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Review: The metal PB Tails Crush controller with hall effect sticks and triggers [Update]


PB Tails came onto the gaming scene back in 2020, and in 2023, started a Kickstarter campaign for the Crush, a gaming controller aiming to deliver high performance and ergonomics without the usual downsides of competing controllers at similar prices.

I admit I didn't know about the brand until recently, so this is my first experience with anything from PB Tails. First impressions do count for something, and things were off to a good start from step 1, where the PB Tails representative was eager to hear feedback to help better develop the controller going forwards. You don't often get that kind of interaction when discussing items for review.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The whole unboxing experience further enhances those first impressions: the packaging is high quality and the hard-shell case the controller comes in is equally high quality. PB Tails markets the Crush controller as inspired by cars such as the 1953 Porsche 550 Spyder:

Do you see the resemblance?
Do you see the resemblance?

It is a bit odd to see a Nürburgring zipper pull on the case, but as a petrolhead, I quite like it. The quality is high, and it's a bit quirky, even if this seems to be the only reference to cars in the whole package and product.

PB Tails Crush Controller

Some online sources mentioned that the Crush does not come with a wireless 2.4GHz dongle; perhaps PB Tails have changed their mind recently because this comes with one. The inclusion of the silicone joystick caps is also welcome; more on this a bit later.

The USB cable is lightweight and braided, unlike other reviews, which stated they got a solid sheathed USB cable instead. The cable's length is 1.8m, which is fine for desktop use, though since it is standard USB-C, any longer third-party cable will work just the same.

PB Tails Crush Controller

PB Tails mention an "unlimited" range of customisations, but this seems a bit far-reaching due to the fact that the number of accessories available is limited, and the number of RGB lighting choices amount to 256 colour options. Marketing needs to get on the case.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The Crush comes in two layouts, NS and PC. This simply refers to the layout of the X, Y, B, A buttons.


Model code


Dimensions 156.6mm*103.05mm*66.3mm/6.1in x 4.05in x 2.61in
Weight 250g/348g (with metal MagCase)
Material Polycarbonate + Zinc Alloy (Metal MagCase & joystick caps)
Battery 860mAh, 1-2 hours charge time, 10 hours runtime
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 (125Hz), wireless 2.4GHz (200Hz), USB (500Hz)
Features 6-axis gyro, hall effect triggers & sticks, 256 colours of RGB customisation
Contents Crush controller, MagCase, USB-C cable, 2.4GHz dongle, silicone joystick caps, Zinc alloy weighted joystick caps, microfibre cloth, hard shell carry case
Price $54.99 (China White), $59.99 (Ruby), $59.99 (Azurite), $99.99 (Metal Series - Ghost)

Construction & Ergonomics

348 grams is no lightweight, but perhaps this is a good thing. Many people consider heft a sign of high quality; it's why the iPhone has been a slab of hefty metal for so long, and it's why premium products in all consumer categories feel and weigh accordingly. Still, for cars, that's where things change slightly, where performance is measured by lightweight. I see what they are getting at all the same.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The Crush comes with a magnetic fascia that pops off. It is held in place by seven magnets on the underside of the MagCase. It isn't the easiest thing to pull off, though; having little tabs or indents to help guide the cover off with fingernails would have helped a lot in this situation. Kudos to PB Tails for using strong magnets, as there is no chance of the metal piece flying off by accident.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The marketing materials state that the decision to go smooth for the plastic is a deliberate one grounded in the thought that under intense gaming sessions, the smooth surface remains free from moisture or any texture that might irritate. Holding the Crush in my hands, I feel the cold metal of the top half and the smooth plastic of the bottom.

I found no problem with grip, so it seems their decision on material finish is well-founded so far, thanks to how the controller is shaped and how it fits in my hands comfortably, without the need for any texture or rubber areas to aid grip further.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The joystick caps are also made of zinc alloy and weigh more than the plastic rubberised caps included in the package. I discovered that these metal joystick covers are more style over substance, as under my thumbs, they are just too slippery to use for any serious gaming. If the surface of them had been knurled in some way, then this would have helped fix the issue, but being the same finish as the MagCase cover, the thumb sticks in this sort of finish do not work effectively for joystick usage in a controller. Swapping them to the silicone ones is super quick, thankfully.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The whole controller feels like it is made from one single piece, only giving it away when you feel the seam running along the middle where the MagCase meets the bottom plastic. I think I would have liked it better if the underside was also the same metal as the top piece or swappable like it too.

