The Fusion Pro Controller by PowerA: Ergonomic Goodness on Linux

If you’ve read my previous gamepad reviews, you know I just can’t help it when it comes to buying more. So after noticing a controller on sale from my r/consoledeals feed, I’ve added yet another to my collection: the PowerA Fusion Pro for Xbox One/PC. Got it on sale at Best Buy for $30, rather than the $80 MSRP. And let me tell you, that $30 was most certainly a steal.

The kit that you get with the controller is a nice black carrying case, made of polyurethane, polyester, and ethylene-vinyl, that can open and close with the zipper, a 9.8-foot braided micro USB cable, two extra thumbsticks, a pair of extra tension rings, and a four-button paddle set.

Fusion Pro Controller contents

The gamepad is shaped like the Xbox One pad — buttons, D-pad, shoulder buttons, triggers, Guide button, etc. And from the reviews I’ve seen, the Fusion Pro is designed to be a cheaper competitor to the original Xbox Elite series controller (not the second generation). The idea is, you can easily swap out analog sticks, for example, for better precision in certain games, or replace the D-pad with a more click-y version for easier input in fighting games.

The PowerA Fusion Pro controller does just that: you can lift the faceplate off, then easily replace the analog sticks by pulling them out and pushing in a new one. Included with the kit is a slightly taller analog stick than the stock sticks, and a second that has a more rounded top. The taller stick supposedly allows greater precision, but I haven’t tried this myself. The tension rings that surround the sticks can also be taken out and replaced with a different color, but I haven’t tested whether it actually makes a difference to the tension when rotating the sticks around.

Fusion Pro Controller faceplate off

The first thing that impressed me right away as I held the controller for the first time was how incredibly comfortable it was. I could immediately tell from the feel of the shell, the sticks, and the buttons that it wasn’t made of a cheap material. The back grips have an even better feel, consisting of a rubberized, textured finish that not only feels great when your fingers are wrapped around it, but prevents the fingers from slipping. The face buttons provide satisfying clicky-ness, and the D-pad also feels nice — far better than the dish-shaped hybrid of the Series X|S controller. And the thing weighs almost a pound — it’s definitely not light, but some people tend to favor heavier gamepads, for reasons that I’m not quite aware of just yet. The vibration works great as well.

The box for the controller mentions it uses a proprietary connection, but in reality it just uses micro USB. The wire itself is thick and is almost 10 feet long. Towards the USB A side is a connection socket — I would imagine this is to prevent damage to the USB port on a computer or Xbox when a player accidentally tugs too tight on the wire (and believe me, this has happened on multiple occasions on my part; I just get too excited sometimes while playing). The micro USB side features a security mechanism to keep the cable in place — the only way to remove the cable from the controller is by squeezing the buttons on the side of the cable before pulling it out. This further keeps the connection from accidental unplugging, but the bad side to this is the buttons to the cable are small and need a lot of tension before the cable can be removed.

Fusion Pro Controller wire

Like most Xbox pads, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack towards the bottom. When I plugged in my headphones, there was an option that appeared in my sound settings, but I couldn’t get any audio playback from them.

Remember the back paddles from the Steam controller? Those are here too: just replace the back compartment by taking it out and putting the paddles in its place. There’s four of them here, and you can program them to any of the existing buttons available by using the Program button on the back. (Steam is not required; the paddles can be programmed and used anywhere. No drivers required.) Paddles will make it easier and faster to reach the reload button, for example, and makes it easier to input multiple buttons at once with just a single press. If you wanted to have only two paddles, you can do that too: the paddles can easily be removed and re-installed. This is the only part of the kit where it feels cheap: the plastic tabs that hold the paddles in place break easily, so be careful when using them.

You can customize how far the triggers go down when you press them by using the slider on the back of the controller. By default, on T3, the triggers go all the way down. T2 brings the trigger slightly more upward, and T1 provides the most tension, only allowing the trigger to go about a third of the way down. Not exactly sure what the purpose of this is; I’m guessing if people only want a half trigger press, this option makes it easier for them. Or perhaps they want the triggers to be more firm as they press them.

Fusion Pro paddles

How’s Linux compatibility? Upon plugging it in, Arch detected it as a generic Xbox pad. Nothing wrong about that: I tested the pad with jstest and verified all the buttons, triggers, and sticks work. Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade worked with the pad just fine. As for Super Smash Bros., though many swear by the classic GameCube controller, I really don’t see the need to get one. The Fusion Pro feels super responsive to my inputs, the analog sticks are of good quality, the face buttons are the exact opposite of mushy, and the force feedback is decent. I can definitely play competitively with this pad, and so far, it’s been a great experience. (If you insist, however, you can go ahead and pre-order that $90 GC pad from Kickstarter and wait an entire year before you get it.)

I later installed xone as an Xbox controller driver, and after restarting the computer, jstest now reports the name of the pad as “Microsoft X-Box One pad.” Still works just the same as it did before. The only problem I’ve come across so far is Xbox Game Pass doesn’t seem to pick the gamepad up. I’m guessing XGP only works with official Xbox pads. I tried adding Microsoft Edge as a non-Steam game to Steam so I could force Steam Input, but for some reason, the browser doesn’t launch through Steam: it just hangs indefinitely. No difference when I tried Brave.

I’m not a fan of the colors. It’s using a white/tan/brown hybrid finish, with bronze accents for the sticks, the D-pad, and the face buttons. I would’ve preferred the black edition far more than the white, as it uses a much more consistent coloring scheme, but at the time I bought this, Best Buy didn’t have it in stock, and for some reason it’s more expensive than the white. I guess Best Buy was just trying to get rid of the white ones: they probably figured nobody liked the color, so they chopped the price to see who would buy. I got in touch with PowerA and asked if it’s possible to order a different faceplate, but they told me they’re not selling individual components.

Fusion Pro and Series X|S pad comparison

For the $80 $30 price point, one would expect a gyroscope and wireless connectivity, but neither of those are included. What would have been better with the controller is USB-C connectivity instead of micro USB. I guess the good thing that comes with a wired connection, however, is minimal latency and not having to worry about batteries or charging the unit.

What stands out the most to me with this controller? How comfortable it feels. I also found it a nice addition to secure the wired connection on both ends of the cable. Combined with how thick it is, the cable will easily last 10 years and then some. Also, the fact that it’s almost 10 feet long allows the player to use the controller almost anywhere in their room. If the sticks ever go bad, I can replace them with the two extras supplied. The same goes for the tension rings.

Fusion Pro box

There’s the Fusion Pro 2 also, but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem to offer much more. It does have USB-C, a Share button, and a rocker for microphone sensitivity and muting, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same as the one that I have.

The paddles could use some improvement as far as how they’re held up, the gamepad could have benefited from gyroscopic functionality and wireless connectivity, and the wire could have been USB-C, but I believe the ergonomics of the controller outweigh all of those cons. The Fusion Pro controller, I think, has been the most comfortable gamepad I’ve ever held. It’s made of decent quality, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to last for a long time. It’s definitely going to replace my Series X|S pad for the times when I need an Xbox pad. And it’s far cheaper than the overpriced garbage that is the Xbox Elite series pads, while still offering most of the same capabilities. I don’t think you’ll ever find this controller to be $30 again, but if it goes on sale, it’s certainly worth picking up. (The original $80 price point? Nah, not worth the full price.)

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