GameSir Nova Lite controller review

The budget controller category is often a huge gamble. When you’re spending so little for a piece of tech, you can afford to get something that is… okay, I guess. If buying on a budget is a game of risk/reward, GameSir’s Nova Lite is what it’s like to hit the jackpot. 

Though noticeably cheap in some areas, the Nova Lite performs well above others at the same price point with only a few small drawbacks.

Starting at one downside you might notice right away, this controller does not have a 3.5mm jack. Unless you have a standalone headset that plugs directly into your device, you will unfortunately be locked to having to communicate purely in well-timed emotes in multiplayer games. Most of the best gaming headsets right now plug in via USB or Bluetooth but this is still a downside worth considering if you are thinking of making the modest investment of just $25.

As well as coming with a dongle for 2.4 GHz low latency play, the Nova Lite has Bluetooth capabilities and can be plugged in with a USB-C at the top, though it doesn’t come with a cable. I think the assumption here is that people will have their own, but this is a noteworthy exclusion for some. At the very least if you aren’t a tech hoarder like myself with a jumble of random cables stuffed into a bag. Interestingly, holding the home button and one of the A,B,X,Y buttons produces a different colour at the top of the remote to signify the type of connection. This means that, if you have the Bluetooth mode connected to your phone, and the 2.4GHz mode connected to your laptop, it can swap between them in just a few seconds. You can connect to iOS, Windows, Steam Deck, Android, and Switch easily.

Nova Lite specs

Compatibility: Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz, USB-C
Connectivity:
PC, Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
Ports:
USB-C
Thumbstick layout:
Asymmetric
Weight:
309 grams
Price:
$25 / £30

Changing connection is all surprisingly intuitive once you’ve gotten used to it, making it an excellent controller to take on the go. In service of this, it’s also super light and easy to simply throw (or gently place) into your bag before leaving. The only thing that makes me less inclined to literally throw it into the bag is its build quality. 

The Nova Pro doesn’t creak under pressure or bend in any way, but that low weight comes at the cost of it feeling a bit breakable. This is a very understandable decision but not the best choice if you can’t resist chucking your controller right into Malenia, Blade of Miquella’s, stupid face after your 15th loss. Sorry Malenia.

Indicative of the price and selling point, the Nova Lite is a very understated controller, coming in a simple cardboard box with a small plastic shell for the controller. There are two central colours you can pick, all-black or white with orange accents. Both look clean and simple yet catch the eye in their own way. They look good on a shelf. The controller’s shell helps keep it free from dust and offers a nice way to package up your controller when you’re done, but I wouldn’t quite call it protective.

The GameSir Nova Lite is a very competent controller with asymmetrical Hall Effect sticks, ensuring no stick drift. They feel consistently great. The buttons provide a satisfying click on each hit which feels nice under the fingers without distracting. Though the bumper buttons aren’t quite as big as those found in Sony’s DualSense or as indented as Microsoft’s Xbox Core controller, which makes them feel a little small and unpronounced in my—admittedly rather large—hands. This is something you eventually get used to, rather than something you play in spite of, but you are noticeably not quite getting the professional feel of the big boys here. 

The D-Pad isn’t as refined as I might like. It’s just serviceable for fighters and platformers.

Buy if…

✅ You’re on a budget: One of the Nova Lite’s central selling points is its excellent price. If you are willing to spend a good bit more, you can get a nicer controller that offers some extra features but you’re unlikely to get a better value choice in the market.

✅ You want to play on multiple devices: This controller has built-in functions for quickly swapping from one device to another. It even outclasses much more expensive controllers in just how easy it is to connect to multiple devices in seconds.  

Don’t buy if…

❌ You want a heavy, sturdy controller: Though it doesn’t feel easy to break, the Nova lite is very… well light. It doesn’t quite give the same comfort that the hefty feel of an Xbox Core controller does in the hand.

❌ You want super strong battery life: At around 10 hours of battery life, the Nova lite won’t go dry too early but alternatives like the 8BitDo Ultimate offer double the battery life and a more convenient charging cradle too. 

❌ You’re looking for pro features: This controller lacks back paddles, a capture button, and an aux jack, and you certainly notice it quite quickly. The Nova Lite is not a flashy controller but it never really tries to be. 

Testing it out on Cyberpunk 2077 and Fallout New Vegas, games that use the triggers and sticks a lot but the D-Pad only occasionally, the Nova Lite performed brilliantly. On Ultros, a recent Metroidvania, it works decently but feels much more satisfying on a more expensive controller. The textured grips on the back help how it feels in the hands and it’s super comfortable. 

Though you won’t get the pro feel and buttons of the more expensive controllers, the Nova Lite’s function button does add something unique. By holding it down and clicking the corresponding button, you can change the vibration of the controller and even affect the thumbsticks’ dead zones—great for players who like a super sensitive aiming scheme. 

Ticking pretty much every box you need from a controller, the GameSir Nova Lite is let down somewhat by a mediocre battery. I consistently get around nine hours, which is similar to PlayStation’s DualSense—one of the major downsides of Sony’s greatest. It takes a few hours to top up that charge once more, adding another if you plan on using it while it charges. This isn’t an awful battery life, especially for the price, but I found myself keeping it constantly plugged in more due to it. 

If you are a fan of features that help in multiplayer play, like paddles on the back and the ability to speak with an aux-based microphone, the PDP Afterglow Wave may be a better budget choice. However, if you just want a solid controller with an excellent feel, fantastic connectivity options, and an understated aesthetic, this is one of the best PC controllers out there for its price point. 

PCGamer.com

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