This new handheld deck for the Nintendo Switch from CRKD acts as a dock and controller in one. We took it for a spin ahead of its release.
Hands-on with the Nintendo Switch Nitro Deck
You may be surprised to learn that there's a new player in the Switch accessory space — but yes, six years into the runaway success of Nintendo's hybrid comes CRKD (that's pronounced 'cracked' by the way).
This new hardware creator is making its debut with a new wrap-around Nintendo Switch controller that is comfy, sturdy and makes the all-important promise of no stick drift.
Announced earlier this year to much attention (in fact the debut trailer quickly wracked up over one million views), the Nitro Deck is now nearing its launch. We took it for a hands-on spin ahead of its wider release this September.
A Dock & Controller in One
This new Nitro Deck is compatible with either the original 2017 Nintendo Switch or the 2021 OLED follow-up.
Now, as you can see, this isn't just a new standalone controller, or a split Joy-Con offering either — instead this new input device wraps-around the entire Switch screen. It attaches directly to the USB-C port on the bottom of the console, and once connected gives the Switch a new bulkier handheld feel — more akin to the heftier Steam Deck or ROG Ally.
To attach the Switch to the Nitro Deck, you just remove the Joy-Con, put them to one side, and slide in just the 'tablet' main body of Nintendo's hybrid. It's really easy to slide into the housing, and once in everything feels secure, robust and noticeably bigger.
Despite adding a bit of bulk, the Nitro Deck doesn't really add too much weight. The controller comes in at 272 grams, so even when the Switch is housed in the device the combo (around 594g) is still lighter than the Steam Deck (669 grams).
This beefed up footprint will appeal to anyone who has picked up a Switch and felt that the stock controllers were just a touch too small. I know of many a folk who found that playing the Switch in handheld mode would lead to them having some form of hand cramp after extended play sessions due to the hybrid's small size. The Nitro Deck seemingly solves this, making the device much more comfortable to hold.
As the Nitro Deck attaches directly to the Switch over USB the latency here is super low. We couldn't detect any notable input lag during our play test — something you do sometimes see with wireless solutions.
Of course, the flip side here is that due to this direct connection, along with the fact that the Nitro Deck doesn't have its own built-in batter, the device does ever so slightly sap away at the Nintendo Switch battery — as for the impact, this is something that we would need to test in a full review.
Beyond just adding to the overall proportions of the Switch, the Nitro Deck also offers mappable buttons on the back, customisable thumbsticks, a turbo mode, and those all important hall-effect joysticks.
The device can also be used as an extra wired controller if you want — it looks a bit odd without a Switch inside, but it's a nice option to have all the same.
Overall, the robust Nitro Deck is a neat and easy way to modify the Switch into something more comfortable. From our quick time playing with it, we came away impressed.
Prices start at $59, and it comes in a few colour options, including black, white and grey. There's also pricier limited edition models, including a lovely GameCube-inspired purple, and a fun SNES-style grey.
Despite being late to the Switch party, with an audience of now over 130 million Switch owners, the Nitro Deck will no doubt appeal to many. This is a welcome addition to the Switch controller/accessory space.
The Nitro Deck is up for pre-order on the CRKD website. It's available starting September 18.