PB Tails Crush Controller

It is nice to see that there are no screw holes or any markings, for that matter, on the outside of the controller.

My only question is, how will the white plastic age with use and time? I have seen many white plastic products start to go yellow with heavy use, even after a year. It is too early to tell if the polycarbonate used here will see the same issue.

Popping off the thumb sticks and then the lower thumb stick roundel reveals the joystick module. It is not possible to see the model of this, but we can see it at least. All seems well put together with no looseness or cheap-looking connections:

PB Tails Crush Controller

The D-pad, shoulder triggers, and buttons are all electroplated plastic. They are tactile and provide good feedback, although the R1 and R2 buttons do feel too easy to accidentally press when in the heat of the moment. I especially like the D-pad, as it reminds me of how Nintendo does them, although it isn't as nice feeling as the D-pad found on the 8BitDo Ultimate controller which almost replicates the Nintendo D-pad 1:1, including the central rocker which greatly helps in pulling off complex moves in beat-em-up games, whereas this is missing on the D-Pad on the Crush. Instead it is replaced by a flat-style membrane which can result in accidental activation of other directions if pressed too hard.

The hallf effect trggers are nice as well, strong springy action of the levers, although they might be a little too strong compared to competing third and first party controllers.


I only tested this as a PC gaming controller. Under Windows 11, everything is autodetected, and Windows recognises it as an XBOX 360 controller under Device Manager regardless of what method you are connected via:

PB Tails Crush Controller

PB Tails also issued a firmware update in February. At version 1.18, the changelog states adjustments to the trigger sensitivity so it is more accurate, as well as other bug fixes. This review was done using the latest firmware version.

I wanted to test the polling rate and latency between all three connection types. I have a low-latency Bluetooth 5.3 dongle, so this would be an ideal chance to test something like this, even though the Crush only supports Bluetooth 5.0. For this test, I used the Gamepadla tool, which generates synthetic results, which are neatly graphed. These can then be compared to the Gamepadla online database.

Bear in mind that these results are only meant as a baseline guide to compare against each connection mode. The actual values may be different when measurements are done using proper measuring hardware, something I do not have access to.

PB Tails Crush Controller

Comparing my results to the controllers on the Gamepadla database shows that the Crush is perfectly acceptable, and USB offers the obvious best performance. PB Tails claim 200Hz from the 2.4GHz dongle, but Gamepadla measures 129Hz of a 125Hz base. This may be slightly inaccurate as this is just a synthetic test, of course, so I would take this result with a pinch of salt.

PB Tails Controller

In practice, I noticed no real difference between 2.4GHz and wired in casual gaming, even in games requiring fast reactions, such as Mario Kart.

However, the joystick precision/accuracy when moving it in very small amounts was weaker when using Bluetooth than with 2.4GHz or USB. The Bluetooth performance will ultimately come down to the module being used by both the PC and controller. I would say, for any involved gaming the best method would be the 2.4GHz dongle for a balance of performance and convenience.

Whilst the synthetic tests show that USB offers the best numbers, the bulk of my testing was done using the 2.4GHz dongle. I prefer convenience more than anything these days, and having a cable dangle around is inconvenient! Besides, as mentioned, I noticed little to no difference between 2.4GHz and wired in practice, though I am not a hardcore gamer.

[An update has been added to this review at the bottom regarding the gyros when connected via the 2.4GHz dongle]


This needs its own section due to being quite a tedious subject on the Crush controller in its current version.

If you are like me then the RGB lighting is off at all times, mainly because I game in the dark and don't like the overly bright lower light bar. I charge the controller after any gaming session., I press the connect button once to turn off the gamepad, which disconnects from the dongle. If I then plug in a USB cable from a power-only outlet, such as from my phone's wall wart, then there is no charging indicator on the controller to indicate that it is actually charging.

