If you missed our review of the SCUF Impact PS4/PC controller, you should read it. It introduces the SCUF brand to TechPowerUp readers, especially as us PC users may not have heard of them before. With CORSAIR having acquired them last year I suspect there will be more marketing targeting us, and getting ahead of the curve meant us having reviews of their offerings. I had hinted then that we would have coverage of their Xbox controllers sooner rather than later, and here we are with a look at the SCUF Prestige controller for the Xbox and PC platforms. Thanks again to SCUF/CORSAIR for sending a review sample!
The SCUF Impact I had received, as with the sample given to my colleague who also attended CORSAIR's press event at CES 2020, was a special one-off that is not a currently available design for end users. I wanted to rectify that with the Prestige, and it is easier to talk about the controller as a whole as the Prestige comes in a select package that includes a lot out of the box compared to the Impact with more options to choose from when it comes to accessories as the order is placed. The Xbox controller market is also a lot more competitive on the PC platform given extensive first-party support that is directly comparable to the SCUF offerings, but the design is ubiquitous enough to have many other companies bring out controller options, too. We will go over the SCUF Prestige in detail here to help you decide whether this is for you if you are in the market for an Xbox gamepad.
Packaging and Accessories
SCUF packages their controllers intent on providing a good unboxing experience, and it begins with a glossy sleeve over a cardboard box. The sleeve is reminiscent of a Microsoft Xbox product, with the Xbox logo and the SCUF company logo and product name on the front, along a printed render of the Impact in one of many available configurations. A note on top tells us it is compatible with the Xbox and, more relevant to us, the PC. On the back are the various features laid out individually via another render. We see salient marketing features listed on the side, alongside the list of contents, making for a comprehensive packaging if you do run into it at a retail store.
The inner box is also more luxurious than the average cardboard box, with a SCUF Gaming logo in the center of the textured black box. This too is a multi-piece packaging, with the top lifting upward to reveal the contents inside. Straight away, we see the controller placed inside a molded plastic piece that keeps it in place during transit, and the tag-line "Reinventing the Game" has been put at the bottom.
Underneath the plastic piece is more cardboard, which is where we see the accessories that come with the SCUF Prestige. Unlike the Impact, there is a pre-defined set of accessories that is also listed on the outer sleeve we saw above. These come inside a large plastic zip-lock bag and include the product manual, an online copy of which can be found here, and I heavily encourage going through it to make the most of the configurability of the controller. We also see the SCUF EMR (ElectroMagnetic Remapping) Mag Key, a note on the same, two replacement thumbsticks, a "0.9 mm SCUF Key", and a 10' braided black cable that goes from a male micro-USB connector on one end to a male USB Type-A connector on the other. This hints towards the use of micro-USB on the controller as with the native Xbox controllers, and the connectors are gold-plated to minimize oxidation. The replacement thumbsticks are a long domed black stick and a short concave black stick, in contrast to the two medium-height concave black sticks on the unit itself. Again, the pre-installed sticks are easily configured during ordering.
SCUF also decided to send along an accessory pack in the SCUF Prestige Player Pack to show off what else they have to sell in addition to the controllers themselves. This pack includes a SCUF universal controller case that fits all their controllers, a tube (~30 mL) of their GamerGrip non-sticky hand application which smells nice and aims to "keep your hands dry and improve your grip" as per the company. Lastly, it includes two short concave thumbsticks as replacement for the medium-height ones that presumably most go with the controller by default. These thumbsticks can be customized for color when ordering the player pack, with options of black, white, red, blue, and green to choose from, and the pack itself currently costs $19.95 for those who want it.
As with the Impact controller we saw before, SCUF Gaming's biggest claim to fame is arguably all the available customization, which came up at a time when no one was really doing it outside of wraps. Today, the first-party offerings from Microsoft do offer a good set of aesthetic configurations from the Xbox Design Lab, but nowhere near as comprehensively as what we see here. This specific design, the Cherry Blossom, is extremely well applied, and the overall build quality is fantastic even compared to a base Xbox One controller. We see the SCUF logo on the thumbsticks, but otherwise, there is no branding to detract from the visuals here, with the Xbox logo retained on the Xbox button.
The customization begins with a base palette for the shell and builds upon it. The product page goes over the Prestige Spectrum, which is a full color option set that alone is enough to interest most, although not much different from what Microsoft offers directly. The Signature design for the face plate follows next, offering more complex patterns while still being geometrically regular and easy enough to implement, and this is again similar to some of the cameo and shadow options from the Xbox Design Lab. The Designer series kicks things up to the artistic realm, as with my sample above, with some incredible designs that look great in person too, and well beyond first-party offerings. Unlike the Impact, there are no eSports and VIP (think SCUF ambassadors, game influencers, etc.) editions here, which perhaps is a testament to just how much more popular the DualShock 4 controller market is because of the market share enjoyed by Sony.
The face plate is but one part of the overall puzzle, with SCUF allowing customization of the finish and color of the triggers, bumpers, thumbsticks, base rings for the thumbsticks, and the buttons. There are also functional options to choose from, including whether you want a vibration motor at all for weight and battery life savings, different types of triggers and bumpers, and changing the shape and height of the thumbsticks. With so many permutations and combinations available, you really need to spend some time on creating the controller you want if you end up going this route. Compared to the SCUF Impact, some options are not available. The EMR key comes included in the box, as does the integrated grip on the back. There is also no option to have a control disc over the D-pad, but the Xbox D-pad is among the best in the market in my opinion.
Beneath the aesthetic and functional customizations we saw to date is effectively an Xbox One S wireless controller. SCUF purchases the controllers directly and modifies them, so we still have the same layout with the dual thumbsticks staggered diagonally, the face buttons above at the right with the D-pad below at the left, and the shoulder triggers and bumpers on the side. The sensor is seen here, with the Xbox button having an LED that flashes white in pairing mode (Bluetooth) and a steady white with a connection. The left and right triggers and shoulder buttons are also better seen on the side, with the button for connectivity alongside the micro-USB port for charging the internal Li-ion battery and a wired connection.
Besides the customization aspect, SCUF controllers are best known for their patent portfolio and what they have done to make the humble controller a more ergonomic and efficient gaming device. The company has been granted over 100 patents to date, and over 50 are in various stages of approval, including some of the less-talked-about items, such as the anti-friction rings at the base of the thumbsticks, the interchangeable thumbsticks themselves, and the customizable trigger systems with different actuation points. Their biggest claim to fame is surely the paddle system, so much so that Microsoft licenses the IP for their own XBOX Elite controllers (for both the original and series 2). This allows for additional detachable paddles to actuate controls on the back, in either two or four buttons depending on the model, and remapping of these to the same functions as the front buttons. The SCUF Prestige come with four plastic paddles by default and misses out on the metal paddles and directional bias D-pad from the flagship SCUF Elite.
The SCUF universal case works well with the Prestige and the Impact, allowing for a lightweight carrying and storage solution for their controllers with some room for accessories, such as their GamerGrip or replacement thumbsticks/paddles.
Disassembly of the SCUF Impact proved futile an exercise because a screw head on the back had a cover intentionally placed on it as discouragement. SCUF says this is on purpose to avoid any inadvertent damage to the controller or tampering. Their PR representative claimed, and I quote here, "even for experts, the insides of the controller can be quite tricky to navigate." I would have been fine with this, but the 6-month warranty does leave a question mark that is unnecessary here.