I’ve been using KontrolFreek products for many years now, through multiple console generations, and they have always been my go-to recommendation for easy controller enhancements for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC (for those who prefer a gamepad to a keyboard and mouse). My KontrolFreek collection is now pretty extensive, as they have all stood the test of time, despite the thousands of hours of use between them. That’s why I’ve been excited to check out the latest lineup of products from KontrolFreek. After two weeks of testing, here is my full KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks review for 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | What’s the point?
There are several reasons why gamers use KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks. The first and most important is the height extension that these thumbsticks provide. By effectively extending the length of the controller’s analog sticks, users can make more incremental movements with less effort, meaning more overall precision. The advantage is most easily showcased in a first-person shooter, where a KontrolFreek is able to make higher sensitivities more manageable. You get the best of both worlds: you can turn on enemies quickly with a rapid 180-degree flick, but you can also make more minute adjustments to aim accurately at range. Rather than one or the other, you can enjoy both.
If you’re playing a round of Apex Legends, for example, and you have both a shotgun and a sniper equipped, you’ll benefit from being able to both quickly turn on the spot with the shottie in close-quarters encounters, before switching to the sniper rifle and taking someone down at extreme long range. This is where the KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks come in most useful, adding a little more precision to those chaotic higher sensitivities.
The reduced resistance added by the KontrolFreeks should also mean less fatigue on the user’s thumbs while gaming. I can’t say I’ve personally noticed that difference, but I suppose it makes sense. I feel this is worthy of mention since it might be a big deal to those putting in some marathon gaming sessions, or who suffer from some hand-related medical issue.
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Improving the stock experience
Even if first-person shooters aren’t your cup of tea, or maybe you don’t play on the higher sensitivities where thumbstick extensions become a bigger requirement, there are still other reasons why KontrolFreeks are a worthwhile investment.
If you, like me, find the official PS4 and Nintendo Switch gamepad analog sticks to be a little slippery, especially after heavy use over a couple of months, the added grip from KontrolFreeks certainly makes for a welcome change. What’s more, the KontrolFreeks also protect the thumbstick surface below. If you want to prolong the life of a limited-edition controller, or just want your standard pad to look better for longer, then KontrolFreeks are a great option.
I attribute the fact that my launch day PS4 controller is still alive to the KontrolFreeks that I’ve been using on it. It might not hold a charge quite so well anymore, but the stock thumbsticks still look fantastic!
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Have it your way
The additional extension bestowed by KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks is also beneficial to those of us with larger hands. The Xbox One controller isn’t so bad, as it’s quite large, but the PS4’s DualShock 4 and Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons are a little too small to be comfortable by default. The Performance Thumbsticks require thumbs to be placed higher up, making for a more open and less cramped grip. It might be a niche case, but again, I think it’s worth mentioning.
KontrolFreek sells a variety of Performance Thumbsticks with different designs. Some are convex and some are concave, allowing the user to pick their preference. Personally, I’m a fan of the concave shapes, which I find easier to grip, though this might be because I play a lot of fast-paced shooters. For racing games or more casual experiences, I’m happy to use convex, especially if they incorporate a fun design for one of my favorite games.
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Matching your favorite games
Speaking of “fun designs,” the latest Performance Thumbsticks from KontrolFreek celebrate great games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Borderlands 3. I was sent the “Modern Warfare,” “Modern Warfare – ADS,” and “Borderlands 3 Claptrap” thumbsticks for the purpose of this review, and it was great to see such premium-looking packaging and designs arrive in my mailbox. KontrolFreek has really stepped up its game in recent years, making its products look a lot more special. This certainly goes a long way in making a customer feel like their money was well-spent.
Out of the Performance Thumbsticks that I was sent, I have to say the “Modern Warfare – ADS” is my favorite. The translucent material is grippy and comfortable, and the design is subtle enough so as not to distract from the rest of my custom controllers. However, it’s the concave shape and longer extension that ultimately won me over.
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Filtering through
While I could certainly get used to all three of the designs I was sent, for me Performance Thumbsticks are more about finding your favorite style and sticking to it. I imagine that’s why there is so much variety on offer. There isn’t a “one size fits all” mantra, as KontrolFreek instead offers multiple different extension lengths and a mix of concave and convex shapes.
Thankfully, there’s a handy “Buyer’s Guide” tool that asks users a few questions in order to find the perfect thumbsticks for them. It might seem a little over the top for what are essentially bits of rubber material stuck to plastic, but it’s a nice touch to the website and could be helpful to those feeling overwhelmed.
As mentioned, I prefer the concave design and “high-rise” style. That combo is great for first-person shooters and feels more comfortable for those with larger hands.
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Digital satisfaction
In addition to the Performance Thumbsticks included in the box, some KontrolFreeks come with in-game items. For example, the “Modern Warfare” pair that I was supplied with have a “Wheelson Calling Card” that I can equip to my profile in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer.
It would be great to see more of the bonus digital items in other KontrolFreek products. If the Fortnite KontrolFreeks came with an exclusive skin, I know players would be even more hyped about them!
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks Review | Enhance your pad
Overall, I’m a big fan of the KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks. They’re a cheap and cheerful way of enhancing a controller’s default analog sticks; adding grip, extension, and a little bit of flair with the designs currently on offer. The styles based on Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Fortnite look especially awesome. For between $12.99 to $17.99 (or $19.99 for the double packs), this is an inexpensive way to pimp out one’s gamepad. They are definitely worth a look!
KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks review units were provided by KontrolFreek.
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