Asus AeroActive Cooler 6 vs Kunai 3: Which should you buy?

The Asus ROG Phone 6 is the best gaming-specific smartphone you can get, but if you really want to get the most out of it – and make games even more satisfying to play – then Asus has a pair of accessories for you. tempt you. New Asus AeroActive 6 Cooler joined an updated version of the Kunai 3 gamepad, and the two perform quite different tasks. Are either of these worth buying?

What are these ROG Phone 6 accessories?

The AeroCooler Active 6 is an external fan for the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro, but unlike some previous versions, it also has four physical buttons on the case, ready to be mapped to in-game controls. Additionally, it has a kickstand to hold the phone upright, as well as an RGB light array inside. It attaches to the ROG Phone 6 via the side-mounted USB Type-C port, and there’s a pass-through port so it can still be used to charge or power the phone. It should be noted that the latest cooler is only for ROG Phone 6 and previous AeroCooler accessories will not work with it.

The Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro with Kunai 3 controller and AeroActive Cooler 6 fan.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There are three cooling modes. Basic cooling is fan-only, Frosty mode ramps up the intensity and takes power from the phone, while the higher Frozen mode requires the AeroActive Cooler 6 to be plugged into a power source. feed. Asus says it has the ability to reduce surface temperatures by up to 25 degrees centigrade and is best suited for people who play intensive games for more than an hour at a time.

The Kunai 3 gamepad released with the ROG Phone 6 is the same as the Kunai 3 gamepad released with the ROG Phone 5, only this time it comes in a new color Moonlight White. The modular controller system is reminiscent of Nintendo’s Joy-Con controller for the Switch. It is made up of two controller parts, a central charging section, a separate handle, and a skeleton frame designed for the ROG Phone 6. It connects to the phone with Bluetooth when used alone, or via USB when the controllers are connected to each side of the skeleton frame.

The Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro with Kunai 3 controller and AeroActive Cooler 6 fan.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There are 10 mappable buttons and analog triggers spread across the front and back of the controllers, two joysticks, and various menu buttons on the Kunai 3. There’s even an RGB light strip on the left controller. It comes with a small carrying case suitable for ‘mobility mode’, where you forgo using the gripping section of the wireless controller.

AeroActive 6 Cooler

Installing the AeroActive Cooler 6 on the ROG Phone 6 is simple. You open the top of the fan by pressing a button, insert it into the mounted side USB Type-C port, and push the top down to lock everything in place. It should start automatically and its options are presented under the notification shade. Here you can turn it on or off, change the RGB lighting mode and select the level of cooling required. However, the AeroActive Cooler 6 is intelligent and monitors the temperature of the device, ready to adjust the amount of cooling required.

Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro with AeroActive Cooler 6 attached.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s a real beast on the back of the ROG Phone 6, bumping the weight of the already hefty phone to 360 grams, all hanging off the back. It disturbs the balance of the phone, but the worst part is that the physical buttons are not accessible at all. This makes them uncomfortable to press as they are placed very close to the center of the phone and then extended a few centimeters. Unless you have big hands, the pimples will be awkward. I much preferred using the ROG Phone 6 shoulder buttons when additional buttons were needed in a game.

In Smart mode, the fan generates noise, but it is easily ignored. Plug in the ROG Phone 6 charger to activate the lowest Frozen setting, and with the increased speed and cooling, there’s a lot more noise. It’s not deafening, but it’s much more noticeable.

While the buttons aren’t much of a selling point, the cooling better do its job well. To find out, I ran 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, which tests the phone for 20 minutes. I first tried this on a bare metal ROG Phone 6 Pro with X mode active, then ran the same test with the AeroActive Cooler 6 installed. The test is ideal because the app provides temperature data from the device at the end.

Without the additional fan, the ROG Phone 6 Pro got very hot, and after the test was completed, the temperature range dropped from 33 degrees centigrade to 52 degrees centigrade. Moreover, it reduced the battery from 57% to 43% during the test. After turning the phone off and allowing it to cool, the test was repeated, this time with the AeroActive Cooler 6 plugged into Smart mode and connected to the charger in case it required power-hungry Frozen mode.

