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8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller review: Should you buy it?

Who needs a Pro when you've got the Ultimate?
By

Published onJune 1, 2023

aa2020 recommended

Ultimate Bluetooth Controller 8BitDo

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller isn't quite the ultimate gamepad for everyone that it wants to be due to some odd compatibility quirks, but it's a superb choice for Switch and Steam Deck/PC gamers looking for great build quality, a ton of software and hardware features, and anti-drift joysticks.

What we like

Tactile D-pad and buttons
Extensive customization options
Excellent companion app
Included charging dock and 2.4G receiver
No stick drift

What we don't like

Not officially compatible with Android and iOS
Boxy design won't suit larger hands
No NFC for amiibo support
aa2020 recommended

Ultimate Bluetooth Controller 8BitDo

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller isn't quite the ultimate gamepad for everyone that it wants to be due to some odd compatibility quirks, but it's a superb choice for Switch and Steam Deck/PC gamers looking for great build quality, a ton of software and hardware features, and anti-drift joysticks.

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller review: At a glance

  • What is it? The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth is the flagship Bluetooth controller from 8BitDo. It supports Bluetooth and 2.4G connections (dongle included) and is compatible with the Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, and Windows PCs. This version also comes with a charging dock and has gyro-assisted motion controls when used with the Switch.
  • What is the price? The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth controller is priced at $69.99 in the US and £59.99 in the UK.
  • Where can you buy it? You can buy the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth controller on Amazon and from select third-party retailers.
  • How did we test it? I tested the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth controller for one week on a PC, Steam Deck, and a Nintendo Switch (OLED model). I also tested it with a MacBook Air M2, Apple TV 4K, and a Google Pixel 7 Pro, even though these platforms are not officially supported. The review unit was purchased by Android Authority.
  • Is it worth it? If you want the most fully-featured gamepad for PC, Steam Deck, and Nintendo Switch, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is it. Those with larger hands might find the grips a little tight and the lack of Android/iOS support is a head-scratcher, but with electromagnetic joystick fittings designed to avoid drift, wide compatibility, an included dock and 2.4G dongle, and impressive ergonomics and design, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth is an incredibly impressive and well-supported Bluetooth controller for PC and handheld gaming.

8Bitdo Ultimate
8Bitdo Ultimate
MSRP: $69.99
See review
See review

Should you buy the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller?

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller with box
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

8BitDo arguably has the highest reputation when it comes to third-party gaming controllers, so it’d be fair to expect that its “Ultimate” gamepad would be the best in the business. First off, let’s (attempt to) avoid some confusion. The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is one of four gamepads from the company with the same “Ultimate” design and moniker. The other three are the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller 2.4G (no Bluetooth), 8BitDo Ultimate Wired (wired only), and the 8BitDo Ultimate C 2.4G (no Bluetooth or app support). There’s also an 8BitDo Ultimate Wired for Xbox which is essentially the regular wired version but with Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One support and licensing.

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller, as the name suggests, has both Bluetooth and 2.4G compatibility with Windows PCs and Nintendo Switch (and presumably will be compatible with the Nintendo Switch 2 when it rolls around). I tested it on both platforms with zero issues, though it works best on Switch in Bluetooth mode or you lose out on motion controls. The Ultimate Bluetooth Controller also works with the Steam Deck (updated to Holo 3.4 or above) through Bluetooth via Xinput mode. It technically also worked on my MacBook Air M2 for a few Steam games and my Pixel 7 Pro for a few titles I grabbed off the Play Store and Netflix, but it isn’t officially supported for macOS, Android, or iOS.

Bundled with the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is a handy charging dock so you can keep your gamepad topped up with ease. This connects through USB-C with an included USB-C to USB-A cable. There’s no included brick, but I found it easier to plug it into my PC or Switch directly. The controller itself is rated for 22 hours on a charge and I managed to get just over 20 hours out of it on a single charge when left out of the dock. When docked, it’ll recharge in around three hours, which isn’t particularly fast, but you won’t ever need to worry about the battery life at all if you re-dock the controller after every play session.

