In 2023, there is no shortage of Nintendo Switch controllers of all varieties, from pro-style gamepads to retro-infused controllers and everything in between. Though the Nintendo Switch is the rare modern console that comes with everything you need for (two-person) multiplayer for many games thanks to the Joy-Con, a lot of Switch owners will inevitably want different options. To put it simply, there are a bunch of controllers out there that are better for both playing Switch on your TV and in handheld mode. We've rounded up the best Nintendo Switch controllers in 2023.
The Switch Pro controller is an easy and safe choice, but numerous third-party controllers give it a run for its money. We've picked out the best Switch controllers for just about every type of game and experience. Depending on what you play, you may even want to pick up a couple of the controllers on this list.
Some of the top brands to consider include 8BitDo, a maker of retro-inspired controllers and the company behind our favorite Pro Controller alternatives, the Pro 2 and Ultimate; Hori, which makes the Split Pad Pro, Split Pad Compact, and more of the best Nintendo Switch accessories; and PowerA, which offers some of the best budget Switch controllers and a great GameCube-style option as well. Depending on your Switch gaming habits and needs, you can find a great third-party Switch controller out there for less than the price of a Pro Controller--though it's not a bad idea to invest in one of those as well.
From Switch Pro Controller alternatives and better Joy-Cons to fight sticks and retro pads, here are the best Switch controllers we've tried and swear by. Plus, check out our picks for the best Nintendo Switch carrying cases, screen protectors, and grips as well as great Bluetooth headsets for Switch.
Six years after launching alongside the Nintendo Switch, the official Pro Controller remains the best bet for most players. It arguably has the best ergonomics among Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony's first-party console video game controllers. The face buttons feel good, the analog sticks have excellent tension, the triggers and shoulder buttons are great, and D-pad is solid as well. It's also the only conventional Switch controller that utilizes all of the Switch's features, including HD Rumble, gyro motion controls, and NFC support for Amiibo.
The Pro Controller is significantly better for playing games in docked mode than the Joy-Cons, whether attached to the grip or not. It also has an incredible battery life, holding a charge for around 40 hours.
When you buy a Nintendo Switch, you can't go wrong by pairing it with the Switch Pro controller. Though the Pro controller can also suffer from joystick drifting, in general it tends to hold up very well, even after years of consistent use. It's a high-performing controller with super ergonomics and an all-around great feel. You can't ask for much more than that from a first-party controller. That said, there are a couple of third-party Switch controllers that outperform the Pro Controller in some respects...
The 8BitDo Pro 2 is, quite simply, the best Switch Pro controller alternative on the market for those who prefer aligned joysticks and/or play a lot of games that control better with a D-pad. The Pro 2's nostalgic design calls back to the SNES controller, which gives it a charming retro aesthetic while maintaining modern features.
This Bluetooth gamepad features extensive customization for button mapping, analog sticks, trigger inputs, and vibration adjustments. Notably, the Pro 2 has two back paddle buttons to give you more control while playing, along with an enhanced grip and more ergonomic shape. It allows you to swap button inputs, invert the X and Y axis on your analog sticks, and more. You can even create macros of up to 18 inputs.
All of this customization can be done on Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS. The convenient mobile app allows you to remap inputs and make other adjustments on the fly. You can store up to three custom profiles on the Pro 2--a handy feature if you're regularly switching between multiple games.
The Pro 2 has a switch on the back that can be toggled between devices: Switch, Mac, D-Input, and X-Input. This makes it easy to use the Pro 2 on other platforms such as PC, Mac, and Steam Deck without having to reconfigure inputs.
Its battery life isn't nearly as impressive as the official Pro controller, though. You can get around 20 hours on a full charge, but you can also use disposable AA batteries in a pinch. The Pro 2 is equipped with motion controls and rumble--but not "HD" rumble, so it doesn't offer pinpoint, variable vibration like the first-party controller. One feature it is missing altogether is NFC support, so that's worth keeping in mind.
The 8BitDo Pro 2 is perfect for retro gaming and can also be a wonderful pick for all of your games. The back buttons and customization suite make it well-worth considering if you like the form factor and look.
