GioTeck VX4 Wireless PS4/PC Controller Reviewed

As shiny as official controllers are, I’ve never quite got to grips with how obscenely expensive they’ve become. Cramming more and more widgets and gubbins into controllers has certainly necessitated a price increase, but £50+ seems a little on the nose. And that’s before we get to fancy “pro” ones.

Enter the wondrous world of off-brand, slightly janky controllers like Gioteck’s lineup. They’re not pretty and lack the premium control that a first party controller exudes. But I’ll be damned if they’re not reasonably priced.

I tested the Gioteck VX4 exclusively on the PC/Windows 10, with two complete playthroughs of Hoa and an unhealthy amount of Genshin Impact. The tldr is, it’s fine. It’s not excellent, it’s not especially pretty, and it’s not quite 1:1 in functionality with an official controller. But at £10 less than even an *on sale* PS4 controller it’s not a bad deal if you’re looking to pick up multiple controllers for some couch co-op. That £10 adds up! Beware if you’re serious about your gaming, however, since there’s nearly 20ms of input latency that will surely ruin your day.

The face buttons

At a glance the VX4 is lacking in panache. The face buttons are – quite frankly – utterly baffling with patterns of dots intending to invoke the Triangle, Circle, Cross and Square. They don’t. They look terrible. They’re not even aligned to the middle of the buttons. The “triangle” is the wrong colour!? Other off-brand controllers just straight up use the PlayStation iconography. It’s clear the VX4 isn’t officially licensed, fine! But why have they picked the most abstract alternative? Okay okay I’ve learned the PlayStation button locations by rote so it doesn’t really matter, but the sloppiness of the button icons bothers me.

The face buttons *feel* fine, however, with a definite click and plenty of travel. I can’t really complain about them mechanically. The same can be said for the Share and Options buttons which feel solid and clicky- they’re probably actuating a little surface-mount push button underneath whereas the face buttons are clearly rubber membrane madness. This is a technical term, I am a professional, don’t @ me.

A little of that slop splashes over onto the D-Pad, which is… just odd. It’s fine. It works. It doesn’t feel good. It’s a weird shape. It’s possible to hit diagonals by rolling your thumb slightly while holding down a direction- depending on how you train yourself to use the controller, this could be a good or bad thing. But probably bad. I think the biggest problem is that the whole D-Pad can be pressed down like it’s a giant button… that’s kinda naff.

The triggers

I quite like the diminutive design of this controller, with its sticky-out trigger trips. It feels comfortable and isn’t too hefty. The triggers are a little odd to use, however, with the first part of the pull being very soft, before transitioning into a firmer squeeze. This has the upshot of ramping up analog input quite quickly at first. I’m religiously opposed to playing racing games with a controller, however, so I haven’t seen first-hand how this might affect gameplay. In most other games, the triggers are used purely digitally (ie: Genshin Impact) so this is a non-issue.

Using DS4Windows I was able to observe that the triggers popped to about 50% with all but the very lightest touch.
The shoulder buttons (L1 and R2 to you PlayStation folks) are also a little mushy with uneven pressing force. The outer edges are noticeably firmer and offer more of a tactile click.

Input delay

DS4Windows also revealed a roughly 18ms input lag from the controller. This number is a little alarming, since I’d expect a Bluetooth controller to be closer to 5ms and DS4Windows raises the alarm when latency is over 10ms.

I’ve got to admit, I’m not a particularly hardcore or sensitive gamer and will happily play games over Moonlight to my TV. I didn’t feel this input lag, despite being able to measure it. I have seen it mentioned in Amazon reviews, however, so if you’re a competitive gamer this controller is most emphatically not for you.