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is bundled with a handy charging dock and 2.4G USB receiver.

A compartment on the underside of the dock also hides an included 2.4G USB receiver, which is a nice touch as you usually have to buy these separately. Even better, the dock has a USB-A slot hidden away here which will pass through to your PC or Switch. That means you won’t have to occupy an extra USB-A slot to play in 2.4G mode, which reduces input lag for competitive games. I ended up using 2.4G mode on my gaming PC and reserved the Bluetooth input for Switch. You can quickly change between 2.4G and Bluetooth with a slider on the rear. The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller can also be used wired with a USB-C cable if you really want to.

One of the best things about the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is actually the 8BitDo Ultimate Software app. The Android and iOS version of the app is a quick and easy way to remap buttons, adjust trigger sensitivity and stick deadzones, tweak vibration strength, and set macros for multi-button commands. These settings can all be saved to three profiles for Switch and three for PC, and can be toggled with the controller’s pill button, with the profiles shown on the LED indicators below. Sadly, only the PC version of the 8BitDo Ultimate Software suite includes firmware update support, so you will need a Windows platform to get to the latest v1.3 with Deck support and quite a few crucial connectivity fixes.

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller Nintendo Switch Steam Deck
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

As for the controller itself, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is built from sturdy plastic and has a fairly boxy footprint. It comes in two matte colors: black (pictured) and white. My hands are pretty large, and I found everything to be a little cramped after extended time exploring Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Reaching all the face buttons and the two asymmetrical joysticks was fine, but the shoulder triggers and bumpers sat quite low on my index fingers. I didn’t experience any hand strain, and it’s not too dissimilar to my experience using a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for years, but if you prefer larger gamepads, you might want to consider other options.

Thankfully, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller’s ergonomics are fantastic. The textured handles are a bit rough compared to most pads I’ve tried, but it allows for a really tight grip even if your hands get sweaty. The membrane ABYX buttons are clicky and tactile, as are the added rear bumpers. Those ABYX buttons are in a Switch configuration, which won’t be ideal for PC-first players with alternate AB inputs, though 8BitDo does sell replacements you can swap in for an Xbox-style layout. The menu buttons are quite close together, but considering they’re mostly used for menus, pairing, or cycling through presets, you won’t use them often enough for it to be a problem. The bumpers and analog triggers don’t quite have the satisfying snap you get with some controllers, with the latter having a surprisingly long pull distance. Out of the box, this didn’t translate well to competitive shooters like Overwatch 2, but after some sensitivity tweaks, I found a decent sweet spot.

The anti-drift joysticks are where the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller really shines

The concave D-pad, in particular, feels great; this is 8BitDo, after all — it’s got this nailed by now. It’s particularly good for platformers, making this a great pick for retro gamers. I ran it through a few of the tougher bonus B-side challenges in Celeste (I’ll get to the C-sides eventually!) and it held up to the demanding precision required.

The joysticks are where the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller really shines, though. Instead of regular analog sticks, 8BitDo partnered up with GuliKit to add Hall Effect fittings that use electromagnetic signals to register inputs rather than potentiometers. That means the sticks aren’t touching any circuits so shouldn’t be as prone to stick drift issues. They were also incredibly responsive during my testing. I personally prefer concave sticks, but the textured rim allows for more precision than the Switch Pro Controller, for example.

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller Nintendo Switch
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Speaking of Switch, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller supports motion controls in Bluetooth mode and you can also get the gyro support working for Steam Deck or PC if you update the controller to version 1.3. The rumble isn’t as subtle or varied as Nintendo’s HD Rumble, but the feedback is satisfying without being buzzy, and can always be adjusted in the companion app. The only minor gripe is that you don’t get NFC support, so if you’ve hoarded a bunch of Zelda amiibos like me, you’ll have to use a regular Joy-Con or Switch Pro Controller to claim all of the goodies before switching back to 8BitDo’s pad.

