UNIVERSAL MODS

 

KontrolFreek®

Performance Grips Strips

Xbox One / Playstation 4 / Switch / PC

KontrolFreek®

Precision Rings

Xbox One / Playstation 4

I actually didn’t know these existed until I accidently came upon them while doing research on some of KontrolFreek’s Performance Thumb-sticks. My initial impression was – it’s a neat idea and I could see myself using these on my console controller but I don’t know about on my keyboards and mice. As it turns out, I would use them on my keyboards and mice and I’ll explain why later in the review.

 

Performance Grips Strips from KontrolFreek is a pack of twenty-eight pre-cut strips made of the same custom proprietary materials found in their highly recommended Grips for Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers. While the Grips fulfill your full-coverage needs, the strips will give you supplemental coverage for all the vulnerable areas, and that's what I really like about the strips. Whether you need more coverage in a specific area or just want to install some bumpers to keep your accessories protected from those hard knocks, KontrolFreek's Grips Strips have got you covered - literally.

 

Even cooler is that KontrolFreek doesn't just have your typical console controllers in mind because included in the pack are strips for your Nintendo Switch Joycons, PC keyboard and mouse, and even your smart-phone if you want. If you are buying them for your Xbox One or Playstation 4 controller, placing grips on your triggers will immediately make your trigger fingers happy because not only will they cushion your fingers when the trigger is idle, but they'll soften the impact on all your pulls. I can see this product helping to reduce soreness and fatigue for those players who endure long gaming sessions. The same is true for the mouse, which is where I think Grips Strips can really make an impact in terms of improving the overall performance of the player. A mouse being a one handed instrument versus a two handed instrument like a controller is inherently less stable and there have been many occasions during intense game-play where my trigger finger became more slippery and could have really benefited from that additional grip support. The same is true for the main navigation keys or W.A.S.D. on the keyboard where the Grips Strips act brilliantly by providing that extra bit of tactility so that you can feel and find those keys quickly in the event that your hand ever becomes misaligned on the keyboard. I do not look down at my keyboard often and it is never a good outcome when I have to do it in the middle of a boss fight because that split second lost can mean death. Fortunately, having these installed now make my keys instantly accessible even under the most intense circumstances.

 

The downside to applying these is that the strips will most likely cover up letters and could potentially cover any RGB or backlighting making those keys harder to locate visually. I would still put these on my keyboard and mouse because they improve the functionality of both and now make it possible for me to have the same target acquisition speed that I do with a console controller but still retain the precision accuracy of the gaming mouse and keyboard.

KontrolFreek’s precision rings seem about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, until you actually try them out and what you quickly find is that they’re actually useful. Utilizing KontrolFreek’s proprietary foam cushion material, the precision rings work by controlling the tension on your pitches. For example pitching forward on your thumb-stick will induce resistance and because the rings are designed like a shock absorber, the more pitch you give the greater the resistance and that’s what makes these precision rings useful. The rings help you control the tension rather than simply relying on your thumb’s precision to handle delicate or subtle movements. This is particularly useful for shooting games where sniping is a mechanic.

 

One of the bigger criticisms of consoles vs. pc has been that player accuracy in console gaming suffers because the controller is simply not as precise as a mouse and if you’ve ever heard anyone mention - “…trying to take a headshot with a controller…,” then chances are they are referring to just how difficult it can be to get a stable shot off let alone an accurate one with a controller. Precision rings won’t suddenly make your controller as accurate, or stable, as a mouse but they do help. One aspect about KontrolFreek Precision Rings that sometimes gets overlooked is that it’s more than just an aim-assist; it helps as a mechanical stabilizer that keeps your thumb-sticks balanced. If you’ve ever sat your controller on a flat surface while in-game and saw that you are still tracking or moving then you could have a misalignment with the thumb-stick. Precision rings may not fix every situation but I would still consider it as a possible fix if you are experiencing this with your controller.

 

In this fast paced, loot-box, battle-royale era that we are in today it’s hard to imagine that people could actually be a little more meticulous and slow moving but the truth is many players actually over-compensate the amount of pressure they need to affect movement. Sometimes this is inadvertent due to other technical factors like latency but sometimes it can just be strong thumbs or overzealousness. Rings can help bring things back into balance for you and I could see these being like training wheels for people who are navigating between PC-gaming and console gaming. In fact, Kontrol Freek likens their Precision Rings to weighted sports gear used in training as is a way to build muscle in your thumbs and fine tune your aim.