If you’re looking for a pro controller that doesn’t feature the retro stylings of the 8BitDo Pro 2, then you’ll want to look at the newer 8BitDo Ultimate. Featuring a charging dock, two back buttons, and custom profile switching, it offers tons of premium functionality and comes in a sleek, modern design. We're calling this a tie between the two 8BitDo heavyweights. It really comes down to your form factor and stick layout preferences.
Despite looking like an expensive gamepad, the 8BitDo Ultimate can be had for just $70, putting it in-line with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. That’s an impressive price for a pro-style gamepad--especially one that comes with a charging dock. You’ll also get support for vibration, motion controls, USB-C, and a battery that lasts up to 22 hours. It connects via Bluetooth, but it also comes with a 2.4GHz dongle (stored inside the charging stand) that can be used on PC. Like the Pro 2, it doesn't have NFC support.
The Ultimate shares many of the same features as the Pro 2, including the impressive customization options. Once again, you can tinker with your controller's settings using 8BitDo's easy-to-use Ultimate app. You can remap the excellent back triggers, adjust stick tension and trigger sensitivity, calibrate intensity rumble on both handles, and set up macros. The controller stores three different user profiles.
There are a couple notable differences between two 8BitDo pro-style controllers. The Ultimate has Hall Effect joysticks, a tech advancement that allows the sticks to operate without creating friction. As a result, they should hold up better over time and aren't prone to joystick drift.
Bottom line: The 8BitDo Pro 2 Ultimate and Pro 2 are the best Switch controllers when it comes to customization. The Ultimate costs $20 more than the Pro 2, but it also comes with a charging dock. These controllers have features that pro-style controllers sold for twice the price or more don't have. Incredible value.
The Hori Split Pad Pro is the best set of Joy-Cons around. The Split Pad Pro gives the Switch a more conventional controller form factor when playing in handheld mode thanks to its curved handles that add a welcome bulkiness your grip. In addition to the added ergonomics, the Split Pad Pro boasts regular analog sticks, not the low-profile thumbsticks seen on the Joy-Cons. It also has beefier triggers and buttons as well as a real D-pad, making it great for both modern and classic games. Mappable back triggers add more customization and make the Split Pad Pro the ideal controller for competitive handheld play on Switch.
The Split Pad Pro is sold in two different models. You can buy just the controller, or you can pick up the controller with an attachment that lets you use the Split Pad Pro in docked mode with a wired connection. The Split Pad Pro draws its power from the Switch itself, so it's primarily (and understandably) designed with portable play in mind.
The Split Pad Pro remedies the ergonomic issues that plague the Joy-Cons. And while there are a bunch of great Nintendo Switch grips, none of them fix the Joy-Cons' limitations better than the Split Pad Pro.
The Hori Split Pad Compact is one of the newest products from Hori, taking everything that made the Split Pad Pro so popular and trimming down its footprint. This makes it a great option for handheld gamers that are constantly traveling, as it's easy to find space in your bag for the tiny controllers.
Despite its small size, the Split Pad Compact still features full-sized analog sticks, buttons, and a responsive D-pad. There’s even a set of programmable rear triggers and a turbo functionality that lets you rapidly input button presses by simply holding down the button instead of constantly mashing it.
Larger hands still might be best served with the Hori Split Pad Pro, but folks in need of something highly portable that doesn’t cut features to achieve that goal will find much to love about the Split Pad Compact.
The PowerA Fusion Pro retains the same layout and form factor as the Switch Pro controller while adding four mappable back paddles. The Fusion Pro has rubber grips for added comfort and connects via Bluetooth. Another great feature on the Fusion Pro is that it has a headphone jack, which is curiously absent from some of the other best Switch controllers. That said, the headphone jack only works when playing with a wired connection. The Fusion Pro comes with a 10-foot USB-C cable and a storage case for the controller. It's important to note that it does not have HD rumble or Amiibo support. It does offer motion controls, though.
