First, the unboxing experience is excellent. The premium packaging functions as well as it displays. Magnetic tabs hold the lid down which opens up and reveals the controller immediately. No plastic moldings or bags holding accessories and cords. An innovative foam brace secures the sticks to prevent damage to the controller and foam pads on the lid hold the controller in place during transportation. Inside the box is instructional media, the controller, convex thumb pad options, a soft carrying bag, a small screwdriver, and the long, braided micro-USB cord.
Now for the specs, the Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro comes with swappable thumb sticks and directional controls to be switched wherever one wishes. This alone is enough to distinguish itself from other controllers. You could even put both thumb sticks on a single side should that suit your fancy. It also comes with convex thumb pads in case you would rather use those instead of the convex ones already on the stick assemblies. It has swappable side panels. Four programmable buttons on the rear which can be easily mapped to any button on the controller using the on board mapping buttons. Two profiles that can save presets and switch to on the fly. It has mechanical customizable trigger stops that cut the trigger travel in half. It also has its own onboard mic mute and headset volume controls.
Design: Control Your Way
First impressions of the controller were intriguing. Having been a console player for many years and owning my fair share of both wired and wireless controllers, the Eswap X Pro weighed more than any wired controller I’ve handled. The dimensions are barely wider than a stock Xbox controller, although the “wings” that fit into the base of your palm feel slightly slimmer. There are six buttons on the small edge where the headphone jack is located. Three for volume and mic controls and three for remapping of the buttons and profiles.
It was then that I realized just how much Thrustmaster packed into a single controller. It also explained why the Eswap X Pro weighed 320 grams and a standard Xbox controller weighed 274 grams. In my opinion, the weight is not a bad thing, but something that speaks of its quality. It’s not burdensome. The additional weight makes the the controller feel more exceptional.
Despite the width of the controller being within millimeters of a standard Xbox controller, it feels wider. Years of gaming with a controller in one’s hand builds an intuition when something is slightly different. Picking up the controller for the first time, it felt like my hands were further apart than the specs might tell you. There’s also other minor details that might not seem like a large difference but are noticeable during gaming. The thumb sticks are 2mm taller than a normal Xbox controller. Those with smaller thumbs might find the extra reach something to get used to. Those with larger hands who already think the Xbox controller is too small will enjoy the taller controls.
A good example of the innovative engineering that went into this controller is the wired connection into the device. It uses a micro-USB which is infamous for wearing out over time. Instead of simply placing a micro-USB connection on the front and leaving it at that, Thrustmaster built a plastic connection around it. It holds it firmly inside the controller and does not allow it to bend and flex. This would damage both the cable and the connection on the controller. Incidentally, it also keeps me from fussing about future temperamental connection issues.
Performance: A Step Above
The Eswap X Pro feels brilliant inside one’s hand. The trigger springs are appropriately weighty and the texture on the front provides grip. The thumb sticks’ resistance is similar to stock. However, my senses told me they were a tad lighter than I’m used to. The buttons are clicky and tactile. The audible clicks they make is satisfying and I immediately took to liking them more than the normal experience. The vanilla Xbox controller buttons feel mushy and soft in comparison to the Eswap X Pro.
I was concerned the buttons on the back of the controller would be too small to find while gaming. However, they line up naturally with one’s middle finger. All four are within reach and have the right amount of pressure to be easily, but not too easily pressed. I never had any accidental rear switch activations while gaming. I found that it was better for them to be on the smaller side. Any larger they might have gotten in the way of the way one grips the controller.
The ability to swap switches to your desired position changes the game completely. For those who have an Xbox but wish to have the layout of a PlayStation controller, the Eswap X Pro allows you to orient the thumb sticks to that position. Not all hands are the same, and some people prefer the symmetrical stick design. Exchanging the switches is easy and painless, requiring only the included tool for the directional pad. They only need to be pulled out and placed in their desired spot. The magnetic attachment of all customizable parts of the controller is modern and reliable.
The mapping of the controls to rear buttons is remarkably easy as well. Just press the mapping button on the front edge of the controller and press the button you want to map and the button your mapping to at the same time. It takes no longer than a few seconds. There are two on board profiles that remember what selections you have made. They are also changeable on the fly with the press of a profile button. Thrustmaster made changing buttons and profiles as simple as possible.
The trigger limiters are mechanical and about as simple as it gets. Two switches located on the underside of the controller determine the travel length of the triggers. They limit the travel to about half of their full length. This creates a faster, more responsive trigger experience.
The included volume controls and mute button alongside the auxiliary jack make adjusting volume and muting your headset mic more simple than trying to find the inline controls on the wire of the headset. It is far easier to hit a button your thumb is only inches away from instead of trying to find the mute button on the headset in the middle of a match.
The functions of the Eswap X Pro expand even more when connected to the PC. Thrustmapper, Thrustmaster’s software suite, allows for even more specific controller tuning. It allows for finer control over thumbstick sensitivity and dead zones. The controller’s profiles are directly managed from the app and changed through the app as well. The trigger’s sensitivity can also be adjusted to activate sooner in the pull. Even the vibrations can be customized to be as little or as much you wish in the zone that you want. With the additional power of Thrustmapper on PC, the controller becomes even more customizable and valuable.
Perhaps the most convincing argument for using the Eswap X Pro is for all its customizability and extra buttons, it feels natural to use. If someone were to tell me that a single controller had swappable switches, its own sound controls, additional buttons on the back, and mechanically adjustable triggers, I’d be expecting some Frankenstein monstrosity which was too bulky to use properly. Instead, the Eswap X Pro is remarkably constrained and compact. It uses every bit of its space for functionality and does it well.
Honestly, the only thing that the Eswap X Pro has going against it is that it is wired. Wired controllers are becoming more and more a thing of the past. The fact that this must be tethered, albeit very sturdily, must be considered. Even the stock Xbox controller is wireless and more convenient than a tethered controller. The Xbox Pro Controller which is quite similar to the Eswap X Pro is wireless with some of the same features but without the volume abilities and swappable switches. Thrustmaster went with the modability option instead of the wireless option and also manages to do it at about $20 less. Still, it would have been icing on the cake if it had been wireless. For what it’s worth, the cord is braided and quite long to keep from limiting one’s reach.
Overall the Eswap X Pro controller defends its spot as one of the finest, sturdiest, and most precise controllers I’ve played with to date. It’s functionality and moddability is second to none, with more features than even the top tier controllers out there right now. Thrustmaster has designed one heck of a controller that eliminates distractions your hands would otherwise have to deal with. With so many features and capabilities, the Eswap X Pro will bring out the best in your gaming. After using the Eswap X Pro for a week, returning to a normal controller feels like I’m being held back.