Pickleball Gear

CRBN-3X Power Series - pickleball paddle review

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Brandon Mackie

Updated on: Aug 24, 2023

The CRBN-3X Power Series pickleball paddle on a blue background

After reviewing the other paddles in the Power Series, I finally got my hands on the CRBN-3X and put it through its paces. CRBN designed this to be a hybrid of the 1X and 2X paddles, so I was excited to see how this one played.

Keep reading to see if the CRBN-3X offers anything different, and whether it's worth your money.

My verdict5.0star iconThe CRBN-3X is a fantastic all-court paddle that is my #2 best overall paddle of 2023, just behind the Six Zero Double Black Diamond. It’s a paddle that does it all – big power, big spin, and a nice responsive feel that gives you plenty of control and forgiveness. I recommend it to almost every player who asks – it’s a paddle that will help almost any intermediate player increase their level.

Buy or pass?

Buy if:

  • You wanted more power from your CRBN-1X or 2X.

    This paddle keeps the spin and feel of the originals, but has a lot more thump.

  • You're an intermediate-advanced player who plays a big power and spin game.

    This is one of our top choices for you.

  • You want a hybrid paddle.

    This is a great blend of the elongated 1X and the square-shaped 2X.

Pass if:

  • You want more control in your game.

    While it had enough control for me, you might prefer a pure control paddle like the original CRBN.

  • You need a fully-elongated paddle.

    This will fall short for you, so try the CRBN-1X for more reach.

  • You want a really plush paddle.

    This feels stiffer than the Hyperion and other super-plush paddles.

Paddle weight

7.8 oz (14 mm paddle) or 8.1 oz (16 mm paddle)

Paddle length

16 ½"

Paddle width

7 ½"

Handle length

5 ¼"

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Review summary

The 3X fits perfectly between the elongated CRBN-1X and the square CRBN-2X, with a hybrid shape and specs just in between.

I thought it played closer to the 1X, with the same paddle length for extra reach and more room on the handle for backhands than the 2X. Thanks to the wider face, this will suit players who like elongated paddles but want a tad more sweet spot to work with.

The sweet spot is large—a bit larger than the 1X—though not as big as the wider-bodied 2X. It's still super-forgiving, and mishits were rare.

The CRBN-3X Power Series paddle resting on a pickleball court

My short game was decent. I could routinely drop shots where I wanted and execute long dink rallies, but I didn't notice any superior feel or enhanced short game. So while it didn't shine, it still complemented the strong power and spin game I could play.

There were only a couple of drawbacks for me: the stiffness, which I noticed more on my second practice session, and the slight heaviness.

If you're a beginner, this paddle will likely be too poppy for you. And if you like an ultra-quick paddle, it'll be slightly too head-heavy and lacking in aerodynamics for you.

However, for any rising intermediates wanting to add aggression to their control game, I highly recommend trying the CRBN-3X.

Pros:

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  • Generates crazy spin—even more than the CRBN-1X, 2X, and the JOOLA Hyperion

  • Super powerful, up there with the Hyperion

  • Serves were consistent, hard, and deep with tons of topspin

Cons:

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  • A touch more head-heavy than the 2X

  • A slightly smaller sweet spot than the 2X—though larger than the 1X

  • The more I played, the more I found the paddle face poppy on some dinks, drops, and even drives

Features

The 'X' paddles from CRBN (1X, 2X, and 3X) are the new Power Series. They're not meant to replace the original Control Series paddles (CRBN 1 and 2), but instead are designed for power players.

They've still managed to keep the unique CRBN feel and the insane spin of the originals. So, let's see what the 3X is packing to give it that extra aggression.

Brandon Mackie holding the CRBN-3X Power Series pickleball paddle

Carbon fiber face

CRBN kept their famous carbon fiber face from the original Control Series. During my on-court testing, I thought this was still their #1 feature—it generates perfect spin that dips the ball the way you want it.

It doesn't have that sprayed-on sandpaper feel but is more built-in for direction-focused spin. It's similar in that way to the JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16, and lots of other modern carbon fiber paddles.

Foam-injected edge walls

The JOOLA Hyperion was one of the first paddles to have foam injected around the edges. This feature gives you a lot more stability, with way less vibrations than paddles without this tech.

CRBN took it a step further, injecting foam not just around the paddle head's edges, but extending into the handle as well. You can really feel the stability, and it also boosts the sweet spot to improve your shot consistency. I really like this feature.

Unibody tech

We're seeing this type of design more and more now. The 'unibody' means the whole paddle is one solid piece, rather than a head and handle that are joined together. Carbon fiber runs from the face into the handle and acts as a seal.

After testing the 3X, I can confirm it felt a lot more stable than non-unibodied paddles, and it led to more spin too. It did feel a bit stiff on the courts, though less than I'd expected.