At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Gulikit KingKong Pro 2 was an Xbox Series X controller. It features most of the same buttons in a nearly identical layout as the latest Xbox gamepad, but it's actually designed specifically for Nintendo Switch.
Aside from looking like an Xbox controller, the KingKong Pro 2 brings a few cool features to the table. The first is its Hall Sensor joysticks, which are much more resistant to drift than other sticks and should provide a smooth gaming experience for the life of your Switch. Its buttons are also clicky and responsive, leading to a premium feel despite its standard $70 price tag.
The Switch Pro Controller and 8BitDo Ultimate should still be high on your shopping list, but Xbox fans crossing over to the world of Nintendo will find plenty of reasons to check out the KingKong Pro 2. Premium features such as autopilot gaming and customizable buttons, a slick design, and top-tier joysticks make it a great, under-the-radar option.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Switch Joy-Con as a game controller is the lack of a proper D-Pad on its left Joy-Con. It's not an automatic dealbreaker, with games like Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not utilizing the D-pad for anything super demanding, but when the situation calls for it, the Hori D-Pad Joy-Con feels a lot more precise and comfortable when playing in handheld mode without having to resort to a fully alternate gamepad. The D-pad on Hori's Joy-Con is a bit soft, but it's hard to deny just how pleasant the experience is.
There are a few things that are important to note, however. First off, this Joy-Con can't be used wirelessly, so you're restricted to using it in handheld mode. Secondly, it's incompatible with most cases and grips. This is because the latch button protrudes out further than the official Nintendo Joy-Cons. We took a pair of scissors and cut out a space for it on a cheap Orzly grip case, Finally, you should note that you'll only get one left controller--there's not matching right controller included.
The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is an honorable mention when it comes to discussing Switch Pro Controller alternatives, largely because of the range of themed designs.
PowerA has outdone itself when it comes to the range of designs available for the Enhanced Wireless Controller, with bold and striking designs themed after Nintendo franchises and other popular series, from Mario and Zelda to Cuphead, Spyro, and The Witcher. Priced at $50, you'll often find nice deals on older designs at Amazon as well.
Build-wise, the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is simply lacking compared to some other controllers on this list. It feels lighter and cheaper than the Pro Controller, the joysticks are slightly taller, and the D-pad is slightly further in. Overall, the controller looks and feels quite similar to the first-party option with a comfortable, ergonomic design and standard button layout, but it lacks that premium feel. You do get two mappable rear buttons and support for motion controls, but not HD rumble, IR, or Amiibo NFC. Finally, this model runs on AA batteries and can't be recharged similar to the Pro Controller, though you could use rechargeable AA batteries in it.
Ultimately, we love the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller for its unmatched range of themed designs and its overall similarities to the Pro Controller with a cheaper price tag, though we don't recommend picking this up to be your main Switch controller. Instead, make this your second or third Switch controller that you pick up for multiplayer sessions or for when your Pro Controller needs to charge.
8BitDo's M30 controller is an excellent retro gamepad, especially if you have Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack to play the library of Sega Genesis games. The M30 uses the six-button Genesis layout, which makes it far more versatile than the original three-button Genesis controllers. Its ergonomics have been shaped differently to make it more comfortable to hold than the Sega original, and the D-pad simply incredible. Classic titles, platformers, and fighting games are the obvious choice for the M30, but it's great for a wide variety of genres. It's definitely not going to work with every game, especially those that rely on a second analog stick, but it's a nice option to have around.
The 8Bitdo N30 isn't going to be for everyone. It's an NES-style controller that is great for very specific games, like everything in the Switch Online NES library and very few others. That said, if you are nostalgic for the rectangular NES controller form factor, you can't beat it.
Nintendo's own NES Switch controllers are good, but they have inferior shoulder buttons and need to be charged the same way as your Joy-Cons--not to mention, the Nintendo Switch Online subscription that's required before you can even purchase them. With all this considered, the N30 is perfect for the job, if you can find it in stock.
