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Gen 3 Yonex Astrox 88S Pro & Astrox 88D Pro Badminton Racket Review

Updated: 5 days ago

This is the third generation - Gen 3 of the Yonex Astrox 88 series badminton rackets, including the Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro and there are 11 rackets in the entire range, including 3U and 4U rackets. I cannot believe it's been 3 years since the 2nd generation of Astrox 88’s were released. In this post, I’ll be focussing on the flagship badminton rackets of this series, the gen 3 Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro.

Yonex Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro new 3rd generation
Yonex Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro

Here’s a quick list of things that are different on the gen 3 Astrox S and Astrox D Pro models compared to each other as well as differences when compared to the previous generation:

  • frame sizes;

  • shaft diameters;

  • Power Assist Bumpers;

  • the amount of recessed area on the frame;

  • the second generation NAMD material or Flex Force in the rackets; and also

  • the CFR material.

I tested the rackets very extensively over a couple of weeks and to be honest, I was very surprised at how many segments have been redesigned and updated.

Yonex Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro new 3rd generation
Yonex Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro

First off, what do you all think about the looks of the new Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro? At first, I kept getting them mixed up. Unlike their 2nd generation predecessors that have contrasting color schemes for the S Pro and D Pro models, the 3rd generation rackets' have a rather similar color scheme. I discovered a trick to differentiate them, which is to either look at the top of the racket or the T joint area. The Astrox 88D Pro has a silver top and black T-joint whilst the Astrox 88S Pro has a black top and silver T-joint. Additionally, the silver areas on the Astrox 88 series rackets are glossy, and the black areas are matte. All models of the 88S rackets have a glossy shaft whilst the 88D rackets have matte shafts. I personally quite like the turquoise blue matched with black segments and the little dots and slashes on the decals. I think they look pretty cool.

You will also quickly spot that there’s a strip of grommets at the 12 o'clock section of all the Astrox 88 series rackets. This is the Power Assist Bumper which was first seen on the Astrox 99 Pro a few years ago but this version of Power Assist Bumper has been specifically molded to snugly fit into the recessed area of all the rackets within the Astrox 88 family.

There are little groves for the main strings to sit into when the rackets are strung too. They look and feel pretty aerodynamic without protruding much at all. And speaking of not protruding, the recessed area for this generation of Astrox 88 flagship rackets has been updated. The previous generation Astrox 88s have their whole frame recessed, all the way up to the 2 U-shaped grommet which stringers label as grommet B4 which is the fourth grommet from the T-joint. However, the 3rd generation Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro have had their recessed area decreased by 4 grommets, up to the B8 grommet now. I don't think this slight reduction will have a big impact on performance, I'll elaborate more on this later.

If we now look at the shafts of the new Astrox 88S Pro and Astorx 88D Pro, we can see that the 2nd generation NAMD material, Flex Force has finally been used in Yonex’s badminton racket range. NAMD is developed by Nitta Corporation and from what I understand, Nitta is using a technique where carbon nanotubes are uniformly dispersed onto carbon fiber which creates a uniform carbon nanotube film on the carbon fiber surface. I am probably oversimplifying the science that goes behind this technology by a lot, but to put it simply, the 2nd generation NAMD Flex Force material should improve the racket's physical properties such as vibration dampening, toughness and strength to help with quicker flex and snapback during shots.

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I now want to bring your attention to something I spotted whilst filming the rackets and it's the three little characters that I’ve seen on the shaft of the Astrox 88 Pro models that say "CFR". I have not seen it before on any of the rackets I’ve reviewed or tested so after digging a bit deeper, I found out that it means Carbon Fibre Rubber, a flexible repulsive composite material that Yonex has implemented on the top of the racket frames, right below the Power Assist Bumper in this instance.

On the other hand, the Astrox 88 Tour and Game models use a "CSR" or Core Shell Rubber material. According to Yonex, the CFR and CSR materials are used to increase the shuttle hold time and power transfer. I’ll discuss a bit more about CSR in my Astrox 88 Tour, Game and Play comparison so make sure you’re subscribed for that.

Back to the Astrox 88 Pros, gone are the four rows of bigger grommets at the 3 and 9 o’clock areas which I’ve been a big fan of in the second generation Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro rackets. The slightly bigger gaps in between strings are also gone and Yonex is now using a lot more material science to try and help players get that edge.

In terms of measured specs, I mentioned earlier that the 3rd generation Astrox 88S Pro has a slightly bigger frame compared to the Astrox 88D Pro. The Astrox 88S Pro has a frame height of 23.8cm and a frame width of 18.7cm whilst the Astrox 88D Pro has a frame height of 23.5cm and a frame width of 18.5cm.

In terms of frame thickness, the 3U Astrox 88S Pro has a frame thickness of 9.6mm while the 4U model is 9.7mm. On the other hand, both the 3U and 4U models of the Astrox 88D Pro have a frame thickness of 9.8mm. All four rackets have a recessed frame area up till the B8 grommet.

Regarding racket shafts, the Astrox 88S Pro has a thicker shaft than the Astrox 88D Pro. The 3U Astrox 88S Pro has a shaft diameter of 6.95mm whilst the 4U version has a shaft diameter of 6.9mm. Yonex calls the Astrox 88S Pro’s shaft the Super Slim Shaft. On the other hand, both versions of the Astrox 88D Pro have shaft diameters of 6.7mm which Yonex labels as the Ultra Slim Shaft. All 4 rackets have the same shaft length of 21.5cm.

