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GameSir Nova Review: a controller with hall effect sticks, 250Hz Bluetooth & A+ calibration

It's a tough task to review game controllers so close to each other without repeating various aspects in each review, but I'll try to keep things fresh. The PB Tails Crush, which I reviewed, recently caught the attention of a few other controller makers who have new models recently released or in the pipeline.

GameSir was the first to reach out, offering samples of the new Nova and Nova Lite multi-platform game controllers. The entirety of this review, as always, is not sponsored in any way and is my own experience of using these controllers exactly how I use my own personal one, the 8BitDo Ultimate. As I regularly use everything sent in for review, I feel it's best to share my findings, both good and bad, letting the readers decide on what's the best option for them.

Gamesir Controller

The Nova also comes in a teal translucent colour, which, at the time of writing, is not out yet.

I should add that just because the Lite model is called Lite doesn't mean it's a poorer model. Both controllers are different in what platform they prefer. The Nova is Nintendo-geared, which is apparent from its ABXY button layout, digital Z triggers, and colour theme, whilst the Nova Lite favours the Xinput platform that most controllers use.

GameSire Nova Controller series

Depending on the platform you play on the most, you may prefer one over the other, or at the prices these go for, just get both!


Model Nova T4n & T4n Lite
Thumbsticks Hall effect rated to 5 million cycles
Haptic feedback Yes
Connectivity Bluetooth, 2.4GHz USB dongle, USB-C
Platforms Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, Android
RGB Nova only, dual sticks with customisable RGB
Battery charge indicator Multi-colour indication & LED alert when low on both models
Battery specs 600mAh, 6 hours playtime per charge (Nova LIte), 1200mAh (Nova)
Macro buttons Nova only, two underside buttons programmable directly through the M key
Gyro motion control Nova only via 6-axis gyro
Turbo button mode Yes, 20Hz rate
Trigger features Nova Lite: Carbon film linear trigger, same as PS5. The linearity is 256 steps.
On-board calibration Yes
Firmware upgrade Yes, via Bluetooth using the smartphone app
Measurements (W x H): 15.5 x 10.4 x 6.1cm @ 206g
Price £29.99 (Nova Lite) / £39.99 (Nova)


My first impression out of the box was that the focus has squarely been put on the controllers themselves instead of fancy packaging and accessories that just add and divert to the overall cost typically.

GameSire Nova Controller series

The box is basic cardboard, and the hard-shell case isn't anything special, but it is extremely useful, and I like that this is bundled in. It's obviously a cheap thing, but it does the job perfectly at protecting the controller. It is more like a hard skin that hugs the lines of the controller. It barely takes up any extra space beyond the controller itself, perfect for throwing into a bag or just keeping dust-free.

Interestingly, the Nova Lite manual shows the inclusion of the 2.4GHz USB dongle, but I found no such thing in the sealed packaging. The Nova model states that the dongle must be bought separately. Maybe something got lost in translation along the way...

GameSire Nova Controller series

Both controllers have the same construction. They are rigid and built well, with a plastic construction that feels tightly put together. Keep in mind, too, that if you look around, you can buy both the Nova and Nova Lite for less than the cost of one controller from the competition.

In the hands, the Nova controllers feel more robust than my 8BitDo. Somehow, they remind me of my old Nintendo school controllers, the way they feel solid and the way the edges are smoothly cut with a subtle matte textured surface finishing.

GameSire Nova Controller series

The main differences between the Nova and Nova Lite are that the Nova has a 6-axis gyro for motion control, HD vibration motors, which mimic the exact rumbling found on the Switch Pro controller vs the standard vibration on the Lite as found on every other PC controller, and macro programmable buttons on the underside.

There are back pedal buttons as well flanking the handles under the Nova. These can be mapped to macro functions as is the norm for most controllers with additional buttons.

GameSire Nova Controller series

The other subtle difference that some may not notice is that the Nova has anti-friction rings around the thumbsticks, whilst the Nova Lite does not. This isn't immediately obvious just circling the sticks around as both are very smooth, but the gamepad tester web app results later in the review show just how much of a difference that actually makes. For comparison, the 8BitDo Ultimate doesn't have the rings either and feels much rougher when circling the sticks, and the same test shows that up too.

GameSire Nova Controller series

One final difference between the two is that the Nova Lite offers more on-board customisation, things like the vibration intensity can be adjusted on the Lite but not on the Nova. A strange decision from GameSir.


I played Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom via emulation with the Nova and had no problems at all using all the features I normally would on the Switch. The controller was responsive and smooth, with no Bluetooth lag or issues to note.

Then, I played Cyberpunk 2077 on PC with the Nova Lite to see a similar experience. No issues were observed, the triggers were reactive, and driving was a breeze. I also tried driving with the Nova's digital Z-triggers and found no problems either. I initially thought driving without analogue triggers might cause issues with throttle modulation, but this generally was fine, so I may just end up using the Nova for most things anyway.

