There’s a running joke that’s as old as videogames about going to a friend’s house to play and being given some bizarre ill-conceived excuse for a controller. Whether that 2nd player controller is way too big, has odd button placement, weird clacky sticks, or whatever this thing is, third party controllers have a really bad reputation. In more recent years, those third parties have started to take their job far more seriously, putting out ambitious designs that look to elevate the fantastic first party controllers into something even better. One up and comer in this space is one you might not have heard of – BIGBIG WON, a Chinese manufacturer established in 2020. Taking what they’ve learned from their wired controllers, and combining them with their recent advancements in wireless tech, they’ve released the update to their Rainbow controller. Dubbed the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite, could this be your new favorite Player 2 controller? Let’s find out.
Opening the box, I was surprised to see everything included with the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite. Obviously the controller, but also included are four sticks, a D-pad replacement, a wireless charging cube, a USB-C cable, and a dongle. Grabbing the cable and connecting it to the wireless charging cube, I started to charge the controller.
The controller has a frosted shell with some sort of circuit / brick pattern, providing a semi-transparent surface to showcase the controller’s lighting. The entire top glows red while it’s charging, while the magnetized inductive charger glows blue as it passes a charge through the small metal prongs in the bottom.
With the 1000 mAh battery charged, I fired it up by holding in the main button for two seconds. The entire controller edge glows green, with the main button flashing as it looks to connect. The Rainbow 2 Pro Elite can use a USB-C connection, Bluetooth, or 2.4Ghz wireless to connect. Connecting with Bluetooth, it’ll register itself as “Xbox Wireless Controller”.
The grip on the controller reminds me of the S-controller for the original Xbox. I personally preferred the look and feel of that controller so that’s a good thing. The entirety of the bottom and sides of the grips are coated with a rubberized texture, ensuring that it stays comfortably in your hand.
There is a dazzling array of buttons throughout this controller. It has the usual compliment that you’d expect on something derived from an Xbox controller, but quite a few more. Dead center on top is a dedicated screenshot button, for those games that support it. Tucked on either side of the USB-C port are two buttons labeled M3 and M4, and nestled underneath where you can hit them with your middle finger is M1 and M2. I want to point this out again – each of these are labeled. It’s such a simple thing, but most mappable buttons on these types of controllers have no label whatsoever, so seeing it here, now I want it everywhere. It makes it simple to understand what you are adjusting in the app when it’s clearly marked.
If you’ve used modded controllers in the top tier, you’ll find that some of them have stops for the trigger. The purpose is simple – limiting the amount of pull needed to actuate them. For instance, in a racing game, you might want the full 256 stops available on the Rainbow 2, but for a first person shooter you just need to be able to pull that trigger quickly. When fractions of a second matter, you can click these stops into place on the Rainbow 2, and just as easily turn them off.
It’s worth noting that these triggers are Hall Effect triggers. There are magnets in the triggers, and when you pull the trigger, they trigger the on and off effect, and to whatever degree. With Hall Effect, a magnetic field is applied at a right degree to that pull field, effectively creating a virtual “arrow” to indicate to the controller how hard or soft you are pulling said trigger. It results in an extraordinarily accurate and responsive control that doesn’t break down the way a thing like a spring would. It may or may not make a difference to your overall gameplay (in theory you should be more effective) but most importantly, Hall Effect triggers will work as well a year from now as it does today.
There are four additional sticks included with the Rainbow 2 Elite. All of them have an anti-slip covering, and each have a metal collar to ensure smooth movement, even when you hit the edges. The preinstalled ones are mid-height, but there are tall ones and short ones included as well. A taller stick, counterintuitively, results in less movement as a result. The idea is that you’ll be able to make more precise movements. This works well for strategy or simulation games. Conversely the shorter sticks are for faster movements, like a run-and-gun shooter. Much like the Hall Effect triggers, the sticks adjust the time until they actuate. The mid-height sticks are, as you might guess, in the middle. Changing these is as easy as giving them a solid pull, so they can be swapped out quickly.
Also included is a dish-type 8-way D-Pad replacement, though I have to admit that I’ve never been a fan of these. If you happen to be, have at it — they’re included. The problem here is that neither of these D-Pad options are particularly tactile. Playing a game like Mortal Kombat 1, you can use the thumbstick or the D-Pad for your inputs. In other games, especially older retro ones, you might not have that flexibility. The problem here is that the D-Pad just doesn’t move that much. It has a very short throw, and that leads to some unintentional inputs. It doesn’t take much to accidentally hit the diagonals, especially with the dish shaped option. In short, the controller was built for modern gaming – I’d stick to something built for retro gaming over the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite.
