The 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is a cheaper alternative to the stellar Nintendo Switch gamepad. That does mean it’s lacking some of the Ultimate’s core features and extras, but this Bluetooth-only variant still brings a quality play experience.
Comparable quality to the 8BitDo Ultimate
Decent battery life
No back buttons or charging dock
No NFC/amiibo support
Why you can trust TechRadar
The 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is the latest gamepad in the manufacturer’s Ultimate lineup. In essence, it’s a much more affordable variant of the 8BitDo Ultimate, coming in at less than half the price of its fully-featured older sibling. This compromise on price does come at the cost of a fairly pared-back experience.
The Ultimate C Bluetooth controller ditches the remappable back buttons, charging dock, and 2.4GHz connectivity of the flagship gamepad. Battery life, while still quite decent, isn’t as impressive as it is with the main Ultimate controller, either.
But with those caveats out of the way, what remains is still a fantastic Nintendo Switch controller with excellent build quality shining in the form of delightfully tactile buttons and triggers and thumbsticks that feel superb. As a result, what you’re getting with the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller feels fair when considering its lower price point.
Price and availability
The 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is available to buy now for $29.99 / £24.99, either from 8BitDo’s official website or its Amazon store page. Additionally, you’ve got three colorways to choose from - blue, orange or pink - that lend it some uniqueness in comparison to the main Ultimate model.
This is starkly more affordable when compared to the 8BitDo Ultimate, which retails at $69.99 / £59.99 outside of sales period. Overall, the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is easily one of the best budget gamepads you can buy for use with your Nintendo Switch.
Design and features
The overall look and feel of the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is practically identical to the original, pricier model. It’s the same size, has the same button layout, and also features nicely textured grips that allow the gamepad to rest firmly in your hands. While there’s no charging dock with this model, the box does include a USB-C cable for convenient charging.
As mentioned, the Ultimate C is lacking a pair of remappable buttons on the rear of the pad. And as a Bluetooth-only controller, the connectivity toggle on the back (which switches between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz on the regular Ultimate controller) is also absent. As is custom profile creation and switching. These removed features mean that the Ultimate C does weigh slightly less than its parent model, but really not by much.
If you’re familiar with the original Ultimate pad, then there isn’t much more to say in regards to the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller. It’s very much a pared-down version of the first model. But, for the most part, this doesn’t mean that its performance suffers as a result.
Despite lacking the Ultimate’s shinier features, the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is still a winner when it comes to performance. For starters, connection via Bluetooth is quick and simple and done so by holding the pairing button at the top for a few seconds, and then selecting it on the Nintendo Switch’s controller order menu. Connectivity from there on remained stable, and I never encountered an instance of it cutting out or disconnecting entirely - an occurrence I’ve occasionally run into with other controllers with Bluetooth connectivity.
The controller’s modules are of comparable quality to the Ultimate. The pad’s face buttons are delightfully clicky and responsive. The rear triggers are fully digital, thus sharing that same quick register as the face buttons. This differs from the triggers featured on the main Ultimate controller, which require a squeeze to fully depress. I actually prefer the triggers found here on the Ultimate C controller; their short travel time feels much more satisfying for use in fighting games, platformers, and classic arcade titles.
Unlike some other cheap Nintendo Switch controllers, you’re also getting support for motion controls and gyro aiming with the Ultimate C. This makes it an excellent choice for games that heavily rely on gyro such as Splatoon 3, or aiming with your bow in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
I’m also a huge fan of the punchy rumble featured in the Ultimate C. It’s not as detailed as Nintendo’s patented HD Rumble, certainly, but it does provide a surprisingly strong kick that felt fantastic in the rhythm-centric Hello Kitty Happiness Parade and Metroid Prime Remastered’s immersive vibration profile.
One notable drawback with the Ultimate C is that the analog sticks don’t feature Hall effect technology. Implemented in the original model to eliminate stick drift, the absence of them here means they likely won’t last as long as those found on the standard Ultimate. While this is likely another cost-cutting measure, it’s a shame to see one of the Ultimate’s best features missing here.
Overall battery life also doesn’t fare quite as well here. On full charge, you’re getting approximately 16 hours of battery life. That’s still pretty solid overall but is notably less than the Ultimate’s 22 hours. And as you’re relying on a USB-C cable for charging, expect that to take longer, too, at roughly two hours from empty to full.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that while the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller’s box only lists Nintendo Switch compatibility, our testing found that it was also usable on PC with the included USB-C cable (or if you own a USB Bluetooth adapter). If you’re after a cheap controller for your desktop or laptop, then, you can’t go wrong with purchasing the 8BitDo Ultimate C controller.
Should I buy the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller?
Don’t let the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller’s low price point make you think it’s a cheap knock-off. While I certainly do miss the features that are absent here, what’s left still provides a fantastic play experience that boasts superb build quality, responsive and tactile modules and fairly decent battery life. If you’re looking for a spare pad or just after a cheap controller in general, then the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is an amazing budget choice.
Buy it if...
You’re after a cheap controller that’s actually worthwhile: 8BitDo typically impresses with its controllers’ build quality and high performance, and the Ultimate C, while certainly downgraded in some aspects, still impresses in these regards.
You need a reliable backup controller: If you already own one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers, such as the official Pro controller or indeed the 8BitDo Ultimate, then the Ultimate C is still a solid choice if you need a spare or for when friends come round for multiplayer japes.
Don't buy it if...
You’d rather just have the full package: The 8BitDo Ultimate, while pricier, comes with a charging dock, remappable back buttons, Hall effect sticks and custom profile creation. These additions will enhance your gaming experience on Switch and are well worth the extra cost. Especially so considering the Ultimate goes on sale fairly often these days.
How we tested the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller
I tested the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller for about a week and a half over the Holiday period, focusing on several high-profile Nintendo Switch titles such as Splatoon 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I also found the controller to be an excellent choice for PC gamers, loading up games in my Steam library such as Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Monster Hunter World and more.
Controllers would be nothing without some of the best Nintendo Switch games to play them with. Additionally, some of the best Nintendo Switch accessories can provide a more convenient experience with the console, offering quicker charging solutions or entirely new ways to play.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.