PowerA's GameCube-style controller feels very similar to Nintendo’s original controller with its shape and size; however, that doesn't mean it's without changes. The biggest difference is the larger D-pad, which makes it better suited for games like 2D platformers or fighting games--though there are still controllers with better D-pads out there if you're looking for one. Thankfully, where PowerA's controller excels is with games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
If you're looking for a controller that is nearly identical to the GameCube's--but with some modern niceties--then PowerA's pad is a great option. It comes in both wireless and wired designs.
There’s no shortage of great fight sticks on the market, but there aren't many designed specifically for Switch. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is one of those, and you can't beat the combination of price and performance, so that's why it's getting the nod here. Built around a retro chassis that features premium buttons and a reliable joystick, it’s well worth the $90 price tag. It's not an ultra-premium fight stick, but the Switch isn't really a platform for competitive fighting games outside of Smash Bros. anyway.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick works on both Switch and PC, giving you a bit of multiplatform support should you decide to connect it to your gaming rig. It offers eight large face buttons that have been placed in a way that mimics the natural curvature of your hand for easy access (and comfort during extended play sessions). It also supports button mapping and lets you connect via Bluetooth, 2.4Hz, or a wired USB-C port.
If you find something you don’t like about the Arcade Stick, 8BitDo has ensured that the unit is easy to mod. That means you can swap out the arcade buttons or replace the joystick with a new one if needed. And according to 8BitDo, the unit supports “virtually every arcade stick ever made,” so it shouldn’t be hard to find something that fits your preferences.
If you're somebody who plays fighting games but has been hesitant to drop the serious amount of money that's required for a high-end fight stick, then Hori's Fighting Stick Mini is a great beginner's stick. Despite its cheap price and lightweight form factor, it's perfectly capable of keeping you in the fight, whether you're gaming on Switch or PC.
Because the Fighting Stick Mini is much cheaper than higher-end sticks, it's questionable whether its components will last the punishment a fighting game fan can dish out. The lack of features is a tad disappointing as well, especially the inability to swap the joystick's control from the D-pad to the analog sticks. Despite all that, the Fighting Stick Mini performs well, especially considering the price. There's no denying that it's an excellent option for beginners or even parents looking to introduce their kids to fighting games.
There aren't a lot of options for fight pads on the Switch, and while there are a number of retro controllers that make for great fighting game pads, there's always something you're giving up, whether it's a pair of shoulder buttons or control over the analog sticks. PowerA's wired Fusion Fight Pad solves these problems with a dedicated switch that lets you swap between D-pad and left and right analog stick control--it also features all four shoulder buttons. The pad itself resembles that of the Sega Saturn, which is one of the best controllers for fighting games and 2D platformers ever. The Fusion Fight Pad doesn't quite reach those heights, but it's still a great option if you're looking for a versatile controller.
The buttons are stiffer than those of most fight pads, so the first impressions weren't great, but when it came to actually playing, that stiffness wasn’t an issue. The Fusion is very comfortable in the hands, and while it's not a perfect match for the Saturn, it still feels familiar and good because of the similarities. If you're looking for a proper fight pad for the Switch, then PowerA's Fusion Fight Pad is sure to impress, especially if you're a fan of more traditional controller buttons.
If you're looking for a racing wheel for Mario Kart or other racing games on Nintendo Switch, Hori manufactures officially licensed Mario Kart-themed wheels that are great for the price. The Pro Deluxe version comes with a wheel with on-board controls as well as foot pedals. If you opt for the Mini version, which has a more colorful design, you'll get a similar wheel without the pedals. While these wheels don't feature high-end features like force feedback, they are reasonably priced and feel high quality nonetheless.
Sure, this isn't a controller, but it unlocks the ability to use a wide variety of non-Nintendo controllers on the Switch. You simply plug the adapter into the dock's USB port and then you can play your Switch games using a DualSense, DualShock 4, Bluetooth-enabled Xbox controller, and plenty others.
Of course, any controller you'll use with this adapter won’t include features like HD rumble, motion controls, or Amiibo support. These losses are negligible for the vast majority of experiences, especially when using your favorite Bluetooth controller is the trade-off. If you want a cheap way to have a great controller you already own work with your Switch console, this is the gizmo to buy.
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