Picking a Gamepad

I’ve been thinking for a while about picking up a gameboard, as my playstyle seems to be leaning that way – it’d help with mobility, and my healing is evolving into a click-casting style which I find fast and efficient.

It’s come down to two options, I think: the Belkin n52te, the latest iteration of the Nostromo; and the Logitech G13. I think I like the look of the G13 more, but it’s nearly twice as expensive as the n52te.

Does anyone have any experience with using both of these, to tell me how they compare?

And does anyone have any experience with using either, or both, on a Mac? Both are allegedly Mac-compatible, but I know that’s not always the case despite what it says on the tin.

18 thoughts on “Picking a Gamepad”

  1. I use the older Belkin n52 with ControllerMate on my Mac and it works great. I’ve been looking to replace it with the n52te or the G13 but until I can actually touch a G13 I’m holding off as the reviews for it seem to be mixed b/c of hand size on it (aka if your hand isn’t the right size for it it gets a bad review, if it is it gets a great review).

  2. I haven’t used the Logitech model, but I do have a Belkin. And I love it to death. I didn’t actually think I was going to like it as much as I did, but I found it really enhanced my mobility and reaction time when healing. Plus, I can keybind a lot more stuff. (My hands aren’t very large, and there are an extremely limited number of keys I can comfortably reach on a standard keyboard. Factor in that a big chunk of those were taken up for movement/strafing…)

    It was also very intuitive to set up, though there is naturally a learning curve in adapting to it in-game. (Mostly just in the sense of retraining yourself to new keybinds.) Macroing on it (natively mapping, say, a shift+1 key combo to a single key) isn’t as intuitive, unfortunately, as it’s something I’d like to explore. You can still use shift/ctrl heals, the same way you do on a standard keyboard, if you’re into that sort of thing.

    So while I can’t discriminate between Logitech and Belkin, I do highly recommend this kind of product. :)

  3. I have the n52te & it works great on my Mac; my wife also has on on hers. I have not tried the logitech, so can’t give you a compairisan.

    I like the number of buttons. The software is slick BUT has a major missing feature: it can generate left, right and center clicks, but not the other 6 or so mouse clicks OSX supports. Which would have been handy with the trackpad + grid. 3rd party drivers can fix that (ControlerMate) but are clumsy to set up.

    If you can find both in a store put your hands on them. That is probbly the best way to decide :-)

  4. P.S. Mapping shift-1 on the n52 isn’t intuitave either, but once you decide “oh multiple keys means macro” the rest is intuitave but anoying.

    That may not be a great reason to pick the n52 over the logitech though.

  5. I tried a belkin n52 years ago and the deal breaker for me was that the keys were not staggered like they are on a keyboard, they were in a perfect grid pattern, if you can get past relearning where your fingers go i think it would be good. I couldn’t ever get past that though.

  6. I can’t recommend the n52 enough. The software for the n52 (not surprisingly) is better on the mac than on the pc. There are so many options you won’t use most. I use it on both a mac and pc. Be prepared, however for some serious adjustment time. In the end, you will be glad you did.

    Both models look similar enough that the differences will probably be minor.

  7. I’ve used both a N52 and N52te. I like the button feel on the te better, but the software for the N52 was better. As someone mentioned above to do something like a Ctrl-M it is a macro on the te, but not on the N52 software. As mentioned it will take sometime to get used to, but once you do you won’t want to play without it. I do have a G13 on order, but haven’t tried it yet.

  8. I got the G13 and have been playing with it for about two weeks now. I can’t comment on the Nostromo since this is the first gamepad of this type that I have ever used. However, I will say that it has indeed increased my reaction time which is beneficial when playing my healer. The downside of the G13 is that it is a bit large. The G13 is highly configurable though and it’s extremely easy to create macros and keybindings. Coupling the G13 with an addon on Bartender 4 makes for a very clean UI.

  9. I’ve got the N52te, and it is my first gamepad. I love the thing, once I got my WoW UI setup in a way that worked for me. I can’t compare it to the G13, nor how it works on a Mac, as I’m a PC user. But as someone else suggested, I would HIGHLY recommend “testing” them out in a store. I’ve got smaller hands for a guy, and I think the 52te works pretty well, but I think I would be more comfortable with a slightly smaller pad. Something to think about.

