If you’re after an all-in-one Nintendo Switch accessory that offers a comfy and responsive gaming experience, then look no further than CRKD’s superb Nitro Deck. Essentially a portable dock for your console, the Nitro Deck offers several quality-of-life enhancements that make portable play even better.
The Nitro Deck swaps out your Joy-Con controllers for its own on-deck modules. These include all the buttons, sticks, and triggers you’d expect on a Nintendo Switch, as well as four programmable back buttons for custom secondary inputs. Best of all, the Nitro Deck makes use of Hall effect sticks - an upgrade over traditional analog that greatly reduces the risk of stick drift. If you’ve had bad luck when it comes to replacing older Joy-Cons, then you could save a lot of cash in the long run by purchasing the Nitro Deck.
Furthermore, a dedicated USB-C port on the dock, into which you’ll slide your Switch handheld, means that you’ll experience less input lag than you would through a wireless or Bluetooth connection. Additional input and output ports also allow you to charge up your console while playing with the Nitro Deck. In short, if you’re a portable-first Switch owner, we highly recommend the Nitro Deck as one of the best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy.
Price and availability
The Nitro Deck will be available to buy from September 18, 2023, via CRKD’s official store page. It’s purchasable in the US and UK, with the individual unit coming in white, black, or gray colorways for $59.99 / £59.99.
Alternatively, you can opt for a limited edition version of the Nitro Deck which includes a carry case, 2.5m USB-C cable, and a pair of extra concave thumbsticks. This version will run you $89.99 / £89.99, and you can choose from three distinct color variants: Retro Mint, Classic Grey (emulating the look of the original Game Boy), or a Retro Purple that riffs on the Nintendo Gamecube’s aesthetic.
Design and features
The Nitro Deck and Nintendo Switch OLED tablet combined weigh just shy of 1.3lbs / 600g, which is about on par with the Asus ROG Ally, and less than the Steam Deck’s 1.47lbs / 669g. This means that, with the Nitro Deck, you’re getting a relatively lightweight portable experience. Though given the unit’s rather bulky 4.3” x 10.2” x 1.8” (110mm x 260mm x 46mm) size, you may want to consider purchasing the Limited Edition version that comes with a carry case, especially if you plan on taking it out of the house.
As for the Nitro Deck’s modules, they’re of mostly high quality. The dock itself is made of sturdy plastic, with a comfortable grip design that rests securely in your hands. Both analog sticks have a nice, firm weight to them, rocking easily under your thumbs with just the right amount of resistance. The shoulder buttons and those programmable back buttons are similarly satisfying, with a lovely tactile and clicky feel.
The triggers are a highlight, too, featuring a very soft and quiet press that’s perfect for portable play, especially if you’re in busier environments. The only real drawback here, in terms of design, is that the D-pad can feel a touch stiff. It’s still an improvement over the Joy-Cons’ button-based D-pad, but the Nitro Deck’s is a slight letdown given just how nice the rest of its modules feel.
Rounding out the design is a simple kickstand, useful if you want to use the deck in conjunction with one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers. There’s also a handy switch at the bottom rear of the device, which helps to neatly take your Switch back out of the Nitro Deck to return it to its original dock for TV play.
The Nitro Deck provides a greatly enhanced portable play experience for Nintendo Switch. Improvements over Nintendo’s official hardware, such as Hall effect sticks similar to those found in the 8BitDo Ultimate, effectively eliminate the risk of analog stick drift. That means you can potentially shelve your finicky Joy-Con controllers for good.
The dock’s dedicated USB-C connector firmly clicks your Switch into place. Similar to mobile controllers like the Backbone One or Razer Kishi, being directly connected to the dock reduces input lag for more responsive play, relative to using a wireless or Bluetooth connection.
It’s also very easy to set up those programmable back buttons. Simply hold the Program button found on the rear of the device, in conjunction with one of those back buttons. Then, press the button on the front of the dock you wish to assign a secondary input for, and you’re set. I found this to be useful for some of the best Nintendo Switch games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; being able to assign the jump command to a rear button meant I could keep my fingers on the attack commands, thus more effectively maintaining an offensive playstyle.
Lastly, while there’s no dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack to be found on the Nitro Deck, it leaves the Switch’s port at the top accessible for if you own one of the best wired gaming headsets.
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How we reviewed the Nitro Deck
The Nitro Deck was tested with a Nintendo Switch OLED, playing a variety of games to best get a feel for its high level of comfort, Hall effect sticks, and programmable rear paddle buttons. I tested the Nitro Deck with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for a robust single-player experience, Splatoon 3 for multiplayer gaming on the go, as well as the recently released F-Zero 99 to really get a feel for its overall responsiveness.
Want some enhanced audio to go along with the Nitro Deck? Have a look at our best Nintendo Switch headsets guide. And if you’re opting for the base Nitro Deck model, our best Nintendo Switch carry cases list can help you save money on top carry case options.