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is a superb choice for Switch and Steam Deck/PC gamers looking for elite build quality and a ton of software and hardware features.

The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller isn’t a cheap option at $69.99. That’s the same price as a Switch Pro Controller at MSRP, and quite a bit more expensive than the 8BitDo Pro 2, which offers a wider range of official Bluetooth compatibility such as Apple’s platforms, Raspberry Pi, and, of course, Android. The trade-off is the dock and 2.4G dongle, though you’ll get both of those and support for all the aforementioned platforms if you sacrifice Bluetooth and Nintendo Switch support with the 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G.

The ultimate verdict is that the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is a superb choice for Switch and Steam Deck/PC gamers looking for elite build quality and a ton of software and hardware features, but if you need flexibility beyond that, there are cheaper alternatives to choose from.

8Bitdo Ultimate8Bitdo Ultimate
AA Recommended
8Bitdo Ultimate
Extensive customization options • Included charging dock and 2.4G receiver • No stick drift
MSRP: $69.99
The ultimate 8BitDo controller
The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is a superb choice for Switch and Steam Deck/PC gamers looking for great build quality, a ton of software and hardware features, and anti-drift joysticks.

What are the best 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller alternatives?

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller vs GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
  • GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro ($69 at Amazon): The bizarrely named GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro may look like an Xbox Wireless Controller knock-off, but it’s easily my favorite near-universal controller I’ve tested to date. For the same price as the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth you get added support for Android, iOS, and macOS, the same GuliKit-patented, anti-drift Hall Effect joysticks, and an endlessly satisfying ergonomic soft rubber finish. It even has NFC support for amiibos! The only downsides are that there’s no app support so the customization input options take a bit of getting used to, and there’s no dock or 2.4G dongle, though the latter is supported if you buy one separately.
  • 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth gamepad ($49 at Amazon): 8BitDo’s Super Nintendo-styled classic returns and it’s better than ever. It lacks a dock, 2.4G support, and the Hall Effect joysticks, but the color options are funkier, it has the same amazing software suite for customizing your inputs, and supports macOS, iOS, and Android.
  • Nintendo Switch Pro Controller ($64.78 at Amazon): Don’t care about customization and are ready to play the stick drift roulette? The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is pricey, but if you want both HD Rumble and amiibo support, the Switch Pro Controller is your only choice. Thankfully, it’s also a very good gamepad in its own right, with Bluetooth support for Windows and mobile (Android and Apple platforms), comfortable rubber grips, and snappy buttons and triggers.

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller specs

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller
Features
2x back paddles
Custom profile switch button
Mode switch button (Bluetooth/2.4g)
Motion control
Vibration
Player indicators
Modes
Switch mode
X-input mode
Power
1,000mAh Li-on battery, rechargeable
22 play hours with 2-3 hours charging time
Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0
2.4g
USB-C
Companion app
Ultimate Software on PC and mobile (Android/iOS)
Compatibility
Switch 3.0.0 and above
SteamOS Holo 3.4 and above
Windows 10 and above
Colors
Black
White
Dimensions and weight
153.6 x 100.6 x 64.5mm
228g
In the box
8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller
USB cable
Charging dock
2.4g adapter

8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller review: FAQ

No, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller is only officially compatible with Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, and Steam Deck. I had some luck with macOS, iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and Android, but it definitely won’t work with Xbox and Sony PlayStation platforms.

Yes, though it’s not particularly intuitive. To turn on the Nintendo Switch with an 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller first you’ll need to pair it in Bluetooth mode. Then if you’re Switch is asleep, press the home button (the 8BitDo symbol with the LED ring) and shake the controller to wake it up.

Yes, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller will work as a wired gamepad via a USB-C cable on all supported platforms.

No, the 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller has a non-removable rechargeable battery.

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