PB Tails Crush

In order to get any indication of charging, I have to turn on the controller, then turn the RGB lighting back on since it recalls the last RGB mode used, and then turn the controller off. Only then it will show pulsing LED cycling colours on the lower light bar with USB mains power connected.

If the controller is on and the RGB mode is also on at any brightness, when I connect the charger-only cable, there is no charging activity indicator, just the static lower light bar.

When connected to a PC, whether Bluetooth, 2.4GHz or wired, there is no way to see the battery level.

I also connected the Crush to a Nintendo Switch and played some multiplayer fighting games with my family. The Bluetooth performance on Switch was perfectly fine and matched the latency/response of the official Nintendo controller. You can also view the battery level this way through the Switch's controller management screen.

This battery level indication issue is quite possibly a firmware one and maybe an update can address this, as you should be able to see charging activity via the lower light bar at any point, as well as through Windows when connected via Bluetooth like you can with most modern Bluetooth devices such as mics, headphones and other gamepads.

No other article or review of the Crush that I have seen so far seems to have mentioned this topic, which is puzzling in itself.


From emulation to native PC gaming with modern controller support in games such as Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us: Part 1, I found the Crush to be an excellent performer.

PB Tails Crush Controller

There are some quirks/issues that could be fixed with further firmware updates. The first one is tweaking the RGB lighting. There is no way to turn off just the lower light bar, the colour can be changed, along with the global brightness of all RGB in one go, but the light bar is always on when the other LEDs are on, which can be distracting/annoying playing in a dim room.

A random quirk is that when you press the left trigger, the light bar at the bottom increases in brightness. No idea why. I thought that maybe this was to activate the gyro for the motion sensors, but this does not appear to be the case. PB Tails reached out and confirmed that this is to simulate the effect of a car brake light. Some may like this, some may find it a distraction, personally I kept all RGB off.

There isn't a clear online instruction manual on using the gyro or any other features either. I have reached out to PB Tails about this to find out if there will be one.

PB Tails Controller

There is no way to see what the battery level is. The controller has a stated 10-hour runtime from a full charge, which is lower than the 10-20 hours official wireless controllers from other consoles offer. I am assuming this is due to the RGB lighting, which is set to the middle brightness level by default, as that lowering the RGB or turning it off completely will get battery life that aligns with the competition.

The trigger and joystick accuracy are very well handled thanks to the hall effect sensors. It is a shame that Bluetooth input on PC does show noticeable latency spikes, which can be observed even on the basic Windows controller calibration screen. The 2.4GHz dongle and wired modes do not have this issue. Bluetooth is also limited to a 125Hz polling rate, which may be an issue for some gamers.

PB Tails Crush Controller

The overall package, the inclusion of the hard carry case with dedicated slots for the joystick caps and wireless dongle are a nice addition.

I do think that $99 for the metal version is a bit too much. The controller itself doesn't differ in any way compared to the non-metal version, so you are paying at least $60 more just for a metal fascia and metal joystick caps that you probably won't be using anyway because they are too slippery.

It is also nice to see that PB Tails is actively updating the firmware and is listening to feedback. However, a little more focus needs to be placed on quality control as I noticed some manufacturing defects at the edge of the metal on the right joystick where the anti-friction ring meets the metal. Issues like this were mentioned by other online sources too, so this is not a one-off.

PB Tails Crush

A few quality-of-life improvements with a lower price for the metal version would make this a great buy, whether for yourself or as a gift. My personal recommendation would be to skip the metal version, save that extra cash and get one of the other colours of the Crush. You can always buy the metal MagCase once they become available to purchase at a lower cost, hopefully.

I think it's a good controller, all things considered. There are quirks to either tolerate or faff about, which should not be acceptable in a controller charging $100 for the top trim version.

Yes, it does have great performance with hall effect triggers and joysticks, so it will probably outlast the systems it is played on, but focus on the small details needs to exist as well. I also get the impression that a lot of it appears to be led by PR language rather than technical engineering, with feedback from everyday gamers like us who notice these things as we use the products daily.

