The budget controller of choice, or just a backup pad? Read our SteelSeries Stratus Duo Review.
There are lots of people who remain strictly keyboard and mouse, people who use both keyboard, mouse, and also controllers merrily, and others who transitioned to the world of PC gaming from console beginnings and rely on gamepads for gaming. Whatever your preference, it’s what you feel comfortable using and have been accustomed to that makes you enjoy gaming.
However, poor peripherals can degrade your gaming experience, so picking a top-quality product is important, but that doesn’t always mean breaking the bank. For all of you controller lovers out there, SteelSeries’s Stratus Duo is a wireless PC model that won’t necessarily leave your wallet crying and offers some top-end tech. Yet, with other equally priced and impressive controllers on the market, will the Stratus Duo be the one you should add to your arsenal?
The controller is smooth, with no sharp cheap edges that sometimes blight third-party controllers. In fact, the build quality is impressive — it’s light, but doesn’t creak or flex. Weighing only 0.54 lbs, it’s great to take on the go. Talking of traveling, this controller’s name plays into its functionality. Duo refers to the two forms of wireless connectivity it offers, either Bluetooth or wirelessly through a USB dongle. With the latter option being the best choice if you’re at home and want a faster connection with a smaller input delay, the Bluetooth option is preferable for when you’re traveling and want to game on a tablet or phone. Pair this with the SteelSeries SmartGrip (sold separately for $), and it’ll form a nifty handheld console alternative.
It’s only available in this all-black colorway, however. We’re just grateful it’s not been doused in the typical gamer aesthetic. It features the PlayStation-esque layout with the symmetrical joysticks, but with the ABXY buttons from Xbox/Windows controllers. In the middle, you have the home button with the select button to the left and the start/menu button to the right. Above that is a player indicator bar, so if you have your friends over you can easily tell who’s who.
The back of the controller features the standard RB, LB, RT, and LT layout. We’re big fans of these triggers, as they
have a smooth linear actuation thanks to the Hall-Effect magnetic sensors inside, making them great for driving games. As for the buttons on the controller and the D-pad, unfortunately, these are slightly too mushy feeling. Also, it could do with being a bit wider overall. It’s a shame, because ergonomically the handles feel comfortable. The same sizing issue was also prevalent on the joysticks. Again, they were a little too small, but still very accurate when testing on first-person shooters, such as our FPS benchmarking games, Cyberpunk 2077 and Metro Exodus. Every controller takes some getting used to when switching, but this didn’t take too much time at all. We became familiar with the Stratus Duo quickly, although our Apex Legends capabilities are beyond saving and aren’t restricted by controllers, more just our lack of skills.
Self-loathing aside, the Stratus Duo would make a dependable controller, but probably a better secondary controller for when your pals visit or your siblings are nagging you to play with them. The build quality is strong and lightweight, and it’s Steam enabled with a plug-and-play connection. Talking of which, there are plenty of connectivity choices, such as your PC, Android phone, and VR headsets—for example, the Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR. This is switchable via the top of the controller, which is really handy on-the-go. Battery life is a healthy 20+ hours, making it great for traveling but unfortunately, it’s charged via Micro-USB, which is also the wired option on this controller.
Although it’s not excessively pricey, there are other options, such as the official Xbox controller (at the same price). Compared to that, we can’t recommend the Stratus Duo —unless you’re moving between PC and mobile, then this takes the edge. So despite it not being a poor product, it’s just stuck in a tricky pricing bracket. -sam lewis
+ SKY-HIGH Lightweight; great compatibility; smooth triggers; good connectivity.
– BACK DOWN TO EARTH Mushy buttons; small thumbsticks; Micro-USB.
Best SteelSeries Stratus Duo prices ?