The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 wired controller for Xbox Series X|S provides premium features at a budget price. But, does this budget pro controller have what it takes to compete?
Take one glance at the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired controller and you might see an Xbox One-style controller. But after a closer look, PowerA’s Elite controller competitor has much more going on under the hood than meets the eye. As one of the most important pieces of tech in your setup, it might make a compelling alternative to Microsoft’s official, expensive counterpart.
- Weight: 370g
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Compatibility: Xbox Series X|S, PC
- Price: $89.99 / £79.99
- Features: Four removable back paddles, replaceable sticks, magnetic faceplates, microphone rocker, three-way trigger lock, 3.5mm audio jack.
- Where to buy: Amazon US, Amazon UK
What’s in the box: PowerA Fusion Pro 2 controller, white faceplate, 1x heightened concave thumbstick, 1x heightened convex thumbstick, detachable aviator-style USB-A to USB-C cable (3m), carrying case.
From the front, the design of the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 controller looks a lot like an Xbox One pad, with an extra share button and volume rocker on the bottom. However, on closer inspection, you can see that the controller also has a rubberized sheen. This rubberized grip is carried over to the back of the controller, where you’ll also be able to spot the controller’s four back paddles and trigger locking mechanism.
The two-toned black and grey/green rubberized finish looks good at first glance. But, when you look at the parts of the controller encased in black plastic, things take a grim turn. The raw black plastic looks and feels cheap. It’s the same kind of matte plastic that you’d expect to see on the back of a television set from the late 90s. Your TV remote probably has a better finish on the raw plastic than this controller does. The included white faceplate looks good but appears to be at odds with the rest of the controller’s colorway. It could make a great sacrificial plate if you wanted to customize it yourself with a bit of spray paint.
The buttons all look good in a glossy black finish, with the sticks adopting the same tone of grey as the default faceplate. Turning the controller around, you’ll see the grey/green rubberized grip extend all the way up with a lattice effect to enhance your grip. In the centre, you’ll find the three-way trigger locking mechanism, which looks like basic switches, in addition to a detachable unit housing the four metal paddles. The unit for the paddles is raised slightly above the controller, and you can easily remove it with a blank, which uses the same cheap-looking plastic.
It looks fantastic at first glance, and the flaws only really appear when you take a real close look at the controller itself. We have some concerns over the longevity of the rubberized finish, but it looks good, though it doesn’t have that premium oomph of the Elite V2 from Microsoft, or the Razer Wolverine.
The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 has a healthy dose of included features, including premium features like back paddles, a three-way trigger lock, and oodles of customization underneath the detachable magnetic faceplate. Removing the faceplate allows you to get access to the removable thumbstick caps, where you’re able to replace them with either a heightened concave or convex cap. Swapping them out takes less than 20 seconds, and it’s a nice little touch that gives you a deeper level of customization.
To use the optional four back paddles, you’ll need to program them first. This software-less solution just has you pressing a program button on the back, then pressing the button you want the paddle to mimic, and then the paddle you wish to assign it to. We’re all for having features baked into the controller with no messing around with software, and it’s incredibly easy to use.
Unfortunately in practice, the raised design of the back paddle unit isn’t comfortable in use, and we ended up ditching it for most of our testing. The main issue is that it’s incredibly difficult to comfortably grip the controller without accidentally actuating a paddle. This could have been mitigated with a slightly slimmer unit, or by integrating the paddles into the design of the controller, instead of bolting it on via a separate unit.
The trigger-stop functions are incredibly easy to switch around, with three levels that you can swap over with the flick of a finger. This works decently enough. However, each stick actuates at a different level, when looking at the raw numbers. It’s barely perceptible in use, but still there. Reporting from our gamepad testing software shows that this is also the case on the controller’s end, too. There may be a case for making a slightly more robust trigger-stop, but it doesn’t affect gameplay at all.
We kicked off our testing of the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 with some torture testing for its basic functionality; naturally, this means that we gave it a spin over on Street Fighter III: Third Strike, a game notorious for difficult execution windows, and requires precise inputs. The buttons were all responsive, with nothing too out of the ordinary when it came to its feeling. It’s a standard membrane button, like most other controllers on the market currently. The D-pad managed to perform admirably, but you’ll have to get used to sliding your thumb around indiscriminately. We wish there was a microswitch-based D-pad instead of a membrane one, it’d mitigate the issues of actuating the input entirely, and it’d raise the premium feeling just a little bit more.
In Halo: Infinite, where the controller managed to perform admirably, and the paddles came in much handier, binding certain face-button functions over onto the paddles so that we could always keep an eye on our aim. Aside from the discomfort when using the paddles and a couple of instances of accidental actuation, it was very similar to using an official Xbox controller, with a couple more bells and whistles attached. The triggers stop harshly, with no soft bottom-out, as you see on the Xbox Series controllers, which would have been a nice addition.
PowerA’s website notes that the controller makes use of an industry-standard ALPS analog stick, like all analog sticks of this type, it is prone to degradation over time and is near-impossible to replace on this particular controller without some soldering know-how. A Hall-sensing analog stick such as the ones made by Gulikit would have been welcome, as it’s a truly ‘Pro’ solution for the controller industry’s deepening stick-drift issue. We also found that the sticks made an ever-so-slight noise any time we moved them out of a neutral position, which is less than ideal.
Our stick circularity test, looks at how well the sticks accurately record their circular input. The included sticks managed to achieve a 12.7% error rate on the left stick, and a 13.2% error rate on the right stick. This is exactly the level of performance we would expect out of an ALPS-manufactured stick. This is only ever beaten by a hall-sensing stick, which no mainstream manufacturers have adopted yet.
Curiously after a couple of hours of using the controller, a strange thought popped into our heads. Just how is this controller so heavy, coming in heavier than the Microsoft Elite Controller V2, while also not housing any sort of battery? We did our due diligence and popped the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 controller open via the screws included on the back, and found two metal weights fastened on either side of the controller.
This is a bit of a disappointing revelation, there are far more ways to make a controller feel more premium without having to chuck a couple of huge metal weights inside. Nacon, for example, chooses to make weights an optional feature. It’s a missed trick to make this yet another feature in the controller’s arsenal. You can also make a controller feel more premium just by increasing the quality of the materials used. Needless to say, removing them isn’t intended or recommended as it’ll leave the controller feeling a little bit too hollow.
The included detachable braided cable is long and feels premium. We only wished that we could also use it without the wires, too. However, for the folks looking to go to tournaments and not risk the tiniest amounts of input lag, the cable serves its purpose incredibly well, with a deeply recessed USB-C port on the controller ensuring that it’s not going to pop out without an intentional tug.
The whole package
It’s difficult to fault the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 controller too much when you consider everything that it’s offering to the table. It’s certainly not perfect, and we’ve had our own small niggles with it. However, when you take into the entire package, including the sheer number of things included in the controller, it becomes difficult to fault the value proposition offered. The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 wired controller stands with a huge arsenal of features, while also coming at a price point that won’t make your bank account wince. We wished that it had slightly higher build quality, but aside from that? If you’re in desperate need of a tournament-grade controller and don’t want to shell out for the more expensive alternatives, this is a good option.
The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 wired controller isn’t perfect, but it’s more than a serviceable controller that is packed full of features and optional extras that controllers in its price point wished it had. Considering how often this controller gets discounted, you might want to keep an eye out to grab one for yourself.