In terms of handle length, the Astrox 88S Pro has a handle length of 16.5cm whilst the Astrox 88D Pro has a handle length of 17cm. Do note that the Astrox 88S Pro is 5mm shorter compared to the Astrox 88D Pro too. Check out my video if you are interested in finding out each racket's swing weight measurements!

For testing, I strung all four Astrox 88 Pro rackets with my usual string setup of Aerobite at 27lbs by 29lbs and all four rackets have no problems with it at all. Yonex has also rated the 3U model up to 29 lbs and the 4U model up to 28 lbs. For string recommendation, Yonex recommends the Yonex Aerobite Boost for the Astrox 88S Pro for hard hitters and the Yonex Aerobite for control-type players. Conversely, for the Astrox 88D Pro, Yonex recommends their new Exbolt 68 for hard hitters and Aerobite for control players. If you’ve not seen my review and comparison videos for the Exbolt 68 string, check it out here.

So, how do the rackets play? I used my 2nd generation 4U Astrox 88D Pro as my benchmark, and I immediately felt the difference in the 3rd generation rackets. My immediate reaction was that they’ve made the new generation rackets easier to pick up and play but if you are coming from the 2nd generation rackets, they will feel different.

If we look at the 4U 3rd generation Astrox 88D Pro first, I feel that my old Astrox 88D Pro is stiffer. It’s not to say the new generation is significantly softer but after a couple of sessions, I realize the new generation flexes in a more controlled and refined manner. I would certainly consider the new Astrox 88D Pro to still be a stiff racket but I feel that badminton is now at a stage where equipment manufacturers are developing products that give us a bit more hold time on the shuttle to help with control and hence that slightly different feeling. Having more hold time also means less sharp responses as the shuttle sits for that fraction longer on the string bed.

I also feel that the new Astrox 88D Pro is just a touch head lighter, which explains why I felt it’s faster compared to the previous generation. This probably makes sense as it’s got a slightly smaller racket frame to speed it up. Faster swing speeds always equals faster shuttles flying across too. Furthermore, the Astrox 88D Pro has a thin shaft that gives us that little bit of a helping hand and after a while, I thought the new Astrox 88D Pro reminded me of the Astrox 100ZZ in terms of response, but it's a lot easier to play with compared to the Astrox 100ZZ.

You will certainly not struggle for power with the Astrox 88D Pro, especially when you connect properly with the shuttle. Still, I did find myself having the occasional shot which I wasn’t able to hit cleanly when I was under pressure. I also think the smaller frame of the Astrox 88D Pro explains why I was sometimes in trouble and couldn't get clean contact when under pressure. The previous generation’s bigger string gaps and the 4 rows of bigger grommets helped me big time and I miss them on this generation.

The 3rd generation Astrox 88S Pro is noticeably faster than the Astrox 88D Pro. The Astrox 88D Pro swings smoother as it’s got a smaller frame alongside a thinner shaft, but the Astrox 88S Pro swings faster. Again, being head lighter than the Astrox 88D Pro and shorter contributes to the added speed. Yonex has also made the new Astrox 88S Pro easier to play with, and I didnt feel that the normal-sized frame dimensions slowed the racket down at all.

I also feel that the new Astrox 88S Pro feels a bit softer than the new Astrox 88D Pro, possibly due to the slightly bigger racket head. However, I didn't feel that the shaft flexed as much as the Astrox 88D Pro as it's got a slightly thicker shaft which perhaps is better at resisting deformation. I also want to add that the Astrox 88S Pro is amazing at short sharp shots at the front and mid-court such as kills, drives and counters. Its immediate reaction with the slightly shorter racket is really fun and direct. Also, its bigger racket frame means that it’s got a bigger sweet spot and I do like that bigger sweet spot. Power-wise is also no issue as it certainly has enough head weight to transfer the energy from my swings onto the shuttle although I did struggle a little with the Astrox 88S Pro when I was playing singles with it. The doubles are absolutely lovely!

What about the 3U models you ask? Credit to Yonex’s manufacturing and quality control, the 3U models are consistent and behave similarly to their lighter 4U siblings, reflecting the added weight with more pace on big power shots. You will get significantly more power but that also comes at a cost of speed, and physical and technical demands too. I felt I couldn’t maximize my shot speed and swing speed with the 3U models of both the Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro, although the Astrox 88S Pro was certainly the easier of the two. The 3U rackets will be lovely for those who seek added stability and power, and have good technique and physicality.

I am certainly very impressed that Yonex has managed to make this 3rd generation Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro easier to play with compared with the previous generation models. It helped a lot of us amateurs have that little bit more control in our game. Yes, there will be a learning curve if you are like me, coming from the previous generation as they do feel different from what you are used to.

If you are someone looking for something very stiff and extremely head-heavy, I’m not sure these rackets are for you. They will be amazing if you are finding the previous generation’s rackets a bit too demanding, and want something just a little easier to play with. Both the new Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro have their strengths and weaknesses. Also look out for my upcoming review and comparison of the more budget-friendly Astrox 88 Tour, Game and Play models. Till then, I’ll see you in the next post.

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