Ever since the birth of Project xCloud and the move of Game Pass titles to the cloud, the gaming scene has changed. No longer do you need an uber expensive console to be able to play the latest Xbox titles; with just your PC or mobile device more than capable of delivering immersion.
For many that’s been a godsend and whilst we aren’t particularly keen on the mobile gaming scene which has exploded in recent years, we do play Game Pass titles on our phone; fairly regularly too.
All manner of product manufacturers have cottoned on to this move – Razer with their Kishi, PowerA with their MOGA, Nacon and the MG-X Pro and GameSir with their rather lovely X2 controllers, either the Bluetooth or direct connected USB-C versions.
It’s that latter company who are continuing to evolve the market and with the GameSir X3 Type-C Cooled Mobile Game Controller they are ensuring there is next to no reason why gamers cannot be found gaming on their mobiles for hours on end. See, the X3 comes with a fan attached to the back, which in turn cools the device that it cradles.
We’ll start by detailing exactly what we have with the X3, as aside from that fan and some customisation, it’s very similar to the X2.
Working a ‘cheap Nintendo Switch’ angle, the X3 Type-C is a spring loaded mobile controller that opens up to hold your device within its grasp. Direct connection via the integrated USB-C connector means that lag is kept at a very minimum, with on-screen actions pretty much delivered instantly on the press of the X3’s many buttons. We’ve been using this to play Game Pass titles like PowerWash Simulator and Forza Horizon 5 and have found not an inch of lag. Granted, any cloud-based gaming is only as good as the service which enables it and so the usual slight glitches and slowdowns that always hammer the service have been all that have stopped us playing.
You can pretty much play any and all games that are Cloud enabled via Game Pass too as the X3 has all the usual buttons. Two thumbsticks are in place, as is a d-pad, a couple of triggers and bumpers (Kailh switches inside) and the usual face buttons; set-up by default in an Xbox configuration although you can switch them around for a Nintendo Switch set-up should you so wish. Strangely the A, B, X and Y buttons on the X3 do seem to be reversed for Xbox use so you’ll either need to get used to that or hop into the GameSir App and amend things in there.
There are also four other ‘menu’ buttons hanging around on the X3 Type-C and whilst this isn’t a ‘Designed for Xbox’ product, it takes a matter of minutes for you to work out what the generic GameSir menu buttons do.
It all feels nicely tactile too. Bumpers and triggers are okay, even if we’ve found ourselves hitting the bumpers accidentally, whilst included swappable high-rise thumbsticks and covers ensure that you can set the X3 up to your own liking. The d-pad comes in a couple of flavours too, with a preferred faceted pad option being our favourite – in fact, that’s a very nice d-pad in itself. Switching out buttons takes a matter of seconds too, with them held in place by a neat magnetic system.
The GameSir X3 Type-C Cooled Mobile Gaming Controller handles nicely as well. There are some well considered contours on the back along with a slight textured feel and this means your fingers fit the X3 with ease. We’ve only really found that the left thumbstick and the d-pad feel a little too close together for our personal liking. That’s something which may not bother many though.
It grips your phone well too – at least it should do. See, the spring-loaded mechanism will mean that the X3 is capable of clasping any mobile that is between 110-179mm in length. We’ve tried it with a number of phones and have found that all fit well, whether that be our One Plus 8 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google Pixel 4 XL or Google Pixel 4a. The latter two of those phones have never been a problem, but you will need to consider things a little more if you have a Pixel 6 Pro as your only device. This isn’t due to an X3 failing, but the camera visor on the rear of the 6 Pro is so prominent and in such a place that the X3 struggles to keep a tight grip on things, occasionally pinging the phone out. Obviously that’s not ideal and through testing we’ve found that we’ve just had to be a bit more considerate in use, but it does need a mention and you’ll need to be aware.
There is also a USB-C charging passthrough on the bottom of the X3 Type-C; one of the pros of the direct connection. This means that should you find yourself gaming for hours on end, and your phone battery life starts to take a hit, a simple plug of a cable (USB-A to USB-C is included in the box but we’ve preferred to use whatever USB-C cable has been laying around) will mean instant power delivery.
There is also one other USB-C port on the X3 Type-C Cooled Mobile Gaming Controller and this powers the device up in order to keep your phone cooled. In our eyes, that’s immediately interesting, but the set-up means that it’s more of a massive gimmick and not something that is of particular interest. Let me explain.
On the rear of the X3 is a rather hefty fan, GameSir logo’d and sitting pride of place on the back. It never interferes with how you grip the X3 and in fact is of such a size and place that it aids with holding. That fan then – when switched on – is surrounded by a glory of RGB lights, slowly circling and vibing to help increase the immersion of your gaming sessions. It also ensures that the large silicone cooling pad which sits on the front of the X3, directly underneath your phone, will cool things down, dropping the internal and external temperatures of your device when in use – GameSir talk of a 12 degree drop in your CPU temps and double that in terms of external feel. We all know that gaming is resource intensive and so any little thing that can help, should help. It certainly delivers a decent hit of ice to your device and the cooling pad really does get pretty cold.
So what’s the problem? Well, there is no in-built battery for this fan and there is no on/off switch. In fact, for the fan to work – and therefore for the cooling to take place – you need to plug the X3 in via this secondary USB-C port. To switch it off, you unplug it. Simple enough, but one of the major draws of mobile gaming is the opportunity to take your games anywhere; to have them on the go. And if you do find yourself near a power source, you’ll no doubt want to use that to ensure you have power, not some fancy-ass cooling fan.
We guess you could sit there, double cabled, dropping additional power via one USB-C port and a cooling hit via the other. But do you really want to feel that tied down when gaming on mobile? We certainly don’t and are at a loss to understand how GameSir couldn’t either throw in some rechargeable solution for the fan, or work it through the same connection as the power passthrough. It leaves the whole X3 Type-C Cooled Mobile Gaming Controller feeling like a massively gimmicky device.
For sure, should you be serious about your Cloud gaming and wish to play all your Xbox games through the power of Game Pass on your mobile (or any other mobile-accessible games through Stadia, Luna, GeForce Now and the like), there’s going to be a space in your life for the GameSir X3 Type-C Cooled Mobile Gaming Controller. The amount of customisation in the thumbsticks and d-pad is nice and the overall feel of the device is on par with previous GameSir products. Just don’t expect that cooling fan to be of much use – it feels a gimmick at best.