I paid for this controller with my own money, Astro doesn’t even know I exist.
When I was initially going through new “pro” style controllers for the PS4 I skipped over the Astro C40’s. (Note: If you click on my Amazon affiliate link I might make a little something, it only motivates me to keep going, cheers.) They had been announced but not released, so maybe that’s why they never popped up on my radar. Luckily I saw it a couple weeks before being released and was able to pre-order through Amazon. I had my reasons for not buying the Razor, Nacon and all other pro controllers that you can read here.
Let’s just get the big news out of the way, the controller costs 200 USD. If that scares you or if you think it’s dumb to buy with the PS5 most likely coming out sometime next year, then that’s just fine. It’s okay to not feel a need to buy something. Personally, I wanted to try a new controller, I wanted a controller with buttons on the back to help break my habit of doing the crab grip to hit the face buttons with my index fingers. I worry about getting carpal tunnel or something else with my joints when I’m an old man. Frankly, after playing with the PS4 stock controllers in certain games, my fingers start to hurt after extended play sessions. So I was just a little worried and that compelled me to try out a new controller.
So that’s my reasoning for jumping into a 200 dollar controller experience. The money wasn’t the biggest of issues for me. Gaming is my largest hobby, it’s okay to spend a bit of cash on your hobby since I get so much pleasure out of it. I just hope that the PS5 official controller comes with at least two back buttons, it’s about time we moved on from the layout we have now. Sony! You listening? No? Well… somebody tell them to do it for the ergonomics and the fingers. I’d appreciate it.
Oh yea, even though I game mostly on PS4, this controller does work with PC, either wirelessly or with a USB cable.
So what’s included for you 200 dollar investment? Glad you asked, let me get into that for you. First off you get a decent case, it houses all the tools and accessories that your controller might need, which is handy. The top part of the case has a velcroed pocket that holds the 2m cable (I wish it was 3m for my TV setup). The bottom of the case has a built-in rubber accessories holder thing for all the little parts needed for your controller. It has a spot for the USB dongle that’s required to use with your PS4 or computer, a D-pad holder, 4 thumb sticks, a spot for an extra, backup, stick module, and finally the screw driver.
The USB cable that’s included is nice, it’s not braided btw. The end that connects into the controller is about an inch long which makes it really snug when plugged into the controller. This extra thickness and depth of the smaller end of the USB connector makes sure the fit into the recessed port of the controller is nice and snug, making sure the cable doesn’t get jostled around while playing and making the connection weaker over time. Obviously the controller hasn’t been out for that long so it’s hard to say how long this will last, but so far so good. It does seem like a better solution than the standard PS4 controller. I assume that most people, like me, don’t play wired, so I doubt I’ll ever have issues with this connector.
Yes, this controller requires the use of a USB dongle to be inserted into your PS4 to be used wirelessly. Does this suck? Of course it does. Apparently this is an issue with Sony, not Astro or any of the other controller manufacturers. They have some dumb guidelines set up about their Bluetooth standard and being able to use headphones on the controller at the same time. Since, with the Astro’s you can plug in your headphones to the audio jack on the bottom of the controller, they needed to use a dongle to send/receive to the console. If you can afford a USB port on your system this isn’t bad at all since Astro claims they’re able to take the latency of the controller down to 1ms using their dongle, something you can’t achieve through the standard controller.
You then get 6 caps for your analogue sticks. 2 standard height domed caps, 2 standard height concave caps, 1 tall domed cap, and 1 tall concave cap. In order to swap these out all you need to do is pull up on the cap that’s installed, it’ll pop off and then you just push on a new one, no tools required. I’ve used both and found no issues with them. The domed ones do feel smooth to the touch, which you think would make your fingers slide on them while using, but I really had no issues with them while playing AC Odyssey. I figure the concave ones will be the preferred caps for most users, they provide a better grip overall and if you’re at “pro controller” levels of play, why not use them?
The included Astro-branded hex screwdriver is used to unscrew the four faceplate screws on the face of the controller. You quickly loosen them and flip the controller over for the front plate to fall into your hands. The screws stay with the plate, they don’t fall out or anything so there’s no worries about losing them. The sticks and D-Pad also stay attached through the power of magnets. Once open you can swap around the three different modules as you see fit. If you prefer the XBox layout you can swap to have your analogue stick at the top left of the controller. This is the layout I started to use and it’s been working out great for me, the stick position feels comfortable and natural.
