I’m not crying, you’re crying! That’s my elementary response whenever someone notices how distraught I am that the Xbox Series X is still so hard to come by. I haven’t gotten my pre-order in yet, a real shame considering we’re just a few weeks out from launch. With an Xbox One X that still plays everything I want, I’m not sweating it too much. After all, I’ve got time to consider which accessories I want whenever it’s time to make the jump.
It’s not too early for you, either. You can even start buying all the controllers, hard drives, and headsets you want today and trial them on your Xbox One. That’s thanks to Microsoft’s undying commitment to cross-generation functionality, and that perk extends to the games, too. Whether you want the new hotness (hot newness?) for your Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S or you’re fine bringing over some of the older stuff, here are the best accessories you can buy today.
Let’s start with the bad news for anyone who cares about this: the Xbox Series X official controller ($60) isn’t a radical upgrade compared to the Xbox One version. (And it really doesn’t have to be—it’s already excellent.) It has an improved directional pad, analog sticks, triggers, and bumpers, and Microsoft added a dedicated button for sharing your best clips and screenshots with friends, but there’s nothing “fresh” or “new” to behold, unless you think this awesome Shock Blue color variant is worth paying an extra $5 for.
But the good news is that you can use a regular old Xbox One controller with your Xbox Series X or Series S. That’ll save you anywhere from $10 to $20 compared to the new one depending on which color you get, a fine route to go if you’re on a tight budget and you only deal with official accessories.
The Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller is a harsh jump to a new price bracket at $179, but this controller has interchangeable directional pads and analog sticks, customizable tension for the sticks and triggers, rear-facing paddles, and a lot more. Also, consider saving $20 and going with the cheaper Razer Wolverine Ultimate, which adds RGB lighting and built-in customizable multi-function buttons, including mute and volume controls for wired headsets.
If you need extra controllers for the kids, don’t spend your whole budget on official controllers. They might get by just fine with something like this $27 PowerA wired controller, which does much of the same stuff at a fraction of the cost.
Real racers will want to hit the streets with a steering wheel instead of a controller when the next Forza installment arrives. If that’s you, there are plenty of options on avail, but none more impressive than the Logitech G920.
This premium racing wheel features two-way force feedback to simulate wheel friction during hard turns, and the pedals are responsive with different pressure levels to manage the throttle. The wheel supports a full range of motion with 900-degree steering. Since it has clamps and screw mounting points, you can even attach it to a table or mean racing bucket setup for even better control.
The Thrustmaster TMX is slightly cheaper than the G920, but no less effective. It too has an adjustable 900-degree steering wheel and force feedback, and you’ll get realistic brake resistance in one of the two pedals, which feature height adjustment to help you find the most comfortable position. Add more pedals and a stick shift later on to further loosen the restraints.
While any standard external hard drive will work on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, you’ll want official (or officially licensed) products like Seagate’s 1TB expansion card for the best performance.
That’s because this card uses a faster form of solid state memory that enables awesome console features, the most notable being the ability to switch between several games at a moment’s notice without having to sit through endless loading screens. It enjoys all the same benefits of the Xbox Velocity architecture leveraged by the internal storage, though it is prohibitively expensive at $220. But don’t worry, cheaper, third party options will be available down the line.
If $200+ doesn’t sound like an appealing purchase after splurging on a whole new console, you’re in luck: the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will read from a regular external hard drive just fine, the downside being that you won’t get the quick resume or speedier load times, and you’ll need to sit through a quick transfer process before you can actually play. If you don’t mind that, your money will stretch much further with something like this Western Digital Black Game Drive. It’s a 5TB USB-powered external that’s normally around $120 on sale.
If that’s still too much, the 2TB model for $80 is pretty much identical, and I can tell you from experience that it holds dozens of large games just fine.
Seagate also has its own line of standard game drives, and we’ll start with this must-have for Cyberpunk 2077 fans. It’s 2TB at $86, and you can get one that does the same thing with the same capacity much cheaper ($58), but then you risk angering Keanu Reeves, and we don’t want that.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a game drive (where’s the fun in that?!), so something like this $60 Toshiba with 2TB of space works just fine, too. Whatever you decide, just don’t get one that requires AC power on top of a USB connection. It’s the worst.
