Review: The SteelSeries Nimbus is a Convenient, Affordable Bluetooth Controller for Apple TV and iOS Devices

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    There's a range of Made for iPhone-compatible Apple-approved Bluetooth controllers available, all of which will work with the new Apple TV, but the SteelSeries Nimbus is the only controller that was designed specifically for the Apple TV in partnership with Apple.

    As such, it's been heavily marketed by Apple and it's sold alongside the Apple TV as an accessory in Apple Stores. We went hands-on with the SteelSeries Nimbus to figure out whether it's worth its $50 price tag and if it's a must-have gaming accessory for the new fourth-generation Apple TV.


    The Nimbus is similar in size and design to the Stratus XL, an earlier controller SteelSeries released. It looks like a cross between an Xbox One controller and a PlayStation 4 controller, with a shape that's close to the Xbox controller but a PlayStation-style layout. It's also very similar to many existing Made for iPhone controllers like the popular Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i.


    If you've used one Made for iPhone controller, you've essentially used them all. The Nimbus is not much different than the rest of the available controllers on the market, so choosing a controller to purchase really comes down to preference for things like size, button layout, trigger shape, and overall design.


    On the Nimbus, there's a d-pad at the top, located across from four action buttons. Two analog joysticks sit at the bottom, adjacent to one another as on the PS4 controller. In the middle, there's a large Menu button, and at the back, there's a Bluetooth button, a Lightning port for charging, and a "Hold" button that toggles the power on and off. There are two triggers on each side, along with shoulder buttons above those.


    A lot of early Made for iPhone controllers were expensive and had a poor build quality, but over the last several months, things have improved. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the SteelSeries Nimbus, especially at it's $50 price point. It has a solid feel in the hand and it seems like a product that's going to hold up well to years of heavy use.

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    Article Link: Review: The SteelSeries Nimbus is a Convenient, Affordable Bluetooth Controller for Apple TV and iOS Devices
  2. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
    Apple nuked gaming on the Apple TV by forcing developers to make their games work with the included remote.
  3. 4ubrey macrumors member


    Jun 23, 2010
    Agree. This makes gaming TOO basic on the platform and developers are limited to less-than-Wii-like games. Super annoying, but hopefully they will lift the restriction and update the OS to only allow purchases for devices that have a controller paired to the device (like they did with removing ability to review apps from beta OS builds).
  4. 341328 Suspended

    Jul 18, 2009
    It's $100 including 10% tax in Australia. What a rip. It should be 70-$80.
  5. skinned66 macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Well it certainly looks nice.
  6. k1121j macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I have it. works great just wish there were more first person shooters for the atv
  7. aardwolf macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2007
    I bought one from Apple, and got one in the Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack for AppleTV. I LOVE them. I can't imagine playing Disney Infinity any other way. Plus, I can pair it with my iPad if I want a totally mobile gaming experience.
  8. arkmannj macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2003

    What Apple should have done was provide a standard set of Input/Output signals/commands that each controller must work with And Apple should have made (sold separately) an actual gaming controller that uses those standards. say moderately priced around $45.00 US, to help set a standard for competition.

    That way you don't end up with each individual game maker trying to gouge you by requiring its own controller (the scenario I'm guessing that Apple is trying to avoid) but you still allow game makers much better flexibility and consumers options.

    I feel like that would be a decent balance.
  9. Pakaku macrumors 68020


    Aug 29, 2009
    Apple cares so little about gaming, that seeing them produce a controller would be extremely shocking.

    They easily cater to selling games, though.
  10. Icaras, Dec 11, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2015

    Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    That's exactly what they did. It's called MFi and that's what this controller is. All of these controllers are MFi certified. The only thing Apple didn't do was design their own controller. But the MFi guidelines are standard across all certified controllers.

