CRKD Nitro Deck Review: No drift, no problem
CRKD has just launched their Nitro Deck controller for the Nintendo Switch, which sports features like hall-sensing analog sticks and an ergonomic grip. But is it worth your hard-earned cash?
Founded in July 2023, CRKD has come into the controller industry swinging with the Nitro Deck controller for the Nintendo Switch as it fixes one major issue with the popular console: Stick Drift.
Using Hall Effect sensors in both joysticks, the Nitro Deck provides players with a controller that shouldn’t face issues with drift anytime soon. We have been using the Nitro Deck for weeks, playing all manner of titles using it.
But, do all of the features, including its bigger form-factor equate to a good experience, and is it really worth the asking price, considering the age of the Nintendo Switch?
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Compatibility: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $89.99 with carrying case, $59.99 without
- Features: Low latency, four back buttons, rumble, kickstand, gyro, passthrough charging, swappable thumbsticks
The design of the CRKD Nitro Deck might look familiar to handheld enthusiasts and 2017, but it’s really rather ingenious. The tablet of the Switch slides into the center of the controller, which also doubles up as a grip for your console.
However, the Nitro Deck very much stands out the most with its design. Instead of trying to make its own unique shape, CRKD opted for a shape that mimics the same rectangular shape the Switch is known for. It actually reminded me of the design of the much-maligned Wii U tablet controller.
The layout will feel familiar to anyone who has used a Nintendo Switch, with the addition of a D-pad below the hall-sensing joystick. To the right-hand-side, you also get a full suite of buttons, in addition to a yellow joystick, which is a bit of a retro throwback to Nintendo’s Gamecube. CRKD has also included a backlit button featuring the company’s logo.
All of the buttons are bigger than the stock Nintendo Joy-Con controllers, which makes it much more comfortable for those with larger hands. The Nitro Deck even comes with different joystick toppers to maximize your comfort while playing.
Flip over the device, and you’ll immediately notice the raised grips on each side alongside four programmable buttons, a stand, and a release switch to undock your Switch from the controller.
What you may not notice, however, is the input and output USB-C ports at the top of the device. With the input, you can charge your Switch while the Nitro Deck is connected. If you decide to dock your Switch to a TV, however, the output allows you to use the Nitro Deck as its own controller.
I’ve found most of the buttons to feel great, but the D-Pad and both triggers have left me wanting a bit more as they’re pretty mushy. They’re adequate, however, as they’re not so low quality that it makes it hard to use the device.
When in use, the backlit CRKD button on the front of the handheld shines through the plastic, which results in a frankly ugly, and cheap look to an otherwise premium-feeling controller.
For those not in the know, the Nitro Deck has anti-drift, hall-sensing technology within it. Essentially, instead of using a piece of resistive film to measure the distance a joystick travels, it uses magnets, which are not prone to degradation over time. We’ve previously seen this deployed in the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller, as well as the GameSir T4 Kaleid, and it’s a welcome addition here, too.
The CRKD Nitro Deck offers a fair number of features to enjoy, and they’re all executed incredibly well, as I found throughout the duration of my testing.
Its rumble feature feels great, and it’s not too overwhelming when in a situation where it goes off for more than a few seconds. The motion controls feel great as well and are incredibly responsive.
Having the ability to use the Nitro Deck as a controller is nice, but it’s not something that I’ve seen myself using it for at all. It’s perfect for someone looking to only buy one controller due to budget or wants to have the Nitro Deck around as a backup, though.
CRKD offers a carrying case for limited-edition models, but it can also be purchased for $29.99 on the company’s website. It’s a hardshell case that holds the controller perfectly, even with the Switch still docked inside of the controller.
It also holds a handful of games and has a pouch that’s the perfect size for the included USB cable and replacement joystick toppers. I haven’t found a reason to use the included shoulder strap, but it’s well worth the money CRKD is charging.
The Nitro Deck has its own app
CRKD has launched the Nitro Deck with a series of limited-edition colorways, and they’ve even made a mobile app that allows you to track the rarity of each model.
This is available on both iOS and Android, and it walks you through setting up an account while also helping you add the controller to your collection.
There’s an NFC tag in the back of the controller that carries all the information – there’s a CRKD logo marking its location – and the app gives you a pretty cool animation that tells you what number your Nitro Deck is before going to a screen that details the whole device.
I’m not quite sure how many people will bother setting up the app, but it is neat to be able to see how rare your limited edition Nitro Deck is.
The controller kept up with inputs throughout each game with ease, and every time I sat down to play, my launch model Nintendo Switch died way before it became uncomfortable to hold. There’s virtually no input lag as well, meaning fast-paced games like Splatoon 2 have no issue.
Having back buttons on the Nitro Deck comes in handy in just about every game, but it’s more useful in games like TOTK or Pokemon where you can lock onto an enemy, throw your favorite PokeBall, or use your Zonai Arm ability with ease.
Should you buy it?
CRKD knocked it out of the park with the Nitro Deck controller and it’s well worth the price. I’d even recommend making sure you get the carrying case for it, whether it’s through a limited-edition bundle or grabbing it separately from the website.
It transforms your Switch into a much higher quality feeling handheld for around the same price as an official Pro Controller. And the Hall Effect sensors mean the joysticks have no chance of drifting, ensuring that it will hold up even after rigorous use.
The verdict: 4/5
The CRKD Nitro Deck is a beautiful controller, and is well worth the asking price if you’re an avid handheld Switch player. Its rumble is feature feels great, it’s super comfortable in your hands for long hours and CRKD’s limited edition designs are unmatched.
I just wish the bright button on the face was shielded better and that the triggers weren’t quite as mushy.