The best Nintendo Switch controllers in 2024

When it comes to the best Nintendo Switch controllers, there's a lot to decide. The Switch is such a versatile gaming platform because you can use it on the go in handheld mode, or in docked mode, kicking back with a comfortable gamepad. Along with pro controllers, you can grab joy-con replacements and alternatives, as well as specialized handheld controllers to beef up your on-the-go experience. We've been reviewing all of the options, and we've listed our favorites below. 

We don't see too many of the best Nintendo Switch controllers break into the best PC controller arena, so maybe don't expect the type of functionality and performance you might find from other platforms. Having said that, the big advantage to using gamepads designed for Nintendo's gaming handheld is price. Cheaper options are rife here. For instance, the GameSir T4 Kaleid is still priced under $50 despite having Hall Sensor thumbstick and back buttons. For a PS5 controller or Xbox Series X controller with equivalent features, you'd be talking well over $150.

Third-party controllers, however, are often considered some of the best Nintendo Switch accessories out there from a value standpoint. You may be dropping HD Rumble functionality and motion controls, but if you're after some spare multiplayer options there are plenty of wired and wireless Nintendo Switch controllers to choose from.

The Quick List

The best Nintendo Switch controller overall

The best Switch controller overall

Specifications

Connection: Wireless / wired to dock
Buttons: 2x thumbstick , 4x buttons, d-pad, 2x bumpers, 2x triggers
Battery life: up to 40 hours
Amiibo support: Yes
Haptics: HD rumble
Motion control: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Traditional layout
+
Comfortable design
+
Amiibo functionality
+
Thumbsticks are more precise than Joy-Con

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than third party wireless options
-
Limited color options

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is essential if you’ll be spending a lot of time on the Switch. Not only does it help avoid the claw-hand you start to get after a long session using the Joy-Cons, it’s just better suited to games like Super Smash Bros. or Splatoon. We also find that the thumbsticks are a little more precise than those seen on the Joy-Con, and are far less prone to drifting. 

Yes, the Joy-Con are going to be best for handheld play but chances are you've already got a set of those knocking about. If you're after the best Nintendo Switch controller on the market right now, the Pro is where it's at. This is a traditional style gamepad so you're only getting one controller for your cash (the Joy-Con can operate as two separate pads) and while it's usable in handheld mode, the Joy-Con's attachments make them far better suited to on the go gaming. 

You're still getting the HD Rumble, motion sensors, and Amiibo functionality of the Joy-Con in here, but in a far more ergonomic design that feels much more comfortable in larger hands. 

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller comes in a stock black, but there are a one or two special editions floating around. 

Read more: Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review

The best Joy-Con alternative

The best alternative Joy-Cons

Specifications

Connection: Direct to console / wired
Buttons: 2x thumbsticks, Switch face buttons, d-pad, + / -, Home, Screenshot, 2x assignment, 2x turbo, 2x bumper, 2x trigger, 2x rear paddle, 2x volume (attachment), mic mute (attachment)
Battery: NA - uses console battery
Amiibo support: None
Haptics: None
Motion control: None

Reasons to buy

+
Far more comfortable than Joy-Con
+
Greater precision and accuracy
+
Fantastic in handheld mode but attachment also works docked
+
Remappable back paddles
+
Turbo function

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't fit in a Nintendo Switch case
-
No rumble, motion controls, or NFC
-
Only works when connected to console or dock

If you don't want to shell out for a set of official Joy-Con Nintendo Switch controllers, the Hori Split Pad Pro offers not only a cheaper option but a far more comfortable one. The larger gamepads slot straight into the sides of your console like normal, but the chunkier form factor gives you a much more comfortable grip, full-sized thumbsticks, wider shoulder buttons, and assignable triggers. We found that this extra heft not only made for a far more comfortable experience overall, but also - combined with the extra precise thumbsticks and larger triggers - afforded us greater accuracy in games like Pokemon Legends Arceus, Fortnite, and Fuser as well.

