8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller – Review in English
The 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller, was introduced into the Greek market from the official importer, Conceptum S.A. at the beginning of December 2022. The first shipment was made to Nintenders, in order to review it and present it to you. What really happened with the release of the 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller? The company has finally decided to take the next step. After establishing itself in the market of affordable controllers, it was time to create something better, something deserving of the name “ULTIMATE”. This would of course increase the cost, which is completely reasonable… So let’s see if the controller is worth it.
For the review, we received the controller in white color. As you can see in the photo above, it matches our white Nintendo Switch OLED incredibly well. The large box, made of recyclable cardboard, protects the game pad, the charging base and the data/charge usb type-C cable (with a length of 100 cm), along with the manual. The materials used for the construction have the certificates: CE, UKCA και ROHS. All the accessories are quite protected. So we don’t have to worry that they will be “at risk” during transport, under normal conditions, of course.
The design of the 8BitDo ULTIMATE
The design of the 8bitdo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller, resembles a mix of Xbox and Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. But what are the differences? Let’s check the controller together, just as we did, before connecting it for the first time!
On the front we will find a quite big D-Pad. Lightly different layout at (+) (-) Home and Capture Buttons. An extra key for PROFILE option, as well as three LEDs that inform us about the profile we have chosen.
The periphery of the 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller
On the periphery, we will find slightly larger L1/R1 triggers and much larger analog L2/R2 triggers. The controller has a noticeably better and non-slip grip. Also, anti-diametrically, there are the four status LEDs that inform us about which controller/Player we have in our hands. A charging port for direct connection with Type-C. You can find the Power Led to the right of the port which informs us about charging status and the Pair Button to the left.
Here we will find the fully adjustable P1-P2 paddle type keys. A switch to choose Bluetooth or 2.4G mode and 3 Pins for the charging base. Of course, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information so far, as we will examine everything in detail in the rest of the Review!
Before testing anything, we connected the controller directly to the computer. With the help of the USB cable in the package, in order to check the Firmware status. The process is really a piece of cake.
How to Upgrade the Firmware of 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller
Go to the official 8BitDo site in Support and select the Upgrade Tool. You will download a .zip file. After extracting it, select “8BitDo Firmware Updater.exe”. The app will automatically find your device and the latest software update. Click on «Firmware Update» and it will inform you which version is installed on your controller and which is the latest one. If you select Update, it will download the new version… simple as that!
The same process applies to all of the company’s controllers, don’t forget to check back regularly for updates!
8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller can officially be paired with Windows 10 and above and Nintendo Switch (version 3.0.0 and above). It does not support NFC Scanning, IR Camera, HD rumble and notification LED.
According to research done on the web for the needs of the Review, if you use the USB Adapter, it can be connected to the following devices. (These devices were not tested by us for the needs of the Review)
- Android BOX
- Android Phone Redmi Note 9 Pro (tried with OTG and BT not working)
- Rasberry Pi
- Steam Deck
Don’t read the next paragraph if you don’t want to use it on any device other than Switch or PC because you’ll get confused.
Although the controller has Bluetooth to connect to an Android phone, we did not find a way to make it work. This is attributed to the fact that it uses BT mode for the needs of the Switch, only in D input Mode. In contrast, the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller (not the Bluetooth version for Nintendo Switch) has a D/X input in place of the BT/2.4G dial. So it works with more systems, but lacks other features that we’ll see below. Unfortunately, our OTG Type-C to USB cable gave up, so we’ll be back as soon as we can do some more testing.
How to do the pairing
We selected BT in the controller selector. Next, we pressed the home button to open it. We pressed the pair button for three seconds. The LED light started flashing rapidly. Going to the Nintendo Switch now on the home screen, we press «Controllers». Then we choose “Change Grip/Order” and our new controller is connected and ready for action. This process only needs to be completed once, before using it for the first time.
Also, it can be connected with the USB Adapter at 2.4G in X-input mode. The adapter is stored under the charging base. Which also works as a transceiver when the adapter is in place. But the truth is that we don’t find the reason behind the existence of this feature, since BT exists. Unless you also use BT Audio, then there may be some lag. Of course depending on the circumstances, the distance and the presence of other devices (we didn’t notice anything like that). But if you encounter any problem, switch to 2.4G and everything will run smoothly. Finally, one can connect the charging base to the Switch’s USB port and use it only as a charger or for 2.4G connection if desired.
The charging base is simply beautiful, with nice and soft curves that embrace the controller. It also has a distinctive white LED lighting on the bottom!
Testing the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller regarding the Gameplay
For the needs of this review, the controller was tested on several games with different requirements. With emphasis on the response speed, accuracy of movements, functionality and overall experience. We can confidently state that it «beat» the PRO Controller in their common features. Both the D-pad and the joystick had a better response speed. The rest of the buttons also had excellent response. The Grip was also amazing. Vibration was very strong. Later, we will lower the vibration intensity so to not have to see an orthopedic doctor in a month. We loved the Turbo Mode, which especially in Retro Games combined with the big D-pad really made a big difference.
The 1000mAh battery lasts up to 22 hours with 2–3 hours of charging. Compared to the 1300mAh battery that lasts up to 40 hours of gameplay on a 6-hour charge, that the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller has. But the battery of the Ultimate is again more than enough and needs less than half of the time to fully charge.
Finally, as far as Gameplay is concerned, we loved the fully customizable P1-P2 keys. The customization is possible via the 8BitDo Ultimate Software that we will see below. Their use freed our thumbs in games that you have to almost always press a specific button, like Gradius or games such as Diablo II Resurected and Diablo III. In these cases, we set the P1-P2 with macros to perform a particular movement sequence. Combined with the ability to save up to three different profiles in each controller, switching from game to game is quite easy.
