Accessories brand Nacon recently released the $50 RIG Pro Compact wired controller for the Xbox Series X/S (and Xbox One) consoles and PC, and I was immediately drawn to it. It’s not trying to be revolutionary, but there’s something for a controller that drastically changes the look of console makers’ reference designs. In this case, the Nacon’s are smaller and shorter than Microsoft’s newer controllers, but the analog sticks and triggers feel equally large. Some buttons are actually bigger. The short distance between where the thumb rests on the stick and where the trigger is will be helpful for people with small hands or anyone who wants to feel like everything is within reach.
It’s a nice little controller. But temporarily setting the form factor aside, one of the main features of the Rig Pro Compact is that it has a 3.5mm audio port for headphones, and when plugged in, you can access the Dolby Atmos app on your PC and Xbox. Experience Dolby’s enhanced spatial audio through wired headphones or headsets that connect to your Pro Compact. It’s a good incentive if you’re looking for a wired controller, but I don’t think this is a must-have feature.
Whether you should buy a Pro Compact depends mostly on the size of your hand. As mentioned earlier, the distance between the trigger and the button is shorter because the controller is shorter from top to bottom than Microsoft. That change is beneficial for many, but there are a few knock-on effects that can negatively impact your experience, as it did for me.
I have a medium sized hand and a small grip that fits comfortably in the palm of the hand, but the back part of the controller housing for the trigger usually interferes with where I would put my index finger knuckle on a Microsoft controller. If you’re someone who puts both your pointer and middle finger on the shoulder buttons, this shouldn’t be a problem (though I haven’t met anyone using a controller like this yet).
Another change that may be problematic for more people is the relocation of the View, Menu, and Share buttons. It’s much closer to the important controls on the Pro Compact than it is with Microsoft’s controllers. This is trickier than the last one, but leads to accidental presses during gameplay. the menu button so Close to the X, A, B, Y buttons, so they look and feel like they belong to an input cluster. As for the buttons, the tactile feel of each of the face buttons feels stiff compared to Microsoft’s controllers, but the rear trigger on the back has a shorter pull, making it less satisfying to use.
One of the things I love about the Pro Compact is that it’s a companion app available for Xbox and PC that lets you adjust the sensitivity of both sticks (each with a dead zone). You can also remap all the buttons on the controller to your liking, change the trigger’s working distance, and toggle the directional pad between 4-way inputs 8-way for more control options. Vibration can also be turned on or off in the app. Although Microsoft can use their own controllers to adjust many of these settings, not all third-party companies do the work of creating their own apps.
If most controllers on the market for Xbox or PC are too big for your hand, the Nacon Pro Compact is very easy to recommend for $50 to try. Connecting wirelessly or managing battery life is one less thing, the 9.8-foot braided cord is long and the cable has a detachable connector that can be safely disconnected when force is applied. It’s all great, but from an ergonomic point of view, there isn’t much that can make gaming more enjoyable unless you’re having trouble using Microsoft’s own Xbox controller. I’m in the latter group and enjoy casual gameplay with the Pro Compact, but it’s hard to break away from the more familiar and comfortable curves of the Microsoft model.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge