While many wireless mice and keyboards come with built-in rechargeable batteries, most VR controllers, including the Oculus Quest 2 controllers, require AA batteries. The most popular controller option for PC, the Xbox controller, works on regular AA batteries. This is also true of many budget wireless gaming mice, like the Logitech G305.
If you’re building a gaming room you most likely plan to populate it with a couple of regular and VR controllers, both of which need rechargeable batteries. Continue reading to find the best rechargeable battery packs for your gaming needs. Before we list our picks, let’s cover the most important things to know about rechargeable batteries.
How Did We Choose the Best Rechargeable Battery Pack
The most significant feature of our selection process was capacity. We’ve also read through a massive amount of Amazon user reviews as well as other places (Reddit, professional reviews, tech forums) and have tried to approximate the battery life measured in hours of playtime when using an Xbox controller. Other features we took into account include pricing, overall lifespan, reliability, form factor, battery technology, and whether the batteries come with a bundled charger.
- Capacity – We only considered batteries that come with 2200mAh or higher capacity. To find out the measured capacity, we used data found on aacycler.com.
- Reliability (QC & Customer Support) – As we already noted, rechargeable batteries are relatively affordable commodities that don’t go through strict QC. This is why we only considered battery packs that have less than 5 percent of 1-star reviews on Amazon and appropriately high popularity (1000+ reviews), or an exceptionally high score when it comes to other websites (such as Ikea).
- Battery Life in Hours of Game Time – High-capacity batteries should last for at least 20 hours of game time when using an Xbox controller with vibration set to default. With that said, we couldn’t find the exact battery life measured in-game time for most of the models we considered. However, reading through many user reviews, professional reviews, and posts on various websites gave us enough information to pick out the batteries that can last the longest on average. The only batteries we have accurate game time numbers for are Eneloop Pros, which have been powering our Xbox controllers for years.
- Price – Our budget choice had to cost ~$10 for a pack of four cells. As for the best overall pick, we didn’t impose any upper limit with regard to the price.
- Lifespan Measured in Charging Cycles – At first, we only considered batteries with an advertised lifespan of 1000+ charging cycles. But after we combed through the aacycler.com AA battery list, we decided to include batteries with a lifespan of 500 charging cycles also.
- Form Factor – While AAA batteries coupled with adapters can lower the weight of your gaming mouse by a couple of grams, we only considered AA batteries.While mice can work for months even with AAA batteries, only AA batteries offer enough power to last dozens of hours when powering VR and regular game controllers.
- Battery Technology – We only considered NiMH and Li-ion batteries.
- Bundled Charger – While we didn’t want to limit our picks to battery & charger bundles, each of our three choices is available either with a bundled charger or as a battery-only pack.
Okay, now that you know just how detailed our selection process was, let’s present our picks.
The Best Rechargeable Battery Pack Overall: Panasonic Eneloop Pro
The Panasonic Eneloop Pro batteries are expensive — $25 for a 4-pack or $40 for a charger bundle. On the flip side, they come with a 2550mAh capacity and can power an Xbox controller for more than 30 hours. We can personally attest to that claim because we’ve been using the same pack of four Eneloop Pro cells since mid-2020, and they’re still capable of powering our controller for more than 30 hours.
Recently, we beat Eastward without the starting pair of batteries in the controller dying. The Xbox App showed that we played the game for about 26 hours. Add 5-6 hours of Forza Horizon 5 in between Eastward sessions and you’ve got 30+ hours of game time from two and a half years old batteries. Not bad.
We only charge them about once a month because we don’t use the controller for every game we play. And since aacycler.com shows that Eneloop Pros drop to 80 percent of their starting capacity after 136 charging cycles, you can expect them to last a long time.
But even if you’re gaming four hours a day on a controller seven days a week, you shouldn’t reach 136 charging cycles for almost three years if we assume you’ll charge a pair of batteries every two weeks and you’ll get a pack of four cells.
Note that even Eneloop Pros can arrive DOA or with unexpectedly low capacity. This happens very rarely, but if it does happen to you, contact Panasonic customer support, and you should have the batteries replaced free of charge.
If you’re living in the US, one critical thing to note is that you should aim to get Eneloop Pros made in Japan. Japan-made Pros have better quality than China-made cells since the Japanese factory that makes them is considered the highest quality LSD (low self-discharge) NiMH battery factory in the world. You can find the manufacturing info at the back of the selling package and on the batteries themselves.
Cheap Rechargeable Pack if You’re on a Budget: Ikea LADDA
The Ikea LADDA batteries with a capacity of 2450mAh are made in the same factory as Eneloop Pros while costing only a fraction of the price. They can power an Xbox controller for about 25-30 hours. A superb result considering they cost $9 for a pack of four batteries or $17 if you opt for a 4-pack + charger combo.
