Tech Up! Astro C40 TR Controller Review

By Justin Prinsloo 02.12.2019

Until now, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a decent Elite-level controller for the PS4. The Xbox's Elite controller has been the reigning champion when it comes to console gamepads for a while, and the PS4 simply hasn't had a similar product to compete with it. Now, Logitech-owned Astro has designed their first ever controller in the hopes of changing that. The C40 TR Controller for the PS4 and the PC might just be the premium gamepad people have been waiting for - but it comes at a hefty price.

 
Astro has been crafting high quality headsets and gear for a while, but the C40 TR is its first ever shot at a controller. This gamepad comes with all the flair Astro is known for, with a rock-solid design and a healthy scoop of innovation. Sony's DualShock 4 has been the go-to PS4 controller since the console's release, but it's safe to say that this has changed that - if you can foot the bill for its eye-watering £189.99 ($199.99) asking price.
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At this price point, getting a lot of bang for your buck is absolutely essential, and the C40 TR does not disappoint. It's weighty and solidly designed with premium materials and boasts some fantastic customisation options for those passionate about finetuning their gaming experience. The immediately apparent feature is the interchangeable stick and D-pad modules - by removing the controller's faceplate, these modules can be swapped from the familiar mirrored layout of the DualShock 4 to an asymmetric design more akin to an Xbox controller.
 
There are also two small, horizontal toggles on the front: one for choosing between the dongle-powered Bluetooth wired mode and the USB-cabled wireless mode, and the other for switching between one of two available profiles, both of which can be individually customised. Similar vertical toggles are on the underside of the controller - these adjust the trigger resistances of each trigger, switching from fully pressable to a more rigid setting which allows the triggers to be indented quicker.
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Everything here feels ultra-durable. The triggers are gorgeously weighted, the rumble is finetuned to a tee and the analogue sticks offer firm resistance. This is a controller designed to withstand the rigours of intense tournament play. The matte finish ensures that it won't get slippery even between sweaty hands, and the materials used are all of very high quality, from the controller itself to the sturdy travel case. It's also worth noting that the analogue sticks themselves are swappable, and in the case you get two additional sets of sticks - one with a rougher convex grip similar to those on the DualShock 3, and one with taller stems for those with bigger hands.
 
Alongside the standard features one would expect from a PS4 controller such as a touchpad, headphone jack, and Share button, this also features remappable rear buttons, branded UL and UR, respectively. That's two fewer than the Xbox Elite controller, but they're nevertheless a welcome addition to the standard gamepad layout. The rear paddles are also moulded to the curves of the controller, ensuring they don't unnaturally protrude from its base.
 
To remap UL and UR, It's a simple case of pressing the designated small remap button followed by the trigger you want to remap and finally the button you want it mapped to. The whole process takes a few seconds and can be completed in-game and on the fly without loading up the C40 TR's impressive PC software. The only downside with these rear buttons is they can get in the way - in a natural grip, they sit right under your ring fingers, and it's very easy to press them accidentally in the heat of the moment.
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The PC software offers an over-the-top level of customisation in the best possible way. Everything from the controller's button mapping to the sensitivity of the triggers to the controller's inbuilt audio mix can be adjusted. Astro has gone the extra mile to make this the controller to beat. The only performance quibble pertains to its battery life - it advertises a solid 12 hours in wireless mode, but even when fully charged it didn't quite reach this level for this reviewer on every occasion. This isn't too much of an issue, though, as the lengthy USB cable that comes in the box means it plays well in wired mode, with the added bonus of less input lag when wired, of course.
 
It's worth noting, however, that the Astro C40 TR feels very different to the standard DualShock 4, and thus takes some getting used to. It's substantially heavier and given its unique design, feels very different in the hands. Once you're used to its bulk, though, it's difficult to go back to any other gamepad. The only roadblock here is the aforementioned price: this is a premium controller at a premium cost. It's therefore definitely not for everyone, but for those willing to shell out almost four times the price of a DualShock 4, it makes a case for being one of the best controllers on the market.
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9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
The price of the C40 TR may be tough to swallow, but it's well worth it - Astro's first gamepad does not disappoint. It oozes style and class from every pore, from its solid design to its plethora of customisation options. The competitive gamer will definitely want to consider this as their go-to controller - everything about it feels sturdy, from its swappable modules to its durable design. This reviewer can't wait to see what Astro's penchant for superior innovation sees the company create next.

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