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Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller Review: "A solid pad but there are many better alternatives"

You may be able to swap modules on the Thrustmaster eSwap S pro but does that make it worth it?

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Generally, this controller is at a little bit of a high price point for what it is but, all in all, it is of great quality with a premium feel and allows you to swap modules, something unique to this series of controllers.

For

  • Premium feel
  • Sleek design
  • No input latency
  • Modular design is a bonus

Against

  • Wired
  • Poor value for money versus the X model and competitors
  • Modules for the controller are sold separately

The Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller is the brand's budget alternative to the eSwap X Pro controller. Realistically, for this price point, the eSwap S Pro proves to be a solid pad but there are many better alternatives out there vying for their place on the best PC controllers market at the moment.

The main selling point of the eSwap series (as suggested by the name) is the fact that the controller is modular, meaning certain components can be swapped around to create a controller which is best suited to your needs. However, the eSwap S Pro has fewer customizable aspects and modular components in comparison to the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro, which you can get your hands on for just $30/£40 more. This can be expected due to the decrease in price and periodic sales, however, the actual amount of customizability you sacrifice is not worth it, in my opinion. 

At a hefty $130/£110 price point, you would expect an amazing controller, with high-end features and potentially even wireless capability like what you may see with the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller.

Design

The Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller is very aesthetically pleasing. Its sleek design and satisfying feel can be felt all the way down to the ribbed materials. It really feels like a premium quality product, however, I'd hope that this was the case given the price. It also has a nice weight to it: not too heavy to the point it will cause strains or feel awkward, and not too light that it feels flimsy and cheap.

Inside the box, you get the controller and a braided USB A to USB-C cable (an improvement over the eSwap X Pro which uses an inferior micro-USB connection). You also get your standard manuals and information regarding the product warranty. Note here that you do not get any extra modules in the box with the controller, unlike the eSwap X Pro; you will have to buy those separately. These two swappable modules offer some changes - allowing you to swap the sticks for another stick or D-pad, for example. This is slightly different from the eSwap X Pro, where more modules can be moved around to make a symmetrical or asymmetrical controller - the eSwap S Pro is asymmetrical and, broadly speaking, stays asymmetrical, like that of a typical Xbox controller. 

The face buttons and d-pad buttons are tactile, having a satisfying, clicky feel which you miss out on when using membrane buttons - the norm for many controllers. These felt amazing to use and the difference between these and regular controller buttons is such a great quality of life change that you typically may not think about until after making the swap. I kind of wonder how I lived without tactile buttons on my controller now that I am used to them. 

(Image credit: Future)

As mentioned earlier - the Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller is not wireless. It comes with a premium braided cable which can connect to any USB port on your Xbox or PC. This means that there is no configuration required to play straight away and of course, no latency as there may be with wireless alternatives. I do prefer the flexibility and comfort of wireless gameplay as I really like to lean back in my chair when I'm gaming, however, this 3-meter-long cable did still allow me to do that. 

(Image credit: Future)

Features and Performance

The unique features that the Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller has can be a little underwhelming for the price point. There are some great aspects to this controller, such as the small modular aspect, but generally, I would have expected so much more, especially when comparing directly to the eSwap X. 

Before going over what is missing, let's go over what's actually included here. The Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller has two extra buttons on the back of the controller which are perfectly placed to press when comfortably holding the pad, and are also tactile to interact with. These can be remapped to do anything, but when just going for plug and play straight out of the box they are mapped the same as your bumpers. These were so great for Fortnite when I mapped them to be building shortcuts which allowed for me to build without having to actually swap to build mode when in-game. 

(Image credit: Future)

There are also sliders on the back of the controller which allow you to change the triggers from full-depth actuation to hair-triggers. This essentially means that you're able to activate the button much faster as you don't need to push the triggers all the way. To be honest, I thought that this feature wouldn't make a difference before I used it, as it seemed like something that only mattered to pro players. Now that I have used this feature for a while, however, having to press a trigger all the way in on my regular controller feels a little strange. While I can't see this being particularly useful in all games, it does make a difference in some. While playing Mortal Kombat X, for example, it made no difference whether or not the sliders were on, however, when playing Fortnite, I found that I was able to play at a faster pace. It might be a situational feature but the ability to switch between the two means that there is also flexibility to choose.

As the controller is wired, it is technically plug-and-play, though in order to remap any buttons you do need to download the Thrustmaster software on PC or Xbox. Remapping buttons may seem unnecessary if you know you only use the default layout of a controller, but when considering that you may need to remap the two extra buttons on the back, this is definitely an extra bit of effort worth investing time into. 

(Image credit: Future)

Now let's speak about the main selling point of the Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller: the ability to swap modules. This is a feature that I was originally astonishingly disappointed in. This is because only the two modules swappable on this controller are the two joystick modules - again, different from the eSwap X which has three modules that can be swapped out, thus making it more customizable. It also lets you change the controller's casing on the sides and triggers, while this is purely for aesthetic reasons it really allows you to make your controller feel like it's your own.

