller in Windows XP. As soon as the drivers are installed you simply plug the controller into an open USB slot on a Windows XP machine and the USB plug and play interface does the rest. I had the controller up and running in less than five minutes on my PC. I then played, in my opinion, the biggest challenge for a PC controller, a FPS game. The game was none other than Halo.

Why not Halo?  It was only the game that made the Xbox successful and the PC version includes the often-discussed online aspect sorely lacking from the Xbox version. The game recognized the controller right away but I still had to assign every action to a button on the controller. I didn’t see a pre-configured setting for the controller in the control options. I noticed that I did run out of buttons on the controller when I got to the online commands such as speaking to your team or opponents. The controller is limited to a certain number of buttons, which means it won’t replace your keyboard on certain games. I mapped all of the Halo single-player actions to mirror the original Xbox layout with the white and black buttons being replaced by the left and right shoulder or trigger buttons.

With all of the actions mapped I was ready to play. Thankfully Halo played like a charm on the PC with the Xbox 360 controller. It made me want to play through the entire single-player game again since I was enjoying the controller so much. There were no aiming problems or misfires when using the controller when compared to a mouse and keyboard.  The controller feels great with almost all of the buttons being placed where they need to be.

The shoulder buttons are the only two buttons I would say seem to be “off.”  When trying to use one of the shoulder buttons and one of the colored buttons on the controller I felt as if I needed to stop before I could hit the should button. This happened all the time when I would try to press the left should button and keep moving with the left analog stick. My brain would try to get me to stop and only perform one function at a time. Either I would move or I press the shoulder button. It felt strange trying to do both at the same time. The rest of the controller is laid out wonderfully with all of the buttons being the right size, the analog sticks were just the right mixtures of tightness & responsiveness and the weight of the controller feeling perfectly balanced. I would even say that I preferred the weight of this controller to the weight of the standard wireless 360 controller. The wireless controller still feels too light for me and I was surprised just how pleasant the controller felt with the extra weight from the cord.

Besides Halo I also tried out some classic old school games to see how well the controller would perform with side-scrolling games and a 2D fighter. Almost all of the games played great with the exception of a few pauses when trying to move right when using the analog stick. When I switched to the directional pad this problem went away which could indicate the problem was with either the controller or the game. Finally I plugged in the controller to the Xbox 360 to see how the controller played on its home console. The controller plugged right into one of the front USB ports and was recognized immediately. The circle of light came on and functioned as normal when connected to the 360 (the guide button has no function when plugged into a PC). The controller played the same as the standard wireless controller except with the little extra weight that I mentioned earlier.

If you’re looking for another controller for your Xbox 360 or looking for a great USB controller for your PC then look no further than the Xbox 360 controller for XP. This controller is one of the best controllers you can buy right now. The ability to use it as a dual-function controller makes it even worthier of consideration. I have always been on the lookout for a great PC controller and I can finally say that I can stop looking. But when I’m not using it to play PC games and I can plug it in to the 360 and play for hours without the worries of battery loss or interference from other wireless devices. I probably should finally admit to everyone that I prefer playing a FPS game with a controller rather than using a mouse and keyboard. I know you can’t get the same response time from a controller as you can a keyboard and mouse but I always have problems keeping centered on the action when using a mouse. I never notice this problem when playing with a controller and with the Xbox 360 controller for Windows I felt right at home playing Halo. While the rest of you are getting wrist pains from using a mouse and keyboard I will be sitting back using my shiny new white ambassador of gaming goodness, the Xbox 360 controller for XP.

Review Scoring Details for Xbox 360 Controller for Windows


  • Superior design to the original (and controller S) Xbox controller.
  • Controller remains comfortable during long gaming sessions, great weight balance.
  • Compatible with both the Xbox 360 and Windows XP PCs.


  • Limited buttons for some PC games.
  • Price ($39.99) is still steep for gamers looking for an additional controller.

Overall: 9.0
The controller offers a great design with great playability and comfort with only one minor complaint about the shoulder buttons. Maybe the next generation of controllers can offer shoulder buttons that sit underneath the trigger buttons?




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