My Preferred Videogame Input Devices for Windows PC

The Evolution of Video Game Controllers (Witty Gamer) Pic

 

I use the keyboard/mouse combo only if I have to – for example, if the game I’m playing requires a bazillion different key presses (e.g. Dota 2, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin), demands precision mousework (e.g. Terraria), or just flat-out needs a keyboard (e.g. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill). My main reasons for this is I don’t like sitting too close to the monitor during extended gaming sessions (the glare eats away at my eyeballs) and I almost always end up slouching when I’m doing keyboard work (ooh, my poor back).

 

I’d really rather have a gamepad in my hands or a fight stick on my lap. In case you’re curious about which PC peripherals I use, or just want some good recommendations on value-for-money videogame input devices, then read on. (^_^)

 


All-Around Gaming: Logitech Rumble GamePad F510

 

Logitech Rumble Gamepad F510 (Witty Gamer) Pic

 

Every PC gamer should have at least 1 XBox-style controller. There’s a simple reason for this – a lot of PC games being released these days are designed to take advantage of it (Windows is the most dominant PC operating system; Microsoft owns both XBox and Windows brands; Microsoft wants Windows games to be compatible with their XBox controllers).

 

The reasons I chose the Logitech Rumble GamePad F510 for all-around gaming purposes:

  • Durability
    • I’ve had mine since 2011, and the directionals, analog sticks, and buttons still snap back quickly and remain responsive to normal thumb and finger pressure.
    • I’ve accidentally dropped it from waist height about 2-3 times. The outer casing was unaffected and the gamepad remained fully functional. Whew!
  • Feel
    • The controller shape and button layout mimic the Playstation Dual Shock form factor, which I’m very much a fan of. The only exception is the L2 and the R2 triggers, which mimic the XBox form factor. This will only bother you whenever using the F510 for fighting games (it’ll feel unnatural pulling on the triggers to unleash punches or kicks). They’re outstanding when it comes to action RPGs and shooters though (mimics bowstring releases and trigger pulls perfectly)!
    • Not only do the rubberized grips feel comfy, they also help prevent slipping and accidental drops.
    • The rumble mechanisms positioned inside the left and right grips give the controller a solid, pleasant heft.
  • Range – USB cord is roughly 6 feet in length, which is more than enough for desktop/ laptop PC users.
  • Versatility
    • Plug-and-play compatibility with PC, Xbox 360 (on XInput), and PS3.
    • By installing the Logitech Profiler Software and then switching the controller to DirectInput (the toggle is at the back) you can program your controller to replicate keyboard strokes, mouse clicks, and mouse movements. A sweet feature that I’ve taken full advantage of many times for action RPGs (e.g. TESIV: Oblivion, TESV: Skyrim, Torchlight).
  • Maintenance – pretty easy to tear down for internal cleaning – just remove the screws at the back, take the unit apart carefully, then use cotton buds or cleaning cloth to wipe away dust and grime from the buttons, rubbers, and PCB. As for external cleaning, just dip a cleaning cloth in water, squeeze it out thoroughly, and wipe away.
  • Price – man, it’s been so long since I bought this. I threw the receipt away already, haha! Let’s see… I think I paid between PHP 1500 – 1600 (USD 34.06 – 36.33) for my copy.
  • Availability – Ugh, here’s the tough one. I had no idea this controller line had been discontinued since I still see a bunch of ’em displayed in electronics outlets in my area. Logitech does have the F310 though, which is pretty much the F510 minus the rumble capability. The only issue with that is that the controller won’t have the beautiful heft the F510 has.
  • Alternatives – As stated, if you can’t secure a decently-priced copy of the Logitech Rumble Gamepad F510, then go with the Logitech Gamepad F310. I’m not a fan of wireless controllers, so I can’t really recommend the Logitech Gamepad F710. As for other brands – nope. No other company comes close to Logitech when it comes to value-for-money gamepads (believe me, I’ve done my research).

 

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Fighting Games: HORI Fighting Stick Mini 3

 

HORI Fighting Stick Mini 3 (Witty Gamer) Pic

 

Any serious PC fighting gamer should either have a 8-face-button fight stick or a 6-face-button fight pad. I personally know of a handful of people who insist on playing fighting games using keyboards, but they all end up suffering from varying degrees of carpal tunnel syndrome. The PC keyboard just isn’t made for the ridiculous handspeed required by fighting games (I wish they’d just give up and grab a frickin’ HitBox already).

 

The reasons I chose the HORI Fighting Stick Mini 3 for fighting game purposes:

  • Durability
    • I’ve had mine since 2013, and the joystick and buttons still snap back quickly and remain responsive to normal thumb and finger pressure.
    • I’m an avid Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Skullgirls player, and majority of the combos for both games require forceful, rapid inputs. The Mini 3 has taken everything I’ve dished out so far like a champ.
  • Feel
    • The Mini 3, at 9″ long, 7″ wide, and 4.8″ thick, seems tailored for small people (I’m 5’4″ and it’s just about right for me). I will sometimes use it with its base resting on either my left or right thigh, but most of the time I rest it on my lap and just sit up straight to prevent it from falling down between my legs (unintentionally promoting good posture).
    • It’s lightweight, so you might accidentally move the unit out of alignment on your lap if you get too carried away with your motions. I was forced to develop a lock-in-place technique where I placed my little finger on the underside of the unit and my ring finger on the top side, rendering the base immobile while leaving my middle finger, index finger, and thumb free for joystick movements. Takes a bit of time to get used to, but it works.
    • Rubber feet help prevent slipping and accidental drops when resting the Mini 3 on a desk or table.
    • Fighting gamers who are used to octagonal gates on their joysticks might be put off by the Mini 3’s square gate. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it.
    • Button spacing might be a little cramped for people with big fingers.
  • Range – USB cord is roughly 9.8 feet in length, which is more than enough for desktop/ laptop PC users.
  • Versatility
    • Plug-and-play compatibility with PC and PS3.
  • Maintenance – haven’t needed to do any internal cleaning on this yet. As for external cleaning, just dip a cleaning cloth in water, squeeze it out thoroughly, and wipe away.
  • Price – got my copy for PHP 2500 (USD 56.76) 2 years ago. Nowadays though, they’re practically giving them away at PHP 1500 (USD 34.06).
  • Availability – although the product is no longer catalogued in the North American HORI website, I still come across a lot of them in videogame shops and boutiques in my area.
  • Alternatives
    • Although there are a lot of different fight sticks available from different companies (e.g. MadCatz, HORI, Qanba, etokki, Focus Attack), most of them are priced way too high for the average gamer. The closest to the Mini 3 in terms of pricing is Qanba’s Q1, which is priced at USD 70. Some people have reported issues with its build quality, though.
    • The Mini 3 proved to be a great transitional fight stick (for fighting game players who have a desire to move on from gamepads to fight sticks, but don’t want to spend too much money on their first one because they’re not certain that they’ll be able to adapt fully to the change). Because of it, I can now confidently challenge people at the arcades I frequent – and if I lose, it’s not because of unfamiliarity with the control mechanisms – it’s because I didn’t practice enough.
    • Once I save up enough money, I’ll most likely upgrade to a future iteration of the etokki Omni: Sanwa Edition. It has a solid reputation, is easy to modify if need be, and works on all major platforms (PC, XBox, Playstation). For now though, the Mini 3 suits my purposes perfectly.

 

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Closing Comments

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Also, I’d like to hear from you. What PC gaming peripherals do you swear by these days? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Till next time!



 

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