- - Affordable compared to others
- - Exceptional build quality
- - Beautiful and ergonomic design
- - Works with iOS, Mac & Apple TV
- - Can be charged via Lightning
- - No dock for holding iPhone
- - Doesn't ship with Lightning cable
- - LED indicators can be confusing
SteelSeries is a company many gamers will have heard of – they develop gaming keyboards, mice and headsets. But recently, they’ve introduced something rather special – and sent it to us to check out.
This, is the Nimbus controller.
What is it?
The Nimbus controller is an MFi-certified Bluetooth gaming controller for iOS devices, Mac, and the latest Apple TV. It connects to an aforementioned device and allows you to play games using the controller. There are a huge amount of games currently available on iOS which are compatible with this controller – including big names such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Real Racing 3 and Modern Combat 5. These games paired with the Nimbus provide an infinitely better overall gaming experience compared to just using standard controls on a touch screen or with the new Siri remote.
The good stuff…
This isn’t SteelSeries’ first controller, as they’ve previously made the Stratus XL; so they certainly have experience in this field – and it definitely shows with the Nimbus.
Let’s delve into what makes the Nimbus a great controller.
Design & Build Quality
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#108ad6″ class=”” size=””]”the best build quality we’ve ever seen in a controller, period.”[/pullquote]
Firstly, we have to say, the build quality of the controller is absolutely phenomenal. The Nimbus genuinely has the best build quality we’ve seen in a controller, period. It’s absolutely one of the best controllers to hold. The quality of the Nimbus easily surpasses that of PS4 controllers as well as XBOX One controllers, making them seem like cheap alternatives.
The design of the controller also contributes to it’s premium feel. The Nimbus has a smooth, matte feel to it as well as an ergonomic design; which all make the controller incredibly comfortable to hold – even for long periods of time.
The smooth design, solid build, rigid body, sturdy construction and slight ‘heft’ makes the Nimbus feel like a very premium controller, which we love.
The physical design of the Nimbus is similar to that of an Xbox One controller, but the layout of the controller mimics that of a PS4 controller; with 4 buttons on the right, a D-Pad on the left, two analog sticks in the middle, two shoulder buttons and two triggers. The Nimbus also has a relatively large ‘Menu’ button in the center above four LED lights which provide feedback for remaining battery, charging status and player roles when multiple controllers are connected.
If you’ve used an Xbox or PlayStation controller before, the Nimbus controls will feel very familiar, so you don’t require much time to get used to it.
Setting up the controller out of the box is a very simple and hassle-free process. As with any Bluetooth device, you simply put the controller into pairing mode and connect to it from your device – then you’re ready to start using it. It’s that simple. Also, once paired, the controller will then automatically connect to your device; which is an incredibly convenient feature.
For Apple TV, the device is paired through the tvOS Settings app and once this is done, it will maintain its connection – a useful feature, as it means turning on the controller wakes the Apple TV. Moreover, the Nimbus can also be used to navigate the Apple TV so you don’t necessarily need the Siri remote. This is similar in gaming apps on iOS – the Nimbus can be used to navigate around menus and select different options.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#108ad6″ class=”” size=””]”Playing games with the Nimbus is, overall, an infinitely better experience”[/pullquote]
Using the controller when actually playing games is a pleasant experience. As mentioned before, the controls are familiar so there’s not a lot of time needed to get used to the controls. Playing games with the Nimbus is, overall, an infinitely better experience than normal methods.
The difference really shows in games where controls are quite complex, such as Modern Combat 5 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The variety of controls on the Nimbus makes for much easier and comfortable gameplay.
The buttons on the Nimbus are very responsive and don’t require much pressure to use. As for the analog sticks, these are incredibly smooth to use and also responsive, so they’ll quickly snap back into the center once used, unless you hold them in another position. The shoulder buttons are rather large and easy to press which makes using them a comfortable experience. The two triggers on the Nimbus are possibly the best controls on it. The triggers are pressure sensitive so the controller and game can accurately detect how much pressure is actually on the trigger. An incredibly useful attribute, especially for racing games where there’s varied pressure applied on the triggers. Overall, the controls are comfortable, easy to use, and responsive – which makes using the controller a very satisfying experience.