The controllers are officially licensed by Nintendo, so work with the console straight out of the box and come in at just $49.99 / £49.99. That's excellent value and a great alternative to the vanilla Joy-Con set that comes with the Nintendo Switch. There are also a range of special designs to choose from, tying into everything from Pac-Man to Pokemon. 

It's important to note that these Nintendo Switch controllers can only be used when connected directly to the console via the rails in handheld mode, as neither of the two pads offers its own battery. That means they can't be split up to form two separate gamepads either. However, you can also pick up the Split Pad Pro with an accompanying attachment piece to slot in between them. That means you can take your handheld controllers and use them for wired docked play with additional volume and mic mute controls as well. 

Read more: Hori Split Pad Pro review

The best pro controller for Nintendo Switch

The best Nintendo Switch pro controller

Specifications

Connection: Wired USB-C to USB A
Remappable buttons: 2
Buttons: 17
Headset connection: 3.5mm
Cable length: 2m
Weight: 380

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Hall effect sticks
+
Responsive feel
+
Two ergonomic back buttons

Reasons to avoid

-
No wireless mode
-
Interface buttons are a tad confusing
-
Turbo mode brought about some problems
-
Only two back buttons

A transparent controller design isn't seen all too often these days, especially in the Nintendo Switch world. The GameSir T4 Kaleid is the latest multi-platform controller from GameSir, and it's available for use on PC, Android TV, and Nintendo Switch. It asks an important question: how expensive should a pro controller be in this day and age? Because despite the number of features on offer here, it might be one of the cheapest controllers worth buying right now.

Somewhat most notably, the offset or asymmetrical sticks are Hall Sensor ones, meaning you won't encounter stick drift with this controller, despite it being much cheaper than a lot of the alternatives. On the grips of the T4 Kaleid, you'll find two back buttons. These are excellently placed where my middle fingers wrap around the controller and take absolutely no displacement of my hands to use.

If you're a Switch player looking for something with back buttons as found on the best PS5 controllers, shopping can be tough. You want quality, and you want something that will last you, but you don't want to break the bank. The T4 Kaleid is the controller for you, and it's insanely affordable in the current gamepad market. 

The best budget Nintendo Switch controller

4. PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Audio

The best Nintendo Switch controller under $30 / £30

Specifications

Connection: Wired
Buttons: 2x thumbstick, 4x buttons, d-pad, 2x bumpers, 2x triggers, 2x programmable paddles
Battery: NA
Amiibo support: No
Haptics: None
Motion control: No

Reasons to buy

+
Separate 3.5mm output
+
Super cheap 
+
Designs can be swapped in and out
+
Programmable back paddles

Reasons to avoid

-
Buttons feel a little squishy
-
Rattles during play

PDP produce some of the best budget Nintendo Switch controllers on the market, which means they know how to scale down their operation to provide an excellent price point. Still, the PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ doesn't feel like that much of a sacrifice in the name of keeping things cheap. You're still getting a solid gamepad with programmable back paddles and some neat extra features in there to boot. 

There's a 3.5mm audio port waiting for your Nintendo Switch headset on the bottom of this controller - a feature very few (if any) Nintendo Switch controllers can match. Plus, you can easily swap your designs in and out by swapping the face plate as well. 

We're not going to bemoan PDP that the build quality feels a little light here, or that buttons can feel squishy at times, or that the triggers can echo through the controller. At $20-$25 (£20-£25) it feels a little churlish to poke holes in what is excellent value for money overall.

