SCUF Instinct Pro Controller Review

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reviewscuf instinct pro

Recently SCUF Gaming (belongs to Corsair since 2019) has introduced their new Xbox controllers "Instinct" and "Instinct Pro". I was able to test an Instinct Pro for a few days already and report you here about my experiences and also always in comparison to an Elite 2 controller from Microsoft. Corsair was kind enough to provide us with the controller for free - but this has no influence on the rating.

What is SCUF Gaming?

The new controller models from SCUF were presented on 17.08.2021. SCUF has been a well-known name in the scene for expensive high-end controllers for about ten years now and has been supplying suitable equipment for pro gamers for a long time. Many of you will almost certainly already know the company.

With their countless patents in this area, they are the market leader and trendsetter. Well-known things like the rear buttons, paddles, shortenable triggers and such stuff is all all coming from SCUF and were also the template for Microsoft's Elite controllers, which have licensed these technologies.

What is the SCUF Instinct / Instinct Pro Controller?

This is a high-end controller for pro gamers, or those who want to become one.

scuf instinct pro scuf instinct pro box

energon

The controller comes in a nice box, which you can also put on the shelf by the way. It looks valuable and you immediately notice that you have bought a premium product. The controller is very present in it - which can be customized according to your wishes, by the way. You can choose between different monochrome, pattern-printed or camouflage faceplaces, customize some accent colors and thus personalize it nicely. Similar to what you already know from Microsoft with the Design Lab, but not quite as versatile. In my case, I chose the variant from the promo photos and the website, which is a very chic matte gray with orange accents on the thumbsticks. The shoulder buttons have a slight camouflage look and the ABXY buttons are black with white lettering. Fancy! Actually, I should have gotten one of the very stylish predefined faceplates in Energon purple, but it was not available at the time and will come a little later. Of course, I will add my own photos of it later.

In addition to the controller, the box also includes a USB-C (charging) cable, two AA batteries, two more thumbsticks so you can choose whether you prefer to use concave or convex curved sticks, and a few accompanying booklets.

Just like the official Microsoft Elite 2 controller, you can save multiple profiles for button assignments on the SCUF Instinct and switch through them with a button on the back. This causes a small LED on the mute button at the bottom of the front to change between blue, red and green. Mute button? Right. There is a button on the controller for muting your headset. Otherwise, the Instinct is visually and ergonomically identical to the Microsoft Xbox Series X|S controller, which means it is slightly smaller and has a better grip than the Xbox One controller. Of course, the new share button is not missing here either.

On the back, you'll find the four additional buttons known from SCUF to perform actions even faster without always having to move your right thumb to the ABXY buttons. This can be a big advantage in fast shooters or other multiplayer titles. Using them takes a bit of getting used to and practice, but the keys are very well positioned and can be felt blindly. They are somewhat L-shaped, so that your middle fingers lie there like in a hollow. You activate one function with an inward pressure and the other with an outward pressure. The middle finger no longer has to jump back and forth between the literal paddles like in the Elite 2 controller, and you don't need another finger. As I said, it feels unusual at first - at least for me. But it doesn't take long for you to use it in shooters to slide through the room while shooting and looking around. The keys can be freely assigned according to your wishes.

scuf plate

Qualitatively, the SCUF Instinct makes a damn good impression. Everything feels very well manufactured and very valuable. Nothing sticks out or scratches anywhere. Due to the usual good ergonomics of the original Xbox controllers and the corresponding non-slip grips on the bottom with textured rubber coating, you always have a firm grip. Unfortunately, only with the Pro. The only disadvantage of the rubber coating is that one or the other may sweat faster on the hands. However, the grip is still much better than with a normal Xbox controller (regardless of whether Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S). However, unlike the Elite 2, there are no textured grips on the top, and the faceplates are all smooth as far as I can tell. But this can possibly be changed in the future with new faceplates. The weight is also very pleasant. Not too light and not too heavy. Personally, I always found the normal Xbox controllers too light, which is why I've played with an Elite 2 so far. When playing intensively, you occasionally notice a slight creaking, because the faceplate is only attached via magnet and is not completely torsionally stiff. However, this is not particularly annoying. The faceplate snaps onto the body with 100% accuracy. Qualitatively, I would classify the Instinct clearly above all regular Xbox controllers, but on a par with an Elite 2. Overall, we are in the premium range here.

Let's come back to the faceplate. One of the great features of the Instinct is the changeable faceplate. It is simply attached to the case with five small magnets, but offers enough support so that it doesn't come loose by itself. So if you often feel the urge to change the look of your controller, you can order various faceplates or accessories from SCUF. For example, new thumbsticks can be attached when the old ones are worn out and worn down. I find it a bit unfortunate that SCUF only includes two additional thumbsticks in the box - and then also convex. Here I would have liked a little more variety and choice, as with the Elite 2, because I use, for example, only the inwardly curved (concave) sticks and in the box only two outwardly curved (convex) are included. Even with the Elite 2, there was a little more choice and combination options here. By the way, the sticks from the Elite 2 are not compatible with the Instinct. Especially because these are only sticks made of plastic, which are probably somewhere in the cent range, I would have liked to have different lengths, sizes, shapes and possibly colors here, since the controller naturally already has a premium price. But at least you can order them later at SCUF. Unfortunately, the resistances of the sticks cannot be adjusted, as you are used to with the Elite 2. However, the default resistance setting is decent and neither too strong nor too light. Balanced middle I would say.

plate plate plate

The Instinct has a battery compartment like a regular Xbox controller and not a permanently installed battery! Two AA batteries (included), AA rechargeable batteries or corresponding Xbox controller batteries can be inserted there. If you want to use the controller as a wired controller for even more responsiveness, you can easily do so with the included 2m USB-C cable. But then please remove the batteries or insert a rechargeable battery.