The SteelSeries Nimbus is also equipped with a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery which SteelSeries claim gives 40+ hours of battery life. With bold claims like that, we had to put this to the test and we were shocked, to say the least. The battery life of this controller is absolutely phenomenal. It almost seems like you never have to charge the controller as it just keeps going and going. SteelSeries have done a fantastic job to give the Nimbus a great battery life.
Another prominent feature of the Nimbus is the recharging of the device. The Nimbus is equipped with an MFI-certified Lightning port – so you can charge the device using your Lightning cable. The Nimbus is one of the few controllers currently available with a Lightning port for charging. It’s certainly a very convenient way of charging the device as the same chargers and docks used to charge iPhones and the new Siri Remote, are compatible with the Nimbus.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#108ad6″ class=”” size=””]”exceptionally-built, beautifully designed, wildly functional and overall, a fantastic controller”[/pullquote]
As mentioned previously, the Nimbus comes with four LED’s on the front of the controller. We found this to be a very useful feature, especially when recharging the device, as it allows you to see how much the controller has been charged, as well as player roles.
SteelSeries also have a companion app available for the Nimbus controller.
The companion app allows you to update the controller as well as find games which support the Nimbus. The ability to update via the companion app is a very good idea as it makes for quick over-the-air updating. The list of all the games which you can download to play with the Nimbus is also a very informative feature – as you can discover which games support the controller and look for specific games to check if they do. Another section in the app which is useful, especially for setting up, is the Help section. This gives you tips on using the Nimbus as well as setting it up.
It’s undeniable that the Nimbus is feature-packed and, in all senses of the word, premium. So you may be expecting an astonishingly high price tag – but you’d be wrong to do so. The Nimbus is currently only £39.95. That’s a much lower price than PlayStation and Xbox controllers – which gives you every excuse to go out and buy it. The build quality of the Nimbus alone would make you assume it would be priced a lot higher, so you’re definitely getting a lot for your money with the Nimbus.
In one sentence, the Nimbus is: exceptionally-built, beautifully designed, wildly functional and overall, a fantastic controller.
The not-so-good stuff…
Although the Nimbus is a great controller – there are some slight drawbacks.
The main drawback of the Nimbus is, unlike other controllers on the market, there is no dock for iPhone. This means an iPhone cannot actually be mounted onto the controller which would make for more convenient usage. This was the biggest drawback of the Nimbus. Although we got around it by propping the iPhone up somewhere else, it would definitely be more convenient if there was an actual dock to hold the iPhone whilst using the controller.
Also, something which isn’t necessarily the fault of the Nimbus, or SteelSeries for that matter, is game controller support on Apple TV. Whilst there are some good titles available for use with the Nimbus, there could definitely be more.
Another thing we weren’t too impressed with was the LED’s on the controller. We mentioned before that the Nimbus has LED’s on the controller to show different things such as battery, player roles, etc. – however, we found it to be incredibly difficult to read. We weren’t too sure what the LED’s were actually showing as they were quite confusing to understand – possibly because they simply try to do too much.
Something we would have liked with the Nimbus was to be able to see the battery in the Notification Centre of iPhone’s. Devices such as Apple’s new Smart Battery Case and the Bose Soundlink Mini II show battery levels in the Notification Centre of the device they are connected to. This would have definitely been a great feature with the Nimbus. Also, we mentioned previously that the Nimbus can be charged using a Lightning connector, but SteelSeries don’t actually give you one with the Nimbus – which we found strange.
In summary, the Nimbus is a great controller. Although it doesn’t have a dock for iPhone and confusing LED’s – it works with many Apple devices including the Apple TV, has incredible design and build quality as well as being very functional with responsive and tactile controls and phenomenal battery life. It is undoubtedly one of the best and most affordable MFi controllers currently on the market.
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