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CRKD Nitro Deck (Switch) Review: A Perfect Handheld Experience

CRKD’s Nitro Deck was officially announced during IGN’s Summer of Gaming in June, and for good reason. Handheld Nintendo Switch players have been crying out for an ergonomic, stick-drift-eliminating dock for more than six years – and the CRKD, true to its name, appears to be cracking it.

If you’re one of those people who has difficulty playing the Switch in handheld mode for long periods of time due to hand cramps, or simply feel that the classic set-up feels flimsy and light, the Nitro Deck is a comfortable, well It not only makes the most of the portable gaming experience with its long-desired features – it makes your Switch feel like a separate console.

Nitro Deck (Nintendo Switch) Specifications

  • Thumbsticks with Hall Effect sensors to “eliminate stick drift”
  • Connection to the controller via USB-C instead of Bluetooth for “ultra-low latency”
  • Four remappable back buttons (S1-S4) to provide additional versatility.
  • Swappable Thumbstick Toppers
  • Plug-and-play USB-C input to allow charging while gaming
  • USB-C output for connection to the Nintendo Switch dock, so the Nitro Deck can be used as an external controller

practical with nitro deck

The Nitro Deck feels like a premium product when you unbox it, although the package itself feels surprisingly heavy. However, once you’re done with the dock itself, its weight comes in at a comfortable 269 grams (593 grams with an OLED switch inside).

It’s incredibly well built, with no glaring design flaws or inconsistencies. If anything – and as someone with relatively large hands – it initially feels too big. Still, it pales in comparison to your standard Joy-Cons; Four people with different sized hands tried the Nitro Deck and each had no trouble holding it comfortably. It’s also smaller than the Steam Deck, even though it’s a little larger all around.

That said, Nitro decks take some getting used to. Its shoulder buttons are deep, appearing to take design cues from the PS5’s DualSense; They also share the high-profile form adopted by the all-important Driftless Stick Xbox and PlayStation controllers, adding yet more girth to an already sizable Nitro deck. The right stick also sits a little lower than you’re used to, but you soon adapt to it.

The buttons are well balanced, especially the D-pad, which feels precise and reliable – I think I prefer it over the Switch Pro controller, as it feels a little stiffer, making it perfect for platformers and puzzles. Makes it right. The CRKD button acts as the home button, but it is also a means to program the Turbo mode, but importantly reprogram your back triggers – a surprisingly hassle-free process.

These rear triggers – labeled S1 to S4 – are very low-profile and initially feel a little easy to press, but once you adjust to your grip, they’re as responsive as you’d expect. They are needed, and respond well to light taps. Your free fingers give them naturally.

Great sound, but far from good vibration

One of the Nitro Deck’s greatest features is that its vent-style speaker holes redirect the Switch’s sound directly towards you – this not only increases the volume, but also enhances the stereo sound. However, there may be a slight drawback to this directional approach – as soon as the Nitro deck is moved to one side, the sound quickly fades out of one or both ears, which can be a bit jarring at first.

However, while the directional sound quality is loud and clear, it is overpowered at mid to low volumes by the Nitro deck’s noisy in-built vibrations, which can cut through the music and SFX in some games; during mario kart 8 deluxe, it proved to be both incessant and monotonous. Sure, you can turn up the volume or disable vibration, but you’d prefer the added damping to reduce noise.

a very slide release

The screen release on the back of the Nitro deck is finely designed; Sliding a small button at the bottom pulls out the two brackets holding your screen in place, meaning you can pull your Switch out of there.

However, due to the fit of the Nitro Deck, you have to pull your Switch out by applying a fair amount of pressure to your screen with your fingers – frustrating, especially if you like to keep your screen clean. CRKD should consider upgrading the Nitro Deck’s release button so that it can push the switch up a centimeter, allowing you to place fingers under it and release it more safely. For now, it’ll do, even if I worry about protecting my OLED screen every time I take it out.

collector’s item

The strangest addition to CRKD’s Nitro deck is its app. While it has your classic purchasing and support functions, it also allows you to register your hardware via NFC and get rarity ratings, as well as your product numbers.

This is a fun gamification of your product done with really dramatic effect – there’s a big build-up to the rarity reveal, and you can even record your reaction to your rarity and share it with the community. There are – but it’s difficult to understand the app’s long-term appeal.

Registering your product does not provide any true bonuses or unlockable benefits; It doesn’t unlock functionality or offer any blockchain-related NFTs (insert sigh of relief here), but how many people will own more than one CRKD product? Not that the Nitro Deck is an attractive or necessarily practical controller without a switch inside, especially when it needs to be connected to a console by a USB-C cable. Still, if taken at face value, it’s an understandable extra that adds an extra dimension to the purchase.

You will need a larger case

Finally, it’s worth noting that due to its comparable thickness, the Nitro Deck probably won’t fit into most standard Nintendo Switch cases, so you should consider picking this up if you’re always on the go. The standard Nitro deck is $59.99, and the case is $29.99, so if you’re looking for a good reason to treat yourself to a limited-edition Nostalgia Collection design – beautiful GameCube-style retro purple (tested version) – for $89.99, Answer -American SNES-inspired Classic Grey, and Retro Mint – This one is as good as any other, as each comes with a case as standard.

The carry case itself is of very good quality, with minimal rattles and one of the better quality cartridge storage solutions you will see, and it also comes with a shoulder strap. It’s impressively tough, to the extent that even after forgetting to zip it up, it still had the Nitro Deck (and the OLED Switch screen) inside when I picked it up.

Is Nitro Deck for Nintendo Switch worth buying?

There’s no way to know right now how good its anti-stick-drift technology is, but if we’re to trust the science, there’s really no argument against picking up a Nitro deck. CRKD has delivered on its promise of creating something for comfortable, long-session portable gaming, pairing it with superb build quality and a delightful design that comes with all the bells and whistles that Switch gamers have been demanding for years. Have been. Not only does it look like it was made under license – if it had a Nintendo logo on it, you wouldn’t think twice about it being an official kit.

Sure, the release catch is a bit of an afterthought, and the vibrations could do with tweaking, but for $60-$20 less than a pair of Joy-Cons—the Nitro Deck is a must-have for Switch players on the go, both Hardcore and casual.

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