But don't worry, the response speed is also excellent via Bluetooth and is in no way inferior to the original Microsoft controller. The Verge reports that the SCUF controllers even contain original Microsoft controller boards. Everything responds instantaneously and without any noticeable lag. Funnily enough, the controller is also recognized as the original controller by the Xbox after the first pairing and is updated for now. The configuration app for the Elite 2 controller can also be used for the SCUF controller.

Another small difference to the Elite 2 controller are the LT and RT shoulder triggers. Unlike the Elite 2, they can only be shortened to two levels instead of three, but the short level is like a mouse click, whereas the Elite 2 requires you to press the trigger in a bit even on the smallest level. You are more or less directly at the button with your finger. Step two is the regular mode, where the trigger is slowly pressed in completely. To be honest, these two variants are completely sufficient. I have never used the middle variant on the Elite 2. The short variant can certainly be used well in shooters - here it can be another decisive advantage, and the long and regular variant can be used for racing games, for example, if you want to deliberately and continuously accelerate more.

The only drawback are the switches for switching between the levels. On the one hand, they are very short, directly made of metal and thus a bit scratchy, and in the normal mode (without a short mouse click) they almost interfere with the remaining fingers at the back of the controller - depending on how you hold the controller. They can be adjusted poorly or not at all during gameplay. I would definitely have solved that differently. I find Microsoft's approach with the Elite 2 with a small plastic plug much better. However, that is certainly complaining on a high level. Many of you will certainly buy the controller for shooters and use the short level with a mouse click, which means that the switch is no longer hard to feel and therefore not as annoying.

grip pin 

Connectivity

Of course, the Instinct can not only be used on an Xbox, but also on practically all other devices that work with controllers. Whether on a Windows PC, Mac OS, iOS and Android and possibly other consoles. This can be done via Bluetooth or USB cable.

Differences between Normal and Pro

The Instinct comes in a normal and a Pro variant, which differ only slightly but noticeably. Both have four freely assignable additional buttons on the back, you can switch between three profiles and swap the faceplates and thumbsticks. But only the Pro also has a textured grip on the bottom and the crucial short mouse button triggers. So anyone faced with the choice should think carefully. The latter two features cost an additional 30€, but you generally spend a lot of money for a pro-gamer controller and should not save 30€, especially since both features are really important.

Is it worth it?

Whether a purchase is worthwhile for you personally, no one but you can answer exactly. You should perhaps reflect on your gaming style and consider how much value you place on the aforementioned features and whether a normal controller isn't enough for you. The Instinct is certainly a niche product for a very special target group.

Upgrade from Elite 2 Controller?

It is difficult to answer whether an upgrade from the Elite 2 is worth it. I would say no. The Elite 2 offers a bit more and costs less. If you already have an Elite 2, you don't need to worry about an upgrade from a gaming point of view - at most if you want it to be a bit more individual visually.

For everyone else: Consider whether you appreciate the added value of the features and would use them. If so, the Instinct (Pro) can be very interesting for you. However, if you are a casual gamer and do not value mouse triggers or backbuttons, the controller is not so well suited for you. If you are simply looking for a personalized look, you can also colorize a controller at Microsoft's Design Lab.

What's good

  • Very valuable
  • Four freely assignable buttons on the back side
  • Textured grips on the Instinct Pro
  • Mouse trigger on the Instinct Pro
  • Interchangeable faceplates and thumbsticks
  • Ergnonomically excellent
  • Fast response times due to original board
  • Additional mute button
  • Memory for three button assignments with LED

What's not so good

  • Textured grips only with the Instinct Pro
  • Mouse trigger only with the Instinct Pro
  • Thumbstick tension not adjustable
  • Fiddly pins for adjusting the triggers
  • Few included thumbstick choices

Price and Conclusion

I really like the Instinct Pro. But aside from the mouse-like shoulder triggers, I miss the other unique technical features compared to an Elite 2 controller. This one simply has a bit more to offer with its selection of different thumbsticks, customizable tension, and also rubberized grips on the top. Furthermore, an Elite 2 controller costs noticeably less. On the other hand, the Instinct has a nice design and customization options, and the backbuttons might be a bit more usable for precise shooter multiplayer battles. The mouse trigger definitely makes a decisive difference here as well. Thus, each controller certainly has its own target group. You have to think about what is more important to you, since the Instinct Pro costs 209.99€, which is almost 50€ more expensive than an Elite 2. The only thing that really bothered me was the fiddly pin for adjusting the trigger length. It is difficult to adjust, made of metal and in my case at least somewhat sharp-edged. As long as you only use the mouse trigger mode and have no need to switch, everything is okay. But otherwise the pin can stick out a bit unsightly and disturb the other fingers. There is no built-in rechargeable battery. However, I would neither consider this an advantage nor a disadvantage.

Overall, due to the delay at customs, I can now say that the launch of both controllers went very well. The first batch of both controllers is already sold out - this sounds like a very high demand. So the interest is definitely there and this review only reflects my personal opinion. And who knows - maybe the second batch will fix some of the little things I noticed and you will get a really perfect controller.

I'd give it a good 4/5 stars.

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