I’d sooner suggest picking up the Seagate Expansion Card for the money, but an external SSD offers much quicker transfer speeds than the options listed above. You can’t go wrong with the Samsung T5 if you’re taking this route.
Most people are going to opt for a wired headset for a few different reasons. The freedom of wireless is nice, but you may have to contend with audio desync, connection issues, and worsening battery life.
If you’re looking to stay on the wired train, the Astro A10 is a good set to start with. Just $60, it has some of the best comfort and sound you’ll find in this price range. I’ve come to love flip-to-mute microphones personally, and Astro has arguably the best one. That rings true across its entire lineup.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 is another great headset in the range. It’s a tad cheaper at $50, and you’ll lose some of the comfort features that make others in the Arctis line go-to recommendations, but you get the same audio quality and the added benefit of a detachable microphone.
If you’re hurting for coin, try the HyperX Cloud Stinger instead. It’s only $31 at present, and you aren’t getting an exciting headset for that much, but with 50mm drivers and a solid microphone, it sure beats this thing.
While all of those headsets hold their own, they can’t compare to the depth of sound you’ll get from something like the Astro A40 TR. With the MixAmp and a host of customization options in the Astro Command Center app, the A40 TR offers rich, powerful audio unimpeded by the pitfalls of wireless.
If you’re going wireless, consider the Astro A50. It’s pricey, but this headset has amazing sound, a rock-solid low latency wireless connection, game volume and balance controls baked right into the ear cup, and full EQ customization through the Astro Command Center app on PC.
From someone who wears them 10+ hours a day (the battery is rated for 15 hours on a single charge), I can confirm they’re comfortable enough to sit on your head all day thanks to abundant soft padding. Thanks to the base stand it slots into for charging, the Astro A50 works on both Xbox and PC, and you’ll have plenty of connectivity options for routing audio in and out from multiple sources.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X comes in about $100 cheaper than the Astro A50 when they’re not on sale, and you get the added bonus of a true Xbox Wireless connection, meaning there are no wires or dongles contending for your sanity. With 20-hour battery life, SteelSeries’ balanced sound profile, a great noise-canceling microphone, and comfort beyond this world, it’s the best pound-for-pound wireless Xbox headset on the market.
A little lower down the totem pole, the Turtle Beach Stealth 700s are still pretty good. These also boast Xbox Wireless capabilities, and the 50mm drivers (which you can tune to perfection with a smartphone app) are impressively boomy. I’ve always had microphone feedback issues with older Turtle Beach headsets, but those concerns have been quelled in this second generation product. I’ll award bonus points to Turtle Beach for finally implementing flip-to-mute.
While I haven’t used these personally, countless reviews say the HyperX Cloud X Flight has great sound. A detachable microphone earns it bonus points because, well, these things fail from time to time. While it’s not Xbox Wireless, it boasts some of the best battery life you’ll find in a headset at 30 consecutive hours.
Need to shave a few more dollars off the budget? Try out the newest Astro A20. Inside are the same 40mm drivers that make the Astro A10 a joy to use, but you also get 50 feet of wireless freedom that works up to 15 hours long, and that it’s not Xbox Wireless might actually be a plus for multi-platform players as the USB dongle allows for easy switching between Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Contrary to irrational fanboy arguments, Microsoft’s insistence on using a AA battery bay in its official Xbox controllers is quite nice. It gives you the option to use both standard batteries and special ones like the Xbox Play and Charge Kit, which you can recharge while they’re in the controller with the included USB-C cable. There are separate versions for OG Xbox One controllers and for the Xbox Series X/S, $25 each.
But take it from me: it’s worth going for rechargeable AA batteries instead. Not only do they last a good bit longer than the Play and Charge Kit, but with four, you can have one set in the controller while the other charges. With a little practice, swapping them out mid-session takes no more than 10 seconds, meaning you never have to be tethered to a USB cable or dock the controller. You can also use them in a pinch for dead remotes and other emergencies. (Yes, a dead remote is an emergency.) These high capacity Panasonic Eneloop batteries have been a reliable source of power for me over the years.