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Gulikit KK3 Max - A premium controller with refined performance plagued by QC issues

I've fallen into a bit of a rabbit hole lately. A newly rekindled desire to just kick back and game on a controller for a handful of games on PC, as well as a recent interest in retro gaming has given me the chance to explore what controller options are available for reasonable money these days.

The official console controllers do the job for the most part, but they don't use some of the latest innovations in this space, such as magnetic hall effect sensors, and the ergonomics/PC compatibility isn't always ideal. We have various consoles in the household, but first party controllers just don't cut it for a premium feel anymore when it appears third parties are doing such a good job for less money.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

In the last eight weeks I have bought or received the 8BitDo Ultimate (hall effect version), GameSir Nova & Nova Lite, GameSir T4 Cyclone Pro, and now, Gulikit KK3 Max, the recently released update to the popular KingKong 2 Pro from 2022. I opted for the Retro colour since I'm not a fan of white gadgets, and the black just appeared too boring to my eyes.

This review is based on the current firmware at the time of writing, which is v4.0 released on the 9th April 2024.


Colours White, Retro, Black
Processor Custom Gulikit 'Gpower' CPU
Joysticks Gulikit hall effect sensors, removable joysticks, customisable sensitivity, metal anti-friction ring applied to the sticks in addition to anti-friction ring surrounds
Triggers Mechanical toggle switch for hairline trigger & analogue 255-step modes
Face buttons 2nd generation tactile membrane buttons
Construction Lifetime polymer surface treatment, oil-free & non-peeling
Programmable buttons 4 macro buttons with assorted paddle types included
LED indicators Joysticks ringed with LED indicators on active state, power LED changes based on mode
Motion control 6-axis gyro support in Switch mode, patened motion control in PC mode
Battery 950mAh, 28 hours playtime with lights off, 15 hours with lights on
Platform support Windows, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Wireless Bluetooth, 2.4GHz 1000Hz USB dongle
Wired USB-Type-C for wired mode & charging
Polling rate Variable up to 1000Hz wired/wireless (2.4GHz only)
Special features Autopilot Gaming mode, macro recording up to 10 minutes
D-Pad Adjustable 4-way or 8-way
In the box XBOX layout ABXY face buttons, face button puller tool, metal back paddles, USB-C cable, hard shell case with hole for convenient USB charging, 2 silicone joystick toppers (gifted by AKNES if bought via AKNES on Amazon)
Weight 560 g
Price £75.99 / $79.99 / €79.99

Feels good in the hands

Straight out of the box the immediate first impression I had was "wow this feels great", I had to check on the Gulikit website to make sure the material I was feeling wasn't that thin rubbery material that apart over time and becomes sticky, because at first touch it felt like that, but thankfully this was not the case.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Gulikit say the material is a polymer treatment that will stay this way long-term. It is designed to be oil-free as well, so natural skin oils should not wear down the treated surface finish.

The finish itself feels like it is soft touch, but isn't, it's almost as if there are multiple hard waxy layers applied to give the material a bit of texture. It's not visible, but under magnification it can be seen. In the hands it feels premium, like the difference between the plastics inside a base model car versus the plastics in the top-tier trim level. It's difficult to describe beyond that, so all I can say is that it feels it is worth every one of those 75 Great British Pounds.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

included in the box is a nice little selection of accessories, things that don't come with cheaper controllers. Swappable ABXY buttons to switch between Nintendo layout or PC layout, metal weighted backside paddles and half-dome button faces as an alternative to a pair of paddles.

I ended up preferring the half-domes because of how my middle fingers naturally rested covering both the short paddles and the domes.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Comments online suggested that these paddles were tricky to install but I found them to be a doddle to both install and remove. I suspect some folks just could not figure out the specific way they can be installed even though it is immediately obvious how they should be fitted.

Each half-dome or paddle is engraved with a marker indicating if they are for the G1, G2, G3 or G4 back buttons. You don't have to use them on those indicated buttons though.

Actuating the paddles and domes is really satisfying, they are not loose, nor are they uncomfortable to operate. My personal mapping config for them is G1 and G3 as L and R shoulder button alternatives, with G2 and G4 being direct click for the joysticks.

Gulikit KK3 Max Case

A hard-shell case is also bundled in which is nice. It's nothing special and stops the controller fitting in if you install the longer paddles, which is slightly annoying. On the upside, it has convenient markings on the outside indicating which buttons correspond with what settings to toggle, as well as having a hole on the top so you can at least charge the controller when it's stored inside it... Swings and roundabouts.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Also included are two joystick covers that offer greater rubbery grip and raise the height by about 8mm. I found them to be extremely comfortable, so they will remain attached.


