Turtle Beach REACT-R Xbox controller packs a punch for the price

Tom West - September 17th 2022

Turtle Beach's budget-friendly Designed for Xbox REACT-R controller for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows is a formidable adversary of any third-party controller priced under $40, with a couple of caveats.

When searching for a budget-friendly controller, Turtle Beach might not be the first company that comes to mind, thanks to its continued success in the audio industry, but the company does offer a couple of controllers, and for the price tag, its most recent and more budget-friendly option might be the best bang you'll get for your buck... literally.

The Turtle Beach REACT-R is a wired Designed for Xbox controller that you can use with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC. It offers the company's 'Superhuman Hearing' technology for use on any wired headset, full audio controls on the controller's front and two remappable rear 'Quick Action' paddle buttons. You can currently purchase the React-R from the Turtle Beach store for £34.99/$39.99/€44.99.

Turtle Beach REACT-R Wired Game Controller for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows

I've been using the Turtle Beach REACT-R as my daily controller for the last couple of weeks and would say I've definitely put the poor thing through its paces, but to be fair, it's handled everything extremely well. Build-quality-wise, it's by far the best controller I've used at this price point. The REACT-R is much lighter than an official controller (300g), which seems to be the rule of thumb with budget-friendly controllers, but its general hard plastic shell gives it a build quality that is leaps and bounds ahead of other companies' offerings. It's sturdy, comfortable to hold over long periods, and feels like it could have some decent durability to it. We've worked with PowerA's Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X|S a fair bit here on TA, which is priced in the same range as this controller, and the REACT-R feels far more durable and of much better quality in every aspect.

The shell features diamond-cut grips on the arms, as well as on the bumpers and triggers, which actually offers a comfortable grip instead of being there as a more aesthetical addition. The bumpers and the rest of the REACT-R's buttons feel solid when in use and offer minimal noise feedback, but the triggers are noisy — why do they always have to be noisy! A small buffer would do the trick perfectly here, but that is the only gripe I have with the buttons, which isn't exactly a big deal.

The rear remappable paddle buttons though, and I admit, they're ones I don't tend to use very often, are exceptionally good. The actual switch feels like it's on the inside of the arm instead of the back of the controller, so when you're holding it, your fingers rest comfortably within their cradle-like shape, which offers the same grip as the rest of the controller. They're easy to press but I'm yet to accidentally click them when performing other actions — they're by far the best rear buttons I've come across.

The most discerning feature of Turtle Beach's controller is its audio-enhancing controls, which enable the firm's 'Superhuman Hearing' function on any wired headset plugged into the REACT-R, regardless of whether it's a Turtle Beach headset or not. It all works via the control panel on the front face, which has buttons to enable the Superhuman Hearing and mute your mic, as well as controlling your overall headset volume and mixing game and chat sounds via a control button and the D-pad. The entire system is really intuitive and offers a quick way to control your audio levels without having to fumble about with the headset controls mid-game or bring up the Xbox audio menu. It's my favourite part of the controller without a doubt, and the feature alone makes it a controller worth having.

Of course, using the audio panel relies on you having a wired headset to plug into the 3.5mm audio jack, and without it, the audio panel is obsolete. The REACT-R is wired itself, so with the addition of a wired headset; you'll be nice and tangled up — it's definitely worth it, though, if you're happy to use wired accessories. The REACT-R comes packed with an eight-foot cable, and while it's completely situational, it's slightly too short for my living room needs — ten feet would have been great!

The Turtle Beach REACT-R Wired Controller for Xbox Series X|S really does offer you more bang for your buck over its competitors if you're happy to deal with the wires. It's well built, feels durable, and genuinely offers an excellent experience when you're playing over long periods of time, while the addition of the company's proprietary audio technology adds elements not found on most other controllers, especially at this price range. My time with the controller has been enjoyable and mostly positive, aside from a couple of issues, and it speaks to the level of quality Turtle Beach continues to offer with its peripherals. Right now, the REACT-R is by far the best controller I've used that's priced under $40, making it an easy recommendation to make if you're looking for a new controller without breaking the bank.

A test unit of the REACT-R was provided by Turtle Beach for the purposes of this article.