 

So when the haters come out and start giving you grief for your superior accuracy, let them know it’s not a cheat - it’s KontrolFreek.

 
 

KontrolFreek®

Performance Grips

Xbox One / Playstation 4

 

If you’re not familiar with KontrolFreek now then you will soon because they are doing some terrific stuff down at their Midtown Atlanta offices. No doubt they are hard at work engineering new modifications for the next generation consoles due out in 2020 but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about the mods they have available now because some of these mods are must-haves for any gamer but particularly if you are competitive gamer where you take every edge you can get. One of these must-have products from KontrolFreek are their custom Performance Grips for the Xbox One Controller. Made of advanced proprietary materials, the grips are non-slip even under the most extreme circumstances. Maybe you just dipped your entire arm into a bag of Doritos or maybe you just have sweaty palms. Regardless, you won’t be caught “slipping” in the virtual world.

 

KontrolFreek’s Performance Grips utilizes a very thin but very durable polymer outer later that’s been stamped in a honeycomb pattern for maxim grip while optimizing airflow to keep your hands cool. It can do this because air sits between the little ridges that the honeycomb shape creates and so only a portion of your skin is in direct contact with the polymer. At the same time the ridges from the honeycomb pattern provides the traction to keep your hand from sliding just like tires on a road. Sandwiched between the polymer and the sticky underside is a microcellular foam akin to dense memory foam which cushions your hand to reduce fatigue while adding comfort. It’s perfect for those really long gaming sessions. The polymer is also water-proof meaning liquids like sweat won’t stain and ruin your grips. As mentioned before, there is an adhesive base to keep your grips firmly in place however KontrolFreek has taken it even further by making the adhesive re-usable meaning you can actually remove and reposition your grips anytime you need to.

 

If you are interested in modifying your controller, there’s no doubt that KontrolFreek’s Performance Grips are the most fundamental. They can be gotten for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers and you can find them at most major retailers that sell video game consoles. One caveat to the grips is that if you are planning on using a modification for the expansion port, it’s likely you won’t be able to install these as well since there isn’t enough room. You may be able to make it work with some bending and cutting but the end result may not look pretty.

 
 
 
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
   
   
 

XBOX MODS

 

Turtle Beach®

Headset Audio Adapter

for Xbox One Controller

Microsoft®

Xbox Chatpad + Chat Headset

for Xbox One Controller

The Turtle Beach Headset Audio Controller Plus is a must-have mod for any Xbox One gamer but they may not necessarily know that they need it and that’s what makes this product so interesting. This item has been on the market for several years now and is one of the only main-stream audio adapters that you can buy for the Xbox One controller with the other being Microsoft’s version which by all accounts is just as good in quality as Turtle Beach’s but without a few features like Game and Microphone presets and monitoring which means your microphone inputs will be automatically equalized for the best output so no more screaming into that microphone. Also the Headest Audio Controller will gradually boost the base as needed thanks to a multi-step Bass Boost technology built in.

 

I started looking into audio adapters for console controllers because my girlfriend was having trouble with the output audio from her Xbox One controller. What seemed to be happening is that the output would exhibit interference or latency until you do something weird like twist the audio plug while it’s plugged into the jack or re-inserting it would somehow fix the problem…for a while. Eventually my girlfriend took to taping it in place with a piece of electrical tape but it too failed to fix the problem entirely. Then it was suggested to her by one of her online guild-mates to try a headset adapter which she then told me about and we decided to give it a try and it worked as intended. The sound quality from her microphone was greatly improved and there has not been a complaint from her guild-mates about her chat audio since she started using it. I can’t say for sure about the hardware inside, but I assume it’s under power and that it has at least an equalizer and possibly an amp which can boost the signal of input audio. This is impressive because she does not use a sophisticated headset and any amount of amplification is beneficial.

 

If you’re looking for a headset audio controller to use with your Xbox One controller you won’t have to look far. A search on Amazon reveals that there are many offerings from third-party vendors that are cheaper and some of them are actually a perfectly good solution however if you’re looking for the “best” adapter possible there are really only two choices and that’s Turtle Beach’s Headset Audio Controller or Microsoft’s OEM Headset Audio Controller which costs about the same but as mentioned before does not have the amount of features that Turtle Beach’s product has.

