8bitdo Controller Buying Guide

In my latest video, I take a look at four of of 8bitdo’s premium game controllers: the Ultimate 2.4 & Bluetooth, the Pro 2, and the SN30 Pro.

8bitdo was originally known for crafting replicas of classic gaming controllers. Over the years, 8bitdo has matured its product line, offering a premium gaming experience at a reasonable price. You can follow their progression in my 8bitdo playlist.

The Ultimate 2.4 and Ultimate Bluetooth controllers are similar in design, resembling the layout of an Xbox controller. Both are compatible with PCs supporting X-input devices, including the Steam Deck, Android devices with X-input support and emulation devices like the Raspberry Pi & MiSTer.

However, the Ultimate Bluetooth controller is also compatible with the Nintendo Switch, while the Ultimate 2.4 works better with Android and Apple devices. The Ultimate Bluetooth controller is also equipped with superior control sticks that utilize hall effect sensors. This provides a smoother experience compared to the traditional Alps type of stick in the 2.4 controller.

But the Ultimate Bluetooth controller defaults to the Nintendo Switch layout when it’s switched into Bluetooth mode, and the labels printed on the buttons are in the Nintendo Switch layout which differs from the Xbox. These default settings can be changed with 8bitdo’s configuration software.

Both controllers come with a convenient charging dock that has a USB 2.4ghz receiver installed at the bottom. The receiver works inside of the dock provided the dock is connected to a computer through its USB-C port. But the receiver dongle can be removed for a more portable solution. Additionally the controllers can connect to a device directly via their own USB-C port. They can also charge through that connection.

The Pro 2 controller, designed in a PlayStation layout, is my personal favorite. It combines the best of a Super Nintendo layout and Sony’s analog stick and handle design. The Pro 2 is more versatile in its compatibility, with a switch that allows easy transition between different modes, such as Switch, Android, Direct Input, and X Input. The Pro2 also works with the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

The SN30 Pro, a smaller version of the Pro 2 that lacks the handles, offers similar features but lacks analog triggers. I found it works great for classic games but the lack of handles makes it less comfortable for games that rely on the analog sticks.

8bitdo’s Ultimate Software allows users to fine-tune their controllers. From button remapping to adjusting stick sensitivity and trigger dead zones, the software provides a granular level of control. However the software is only compatible with the Ultimate controllers and the Pro 2 – not the SN30 Pro.

Despite their strengths, these controllers do have limitations. The Ultimate Bluetooth controller’s compatibility is not as robust as the Pro 2, and none of these controllers work with Xbox or PlayStation consoles. Nevertheless, 8bitdo has come a long way in developing controllers that offer great features, performance and compatibility.

Disclosure: The controllers featured in this post and video were provided to the channel free of charge by 8bitdo, however they did not review or approve the content before it was posted. 

8Bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard Review

My latest review is of the 8bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard. At first glance, its beige color, and angled clicky mechanical keys gives off that nostalgic retro vibe. But because its 8bitdo it also comes bundled with some fun: in this case a pair of huge NES style buttons that can be used as macro keys.

The keyboard is priced at $99 and comes in two distinct color schemes. I opted for the NES theme, reminiscent of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. However, there’s also a Famicom version, inspired by the Japanese version of the NES.

Both designs are appealing, but I have a soft spot for beige!

Typing on this keyboard is great. The clicky sound, courtesy of the Kailh box switches, is quite satisfying. The keyboard is very sturdy but not as heavy as vintage keyboards, weighing in at about 2.3 pounds. The keys rest on an aluminum board, but the exterior casing is heavy duty plastic. They keys angle up very similar to vintage IBM keyboards, and as such there’s no plastic feet to adjust the tilt angle.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth, USB, or a 2.4 gigahertz USB dongle. I tested it on various devices, including Mac and Raspberry Pi, and it worked seamlessly. A switch on the left hand corner of the keyboard seamlessly switches between modes. So it’s possible to quickly switch beteween a phone or tablet paired up via bluetooth, a computer connected via USB, and a third device connecting with the 2.4 ghz dongle.

The standout feature are the programmable keys. The keyboard has a NES style “A” and “B” key at the bottom right along with those two additional large buttons. These can be customized to perform specific functions. For instance, I programmed one to pull up my task manager and another to close active windows. It’s a handy feature that adds a layer of personalization to the keyboard. The keyboard can work with four pairs of large buttons that connect to the back.

As great as this is there are two potential deal breakers: one is that this is in a “ten-keyless” design which lacks a number pad on the right hand side of the keyboard. And unlike most premium mechanical keyboards these days the 8bitdo lacks a backlight for use in the dark.

Overall the 8-bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard is a blend of nostalgia and modern functionality. It’s comfortable, versatile, and offers a unique typing experience.

The 8bitdo Ultimate C is a Great Budget Game Controller

When I was a kid first party game controllers were pricey so many of us had third party “little brother” controllers that were cheap in price and quality. This of course was the controller a younger sibling would often get stuck with.

