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Xbox One Series X/S versus Logitech F510 Controller -

Xbox One Series X/S versus Logitech F510 Controller

Comparing the design of a popular versus a budget controller for the PC.

I've had my Logitech F510 controller for about nine years now. The textured rubber on the analog sticks have worn down, and the rubber on the back of the body is scratched up with some bare spots. The RB button caved in after dropping it one too many times, but I managed to fix it to a usable state because the button is held by a metal frame that could just be bent to hold the button in place. The left stick also developed a slight rightward dead zone, but Windows calibration seemed to fix it. Regardless, the controller isn't the most comfortable thing to use, especially for precision games like Assetto Corsa, so I decided to try a new controller.

Pretty much every review website recommends the Xbox One controller, so I bought the latest Series X/S version with USB-C cable, and I am honestly satisfied with it. Note that there is a version of the controller that does not come with a cable, so choose carefully when buying.

Controls

The main reason why I bought the F510 in the first place was because I wanted a clicky d-pad. Having used an Xbox 360 controller back then, the d-pad on that thing was mushy. A d-pad is just four digital buttons, and I wanted to hear and feel whether I pressed them or not, which is why I was enticed by the F510's floating d-pad (i.e. a disc loosely sitting on top of four buttons). The Xbox controller not only offers an even clickier d-pad, it is also tighter to press.

The Xbox analog sticks are lighter and looser. The F510 sticks require more thumb strength to move, making them more fatiguing and less precise, not to mention the position of the left stick requires stretching my thumb to reach it. The analog sticks on the Xbox controller are positioned more in line with the natural direction of the thumb, making it feel more comfortable to reach, but I feel like the sticks could be shorter. I have always felt that analog sticks in general are too tall, making it awkward to reach the d-pad and face buttons to press something and then going back to the sticks. The Xbox sticks are less jerky and more responsive to fine nudges because it has practically no dead zone.

The analog triggers also have much less resistance and are more ergonomic to press due to being bigger and better angled. The triggers on the F510 are small and positioned too low, so I have to uncomfortably reach my index fingers. However, being used to stiff analog controls means I have to rework my muscle memory. But after getting used to it, the analog controls feel much more nuanced and precise.

The face buttons on the Xbox controller have less resistance. While it may not seem that big of a deal, it does slightly reduce thumb fatigue. The buttons are also closer together, making it easier and quicker to reach the Y and B buttons.

Ergonomics

Speaking of ergonomics, the Xbox controller fits more snugly in my hand, not only because of the longer, more protruding grips, but also because the triggers provide index finger support while having the shoulder buttons close enough and angled to be able to press them by just rolling my index fingers up. The grips are angled to keep my wrists straight when holding the controller in my lap, making the controller feel more natural to hold. Even though the Xbox controller weighs about ten grams more than the F510, the Xbox controller feels lighter because of better ergonomics reducing strain and pressure points.

The F510 fits in my hand only if I use the d-pad, face buttons, and shoulder buttons, basically making it ideal for retro gaming. The analog sticks and triggers feel like a tacked on afterthought because they require clawing my hands to use. This reduces hand contact with the stubby, poorly angled grips, and causes my middle finger knuckles to press against the protruding parts of the body that houses the triggers. Keeping my wrists straight requires me to stretch my arms forward in my lap, but the claw grip needed to use the analog sticks will cause wrist bending anyways unless I put my elbows on my chair armrests.

One major drawback to the improved fit of the Xbox controller is that it provides less ventilation. After using it for a while, hand sweat becomes a problem, making me want to claw my hands anyways to cool off. The lower hand contact of the F510 makes it easier to keep my hands cool, even though it strains my hands more.

Force feedback is more subtle and tighter on the Xbox controller. The F510's rumble is stronger, noisier, and looser with a slower vibration frequency, which makes it less comfortable. Still, I find force feedback distracting in general, so I disable it whenever possible. The F510 lets me toggle it with the press of a button, but the Xbox controller requires software control.

Logitech F510 grip not touching palm When using the analog controls on the F510, my palm loses contact with the grips. Xbox controller fitting in my palm The Xbox controller tucks nicely in my palm. Logitech F510 trigger blocking middle finger The protruding trigger housing puts pressure on my middle finger. Xbox controller comfortable grip The Xbox controller leaves my fingers free.

Connection options

The Xbox controller supports both wired and Bluetooth wireless options while the F510 is wired only. The Xbox controller's detachable USB-C cable is nine feet, longer than the F510's six foot fixed cable, allowing you to route the cable around to the back of your computer and still have enough cord length to sit back.

While wireless may give you more physical freedom, you will need a Bluetooth receiver and two AA batteries sold separately, not to mention batteries add extra weight. Also, using force feedback on a wireless controller will drain the batteries faster. Rechargeable batteries are ideal for minimizing waste. Ideally, you should have at least four batteries so that if you run out of power for the first two, you can swap the batteries to keep playing while recharging the other two. Lastly, wireless adds input lag, which is sub-optimal for games demanding precise input, so I highly recommend using the cable.

When using wireless, you can turn off the controller by holding down the guide button (the Xbox button) for several seconds until the light turns off. When wired, you can only turn it off by unplugging the cable, although the controller starts off when you turn on your computer, requiring you to press the guide button to turn it on when you need it.

Compatibility and value

The main advantage of the F510 is that it has better compatibility with older games. It allows swapping the left analog stick with the d-pad using the Mode button, which is useful for some older games that have digital movement, but movement is hard-mapped onto the analog stick for some reason (e.g. Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare), resulting in greater travel for no benefit. The F510 also allows swapping between XInput and DirectInput with a switch on the back, which provides better compatibility with older games by letting you use the triggers as extra buttons in DirectInput mode.

Lastly, Logitech controllers are significantly cheaper, although the F510 is discontinued now. You only have an option between the F310, which has no force feedback, or the F710, which does not have a wired option. Since I only got it recently, I cannot say how reliable the Xbox controller is, but my F510 certainly lasted for a decent amount of time. As long as you do not abuse your controller, you do not need to worry too much about replacement cost. So unless you are really strapped for cash, it is better to go with the Xbox controller for the best value. Also, the ergonomics will be better for your hands in the long run.

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