The best handheld-mode Switch controller

The best handheld-mode Switch controller

Specifications

Connection: Docked USB-C / Wired USB-C to USB
Remappable buttons: 4
Buttons: 19
Headset connection: 3.5mm
Cable length: 3m
Weight: 400g

Reasons to buy

+
More comfortable than a Switch in handheld mode
+
Hall Sensor Sticks
+
Four back buttons
+
Lovely designs

Reasons to avoid

-
Rumble is loud and distracting at times
-
Makes the Switch a lot bulkier
-
Slippy thumbsticks

CRKD's Nitro Deck feels like it's been created to solve a bunch of issues nobody else in the Switch controller market has thought of solutions for. If you have larger hands and like playing your Switch or Switch OLED in handheld mode, you might experience that stiff thumb cramp from having to contort your hands over the tiny joysticks and buttons. Similarly, if you've been plagued by joy-con stick drift, there aren't too many Hall Sensor options out there - especially ones that allow you to play in handheld mode. And what if you've been waiting for a Switch Pro to bring Nintendo's device up to the level of today's gaming handhelds

Embracer Group's first bit of hardware from brand CRKD fills those gaps in the market with the Nitro Deck. This chunkier alternative to buying new joy-cons gives a much more comfortable feel if you have bigger hands and want to play in handheld mode for longer periods. Full-size Hall Sensor thumbsticks give you real peace of mind that you won't encounter any discomfort, or that annoying potentiometer problem. 

On the face of it, the Nitro Deck emulates the look of the Nintendo Switch almost 1:1 when looking at it front-on. Besides a range of colorways and swappable thumbstick caps, buttons are laid out just the same. I will add, however, that all these buttons have a larger, more spread-out feel to them - even if the exact measurements aren't that far off the Joy-Cons. When you flip it over though, the back looks more like a Steam Deck or Asus ROG Ally, and that's thanks to four well-placed back buttons you can map to your will.

Conveniently, the Nitro Deck does have some good connectivity if you don't just want to use it in handheld mode. Through two USB-C ports in the back, you can charge the Switch, as well as play PC games or Switch games using an empty deck as your pro controller.

The Nitro Deck is the way I use my Switch in handheld mode these days. Obviously, it doesn't have quite the same versatility as the detachable joy-con alternatives on this list, but when it's priced this competitively, it's hard not to recommend it wholeheartedly. 

The most versatile Switch controllers

6. Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

The most versatile Nintendo Switch controller

Specifications

Connection: Wireless / direct to console
Buttons: 1x thumbstick per controller, 4x buttons per controller, 2x triggers per controller
Battery life: Approx 20 hours
Amiibo support: Yes
Haptics: HD rumble
Motion control: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Doubles up for two controllers if necessary
+
Multiple color combinations
+
All the official features
+
Easily slides into handheld mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasional Joy-Con drift

The classic Nintendo Switch Joy-Con are, of course, some of the best Nintendo Switch controllers knocking about. However, with their track record for drifting and - in our experience - less precise thumbsticks, there are better options on the market. Not many of those third party alternatives will do everything the Joy-Con itself can, though. While you'll find far greater comfort from something like the Hori Split Pad Pro, there aren't any other brands that can slot into your wireless / motion control playstyle this well. You're covered for all things Switch Sports and Ring Fit Adventure by sticking with something a little more traditional. 

Joy-Con are the best Nintendo Switch controllers for those looking to keep things official while still expressing themselves through a range of different color combinations. Of course, you're getting all the flagship features of the console in here, with HD Rumble and Amiibo support, as well as motion controls. If you're playing docked, you can attach each individual Joy-Con to a grip for a more traditional feel as well.  If you've spent a little less on the Nintendo Switch Lite price, these are well worth investing in as they open you up to a whole world of local multiplayer and can easily slot into a Nintendo Switch case as well.

Although you can buy individual Joy-Cons, we wouldn't recommend it - it's more cost-effective to get a pair. More specifically, single packs go for around $49.99 / £39.99, while a pair usually starts at $79.99 / £69.99

The best Joy-Con replacement

7. Hori D-Pad controller

The best Joy-Con replacement

Specifications

Connection: Direct to handheld
Buttons: 1x thumbstick, 1x d-pad, shoulder, trigger, capture
Battery: NA
Amiibo support: None
Haptics: None
Motion control: No

Reasons to buy

+
Far cheaper than a JoyCon
+
D-Pad for more comfortable controls
+
Range of game designs available

Reasons to avoid

-
No rumble
-
No wireless connection
-
No motion control

The Hori D-Pad controller won't quite offer the same experience as an official Joy-Con, but if you're in a pinch or you're looking for that full d-pad experience it's a sure win. The key here is that price point. While an official Joy-Con will set you back around $45 / £40, Hori's version retails at $27.99 / £22.99 (and are regularly on sale for far less). That means you're making some sacrifices, though. This gamepad slots straight onto the left side of the console as usual, running directly off the device's power, which means you won't be able to use a wireless connection in handheld mode. Similarly, you're dropping rumble and Amiibo support as well. 