A great deal of functionality and adjustability lies in the app for this device. You can adjust every possible bit of this controller. You can tweak how much movement is needed for the stick to actuate in software, overriding the physical stick movement. You can adjust the triggers in the same way. You can add macros. You can change each and every button on this controller to operate any way you want, and then you can bind them to the function button. This means you can easily switch all of the functionality of the controller, inverting for flight even if a game doesn’t support it, raising and lowering sensitivity during flight versus driving, and any other scenario you can imagine. Four of these can be stored directly in the controller’s memory, granting a level of flexibility I’ve not seen anywhere else.
One of the best features for this controller isn’t immediately apparent. Also in the application lies an adaptive calibration to automatically sample and correct the center point for your sticks. It’s an interesting method used to correct for joystick drift, a surprisingly common problem in all controllers, whether they are first party or not. Much like the Hall Effect triggers, this system is meant to extend the life of the controller by ensuring that center always means center.
The last physical thing to note on the controller is a 3.5mm audio jack that can be used for both voice input as well as for headset audio. I used this with a number of headsets from junk to eye-wateringly expensive and noticed no discernable loss of quality.
If you are so inclined, inside the BIGBIG Won software is something the team is calling “Gyrocon+”. This is their third generation gyroscopic control system. Since this controller can be used on the Nintendo Switch, this allows you to control all of the interactions that require gyroscopic controls, such as aiming the bow in Zelda titles, or as a racing wheel in driving games. The controller can also be used on PC in the same way, for games that support it, as well as iOS and Android. Both of those mobile platforms have a great many motion control-enable games, so the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite just might be your mobile controller solution. In practice, I was surprised at just how well this worked, but I was absolutely blown away that this too can be bound to the aforementioned function button. Better still, you can adjust any and all of these settings while actively playing any game! No longer will you need to exit, adjust, reload, and try again – tweak to your liking, save it, and game on.
There is a small button tucked next to the right thumbstick. This button allows you to natively control your volume – handy if your headset doesn’t have a physical volume button. It can also enable or disable the gyroscopic functionality, and turn the lights on and off.
One of the most important things about a controller is the polling rate. If you are unfamiliar, polling rate is very similar to framerate for a monitor. It’s the number of times the controller passes inputs to the device on the other end. Controllers with a high polling rate provide more timely and accurate responses from the PC or console on the other end, or so the marketing says. In reality, it’s unlikely you’ll notice the difference between a 1ms response rate and a 5ms response rate, but what you will feel is the overall smoothness of the response. As such, these controllers have a 1000 Hz polling rate when wired (faster than any console can accept), and a 200Hz polling rate when using 2.4Ghz wireless, so says the box. Testing using XInput, I found that using the included 2.4Ghz dongle resulted in a poll rate of around 215Hz with a 4.7ms response rate. Switching to Bluetooth, we see that fall to around 104Hz at 10ms response time, and wired delivering precisely as advertised with a rate of 1009Hz and a staggering 1ms response. This backs up 100% of what BIGBIG Won has advertised. Ultimately this won’t make enough of a difference where it should be something to choose one controller over another, but it’s good to see BIGBIG Won making an effort in the space.
Obviously one of the big lures of the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite is the ability to record a macro, so you’ll be happy to hear that it’s effectively trivial. You hold down the macro button and then press one of the four macro keys. Perform your movement or movements, and then press the macro button again. You just recorded a macro and stored it without needing to leave your game, and can use it by simply tapping that macro button once again.
I was surprised to see that the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite has an excellent manual, and in just about any language you could want. I was worried given how many misspellings and painfully incorrect word use graces the entire BIGBIG site, but this manual has received a lot of care and attention. Every feature of the device is meticulously explained in great detail, but if it’s not enough, you can also head to the official site to check out the ever-growing list of tutorials that can visually walk you through everything you’d ever want to know. Alongside the helpful instructions is a link to where you can grab firmware updates, as well as a big red 12 month warranty card.
The only thing left to answer is the price. The Rainbow 2 Pro Elite Controller will set you back an impossibly low $85.99. It punches far above that price with a feature set that exceeds many pro controller options at twice the price. Well done, BIGBIG Won.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
Rainbow 2 Pro Elite Controller
With a wealth of features, gyroscopic support, macros you can build and use on the fly, and an impossibly low price, the Rainbow 2 Pro Elite Controller is an easy recommendation for just about any modern gamer.