The third-party accessory market can be easily overlooked with the plethora of new and fancy controllers coming out at a regular cadence. However, it’s an important market because it offers gamers choices on the peripherals they want according to the budget they want to spend. Enter HyperX, a company that was initially known for PC accessories, but now they have their eyes set on the home console market as well.
First unveiled at 2023 CES, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate was released at the end of March 2023 with an MSRP of $34.99. It’s hard to find a wired controller with the same features at this price point. Check out our extensive review of the controller below.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate Build Quality and Design
The Clutch Gladiate is made out of plastic and weighs 280 grams. It’s very close to the weight of the official Xbox controller which weighs in at 287g (without batteries). The controller’s light weight makes it comfortable to hold in your hands, especially for long play sessions.
The layout is almost identical to a first-party Xbox controller. The main difference is the indented sectional handles that create a distinctive look to them. Albeit it still borrows heavily from the Xbox controller design, which is a testament to ergonomics research and development.
Another positive design cue found in Gladaite is its texturized handles. I cannot explain how much of a game-changer they are. Texturized grips make gripping the controller easier and more comfortable compared to untextured controllers. This ensures that your hands won’t slip compared to smooth surfaced grips. It’s a subtle design choice that elevates the user experience.
A Closer Look at the Analog Sticks, Buttons, and D-Pad
The analog sticks feel responsive and they’re easy to click in, making it very comfortable to use. Even when clicking in the sticks at an angle, every press is still comfortable.
The LB/RB buttons although produce a clicky sound, but it definitely feels a bit mushy compared to the first-party Xbox controller. Though, it’s worth mentioning the mushiness of the Gladiate’s LB/RB buttons makes it vastly more comfortable to press with the middle of your finger’s inner knuckle.
The D-Pad is a cross-design similar to the original Xbox One controller. It has a very mushy, yet tactical feel to it. Best of all it is quiet compared to the extremely loud click of the Xbox Series X|S circular plate-like D-Pad.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate Rumble Motors
As expected, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate features dual rumble motors. They work as advertised but it doesn’t feature the trigger rumbles like the official Xbox controller does. So no, you won’t feel that trigger rumble in games like Forza Horizon 5. But on a positive note, the Clutch Gladiate’s rumble motors are far less noisy compared to first-party controllers. You won’t get that sudden resonating rumble shock that is common on first-party Xbox controllers.
No doubt some of the selling features of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate controller are the special features it offers. More specifically, the controller has some special features usually found on more expensive Xbox Elite controllers.
The Clutch Gladiate is definitely punching above its weight when it comes to unique features. The controller features trigger locks and 2 programmable back buttons. The trigger locks reduce the trigger pull by roughly half and work great for competitive games where every millisecond counts. I tested out Modern Warfare 2 with the trigger locks, and they truly made the difference in the heat of a firefight. Though unlike the Xbox Elite Series 2, which provides 2 levels of trigger locks, the Clutch Gladiate provides only one level. But at its price point, it’s a very attractive feature.
HyperX Clutch Gladiate Programmable Back Buttons
By far another one of the best features of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate is its 2 programmable back buttons. Best of all these buttons are programmable right on the controller itself. It’s a breeze to both set and reset them.
Any button (including clicking in the analog sticks) can be programmed on the back buttons. Though it would have been nice to have the ability to save multiple back button presets. No need for additional software if you want to reprogram them when you’re using the Clutch on PC, so less bloatware on your operating system!
The back buttons are strategically placed and rest approximately around the tip of your middle finger. It takes deliberation to press them so there are no worries about accidentally pressing them. Though, it must be said when you pick up the Clutch Gladiate, you might accidentally press it when lifting up the controller. So best not to pick up the controller in the middle of gameplay.
Cable and Connectivity
Since the Clutch Gladiate only comes in a wired form, it comes packaged with a 2.98m (9.8 ft) USB Type-C to Type A cable. Now for most gaming setups, the cable’s length should suffice. However, if you’re TV/monitor is farther away, you should consider other controller options. When you plug in the cable into the controller, it has a satisfying click, almost like an audible cue that it is firmly set in place. Of course, since it is wired, there’s no latency, and any button you press is immediately reflected on the screen.
The controller is an officially licensed Xbox product so it’s easy to set up. Though keep in mind, the first time you connect the Clutch to your Xbox console, you have to turn on the console from the console itself, because the controller needs to be set up first. But the setup process is all automated and once it is complete, you can turn on the console from the controller’s Xbox button. Best of all, it seamlessly works on both PC and Xbox consoles.
Final Thoughts on the HyperX Clutch Gladiate Controller
It’s hard to find a comparable controller that provides the same features as the HyperX Clutch Gladiate at the same price point. It has quickly become a part of my PC gaming setup when I need to game with a controller. Some might be put off by its wired form, but if you play on PC, chances are that wired controllers are not an issue. The Gladiate is essentially a lite version of the Xbox Elite controller for a fraction of the cost. If wired controllers aren’t an issue for you, it’s an easy recommendation.
Note – the Clutch Gladiate controller was provided by HyperX for the purpose of this review.