An affordable controller that punches above its weight
- Manufacturer: Nacon
- Model: Pro Compact
- Supported Platforms: Xbox One, Series X|S, PC
- Price when reviewed: £39.99 MSRP
- Release date: 15th March 2021
- Supplied by: Nacon
Nacon’s Pro Compact controller is officially licensed by Xbox and is compatible with all Xbox One family devices, Xbox Series X|S consoles and Windows PCs.
Available in white with a contrasting black top panel or all-black colourways, it’s an attractive looking controller. Build quality is very good, and although it is notably lighter than a standard Xbox controller, it looks and feels far more sturdy and durable than many 3rd party controllers.
The Pro Compact is actually considerably bigger than its name would imply. It shares almost the exact same width as the standard Xbox Series X|S controller, it just has around an inch trimmed off the length of the grips and beneath the Dpad and right analogue stick.
The grips themselves are quite thick and much more rounded than you may be used to, which gives the controller an unusual but still comfortable feel. A very finely textured triangle-cut pattern is moulded across all of the back of the controller, which gives a very secure grip.
This is a wired controller, so no 2.4 GHz or BlueTooth connectivity is available. The 3-metre long braided cable has a USB-A connection and is very thick, so should be very durable. There is also a breakaway connector at the USB end, to prevent over-eager kids or forgetful adults from dragging their console or computer onto the floor.
Analogue stick, Dpad and face-button placement line up with the standard Xbox controller, giving the Pro Compact an instantly familiar feel, and I found myself instantly hitting the right buttons without having to glance at the controller. The only buttons in non-standard positions are the Menu, Share, Guide and Window buttons. The menu button is not in too bad a place, and once I remembered where it was it became natural to press, but the Window button on the opposite side sits behind the analogue stick, which makes it awkward to press.
It’s a similar story with the Guide and Share buttons. With the Share button tucked in a dip between the Dpad and analogue stick, it’s not easy to find quickly – the share button needs to be more easily accessible to catch those spur of the moment screenshots. After using the controller for several hours it eventually became easier to press consistently but never felt as natural as I would have preferred.
The Dpad feels a little spongy, but it responded accurately and is very quiet. On the face buttons (A, B, X, Y) Nacon has fitted oversized buttons, with a very subtle domed surface that feels almost flat. They have a satisfying amount of travel and bounce back swiftly, working well for things like QTEs where you have to mash the same button repeatedly.
The analogue sticks feel tight and responsive, and I found them to feel almost identical to the Series X|S controller. I do like the metallic trim that surrounds the sticks. I haven’t used the Pro Compact for long enough to discover whether it makes the sticks more durable, but it certainly gives the controller a premium look.
The triggers have a good level of resistance, but they do have a significantly shorter travel distance compared to a regular Xbox controller. This is great for shooters but does reduce the amount of finite control available for racing games. Fortunately, the consistent resistance made it possible to feather the triggers reasonably well, so you can still play driving games, but it may not offer sufficient control for anyone playing at a pro-gamer level. There is no trigger lock, but the shorter throw of the triggers means this isn’t something that negatively affects use.
There aren’t any additional buttons on the rear of the Pro Compact, however, there is a switch to select either the default Xbox setting, with linear stick response and default button assignments, or a custom profile, which can be adjusted with the Pro Compact software (available on both PC and Xbox One/Series X).
Within the software, you can adjust the dead zones, change button assignments and select from a range of preset response curves. Although the manufacturer’s description makes it sound like there are physical adjustments you can make to the controller, all of the adjustments are made via the software.
Finally, the Pro Compact gives you a restricted license to use Dolby Atmos. Unlike a standard license, which allows you to use it with up to 10 Xbox consoles or PCs, the Pro Compact’s Atmos license only works when the controller is connected (which is fair enough). Dolby Access detected and allowed me to use Atmos on my Xbox consoles, however, I couldn’t get it to work on PC. I have reached out to Nacon to see if it is only available on Xbox and will update the review accordingly.
The Pro Compact controller, while larger than its name suggests, is a durable, well-built and comfortable controller. It has some useful response curve presets and a short trigger travel distance that makes it well suited for first-person shooters and action games. Although some of the lower-priority buttons could be located better, the general performance far exceeds the relatively low asking price, making it a desirable option if you need an additional or replacement controller.