    And because the Nimbus controller is MFi certified, it will work with any game on the Apple TV that supports controllers. It is not game specific.
  11. TXCherokee macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2012
    I bought two for my ATVs and the box notes it is Mac compatible. Forgive my ignorance, but if a Steam game is Mac and Controller comparable, wouldn't this thing work?
  12. BulkSlash macrumors regular


    Aug 20, 2013
    I love the Nimbus, I had the Stratus and the Stratus XL before and they were both OK but had significant drawbacks. The Nimbus on the other hand is pretty much perfect and if you compile Provenance for your iDevices and Apple TV is perfect for playing old favourites like Mario and Sonic.
  13. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    This is great for emulators

    Mac rumors you should review the horipad ultimate controller
  14. NotJamesCameron macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2011
    The four LEDs are required by the MFi controller spec.

    What's supposed to happen is that games set which controller is Player 1, Player 2, etc. and the corresponding LED on their controller lights up. On my SteelSeries Stratus XL this is exactly what happens, but it's up to game developers to set.

    One of the unfortunate aspects of the MFi game controller SDK is that it was designed for phones and iPads, and that shows in some of the design decisions. One is that it doesn't have a way for users to specify a system-wide (or persistently per-app) which controller is for Player 1, which is for Player 2, so games must determine this on their own *each time the game is started*. So you see, "Press A on Player 1's Controller" in multiplayer games, etc.

    edit: having four LEDs is kind of ridiculous when the Apple TV doesn't support more than 3 controllers (remote + 2 game controllers), but maybe that's a limitation in the device's BlueTooth hardware and will change in future AppleTVs.
  15. triple-tap macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2013
    Has anyone here personally tried this controller with a rMBP or an iMac?

    I would like to get a controller to use with Borderlands 2, Knights of the Old Republic (1&2), Call of Duty 4 on Mac, etc.

    I was planning to pick up a PS4 controller and make it work. However, this controller looks like a much better option IF it works with a Mac.
  16. ZZ Bottom macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2010
    Just received my Hori Pad Ultimate today and it is fantastic. Haven't used this Steel Series one, but just thought potential buyers should know about all options. The Hori Pad has same quality feel as a PS3 remote, but a little bit heavier. Can't comment on overall battery life as I've only been using a day. Bought it on Apple online store for 49$.

  17. NtDs90 macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2015
    I prefer the Xbox controller layout. Never been a PlayStation fan. I hope the PXN controller works with the atv4.
  18. fpsBeaTt Suspended


    Apr 18, 2010
    As the owner of an elite controller, this controller makes me nauseous.
  19. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    I wondered if that was the case. I was reading through the requirements and didn't see anything about the LEDs, though, so I wasn't sure.
  20. garylapointe macrumors 65816


    Feb 19, 2006
    Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
    But Apple said all games must work (reasonably well, I suppose, or able could reject it) with the standard Apple TV remote. So it kind of limits how a game might work.

    What good are all those knobs and controller if all they can do is expand what the limited controller can already do. You with the touch screen on a iDevice, you can easily make more complicated games than with the AppleTV remote.

  21. NotJamesCameron macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2011
    Being an MFi controller, it *will* work, but whether or not any games on OS X were written to support Apple's MFi game controller SDK is another matter. (probably not)
  22. NotJamesCameron macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2011
    Apple (understandably) does not want people to be in a situation where they buy an AppleTV and then discover that they also have to plunk down another $50 just to play most single player games, and then *another* $50 to play multiplayer. It creates a bad customer experience.

    And while they originally said that they *would* allow games that only worked with game controllers, the large number of lazy developers who were saying they were glad of this and that their games wouldn't support the remote probably caused Apple to backtrack.
  23. star-affinity macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2007
    They should have named it Horrid Pad. ;)
    Anyway, I'm glad you're happy with it. :)
  24. Mamaw macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2013
    For Borderlands 2 and Call of Duty or any first person shooter games i highly recommend you to use a keyboard and mouse.
  25. fouldsc macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2013
    As a developer 100% agree, I have games that I will NOT be porting as there is no way to make them work correctly with that POS controller.

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