Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro – Design & Features
Looking at the Eswap X Pro, you can immediately tell that it’s a “kitchen sink” kind of controller, full of extra bells and whistles that make the controller feel extra. There are some obvious tells, like the row of profile and audio buttons that flank the 3.5mm audio jack at the base of the controller. The four rear buttons and trigger locks on the back are also dead giveaways. Others are a little more subtle, like the reflective panel at the top of the central face, or the controller’s thick, striped detachable cable.
And then there’s the fact that you can pop the D-pad and analog sticks out and swap ‘em around.
It paints an interesting picture. You can see that the Eswap Pro X is complex and polished. You can also see that it doesn’t exactly hew to the aesthetics of most Xbox gear. It looks somewhat generic in spots – the perfectly round face buttons, the plasticky bumpers – but all the extra buttons and switches make it feel technical, even if they don’t do anything too crazy.
Measuring 6.09 x 4.72 x 2.63 inches (WLH), the overall build is a little larger than the Xbox Series X controller, but it specifically has much longer handles, not unli-ke a PlayStation controller. That makes sense, as the original Eswap Pro was made for the PS4, and its design seems to be heavily based on the Astro C40 TR, another modular controller also designed for the PS4. The big chassis is a boon, handles and all. It fits well and fills your hands when you grab it, so there’s no need to grip tightly. Your fingertips have plenty of room to post up at the base of the handles, giving you easy access to the rear buttons. And though that bigger frame and the modular parts add some mass – the Eswap X Pro weighs 329 grams, versus the Series X controller’s 287 grams – the well-balanced Eswap X Pro makes that heft feel like a comfort rather than a burden.
The Eswap X Pro’s standout feature is its customization system, which allows you to swap out up to nine modular parts to adjust the look and, occasionally, the feel of the controller. The analog sticks and D-pad, set in semi-circular blocks, can be removed and swapped. The caps of the analog sticks twist off, allowing you to put on alternate shapes. Two side panels on the handles let you swap in new grips. Lastly, the triggers can be replaced.
The parts vary in size as well as how easily they can be replaced. The analog sticks are simple to pop out, but the D-pad requires you to use an included tool to remove it, and the triggers need to be unscrewed. None of this is difficult, and the controller comes with all the necessary tools and parts, but the system introduces a lot of small extra pieces that you could conceivably lose during or between modifications.
Though switching out parts is easy and fun in a tinkery way, it is far less utilitarian than you might think. Ultimately, there are only two functional choices to make here; whether you want offset (Xbox-style) or symmetrical (PlayStation-style) analog sticks, and whether you want those sticks to have domed convex tops, or inset concave ones. I prefer offset sticks – pressing to the right on the left-stick/D-pad in the low position is a reach for my thumb – so the option to swap is really only useful when I want to put the D-pad in prime position.
The rest of the changes are purely cosmetic, and you’ll need to buy color-coded part packs ($49.99) if you want to change things up. (At launch there are two alternate colors, metallic blue and metallic green). In time, Thrustmaster could add more colors and more functional packs, but the modular functionality of the Eswap system offers more potential than anything else.
It also has a whopping ten extra buttons and two switches, in addition to all the usual Xbox Series X sticks and buttons, including the new share button. The extras break up into three groups: Four “ergonomic” buttons at the base of the controller’s back face, two trigger lock switches adjacent to LT and RT, and six “settings” buttons that flank the 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom of the controller. Together, it’s a lot of extra options, but they individually vary from fine to a little underwhelming.
While I love the idea of rear buttons, similar to the paddles on the Xbox Elite: Series 2 and Scuf’s many gamepads, the Eswap X Pro’s aren’t my favorite implementation. The four smallish round buttons are easy to reach, but are also clustered very close together. At times, it felt like my fingers were tripping over each other when trying to use them in place of the face buttons. They also don’t feel quite as snappy as the tactile face buttons, which look generic but have a good-feeling press and nice audible click. Having rear buttons is always a nice option to have, but the Eswap X Pro is not the controller to get if you prefer them over standard gamepad buttons.
Trigger locks are standard fare for premium controllers. The Eswap X Pro’s cut LT and RT’s travel in half, which is nice for competitive play. Across the board, I don’t use trigger locks much outside of online multiplayer, as the blocked trigger mechanism doesn’t feel as comfortable. That said, you can customize the controller’s trigger actuation more precisely in Thrustmaster’s configuration app, giving you additional options to optimize speed and comfort if the lock feels like too much.
Likewise, the settings buttons on the bottom of the controller work fine. The three on the left are audio controls, volume up, volume down, and mic mute, for when your headset is plugged into the controller. On the right, you have two buttons to choose between two profiles, which you set up in the app. There’s also a “map” button, which lets you reconfigure some buttons on the fly. Having easy on-board controls is helpful, especially on Xbox where you’d need to hop in and out of your game to make changes in the app.
Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro – Software
The Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro has a bespoke configuration on Xbox called ThrustmapperX. (On PC, you use the Thrustmapper app created for the PS4 gamepad). The app allows you to set up two controller profiles with distinct button maps and settings for analog stick response, trigger actuation, and haptic strength. You can create more profiles to swap in and out, which are stored locally on your console. For an Xbox configuration app, it’s an incredibly robust toolkit that lets you fine-tune settings so that the controller responds to your style of play.
Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro Software
You have access to an incredible amount of control through the app. For example, in the “vibrations” sections, you can independently adjust the haptics in the trigger and handles on each side. The trigger menu allows you to control the initial and final actuation point on each trigger. These distinctions can get very subtle, verging on overkill, when you get into making granular changes, but it’s much more control than you’ll get with most controllers, which is a good thing nonetheless.
Like most third-party Xbox controllers, the controller mapping options are somewhat limited. You can only remap the core D-pad functions, the face buttons, bumper, triggers, and rear buttons. You cannot change any of the system buttons or Thrustmaster’s added settings inputs. Also, you can only swap among those inputs, unlike the Xbox Elite controllers, which add additional functions like launching apps or additional capture options. This increasingly seems to be the norm among third-party gear for consoles, but it severely limits the utility of both the configuration app and the rear buttons.
Thrustmaster Eswap X Pro – Performance and Gaming
The Thrustmster Eswap X Pro has strong fundamentals. It felt comfortable and excelled in all the games I tested it with, including Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Mortal Kombat 11, Hades (On PC), and Gears 5, among others. Its large, shapely design makes it comfortable to hold for long stretches, and its analog sticks have a firm, springy feel. Its perfectly round face buttons are slightly small, but actuate quickly with a pleasing clickiness.
Having the ability to switch the positions of the left analog stick and D-pad for games where I prefer using the directionals, like MK11, is nice to have. That said, since you need a tool to remove the D-pad, switching the configuration takes just long enough to be disruptive, especially if you don’t have it on hand. Safe to say, you won’t be reconfiguring the controller mid-session, at least not without pausing the action for more than a moment.
As mentioned, I’m less enthusiastic about the rear buttons. Setting aside the fact that it takes time to acclimate to using them, I found that the rear panel felt crowded when I tried to use them in place of the face buttons. Without alternate configuration options, that’s really all they’re good for.