After the Nintendo Switch console launched back in March 2017, I started searching for the best Nintendo Switch controller. While the current model (which sports improved battery life over the launch model) is great, the Joy-Cons leave something to be desired (at least the d-pad is better on Switch Lite). Thankfully, Switch players have a number of options when it comes to Nintendo Switch accessories. Whether you prefer to play the Nintendo Switch console with a PS4 or Xbox One controller, play using the Joy-Cons while they’re charging, or just love gaming on the go, there’s an accessory tailor-made for you. You can even make the console more comfortable by improving the grip of the console itself, so you don’t drop it and damage the screen (though you should probably still get a screen protector, just in case).
The official Nintendo Pro controller is still the go-to option for the best Nintendo Switch controller for the console overall (it has a great battery perfect for long gaming stints, easy charging, and can be used with a Nintendo Switch dock or even if you’re using the console in tabletop mode), but it’s also somewhat pricey. Looking for something else? We’re on the case.
Whether you’re looking for a cheaper Switch Pro alternative or just want something with a different grip while you play Minecraft, we thankfully have a number of other gaming options at our disposal without having to resort to a Switch mod; third-party companies like 8Bitdo and PDP have introduced some great alternatives to the Pro controller that account for personal preference while also introducing new features not found in first-party Nintendo Switch accessories. Not all of these Switch accessories are winners, but I have tested and identified some of the best Nintendo Switch controllers (most of which also work with the new Switch Lite, by the way), if you need something a little different at a more affordable price.
We’ll keep this article updated as we test new controllers, adapters, and more Switch accessories as more are introduced in 2020. In the meantime, read on for an overview of the best Nintendo Switch controllers we’ve tried and can vouch for. Note that all pricing indicated below is subject to change–Amazon slashes the price on these products regularly, so you may see a discount when clicking through that we haven’t listed here.
Quick look: The best Nintendo Switch controllers we’ve tested
- Nintendo Switch Pro controller — $59
- 8Bitdo Wireless Bluetooth Adapter (for PS4 / Xbox One controllers) — $20
- 8Bitdo SN30 Pro Plus wireless controller — $49.25
- PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ wired controller — $25
- Hori Split Pad Pro — $50
- Hori D-Pad Joy-Cons — $25
- 8Bitdo M30 wireless controller — $29.68
- 8Bitdo N30 wireless controller — $26
- 8Bitdo SN30 wireless controller — $40
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
The best first-party Nintendo Switch controller
- The best ergonomics of any controller I’ve used
- Buttons are satisfying to press
- Features NFC/Amiibo support, HD rumble, and motion controls
- D-Pad is prone to incorrect inputs
- $70 price tag is a bit steep
First off, we can’t talk about the best Nintendo Switch controllers on the market without talking about the first-party option, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. The Switch Pro is a great buy for most players with very few faults. For me, it has the best ergonomics among Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony’s first-party console video game controllers. It’s the perfect size for my large hands, and the triggers are shaped just right for resting fingers. The face buttons feel good to press; the +, -, Home, and Screenshot buttons click wonderfully; and the analog sticks have a good amount of tension. It’s got great battery life, too, and even works with the Switch Lite, if that’s something you’re looking for. All these advantages make it work brilliantly for most Switch games. The one problem I have with the Pro Controller is the D-Pad. It’s prone to incorrect inputs, which is most noticeable when playing puzzle games like Tetris 99 or fighting games like Mortal Kombat 11. This usually happens when you press a direction on the pad, but you’re a little off-center, causing an input in the wrong direction. It’s not an issue most of the time you’re playing with the Switch console (You don’t need a hyper-responsive d-pad for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Xenoblade Chronicles 2, for example) but when I’m playing a game that relies heavily on the D-Pad, I always opt for something other than the Switch Pro.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller also boasts a lot of features that most third-party controllers rarely include as well as a pretty capable USB-C to USB-A cable. This includes NFC/Amiibo support, HD rumble, and motion controls. These things aren’t required for the vast majority of games, but every now and then, a certain utilization of them can put a smile on your face–HD rumble is used excellently in Super Mario Odyssey, for example. However, the Pro Controller’s price tag is also $70 USD, which is more expensive than both the DualShock 4 and latest Xbox One controller. There’s no doubt the Pro Controller is one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers and one of the best Switch accessories you can buy, but when there are great options at cheaper prices, it’s hard to justify buying a second, third, and/or fourth for your friends to use for, say, Smash.