The Astro C40 controller feels like a premium product from the moment you pick it up. It’s slightly heavier than the standard controller. If you grab it with both hands and try to flex the controller it doesn’t budge at all, it’s solid. It’s slightly bigger than the standard controller, but not as big as the Duke from the original XBox.
The original controller vs the Astro in weight.
Original = 220g
Astro = 315g
So the Astro is definitely heavier. Having used it for a few weeks now, the weight hasn’t bothered me at all. My wrists and hands don’t feel fatigued after a long play session, but this is just from my experience.
The part of the body that your hands touch are made with a matte type of plastic that feels really nice in your hands. It gives a slight amount of grip that feels good, the back quarter-panel is a ridged rubbery material that adds to the amount of grip you get. Compared to the smooth plastic of the standard controller, the Astro definitely feels more comfortable and less prone to sweaty palms. I also notice that when holding the standard controller your palms are closer together, because of the more box design of that controller. On the Astro’s, since it’s wider and the palm rests are further spread apart, your palms aren’t as close and it’s actually a more comfortable wrist position while playing.
The layout is what really makes this controller special in my opinion. I’ll just try to work my way around the controller and talk about each section in turn.
As I stated earlier, the sticks and d-pad can all be switched around very easily and relatively quickly. The rest of the buttons on the face of the controller are where you’d expect them to be so no confusion there. The trackpad in the middle is a little smaller than the standard one, but it still feels natural and took no time to adjust to its size.
I found the D-pad to be really nice. It has a smooth, almost metal finish to it. I played all of MK11 using this D-pad and had no issues with it at all. It’s smoothness allows your thumb to slide nicely around it. Where the original controller makes a soft thud when pressing the D-pad, the Astro makes a click. Neither approach bothered me at all.
The sticks on the controller feel good. They feel smooth, smoother than the standard ones at least. If you’ve played a game like Apex or CoD a bunch, using one controller for a long time, it’ll probably take a little bit of time to get really comfortable with the nuances of these sticks, which is to be expected. They are clearly different, they almost have a click noise when reaching max tilt, the sound coming from the shaft of the stick striking the circular ring around it. There have been no issues with the dead zones or stick drift at all with this controller. It’s hard to give a direct comparison with the PS4’s original controller and the Astro’s in regards to the sticks. They both feel and operate the way you’d expect them to. So no issues here.
The R1, L1, R2, and L2 triggers are all bigger than the original controllers buttons. The R2 and L2 buttons feels a lot more substantial and of a higher quality when you go back and forth between the two controllers. The original’s feel more toy like I’d say. They are just way smaller and seem to make a bit more of a rattling noise as you press them a lot. What I do like about the Astro’s shoulder buttons are the L1 and R2 and how far down they go on the side. It means that you can press them with the middle portion of your index finger instead of the tip like you do on the original controller. You can just bump them with the middle of your finger instead of using the tip to bress it, seems more natural. It’s not a big thing, just something small you might notice.
The triggers do come with stops that are located on the back of the controller. These metallic red switches activate a physical stop inside of the controller that limits the travel on the L2 and R2 triggers. This is good for games where you shoot with R2 and it’ll make you a quicker shot if you don’t have to travel the full distance to register a button press. I was trying this feature out while playing Dishonored: Death of the Outsider and with the trigger stops up I could still use my abilities, but couldn’t navigate through the menu’s since it wasn’t registering the button presses. If you run into this issue you can always change this setting in the Astro software which I’ll go into later.
On the back of the controller are two extra buttons, one of the main reasons why I bought this controller. As you hold the controller your middle fingers naturally rest on the button, making it a really intuitive spot to have this extra functionality. I’ve had no issues so far using these buttons. The click feels a little sharper than the face buttons, but there’s nothing to complain about so far.
You can program the back buttons on the fly which is also really nice. To do this you press and hold the little black button on the back of the controller, located between the two paddle buttons, until the controller gives a little rumble. Then you press the paddle you want to change and then the button you want to map this to. You can go through any of the buttons on the controller and remap them to whatever you want, so it’s fully customizable.