These days things are looking a lot better for younger siblings thanks to controllers like the 8bitdo Ultimate C which is the subject of my latest video.

This controller, while lacking some of the more advanced features of its pricier counterparts, offers a lot of value for gamers on a budget. It’s well-constructed, compatible with Windows PCs and most other devices that support X-input and direct input. Unlike the other 8bitdo controllers it does not work with the Nintendo Switch or with iPads and iPhones.

The Ultimate C comes in two versions: a wired version at $20 and a wireless version that costs $10 more. The wired version, which comes in a pastel purple or green, has a built-in cable that provides about six feet of length. The wireless version has a proprietary 2.4 gigahertz dongle and doesn’t support Bluetooth.

Despite being a budget controller, the Ultimate C doesn’t compromise on build quality. It has a solid feel, with high-quality plastic and a nice texture on the back for a good grip. The analog sticks and buttons are responsive, and the controller features an excellent Nintendo style D-pad modeled after some of the retro controllers that 8BitDo also manufactures.

One drawback I noticed was the dead zones on the sticks, which require a bit of movement to work through. A button combination that disables the deadzone doesn’t seem to make much of a difference either. The controller also lacks customization software, but it does offer a turbo feature that can be enabled on each of the buttons.

In terms of input lag, the Ultimate C performed on par with a wired Xbox controller when tested on the same PC.

Overall, this controller is a great value for casual gamers or as a secondary controller. It works well with a variety of devices, including Raspberry Pis, MiSTer FPGA kits, PCs, and even Macs running games or emulators.

You can see more 8bitdo reviews here on my YouTube channel.

8bitDo Controllers Now Officially Apple Compatible

8BitDo controllers are now officially supported by Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. I tested them on all three platforms in my latest video.

This compatibility eliminates the need for complicated workarounds to pair these controllers with iOS devices. Compatible controllers include the SN30 Pro, SN30 Pro Plus, Pro 2, the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller, and Light SE. 8bitdo has a compatibility page here for more information. Users may need to update their controller’s firmware first – even if they just purchased it recently.

The controllers can be connected via USB-C on iPads with a USB-C port, but iPhones or iPads with a Lightning connector must use Bluetooth connections. I found that they work just like Xbox and Playstation controllers once connected.

The 8-Bitdo controllers can be used with various games, including those on Apple Arcade, as well as game streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming. Users can remap controls and set up different profiles for their controllers using iOS settings or the 8-Bitdo Ultimate app, which allows for further customization on their more premium controllers like the Ultimate and Pro 2 controllers.

This new feature closes a big compatibility gap these controllers had since the beginning. Now if only we can get them working with Xbox and PS4/5 Consoles next!

8bitdo Ultimate Wired Controller for Xbox Review

8bitdo released a new game controller for the Xbox (affiliate link) called the Ultimate Wired Controller for Xbox. You can see my full review here.

Unlike their last Xbox branded controller that didn’t actually work with the Xbox, this one will work on any Xbox One or Series console along with Windows PCs. I also found it to work with Raspberry Pi’s and the MiSTer project. It does not, however, work on mobile phones or Android TV boxes.

As its name implies this is a wired only controller but its cable is a little short at 3 meters (about 9.8 feet). This might have been ample length back in the 80’s and 90’s but it only got about 3/4s of the way to my couch from my Series X console. While it has a bluetooth radio on board that is only used for its configuration app. It will not function wirelessly.

In my game controller latency test (done by shooting a screen and the controller at 240 frames per second) I found this to be one of the least laggy I have ever reviewed. It was even a little quicker than the first party Xbox One controller connected via a USB cable.

The control sticks have a little more travel vs. the first party Xbox controller so you may notice a larger dead zone in some games. Most Xbox game developers are targeting the Xbox controller for their controller dead zones so you might find yourself having to push the stick a little further to get the same movement vs. the stock controller.

The directional pad looks a lot like the SNES inspired one of the 8bitdo Pro 2 controller. But it doesn’t feel as a precise – I encountered a few errant diagonals when moving my character back and forth in the legend of Zelda. But the d-pad here is definitely better than the stock Xbox controller.

The rest of the controller feels pretty nice. It’s a little smaller than the stock xbox controller but I like the way it felt in my medium-sized hands. Buttons are solid and it even has two buttons on the lower portion of the controller that can be configured.

The configuration software is really the killer app here. It’s possible to configure the controller with your phone and remap its controls while it’s active in a game on the Xbox or PC! You can find that demonstrated in the video – it’s something I’ve never seen on a controller.

It’s possible to configure the controller with a phone while it’s plugged into an Xbox or PC!

While it doesn’t allow for macro functionality you can remap any button on the controller, adjust the sensitivity and deadzones of the control sticks and analog triggers, and invert the stick controls. It stores those settings in one of three profiles that are stored on the controller.

For the price point I think this is a solid offering for more casual gamers who are not looking to spend $100+ on a controller.