GameSir Nova Controller

Motion controls on PC games worked fine too, and since I am currently halfway through Horizon Forbidden West, I checked out aiming with motion—all flawless. The 250Hz polling rate does seem to result in a smoother Bluetooth experience than what I was getting with my 8BitDo Ultimate controller doing the same thing, as well as the accuracy of the thumbsticks being better on the Novas.

Diving into accuracy a bit further, I loaded up the Gamepad Tester website and checked out all three controllers for their thumbstick accuracy, and here is what I found:

GameSir Nova GameSir Nova Lite 8BitDo Ultimate

GameSir Nova

GameSir Nova Lite

8bitdo ultimate

GameSir seem to be excellent at calibrating their sticks, and doing a quick search online shows that this is quite common with most of their controllers. 8BitDo on the other hand, whilst good, just doesn't stand a chance against this level of calibration control.

GameSire Nova Controller series

To test the latency, I used Gamepadla to synthetically measure the min/max/average latency as well as the average and maximum polling rates using wireless for all three controllers. I kept the controllers in their preferred input modes for this test based on how they come out of the box, so Switch layout ABXY = Switch input.

Controller Min Max Average Polling Polling max
8BitDo Ultimate (2.4GHz, Xinput) 3.4ms 19.93ms 6.47ms 154Hz 250Hz
8BitDo Ultimate (2.4GHz, Switch Pro) 7.42ms 24.52ms 12.29ms 81.36Hz 125Hz
GameSir Nova Lite (Bluetooth, Xinput) 5.5ms 15.82ms 8.1ms 123.3Hz 125Hz
GameSir Nova (Bluetooth, Switch Pro) 1ms 34.81ms 4.38 223.36Hz 250Hz

Once again, the Nova pulls the tightest numbers and the highest polling rate average is also achieved, and that was over Bluetooth, whilst the 8BitDo was using its dedicated 2.4GHz adapter.

GameSire Nova Controller series
8BitDo Ultimate (left)


Considering the price of both Nova controllers, this is an absolute winner. You can essentially buy both controllers for less than the cost of a single controller from the competition. Not only do you get excellent Bluetooth performance, but you also get a great all-round package with no novelties thrown in.

OK, the RGB lighting on the Nova could be called a gimmick, but you can turn that off, and they serve a function to see the charge level anyway. The PB Tails Crush I reviewed also had RGB, which only functioned as RGB as a direct comparison to the Nova.

GameSire Nova Controller series

As for negatives, the Nova operates on PC only as Switch Pro Input when connected via Bluetooth. The input method can only be changed when connected via a USB cable. The 2.4GHz adapter connection will use Xinput, but with the Nova the dongle needs to be bought separately whereas it is included with the Nova Lite.

As a result of this input difference, the vibration feedback in games is different too, since the Nova replicates the HD vibration features of the official Nintendo Switch Pro controller, so if the games you play on PC don't have awareness of this (none do) then the vibration experience when in Switch Pro mode will be weaker than using regular vibration as found on the Nova Lite, 8BitDo Ultimate and so on. It's great that GameSir have implemented HD rumble, but it can only be fully exploited when connected to a Switch console with the Nova.

GameSire Nova Controller series

Having said that, when wired in, I noticed that vibrations in PC games were much better as if the Xinput method allowed the HD rumble motors to be more granular now than when in Switch input. I guess what is happening is that there is a translation layer that tries to replicate HD vibration as if it was on a Switch when the Nova is in Xinput mode, either by USB cable or the 2.4GHz adapter.

GameSire Nova Controller series

I think to get the best out of haptics then, and remove the inconvenience of a USB cable, the 2.4GHz adapter is necessary since Bluetooth only has half the full scope of the rumble effects when connected to a PC.

The Nova Lite has good vibration feedback, though. It feels just like any other good-quality wireless controller for PC—nothing exceptional, but nothing lost, either.

It is a shame that the packaging did not contain a 2.4GHz adapter with the Nova Lite. I wonder how many more are out there in warehouses waiting to be bought with missing adapters.

The other thing missing was a second hard shell case. Only the Nova came with one. Both boxes were sealed, so this clearly was somehow missed at the factory. This is nothing major; a quick email to support should resolve the matter. Maybe both being missing are connected since the shell case has a little section on the inside where the 2.4GHz adapter stows away. So if the Lite's case is missing, so is the adapter. Figures!

GameSire Nova Controller series

What this has shown me is that when a company only focuses with laser precision on what matters most, the product, then the result is what you see here. I am not alone in my findings, as many reviews, as well as community feedback, seem to be speaking the same language here.

For those wanting to just game casually without needing to spend too much, these offer good value for money with good levels of performance and little in the way of additional frills.

GameSir Nova / Nova Lite
Bluetooth performance Construction quality Everything programmable on-board Ergonomics Hall effect stick calibration Price
Nova Lite is only 125Hz over Bluetooth Firmware upgrade only via mobile app More on-board customisation on the Nova Lite
£39.99 / £29.99
March/April 2024


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