8BitDo Pro 2 review: The best ‘Pro’ controller for $50

The Pro 2 is the sequel to 8BitDo’s SN30 Pro+—a full-sized controller designed with modern features and wrapped in classic gaming aesthetics. At first glance the new controller looks almost exactly like the old one, but it packs some welcome upgrades while keeping the cost at a very reasonable $50. These features make the Pro 2 worthy of the ‘Pro’ name and makes it an easy recommendation for any gamer looking for a powerful and versatile gaming option.

8BitDo Pro 2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

8bitDo Pro 2 Specifications

  • Compatibility with Windows 7 and up, Android 4.0 and up, Nintendo Switch, macOS 10.10 and up, and Raspberry Pi 2B, 2B+, 3B, Zero
  • Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • 2 additional back paddle buttons
  • Custom profile switch that can toggle among the 3 profiles on the fly
  • Mode switch toggle (Switch, macOS, D-input, X-input)
  • 1000mAh Li-on rechargeable, replaceable battery that lasts 20 hours on a 4 hour charge over a USB-C connection
  • Enhanced grip
  • 6-axis motion sensor
  • Fully configurable in Ultimate Software for PC and mobile

8BitDo evolution

The Pro 2 builds upon the controller legacy that 8BitDo has laid down over the course of multiple years—so it’s important to review how we got to this point in case you haven’t been following. The company started out with a suite of products that was designed to bring modern features to classic controller designs, some of them primarily used for emulating classic games on current hardware.

8BitDo controllers Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Bottom to top: SN30, SN30 Pro, SN30 Pro+, Pro 2

Among one of the early releases was the SNES30 (later renamed to the SN30), which looked and felt just like a Super Nintendo controller. This allowed me to use one of my favorite controllers on my PC when playing A Link to the Past—and it was a real treat! Looking to expand its use, 8BitDo then released the SN30 Pro. It took the classic look and feel of the SN30 and added hardware features that rivaled controllers from the major console manufacturers and allowed for use with modern games. It’s still one of my favorite controllers to have around, thanks to its compact size.

The next logical place was to take the SN30 Pro and blow it up to full size, which brings us to the SN30 Pro+. Its larger scale made play feel better for those with bigger hands, and its new Ultimate Software allowed for a wide range of customization options. With this release it was obvious that 8BitDo wanted to play in the mainstream market, further moving away from catering to retro enthusiasts.

This brings us to the Pro 2. Gone are the naming and obvious color ties to the Super Nintendo—a move mostly likely done for legal reasons. It makes the naming transition a bit awkward if there is ever a sequel to the SN30 Pro, but these things are always a pain to deal with.

Pro 2 vs SN30 Pro+

The Pro 2 is similar to the SN30 Pro+ in almost every way—but it builds upon the already awesome frame with smart upgrades. From the size to the weight to the way it rests in the palm, the Pro 2 offers a very familiar feeling for those who used the older SN30 Pro+.

The first notable improvement is in a textured grip, which helps with handling. It’s a textured plastic so it’s not the same kind of grip you would find on a higher-priced controller, but it has a nice touch.

8BitDo SN30 Pro+ & Pro 2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Top: SN30 Pro+, Bottom: Pro 2

The next upgrade is actually a pretty major one, and this is where the ‘Pro’ name really comes into play. The Pro 2 features two back paddles situated along the underside that are fully configurable in the newest version of the Ultimate Software (which I’ll cover later). The buttons offer plenty of tactile feedback, and sit flush enough with the handles that it’s actually a bit more comfortable to use than the raised paddles on other controllers like the Xbox Elite series. The switches feel identical to the face buttons and give a satisfying click when pressed. While I would have liked four paddles, two is still a welcome improvement over the SN30 Pro+. More control options are always better!

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