Still, if you're in need of a new set of buttons and don't fancy shelling out for a whole new suite of controllers (which can reach $80 / £80), this is an excellent move in between. 

The best retro controller for Nintendo Switch

8. 8BitDo SN30 Pro+

The best retro Nintendo Switch controller

Specifications

Connection: Wireless / wired
Buttons: 2x thumbstick, 4x buttons, d-pad, 2x bumpers, 2x triggers
Battery: Up to 20 hours rechargeable (also uses optional AA)
Amiibo support: None
Haptics: Rumble
Motion control: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Retro design
+
Comfortable grips
+
Rechargeable or replaceable battery

Reasons to avoid

-
No Amiibo functionality

Not only is the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ the best Nintendo Switch controller for retro fans, but it's also super flexible and offers an additional comfort factor that the previous iterations lacked. The classic 8BitDo controllers relied on the same design language as the controllers they were emulating, with a small hard capsule design for the SNES-like gamepads. However, the SN30 Pro+ has added two grips to the bottom of the controller, making for a far better experience overall - especially during longer sessions. 

That flexibility comes from the fact that these gamepads can be used wired or wirelessly, and can be powered by either the internal rechargeable battery (with 20 hours of juice) or a separate AA. That means you're covered whether you're chilling at home or gearing up for some impromptu multiplayer action while out and about. 

Aside from the Nintendo Switch Online-only NES controllers, 8BitDo produce some of the only nostalgic pads out there. These are far more than retro-inspired Nintendo Switch controllers, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ provides an incredibly well rounded experience at a great price. 

The best racing wheel for Nintendo Switch

The best racing wheel for Mario Kart lovers

Specifications

Compatible with: Nintendo Switch/PC
Connection type: USB
Weight: 1400g
Force Feedback: No
Rumble: No
Maximum rotation angle: 270 degrees
Pedals included: Yes
Clutch pedal: No
Expandable: No

Reasons to buy

+
Mario-inspired aesthetic
+
Excellent range of customization options
+
Good value for money overall
+
Controls allow for use in other games
+
Nice level of resistance in wheel and pedals

Reasons to avoid

-
Suction cups won't reliably hold
-
Pros will need better specs

Hori's Mario Kart racing wheel's bright red plastic and looming M logo in the center immediately indicate what it should be used for. For years the argument has loomed large: what is the best controller to play Mario Kart? This might just put all those disputes to bed.

No, it's not going to steal any aesthetic awards from the likes of more enthusiast-level racing wheels for PC but it's certainly a design that appeals to its fun-loving Ninty audience. Don't let that light-hearted exterior fool you, though, this is a well-built piece of kit.

Despite its $100/£100 price tag, the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe still boasts a workable set of specs. That 270º rotation angle isn't going to threaten the 900º or 1000º+ options available further up the price range, but it's certainly more than enough for the more casual player. On Mario Kart's tighter courses, the option of shifting things down to 180º keeps things far more precise too. 

There are no fancy direct-drive systems or force feedback fun here - there's just no room in the price. However, there's still a nice level of resistance behind each twist and turn and especially satisfying pedals. It's difficult to find any racing wheels at $100 / £100, let alone something that actually feels fun to play with. For enthusiast Mario Kart players or folks just trying to spice up their balloon battles, this has to be one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers out there.

Nintendo Switch controllers: FAQ

Which Nintendo Switch controller should you choose?

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If you're torn between which Nintendo Switch controllers will be best for you, the decision likely starts with two choices. You can either go premium with the official Joy-Con or Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or pick out a cheaper third party alternative. If you opt for the former, you simply need to decide whether you favor handheld (Joy-Con) or docked (Pro Controller) play. 

