RIG known for its affordable, great quality accessories, is back with a vengeance. And, among the gaming peripherals, it’s rolled out to celebrate that comeback is the Nacon RIG Pro Compact, an Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming controller that boasts a more compact form factor.
The Nacon RIG Pro Compact already has its work cut out for it. In a sea of gaming controllers, it isn’t easy to set oneself apart from the competition. This controller has succeeded in doing so, however, by boasting a more compact form factor, offering Dolby Atmos for Headphones (the world’s first controller to do so), and being customizable – all while keeping the price fairly affordable. That makes it ideal for those who have found the original Xbox controller a bit wanting, especially in terms of features.
Are those features enough to make the Nacon RIG Pro Compact a better investment than the original Xbox controller? Read the review below and you be the judge.
Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Design
The Nacon RIG Pro Compact is a clean, nice-looking controller, covered in a textured white hard-shell plastic with a black glossy plastic panel in front. It also comes in a matte black version. From the shell to the buttons, the controller seems to be made of robust materials. Nothing feels cheap here. Even the cable is thick and braided – not to mention, long enough to use across a small living room.
Don’t underestimate its compact form factor. This controller has all the same buttons as a standard Xbox controller: the four action buttons (A, B, X, and Y), two joysticks, one-directional pad (D-pad), four front buttons (two for each side), the view, share, and menu buttons, and of course, the Xbox button. There's also a 3.5mm jack for headphones as well as a switch on the back that lets you toggle between Xbox mode and Advanced mode, which lets you adjust the controller’s settings via the Pro Compact app. The only thing that’s missing is a pairing button or a jack to connect the cable, but that’s because this isn’t a wireless controller and the cable is affixed to it.
With the exception of the Xbox one, the buttons have a nice matte look and feel to them, with the joysticks being textured on top for added grip. The joysticks are a tad shorter than those on other controllers. However, that doesn’t really take anything away from your gaming experience – only that they feel more accessible to those with smaller hands.
Speaking of comfort, the Nacon RIG Pro Compact is without a doubt a comfortable controller to handle. This smaller design is designed to allow faster operation, based on the firm’s experience in E-sports. It is certainly smaller than the original Xbox controller. However, it also feels a bit bulkier than a PS4 controller. If you're looking specifically for a controller for your PC then, then this might not feel the most compact. That said, it offers better ergonomics, with a more pronounced back, specifically shaped to not only accommodate your fingers better but also give you a better hold when playing.
The controller is wired, as professional gamers want to remove any chance of lag – even the smallest amount caused by a wireless controller and so it connects via USB-A only. While the RIG Pro is $10/£10 cheaper than the official Xbox controller, you do have to be tethered to your machine. The cable isn’t detachable either, which means that if anything happens to it, you have to replace the whole controller.
Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Features and Software
Another thing that sets the Nacon RIG Pro Compact apart is its customizations, which is something you can otherwise only get with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller – an option that is more than triple the price. These customizations are done on Nacon’s free software called Pro Compact, available for both PC and Xbox, which is a nice change from most peripherals that are so-called "universal" but only really have software features available for PC.
The app lets you remap the action (A, B, X, Y) and D-pad buttons, as well as invert the joysticks, so that you can personalize the Nacon RIG Pro Compact to a layout you’re most comfortable with. Unfortunately, you can't remap the bumper or trigger buttons, something someone who’s used to a Playstation controller would have preferred. However, it does let you toggle on/off vibration and change the D-pad to either 4-way or 8-way depending on your preference.
The same app lets you adjust the sensitivity of the trigger buttons, as well both joysticks, so that they’ll work more seamlessly with the type of game you're playing. It's essentially like adjusting the DPI. It’ll also let you adjust the dead zone for each stick so you can determine yourself the amount you can move the stick before it's recognized.