Currently I am playing Horizon Forbidden West, and whilst I prefer playing it using mouse and keyboard more than a controller, the soft and rounded comfort of the KK3 Max meant I was able to recline back and enjoy the game whilst at my desk.

I also tried out some of my Switch/Wii U games emulated on PC for the image quality and high framerate advantage and being able to enjoy them in proper ultra-wide. The same applied here, the official Nintendo Switch Pro controller is merely "OK", the KK3 Max wipes the floor with it in terms of ergonomics and performance and even premium quality feel.

Gulikit KK3 Max - GIFs

The latency and general response times from sticks and buttons remains excellent whether 2.4GHz wireless or wired. This makes sense given that the dongle offers a 1000Hz polling rate which means a 1ms latency can be expected.

Firing up Gamepadla and Xinput Tester revealed the cold hard numbers to add up:

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Only a single outlier after repeated tests is excellent, and that outlier being a random spike just as I started to move the sticks, so nothing of concern and standard. A max 1000Hz polling rate accurately detected, with an average of over 700Hz.

All the numbers fall well within a decent range as far as synthetic tests go, emphasis on synthetic, since only a dedicated piece of hardware sitting between controller and PC can measure accurate input latency. The software way above is a convenient way to get a baseline to which then a comparison can be made against other controllers.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Moving onto Gamepad Tester, the average error rate was basically non-existent. My GameSir Cyclone Pro had sub 1% error rate here on its hall effect sticks, whereas here Gulikit's in-house sticks are calibrated so tightly, that there is no error.

Such is their confidence in these hall effect modules that the KK3 Max actually ships with no dead zone enabled on either stick, it's that good, and in my games/emulators setting the input dead zoning to 0% showed zero drift of the character, even holding and shaking the controller, yet at the same time, even the slightest touch resulted in granular movement on-screen:

Gulikit KK3 Max - GIFs

The KK3 Max has 3 levels of haptics, too, a magnetic levitation vibration mode, HD rumble (which tries to replicate Nintendo's HD rumble but fails), and traditional rotary rumble. The HD rumble felt the weakest in all games I tried it on, whilst maglev and rotary felt the most dynamic and powerful.

Some early performance issues were fixed in firmware updates, and even though I've only had the KK3 Max for less than a week, I've seen two updates already from Gulikit which is promising progress given this controller released in the middle of February.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

The update process could not be any easier, simply hold the combination button when connected to a PC via USB and the controller pops up as a USB storage drive in File Explorer. Drag the firmware file into that folder and the controller does the rest and disconnects, all within a few seconds. That is it. Gulikit don't require you to install any software on Windows, nor do they have a smartphone app. Everything is done on-board the controller.

By comparison, the GameSir controllers I did firmware updates on required this process being done via Bluetooth connected to a smartphone app. Typically the update process took 10 minutes maybe more, a tediously slow affair that made me wonder what went wrong in life that such a simple process has been made to be so annoying. From some light research it appears that only Gulikit offer this type of speedy firmware updating, but if there are others, please do let me know in the comments.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

8BitDO's update process isn't that different either, just replace the phone app with a Windows app, though thankfully the update time is very quick.

The less said about the Bluetooth connection the better, it might be fine on the Switch, but on PC it's trash here. Stick to USB or the wireless dongle and make sure the dongle is in a good quality USB 3 port to get that 1000Hz.

I also tried out the motion control in PC games. in Cyberpunk 2077 I found the aiming to be rather flaky to the point that it felt janky. In Horizon Forbidden West, it was mostly fine. So, whilst Gulikit state the motion control feature helps FPS games, my experience has been the direct opposite.

Maybe this is something that they can tweak and refine in future firmware updates.

Gulikit KK3 Max

The vibration motors deserve a mention, too, offering strong feedback depending on what's going on in the game. For example, in Cyberpunk 2077, all 3 modes (along with 3 levels of intensity) offered nuanced vibration whilst driving, the different terrain whilst driving over gravel hitting the brake, accelerating, all of these instances relayed a different style of vibration between the modes. Neither felt better or worse than the other, just a different flavour, and the fact that they can be toggles on-the-fly, means you can experience all 3 within seconds of each other.

I think Nintendo's Switch Pro HD rumble offers greater levels of granular detail, though. Just like the adaptive trigger haptics on PS5 Dal Sense, the Switch pro haptics are difficult to replicate perfectly by third party controllers.


The interactive ergonomics are well thought out. Gulikit provides an online crib-sheet for all the button combos to change various modes to preference, a fold-out version is also included in the box:

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

The only real difference with the instructions currently is that a recent firmware enhanced the LED lighting functionality. Originally the lighting tweaks only allowed for brightness adjustment at low, med or off. Now you can set the joystick rings to light up based on a several factors, dynamic with in-game vibrations, reactive to the pressure applied to the analogue triggers, reactive to the position of the joysticks, all off, or all on.