Brandon Mackie holding the CRBN-3X Power Series pickleball paddle

Performance

9/10

Power

8/10

Control

10/10

Spin

9/10

Forgiveness

9/10

Weighting

8/10

Grip

9/10

Durability

7/10

Aerodynamics

Power: 9/10

CRBN nailed it with this power paddle. The 3X really suits aggressive players like me. I felt really confident in my power play, especially on hard 3rd shot drives. My serves were aggressive and went deep too.

Control: 8/10

My control with the CRBN-3X felt the same as with the 1X and 2X. It wasn't perfect, but it played well enough up at the kitchen to complement my power game. I had more than enough accuracy in dink exchanges.

It was a little poppy at times, though, which will challenge intermediate players who pop the ball up. It also has less control and precision on drops compared to the JOOLA Hyperion.

That said, the Power Series paddles are not meant to be control paddles. If you want a more control-focused paddle, check out the CRBN Control Series or the Volair Mach 1.

Spin: 10/10

The CRBN Power Series are my favorite paddles right now for my spin game. I managed to get tons of spin off the face of the 3X—even more than with the original CRBN paddles, which are famous for their spin.

There were many times when my opponents thought the ball was going out, but the spin dipped it just in. This made me super confident to keep trying all types of spin: backhand flicks, one-handed backhand passing shots, and forehand drives.

My serves were lethal too—especially my hard topspin serves.

Forgiveness: 9/10

Just like the other paddles in this series, I found the 3X very forgiving. The hybrid shape gave the paddle a larger sweet spot than the 1X, though not quite as large as on the 2X.

As you'd expect for a hybrid paddle, the 3X is right between those two. Coupled with the perfect spin generation, the sweet spot gave me the control and forgiveness I needed to play a confident power game.

Weighting: 9/10

While the 3X skews a little head-heavy like the Hyperion, I liked the weight of this one more than the 1X or 2X. I found it heavy enough to pack a punch, while still light enough for fast exchanges. I didn't feel as slowed down as I did with the other two.

Grip: 8/10

I don't have much to say about the grip other than it's good quality and standard for a more expensive paddle. It isn't super noticeable or exciting, but I can't knock it too much either.

At 5 ¼", the handle length on the 3X is a nice medium between the long 5 ½" of the 1X and the short 4 ¾" of the 2X. I still had ample room for backhands.

Durability: 9/10

This is a very premium carbon build, and I'm confident it'll last a long time. With the strong unibody frame and tough edge guard for protection, I can't see the CRBN-3X breaking or flexing any time soon.

Aerodynamics: 7/10

One thing CRBN didn't do was build in any special aerodynamic features, so you end up with a paddle that's a little too heavy in my opinion. While it didn't slow me down too much, I would have liked it a bit zippier.

If you want a paddle that's faster on the swing, check out the JOOLA Perseus or the Volair Mach 1.

Is this paddle right for you?

Before buying a paddle, it's important to make sure it fits your game. That's why I created a 30-second quiz that recommends the best paddles for your play style and budget.

Give it a try and see if the CRBN-3X Power Series makes the list:

Find the perfect paddle

Find the perfect paddle

I've personally tested over 80 paddles. Take the quiz to see which ones fit your game best.

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Pricing

The CRBN-3X Power Series is not a cheap paddle. Currently retailing for $230, it's one of the priciest around.

However, I do think it offers enough to justify the cost. It's a well-built, high-performance paddle. The only question is whether it suits the game you want to play.

Value for money

This is one of my top choices for intermediate to advanced players who love a big power and spin game. It really elevated my game, giving me the attributes I love the most, with enough control and forgiveness too.

Personally, I like this shape better than the 1X, but that's just because I prefer a shorter paddle. If you want extra reach, check out the elongated 1X.

The CRBN-3X Power Series resting against a pickleball net

If you loved the feel of the original CRBN-1 and 2, but felt they lacked power, you have to check out this Power Series. If you like power paddles like the Selkirk Power Air Invikta but want more forgiveness and less poppiness, you should also try this.

If you're worried about budgeting, there are competing paddles out there to consider. The Vatic Pro V7, for example, offers amazing spin and costs around $140.

Bottom line

Alongside the 2X, the CRBN-3X is my current favorite paddle. It has next-level spin and power, combined with high levels of control and forgiveness that I want in my game.

The hybrid shape works for me personally. It has nice width and forgiveness with some length for extra reach, and enough handle room for backhands.

If you want a consistent, reliable, and durable paddle, this is a great choice for you. If you're looking for something cheaper, try the Volair Mach 1 or the Gearbox CX14E, which both offer great spin with a smaller price tag.

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About the author
Brandon Mackie
Brandon is an avid writer and co-founder of Pickleheads™. Once a competitive tennis player, Brandon can now be found these days honing his dinks on pickleball courts near Phoenix, Arizona.
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