The best Nintendo Switch controllers in 2023

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
(Image credit: Future)

The best Nintendo Switch controllers will be a perfect bailout if stick drift has ruined too many of your gaming sessions. Finding the right one for your budget is paramount to not only expanding your multiplayer options but also making sure you've always got a charged gamepad ready to go. That's why we're rounding up all our favorite wired and wireless Nintendo Switch controllers right here, bringing you all the top devices across the full price range. 

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 in the Switch controller world is price. Cheaper options are rife, even for something like the GameSir T4 Kaleid which has back buttons and Hall Effect Sensor sticks, but is still priced under $50. 

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 or 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 best Nintendo Switch controllers available now

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1. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The best Nintendo Switch controller

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

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

2. Hori Split Pad Pro

The best third party Nintendo Switch controller

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

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

3. GameSir T4 Kaleid

The best pro controller with back buttons for Nintendo Switch

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

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

4. PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Audio

The best Nintendo Switch controller under $30 / £30

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

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

5. Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

The most versatile Nintendo Switch controller

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

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

6. PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller

Best cheap wireless Nintendo Switch controller

Connection: Wireless | Buttons: 2x thumbstick, 4x buttons, d-pad, 2x bumpers, 2x triggers | Battery: AA | Amiibo support: Yes | Haptics: None | Motion control: Yes

Budget-friendly, especially if buying multiples
Fun designs integrated with games
Motion controls 
Wireless connection
No Amiibo features
Build quality isn't as sturdy as Pro Controller

If you're not keen to pay for an official Pro Controller (they are expensive), the PowerA equivalents are well worth your time. These wireless and wired handsets are comfortable, accurate, stylish, and reliable - we've used them in our own gaming sessions without any complaints or our part. Plus, they have motion control. That's a feature that you don't find too often on cheaper third party Nintendo Switch controllers and means you don't have to go without during Mario Kart tournaments.

It's worth noting that that wireless connection and motion control does squeeze other features out of the low price tag. There's no Amiibo or rumble functionality in here and you'll be powering up through AA batteries. These controllers are also a lot lighter than the premium Pro model, which can be a blessing if you're looking for a gamepad you can easily kick around with - but also suggests a less durable build quality.

Because they come in a variety of designs - including Animal Crossing and Pokemon - they're also very cool to look at. We love the KK Slider design, for instance.

7. Hori D-Pad controller

The best Joy-Con replacement

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

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

8. 8BitDo SN30 Pro+

The best retro Nintendo Switch controller

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

Retro design
Comfortable grips
Rechargeable or replaceable battery
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. 

Nintendo Switch controllers: FAQ

Which Nintendo Switch controller should you choose?

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Duncan Robertson
Hardware Editor

Ever since playing Journey at the age of 15, I’ve been desperate to cover video games for a living. After graduating from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Journalism, I contributed to the Scottish Games Network and completed an Editorial Internship over at Expert Reviews. Besides that, I’ve been managing my own YouTube channel and Podcast for the last 7 years. It’s been a long road, but all that experience somehow landed me a dream job covering gaming hardware. I’m a self-confessing PlayStation fanboy, but my experience covering the larger business and developer side of the whole industry has given me a strong knowledge of all platforms. When I’m not testing out every peripheral I can get my hands on, I’m probably either playing tennis or dissecting game design for an upcoming video essay. Now, I better stop myself here before I get talking about my favourite games like HUNT: Showdown, Dishonored, and Towerfall Ascension.
Location: UK Remote

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