Gaming Hardware

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller review: best games controller under £50?

8BitDo makes numerous games controllers, particularly those with a retro theme. However, here I’m reviewing a rather more “standard” looking controller. No Nintendo theming or outlandish colours – it’s available in black, white or pink – but a high-quality controller that would fit in with any games system.

The 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller is compatible with Windows (10 and above), Android (9.0 and above) and Raspberry Pi. It currently retails for £39.99.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller: Unboxing

Open the glossy, monochromatic box and you will find a swash of matt black cardboard. Nothing wrong with that: it both looks classy and is eminently recyclable.

Even the controller itself, nestled in the card, is free of packaging other than a small triangle of plastic that goes over the protruding right-hand buttons. Nestled beneath sits the charging dock, complete with USB adapter. Dig further down and you’ll unearth an instruction leaflet and USB cable (USB-A to USB-C).

The controller works wirelessly, using the provided adapter, but you can use the USB cable to connect to a device too.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller: Compatibility

The box explicitly states compatibility with Windows and Android, with the latter requiring the aforementioned “USB-on-the-go” cable for a wired connection.

However, the website states that it works with Raspberry Pi too. I could have sworn that it said macOS a few weeks ago, but maybe I imagined that (although the firmware updating software IS available for both Windows and Mac). It must be a late addition, as RPi compatibility isn’t mentioned in the instructions.

Just to add to the confusion, the support page for the matching software mentions it working with the Nintendo Switch, albeit only via cable. I gave this a whirl but couldn’t get it to work.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller: The hardware

The controller itself is a traditional design and layout, with two thumbsticks, a left-hand direction pad and four buttons on the right (labelled as X, Y, A, B). There are four rear buttons (L1, L2, R1 and R2), with two further buttons underneath (P1 and P2).

In the middle of the controller is a cross of five buttons and three vertical lights, the lights being for the current profile (more on this later). The USB-C connector and a power LED sit on the back.

Finally, on the bottom, you’ll find a slide switch that allows you to specify whether you’re connecting to an Android or Windows device. This sits above three metal pins, which are used for connecting the charging dock.


You might expect the charging dock to be cheap and plasticky. Not a bit of it. Instead, the controller sits easily in place and just oozes quality. To charge it, you’ll need the supplied cable: plug the USB-C connector into the dock and the USB-A connector into a power source. An LED shows the charging status.

Slide open a panel on the underside of the dock and you’ll find a USB adapter for the wireless connection.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller review
A USB wireless adapter is in the underside of the dock. Black version shown.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller: The software

You’ll need to load up the “8BitDo Ultimate Software” to get the most out of this “Ultimate” controller on Windows. Some of the functions available include:

  • Mapping – Assign the buttons with the functionality to your liking
  • Sticks – Customize each stick for a higher precision control
  • Triggers – Adjust the ranges of your triggers to act faster
  • Vibration – Modify the vibration intensity for a better comfort during gameplay
  • Macros – Assign a long sequence and action to one single button


The above images are specifically for Windows configuration but there are separate screens for Android. There was no mention of how to do this for Raspberry Pi, however. Maybe that’s coming later?

You can also use the software create up to three controller profiles and switch between them at any time with the profile switch on the top. The row of LEDs will indicate which is in use.

During testing, I found that the software wouldn’t fit on the laptop display that I was using, which had a vertical resolution of 768 pixels. And there’s no way to resize the window. I ran it on a monitor with 1,440 vertical pixels and that fitted fine, but be aware of this limitation.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller: In use

The 8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller is both fantastic and awful.

Fantastic: everything from the texturing on the thumb pads to the positive action of the buttons tells you that this games controller means business. The way it sits on the dock with a positive click and that wide LED on the front, it’s just… lovely. I have no doubt that it would put up with a lot of hard gaming use.

Awful: the instructions. They’re inconsistent and often simply forget to tell you something. For example, one of those buttons on the top of the controller is, the instructions tell me, the “Turbo” button. (Oddly marked with a star, but we’ll let that pass.) What does pressing Turbo do? No idea. Perhaps nothing. And this is on top of my previous comments about the confusing compatibility.

Still, let’s not forget this is £40 not £100. It really is excellent value for money.

8BitDo Ultimate 2.4G Wireless Controller Review
  • Build quality
  • Features
  • Software
  • Value

Summary

Poor instructions and compatibility confusion aside, this is a well-built wireless controller at a very reasonable price. It represents excellent value for money.

Overall
4.3

Pros

  • Well-built controller and charging dock
  • Great value for money
  • Lots of configuration options to get it just how you want, including adding multiple profiles

Cons

  • Instructions are confusing
  • Software is Windows only

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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