Review: The Outerhaven reviews the QANBA Q4 RAF

Are you a fighting game enthusiast?? Do you own and feverishly play EVERY Street Fighter game out there?? Does your playstyle of choice happen to be an arcade stick?? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then you may be the perfect candidate for “Qanba” arcade fight sticks. Shenzhen Qanba Technology Co. Ltd, a relatively unknown Chinese tech company, have produced a line of specialty arcade fighting sticks fittingly named “Qanba”… and I must say, they’ve REALLY put forth an admirable effort. But before I get into the details/specs of the stick, let me first give you a brief flashback on the logistics of how I found out about the Qanba.

I first found out about the Qanba sticks a couple of months ago from fellow TOH member and founder, Shadowhaxor AKA Hax. He’s been seriously contemplating on re-igniting his passion for fighting games (namely Street Fighter) and wanted to up the ante and purchase a serious arcade stick with which to play them. He sent me a link on a couple that he was considering purchasing, and sure enough the Qanba was among them. Now, being somewhat of a fighting game enthusiast myself, I was at first glance smitten by the Qanba. It also happened to be the latest model (Qanba Q4 RAF) and I started searching for more info on this attractive piece of gear. Once I found enough info, I pretty much made up my mind to put aside enough funds ($150) and kop it ASAP!!

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I wound up purchasing my Q4 from Video Games NYC almost weeks ago via an in-store pre-order as they were out of stock that day. The salesman there told me they would be receiving an order in about a week and that I would be getting a call the day it arrived. I got my call the following Saturday, a week from the date of pre-order but as I was busy that weekend I had to hold off and pick it up Monday instead. So, early Monday evening, I trekked into the city and picked up my darling Q4. I handed my receipt to the salesman and after a few pleasantries he went to the stockroom and came out with a sweet-looking BIG, WHITE & RED BOX!!! He rung me up to complete my purchase (totaling 160 something dollars including tax) and bagged it up while I looked around the store at their vast awesome gaming stock for a bit and then I was on my merry way home.

….and that’s the end of my story!! Thanks for reading you guys,  it was a pleasure…. take care.

PSYCH!!!!! BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! You thought I was gonna leave y’all high and dry like that?!?! For shame!! But seriously, onto what you’re REALLY here for… The Juicy Specs of the Q4!!!!!

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When I got home, the first thing I did was open my new Qanba. Being that I didn’t have an HD vidcam, I wasn’t able to do an “Unboxing” vid or anything as I would’ve liked, nor do I have an HD photo cam at the moment, so until I purchase them I’ll have to make due with official product pics via SRK. The box itself is pretty nice, and the way it opens show that the guys at Qanba Tech really care about presentation. After opening it, there’s a box length of foam board with a small hole and underneath is the Q4, itself sealed in a clear plastic bag stamped with the Qanba logo was well as a small baggie containing a pair of white earbuds (more on that later), a white felt cloth as well as two extra black button caps and a user’s manual with a registration card. It’s soon revealed that the foam board from earlier was merely the cover of a carefully crafted foam box, padding the inside of the main box. Essentially, the Q4 is protectively nestled within the foam box and is literally a “Box within a box” as it were which greatly lessens the chance of any damage due to impact or jarring during shipping.

So far, the box alone has impressed me (I’m KEEPING the box) and goes a long way in showing that Shenzhen Qanba Tech knows what the hell they’re doing when it comes to presenting as well as packaging their arcade fighting sticks. But alas, the true test lies within the stick itself and as I remove it from its plastic bag, I happen to notice the very satisfyingly heavyweight it touts.  The build feels very solid and as I’m observing its contours, I notice two things: 1) There’s a very sturdy rubber/plastic handle attached to the back of the stick. 2) Where’s the wire/cord?? – So right away my hand feels the left side of the stick and as it turns out, there’s a small compartment within the Q4 safely housing it’s (8ft) USB plug-in cord. This is in-line with the Madcatz TE Fightstick and more than a couple steps up from my previous (and as of now, RETIRED) Hori Real Arcade Pro 3. The underside of the stick is coated in suede or velvet-like material and feels VERY nice and soft upon your lap, unlike the Hori RAP3 whose metal bottom tends to feel chillingly cold when placed likewise.

