Steelseries Stratus XL

7.1
7.1 score
[Editors rating (7.1)] = (TheGearHunt) score (7.1)/10


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Editor rating: 7.1 / 10
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Steelseries Stratus XL Review Facts

We have begun to bring you console controllers and what you may be wondering is where you can get yourself a control that is designed more specifically for gaming on your PC. Well, we are ready to pull you into a line up for those as well. With game download sites galore, you may find yourself getting quite a few games that were once console-only that are now based on your PC or Android. This is especially true if the game was released long enough back that the console can only be found used. You are not likely to enjoy it quite as much if forced to play on keyboard and mouse as you would if you could just plug and play with a controller. Along with the quickly growing market of esports games, the need has spawned for quite a few companies that focus on making sure you can have a reliable controller outside of your consoles.

Beyond just old video games, many of the newer PC adventure, RPG and simulator games, as well as FPS games are made to be used with either a controller or keyboard and mouse. That being said, the Steelseries controller types are starting to become one of the pro gamers first places to look for their equipment. Are they good? Do they make it easier, or do they make you want to bounce the thing off your desk from lack of response times? As usual, we are going to dive into the nitty-gritty of their design and let you know what those who use them have to say about it. We don’t want you to go in ready to buy and come out unsatisfied. Our goal is to leave you informed and let you decide if the device you are looking at is worth your attention. So, let’s check out this company, starting with the Stratus XL.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Console Gamer friendly layout
  • Comes with batteries
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Comfortable
  • No lag time
  • Works with Windows, Android, and Apple devices equally
Cons
  • No auto-sleep mode
Hardware

Hardware

The hardware used for the controller is based very much on both Xbox and Playstation model controllers. The way everything is laid out on the controller mirrors one or the other, the sticks are definitely Playstation, while everything else seems to follow Microsofts design. It is an interesting blend, though not particularly innovative. Of course, as a gamer comfort takes priority over having something entirely new to master. Some may feel otherwise, but a common complaint by YouTube gamers is that when they go to switch games for different recordings is that they feel they not only have to remember where they were in the game and what their abilities were, but often have to reconfigure their mind to the correct controller type. Switching from one type of game console to another often means your buttons are in a different location, so if you are used to where it all is on one machine, it can make playing more challenging than it should be on another. By blending the two most popular consoles available among adults it seems that the company is attempting to create a controller that is easy to adapt to when a player goes for their PC instead.
We are not sure that the design is popular in appearance, but it seems to sit fairly well in every other way. It does not weigh too much, and it does not take up more space. If you want something easy to understand and will not take you more than a few minutes to get the hang of in-game, this is likely going to be a great option for you. Given that it can connect to Windows and Android as a plug and play, and Apple iOS with only a minor update to the driver, it is gaining attention from the online stores as well. Apple even offers it on their site at the going price, though you can almost always find better deals elsewhere.
Design

Design

Though it is not completely unique in its build, the fact is that the design is keeping the console gamers in mind as we mentioned. The analogs on Stratus XL are where Sony keeps them on their controllers, and the buttons are more placed more according to Microsoft's designs. The difference that is noted is the fact that the analog sticks are not uneven as they are on other brands. Both are about the same height, which has some users feeling a bit more comfortable in the design as well. The colors are not really all too impressive either, but it does not truly look that many companies go for when trying to keep up with the current consoles. They are more looking to present designs that allow seamless playing and easy use. With the SteelSeries Stratus XL, they got that covered, especially since it connects with just about any non-console-oriented gaming machine.
Performance

