For this post, we will be taking a look at some of the best controllers for Nintendo Switch, our thoughts on each, and where you can find them.
As you probably already know, the Nintendo Switch has been a hot seller for years. The mere fact that you can take the hybrid console anywhere is a godsend. And now that we also have the OLED and Lite Switch models out, I highly doubt that we will see the end of the road anytime yet.
With that said, there are some drawbacks to consider, and for me, the biggest one is with the controllers. In an attempt to ensure the console remains portable, the Joy-Con controllers are designed to be compact and match the size and dimensions of the tablet-shaped console.
Understandably so, this is why Nintendo promotes the Pro Controller for those looking for an excellent solution to ergonomic gaming. We here at Videogame Guy agree, and is why I personally reviewed the controller for our readers.
Now that a few years have passed since then, there have been more controllers being made specifially to compete with the Switch’s official controllers, and this is where I come in! Today, I will be rounding up a list of some of the best controllers for Nintendo Switch.
Normally, when I do my rankings, I like to find the best overall controller, along with any runner ups, but I find that for controllers, everyone has different tastes. Some of us like the ergonomics of a well-made controller, while others live for retro-styled controllers that make it more immersive to play an arcade-style game. And so for this lists, I will be categorizing them based on the best use for each controller.
Anyways, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- How We Choose the Best Controllers for Nintendo Switch?
- Things to Consider when looking at Controllers
- The Best Controllers for Nintendo Switch
- The Top Pick – Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
- The Premium Pick – PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller
- The Budget Pick – ASTARRY Wireless Pro Controller
- The Handheld Pick – HORI Split Pad Pro
- The Hybrid Pick – binbok Joypad Controller
- The Retro Pick – 8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller
- The Arcade Pick – 8Bitdo Arcade Stick
- The Wired Pick – HORIPAD Wired Controller
- The Gamecube Pick – GameCube Controller (Super Smash Bros. Edition)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Bottom Line on Controllers
How We Choose the Best Controllers for Nintendo Switch?
As you heard above, we typically organize our list into categories based on their best selling point. We usually choose a “best overall” pick, and from there, we look for options suited for certain scenarios (ie: the budget pick, the “premium” pick, and so on). For this post, we will be doing a similar thing, except with far more picks to choose from. That way, we can showcase some of the cool controllers that may suit your needs as a gamer. Feel free to read the following points for details on our picks for controllers.
- The Top Pick is the one that checks all of the boxes. The best overall experience can be had with this pick.
- The Premium Pick. This one may have a higher price tag, but it often boasts some additional features that might be worth the extra cost.
- The Budget Pick. Gaming for cheap can be tricky, and so we try to find some picks that will let you enjoy your gaming without having to break the bank.
- The Handheld Pick is the one that provides the best experience while the Switch is in handheld mode. For us, this means comfort.
- The Hybrid Pick is a unique controller that functions like the original Joy-Cons, except better.
- The Retro Pick. It was a simpler time back in the day. Fewer worries, fewer resonsibilties… fewer buttons on a controller.
- The Arcade Pick. In case classic NES games weren’t retro enough for you, you can always try using an arcade joystick controller! These are often used by hardcore fighting game fans who are probably still playing Street Fighter II.
- The Wired Pick. Believe it or not, some of us still like to game while wired up.
- The Gamecube Pick. Nintendo knows how much we like playing Smash Bros., which is why they went on to redesign their classic controller from the Gamecube era, and made it useable on the Switch.
Things to Consider when looking at Controllers
As with any of our previous buying guides, before you even think about buying a controller, it is important to consider the following points.
Controller Comfort is Key!
It’s really interesting to see how game controllers have evolved ever since the old NES days. Every new console generation, controllers get more buttons and a different shape of the controller. But when these game companies tried too hard to be unique, they failing to recognize the most important aspect of the controller; ergonomics.
Microsoft really set the standards for comfortable controllers when they made the Xbox 360 Controller. It was known for its legendary comfort, and pretty much since then, every other console generation to follow would design a controller that could also boast a comfortable feel.
When you look at a controller, try to get an idea of the overall feel. If you plan on playing games for hours, you don’t want to end up with cramped fingers!
Button Layout needs to be Consistent
The Nintendo Switch controllers, along with any Nintendo-made controller since the SNES has always had a rather unique layout of the ABXY face buttons. Take one look at an Xbox controller, and you’ll see what I mean. The A and B buttons are swapped on either controller, yet in the games themselves, they still function the same way on a multiplatform game.
