To say the abundance of third-party gaming controllers for your Xbox console or Windows PC is almost endless is probably an understatement. More often than not, you would want to supplant your PC games with some solid controller support, or at least get a cheaper alternative to the standard S$80 Xbox Wireless Controller, which is still considered a steep price point for most gamers.
These days, you can easily nab a decent-to-good third-party controller for much less than that. Sure, it might not carry the fancy Microsoft/Xbox name, but most of these models is sure to get the job done in terms of providing one a functioning controller with which to play games. The more important question, then, is whether they get the job done well.
PowerA has Xbox/PC controllers in its arsenal and its more recent models offer a decent alternative to what Microsoft typically offers. The PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller is one such example, designed to (hopefully) offer a more affordable entry point for PC gamers for $10 less, without compromising on build quality and functionality. Meanwhile, the PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired Controller is aimed to offer a much more premium and bespoke experience a la the Xbox Elite Wired Controller, coming in at a S$149.99 price point.
As its name suggests, the PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller ditches the wireless convenience for a more reliable and durable wired connection. Right out of the box, you get the controller itself, as well as a detachable 3-metre (10ft) braided USB cable that snaps firmly into place once attached. I really like how the cable is braided, which really should be the standard for all USB cables these days, as it adds a bit more years to the overall longevity of the controller.
From the onset, the Spectra Infinity Enhanced looks almost like the Xbox Wireless Controller, sans cable. The build quality is surprisingly good, with a smooth, matte black finish, sturdy plastic buttons and analogue sticks, and finely detailed grooves on the edges of the analogue sticks and the underside of the controller handles for a better grip. I tend to have slightly sweaty palms when gaming sometimes, especially during tension-filled moments in Dark Souls or God of War, and having a bit more insurance with these grooves really helps a lot. The presence of an audio jack, complete with a volume knob that can toggle your mic on and off with a single click for added convenience is always great.
I do have to say, though, that after over 3 months of using the controller, the matte finish does attract quite a bit of dust and fingerprint marks, which meant that I had to wipe clean my controller with a piece of cloth quite often to maintain that freshness as best I could.
The Spectra Infinity Enhanced feels light to hold, most likely due to the lack of a battery pack, making it really comfortable to hold for long gaming sessions. There is some tension when I’m swivelling the thumbsticks, pressing the buttons, and pulling on the shoulder triggers. I’m a fan of tension in the triggers and analogue sticks in particular, makes for precise movements and actions, especially for FPS games such as Borderlands 3. It also gives me the impression that a lot of care and effort has been put into the crafting of the controller, despite being on the lower end of the price spectrum.
Despite the solid build on the Spectra Infinity, this controller suffers from having a lack of dedicated app support. For context, you’re able to activate in-built LED lighting on the Spectra Infinity, which adds some really cool and flashy (pun intended) effects to your controller while gaming, as well as program more complex controls onto two additional buttons located on the underside of the controller.
In both instances, you’d have to manually operate the controller using a series of simple-yet-convoluted button combinations. This is especially so with the LED lighting, as you’d have to manually cycle between different parts of the controller that you want certain light configurations. While you could certainly get used to it, I found myself just leaving the lighting alone because it just got too tedious to customise. This is something a dedicated phone or PC app would have helped considerably, and something PowerA could consider when designing future iterations of this controller.
Other than this glaring lack of app support, I would still recommend the Spectra Infinity as a decent wired alternative to the Xbox controller.
The PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired Controller, like its Nintendo Switch counterpart, is the much more premium version for PC and Xbox gamers. This controller comes with a durable travel case, a braided 3-metre USB cable for connecting to your PC or Xbox console, as well as an additional white faceplate and convex-shaped thumbsticks if you prefer that to the standard convex ones that come attached to the controller.
On hand, the Fusion Pro 2 instantly feels much more premium than the Spectra Infinity. The matte finish is a touch smoother; the rubberised grips wrap around the handles much more, and feel much more comfortable to hold, and the buttons, triggers, and analogue sticks have slightly more tension to them as I press and swivel them around.
In addition, there is what PowerA dubs the “Pro Pack”, a set of paddles on the underside of the controller that can be programmed with custom controls to help save you the effort of resorting to those darned claw grips to reach certain button combinations. If you’ve no use for the paddles, the whole attachment can be removed with the simple press of a catch, and can be snapped back on easily.
Like the Spectra Infinity, they can be programmed by pressing a certain button on the controller’s underside, and pressing the button/trigger combinations you want to record them. Again, while it’s not too complicated a system to navigate, it would be much easier to handle and manage with the help of a dedicated app on your phone or PC to be able to view your custom controls from a bird’s-eye view. Right now, you’d have to remember which paddle holds the controls for certain button combinations, which can lead to unwanted frustration should you forget.
Having handled the Fusion Pro 2 for about the same time as the Spectra Infinity, I can tell this controller is designed to last due to how well-built its parts are. The buttons and triggers seem to be built with a much sturdier plastic than the Spectra Infinity, and the analogue sticks are protected by a rubber encasing on the edges to prevent wear and tear as I attempt to abuse them while making swerves on my mount in Elden Ring.
However, with all the bells and whistles that have been added to the controller, its heftiness literally weighs down the overall experience of using the Fusion Pro 2. Not even removing the Pro Pack helped to make holding it for long hours much less taxing on my hands. If you’re someone who prefers something much lighter and easier on the hands, I would recommend the Spectra Infinity over this one.
Just like the Nintendo Switch variants of these two controllers, picking between either is a matter of what gaming experience you’d like to have. Both seem to justify their price points quite well, but I would have to say the lack of app support is a bit of a red flag for me, given how other third-party brands have app support for their $70 wireless controllers.
However, I would say that despite this, they are just solidly-built controllers by themselves, and could easily last you for the next 3-5 years provided you take good care of them.