Oct 24, 2014

PC Game Controller Comparison: MS Xbox 360, Logitech F310, Steelseries 3GC, Tronsmart Mars G01, and Razer Sabertooth

 Gear: Xbox 360 for WindowsLogitech F310Steelseries 3GCTronsmart Mars G01, and Razer Sabertooth.

Every once in a while I decide to purchase several items that would fall in the same category--this time I'm going over these game controllers.  Hopefully the post gives you some ideas of what to expect and maybe what you should get.

The Steelseries is one ugly thin isn't it?  The others tend to be quite good looking.

Xbox 360 Controller for Windows

  • This controller sums up the features of most modern controllers.
  • The controller is wireless (image above shows a rechargeable kit attached).
  • The device feels solid, has nice round buttons, and the analog sticks are superb.
  • There are digital (clicky) shoulder buttons and also pressure sensitive analog buttons.  The shoulder buttons have a curvature that follows the controller's body.
  • This controller is wireless, but works very well.  The device is easy to pair up.  The receiver allows a total of four controllers to be synched with the same computer--which is great for those multiplayer games.
  • My little fingers (pinkies) can grip the controller easily--so it's overall a very comfortable gamepad.
  • There are plenty of additional accessories--so if you dislike buying new batteries all the time, then you can chose to purchase a rechargeable kit.
  • Although not that important, the packaging is done in such a way that you can remove the controller without destroying the cardboard.
  • No rumble features on this controller.
  • Depending on the store you may get it at about $30 to $50--the latter price being quite expensive.

Logitech F310

  • This is a USB wired controller.  The weight of the controller feels lighter than the Xbox 360 one.
  • The plastic feels quite smooth, which could mean that you'll loose your grip..
  • My little fingers cannot grip the controller--so the grip not as comfortable to hold as the Xbox controller.
  • There are four shoulder buttons--digital and analog.  The digital buttons have a "squareish" feel, which are not as enjoyable as the Xbox ones.  The analog shoulder buttons do have pressure sensitivity.
  • The Mode button allows you to swap the directional pad and the left analog stick--neat feature depending on the game you are playing.
  • The directional pad sometimes feels a bit loose, but this looseness doesn't seem to affect gaming.  The analog sticks feel good.
  • The controller has XInput and DirectInput switch; XInput mode is what Windows 8 uses; DirectInput is what previous versions use. 
  • Logitech does not include drivers, but you can download them at their support site.  The software is by far the best of the controllers mentioned on this page.  When the gamepad is in DirectInput mode you can mix classic gamepad features and keyboard presses.  It also allows you to store profiles for each program that uses the controller-so you can customize this one quite a bit--superb!
  • Don't expect to repackage this controller.  The hard plastic almost guarantees that you will destroy it in the process of taking out the controller.
  • No rumble features on this controller.
  • Usually the controller sells for about $20.

Logitech did a superb job on the software.

Steelseries 3GC

  • This is one ugly looking controller.  The body consists of a soft plastic that resembles the Xbox controller's.
  • Most of the buttons protrude (extend out) quite a bit.  The buttons lack the finesse of round edges present in most modern controllers--they are not comfortable.
  • The shoulder buttons also lack finesse.  Furthermore the Xbox and Logitech controllers have a nice resistance on the analog shoulder buttons--there 3GC controller doesn't have this resistance.
  • The directional pad has sharp edges.  I can guarantee that you will get blisters if you use this controller for fighting games.
  • The analog sticks also protrude quite a bit, but they actually feel fine.
  • The Turbo and Mode buttons offer a rubber material, which is different than the rest of the buttons.
  • My little fingers have no problem gripping the controller.  There is some rubber on the back of the handles--which further enhance grip.
  • There we no drivers included with this controller.  The manual does state that you need to go to Steelseries website to download them to activate the rumble features.
  • While the controller has rumble features I could not get it to work.  Windows has a test for rumble, but every time I tried it the program would crash.
  • Mapping buttons on emulators seem to be a problem.  Some buttons will continue to perform actions which you did not desire.
  • You are likely going to have to modify the analog stick range.  The default is "soft," which means that in game it requires you to push hard to the side in order to turn.
  • Like the Logitech F310, the packaging of the controller uses hard plastic.
  • Overall a piece of shit controller.

