Tech Review: The CRKD Nitro Deck is a must-have for any Nintendo Switch user

I use my Nintendo Switch quite often, and usually in handheld mode when I’m on the couch or out and about. And while I’ve put up with the standard joycons for several years now, there’s no denying that they’re not really the comfiest things to hold during longer play sessions. Enter the CRKD Nitro Deck.

Firstly, it’s more than just one thing. It’s a fleshed-out pro-style controller for the Switch, with a larger housing that makes it feel more comfortable in the hands, Hall effect thumbsticks to virtually eradicate that dreaded stick drift, vibration support, and a nifty USC-C connection to help with latency. I’m all for third-party alternatives, but even then, nothing has felt as good as the CRKD Nitro Deck on my Nintendo Switch, adding a layer of quality and functionality to my sessions in a big way.


The Nitro Deck might look a little bulky, but it’s amazing just how much this makes the Switch feel like an entirely different console once inside it. The Nitro Deck fits both standard and OLED Nintendo Switch models, which slide in via the rails on either side and into the USC-C port on the bottom, which plugs directly into the console.

Once in, the entire unit feels more like a Steam Deck or an Asus ROG Ally, yet nowhere near as heavy. The Nitro Deck is incredibly light and made primarily of plastic, but it’s far from flimsy, and the buttons and triggers feel solid on the hands. It even comes in some awesome colours. We got the chance to try out the Retro Mint model, which comes included with a carry case and is simply a chef’s kiss as far as nostalgic console colours are concerned.

Up front, everything is there as you’d expect. The standard face buttons include a glossy finish, while the d-pad is now a single unit, which is much easier to use than the terrible standard circular buttons. It’s even shaped in all the right ways, allowing for speaker cutouts on the bottom to allow for sound to vent from the Switch itself, and even includes its own home and capture buttons.

The included Hall effect thumbsticks are a fantastic touch, not only for their larger size which makes using them more comfortable, but also their ability to remain virtually drift-free, regardless of how they are used. But we’ll save this for later.

The remaining four back buttons can also be used to customise and assign commands for convenience, and the stand feels much sturdier than the one on the Switch itself. USB-C input and output ports also allow you to charge the device and run it through your Switch dock at the same time. It’s also worth noting here that the Nitro Deck only needs to be plugged into the Switch to work as intended, with no additional power or software needed.

The only real issue I have with the overall design is that when you’re ready to remove the console from the Nitro Deck, you’ll need to hold a small release latch on the back with one hand and pull the console out with the other. You don’t really need to use much force, but you do need to push slightly on the screen to get a grip, which feels a little awkward, to say the least, even if it’s just for the sake of the fingerprints you’re bound to leave on the screen.

Functionality & Performance 

As far as functionality goes, its design generally leads to good quality, in which good quality leads to satisfying gameplay. At least, as far as the controller is concerned. But the big selling point here is the Hall effect thumbsticks, which aim to offset many of the issues Switch users have had with accessories until now.

Quick side note for those who do not know. Regular joysticks stick on top of a small carbon pad, which generally rubs away over time, and can even shift immediately, meaning a controller’s joystick will not sit in its centred position, and in turn convince a game that the controls associated with its movement are always functioning.

For example, a character may walk endlessly in a certain direction, or your weapon may constantly aim in a particular direction when left alone. Hall effect joysticks use electromagnetic, non-moving parts to detect movement, meaning there’s no real wear and tear on them over time.

It’s honestly the best feature for a device that aims to make gameplay on the road more accessible. To be fair, I’m not playing anything crazy on my Switch, but if I had to bust out a hectic twitch-shooter or button-master, this is what I’d be playing on. The sticks also include replaceable toppers as well, which is a nice touch for the sake of customisation.

Around the back, the contoured grips also feel great to hold yet gentle on the hands. The standard top triggers feel much better than their joy-con counterparts, as they’re both wider and feel much sturdier when pressed.


While I mentioned that the Nitro Deck doesn’t need any additional software to get it going, users can download the CRKD app, to register their product and add it to their digital collection. You simply tap your phone on the back of the Nitro Deck’s NFC. Each Nitro Deck even has its own rarity and number assigned to it based on its production within a batch. The lower your number, the rarer it is.

The app even asked permission from my phone to access the camera, so it could film me watching this reveal unfold, which was equal parts charming and hilarious.

From here, you can access the shop, which really only shows off other Nitro Decks, CRKD TV, which blends together product guides, reviews and general themed content and ties to socials, which you can follow across all their platforms. There’s not really much more to it than the thrill of collecting and sharing your Nitro Deck’s rarity with friends, but it’s a fun little moment while it lasts.

Verdict & Value

The CRKD Nitro Deck is one of the best accessories you can get for the Nintendo Switch when playing it handheld. It’s light and comfortable, yet durable and premium. It’s easy to customise and packs in a bunch of nifty features like Hall effect thumbsticks to rid your experience of stick drift.

But throughout all this, it just feels so much better in the hands. The larger size may feel a little strange to some, but the shell-like design brings with it a sense of space and quality that my hands were simply begging for.


Highlights: Sturdy build quality; Hall effect thumbstick; Customisable joysticks and back buttons
Lowlights: Removing the Switch from the Nitro Deck feels a little awkward
Manufacturer: CRKD
Price: A$99-$149
Available: Now

Review based on unit supplied by CRKD.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.