MEGATech Reviews: Qanba Carbon Arcade Joystick for PC and Android
Do you need to spend upwards of $200 to get a decent quality arcade stick to throw your hadoukens and nail your critical arts? The decidedly affordable Qanba Carbon might be your budget-minded golden ticket.
Pros
  • Excellent value
  • Quality Qanba parts
  • Good weight with anti-slip pads
Cons
  • No console support
  • Mode switching not obvious
  • Cord compartment feels cheap
9Overall Score
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When Street Fighter IV first hit the home console scene back in 2008, it really reinvigorated interest in the fighting game genre and propelled into the mainstream. A very happy happy side effect of this was the associated rise in arcade sticks for Xbox and PlayStation (as well as PC). Arcade joysticks had already existed at that point, of course, but their popularity exploded and things have continually gotten better. Now that Street Fighter V has been out for a few months, it's time to refresh our sticks once again.

One of the newest and most stylish additions to today's fightstick arsenal is the Qanba Carbon Arcade Joystick, an all black battle weapon emblazoned with a carbon fiber flair. And it's a lot more affordable than you might think too.

The Evolution of Arcade Sticks

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By and large, Mad Catz is the company that led the charge with Street Fighter IV arcade sticks, at least initially. It also helped that they were heavy on the sponsorship, both in terms of events and professional players. In the years that followed, we saw more companies gaining some recognition. You might like the Hori Real Arcade Pro (HRAP) series, for example, as it was a substantial improvement over what Hori was doing before. You might like the Razer Atrox, possibly thanks to the partnership that company formed with players like Infilitration and Fuudo, who came in first and second respectively in the recent 5,000+ competitor SFV tournament at Evo 2016.

But then there's this increasingly not-so-humble company called Qanba that's disrupting the game with its multi-platform support. The Eightarc Fusion Synthesis (effectively based on a Qanba platform) I reviewed a few years ago is still being put to good use today. I really liked it then and I really like it now. One of the biggest appeals to Qanba sticks is their ability to be used on multiple consoles and platforms. The Qanba Carbon continues that tradition.

While you can't hook it up to your PlayStation 4 or your Xbox One, the Qanba Carbon is compatible with both PC and Android. Yes, Android. Find the compatible game of choice, nab a USB converter cable, and you could be ready to rumble. Perhaps even more notable with the Qanba Carbon is its price-to-value ratio. Cheap sticks used to be pretty bad. Listed at $70 and selling for $50, the Carbon is far less expensive than $200 competitors and you don't get a dramatic drop off in quality.

Handy Features for Daily Gaming

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Let's start with a few key of the key basics. The Qanba Carbon offers the standard eight-button layout that should accommodate just about all of your fighting game needs. The start button is conveniently pushed up to the top-left corner so you don't get caught with accidental pauses. The buttons and stick are all authentic Qanba parts. While not as premium as the Sanwa Denshi gold standard that so many player enjoy, I found they felt faithful to the arcade experience. The joystick itself is in a square gate, which I prefer.

But this is no ordinary stick. Even looking beyond the carbon fiber design on the front for added personality, the Qanba Carbon comes loaded with some features not necessarily standard on other arcade sticks. The most unique are the adjustable table clamps. I've grown accustomed to playing with the arcade stick in my lap, so I appreciate the anti-slip rubber pads on the underside, but the table clamps mean you can attach this stick to your table and have at it that way too.

The clamps are easily removed. The single switch at the top releases one portion, while the underside normally fits into a round slot in the base of the arcade stick. There's no real smart way to store these clamps when not in use, so just don't lose them. If you think these clamps look familiar, you'd be right. Qanba offered a very similar design with its Qanba Q1 years ago, complete with the start button placement. The difference is the Q1 worked with consoles too and the Carbon does not.

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Do you get frustrated with having a loose USB cable dangling all over the place? That's not a problem here. The USB cord compartment on the left side will keep things neat and tidy when you're on the go. There's just enough for the USB cable in there, but I found the compartment door to be on the flimsy side.

There's a single tab in the middle that keeps the door closed. Even when I pressed this in, sometimes either side wouldn't quite line up or close completely without a little assistance.

Playing Street Fighter V with the Qanba Carbon

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For the purposes of "testing" the Qanba Carbon, I went into the lab with a few sessions of Street Fighter V on my PC. I'm coming from the experience of using my Eightarc Synthesis for the majority of my fighting game play and I found the Carbon to be almost as good. A few things stuck out to me as I played through a few matches.

First, the Carbon definitely has a smaller footprint than the Synthesis. It still fit comfortably in my lap and the anti-slip pad helped to keep it in place, but it was noticeable. Second, and related to the first point, is that the Carbon felt lighter. I tend to be a heavy masher and I'm pretty rough on the equipment. For the first hour or so, I found the Carbon to move around a little too much in my lap. It's not light; it's just lighter that some of the larger, full-sized sticks. By hour two or three, I had grown more accustomed and it didn't move around as much.

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But even before I was able to get into the heat of battle, I needed my PC to recognize this thing. There are a series of small buttons next to the start button for menu, turbo, mode and select. I had assumed that pressing mode would switch between Android, D-input on the PC, and X-input on the PC. And I'd be wrong.

Checking the instructions, I had to press and hold both the menu button and the turbo button at the same time until LED 2 illuminated for the right compatibility mode. If I just showed up at a friend's place without the instructions, I may not have been able to figure that out.

MEGATechie Ready for the Next Battle or MEGATechie Mash Until It Works?

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Honestly, I really don't have that much to complain about when it comes to the Qanba Carbon. The build quality and design truly are impressive at this end of the pricing spectrum. The actual gameplay experience was surprisingly excellent too with enough weight and grip to keep things steady after some familiarization time. The table clamps provide an added value and both button and stick feel were just enough on the loose side to be comfortable.

The biggest gripe that most gamers are going to have is the lack of console compatibility. The Qanba name has become synonymous with having sticks that work with practically anything and that's not the case here. If you're hoping for some Killer Instinct on your Xbox One or Street Fighter V on your PS4, you'll need to look elsewhere. For scrubs like me on the PC, the Qanba Carbon could be the best bang for the buck you can get right now.

The Qanba Carbon is listed at $69.99 on the Eightarc website, but it's currently on sale for just $49.99.

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  • discostu

    Hi, does this work on a Amazon Fire Tv? It's basically an Android machine, so I suspect yes. Thanks!