8Bitdo Wireless Bluetooth Adapter
The best way to use PS4 and Xbox One controllers on the Switch
- Enables use of a DualShock 4, Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One, Wii U Pro, Wiimote, DualShock 3, and any compatible 8Bitdo controller
- Easy to set up
- Some games can cause abnormal vibration, which requires firmware updates to fix
- Can’t wake up the Switch from Sleep Mode
The first time I plugged the 8Bitdo Bluetooth adapter into my Switch console dock, it felt like black magic. I was using my DualShock 4 on a Nintendo platform, hitting Circle when it asked for A, Cross when it asked for B. And when it asked for X? You guessed it: Triangle. There was definitely a period of getting used to what buttons I should be pressing for each input the Switch requested, but once this passed, the adapter proved an excellent way to use not just the DualShock 4, but a wide array of Bluetooth-enabled controllers that don’t already connect to the Switch directly.
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. One downside to this adapter, however, is a rumble issue that crops up with certain games. Most recently, I’ve experienced this with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where your controller will vibrate abnormally even if you turn off rumble in the Switch’s system settings. This issue has been fixed for games like Splatoon 2 and Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy, though this requires you to plug the adapter into a computer to update the firmware. If you want a cheap way to have a great controller work with your Switch console, this is the gizmo to buy.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro Plus
The best Switch Pro Controller alternative
- Extensive button mapping and macro customization
- Adjustable dead-zones for analog sticks and triggers
- Customizable rumble functionality
- Removable, rechargeable battery
- Allows for the use of two AA batteries instead of the battery pack
- Also doubles as an excellent option for classic games
Requires a computer to customize controller inputs
The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro Plus is one of the more exciting Switch controllers. Not only does it feature a design inspired by the SNES, it also features extensive customization for button mapping, analog sticks, trigger inputs, and vibration adjustments. 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 must be done on a computer screen, but 8Bitdo’s customization software is a breeze to use. The one downside is that there are no extra buttons or paddles on the controller, so the remapping is restricted to swapping buttons.
My personal favorite thing about this controller is the fact that it includes a removable, rechargeable battery and also allows for disposable batteries. As someone who is currently sitting next to a box of dead PS3 controllers, I’m happy to know there is a great alternative to the Switch’s Pro controller that I’ll be able to use long after its rechargeable battery dies.
PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Controller
The best budget Switch Pro Controller
- Great D-pad
- Excellent ergonomics
- Remappable paddles
- Audio port works great for voice chat-enabled games and listening with headphones
- Can hit paddles by accident in some cases
- Can’t wake the Switch up from Sleep Mode
When I learned the Switch had a Pro controller alternative that included an audio port, boasted remappable paddles, and only cost $25, I didn’t expect much in the way of quality. The PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ wired controller exceeded my expectations and is now one of my favorites to use with the Switch. Holding it, it feels very similar to Nintendo’s Pro controller. I don’t think any of these controllers beat the Pro controller in pure ergonomics, but this PDP pad comes close. The general shape is the same, but the sticks and triggers come up a touch higher. I like the raised height of the triggers, but I feel like they could have been reshaped a bit to better fit the natural curve of your fingers.
Nevertheless, this hardly ruins the experience. The inclusion of remappable paddles is a fantastic addition. You can map any button to these paddles, and I found it incredibly useful for games that assigned sprint to a face button. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’m able to sprint, jump, and glide, all while controlling the camera with my thumb firmly planted on the right stick. Of course, this can present some problems in certain games. When switching from Breath of the Wild to Super Mario Maker 2, I would instinctively squeeze the paddle while making some jumps. And unfortunately, there’s only one configuration profile and no way to turn the paddles off, so if you don’t want to use them, you’ll have to go through the short process of mapping them to each other–this makes it so there’s no input when pressing them. It’s a minor issue, but an annoying one nonetheless.
