CRKD Nitro Deck review: a robust, feature-packed Switch accessory | Albiseyler

CRKD Nitro Deck review: a robust, feature-packed Switch accessory

At $79.99 per set, Nintendo’s replacement Joy-Cons for the Switch aren’t cheap. And if, like many Switch owners, you’ve bought more Joy-Cons than you thought because of the analog sticks that work, you might be interested in this gadget called the Nitro Deck from CRKD, a new hardware company within the Embracer Group.

Think of the $59.99 Nitro Deck as an exoskeleton for the Switch that fits either the standard or OLED version and serves to enhance the console in some welcome ways. The Nitro Deck’s most important feature is the Hall effect analog sticks, which are built to last and also larger than the small ones on the Joy-Cons. These analog sticks are housed in a hard plastic shell that makes the Switch more ergonomic to hold and use. In addition, it has a very strong stand.

This $89.99 Gamecube-inspired limited edition is definitely a looker. Each of the analog stick covers can be replaced if needed.

Photo: Cameron Faulkner/Polygon

For some, these features alone may make the Nitro Deck worthwhile, but it has even more features and few compromises (sorry amiibo fans, but it lacks an NFC touch point). It offers every button you’ll find on the Joy-Cons, plus some extras, including four configurable back paddles à la Valve’s Steam Deck (these can be disabled if you prefer a simpler experience). Like most good third-party controllers, every button on the Nitro Deck can be set to Turbo mode, allowing you to spam the button as fast as you want to make games easier. It also supports rumble and motion controls in case you like to use gyro aiming in games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom or Fortnite.

The Nitro Deck does not contain a battery, so it cannot extend the life of your Switch. That said, I haven’t noticed this accessory draining my Switch’s battery faster than usual. Despite conveniently fitting into the Switch’s USB-C port, the Nitro Deck also doesn’t get in the way of charging, as it has a USB-C port on the back – two in fact. The second port allows you to use this gadget as a wired controller when you have your Switch console connected to your TV. I can’t see myself ever choosing the Nitro Deck over the Switch Pro wireless controller for this particular use case, but it’s nice that it serves a purpose when it’s not in the Switch cradle.

The Nitro Deck turns the Switch into something as thick and heavy as handheld computers, like the ROG Ally shown here.

Photo: Cameron Faulkner/Polygon

Something you give up with the Nitro Deck is Switch portability. For most people who own a Switch and some other handheld like a Steam Deck or ROG Ally, its smaller size and comparably large game library make the Switch the one most likely to take on vacation. But the Nitro Deck turns the Switch into something just as thick and beefy as one of its more expensive and powerful competitors.

The model shown in this post is the limited edition Nitro Deck, which in addition to the GameCube-esque color scheme includes a hard zip case, two snap-on attachments, and USB-C to USB-A. cable to connect to the switch dock. These add-ons go all the way up to $89.99, but if those add-ons don’t mean much to you, I recommend going with the simpler (yet still attractive) color schemes that cost $59.99.

These rear paddles (four in total) can be modified to trigger any face button command.

Photo: Cameron Faulkner/Polygon

If you mostly play your Switch in handheld mode and want something to make it a more ergonomically friendly device, there are some solid options like Hori Split Pad Compact. But if you want more comfort, rumble, motion control, and much better analog sticks, there really aren’t many options for you outside of the Nitro Deck. It’s both a great, relatively affordable alternative to replacing your Joy-Cons, and a fun-looking, if sturdy, Switch accessory that doesn’t skimp on essential features.

Nitro Deck is now available. Accessories provided by Crkd. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may receive commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Learn more about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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