Now, if you only play the Switch, you probably won’t suffer from the muscle memory issues I get when switching between playing on my Nintendo or my Xbox. But still, when you look at controllers, always make sure the button layout matches up with Nintendo’s own layout.
Battery Life: It Needs to last Several Sessions!
There’s nothing more aggravating than sitting down on the comfy couch, controller in hand, and ready to unwind after a long day, only to find that the controller’s battery life is dead. This was an issue for a lot of gamers back in the day, when controllers had to get their AA batteries swapped out. Thankfully, controllers have a built-in battery that can be charged via USB, but it still goes without saying that you should consider the battery life of a controller. Unless you like playing with wired controllers, always try to get one that can hold at least 20 hours of charge or better.
The Best Controllers for Nintendo Switch
Here’s a brief rundown of our top recommended controllers, based on your needs. If you’d like more details, feel free to keep on reading below.
The Top Pick – Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
When it comes down to comfort, battery life, and overall a great experience, the official Pro Controller by Nintendo is the ultimate way to go. Boasting large face buttons and a whopping 40 hours of battery life, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
The real drawback to this controller is the price tag. Even when compared with our premium pick, it still is up there, so if budget is important to you, I would suggest checking out cheaper options.
The Premium Pick – PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller
If you were looking for a controller that checks all the boxes of the Pro Controller, and then some, then the Fusion Pro by PowerA is a good choice. This controller features a 4 programmable paddles and a rubberized grip to provide for comfort. The controller even comes with four thumbsticks, all different sizes, so that you can customize the controller to fit your hand.
That being said, for all the features it has, it does not have rumble feedback, and the battery doesn’t quite last as long as the official Pro Controller.
The Budget Pick – ASTARRY Wireless Pro Controller
After spending so much looking for a cheap controller, I finally found one! Clocking in at $20 regular price, this is likely the cheapest controller you can get that works on not only your Switch, but also on your PC if needed. A rather sleek-looking controller, it boasts all of the standard button layout and motion control features of a Pro Controller, but also has a turbo function.
The downsides? It has only 8 hours tops of battery life. It also has no NFC connectivity, so using amiibos is out of the question. And finally, it lacks a “awake” function, meaning that you’ll likely have to pair the controller each time you want to play. As with many controllers, you get what you pay for.
The Handheld Pick – HORI Split Pad Pro
This is exactly the kind of comfort gaming I wish we had with the Joy-Cons! The Split Pad Pro consists of two controller halves that slide right onto the sides of the console. In addition to the larger comfort grip, the buttons are larger too, making it feel almost like a controller.
That being said, the biggest drawback is that these controller halves do not have built-in batteries, so they only work when connected to the Switch. Wireless motion control gaming is a no-go for these, so bear that in mind.
The Hybrid Pick – binbok Joypad Controller
If you are looking for a nice balance between the ergonomics of the Pro Controller, and the comfort of portable gaming, this controller is a nice compromise. Much like the Split Pad Pro I mentioned earlier, the Joypad Controller by binbok has two controller halves that connect to the side of the console, giving you a much more comfortable way of playing on the go.
Furthermore, the controller halves also have batteries built right in, so they can be taken off the console and used as a wireless controller. My only complaint with these is that, in an attempt to make portable gaming great, using the controllers as a pair of Joy-Cons is really awkward.
The Retro Pick – 8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller
Normally, when I look for “retro” controllers, I used to look for the ones that closely resemble the original controller from way back when. But hey, I’m older now and I’d rather not run the risk of getting arthritis dow the road! And for that reason, when it comes to picking out a controller for playing NES or SNES games, I humbly suggest the Pro 2 controller by 8BitDo.
Everything about the look of this controller screams SNES, but it feels like the classic PlayStation controller. The D-Pad’s location is swapped with the left stick to give our thumbs a neutral place to rest while playing.
If you are looking for a more traditional “retro” controller, I’d suggest the 8BitDo SN30 Pro, but for a more comfortable option, I’d stick with the Pro 2.
The Arcade Pick – 8Bitdo Arcade Stick
Here’s one for the truly old school gamer! 8BitDo seems content with churning out controllers for all occasions and so, for those gamers who yearn for the old arcade days, the Arcade Stick is a fun way to enjoy some fighting games on the Switch.
