When I build my arcade I brought a “Do it yourself kit” from X-arcade in order to keep everything as simple as possible. While the joysticks and buttons are of decent quality, the controller board is just plain bad.
While it may “work” with MAME you will quickly run into problems with most other emulators or games.
The main problem with the X-arcade controller board (PCB) is that it’s emulating a keyboard rather then a HID device (such as a gamepad controller). While I was warned about this prior to purchase, I never though that it would be that bad. The PCB supports only 12 simultaneous button presses, 15 if you use modifiers such as CTRL, ALT and SHIFT which is the default. Not only is the number of simultaneous key inputs pathetic, mapping keys to modifiers is absolutely ridiculous.
If you intent to play around with other games or emulators apart from MAME you will most likely run into issues using this PCB. Not all software supports mapping keys to modifiers which makes them hard or impossible to play. Even worse is software that uses hot-keys for taking in-game screenshots or saving/loading game-state. Since the PCB is recognized as a keyboard and using modifiers you can be quite sure about triggering a lot of different actions while playing. This issue is pretty much the reason why I stopped playing and tried to find myself a replacement PCB in the first place.
Luckily I came across JammerBoards.com. After ordering their PC (MAME) / PS3 to Arcade Controller USB Interface PCB Kit for $27.95 I managed to replace my shitty X-arcade controller board with this neat little thing. This board is just awesome and works exactly the way the X-arcade should have. Once plugged into the PC it’s detected as a HID device without needing special drivers to work. All you need is included and it even support two more buttons then the X-arcade PCB which was a huge benefit for me. This PCB is also a lot smaller then the X-arcade PCB, making it even easier to mount inside smaller cabinets.
I’m still playing around with this device and testing the actual performance, but for now I’m really happy with it. It does not have a silly limitation on how many buttons can be pressed simultaneously and there’s no noticeable lag as far as I can tell.
If you own a X-arcade, I really recommend you to buy this PCB, you won’t regret it!