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Nacon Evol-X Pro controller review - you get what you pay for

 Nacon Evol-X Pro.
Nacon Evol-X Pro.

The Nacon Evol-X Pro controller for Xbox marks the first time I’ve been seriously disappointed in the brand’s hardware. While Nacon controllers like the Revolution X often strike a balance between quality and affordability, the Evol-X Pro strays into the latter without offering much of the former.

Problems are initially apparent when you hold the controller in your hands for the first time. The Evol-X Pro is relatively large compared to the likes of the Xbox Wireless Controller and the GameSir T4 Kaleid, so unless you’ve got bigger-than-average hands, longer play sessions with the Evol-X Pro can be quite demanding.

Other design issues come to light when actually playing with the Evol-X Pro. Its analog sticks feel quite sensitive, and the triggers are rendered a bit slippery thanks to their large and sloped design. These problems did contribute to an unsatisfying play experience, despite the face and shoulder buttons feeling sturdy.

Price and availability

The Nacon Evol-X Pro controller is available to buy now from Nacon’s store for £27.99. At the time of writing, the gamepad isn’t available for purchase in the US or Australia; availability is currently limited to the UK and Europe.

At surface level, this is an exceptionally affordable price point, being among the cheapest controllers that are officially licensed by Xbox. The controller is also available in three distinct colorways: standard black, carbon black and LED Pro.

The Evol-X Pro’s price point may be tempting, but we recommend looking at other officially licensed Xbox controllers in this price range. Chief among those being the HyperX Clutch Gladiate, which sits in our best Xbox controllers guide and costs just $34.99 / £29.99 and offers an overall higher quality experience compared to the Evol-X Pro.

Design and features

Nacon Evol-X Pro
Nacon Evol-X Pro

It’s easy to raise an eyebrow at the Evol-X Pro out of the box, given its relatively large size when compared to most other official Xbox pads. For my average-sized hands, it was difficult to rest my palms against the controller’s grips, making my thumbs hover awkwardly in the space between the grips and the analog sticks.

And it’s not just the controller’s chassis that’s a little on the XL side; the triggers are questionably massive, wrapping under my index fingers almost in their entirety. Again, if your hands are on the larger side, this may make a degree of sense; I can imagine them fitting snugly under the fingers of such users. But for me, they felt as uncomfortable to rest on as the controller’s grips.

Things do improve in other aspects of the controller’s design, thankfully. Its face and shoulder buttons, as well as the d-pad, all feel perfectly fine and are of adequate size and quality. The central Home, Menu and Share buttons are also appropriately placed and I didn’t need to overly extend my thumbs to reach them.

Ancillary features include a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom of the controller - between the grips as standard - as well as two programmable buttons on the back that can be easily assigned by holding the rear Function button and your desired input on the front of the pad.

Now, I reviewed the LED Pro model of the Evol-X Pro, and I would strongly advise you to opt for one of the other color options available if you’re planning on buying. That’s because, while the translucent shell is quite nice, the LEDs inside are placed rather randomly, and no effort has been made to hide the fact that these are straight up just LEDs attached to the circuit board. It just looks rather cheap and cobbled together.

For comparison’s sake, check out how the GameSir T4 Kaleid approaches the same design philosophy: its gorgeous gold-on-black circuit board is flanked by RGB strips that look utterly fantastic and aren’t overly bright like they are on the Evol-X Pro. You can hit a button on the front of the pad to change the Evol-X Pro’s lighting patterns, but it really doesn’t affect the overall brightness too much.

Performance

Nacon Evol-X Pro
Nacon Evol-X Pro

If the Evol-X Pro felt adequately nice to play games with, I could forgive its design shortcomings. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case here. With the Evol-X Pro, the overall cheap-feeling design extends to its modules and in turn their overall performance.

The controller’s analog sticks feel a touch too sensitive. They rest in the deadzone just fine, and I didn’t encounter any stick drift in my time playing, but they do feel a little slippery during play, with even the slightest movements registering as inputs in-game.

This can be a problem in titles that require quite precise movement and/or dodging, such as Lies of P or platformers like A Hat in Time. And I would not recommend the Evol-X Pro for games that use the sticks as a means to input commands; that includes some of the best fighting games like Street Fighter 6 and Guilty Gear Strive.

The triggers, meanwhile, feel very mushy when pressed inwards. I found this to be an issue in shooters, especially, like PUBG: Battlegrounds and Remnant 2 with weapons that required single shot or semi-auto fire. The Evol-X Pro doesn’t feature trigger stops, either, so you’ll often need a full press of the trigger in order to shoot, creating a degree of unresponsiveness while playing such games.

Should I buy the Nacon Evol-X Pro controller?

Nacon Evol-X Pro
Nacon Evol-X Pro

While the Evol-X Pro has its high points when it comes to the quality of its face buttons, shoulder buttons and d-pad, I find very little reason to recommend it beyond its affordability. And even then, similarly priced gamepads - like the HyperX Clutch Gladiate and 8BitDo Pro 2 - outclass it in almost every way.

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the Nacon Evol-X Pro controller

I tested the Evol-X Pro over the course of about a week, going back and forth between playing games on Xbox Series X and PC. I ensured to test the controller across a range of titles, from more casual offerings like Fall Guys and Stardew Valley, to more demanding games like Lies of P, Elden Ring and PUBG: Battlegrounds.

For alternative controller and accessory recommendations on Xbox, consider checking out our guides to the best Xbox Series X and Series S accessories.