This controller as a whole is really nice to look at. From the 8-button arrangement I grew up seeing in the arcades, to the classic round-tipped joystick, the beauty of this controller is that it pairs up with your Switch via Bluetooth, and the controller can even be used on PC. Furthermore, you can program macros onto the controller, that way if Soul Calibur ever comes out on Switch, you might be able to pull off Ivy’s Summon Suffering with the press of a button.
The only real complaint I have is the price. It costs a lot more than the Pro Controller, which means that this controller is only for those niche gamers who wish to enjoy certain arcade-style games. But then again, that nostagia feeling really gets to you.
The Wired Pick – HORIPAD Wired Controller
Honestly, I still often like to play with a wired controller. Maybe not on the Switch but certainly on the PC. The truth is that wired controllers are much cheaper than wireless. If you are looking for a controller that does the bare minimum, I find that the HORIPAD Wired Controller fits the bill just right. Another licensed product from Nintendo, this controller looks a little bit like an Xbox controller, but nevertheless, it connects to your Switch via cable.
Unsurprisingly, the controller comes cheap by lacking motion controls, NFC, and rumble feedback. The detachable D-Pad may be weird for some, but thankfully you have the option of which D-Pad arrangement you prefer.
The Gamecube Pick – GameCube Controller (Super Smash Bros. Edition)
If you are a Smash Bros fan, then this controller will really hit you in the nostalgia. When Super Smash Bros. Melee came out in 2001, it was one of the sole reasons I wanted a GameCube. The controller that was made for the GameCube was unique in that it seemed as though it was meant for Smash Bros. From the oversized A Button to the quick flicking action of the C-Stick, everything about this controller felt right when it came to gaming.
And so, as if Nintendo read our minds when they were developing Smash Bros Ultimate, the announced the return of the GameCube Controller. The only real drawback to using this controller is the fact that it only works with your Switch if you have it connected to the GameCube Controller Adapter, sold separately. Much like the Arcade Stick I mentioned earlier, this is a “niche” controller, intended for a small audience of Switch gamers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a Switch Controller on a PC?
The good news is, you can! I can confirm that I was able to hook up a Switch Pro Controller to a laptop running Windows 11. You can either connect it via Bluetooth pairing of via a USB cable connection. I did have to get used to the controls on Steam.
How many Controllers do you need?
It really depends on your needs as a gamer. The simple answer is one controller per person in your household, but that can get expensive if you are investing in pro controllers. Remember that some games may accomodate a single Joy-Con half.
How long does it take for wireless controllers to charge?
According to the folks at Nintendo, the Joy-Cons take about 3 and a half hours to charge to full. If you only have the two that came with the console, you can usually just leave them connected to the console and then they’ll keep charged when not in use. If you have multiple Joy-Cons, you may have to swap them out unless you have a dedicated charging station for any spares.
What’s the deal with Joy-Con drift?
It’s probably something you’ve heard of if you follow a lot of news on Nintendo Switch stuff. Sadly, this is a known issue that has been around since launch day. Joy-Con drift is when the thumbsticks on the controller will fail to properly recognize the input made by the player, resulting in some unexpected gaming moments such as wonky player movement or camera control. At the very worse case, Joy-Con drift will lead to a worse gaming experience.
Some say that the issue occurs as a result of dust buildup under the joysticks. It seems to be a design defect with older controllers. According to Nintendo, the new Joy-Cons packed with the OLED model seem to have improvements to mitigate the drift issue, but personally, I find it might be a good idea to use an alternate controller.
Why use a Pro Controller over the Joy-Cons?
As handy as it is to have portable controllers that can hook up to the console, I find that having a Pro Controller offers a far more traditional gaming experience, especially if you plan on playing in TV mode. These controllers just feel much nicer to hold, and they also don’t have the Joy-Con drift issues mentioned earlier.
The Bottom Line on Controllers
All in all, when it comes down to finding the best controller for the Nintendo Switch, it really boils down to your needs as a gamer. If you are looking for comfort while gaming, you can’t go wrong with the official Pro Controller. But if you are looking for a certain need to fulfil, you’ll have to do some research on controllers before going on Amazon to get one. Hopefully this little guide sheds some light on the controllers that can be found out there.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post, and hopefully this will help you out on your own gaming endeavors.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, happy gaming!