Thoughts and Findings on the 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller

TL;DR do NOT use if you want/need gyro on PC.

Gadgets Gaming Review Thoughts

8 minutes

Originally posted on Reddit.

My controller arrived today and I had ample time to play around with it. The TL;DR of this writeup is that I may end up returning the controller, but only because it lacked one specific feature I was hoping it would have.

First, the good: #

  1. It feels good. For its size, it feels surprisingly light. Much like the Google Stadia controller felt when picking it up out of the box. The back of the controller has a slightly ribbed (for your pleasure) texture that should help with the grip.
  2. It’s comfortable. I have medium/large hands, and holding the 8bitdo Ultimate Controller for extended periods is no problem. Akin to holding a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
  3. Switching connection modes is seamless. With the cradle (which contains the removable dongle) plugged in to my PC, and the controller itself paired to my Switch, swapping between the two devices is as easy as flipping the toggle. No need to re-pair every time if I want to play wirelessly on both machines.

But there are some minor issues: #

  1. The Hall Effect sticks don’t calibrate properly on PC. In Steam, they’re detected as if extending beyond the borders of the calibration GUI. On the Switch though, it’s fine. For now this is only a minor issue, however, because in-game (testing done in Monster Hunter Rise PC and Switch) I notice no difference in how either device actually parses the inputs.
  2. There’s no discernible way to open the controller. The shell is probably held together with clips in the housing, but it’d be much less stressful to open and take apart if they’d just used screws.

And my biggest complaints: #

  1. Connecting to a PC via Bluetooth doesn’t work. While you can pair the controller to a PC/laptop and it’ll be detected as a “Pro Controller” in Windows like how the Switch Pro Controller shows up, in Steam it appears as “Unknown Controller” and frequently disconnects/reconnects (it disappears and reappears in the Steam controller menu). Edit: This is resolved with a hard reset of the controller, see edit details below.
  2. You can only use it via the 2.4GHz dongle on PC as an Xbox Controller. This is the biggest reason I’m considering returning the Ultimate Controller. I wanted 2.4GHz but in Switch Pro Controller mode. This is because you can only use the gyro on PC if Steam detects the controller as a Switch Pro Controller. If it’s in Xbox mode, even though the controller has a gyroscope built into it, it can’t be used. Likewise, even though the controller has analog triggers, it will only be detected as digital triggers in Switch Pro Controller mode.
  3. The controller doesn’t work on the Steam Deck with the 2.4GHz dongle. It just doesn’t. Could be a driver issue that Valve can fix, or maybe a firmware update on 8bitdo’s side, but as of now you can only connect the controller to a Steam Deck through Bluetooth.

I’m hoping these things could be fixed with firmware updates. While I can accept that maybe using it with the 2.4GHz dongle restricts it to Xbox mode on PC only due to hardware issues, it makes absolutely no sense to me why the “Ultimate” controller lacks the ability to be used as a Bluetooth controller on PC at all, let alone in Switch Pro Controller mode. The SN30 Pro, SN30 Pro+, and SN30 Pro 2 all let me do this. Why can’t the Ultimate?

For the record, I’ve tested pairing it to 4 PCs (2 desktops, 2 laptops, Windows 10 & 11) and they all behave this way. All 4 PCs pair with my first-party Nintendo Switch Pro Controller just fine, with Steam recognizing it right away.

I have a month to decide whether I’ll keep the controller or not. If firmware updates address these issues, it’s definitely staying with me. But if not, there’s a good chance I’ll be returning it and just getting 2x SN30 Pro+ controllers for cheaper than the cost of one Ultimate controller on my next visit to South East Asia (where 8bitdo controllers are often 25%-30% cheaper) in December. That way I could just keep one paired to my PC, the other paired to my Switch, and still be able to use it in Nintendo Switch Pro Controller mode on PC via Bluetooth. It’d just be such a shame to not have the performance of the 2.4GHz mode instead.

Edits #

10/29/22 23:46 - The 8bitdo Ultimate Controller is not working on my Steam Deck, whether via Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz dongle with the Steam Dock. When connected to the Dock, the 8bitdo dongle lights up solid blue indicating it has a connection to the controller, but there is no response in the Deck when using the controller. When pairing to the Deck via Bluetooth, it shows up as “Pro Controller” and connects (similar to the behavior observed in Windows), but also doesn’t respond to any input (again, similar to the behavior observed in Steam on Windows). For the record, the first-party Switch Pro Controller does work flawlessly on the Deck.