Microsoft’s official chat-pad for the Xbox One controller is by far the most necessary add-on for Xbox One users. If your new to the Xbox One, one thing you might be thinking to yourself is other than the controller, how exactly do I interact with the console? You would be right to ask this question because as easy to use as a console is, interactivity and general connectivity is not as clear cut as it seems. So let’s talk about the Xbox One a little before we talk about the chat-pad so you can understand the context of it.

 

Even though the Xbox One is an advanced console it does have some limitations when it comes to ease of access which consumers may not necessarily know about before they purchase the system. For example, the Xbox One does not support keyboards or mice wirelessly despite having Bluetooth capability which have left a lot of people scratching their head ever since the Xbox One was announced. You can attach a wired keyboard or mouse but the specific application you are running, most likely a game, has to support it. The support for external devices like mice and keyboard do not come natively, again leaving some to wonder. If you were thinking about buying that high-end gaming mouse and keyboard to use with your Xbox One, you had better think again because even if you were able to establish a connection it’s likely you will severely limited in what you can do with them since many gaming devices require proprietary software that can’t be installed to a console, like Logitech’s Gaming Software, to operate correctly and provide users with the full range of features. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that the Xbox One chat-pad was an intentional product by Microsoft because they realized the necessity for it is real and they had experience from the previous generation. The chat-pad for the Xbox 360 was absolutely terrific in so many ways and it’s nice to see that Microsoft is continuing to engineer this add-on.

 

Microsoft’s Chat-Pad for the Xbox One has a couple of key features worth mentioning. It has 44 typing keys and seven function keys that are backlit and indicated by color to make them easier to find in the dark. Pressing any button will activate the backlight and it will stay active until after a few seconds of non-use. The other key feature to note is that the chat-pad is also stereo headset adapter that can accept any 3.5mm audio input. It offers basic functionality and no equalizing or boosting capabilities like with Turtle Beach’s dedicated stereo headset adapter that we’ve reviewed but it does at least have quick keys for volume control.

 

Microsoft’s Chat-Pad is a real quality product and having dropped my fair share of controllers with the chat-pad attached, I can personally attest to it. So, if you are getting into console gaming or just simply haven’t gotten one yet, you should strongly consider it because it’s a lot of accessibility packed into a tiny package and will likely save you a lot of time and frustration navigating your Xbox One.

 

Bionik®

Quickshot

for Xbox One Controller

Collective Minds®

StrikePack FPS Dominator

for Xbox One Controller

Bionik is a very interesting company in that they are a company that focuses on what I would call catalyst technologies meaning they create accessories and peripherals for your accessories and peripherals, or to sum up in a word – mods. Bionik has expanded their product stacks over the last couple of years, adding technologies like portable charging, carrying cases, and even VR components. One of the best products offered by Bionik and a main staple particularly for console gamers is the Quickshot.

 

If you’re not already familiar with the Quickshot, it is basically locks for the triggers on your controller. Traditionally when someone is talking about trigger locks they may be referring to actual locks designed to prevent guns from being accidently discharged. These locks typically fit over and through the entire trigger guard effectively acting like a muzzle and preventing the trigger from being accessed. Now when you’re talking about trigger locks for a console controller you may be asking yourself how a “lock” is supposed to help me pull the trigger faster. You see, the Quickshot doesn’t lock-down your trigger or prevent it from being used; it only adjusts the travel length of the trigger pull by half so that the latency is reduced between the trigger action and the controller’s sensor allowing users to get quicker shots off in-game. The mod has a quick “off” switch built in to the side allowing users to convert back to the standard length. This is especially handy when you need to quickly adapt to different situations like driving.

 

Bionik has gone a step further by designing a mod that replaces the existing grip and trigger cover on the controller with a one-piece rubberized grip for maximum comfort and control. The mod has been pretty well stress tested by reviewers and players up to this point since these have been available since the latest generation of consoles have been out and by all accounts is the de-facto go-to mod of choice for competitive gamers. Bionik makes a Playstation 4 controller version as well which is a much simpler design and installs directly onto the triggers as opposed to replacing the lower half of the grip like with the Xbox One controller.

 

The Bionik Quickshot is a must have for any gamer looking for a competitive edge and won’t settle for anything but the best.