The touchpad

Oh sweet justice. It’s actually a working touchpad? For the longest time I couldn’t find any information about the large, trapezoid-shaped, chunky touchpad-cum-button on the VX4. Much less figure out how the heck to actually make it work. A *lot* of trial and error later and I figured out:

When pairing via Bluetooth I need to pick “Wireless Controller” and not the XBox one
I needed to configure the controller – for desktop, big picture, and any game I wanted to use it with- via Steam
I had to configure the touchpad… not the gyroscope… as a mouse. Steam’s configuration screen for PS4 controllers is bloody confusing for a PS4 n00b like me.
I had to wish upon a star

Once I got the basic set-up down, with my mouse wiggling in the desktop, I decided to confront a gaming dragon of mine: Genshin Impact’s infernal, infuriating insistence that I *click* with a mouse to enter the game. Twice. When I’ve hooked my laptop up to the TV it’s really bloody awkward to do this. I just want to launch the game, plant my ass on the sofa, and just press Circle to continue.

So I launched Genshin Impact and… touchpad-as-a-mouse stopped working. Gah.

In order to pull off the amazing feat of actually getting into Genshin Impact proper using a controller, I had to add the game (“GenshinImpact.exe” not the launcher) into Steam and once again configure the controller with touchpad-as-a-mouse. Again, launching the game took away my beautiful mousy goodness. I had to make sure all three checkboxes at the top of In-Game (in the Steam settings, that is) were checked. With this done, and.. Uh… by launching Steam as Administrator to deal with Genshin Impact’s other quirks… I was able to- GASP – “Click to begin” using the touchpad on the VX4.

I know. I know. All your PS4-on-PC controller users probably live this dream already and I’m just getting with the program. Having kinda workable mouse emulation from the controller to launch games from the sofa comes at something of a revelation to me… or at least it does if I pretend I never had a run-in with a Steam controller but hated the touchpads.

To be sure, the weird shape and slight ricketyness of the touchpad do it a great disservice. At least it works well enough to launch into a game and/or skip annoying title screens that don’t support controller input for some reason.

Steam is… actually kinda essential for the VX4

Not only does Steam unlock a whole lot of potential that the VX4 is strangely coy about (I guess most people buying PS4 controllers know what to expect?) but it grants such exciting configuration options as changing the colour of the pin-prick power LED. It’s a gimmick, for sure, and would be much cooler on a controller with more… pronounced… lighting (aren’t PS4 controllers supposed to have a big ol’ light bar?), but it’s cool that it’s even possible.

Gioteck actually explicitly mention Steam Big Picture in their instructions, so it’s clear that using this controller with a PC assumes Steam is handling the configuration and advanced features. That’s fine, I guess, any third party software is just going to suck.

If Steam really isn’t your groove, then DS4Windows appears to work pretty well too. Granted it includes a dizzying array of configuration options and I could not get it to pull the same mouse-in-Genshin-Impact trick that Steam afforded me. It would run the mouse pretty nicely, though, with the touchpad feeling exactly like a touchpad- albeit one in a 2005 Windows Netbook and not something you’d want to use for much more than launching games and clicking “Enter Game.”

None of the cool tricks work over USB mode, as far as I can tell, since the controller just appears as an “Xbox 360 Controller” and behaves as such.

Audio

What? Who has 3.5mm headphones these days? Who the heck is plugging headphones into their *controller* when headphones are wireless? This feature didn’t seem to work on Windows anyway- that is, I saw no Bluetooth audio device show up. Plug that hole with cheese or something to avoid the temptation. What’s wrong with you people!?

Summary

Despite some rickety buttons- the touchpad and D-Pad are especially naff- the VX4 is pretty solid. There’s no give or squeaky plastic nastiness when I try to forcefully twist the hand-grips and it generally feels good in my hands. I can’t really fault it for ~£30.

Audio and tilt don’t seem to work in Windows, and I can’t attest to what does/doesn’t work on a PS4 since I don’t own one, but since it doesn’t feel like you’re paying a premium for these features it’s not a deal-breaker.

In short, buy if you’re a casual gamer looking for a cheap additional controller for some couch co-op. And I think it goes without saying that you should avoid it if you take gaming too seriously and understand the implications of an 18ms input lag.