A great product needs to not have issues like the ones mentioned in this review. Small updates that patch bugs are one thing, but fundamental features that are an expected standard should never be forgotten.

At this point in time, the only competitor with similar features is the 8BitDo 2.4Ghz/Bluetooth Ultimate controller. It is similarly priced, has hall effect sticks, has motion control and comes with a few more bells and whistles such as a charging dock and customisation app.

8BitDo Ultimate Controller

I have this model too, and the choice will boil down to personal preferences over what features are important to you. I do prefer the flexibility offered by the PB Tails Crush, though, since it can connect to a PC over USB, Bluetooth and 2.4GHz, whereas the 8BitDo's Bluetooth connection is only available to the Switch console. In order to get motion controls working you need to use a beta firmware and do button combos to enable Switch Input for the PC connection, which then disables the analogue function of the triggers and they basically become digital triggers.

On the flipside, the D-pad on the 8BitDo Ultimate is better than the one on the PB Trails Crush thanks to having a central rocker just like the ones found on official Nintendo controllers... Swings and rounadabouts.

Update - 2024.03.08:
PB Tails has responded to some of my findings and questions as to why gyro motion control wasn't working with the 2.4GHz dongle. The PC Bluetooth latency issue is under internal investigation.

PB Tails Crush Controller

Using their advice, and doing further testing I managed to get the gyros working on Windows 11 using the 2.4GHz dongle. By default the dongle is set up to use Xinput and as such, Windows sees the controller as an XBOX wireless controller which has no gyro support.

To use Switch Pro mode detection which activates the gyros using 2.4GHz, you need to press and hold both + and - buttons for 3 seconds to cycle between Switch input, Dinput and Xinput. The gyros are active when in Switch Input. Create a mental image in mind that the A, B, X, Y buttons are set to Nintendo layout when using Switch Input which is normal.

This now solves the gyro issue and all is well with the world! It's just a shame that these instructions are not communicated anywhere on the packaging, manual or the PB Tails website (yet).

PB Tails Crush Controller

The problem with the Bluetooth connection on Windows is aligned with my findings using the Gamepadla latency test tool earlier. During configuration and calibration of the gyros in STEAM, I was notified that a controller could not be found, I suspect this is because of the long Blueooth latency spikes causes STEAM to think the controller is disconnected for a moment.

Once calibrated, I fired up Cyberpunk 2077 after enabling mouse mode for the gyro in the game's controller properties in STEAM and was able to look around using motion in the game. The motion was jittery and the latency combined with the 125Hz Bluetooth polling rate really doesn't make gyro usage a smooth experience, especially on a Gsync display with the game running at over 100fps. My PC's Bluetooth dong;e is a Realtek Bluetooth 5.3 adapter, so is certainly up to spec.

Reconnecting with the 2.4GHz dongle and all was back to normal again.

The long and short of it for PC gaming using the Crush controller is that it works perfectly as a normal wireless controller using the 2.4GHz dongle, but the Bluetooth performance leaves a bad taste. Hopefully PB Tails can get to the bottom of that and provide a firmware update.

For now, the Crush is excellent when using the 2.4GHz dongle, as long as you know how to switch its modes, which at the time of writing, can only be found in this review online.

PB Tails has also stated that the paper manual and online PDF details will be updated to reflect the newly mentioned instructions to get the gyro functions working when using the 2.4GHz dongle. As a result of this, the review score has been updated. The outstanding issues still need to be addressed and PB Tails is confident that these can be addressed with updates, whether this is a physical version update to the Crush or via refining their manufacturing process of the metal fabrication remains to be seen.

Finally, RGB lighting enhancements are in the works, including battery charge indication via a firmware update. There is no ETA on when this update will land, but I recommend keeping an eye on the firmware page.

Very good
PB Tails Crush controller
Hall effect triggers/joysticks Wired & 2.4GHz performance Ergonomics Construction materials Excellent D-pad Button feedback
Lower RGB light bar too bright Quality control on metal MagCase Slippery metal joystick caps No easily usable LED charging indicator Bluetooth stutters on PC connection
$55 to $100


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