Tronsmart Mars G01

  • The controller is wireless.  You can use this controller on a PS3 and on Android, for instructions check this post.
  • The controller is rechargeable via USB.  This is both a good and bad thing.  It's a good thing because you won't have to worry about batteries.  It's a bad thing because once the battery dies you cannot easily replace the rechargeable battery.
  • This is lighter than the Xbox controller.  The body is a soft plastic that is between the Xbox and Logitech controllers.
  • The buttons on the front side are rounded (thank goodness!)
  • The directional pad is not the fanciest of them all, but it's ok.
  • The analog sticks are on par with the Xbox analog sticks.
  • The shoulder buttons are physically very similar to the Xbox controller's shoulder buttons.
  • The manual was not written by an English native speaker, but it can be understood.
  • There are no drivers included in the package, but Windows handles it as a plug and play device.
  • The controller has an XInput, DirectInput, and Android modes.
  • The package is by far the best and most elegant.  If you need to return the controller you can place everything back quite neatly.  As a side note, the package includes a small bag that you can use to store your controller.
  • My Tronsmart Mars G01 unit had a faulty analog right button.  The faulty button did not register the same pressure as the left, thus I could not use this controller for some racing games.
  • The G01 sells for about $30.
  • If my unit had not been faulty... I would have placed it on the same level as the Xbox controller.

Razer Sabertooth

  • Razer's motto is "for gamers by gamers," we'll see if this is the case.
  • This is a wired controller that works on Xbox 360 consoles and PC.
  • By far this is the fanciest looking controller of them all.  It has a superb looking design!
  • The package's contents is filled with goodies, including a case that can hold the controller and cables.
  • The shape of the controller is just like the Xbox controller.  The gamepad is also very light.  The material though is rubbery, the Xbox controller is hard plastic.
  • My little fingers can grip the controller well--so it's comfortable.
  • The front side buttons are superb, and are backlit!
  • The directional pad is good.  Initially I thought the controller would only do up, left, right, and down--however it can do top-left, top-right, bottom-left, bottom-right.
  • The analog sticks are on par with the Xbox controller sticks.  But they also have covers that allow you to change the feel of them.
  • The shoulder buttons are similar to the Xbox controller buttons.  There are two additional shoulder buttons that are well positioned, these are known as "Multi-Function Buttons"
  • The two bottom side triggers are actually four buttons.  The bottom side triggers can be removed with the included screwdriver.  These triggers are known as "Multi-Function Triggers"
  • The Multi-Function Triggers and Buttons can only be mapped to existing buttons (A, B, X,Y, LT, LB, RB, RT, Left Analog Stick Down, Right Analog Stick Down, Start, and Back).  The remapped Multi-Function buttons can be saved in profiles.  The customization of these Multi-Function Triggers and Buttons though feels limited because of the lack of dedicated software.
  • There is a fancy LED screen which indicates features, profiles, and settings.
  • There are rumble features in this controller.  However, I could not get them to work on Windows.  I don't have an Xbox 360 console so I could not test rumble.
  • There is no included software.  However, Windows recognizes this controller in the same way as the Xbox 360 controller.  As mentioned before, the lack of dedicated software diminishes this controller's full potential.  If the controller had dedicated software like Logitech's, then this would be the top controller to get.
  • Overall this is an expensive, usually $70 to $100, controller that could be the best there is.  However, although it does have some fancy looking things I have to say that the it's not really "better" than the Xbox 360 controller.

Those additional shoulder buttons are known as the Multi-Function Buttons.

These are known as the Multi-Function Triggers.  In total these triggers are four buttons total.  The triggers can be quite useful in some games in which you are already pressing many other buttons.  By the way, the triggers can be removed if that's what you desire.

More images.

The controllers when viewed from the side.

The bottom side and handles of the controllers.

The triggers.

I think it's difficult to say which is best.  I can definitely say that the Steelseries 3GC is the worst of them all.  The Logitech F310 is not the most comfortable, but the software is superb and the controller is reliable.  The Xbox 360 controller delivers solid function and is very comfortable.  The Tronsmart Mars G01 offers unique qualities (such as having PC, Android, and PS3 support), but it seems to have some construction quality problems (perhaps it's only my unit though).  The Razer Sabertooth looks like the big daddy of them all and works well, but frankly it doesn't seem to offer additional functions  (due to mapping only to existing buttons, and lack of dedicated Windows software).  So, which one am I keeping?  The Tronsmart Mars G01 will be given away, first one that asks for it gets it, the Steelseries 3GC is going into the trash can, the Xbox 360 controller is going up for sale at a reduced price, the Razer Sabertooth will also be put up for sale for a reduced price, and that means that the Logitech F310 will be here for when I need to play Tetris, Mario Kart, and TrackMania.

For images check the following posts:

1 comment:

  1. Hi,thanks a lot for your post.MS Xbox 360 controller has pretty solid quality compared to many brands,I've been using mine for like 4 years and it's like new.Some of my friends have had theirs even longer with no problems.Then again I don't use the controller every day,just for local multiplayer and some games where it's more comfortable.Good day.@Linda Smith.