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Complete SteelSeries Stratus XL Review: Still Worth it in 2023?

Complete SteelSeries Stratus XL Review: Still Worth it in 2023?

Gaming controllers have come a long way since the Logitech Gamepad, and the competition is stiff. Released in 2015, the SteelSeries Stratus XL impressed many. It was lauded for its compatibility with many devices, excellent controls, and natural feel. But how does it hold up in 2023? Let’s revisit the SteelSeries Stratus XL and whether it’s worth your investment in 2023.

Quick Summary

  • The SteelSeries Stratus XL holds its ground as a competitor amongst gaming controllers in 2023 for its smooth gameplay, wireless capabilities, endless compatibilities, and lack of any latency.
  • It’s not the best for mobile gamers who prefer a controller with a hook for their device.
  • It connects seamlessly with most VR headsets.
  • It errs a bit on the heavy side, though its light controls compensate for potential weight issues.
  • It runs entirely on Bluetooth.
  • The controller itself isn’t rechargeable, though you can use rechargeable batteries.

The Good

On paper, the SteelSeries Stratus XL has everything you need in a wireless gaming controller. It’s Android and Windows compatible, you can connect it to an Oculus Rift, it’s perfectly responsive, and it boasts impressive build quality. 

Perhaps the SteelSeries Stratus XL’s biggest selling point is the number of devices you can pair it with, including Android phones and tablets, Windows devices, and various VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive.

The SteelSeries Stratus XL is an ideal controller for mobile and Steam gamers, thanks to its impressive compatibility with nearly every title. This compatibility is a must in 2023 when avid gamers are investing heavily in the Steam Deck. If you prefer the Nintendo Switch, you’ll be pleased to know that the SteelSeries Stratus XL is also compatible and hasn’t demonstrated any latency issues.

Going Cordless

All gamers know how annoying cords can be—they’re easily damaged, often tangled, and can disrupt a controller’s overall responsiveness. Fortunately, the SteelSeries Stratus XL eliminates this begrudged nuisance through Bluetooth compatibility, which is a must for modern gamers.

Pairing your SteelSeries Stratus XL with various devices is seamless. Its signal is unbeatable, with no noticeable delays.

You won’t have to worry about translating all the XL’s inputs into XInput. Download the SteelSeries Engine software; it’ll automatically detect your controller upon connection, ensuring compatibility with all games.

However, if you prefer to use your controller plugged in, the XL’s port is unfortunately limited to firmware updates. The controller lacks plugged-in gameplay, even when your PC recognizes it as a gamepad. You can give it a shot, but PC games won’t recognize its wired inputs.

It’s Comfortable

Comfort may seem an afterthought when purchasing a controller, but it’s vital to the gaming experience. Gamers need something natural and intuitive that is easy on the fingers.

The SteelSeries Stratus controller contains tight, tactile buttons that won’t get stuck. In addition, it features durable materials with responsive flat-faced buttons. Compared to most other controllers, its buttons are spongier—whether this is an advantage or disadvantage to you ultimately depends on your preferred gaming genre.

The analog sticks on the XL are incredibly smooth, perfect for maneuvering. However, some gamers who prefer a deeper press and sharper movements may find the stick a bit too smooth.

However, you won’t have to worry about wearing out your thumb grip. The Xl comes with stock thumb grip covers that last ages. If you’re an FPS gamer, these grips are the solution to slipping fingers.

Its Build Materials Are High-Quality

If you’re bothered by the “plasticky” feel of specific gaming controllers, that’s not the case with the SteelSeries Stratus XL. It feels durable and sleek, though it’s comparably heavier than any of the original PlayStation and Xbox controllers. 

Whether the XL’s weight is problematic depends on what controllers you’re used to—if you’re more familiar with Japanese gaming controllers, the XL may take some adjusting.

Overall, the XL doesn’t feel cheap, which is more than we can say for many controllers on the current market.

It Has a Long Battery Life

The SteelSeries Stratus XL hosts two AA batteries and lasts for roughly 40 hours of gameplay, which is on par with the Xbox One controller and lasts five times longer than the PlayStation’s Dualshock 4.

However, the XL lacks automatic sleep mode, which can drain your batteries quickly if you aren’t paying attention. Four LED lights on the front of the controller will indicate your battery level, so you shouldn’t have a problem knowing when to recharge it.

The Not-So-Good

As with any general-purpose controller, the SteelSeries Stratus XL has its disadvantages. 

For instance, the controller itself isn’t chargeable, which is a major setback considering how common this feature is in modern gaming controllers. However, this isn’t much of a disruption to your gaming experience if you use rechargeable batteries. We recommend using two sets—you can use one while the other charges. 

In addition, the controller doesn’t have a rumble feature, which can be disappointing if you prefer a controller with haptic feedback technology. It may seem nitpicky, but gamers know how naturally incorporated haptic feedback can enhance your overall experience. 

You Need Bluetooth Support

If you aren’t a fan of going wireless, the SteelSeries Stratus XL isn’t for you. You’ll need a proper Bluetooth setup on your gaming platform of choice, which is typically straightforward but an added step that can bring you some grief.

What might be a bigger issue is the potential for latency. Many Bluetooth-only devices are alarmingly latency-prone, which could be true with the XL if you lack bandwidth. However, this potential lag isn’t necessarily the controller’s fault—a responsive and highly dependable Internet connection is always crucial to your gaming experience.

It’s Just OK for Mobile Gaming

While advertised for mobile gaming, we can’t really imagine using a full-size controller for this purpose. In addition, the SteelSeries Stratus XL lacks a clip for holding your phone, which is a must for mobile gamers.

You could set up a stand for your phone if you don’t mind using it this way, but it sort of defeats the purpose of a mobile gaming controller.


Overall, despite being an “older” controller, the SteelSeries Stratus XL holds up fairly well in 2023. As a pure PC controller, it may not stack up to what’s available today, but it doesn’t fall far behind. Thus, it could be a holy grail for gamers on a budget. 

Its downsides are only minor inconveniences, at best, so the XL doesn’t have much to make up for, other than its lack of any wired setting. 

Ultimately, if you’re looking for an Android and PC-compatible gaming controller that effectively combats lag and feels great in your hands, we recommend giving the SteelSeries Stratus XL a shot.

If you’re already familiar with the SteelSeries Stratus XL, let us know what you think in the comments!