Also, worth mentioning are the L2-R2 analog triggers. They are not useful to us on the Nintendo Switch, though. As our console doesn’t support them. Of course, they can be used normally when you connect it to a computer.
An important discovery
Until now, we knew that waking up the console via the controller is a feature that only Nintendo controllers have. At first, we tried pressing the Home Button to wake up the console. The controller was activated, but there was absolutely no reaction on the console. During the tests, however, the console suddenly woke up!!!
We were surprised and tried for more than 30 minutes to replicate the result, but to no avail. Then all of a sudden, Ta-Da… not only we found out how, but we could now wake up the console without any problems. What should you do? Press the Home Button and simply shake the controller. It takes 2–3 seconds more than the Pro Controller, but the fact that we don’t have to get up from our couch, was enough for us. We don’t know if it’s a bug or if it will continue to exist in the future. But as a function right now it’s amazing!
What did we miss?
For starters, the absence of HD rumble was obvious, especially in games like Super Mario Odyssey and Luigi’s Mansion 3. Also, NFC is missing, which is of course not a dealbreaker in our opinion.
Let’s examine the technology behind the 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller
Now let’s look a little deeper, inside the 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller and the technology it hides inside.
When we tried to take apart the controller, we found that there were no visible screws. Of course, this is something we should have anticipated from a controller named ULTIMATE, we just hadn’t noticed. To open it, carefully remove the two caps on the grips and then remove the six Torx screws.
We are careful not to cut the cable-tape that connects the two basic parts of the controller. It is clear that 8bitdo did not just want to make something that looks nice and has decent quality.
They wanted to make an excellent controller that will last forever.
There are screws everywhere, there is nothing that has only a clasp. The board that holds all the buttons is stabilized with seven Phillips screws on the front of the controller. At the same time, there is another interior shell that holds the entire bottom of it with seven more screws, four Torx and three Phillips screws.
Here we see the right vibration which is huge and has a large engine and almost twice as big as the left one, which explains the very strong vibration we mentioned earlier. The difference in the size of the two vibration mechanisms has to do with the fact that the large one is used for strong vibrations in the game, while the smaller one for softer vibrations.
Now we will see the most important technical choice of 8bitdo!
And we have reached the final part of the interior, which we’ll examine. This is the main reason we took apart the controller. You see, it’s the first controller that we have used which has the Gulikit Hall Effect Joystick. That is, an electromagnetic joystick. In order not to confuse you with the tech lingo, we will explain it as simple as possible.
There are no contacts, but simply a magnet you move when using the joystick. The magnet, as it changes positions, it alters the magnetic field around the sensors and thus the controller can process our movements. What does this mean practically? A joystick with incredible precision that does not wear over time and does not drift. Also, Gulikit Joystick do not have inactive zones, while having an average error of 0.6% versus the PS5 9.2%, the Xbox 10.6% and the Switch Pro 8%. More on Gulikit‘s site.
Attention: Hall Effect Joysticks are only available on the 8bitdo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller version for the Switch. They do not exist on the other Ultimate versions. This choice is as if the manufacturer wanted to give a permanent solution to the drifting problems of Nintendo Switch. If you are also one of the victims of drifting, read our article, in Greek Language, which will help you fix your Joycon all by yourself.
<<Did we find the best Driftless Controller for Nintendo Switch?>>Nintenders
Complete customization with 8BITDO ULTIMATE SOFTWARE
The 8bitdo Ultimate Software is available in PC, Android and IOS. We, like genuine Old School Gamers, have chosen to work with the computer. Below, you will see the exact customizations that are available with the help of the application.
Alter quickly and easily the functions that each button has, based on your own needs!
Do you want even better control and precision? Adapt the sensitivity of each lever as you wish!
Change the sensitivity level of each trigger according to your own preference to act even faster or to avoid miss clicks!
Adjust separately the intensity of each vibration to save battery or if it’s too strong for you!
With the help of Macros, assign to any button you want to perform a specific movement sequence!
Once you complete all these settings, you can save your choices in one of the three available profiles. So just by pressing the Change profile button, you will choose the one that best serves you in each game. While with the help of LEDs you can check with one glance the profile you currently use or even switch profiles in the same game based on the needs you have, e.g. defensive or attack Macros.
The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is an excellent controller. Joystick accuracy, build quality, P1-P2 buttons, full customization, profile switching, charging base and so many other features that the controller has will take your skills to the next level. Its weight and robust construction, combined with ergonomics, make you unwilling to put it down.
If it had HD vibration + NFC, there would be no rival for the Nintendo Switch. But we understand that the controller needs to have a competitive price. If these functions also existed, they would increase its price even more.
However, we think we have just found the replacement for the Pro Controller. Now we will only use it for games that support HD vibration. Which in fact will have a significant contribution to the game like in Luigi’s Mansion 3. On the contrary, in games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe which also supports HD vibration, but it does not affect the gameplay, we will use the 8BitDo ULTIMATE Bluetooth Controller.
Our rating for the 8bitdo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller: 9/10
+ Ergonomic Design
+ Robust Construction
+ Hall Effect Joystics
+ Large DPAD
+ Mapping / Macros
+ Ultimate Software
+ Turbo Mode
+ Paddle Buttons
+ Charging Base
+ 2.4G / BT Mode
+ Wake Up (Nintendo Switch)
– HD Rumble
– LED notification
We have to thank the Hellenic 8BitDo Distributor and Market24.gr, for giving us the controller in orders to write this review.
Read more about 8BitDo in the Greek Language, by Nintenders.
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The review is translated from Greek Version by Eleana Throuvala known as Dreamwielder