Performance

It is in how well our controllers, as gamers, perform that should and often does matter most. There are cheaper brands, but when it comes to electronics, you often get exactly what you pay for. Of course, paying a large amount does not guarantee the best result either. Like the pricey Nintendo controller, this one brings us to ask what we are paying for. We want to know our money is well spent. The general consensus is that this controller surprises those who have decided to pick it up and test its worth. Though it is a Bluetooth device, it does not cause players to want to throw it across the room due to lag. The buttons press smoothly but the sticks do have that slightly rough ‘sticky’ feeling that can lead to having to be more aggressive than you might want to be to get the turns you want while racing, or get a good aim in.
The downside is the same with this as with many Microsoft based controllers, however, it does not come with a rechargeable battery pack, instead, it runs in double A batteries, so be prepared to spend a little extra for rechargeable batteries or having to go out and buy new batteries every week or two. While the Xbox controllers offer a USB plugin for their controllers where you can play even while the batteries are not available, unfortunately, that is not the case here. If your batteries die, you have to replace them or wait until you can in order to keep going.
What makes it worth it, really is the fact that it works with Android and with most Steam-based games. It will not work with any of your consoles, however, just computer-based machines or tablets. In truth, the biggest reason those with the already PC/Mac ready Microsoft Xbox controllers have gotten this one is that it works better on their Androids. There is less lag and does not have the same connection issues on the Android as the Microsoft controller does. Though the other controllers with wireless support are said to be able to perform well with Androids or tablets, often they do not really work as well as promised, this one does.
The biggest downside to its performance is that you do have to remember to turn your controller off when you are done playing. If you make the mistake of leaving it on expecting it to turn off like a console controller you may come back to find your batteries dead. It simply does not have a ‘sleep’ mode and will remain on at full use until you manually turn it off. So, if you decide to buy it, don’t forget to turn it off.
Connectivity

Connectivity

Connectivity really ties a great deal into performance, so one might ask why we cover it as well. Some controllers have great performance when using a cord to connect them to their respective devices, but wirelessly they just flop. Or they may connect great, but the triggers or joypads do not work so smoothly which has little to do with their connection to the device, and more to do with actual physical performance. Since this controller is completely wireless and doesn’t come with any sort of connection cord, we still want to cover this aspect as a slightly separate category.
With consoles, a wireless device is less expected to lag, but be expected to play on any sort of computer with one and find out it is proudly ‘Bluetooth only’, it might make you cringe. No matter how the gamepad feels in your hands, or how easy the buttons and analog sticks move, the lag is expected- if not outright drops of the signal between computer and controller. So, when you get this one out and sync it you may find yourself more than a little pleasantly surprised when you do not have those issues. This controller shows next to no lag at all between the press of a button or witch of a joystick and the reaction in game. This makes FPS games so much easier to enjoy. It also has a decent battery life, and when you are playing it will not leave you stressing over if you can aim fast enough.
Its biggest selling point, however, is that its connection to the Android is just as smooth as with any computer. This is a major plus since other controllers do not do so well with the hand-held devices.
Brand

Brand

SteelSeries is a relatively new company in the gaming industry but came in early enough to have a name. They appeared on the market back in 2001 when they realized that gamers of all kinds were becoming a recognized group when it came to sports. With the innovation of esports coming into the light via both console-based competitions and online MOBA’s and other competitive online gaming types, controllers were needed that allowed seamless gameplay and reliability. They began working on ways to introduce controllers for the PC gaming community to make it easier to control the characters in-game than a keyboard and mouse combination could reliably give. Especially in fighting games and in FPS online computer-based games as well as RPG, it was needed for someone to provide an easier way to play.
Beyond even their equipment, they began sponsoring esports games and players into the professional levels. So, are they a reliable brand? Well, they are definitely used worldwide, and they offer sponsored players financing if they will play using nothing but Steelseries gear. We found very few complaints in the end on what matters. The controllers perform just as good as the brands who have had more time on the market and better in some ways. If appearance and a little stiffness are the only things this brand has for nitpicking, then honestly, they rank right beside Microsoft and any other computer made controllers.
Price

Price

At $35-40, these controllers are actually less expensive than the pro versions from other companies even less than Nintendo Switches extra controller. This seems standard, despite the complaints from a few gamers about it be8ing too high to go after. If you do look at some of the cheaper versions, they have built up complaints on connectivity and performance issues that this one does not have. In the end, it is up to what you need the controller for. If you are looking to jump onto the mass gaming sites through your Android, it is a quality buy that will work splendidly for doing just that.
Key Features

Key Features

-Reputable company
-Bluetooth only
-Responsive (no lag)
-Dependable connection
-Easy to use set up
-Works on computers and Android/tablets
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Anything built by SteelSeries is intended to play on a professional level of gamers. We can expect that even if it does not look ‘cooler’ than what is already out there, it may actually outperform in ways that are unexpected. The biggest way we found that this one pulled it off was in having no real lag through a Bluetooth connection which almost always has a second or two of lag when it comes to computers and handheld devices like the Android. The fact that it runs nigh flawlessly speaks well for its intentions. With a lot of mass multiplayer games spreading out to connect console gamers to both computer and handheld machines, it may become an accessory you will want to have.