Ever since Microsoft released the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, many third-party manufacturers have offered similar products. Unfortunately, when it comes to the PlayStation 4, your options are limited because Sony hasn't launched an upgraded version of the DualShock 4. Now that this console generation is coming to an end, it's unlikely there will be any surprises. Luckily, companies like Astro and Razer offer great alternatives to satisfy this demand.
For more than a month, I've been testing out the Astro C40 TR Controller. As someone who has used the DualShock 4, Razer Raiju Ultimate, Razer Raiju Tournament Edition, and Scuf Vantage, I can easily say that the C40 is the best one out of the lot. While the Scuf Vantage comes close due to its comfortable size, the C40's smooth exterior and superior build quality put it on top. Oddly enough, the way it connects to the console gives it an advantage as well.
- Excellent build quality
- Customizable positions
- Easy wireless connection
- Quite expensive
- Modules require precise alignment
- Slightly large size
Astro C40 TR Controller Size and weight
The C40 weighs 310 grams, and comes in a relatively compact body. Despite its imposing presence, it's quite light. The peripheral measures 168 millimeters by 108 mm by 53 mm. Unlike the Xbox Elite Controller, it features a built-in battery which can be charged with the included cable. There's also a USB dongle which allows the device to connect to a PlayStation 4 or PC. Instead of relying on Bluetooth — which can be quite finicky at times — the 2.4 GHz wireless connection is stable.
Astro C40 TR Controller Wireless connection
When I tested the Razer Raiju controllers a few months ago, I frequently came across an issue where they disconnected from the PlayStation 4 without any explanation. In order to use them again, I'd have to either plug in a USB cable, or reconnect them them via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, reconnecting third-party controllers to the console is a cumbersome task which requires another input method. It's unclear why this is the case, but the fact that both the Razer Raiju Ultimate and Tournament Edition exhibited this problem could indicate an issue between third-party controllers and the system.
The C40's dongle bypasses Bluetooth and gives you a reliable connection at all times by using the 2.4 GHz wireless standard. Unfortunately, this means that you can't see the battery level from the menu, but that's a small price to pay for using this comfortable and reliable accessory. Setting up the C40 is as easy as plugging in the dongle into one of the USB ports on your PlayStation 4. Press the center button on the controller and you're good to go. You don't have to go into the Devices menu and search for the signal.
Astro C40 TR Controller Build quality
While the C40 feels like a premium device due to its smooth plastic finish, it doesn't feature any metal parts. Even the Xbox Elite Controller is mostly plastic, but the thumbstick shafts, D-pad, and paddles are made of stainless steel and aluminum. It would've been nice to see the addition of more durable materials in Astro's offering. However, the Xbox Elite Controller — even the new white model — has an issue with defective grips which you have to glue back on, something that will never happen on the C40.
Despite its size, the C40 is a little large horizontally and this can feel a little strange at first. You quickly get used to it, but I still would've preferred it to be a little smaller.
Astro C40 TR Controller Additional buttons
If you're into competitive first-person shooters, you'll be happy to know that the C40 features two giant buttons on the back. You can use them to sprint or crouch when you're playing certain games. Using the back buttons somehow feels more natural than lifting your thumb every time you have to trigger a particular action. I quickly got used to them, and even started using them in third-person action games like Nioh.
When you first open the C40, you'll want to connect it to a PC and update the firmware. A few of my colleagues reported problems with the thumbsticks before updating it. Apart from that, if you want to change the layout of the thumbsticks, you have to make sure you align the small red lines on the body and the base of the thumbsticks. If you don't do that, you'll be plagued by "ghost movement" or thumbstick drift. The C40 comes with a number of replacement thumbstick heads, as well as a handy Allen wrench to help you customize it.
Astro C40 TR Controller Final thoughts
Overall, the C40 is an excellent controller and the best one currently available for PlayStation 4. Its $200 price tag may be a hard pill to swallow for many, and unless you really prefer the asymmetrical layout and want added comfort, you'll probably be content with the bundled DualShock 4.
4.5 out of 5
That said, if you love playing first-person shooters on the console like me, you'll want to spend that amount for a C40 because it provides one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. It's a shame that it's not available for Xbox One.
New kid on the block
Symmetrical or assymetrical?
This adaptable controller allows you to customize the location of its thumbsticks and D-pad. This is the first controller from a major manufacturer to offer this functionality and it does so expertly.