Collective Minds is a company that specializes in console modifications including handhelds like the Nintendo Switch but their most popular product has been the Strikepack F.P.S Dominator for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers and if you’ve never seen it before might come off as tacky and leave you confused. It looks kind of cool but you don’t see how it would help you and that’s unfortunate because seeing it un-attached from a controller you really can’t see how it would work outside of the package.

 

This was my first impression when I first saw these at my local Gamestop and at the time I had already invested a lot of money into gaming peripherals and accessories including new controllers and I really didn’t think modifying them would make them any better and thereby make me a better gamer. Well not only do they work but they add a whole other dimension of usability to your controller and really morphing them into a virtual weapon that you can then use to rain devastation down upon your enemies. So what exactly is the Strikepack F.P.S. Dominator? Well the Dominator is more than just a mod it’s a revolutionary new interface based on paddle buttons and on-the-fly button mapping. The Dominator easily snaps into the battery compartment of your controller effectively providing users with two additional buttons to use. Connect two cables and voila, your Dominator is ready to accept commands. Both paddles can be mapped to any existing controller actions with the mapping being stored locally on the controller as a “mode”. You can store up to eight different modes and cycle between them at any time because the Dominator requires no software to operate. That’s good because there’s no having to exit out of a game to make changes however setting-up your modifications for the first time can be a bit challenging because operating the Dominator isn’t as intuitive as you might think. The Dominator utilizes an on-board menu which users can access by pressing on the navigation buttons located on the underside of the unit. LED lights also located on the underside will indicate to users where they are in the menu while a series of clicks will create the settings. Again, not very intuitive however Collective Minds has made it easier to get to know the Dominator by posting video tutorials on the website. It is highly recommended that you view those tutorials or refer to the included instructions to ensure a proper setup.

 

One downside to the Dominator is that it requires a physical connection to power so wireless play is not available although there are ways to get a semi-wireless experience by utilizing an external power bank or charger. The Dominator has a pretty small form-factor and does not encroach on the front or the sides of the controller which means you can still access the audio jack and expansion slot for other hardware modifications like chat-pads and adapters. Collective Minds makes the Dominator for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 so pick yours up today if you haven’t already.

 
 
 

KontrolFreek®

2 Low-Rise Performance Thumbsticks

Alpha Edition

 

My first experience with KontrolFreek’s performance thumb-sticks came when I bought the “wrong” ones from my local Gamestop. They weren’t wrong because they were bad or defective. In fact, thumb-sticks and really all of KontrolFreek’s products are widely known for their superior design and quality. They were wrong because they did not fit my hands and that fitment is crucial when considering what size thumb-stick to get because the wrong thumb-sticks could potentially lead to sore hands. Unfortunately, the one drawback to this product is that the size is not clearly indicated on the packaging. I either have to identify the height by inspecting it up-close or asking a store associate and hope that they know. If you are considering purchasing thumb-sticks make sure to consider the size of your hands and fingers so that you can choose the correct size for you. Having used the medium thumb-sticks for just half-an-hour made the area around my thumbs sore and that’s when I started to pay attention to how my hand was resting on the controller had changed after installing the sticks. I noticed that by using the sticks my palm around the thumbs were no longer resting comfortably on the controller.

 

One other consideration to make is how to configure your thumb-sticks on your controller. For example, you might consider only using one thumb-stick or two of varying heights to accommodate your own grip. I noticed that my hands usually sit offset on the controller and using a one-off-one-on configuration better matched my grip style. Your style may even vary once you switch between Xbox and Playstation controllers since the Xbox controller’s sticks are designed on an offset axis whereas it isn’t on its counterpart.

 

I could defiantly see people with larger hands or long fingers benefiting from a pair or two of KontrolFreek’s performance thumb-sticks and hand compatibility should be less of an issue. For people with smaller hands or shorter fingers, I highly recommend that you stick with the low-rise variety, like the Alpha seen here, and you’ll probably need to test them out a little before deciding if it is something that you can comfortably use long-term.

 
 
   
   
   
   
 

PLAYSTATION MODS

 
 

ArmorSuit®

PS4 Pro Black Carbon Fiber Skin

Protector Wrap

 

ArmorSuit® MilitaryShield® features exceptional clarity and UV protection to prevent yellowing. It is made from the same protective film material used to protect military aircrafts, helicopters and space shuttles. MilitaryShield® is also equipped with "self-healing" properties to maximize the protection. The self-healing technology works to constantly eliminate minor scratches on the film. All of our MilitaryShield® protectors are uniquely designed to provide a perfect cut for a perfect fit on your device. It also features corrosion and moisture protection to prevent substances from migrating through the film to attack underlying substrates. It's designed to provide daily protection against scratches and reduce chances of damage to your screen from impact forces and drops. Best of all, it's very easy to apply. Your MilitaryShield® comes with a lifetime warranty.

