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Controller Comparison and Conclusion

Lest this review come off sounding like the CH MFP is the best thing ever, it is worth pointing out that there are many other controllers out there that can do similar things. I think it’s safe to say that the MFP is the best universal auxiliary controller ever, but it is also one of the most expensive. This review does not seek to detail all auxiliary controllers, but more information can be found in the SimHQ Cockpit Builders Forum if you’d like to do some reading. To briefly list a few, auxiliary controllers that are typically used for sims include the following:

  • Nostromo N52
  • Saitek P8000
  • X-keys Desktop
  • X-keys Pro
  • X-keys Matrix Board
  • Masterpilot
  • Ergodex DX1
  • Beta Innovations Plasma-Lite
  • Programmable keyboards

However, none of these controllers can do everything the MFP can. In fact, some of the MFP’s capabilities, such as the ability to use software-controlled modes and to manipulate mouse cursor position and controller axis values, cannot be found on any other controller. Conversely, the MFP will cost a lot more than most of the choices above. When considering an auxiliary controller, the choice must be made regarding capability versus price. One must also decide if a pre-constructed system is desired or if some do-it-yourself work would be worth the time and effort.

As someone who has used simple homebuilt MFDs alongside the CH MFP, I can tell you that the MFP has a much better tactile feel, is much more versatile in terms of its use in multiple sims, and looks nicer. However, it’s bigger and costs more per button than my homebuilt system. Expect to spend between 5 and 10 minutes removing and replacing keys when you change sims.

At a suggested retail price of $190, the MFP is a significant and expensive purchase. When you factor in that the device is much more useful with 50 buttons, that price goes up by another $73 for a total of $263. Typically CH hardware is offered at prices well below MSRP by online retailers, but since mid-December, retailer prices for the MFP have only dropped about $10 below MSRP; it’s safe to say that if you purchase a 50-button MFP today, it would cost around $250. Currently only CH is offering extra keys and trays for direct purchase; these items are not available at online retailers.

If you’re willing to spend the money, the CH MFP will give you a very powerful auxiliary controller system that is very easy to use and very versatile.

PROS

  • Buttons can be moved and placed elsewhere
  • Graphical underlay fits under keys
  • Programmed using CH Control Manager
  • Buttons have good tactile feel

CONS

  • Price
  • Size
  • Plastic key tray may be marred easily with adhesive residue

Download Graphical Underlays

Graphical underlays used in this review are available for download:

System Specs

  • AMD Opteron 148 overclocked to 2.85 GHz
  • 2048MB of PC3200 DDR RAM
  • 256MB 7900GT
  • Asrock 939Dual-SATA2 motherboard
  • Matrox TripleHead2Go
  • X-keys matrix board
  • Windows XP Home with SP2

 


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