Saitek P3200 Rumble Gamepad Review

nismozcar - 2007-10-20 00:11:41 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: nismozcar   
Reviewed on: November 28, 2007
Price: $24.99


Popularity for PC gaming has been growing steadily for years. Microsoft has improved this experience in recent months with the release of games under its new platform “Games for Windows.” The goal for these games is to provide the feel and function of a console, with the graphical abilities of a PC. Most titles on this platform have enhanced features that shorten the install process and provide support for a wide range of aftermarket gamepads. Although most PC gamers prefer using a mouse and keyboard, there are still some of us who enjoy the feel of a contoured controller when gaming. But with so many gamepads on the market, how do we choose?

Closer Look:

The front of the box encompasses the main features of the Saitek P3200 Rumble Gamepad. A large shot of the face of the gamepad is accompanied by badges that state the device's abilities. These include the rumble forces, programmability and the Windows compatibility. The backside details the layout of the controller and lists all of the buttons and analog sticks of the P3200 Rumble Gamepad.





The sides of the box each display a small shot of the P3200 Rumble Gamepad and touch again on the key features of the P3200.



The top is branded with the Saitek label; a picture of the Saitek P3200 Rumble Gamepad hovers above the model name. The underside of the box informs all international users that instructions for installation are included in the box.




Closer Look:

The P3200 Rumble gamepad is shipped inside of bubble wrap and bundled with a quick install guide and a drivers disc. The layout of the P3200 is predominantly geared toward the Xbox360 controller. It features the same Start, Back, X, Y, B, and A buttons, a D-pad and a pair of analog sticks that are centered like a traditional gamepad. 









The P3200 also has two pairs of triggers on the topside, a set of bumpers toward the edge and a left and right trigger on the bottom. The underside of the controller is featureless and contoured to allow the gamepad to rest snugly in your hands.





To install the P3200, simply plug the gamepad into any available USB 2.0 port. The device will be recognized by Windows and basic drivers will be installed. In order to get the full functionality of the controller, it is necessary to install the drivers from the disc included in the box.








When the disc is inserted, a window will popup and welcome you to the SST Setup Wizard. Click next and you will be taken to the Saitek disclaimer. Upon agreeing to the disclaimer, you will be allowed to move to the next screen.



The driver setup will ask you to connect the controller to begin installation. If you haven’t already connected the P3200, do so and click next to continue. After the drivers have been installed, you will be taken to the Properties window to test the gamepad.



The first tab in the Properties window allows you to test all of the buttons and analog sticks. The Test Rumble Effects box is checked by default and any key that is pressed on the pad will also test the rumble forces. In the second tab, you can adjust the gain of the rumble forces; this allows you to reduce or increase the strength of the rumble forces.



The Deadzones tab allows you to configure the range of your analog sticks' deadzone. The deadzone cuts the sensitivity of the stick from the center outwards, helping to reduce wild pitching and jerky movements. The Analog buttons tab has a couple of features. In this tab you can adjust the range of the trigger buttons and also enable the X-mode mapping. X-mode mapping is built into all games under the “Games for Windows” platform, and when enabled, the P3200 will be recognized as similar to a Microsoft Xbox360 controller.



The last tab details information on the driver used and gives a link to download SST Programming Software, but this isn’t necessary since the software is included on the disc.




After clicking OK in the Properties window, you will be taken back to the SST Setup Wizard to install the SST Programming Software. Choose the install option and click next. You will be alerted on the next screen that drivers have been verified, but not by Microsoft. Click yes in the security screens that follow and installation will begin.









After the software is installed, you will be prompted to register and finally the installation process is complete. Click the finish button and you will be taken directly to the Saitek Profile Editor.



The Saitek Profile Editor is fairly simple with the buttons laid out in the left hand column. Click the box of the button you wish to assign and enter the key you wish to set, and click the green check mark to apply. Use the red record button to set mouse keys.



You will then name the command and upon hitting the enter key, the command will be set. Continue this procedure for the rest of the buttons. When you have finished, save your profile to be able to access in the profile editor.



To set your profiles, right click the gamepad icon in your taskbar and select the profile at the top, and you are ready to play.



P3200 Rumble
Windows XP (32/64bit)
Windows Vista (All versions)





The P3200 will be tested against two other gamepad devices, the Saitek Cyborg Rumble and the Microsoft Xbox360 PC. The gamepads will be judged in four categories: Sensitivity, Adjustability, Layout, and Comfort. I will use two games to judge the capabilities of each controller: Medal of Honor: Airborne to test FPS (First-Person Shooter) accuracy and Combat Flight Simulator 3 to test the rumble forces. I will subject the gamepads to run through the same levels in both games to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each gamepad. They will be scored on a scale from 1 to 100.


Testing Setup:


The P3200 performed very well in the Sensitivity test. The range and movement of the analog sticks was very accurate. The feel of the controller during action was smooth and steady. In Airborne, navigating the skies with my parachute was effortless and when I landed, I had no trouble traversing the streets of Europe. The Cyborg Rumble took top prize in this category because of its Precision Mode; this feature allows the user to tighten the sensitivity of the analog sticks with the push of a button, making sniping your enemies easier and more accurate. All of the gamepads felt extremely nice while playing Combat Flight Simulator 3. The large variety of rumble forces featured in this game were enjoyable, from the steady rumble of your engines, to the quick bursts while using your guns, to the deep rumble felt from G-forces when banking and maneuvering during battle. The forces seemed to overlap each other and the culmination of all of them combined was amazing. In the Adjustability category, the Microsoft Xbox360 PC controller suffered from the absence of a profiler. The Saitek profiler proved invaluable when it was necessary to adjust the controls and sensitivity, and it was the main reason the Saitek controllers scored so high in this category.



The Layout category was won by the Cyborg Rumble. The gamepad features reversible left controls that swap the location of the D-pad and left analog stick, per the user's preference. However, the P3200 and Xbox360 PC gamepads are also very well laid out. All of the gamepads have easily accessible buttons and they don’t require you to shift your hand position to manipulate. The Comfort category was based solely on my opinion of each gamepad. The Xbox360 PC took this category because of its slender and contoured shape. Although the Saitek’s are identical, they are a tad bulkier than their counterpart and the P3200 lacks the ability to swap the left controls, which could alleviate discomfort for some users. Neither of the gamepads were ever uncomfortable to use and didn’t hurt or cramp your hands when used for an extended period of time.




The Saitek P3200 Rumble turned out to be a very good choice for those looking to buy an accurate and well designed gamepad. The controls were smooth and balanced, and any adjustment that was needed was easily configured using the Saitek profiler. The rumble forces helped enhance my experience and created a real sense of action while playing Combat Flight Simulator 3. The dogfights were vivid and the different vibrations I felt added depth to the firefights. Skirmishes in Medal of Honor: Airborne were handled with ease using the analog sticks. With small adjustments to the range and deadzone, I was able to dial in the feel and really put the pressure on my enemies. The only negatives that I discovered during testing were related to the feel of the device and not the function. The cable provided is only 5 feet long and can cause issues for those of us who like to play from a distance on our TVs. Aside from being slightly bulkier than the Xbox360 PC, the P3200 was a pleasure to hold and manipulate for extended periods of use. For those who have migrated from consoles, the centered analog sticks are a familiar and welcomed position to most traditional gamepads. Anyone who is looking for an excellent controller that is compatible with Windows XP and Vista (32 and 64 bit) needs not look any further than the Saitek P3200 Rumble. This gamepad provides awesome control and a multitude of functions and adjustability. It will undoubtedly immerse you in your games while optimizing them for enhanced enjoyment.