If you bought an Xbox controller and you want to use it wirelessly with a PC, there are two options: buy the Microsoft Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 or use Bluetooth.
The Microsoft Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 costs around $20 which can be a lot for some people. Is it worth it?
I already own a PC and I added an Xbox Series S to my setup, so I was wondering what’s the best way to use my Xbox controller with my PC.
Is The Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 Worth It?
The Xbox Wireless Adapter for windows 10 is worth it because it creates a reliable Wi-fi connection to your controller, there’s minimal latency, and you can connect up to 8 controllers at a time.
You can buy one here: Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 Amazon
Be careful with fake wireless adapters!
What is the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10?
The adapter is a USB dongle that creates a direct Wi-fi connection from the PC to the controller, similar to how Xbox consoles connect to controllers.
The Xbox Wireless Adapter for PC allows you to wirelessly connect an Xbox One or Xbox Series controller to your PC.
It’s plug-and-play so no drivers are required. Honestly, it is so seamless that you will probably forget it’s connected.
How to Pair Xbox Controller to Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10
- Plug the USB wireless adapter into an available USB port on your PC.
- Hold the Sync button (circular button on the front of your Xbox controller) until the light flashes
- Press the top button on the Xbox Wireless Adapter
- The lights on the adapter will flash and then remain stable once it’s connected to the controller
- Start using your Xbox controller on a PC
How to Switch Xbox Controller from PC to Xbox
To reconnect your Xbox controller to your Xbox, tap the pair button twice. The light will flash a couple of times and then it should connect to the console.
When you tap the pairing button on the controller it cycles through paired devices, so tap it again to connect it to your PC.
If you’re only using an Xbox controller with a PC, hold down the Xbox button on the controller and it’ll automatically connect to the PC.
Updating Xbox Controller Firmware on PC
Steam and Windows can automatically update your controller’s firmware. I recommend using Window’s official Xbox Accessories app.
To download the app, open Microsoft Store and type in Xbox Accessories and install it. Connect your controller with the included wire.
If a firmware update is available, it a pop-up will appear and the update will begin.
What About Bluetooth?
The new Xbox controllers (Xbox One and Xbox Series) use support Bluetooth.
For the most part, connecting an Xbox to a PC with Bluetooth is straightforward. The input lag is reasonable and it’s good enough for most games.
Many PCs have motherboards with built-in Bluetooth, so it’s a matter of pairing the controller via Bluetooth and you should be good.
My PC doesn’t have Bluetooth, so I bought a very cheap Bluetooth dongle to pair my controller.
The dongle is much cheaper than the official Xbox Wireless Adapter, so I figured I was being smart and saving money.
And… it works fine. I’ve played many hours of Rocket League on PC with my Xbox controller paired with Bluetooth.
Bluetooth Connection & Other Issues with Xbox Controllers
The problem is Bluetooth can be unreliable at times. It’s very susceptible to interference, which can make you lose control. Also, the Bluetooth adapter could be finicky.
At other times, Bluetooth can cause computers to lag and freeze, encounter driver issues, and a host of other potential problems.
The connection quality mostly depends on where the Bluetooth dongle is located. If it’s behind your computer, and your computer is under a desk, there may be significant connection issues.
To eliminate those issues, I recommend connecting the USB dongle to the front-facing USB ports on your PC.
Another option is using a male-to-female USB cable to bring the dongle up close, preferably within a direct line of sight to your controller.
I also have to pull out the dongle and reconnect it from time to time because Windows stops recognizing it. Not to mention repairing the controller quite a few times.
When Bluetooth works, it’s good. But it can cut out for no apparent reason.
Bluetooth Doesn’t Support Audio-passthrough to Xbox Controller on a PC
Bluetooth doesn’t support audio-passthrough to the controller. Instead, the audio will come from your PC’s speakers or any headset that is connected to your PC.
You can’t pair your controller to your PC over Bluetooth and then use headphones connected to the controller. Trust me! I tried.
So if you want to lie back on the couch or bed while you game with headphones, tough luck.
Luckily, the official Xbox Wireless adapter supports audio pass-through.
Reasons to Buy the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows:
- You want a reliable wireless connection between your Xbox controller and PC
- You want to use wireless audio-passthrough to your Xbox controller
- You want to connect up to 8 controllers at a time
- You want something that is on all the time and you don’t need to reconnect
Reasons Not to Buy:
- Your PC already has Bluetooth and the connection works fine
The Bottom Line
To summarize, in my opinion, it’s a good idea to invest in the Microsoft Xbox Wireless adapter for Windows 10 because it makes gaming with an Xbox controller so much easier.
The real bonus is you can get audio-pass through just like with a console. So you can connect headphones or even a headset to your controller like you would with your Xbox.