 
 
 

KontrolFreek®

2 Low-Rise Performance Thumbsticks

OMNI Edition

KontrolFreek®

2 Mid-Rise Performance Thumbsticks

Borderlands 3 Claptrap Edition

The KontrolFreek Omni is a pair of low-rise performance thumb-sticks made specifically for the Playstation 4 controller. We’ve already talked about some of the pros and cons of a few of the thumb-sticks that are currently available on the market from KontrolFreek so without rehashing too much of it, let’s talk about what makes the Omni the de-facto choice for Playstation 4 gamers looking to mod.

 

As mentioned before, the Omni is low-rise meaning it adds only a minimal height of 4.0mm. The Omni’s cap, made of proprietary rubber-compound, is concave giving more surface area to hit and is laser-etched with a cross-hatch design that can better absorb pressure from your thumbs reducing fatigue for those lengthy gaming sessions. It also means much better compatibility and fitment for people with smaller hands to still be able to take advantage of a wider range of motion without having to push the thumb-stick as far.

 

One cool think about performance thumb-sticks from KontrolFreek is that they tailor every thumb-stick to work best with certain types of games. The Omni was designed to work best with sports and tournament type games and that’s because its low-rise helps more with speed rather than accuracy but you can actually compensate for this loss by using some of KontrolFreek’s Precision Rings that we’re reviewed on this page.

 

In my opinion, the KontrolFreek’s Omni is a must have for any Playstation 4 gamer even if you don’t actually plan on using them full-time. I actually own a few pairs of KontrolFreek thumb-sticks that are of varying heights and I swap them in-and-out to accommodate how I want to play a particular game. For the Playstation 4 controller, I use a one-off-one-on default configuration. I realize that it might seem weird to purchase a product without the intention of using it or just half of it, but I like the fact that they are optional and handy when I need them.

Personally my favorite thumb-sticks, the KontrolFreek Borderlands 3 Claptrap Edition are medium-rise performance thumb-sticks recently released for the highly anticipated third installment of the Borderlands series and feature everyone’s lovable yet extremely annoying sidekick Claptrap though he’s less sidekick and more side personality. Nevertheless, your Claptrap performance thumb-sticks will always be by your side and trusted to work instead of, you know…being condescending and lazy. The Claptrap edition features (you guessed it) Claptrap and his mechanical mug embossed into the top but this may be the first, or possibly second, time that Claptrap has actually done something useful. My thumbs felt quite comfortable on his face and thanks to the air-pocket design and soft polymer shell, but what really stood out for me is the bottle-cap design which is a nice touch, giving players a more tactile feel and less slip at the edges. Another nice touch is the addition of a domed or convex top giving for more surface area to impact and therefore quicker touch response. It’s especially useful when you need to move the thumb-stick slowly for slower in-game actions like walking or sneaking.

 

Like mentioned before in our review of the Alpha for the Xbox One Controller you’ll really want to make sure that a mid-rise thumb-stick is the correct height for you. During my Borderlands 3 game-play I actually had to pause to take the right one off because my hand was starting to get sore due to the thumb-stick being too tall. I left the left one on because it was less bothersome due to my hand’s positioning being slightly different than the right. It’s possible that you will make these kinds of configuration changes to match your particular grip.

 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem KontrolFreek released an Xbox One controller version of this but this is actually a common theme throughout KontrolFreek’s thumb-stick catalog. There are a whack ton of thumb-stick offerings so just note that what they offer for the Playstation 4 controller may not be offered for the Xbox One controller and vice versa. The many product themes can become confusing and a little frustrating if you’re trying to shop for the right ones. One way to rectify this is by indicating the size you want when searching. In my own defense, it was actually my local Gamestop that told me these were low-rise thumb-sticks and so I was misinformed when I purchased these but not to knock it, it’s nice to have a variety of size options to choose from because I’ve found that mixing and matching can be very helpful in improving your grip and allow you the flexibility to accommodate whatever game or scenario you are in.

 
   
   
   
   
 

2019