Why my go-to fighting game controller is the GameSir T4 Kaleid

GameSir T4 Kaleid
(Image credit: GameSir)

Over the past few months, I’ve been more stuck into some of the best fighting games than ever before, backlog be damned. Exceptional releases like Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising and Tekken 8 have successfully kept me on the ranked grind since they launched, and I’ve been doing so with what I believe to be the ideal controller.

Instead of a more bespoke controller or, indeed, one of the best fight sticks, I’ve opted to use the excellent GameSir T4 Kaleid as my go-to fighting gamepad. At surface level, it doesn’t look like anything special, with its standard button layout and adequate build quality. However, it’s what’s under the surface that makes the T4 Kaleid such a top choice for fighting games. And here, I’m going to explain why I chose it above all else.

Under the hood

GameSir T4 Kaleid

(Image credit: GameSir)

The GameSir T4 Kaleid is a visually attractive controller with its translucent shell and RGB lighting, but it’s so much more impressive when it comes to performance. For one, it’s packing Hall effect thumbsticks, which are swiftly becoming the industry standard among third-party controllers. What this means, essentially, is that the sticks are much more durable, making use of electrical currents to avoid physical wear that often results in stick drift.

The other major highlight of the GameSir T4 Kaleid is its mechanical face buttons. There’s close to no travel time here; their digital nature means the buttons register an input instantly, allowing for incredibly responsive gaming. The buttons have a satisfying clicky feel to them, too, not unlike ergonomic mechanical keyboards you might find from brands like Corsair and Razer.

From this, you can probably garner an idea as to why the T4 Kaleid is a fantastic choice for fighting games. Individual frames of animation are incredibly important in the genre, and while that’s largely a conversation in and of itself, being able to perform your inputs in a swift and timely manner is crucial for success. Especially so when faced with more demanding inputs required for special moves.

Throw in two programmable rear buttons and a superb, responsive D-pad, and you’ve got a gamepad that simply outclasses official offerings like the DualSense and Xbox Wireless Controller when it comes to delivering effective and efficient results when playing fighting games.


Jin and Kazuya during Sonys State of Play 2022

(Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment)

With that in mind, where exactly do these first-party controllers fail where the GameSir T4 Kaleid succeeds? Mostly, it’s in form factor and performance. Don’t get it twisted; both the DualSense and Xbox Wireless Controller are excellent, and well-suited to the best single-player games and best co-op games.

However, the DualSense, especially, falls short when it comes to usability in fighting games. In my opinion, the wide chassis and symmetrical analog sticks (which means the left stick doesn’t line up with the face buttons) make it harder to perform regular, quick, and precise inputs. Using the DualSense for titles like Street Fighter 6 and The King of Fighters 15, I often found my thumb to slip off the stick while attempting to perform inputs like quarter-circle-forward and the ‘dragon punch’ motion (forward, down, followed by down-right diagonal) for special moves.

The Xbox Wireless Controller fares better, with a more compact form factor and sturdy, comfortable grips. The angular D-pad design is also excellent for both digital movement and special move inputs. It’s more effective for fighting games than the DualSense, then, but again, the lack of Hall effect sticks here has me preferring the GameSir T4 Kaleid, which has longer-lasting modules as a result.

You can still have success with both controllers, of course - they’re far from unusable. But if you’re looking to go beyond casual play in fighting games while still not breaking the bank on pricey premium controllers and fight sticks, the GameSir T4 Kaleid actually undercuts both the DualSense and Xbox Wireless Controller at $41.99 / £41.99. And at that relatively low price point, I simply cannot recommend it enough.

There’s more controllers out there beyond the T4 Kaleid that are well-suited to fighting games. Check out our guides to the best PS5 controllers and best PC controllers for even more stellar recommendations.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.