And while older, 2016 data shows that LADDAs aren’t the most durable rechargeable batteries on the market, their durability has improved considerably once Ikea started procuring LADDA 2450mAh from the famous FDK factory that makes Eneloops.
These claims are corroborated by newer data, with LADDAs coming out on top when it comes to holding their charge over 325 cycles. If you want cheap rechargeable batteries from a trusty brand that are made in Japan, get the Ikea LADDA 2450mAh batteries, they rock.
The Outlier: EBL AA Lithium-ion 3300mWh
The outlier award is reserved for EBL Li-Ion batteries with a capacity of 3300mWh. Converted to mAh, you get 2200mAh of juice in total. Not as high as our other picks and good enough for about 20-25 hours of game time.
If we add the price into the equation, which is $24 for a four-pack with a bundled charging cable, and the fact that Li-ion batteries aren’t made for high-drain devices, the EBL Lithium-ion Batteries aren’t that attractive.
However, we’ve reserved this pick for gamers who tend to leave their controller, or VR controllers, sitting idle for weeks or even months. If you recognize yourself in this description, these are the batteries for you. Remember, Li-ion batteries have an extremely low self-discharge rate, making them perfect for casual gamers.
Instead of finding your controller or VR controllers dead after a few hours of gaming, you can rest assured that you’ll have almost a full charge even after leaving your pads gathering dust for months.
As you can see, quality rechargeable batteries don’t have to be expensive. You can get a four-pack with a bundled charger for less than $20. If you’re a regular user who also plans to use batteries with RC toys, flashlights, or electric toothbrushes, you should skip the last pick and get NiMH batteries.
But if you’re a gamer who occasionally uses a regular controller or a pair of VR controllers and who also looks for a battery for their gaming mouse, a Li-ion might be a better choice for your needs. Regardless of your requirements, remember that for the best battery life you have to get high-capacity batteries that pack at least 2200mAh of power.
How Do I Know if My Batteries Are Suitable for Gaming Peripherals?
First of all, you can find which battery type you have on the body of a battery. This information is also available on the selling package.
There are four types of rechargeable AA/AAA batteries:
- NiMH or nickel-metal hydride
- NiZn or nickel-zinc
- NiCd or nickel-cadmium
The most popular flavor of nickel-based rechargeable AA/AAA batteries, NiMH, are perfect for powering gaming peripherals because:
- They’re safe to use across a wide temperature range
- They have a negligible chance of leaking
- They can pack lots of capacity with high capacity NiMH batteries being able to power an Xbox controller for 30+ hours
- They’re able to maintain their capacity over a ton of charging cycles.
The only thing you should know is to only consider high capacity NiMH batteries, which pack 2200mAh of power or more.
The other two types of nickel-based cells aren’t great for powering your gaming gear. NiZn batteries have a voltage of 1.85V when fully charged. This is too high and can damage gaming controllers or mice since both work on lower voltages. They also have an extremely short lifetime of only ~50 charging cycles.
NiCd batteries, on the other hand, can be used with gaming gear. The issue here is that they don’t have enough capacity to power gaming peripherals longer than a couple of hours. The highest capacity NiCd cells in AA form could power your Xbox controller for less than ten hours, and that’s with vibration turned off.
Due to their excellent tolerance for complete discharges and long lifetime with regard to charge cycles, you can find NiCd cells in uninterruptible power supplies. If you want to know more about UPSs, check our best UPS for a gaming PC guide.
You can also find rechargeable AA & AAA Li-ion batteries. While they can’t reach the capacity of NiMH cells, they’re a pretty good solution for powering gaming peripherals, especially if you’re a casual gamer.
They’re perfect for casual gamers because Li-ion cells have very low idle discharge rate – you can find more about idle discharge below – and because you can charge them faster than NiMH batteries.
On the flip side, Li-ions are expensive and not compatible with high-drain devices such as LED flashlights or electric toothbrushes.
If you plan on using batteries with other devices and not only controllers or your gaming mouse, we recommend sticking to NiMH cells. Also, if you plan on getting rechargeable batteries, only consider AA form factor since AAA cells can’t hold enough charge to power your gaming gear over long periods of time.
The only scenario where you can use AAA batteries is with your gaming mouse. You’ll get shorter battery life but still enough to not swap the battery for months while shaving off a couple of grams in weight. In that case, get a AAA to AA battery adapter.
What Is the Lifetime of a Rechargeable Battery Pack?
Lifetime of a rechargeable battery pack depends on the battery type and how often you’re charging them.
Rechargeable AA/AAA Li-Ion cells can live through about 300-500 charging cycles. After that, their capacity gets noticeably lower. They’re still usable but won’t have the same battery life as a brand new battery.
NiMH and NiCd batteries are similar. While manufacturers claim these batteries can live through 500-1000, or even more charging cycles, the reality says otherwise.