  10. I picked up a N52TE for myself this christmas, and now I think it’s amazing, and wonder how I ever played without it. I resisted the temptation to remap wasd to the keys, and left them on the joystick, and I’m very glad I did. With forward/backward and strafe on the nostromo, and turning on my mouse, along with the full 15 keys I have access to, I have so much better control, whether it’s healing or tanking! :D And it’s played very well with my mac, which makes me happy, as a lot of game oriented stuff seems not to in my experience.

  11. Hi Siha!

    Really love your blog, I’ve read it until I’ve memorized all the gems, enchants and equip, and now that I’m doing Naxx25 just come by every once in a while to check for new posts.

    I use the n52te and as many have said it works perfectly with Mac (besides using the diagonal macros on the d-pad, which also fails in Windows).

    The only thing to be confortable with it is that you should lay the icons on the screen as the buttons they are placed on the device. I have 3 groups of 8 icons (2 rows of 4 each) with diferent modifiers (ctrl, alt, shift). That way my pinky presses the modifier for choosing the group and the keys work as they show on the screen. When no modifier is pressed they work as movement keys (whenever I need to hit keys and move I use the mouse). The three keys on the bottom are not affected by modifiers as well as the rest of the buttons on the thumb.

    My UI is inspired on the Ciderhelm UI (from Tankspot) but with some nice modifications for healing. If you finally get the n52te I could send you a screenshot explaing the setting.

    Gz for the blog again. Best wishes from Spain ;)

  12. @Karotte – Glad you find the blog helpful! And I’d love to see a screenshot of your UI, so I can get a bit of inspiration for how to adjust things to take advantage of the n52te. If you want to email it to me, I’m siha @ bananashoulders . com. :)

  13. THE biggest advantage I see with the G13 is the joystick-type controller under the thumb. It’s the only Mac-compatible gamepad that I know of that has such a joystick.

    I’ve tried the N52 (older model) but couldn’t get the drivers to work for me. I’ll use the G13 just as soon as I can actually touch it.

  14. Interesting I thought I would use the N52te’s joystick a lot. Turns out I have stopped using it as joystick and now it is shift/ctrl/opt. So I can get 6 actions from grid with only the 2 “buttons” on my laptop’s trackpad.

    My wife also set the joystick as directions, but she tends to use it. She also has set the scroll wheel to go “up” and “down” which seems to serve her well with all the northrend “get on a dragon/airplane fly around and do stuff” quests.

    (I set scroll-up to be middle mouse button…forgot what scroll-down is, so I guess I don’t use that one much).

    So if you get a n52te, let us know what you used the joystick for, and if you changed you mind in a month :-) (FYI if you use the joypad as keys and not directions I find it much easier to use if you pull the “knob” off it — and if you grew up with nintendo (I didn’t) you might find it better that way even for directions).

  15. I have used the n52, n52te and the G13 on my MacBook Pro, and they are all similarly functional. I have used them with a 70 mage, an 80 rogue and 69 druid. I gave up on the G13 and went back to my n52te for a few reasons:

    1. I prefer the registration bump on the middle key of the n52 to the dips on the keys of the G13. This is hard to describe, but it’s much easier to keep my place on the keys of the n52 for this reason.
    2. The G13’s screen is pretty much useless on the mac. There are only a few apps that run on it and I didn’t want any of them. This is different on Windows.
    3. I prefer the d-pad on the n52 to the g13’s joystick. Neither are analog, and I just find the d-pad easier to use.
    4. I like the scroll wheel as an input on the n52. I use it to cycle through targets.

    By far the best would be to put your hand on both and see which feels better to you. It was pretty obvious to me once I tried to use the g13 that the n52 was far superior for me.

  16. n52te user here. Works great on the mac with its own programming software.
    (The settings are kept internally and works just fine when I dual boot into windows sometimes.)
    Controllermate is an awesome piece of software for logitech stuff with horrible mac drivers. (aka rev mx mouse!)
    I recommend both but not together if that makes any sense.

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