There is a headphone jack on the bottom of the controller, which I still haven’t used (I use the PS4 Platinum headset which uses another USB dongle). On the top you have the USB port in the middle, recessed into the controller to create a secure hold on the supplied cable. You then have two more metallic red switched on either side of the USB port. One is to switch between wired and wireless modes, the other between profile 1 and 2. With the later switch you can go between two stored profiles, these can be changed with the supplied software or on the fly using the remap button on the back of the controller.
You install the Astro software on your windows or Mac computer, connect the controller with the USB cable and switch the controller into wired mode to make changes. Once connected you can update the firmware of your controller, I’d suggest doing this before using the controller, and remap or change any stick feature you want.
In the software you can create multiple profiles that you can name for use with different games. While your controller can only store two of these profiles at a time, you just need to sync to the software and put the new ones on to change them out.
You can change the button mapping for any of the buttons.
Adjust the sensitivity curve to both of the sticks as you see fit.
Trigger sensitivity adjustments. If you use trigger stops for certain games and have issues with registering hits naturally, you can adjust where 100% trigger pull occurs.
You can even adjust the audio mix, microphone and the controller speaker from the software. The audio mix is for your headphone audio coming out of your controller.
Finally, you can adjust the amount of rumble the controller produces and the brightness of the LED light.
As for the battery life of this controller, I’ve had zero issues with it so far. I’m charging it a lot less than my other PS4 controllers that’s for damn sure. This controller will definitely last a full day of gaming, not that that’s ever recommended. I just feel like I have to worry about the battery level a lot less using this, I haven’t just drained it completely or anything so I can’t give an hour count, I’d say like 1.5 -2 times more than the standard controller.
What’s annoying is that you can’t see the battery level through the PS4 system like you can with standard controllers. So you kind of have to keep track of where it is in your head, or just plug it into your system to charge overnight or while you go out or eat food. Again, never been an issue through all the time I’ve had with it. It’d be nice to get an update for the PS4 so that they allow battery status to show up.
One more thing to note, you can’t turn your PS4 on with this controller, apparently Sony won’t allow this with the way Astro connects the controller to the PS4, I know it sucks. To get around this I just tap the home button on another controller I have laying around, usually on my side table, that turns on the PS4. When it gets to the home screen I just turn on my Astro and it connects automatically (doesn’t take long at all), I select my profile and that turns off the controller I used to turn the PS4 on with, so not that big of a deal.
When you go to turn off the PS4, or put it into rest mode, the PS4 will turn off but the Astro controller wont. This messed me up at first since I didn’t remember this at all. What you have to do when you’re done is hold the home button on the controller for about 5 seconds until the light goes amber and then turns off, that turns off your controller.
I will say, that as a person with misophonia (noises can annoy me), the sound of the rumble in this controller is different than any other controller I’ve used. I just turned the rumble down a little bit and it’s taken most of the edge off. If you play with headphones you’ll never notice it, it’s just the moments when I have no headphones, the TV volume is way down and maybe I’m listening to YouTube or a podcast and then I can hear it.
The Astro C40 TR Pro controller has worked out really well for me. It makes playing games feel more unique when I pick up this controller and turn it on. I enjoy having the buttons on the back of the controller, they do work way better for newer games, where my muscle memory isn’t already built up and locked in on the standard controller layout. With new games it’s easier to map a button on the fly and then keep it moving.
Is it worth 200 USD though?
Take what I wrote into consideration, ask a question in the comments if you like, and then you have to decide if you’re okay spending that kind of money. Everyone is in a different financial situation, which is okay, no worries. I just know I have a lot more gaming to go on my PS4, perhaps this will work on the PS5, if not, I think I’ll eventually be okay with that. Or maybe it’ll only work on PS4 back-compatible games on the PS5, if that’s the case, I’d be good on that. My prediction right now would be that it does work with the PS5, but only time will tell.
If you’re in the market for a “pro” controller and don’t mind the cost, or what PS5 next year might mean for this controller, I say this is the one to get. Especially compared to all the issues I’ve read online with every other brand of pro controller. I’m still waiting for the accessories to come out, hopefully they get some cool faceplates. I will be buying an extra stick or two just in case one breaks down the line, knock on wood.