After I finished dutifully admiring and creepily ogling at the design and craftsmanship of the Qanba, I booted up the PS3 for some SSFIV AE moment of truth. I called up TOH’s very own fighting fanatic expert and tourney head Nitro, to help me break in my Qanba Q4 (whom by this time I’ve already named “Qanisha”, and YES its a “Her”). He sent me an invite to a private lobby and we played around 20 matches or so and while I was consistently getting my ass handed to me (I may have won some rounds here and there but he made sport of me the whole time), I noticed how much more fluid and responsive my input commands felt in contrast to my old Hori RAP3. After my crushing defeat, I sadly (yeah, right.. more likely “happily” after gettin’ my ass whupped like that??) bid Nitro “Adieu” and booted up my XB360 for a bit to test out my Q4 on SSFII Turbo HD Remix. Needless to say, it performed beautifully with no problem whatsoever and my inputs were being executed on a whim.

Huh?? What’s that you ask?? “How can I use my Q4 on the 360 after just using it on the PS3??” you wonder?? Well, that’s the other beautiful feature of the Q4. It’s compatible with Playstation 3, Xbox 360 as well as PC with merely the click of a button and it does this right out of the box. No DIY dual modding or any of the sort required and it’s currently the ONLY “High quality” stick on the market that’s native “Tri-compatible” to these specific platforms if I’m not mistaken. But back to my original point of it working just as well on the 360 as it dd on the PS3 as I even tried it out on the PC playing the TOTALLY AWESOME “Vanguard Princess” and it works just fine. Another great thing about the Q4 is that it’s also fully customizable in that you can swap out the buttons, the joystick grip as well as its mechanism with even higher quality Sanwa and/or Seimitsu parts though the stick comes equipped with standard Sanwa parts. You can even replace and/or purchase the plexiglass faceplate to show off your decorating of the entire face of the stick with artwork templates of your choosing.

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Last but not least in order to clear up some of the relatively “lesser” yet still important details, the stick comes equipped with a headphone jack (remember the pair of white, plain looking earbuds I mentioned earlier??) which I presumed was for your 360 headset. Problem is that both standard wired 360 headsets aren’t compatible without some sort of headphone jack adapter requiring you to disappointingly make a trip to your local electronics store for one, but heaven only knows why SQT went the Madcatz route and chose to NOT make their stick compatible with 360 headsets. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t too big an issue as I’ve been meaning to upgrade my old wired headsets to bluetooth, so hopefully there’s a set that connects via USB or something other than ancient mini headphone plugs but if not, there’s always the adapter option. The faceplate is also a fingerprint magnet (remember the original PS3 model??) due to the finish and will pretty much need to be wiped down with the included felt cloth after every use. Also, being that the Qanba makers are located in China, the instruction manual is completely in Chinese. One last thing I happened to notice was the fact that when you have it switched to 360 mode, the “Home” button turns on the system (which rocks) but doesn’t when it’s switched to the PS3 (which sucks). In turn, the “Turbo” function feature seems to work only with the PS3 mode and not the 360… I’ll work with it some more to see how that turns out.

(UPDATE: the turbo controls work fine on the Xbox360)

All in all, the Qanba Q4 is an impressively made arcade fighting stick and based on the reviews I’ve read, it easily rivals Madcatz’ TE sticks.  Otherwise, this stick is a knock out and pretty much worth every penny I spent on it so far.  I’ve played all of my Street Fighter games with it so far and it wonder how I’ve been playing with my Hori RAP3 all this time, LOL!! I seriously doubt you’d be disappointed by the Qanba 4 overall and my buddy Nitro has an unboxing video (See below) he made so you can see it in a bit more detail. If you’re a Qanba or an arcade stick user OR you just happen to like this article, drop us your views in the comment section.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grind. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Yes, I'm a black guy!