Gulikit KK3 Max - GIFs

Another cool feature of the main LED at the top s that when it's white, no custom settings are active. If it is blue, then that means a setting has been customised. This is handy incase you forget to revert a change that was in use for a specific game, for example, 4-way D-Pad instead of the default 8-way.

Gulikit KK3 Max - GIFs

The swappable face buttons for ABXY are easy to change as well. The little tool included makes the job easy. I always left mine in the XBOX layout,, then, when playing on Nintendo games, simply ignore the printed letters and use the buttons with a mental image of the Nintendo layout, easy.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

Gulikit caught a lot of hot wind for an early claim on the website that the face buttons were "mechanical". This has since been changed to state "tactical". I'm not sure who they were trying to fool here by claiming this, but it's good that this was addressed.

The forward-facing side of the controller offers a convenient way of switching between input modes where other controllers require you to remember button combos to press.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

The Z triggers are easy to depress, and the L and R shoulders are well-sized too, although my hand shape means they sometimes feel a little too high. No real bother though, as I remapped the bottom paddles to be L and R as well.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

With the Z triggers in hairline fire mode, there is still some travel, although it's not a huge problem. I think it feels satisfying as opposed to a direct click. At the end of the shorter travel is a micro switch-style click. I haven't seen a teardown to confirm if this is just simulated or an actual switch, but it feels like the latter. Take a listen:

The D-Pad is tactile with no issues with the central rocker or accidental directional activation. The directional arms are slightly shorter than the D-Pad on the 8BitDo, but then again so is the D-Pad on the GameSir controllers.


The rabbit hole has a floor it seems, at least for me right now anyway. I can't imagine needing anything more than this since all boxes appear to be ticked. The only question mark remaining is how long the polymer treatment will last with regular use. Gulikit say it's for the lifetime of the controller, but we've heard this sort of claim before with other pieces of tech, so I tend to take such claims with a pinch of salt.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

I'll inspect it under macro after a few months and if there's no change, then I think we can reliably call this a win.

Not many bugs have been encountered. A few times I did experience the dongle connection taking longer than expected or requiring me to flick through the input modes back onto the dongle indicator before the pairing connection was made. Though,the connection happens almost immediately after the controller is powered on assuming the wireless dongle is left plugged into the USB port.

Gulikit KK3 Max Controller

It would be nice to have battery indication in some form using the LED lighting, both stick LED rings can operate individually, so perhaps a button combo that displays the battery level using both LED rings could be implemented by simply flashing each ring a corresponding number of times to the battery level, 3 flashes each for 33%, for example.

The bottom line? For £75 it's a good controller that feels like it costs what it does with only a few things to be aware of, some of which could even be solved with a firmware update. I didn't experience any of the issues people complained about online but then again my controller isn't one of the early batches running earlier firmware either.

If the budget cannot exceed £50, however, then I highly recommend the GameSir T4 Cyclone Pro. It doesn't feel as nice as the KK3 Max, but it has almost everything else, hall effect sticks and triggers, actual mechanical face buttons, extra haptics on the triggers, 500Hz polling rate over wireless, on-board customisation as well as additional settings in the mobile app, is aesthetically pleasing. Just make sure to set aside at least 10 minutes if ever doing a firmware update on it.

Update - 2024.04.18

Sadly this review has to be updated due to new discoveries on my particular controller, and after further investigation, has revealed that there is a much wider physical quality control issue with the KK3 Max.

The issues I have observed since this review was published are:

  • Creaking L/R shoulder buttons
  • Creaking L/R triggers when actuating slowly
  • 2.4GHz dongle not reconnecting more often now requiring re-pairing

The creaking issue is the biggest problem for me as the trigger springs creaking can be felt under the fingers as they twang below the plastic. This means precision triggering in certain games becomes off-putting. Here is a video demonstrating the creaking.

At this price, none of these problems should be of worry to any buyer. Gulikit need to work on this as a matter of priority.

As it stands, the Gulikit KK3 Max has excellent design and material fit and finish, but quality control and bugs appear to plague the controller after a short time of use.

Gulikit KK3 Max
2.4GHz wireless performance Material fit & finish Additional accessories Firmware update process All tweaks done on-board
Rubbish Bluetooth on PC Occasional connection delay after power-on Hard-shell case unusable with paddles installed Creaking shoulder buttons Creaking triggers Other widely reported QC issues
£75.99 / $79.99
February 2024


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