CRKD Nitro Deck+ review — All decked out

I’d been looking at the CRKD Nitro Deck for a while, only holding on pulling the trigger because I don’t use my Switch much. Then, my wife was trying to find a good birthday present for me, and soon afterwards I was the proud owner of the Emerald Green variant. Of course, as soon as I got one, the Plus model was announced. While I never did a proper review for the original, after using the Nitro Deck+, there might not be a better controller accessory for your Nintendo Switch.

In the box, you’ll find your Nitro Deck+ inside a microfiber string bag, along with a USB-C to HDMI adapter and the paperwork. While I like the bag, I’d love an option to purchase the Nitro Deck+ with a case in a bundle deal, given the original came that way and the Nitro Deck’s size prohibits it from fitting in other standard cases. The bag is nice for carrying or storing the Nitro Deck+, but I’m not sure I trust it to protect my Switch.

One of the things that sets the Nitro Deck+ apart from any other Switch accessory is how nice it looks. CRKD knows what they’re doing, and even though there are a lot more color options for the original, the Plus comes in a fantastic clear black or white translucent shell, something very old-school Nintendo. Can anyone tell me why we stopped making consoles and accessories like this? Because they are stupid awesome.

Holding the Nitro Deck+ in hand just feels right. The Nitro Deck+ turns your Switch into something Steam Deck sized, fitting well in your grip along with giving you controls that feel standard. That alone is a huge selling point for this device; being able to use thumbsticks, buttons, and triggers that are normal sized. Now, when using joy-cons, my Switch feels shrunken, and even with smaller hands it’s just not as comfortable as what the Nitro Deck and Plus provides.

It’s not only the size that matters. The controls also feel great, especially the thumbsticks, which are now offset as opposed to the original’s parallel location. These have Hall Effect sensors, so the number one issue you encounter with joy-cons is nearly non-existent here in stick drift. You can also swap out different thumbstick tops, available from CRKD, which is a nice bonus. Pushing these, pressing the buttons and triggers, all feel crisp. The only real feedback I could give would be to add a textured grip to the ZR and ZL triggers, but that’s more personal preference as I’m not a fan of gloss finishes. That said, the adjustable trigger sensitivity is very nice.

Nitro Deck+ Official Feature Breakdown • CRKD

Sliding my Switch into place, it’s perfectly locked in and not going anywhere. CRKD also paid attention to feedback, making it easier to unseat your Switch to take it out without putting your fingers all over the screen. Beyond the USB-C port and SD card slot, nothing is blocked, with all of the top ports, buttons, and game card slot accessible. The speakers are also unobstructed, so you’ll hear every bit of the game sound without any trouble.

Even with the USB-C port occupied – it’s how the Nitro Decks connect – there’s a USB-C input on the back, so you can still charge and play, and if anything it’s less in the way and you can charge while in kickstand mode. Speaking of the kickstand, it is the only knock I have on the Nitro Deck and Plus models, feeling really stiff and is a bit small. Still better than the OG Switch’s built in kickstand though.

Close by the kickstand are back buttons, a feature included with all Nitro Decks. I cannot state how great it is to see this feature being picked up. I use back buttons constantly, and here I can keep my thumbs on the joysticks while using the face buttons via these proxies. I’ve already talked about how well the controls in general work, and here it isn’t any different.

There is also a sidekick button on the outside of both thumbsticks. These work similar to the back buttons, but I see them as more of an extra comparatively. I’ve not been able to get much use out of them, but I could see the benefit for someone who plays a lot and wants more control. More options are better than less after all. The good news for all of these additional buttons is they’re remappable on the fly, so within a few button presses you can have your Nitro Deck set up perfectly for the game you’re playing. Also, turbo mode is available, allowing you to get those epic spam moves going.

The feature I wanted the Plus model for the most is dock mode. Where the previous model had an output, this was for using it as a wired controller (which is retained in the Plus model). However, the output now has a dual use with the USB-C to HDMI adapter included. You can now use your Nitro Deck as a dock, connecting directly to your TV and no longer needing to lug around a separate dock. It’s outstanding, and works flawlessly. I brought it and my pro controller to work with me, and in moments I was playing a game like I was at home. It’s a brilliant addition to the Plus, and well worth the upgrade.

I just mentioned playing games, and docked or handheld, the Nitro Deck+ handles it all beautifully. The mix of comfort along with great and responsive controls make this the best way to play my Switch. I noticed very quickly that I have a lot of platformers installed to my Switch during all of these tests, and if you aren’t familiar with the genre: one wrong move and you’re paying for it with a restart. The precise controls of the Nitro Deck+ powered me through quite a bit of games like Rayman Legends, Dead Cells, and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe. Add in some Splatoon 3 where I fired out paint like a champ, and I have no qualms with how well the Nitro Deck+ works in practice.

Before we finish, let’s talk about an interesting detail for the Nitro Deck and Plus: the app. I’m all about apps, but they need to work. This one is more about the promise, but it is doing one thing I’ve never seen before. The promise is that CRKD wants you to eventually be able to use it to remap controls, adjust your trigger sensitivity and more. For now however, there is a collectible side to it. Each Nitro Deck has a rarity, and there’s a tag in the back you scan to get a neat FMV of what yours is. It makes your Nitro Deck feel more unique, and you can even pass it on to the next owner if you please. I don’t think it’s a necessary feature, but now I want that in future accessories.

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David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.



CRKD Nitro Deck

Review Guidelines

It’s hard to think of a better all in one accessory for your Nintendo Switch than the Nitro Deck+. It does all the things it’s older brother did but better, and the adjustments made and features added are fantastic. From the incredible controls, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing build, to the dockability, the Nitro Deck+ has it all. It’s easily the best Switch accessory I’ve ever owned, and you should too.

David Burdette

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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