10/30/22 12:55 - u/PookAndPie reported below that their own controller, after shutting it off and on again, exhibited no issues getting their PC to recognize it as a Switch Pro Controller over Bluetooth. Attempting to turn off/on the controller on my own end resulted in no change until I re-read the manual closely and noticed that there’s a way to force the controller off. I had assumed that when the LED light was off, the controller was off. That’s not necessarily the case.

After a force-shutdown of the controller and restarting it, my Windows desktop connected to the controller automatically over BT and Steam recognized it as a Switch Pro Controller. With the dongle connected to the same PC, I toggled the connectivity switch and sure enough, Steam on the same PC picked up the controller again, this time as an Xbox controller. And it worked fine again vice versa, toggling it once more to BT.

This was my biggest complaint about the controller so far and it seems to just be some kind of boot/initiation problem with the controller’s firmware, since a simple hard restart fixed it for me. However, I’d still love for a clarification on the Switch Pro Controller mode over 2.4GHz dongle option. The manual states this is possible on a Switch console, so why shouldn’t it be on a PC?

Unfortunately, this didn’t do anything to fix the controller’s inputs on my Steam Deck. Actually, now it works on my Steam Deck via BT. But it’s got a strange way of behaving: after pairing, I still don’t get any button inputs to register on the Deck, until I press the Home button on the controller. Then, it seems to “wake up” the controller (even though its LEDs were already on) and the Deck accepts input from it just fine.

10/30/22 19:15 - u/Natural_Design9481 requested checking the polling rate of the controller. I was only able to do this wired and with the 2.4G dongle, not through Bluetooth. If anybody can suggest how I attempt to get the polling rate through Bluetooth I can look into it. Here are the results:

Wired Wireless (2.4GHz) Wireless (BT)
Min 0.556400 ms 0.720700 ms n/a
Max 29.914400 ms 14.998200 ms n/a
Jitter 2.161996 ms 0.921656 ms n/a
Average 4.824247 ms 4.768375 ms n/a
Outliers 7 5 n/a
Polling Rate 207.286257 Hz 209.715058 Hz 115 Hz Max / 80Hz Avg. *

I tested using XInputTest and attempted overclocking the controller’s polling rate using HIDUSBF. The results were the same (within ±5ms) no matter what polling rate was set in the software. Again, if anyone can suggest a way to test this using BT/Switch Pro Controller mode, I’m open to trying things.

* u/RuphusSpeaks gave some advice on how to test the polling rate of the gyroscope via BT. It uses additional tools (reWASD) to parse the gyro input and translate it as mouse input for reading on If anybody has other ways to test this with more accuracy then I’m all ears.

10/31/22 17:07 - I received a response from 8bitdo support regarding my inquiry. Here is what they say:


Thank you for the consultation!

  1. Is there a way to use the controller via 2.4GHz dongle on PC and have the computer detect it as a Switch Pro Controller? So far, I’ve only been able to get Steam to recognize the Ultimate Bluetooth Controller as an Xbox Controller in 2.4GHz mode.

– There is no way to have the computer detect it as a Switch Pro Controller via the 2.4g receiver that comes with, if you connect the controller to your Windows PC via 2.4g receiver it will recognize it as an Xbox controller.

  1. I have tried connecting the Ultimate Bluetooth Controller via Bluetooth to 4 different Windows PCs/laptops. While they are all detected as Pro Controllers through Windows’s Bluetooth UI, in Steam, they show up as “Unknown Controller” and are not usable. Is this intentional, or can it be fixed in a future firmware update?

– The Bluetooth mode of the controller is designed and expected to use on the Nintendo Switch only, if your try to pair the controller with the Windows PC on Bluetooth mode, it will show the “Pro controller” as the device name but you will not able to use it.

So it seems the connectivity limitations are by design and I think it may be safe to assume 8bitdo has no plans to enable switching of controller modes over 2.4GHz.

11/15/2022 9:50 u/PolygonKiwii reported that 8bitdo is working on firmware that allows switching input modes on 2.4GHz. This is huge news for anyone who wanted the speed/performance of 2.4GHz but the input scheme and features of the Switch Pro controller.