Review: GameSir VX AimSwitch (Hardware)
Taking the AimSwitch out of the box for the first time had me quite excited to get stuck in. The design, put quite simply, is the left half of your average keyboard. Featuring 34 keys that can each be reconfigured via a free to download companion app, you're given a lot of freedom out of the box. For me, my hand rests comfortably with my thumb on space, middle three fingers over the arrow keys, and my little finger on tab. The beauty of having half a keyboard present means that no matter your hand size of preference, you'll likely be able to find a comfortable way to operate it; pair this degree of customisation with the adjustable wrist rest and from a comfort and longevity standpoint, you're onto a winner.
The keypad with a few keys removed to show the switches beneath.
Sadly, I can't sing such high praises for the device's build quality. At first glance, the key caps quite oddly caught my eye. Having owned a Razer Blackwidow Chroma for a few years, they jumped out to me for their faded appearance, almost as if transparent to allow light through. It's a fairly standard appearance for a device with some kind of lighting, and yet the AimSwitch has no such thing. Seeing this, I re-read the manual and searched online in hopes of being wrong, but to no avail. I even tried putting one of the key caps onto my keyboard and lone behold, they are transparent. Though perhaps an odd criticism, it speaks to the lack of care and detail on show.
The Ctrl key on my Blackwidow Chroma with backlighting.
The switches themselves come from the lesser known company TTC. After doing a little research, I found myself unsurprised to see these largely a budget choice. Despite this, they still provide a reasonably satisfying click when hit, albeit with an accompanying echo I can't say I'm overly fond of. To me, the whole thing simply feels cheap. While there is some satisfaction in the mechanical keys, the novelty soon wears off when switching between it and something better built. This might not be something you'd notice if you don't typically use mechanical keyboards, the feel of its mechanicalness potentially outweighing the relative lack of quality, but for anybody accustom to anything remotely well-made, you'll likely be left disappointed.
Coming bundled with a gaming mouse to complete the setup, I feel myself prepared to say more of the same. It's fine, but the chances are you already own a better mouse. While the cable feels pleasant, the overall design is garish. Needlessly pointy with vanity spikes surrounding the mouse wheel, I felt it lack any kind of weight. I can generally forgive that as personal preference, but the overall outlook is one matching its companion: cheap. My biggest issue lies in the buttons you rest your fingers on and their oversensitivity. As I played, I found myself clicking where not intended, the clicks themselves feeling shallow and dissatisfying. Fortunately, you're able to use the keypad with other USB mice, but it's a little sad to see part of this set simply wind up useless.
Switching it Up
Beyond the build quality, GameSir set out to appeal to a niche market with the AimSwitch's console compatibility. This means anybody with a PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and even Switch, can in theory enjoy the same precision and input as their PC brethren. At least in theory.
Getting the AimSwitch up and running with the Switch is a simple affair. Plug the USB receiver into the dock, enable wired pro controllers via the system settings, and you're good to go! When you turn on the AimSwitch, it'll quickly connect to the system as a Pro Controller, with the mouse acting as the right analogue input. WASD controls your left analogue, the arrows are your D-Pad, and the other buttons are scattered within reach. The default setup is good enough to get you started, but you'll likely want to switch it up to something more suited to your needs. Thankfully, this is a relatively simple task.
Some of my Settings for Zelda BotW.
The accompanying G-Crux app for Android and iOS is essential to get the best out of the AimSwitch. Using the app, you can wirelessly update the device's firmware, and more importantly, remap the keys to your liking. Each of the 34 keys can be set to your liking, on top of the mouse's left and right click, and the two buttons on the side. With the ability to store up to five configurations on-device to be switched between on demand, you have the freedom to play as you want. Though the app is a little rough around the edges, it does well in providing a simple and easy to use interface. With the ability to name buttons with their relevant function, you're able to quickly see what you're remapping as you tweak your configurations.
Using the AimSwitch in-game is the thing I'm perhaps most conflicted on. I want to like it; I really want to like it, but I just don't think it works. Despite the cheap feel of the keys, I enjoyed having the keyboard option for my system, and I feel this part of the device works really well. If you have a game like Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists where you're mostly moving through menus, the flat half-keyboard is surprisingly comfortable and pleasant to use. If you have games that don't rely on the right analogue stick, you may find some surprising utility in being able to play casually with one hand. It's beyond this scope where I struggle to recommend it, and it's hard to really put the blame on the device itself. Mapping the right analogue stick to a mouse is a flawed idea at best. When you use a mouse, you do so for the precision, for the responsiveness and fluid movement. When your mouse is mapped to the right analogue stick, you lose almost all of this. For any kind of precision, you need to mess with sensitivity in-game, you need to tweak the mouse settings using the G-Crux app, and despite my best efforts, I simply couldn't find a way to make it work. The camera was too jarring, too slow, moving in too great an interval; the previously easy to use app suddenly became frustrating as I changed settings, disconnected, connected to the console, tested the settings, and repeated. With both the default settings and officially released configurations failing to impress me, I can see why the AimSwitch doesn't have much in the way of console competition.
Overall, I'm left with a mixed bag of feelings for GameSir's VX AimSwitch. Featuring quite frankly impressive customisation options and a unique offering in a remappable keyboard for consoles, it falls short in too many areas to fully recommend. With the core idea falling flat, paired with the cheap look and feel, I can't recommend it for its current RRP of $99.99. What I'd love to see is GameSir look at what went well here and come back with something that builds on those strengths: a remappable keypad for consoles is in my eyes something with a lot of potential. With nicer switches, better key cap design, and even including an analogue stick for proper camera control, they could have a genuinely unique and brilliant product. Despite their shortcomings here, I'm eager to see what they bring in the coming years.
+ Keyboard input works nicely for some games
+ 34 remappable keys
- Cheap look and feel
- Mouse input doesn't map well to right analogue
out of 10
While I commend GameSir for taking a step into the unknown and offering something undeniably niche in nature, I have to think there was a reason nobody had done it before. If they focus on the strengths of this product, I firmly believe they could create something fantastic, but I struggle to recommend the VX AimSwitch to the vast majority of people.