Visit aacycler.com and click on any battery featured on the site. You’ll notice that most models drop to 64% of their original capacity – testing limit – well before getting near 500 charging cycles, let alone 1000. Their resistance, on the other hand, increases with each charging cycle making them harder to charge over time.
Regarding NiZn batteries, they have a particularly short lifetime of about 50 charging cycles or less. That’s by far the shortest lifetime of all Nickel-based batteries.
What Is Idle-Discharge and Is There a Way to Fix It?
NiMH batteries are prone to idle discharge over extended time periods. Idle discharge can account for up to 10-15 percent of the total capacity per month.
With that said, certain NiMH battery options such as Eneloops – both regular and Pro models — can hold their charge over long time periods. While you can’t remedy idle discharge when the battery is installed into an appliance, you can store them in plastic cases to minimize idle discharge when not used.
Li-ion batteries don’t have this issue. Technically, they also self-discharge when left idle but at a much lesser rate. Think one or a couple of percent of their capacity per month.
Note that if you’re finding your batteries empty after a few days of not using your controller the issue might be in your controller.
For instance, after we bought a new Xbox controller a few years back we found that the batteries inside it would completely discharge after leaving the controller idle, even for a couple of days. This was strange because the same batteries lasted for weeks with our previous controller.
What we found is that the controller would emit a very quiet buzz when we placed it right next to our ear (probably coming from the wireless receiver), even after we turned it off.
The solution was to remove batteries from the controller when not using it instead of turning it off by holding the Xbox logo button or leaving it to turn off by itself. If you suffer from a similar issue check your controller.
Why Are Some Batteries Listed as mAh, and Others as mWh? What Is the Difference?
Most batteries, including every nickel-based battery type, have their capacity listed in mAh or milliampere hours. Their capacity ranges from about 800-900mAh to ~2800mAh.
On the other hand, Li-ion batteries, at least rechargeable AA & AAA Li-ion batteries, list their capacity in mWh or milliwatt-hours. The thing is, Li-ion batteries found in smartphones have their capacity listed in mAh.
But why would manufacturers list smartphone Li-ion capacity in mAh while listing AA & AAA battery capacity in mWh?
After searching for possible reasons why this difference exists online we’ve come to the conclusion that the most likely reason for manufacturers expressing Li-ion AA/AAA battery capacity in mWh is that, when labeled in mWh, it looks as if the battery has a higher capacity.
For example, a Li-ion battery with a capacity of 3300mWh looks like it has higher capacity than any NiMH battery. But the reality is different. When we convert mWh to mAh by dividing the capacity in mWh by voltage (1.5V) we get a result of only 2200mAh.
How Do I Know if a Charger Is Compatible With My Rechargeable Batteries?
First of all, you need to find out what type of rechargeable batteries you have. AA & AAA chargers made for NiMH batteries can charge NiCd cells and vice versa.
On the other hand, NiZn batteries use special chargers that are only compatible with NiZn cells.
Regarding Li-ion batteries, they can only be charged with Li-ion compatible chargers. You can’t use any Nickel-based battery type with a charger made for Li-ion batteries or a charger made for Nickel-based batteries in combination with Li-ion cells.
If you somehow end up putting your batteries in an unsupported charger you can destroy the batteries, the charger, or both.
How Do I Store My Rechargeable Battery Packs?
New batteries that are still in their original packaging should stay there until you need them, no matter their type.
Nickel-based batteries are prone to idle discharge. The discharge rate is higher when the battery’s left in an open environment or idling while slotted into an appliance, where it comes in contact with metal.
We recommend storing them inside plastic battery containers when not in use. You can store NiMH batteries even if they’re fully discharged but it is recommended to fully charge them before putting them away.
Li-Ion batteries should also be stored in plastic containers since they too can begin discharging if they come into contact with metal. As for the charge level, you should charge Li-Ion batteries to at least 30%-50% of their maximum charge if you plan to store them.
How Do I Dispose My Rechargeable Battery Packs?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends sending used battery packs to “specialized battery recyclers, participating retailers that provide battery takeback services, or local household hazardous waste collection programs.”
If you live in the US or Canada, open the Used Household Batteries page on the EPA’s site and scroll down to the Rechargeable Batteries section. There you’ll find links for every rechargeable cell type that leads to a webpage where you can search for your local electronic recycling center. The database only covers North America (US & Canada) locations.
The EU doesn’t have a website that covers the whole EU region so you’ll have to search for collection or recycling facilities in your country. If you live in Germany, you can visit the Elektro-altgeräte Register (EAR) portal that features a list of treatment facility operators.
Whatever you do, do not throw used batteries together with other garbage. Depending on where you live you can dispose of batteries at electronic recycling centers, selected retailers, or electronic waste facilities. You can also try searching online for battery disposal options near you.