The temperature range went from 32 degrees to 48 degrees, and the lower maximum made a huge difference in battery consumption, which went from 42% to 39%. Looking at the stress test itself – which consists of four repeated sections – the best score without the cooler was 2773 and the lowest was 2543. With the AeroActive cooler attached, the phone recorded a better score of 2818 and a low of 2571.

There is an obvious performance difference with the AeroActive Cooler 6 installed, but it’s not huge, and it was only really evident when the phone was under a very high charge level. The AeroActive Cooler 6 is for people who will be playing extremely power-hungry games for long periods of time, which will help them get more performance and reduce battery consumption. If you only play simple games for less than 30 minutes, you probably won’t get much benefit from the AeroActive Cooler 6.

Kunai 3 Controller

If the button placement on the AeroActive Cooler 6 is awkward, the button placement on the Kunai 3 gamepad is just about perfect, and its design clearly comes from a team that understands gaming and the associated ergonomics. Not only that, as there are three different ways to use the Kunai 3, its versatility makes it suitable for more people. If you can’t find touchscreens responsive or natural enough for serious gaming, this is the gadget for you.

ROG Phone 6 Pro with Kunai 3 controller, playing Diablo Immortal.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Using the Kunai 3 in handheld mode, where the controllers are attached to the skeleton, is my personal preference. On paper it’s quite heavy at 376 grams, but since most of that weight is the phone in the middle, the balance is excellent. You are free to hold it comfortably while using all the many buttons and the two joysticks. I find the poles are just the right height and also have the right amount of movement. Button mapping is simple – a swipe from the top left of the screen to reveal Game Genie’s list of options – and it’s easy to save your settings for future use.

The buttons don’t have much feel, though, and the rear and shoulder-mounted buttons are clicky and not particularly tactile. They certainly aren’t as fun to use as a game console controller or the Nintendo Switch Lite. Overall portability is also an issue. The skeleton frame doesn’t really double as a case, so you won’t want to keep it on your phone. And if you want to use the grip when the controllers are in wireless mode, it doesn’t fit in the supplied case. The case is just for the wireless controllers, the charging station and a USB cable.

In wireless mode the controller feels quite small when you’re not holding it with the separate grip, but with it attached the controller is very well sized and still very light at 198 grams. Connecting with Bluetooth is a bit tricky because you have to hold down the Home button on the controller for a set period of time, but do it too long and the controller turns off. I played Diablo Immortal multiple times using the wireless controller and didn’t find latency to be an issue.

The Kunai 3 controller makes games more fun. This is the accessory to buy if you love gaming, but not into gaming to the point where the AeroActive Cooler 6 makes sense, in that you play a lot but not competitively. It fits the ROG Phone 6 perfectly, it’s well made and also seems pretty sturdy. Consider the type of games you play before buying it, as it is best suited for games with multiple touchscreen controls and a requirement to use a virtual on-screen joystick. You won’t get much benefit if you mainly play simpler games.

Which to buy?

The Kunai 3 adds another dimension to the ROG Phone 6, transforming it into a more usable, more ergonomic, and more fun gaming device. The AeroCooler Active 6 improves the performance of ROG Phone 6 when playing graphically intensive games for long periods of time in one go. They pair well if you only intend to use the Kunai 3’s wireless mode, when the AeroCooler Active 6’s kickstand comes in handy for keeping the phone straight in front of you. But the two cannot be used together when the skeleton case is attached to the phone.

There is also a price difference. The AeroActive Cooler 6 costs 79 pounds sterling or 90 euros, while the Kunai 3 costs 106 pounds or 120 euros. Pricing for the US launch has yet to be announced, but those prices convert to around $95 for the fan and around $126 for the controller.

Ultimately, the Kunai 3 has a much wider appeal and more people will enjoy it. Comparatively, the AeroActive Cooler 6 is much more specialized and aimed at hardcore mobile gamers, but if you think you need an extra fan, there’s nothing else like it.

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