However, grabbing a third party offering requires a little more forethought. Many of these gamepads do away with extra features like rumble, motion controls, and Amiibo functionality - so if any of these are a necessity it's time to go back to square one. However, if you're just after a spare gamepad it's worth checking the size and connectivity of the controller you're after, as well as whether there are any additional paddles, audio options, or design features that would be useful. 

You'll find a quick breakdown of each Nintendo Switch controller type just below.

  • Joy-Cons: These are small controllers included with the console. Used as a pair, separately, or slotted onto the portable screen in handheld mode, they're ideal for multiplayer. Picking up an extra pair allows you to run four-player games, for example.
  • Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: Pro Controllers are more traditional. They consist of a classic all-in-one design with two thumbsticks, shoulder bumpers, triggers, and grips on the handles for superior control. They're ideal for games such as Super Smash Bros or Dark Souls due to the levels of precision they offer.
  • Third-party alternatives: These are controllers not made by Nintendo. They're usually much cheaper and look a lot like the official Pro Controller, but they usually lack some of the functionality. That makes them good spares.

Do wireless controllers work with Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch can handle up to eight wireless controllers at one time, either in handheld or docked mode. However, it's worth noting that you won't be able to connect more than one wireless controller if you are also using the console's Bluetooth function for audio. 

Wireless controllers do work on the Nintendo Switch Lite, which means tabletop play is still on the cards even if there's no docking functionality.

Do Nintendo Switch controllers work with every model?

Wireless Nintendo Switch controllers will work with every console; the Lite, standard, and OLED versions. However, you'll only be able to use the vast majority of wired controllers with the standard edition or OLED model, as they require USB-A ports on the dock to connect.

What are better than Joy-Cons?

If you're looking for an alternative to the Joy-Con controllers for Nintendo Switch, the Hori Split or the Hori D-Pad controllers are your best bet. They're cheaper, and they don't suffer from stick drift in the same way. That said, the Hori options can't be used wirelessly or for motion controls. Either way, if you're looking for an alternative, those are the best options.

Are Nintendo Pro controllers worth it?

In our opinion, getting a pro controller for your Nintendo Switch can make the world of difference to your console's quality of life. Yes, playing on the go is excellent, but having a proper gamepad you can use when sinking more time into something like Tears of the Kingdom can really make the experience feel more next-gen. Depending on what you play, you might find some third party controllers with extra buttons too, which could come in handy.

Nintendo Switch cases on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Can you replace one Joy-Con

If one of your Joy-Con is drifting, or you're simply looking to mix up your aesthetic, you can purchase single controllers - either an official Nintendo gamepad, or a Hori D-Pad model. Both come in less than $30 / £30. 

How to stop a Nintendo Switch controller from drifting

Nintendo Switch controllers can suffer from thumbstick drift. All gamepads are vulnerable to this flaw, but it seem Joy-Con are particularly susceptible. That means it can pay to keep your console in good condition, investing in a case that leaves ample room for the thumbsticks to remain upright. However, even with all the love and attention in the world, those pesky sticks can still start running away from you. 

If this happens it's worth first recalibrating the controls in the System Settings (Controllers and Sensors in the menu). If that doesn't help, it's time to get into the nitty gritty and clear out those sticks. You'll need a can of compressed air and a small screwdriver. You'll notice a small rubber flap at the base of your thumbstick, lift this gently with the screwdriver and carefully spray the area underneath with compressed air. This will dislodge any dirt or dust that's clogging the underside of your controller. 

If all else fails, it's worth noting that Nintendo is operating a Joy-Con drift repair scheme free of charge.


We're also rounding up all the best Nintendo Switch game sales, as well as the latest Ring Fit Adventure prices and all the best cheap Nintendo Switch SD cards.  We're also showing you all the best Nintendo Switch chargers for the full kit. We're also showing you how to catch all the latest Nintendo Switch OLED restock updates.