8bitDo’s Ultimate 2.4G Controller offers many “Pro” options that are absent from the base level XBOX and PS5 Dual Sense controllers while also being more affordable. However, does the peripheral hold up regarding build quality and performance?
Before continuing, I’d like to state that I went into this review with a bit of a bias against 8BitDo’s peripherals.
I’ve owned 8Bitdo wireless controllers in the past. They’ve not impressed me. My last two experiences with the brand came from the N30 retro-style controllers. It looked great and was themed after the classic NES paddles, but it lasted for only a handful of gaming sessions before the battery refused to charge. The controller would refuse to connect or stay powered up even when plugged in.
After that, I gave 8BtiDo a second chance and picked up the wired version of the SN30 Pro. While it did not have the technical issues of the previous controller, I was let down by the thumbstick and the overall feel of the device. It felt like it was built more for nostalgia than functionality.
However, I was willing to roll those dice again when it came time to get a more modern controller for my office PC. I wanted something that would feel as good as my XBOX One and Switch wireless controllers but had a few more options, like additional triggers and programmable features.
That’s where the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller came in. The price ($49.99) was more affordable than getting an XBOX or PS5 controller, and it came with a charging dock that also housed the modular 2.4G dongle. Thankfully, my PC has lots of extra USB 3 ports.
Plugging the dock into the PC eliminates the need to plug in the dongle because the charger has a built-in USB plug hidden underneath. Best of all, the controller and dongle are already linked out of the box, so you don’t even have to mess around. It’s, thankfully, plug-and-play.
The Ultimate isn’t slick. This isn’t a criticism, but a praise. The underside of the controller is textured, similar to the newer XBOX gamepads. It feels like really fine-grade sandpaper. This thing won’t be slipping out of your hand.
The plastic found on the face of the gamepad is also textured. It looks and has the tactile feel of an eggshell. Seeing how this holds up after a few months of use will be interesting.
Let’s take a look at the “Pro” features. First up is the 8bitDo Ultimate Software.
Aside from the typical mapping options, the software lets you modify the travel distance of the thumbstick and triggers. There’s no haptic feedback built in, so the sensitivity is all program driven. If you want the full force of the motivation to be activated when it’s depressed just a little, you can use the slider and correlate it with an on-screen visualization of how you’re pulling the trigger.
The same goes for the thumbstick. Find the sweet spot while testing out the controller, and line up the slider to how far you want to stick to travel to reach 100%. Simple.
The grip buttons do not have additional settings. They’re springy and quick to click, so I doubt there would be much you’d want to change aside from assigning them to a specific action or macro.
The macro setup is simple but would be more helpful if the Ultimate Software lets you input the button presses via the controller rather than an on-screen keypad. Oddly, the plus, minus, star, and home buttons cannot be mapped here. However, the star and home buttons can trigger a macro.
The 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller can store up to three separate profiles, and each one is indicated as active thanks to a row of three LEDs on the gamepad’s face. Switching between the profiles is done by pressing the button just above the LEDs.
Turbo functionality is built in, but it requires you to hold the button you want to use down and press the star button to activate/deactivate the feature. This cannot be mapped to a profile through the software, unfortunately.
OK, we’ve got all our buttons fine-tuned, But how does it perform? We put the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller through several platformers and (sinfully) first-person shooters. I know, I know, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible, even if that meant my accuracy and speed and hampered in games like DOOM 2016 or Blood.
Head-to-head, the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller was just as comfortable as the newer XBOX controllers. The major downside is a lack of an indented thumbstick. I could feel my thumbs slipping off them way too quickly. The pads are also much thinner, making me wonder how long they’ll hold up.
The thumbstick did, however, perform well as far as gameplay was concerned. Although a gamepad will never compare to a mouse and keyboard for fast-paced shooters, I navigated DOOM 2016 as nimbly as possible with competing controllers.
The same could be said for platformers. If there’s one game that could put your thumbs to the test, it’s Pizza Tower. To achieve anything above a B-grade performance, you’ll need to be super quick and string together several directional and action button presses quickly. The 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller succeeded there with no issue.
Everything was as responsive as I’d expected, even with my wonky settings in the Ultimate software. Overall performance was perfectly adequate without compromising much outside the humped thumbstick pads.
The ABXY buttons could use a little bit of tweaking, though. The B button could be slightly less curved towards the right side of the controller. I often felt like I was pressing it to the left, which could eventually cause a jamming issue. If you’ve ever dealt with the OUYA controller, you know what I’m talking about.
There was nothing remarkable that caught my eye, which isn’t surprising. It is a $50 controller, after all. The significant upsides are the customization, multiple readily available profiles, and macros.
What did impress me was the total lack of any of the issues I’d had with 8bitDo’s other controllers. It kept a solid connection to the dongle the entire time I tested it. I never had a problem with button presses not registering. Also, the whole package, including the dock, feels very high-end but is quite affordable compared to the big-name brands.
Here’s a breakdown of the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller compatibility and special features.
- Windows 10 and above
- Android 9.0 and above
- Raspberry Pi
- SteamOS Holo 3.4 and above
- Apple iOS 16.3 and above
- Apple iPadOS 16.3 and above
- Apple tvOS 16.3 and above
- Apple macOS 13.2 and above
- 2 Pro back paddle buttons
- Custom Profile switch button, 3 profiles, switch on the fly
- Mode switch button (X-input, D-input)
- Ultimate Software on PC
- Charging dock
Battery type and life expectancy:
- 480mAh Li-on battery, rechargeable
- 15 play hours with 2-3 hours charging time
The controller is also available with Bluetooth, which adds $20 to the MSRP. Check those out here.[Source: 8BitDo’s Website]
Review: 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller
Does the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller offer better bang for the buck in comparison to the current XBOX controllers?
The 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Controller provides a lot of customization possibilities. While it’s only $49.99, it could easily replace the XBOX or Dual Sense controller you’ve been using with your PC. There are some minor issues that can be fixed with minimal modifications or third-party parts.
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