My first impression was that you were unable to change the modules to anything. There were no modules clearly marketed for the eSwap S, and the individual ones you can buy are all labelled for the eSwap X. Therefore, the marketing looks like you would be unable to use the existing eSwap X modules in the wSwap S - but not to worry, you can! In our testing, we found that all the modules which worked with our eSwap X also worked with our eSwap S. This feature is great and you are able to use the modular components built for the eSwap X as stated. This means you are able to have one joystick and 2 D-pads if you like. The RGB modules also work with this controller despite it being a budget option. All this means you can change the layout of your controller when you need to, and if you need certain controls for different games you are able to very quickly and easily swap these modules.

Currently, Thrustmaster has many different modules for sale, from D-pads, to different sticks. Some of them are purely aesthetic changes - such as adding RGB - and some of them are more about performance - like changing which stick you are using. 

(Image credit: Future)

The only downside to this modular aspect is that the modules are not included in the box and must be purchased separately. This brings the cost of the controller up if you want to take advantage of this feature. You are able to buy the modules individually for around the $25/£20 mark - this extra cost will be something you need to factor into buying an eSwap S Pro if you want to capitalise on the modular functionality. Some modules, such as some RGB ones, are only available when buying eSwap X pro modules packs too. eSwap X module packs retail at around $50/£50 and come with many accessories which you cannot use with the eSwap S as they are not interchangeable on the budget-friendly version. This would leave you with many excess parts which are essentially useless. 

All in all, throughout our testing, this controller proved to good quality, asymmetrical controller for PC and Xbox. It allows for some customization with its interchangeable modules in particular, but these must be purchased separately which is something to be taken into account.

Should you buy the Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro?

(Image credit: Future)

In my opinion, I would try and stretch the budget and opt for the eSwap x Pro instead of the S Pro if I were looking at this range of pads. However, if you are looking for a good quality controller with some unique features and the ability to some small modular changes then this controller can be a good option and won't cost you as much as the X. 

However, at just $30/£40 extra (roughly) you can get your hands on the more customizable eSwap X Pro. This controller allows you to not only change another module compared to the eSwap S but you can also find different designs and patterns to change different parts of the controller's casing to really make your controller feel like it's an expression of you. We have also pegged the eSwap X Pro as the top PC controller you can get - which really shows the difference you get for a small price jump. 

I think the eSwap S Pro controller would be more readily recommendable were it to have a more aggressive price point - being this close to the eSwap X Pro makes it a tough call, and were it around the $99/£99 mark, it would be more appropriately priced. If you are looking for a good controller but are on a budget, you may find the likes of the Turtle Beach Recon or the Nacon Revolution Pro X offer a number of the same features for comfortably less than the eSwap S's price. You obviously don't get the modular aspect when purchasing these alternatives as this is exclusive to the eSwap series, but you do get many of the other features, so it's worth weighing up how important that modular aspect is to you personally. 

Generally, this controller is at a little bit of a high price point for what it is but, all in all, it is of great quality with a premium feel and allows you to swap modules, something unique to this series of gamepads. 

How we tested the eSwap S Pro controller?

I used the eSwap S Pro controller in place of my regular controller at home. I mainly tested the pad on PC, and a colleague tried it on Xbox Series X. I used it for shorter gaming sessions and longer, more intense sessions to ensure that I was able to collect a wide range of information regarding the controller, how it felt, and if I enjoyed using it. 

In brief, every controller that we have had our hands on is used in a series of different video games to accommodate most genres. This means that we'll test the responsiveness of the sticks, face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and any other additional features found on the unit. If a controller is wired or relies on rechargeable batteries, then the duration of the lifespan is tested, too. The same can be said for any specialist software, such as drivers, that may be included with the gamepad as well. 

For more on how we test controllers at GamesRadar+ check out our full article, and for something more representative of our holistic approach to the latest gear, check out our Hardware Policy


If you're interested in looking at some of Thrustmaster's other, more specialist controllers then check out our guides to the best racing wheel for PC, and the best PS5 and PS4 steering wheels.

The Verdict
3

3 out of 5

Thrustmaster eSwap S Pro Controller

Generally, this controller is at a little bit of a high price point for what it is but, all in all, it is of great quality with a premium feel and allows you to swap modules, something unique to this series of controllers.

More info

Available platformsPC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
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Currently a Hardware Editor at GamesRadar+ after graduating from University with a degree in Politics and International Relations in 2022. During my time at University I managed to obtain a platform on social media - specifically TikTok - where I reviewed tech and gaming hardware and produced creative and innovative gaming content. My platform allowed me to be an advocate for females in gaming and within the tech industry as a whole. I'm primarily a PC gamer and have been for over 8 years now and with no specific genre I enjoy, I have been able to play and love many titles from the past decade. I would label myself as a Nintendo Fanatic and also am extremely interested in VR and hoping to follow it closely in upcoming years.