I find these adjustments to be fairly nuanced, enough to where we’re actually happy to skip fine-tuning in the software and just use the default modes. However, not all gamers are the same, and I know there are those who will find these setting customizations more than helpful. In any case, all are welcome adjustments. I only wish that sensitivity adjustments were on hand for the action buttons as well.
The downside is that the app seems to freeze whenever I pause a game and go into the app to adjust some settings. Sometimes, I got distorted or squealing audio when I had a headset plugged into the gamepad. This isn’t a deal-breaker, however, and just something Nacon could easily rectify by rolling out a software update to fix.
Last but not the least, the Nacon RIG Pro Compact comes with Dolby Atmos for headphones – it’s the first controller to do so, in fact. Typically, this feature will cost you, but Nacon has included it for free, giving users an activation code so you can access Dolby Atmos via any headphones you connect to its 3.5mm jack. Considering that Dolby Atmos is essentially the future of any audiovisual experience, this is a fantastic addition that makes the controller an even better value than its rivals.
Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Performance
When it comes to performance, the Nacon RIG Pro Compact works well under pressure. I've tested it with titles like Cyberpunk 2077, It Takes Two, Far Cry 5, and Rocket League with very few issues.
Some games worked better than others, though. In It Takes Two, it wouldn't lock on to targets and also requires a little more pressure than I’m used to in order for it to register a response in-game. That means if you have a lighter touch, you’re likely to experience some missed presses while playing – as I sometimes have.
Still, the joysticks work beautifully and smoothly outside of It Takes Two, which makes me think that this might be more of a lack of support in-game than an actual gamepad issue. The trigger buttons are not only responsive, but also bounce back quickly. That’s extremely important as most aiming and shooting are mapped to these buttons by default.
It keeps up with faster-paced games like Rocket League, as well. In fact, the game lends itself well to a gamepad and we have found the RIG to be very responsive, whether we’re accelerating, decelerating, looking around, or boosting/jumping. Since a few buttons are not used for anything, we have been able remap those to boosting and jumping, which gives us even more button-mashing power.
It’s easy to use with Cyberpunk 2077 as well, at least as soon as we got used to the game's mapping. Sadly, I had trouble remapping the gamepad specifically for this title. For example, in-game, the D-pad lets you use a health booster. I tried remapping it on the app, but the game seems to override it.
Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Price and Verdict
The Nacon RIG Pro Compact is affordable at $49.99/€49.99, although it isn’t the cheapest option around. Still, it’s not only cheaper than the Xbox Wireless Controller, which is asking $59.99/£54.99 for the privilege of having wireless connectivity but is also a great value considering the features it comes with.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find that compact, ergonomic design from Xbox’s line of controllers, and you’ll be charged more to get one with the customizations that the Nacon RIG Pro Compact offers. Finally, although the Xbox Series X and S already support Dolby Atmos, this controller offers 3D audio without extra cost on any platform its connected with, including PCs. That’s on top of the RIG Pro Compact’s snappy performance.
Considering those, you’re definitely getting a whole lot of bang for your buck here. If you’re on a budget and want a great-value controller, or if you’re looking for something more compact and better ergonomic-wise, the Nacon RIG Pro Compact is definitely worth taking a look.
Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Also Consider
These days, gamers are going wireless. The best wireless peripherals have proven themselves just as capable as their wired counterparts, and if you want to take that same route for your Xbox or PC gaming sessions, the Xbox Wireless Controller (opens in new tab) is definitely the way to go. It’s only a bit pricier than the Nacon RIG Pro Compact and completely worth it for the convenience it affords. Pay a little more, and you can completely customize its look in the Xbox Design Lab (opens in new tab) to make it your own.
If you’re determined to get an Xbox-branded controller but want the button remapping and setting customization options, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller (opens in new tab) is for you. Just bear in mind that you’ll be paying a whole lot more for it.
A PS4 fan? Nacon has recently rolled out the Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro, another feature-packed controller that we’ve found to be the best PS4 controller ever made. Although, much like the Xbox Elite, it will charge you a premium.