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Putting PlayStation 4's elite controllers head-to-head

Let's get ready to rumble. And thumbstick, and button and trigger.

Dave Cheng/CNET
Now playing: Watch this: The pros and cons of PlayStation 4's pro controllers
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The Xbox One might have its own branded, dedicated elite controller, but Team PlayStation isn't quite so lucky.

So, in the spirit of competition, we decided to pit two likely contenders head-to-head. In the red corner, coming in at variable weight depending on personal preference, we have the Nacon Revolution. In the blue corner, depending on your custom LED settings, is the Razer Raiju.

Let's have a clean fight, gentlemen. Touch hands, back to your corners.

Both controllers were designed in collaboration with PlayStation for dedicated e-sports players, and I'll say this up front -- they don't come cheap. The Nacon Revolution is the less expensive of the two, retailing for $115, £90 or AU$180. The Razer Raiju creeps up a bit further, selling for $130, £150 or AU$230. So what do you get for two and a half times what you'd pay for a regular DualShock 4 controller?

Dave Cheng/CNET

Nacon Key specs

  • 4 extra buttons (switches on back of controller)
  • 8-way directional-pad
  • Two internal compartments with 6 weights to customise balance
  • PC companion app to customise buttons
  • Four profiles for macros and sensitivity control
  • Raised thumbsticks with increased angles of articulation

Raiju Key specs

  • 4 extra buttons (2 bumpers, 2 detachable triggers)
  • 4-button control panel
  • Two profiles for macros, programmable while playing
  • Hard shell carrying case
  • Rubberised silicon grips on thumbsticks and handles
  • Trigger-stop switches and hair trigger mode
  • PC compatible
Dave Cheng/CNET

Generally with pro controllers, you're getting extra programmable buttons to help you input actions faster. They also remove the need to take your thumb off the right stick when you're say jumping or reloading, letting players stay in control at all times. There's also a comfort component to how a controller feels during extended play sessions.

The Raiju scored a few early blows on comfort and usability. The shoulder buttons felt much better placed than the Revolution's, and the curvature of the controller felt way more natural in my hands. I can't speak for you (or your hands) and it comes down to personal taste, but the Revolution didn't feel quite right to me.

The silicon grips and thumbstick pads meant it felt great to use. I wasn't a huge fan of the mechanical face buttons -- the Nacon won out on that front -- but it was easy to get past that with the excellent trigger and macro placement. Razer's Raiju also has a panel of control buttons across the bottom that let you switch between 2 user profiles and reprogram your button mapping on the fly.

Dave Cheng/CNET

The Revolution lets you program up to four different profiles, including button mapping and thumbstick and trigger sensitivity, the tradeoff being that you need to do so by hopping onto your PC (no Mac functionality, sadly) and tweaking the settings there.

In fact, the Revolution is the more customisable of the two. The trade off is that you need to spend extra time doing it. It's got two internal compartments that can house weights to get the balance right. You can change the actuation windows on the triggers and the rumble intensity. It's got double the number of custom profiles as the Razer. But you need to use the app to do it.

Both the Razer and the Nacon step things up over the regular DualShock 4 controller, that much is clear. Yes, this is like the "Rocky 3" freeze frame ending. If we're talking personal preference, I gravitated towards the Razer Raiju. If extra button mapping profiles and audio quality is what you're after, the Nacon's for you.