Thankfully, the PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ feels good enough to use to deal with the occasional accidental button press. Its analog sticks have a similar tension to the Pro controller’s, and it has a great D-Pad. The 3.5mm audio port is a good option for voice chat in supported games (e.g. Fortnite), though I spent most of my time using the port to listen through my favourite pair of headphones. This works really well, with the ability to control your volume on the controller itself and within the Switch’s menu. And with its wired connection, you don’t have to worry about its battery dying. Because that wired connection powers the Switch, however, you won’t be able to turn the console on from Sleep Mode–you’ll have to hit the Power button on your docked Switch before starting to play. As long as you’re okay these few inconveniences, then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Faceoff Deluxe+.
Hori Split Pad Pro
Best Switch Joy-Cons for handheld mode
- Ergonomic design makes handheld play more comfortable
- More accurate analog sticks than Nintendo’s Joy-Cons
- Excellent D-Pad
- Bigger face and shoulder buttons
- Easily fits into the dock with Split Pad Pro attached
- Programmable back paddles
- Restricted to handheld use only
- Back paddles can only be programmed to a button on its respective side
- No rumble, motion controls, or NFC reader capability
The Hori Split Pad Pro is the best set of Joy-Cons I’ve ever played with. As someone with big hands, the small Joy-Cons are extremely uncomfortable to use, basically forcing me to use a grip case whenever I play in handheld. With the Split Pad Pro, I don’t need anything else to have an enjoyable, comfortable experience. It’s not quite as comfortable as holding a real controller, but the Split Pad Pro has enough extra material to easily fill your hands and make the button placement comfortable to interact with. And as far as the buttons, D-Pad, and analog sticks go, I couldn’t be happier. The analog sticks offer a smoother, more accurate experience, while the D-Pad is one of the best I’ve seen for the hybrid console–especially in handheld mode. The Switch is even easier to dock with the Hori Split Pad Pro attached, fitting into its plastic home like a puzzle piece.
However, the Hori Split Pad Pro does have its downsides. With the lack of any kind of rumble or motion controls, I was left wondering if I was missing out on any specific features in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening–some Switch games, like Cadence of Hyrule, use HD rumble in critical ways. After looking through articles online, I convinced myself I wasn’t, but that uncertainty will likely rear its head with each new game. Another minor annoyance is the inability to map both back paddles to the ABXY face buttons. The Split Pad Pro can only be used in handheld mode because the controllers have no way of communicating wirelessly–with the Switch or each other. This leaves the left paddle with limited options for remapping; I couldn’t find a good use for the left paddle that was more convenient than just pushing the D-Pad. Of course, with this being a pair of Joy-Cons that need to be attached to the console, it doesn’t work with the Switch dock, either.
Despite these few shortcomings, I can’t see myself returning to Nintendo’s official Joy-Cons. The added size of the Split Pad Pro would be enough, but the smoother analog sticks, superior D-Pad, and bigger buttons make me excited for the next time I play my Switch. It’s of course not compatible with the Switch Lite, since it doesn’t support different Joy-Con options, and it you can’t get it in neon.
Hori D-Pad Joy-Con
Great option for a D-Pad in handheld mode
- A great, convenient option for a D-Pad in handheld mode
- Very comfortable for games that excel with a D-Pad
- Restricted to handheld use only
- Incompatible with most cases and grips
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Switch 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.
The D-Pad on Hori’s Joy-Con is softer than what I usually look for, but it’s hard to deny just how pleasant the experience is. I didn’t realize how much I missed a D-Pad until I used this to play games like Mortal Kombat 11, Tetris 99, and Super Mario Maker 2. These games, as well as many others, have since been a lot more enjoyable in handheld mode.
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 Nintendo’s official Joy-Cons. I took a pair of scissors and cut out a space for it on my cheap Orzly grip case, but I likely won’t be doing the same to my more expensive accessories.
8bitdo M30 Bluetooth
The best classic controller on Nintendo Switch
- Fantastic D-Pad and ergonomics
- Connects directly to Nintendo Switch
- Also compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and Raspberry Pi
- Not suitable for all games
8Bitdo’s M30 controller might just be one of my favorite pads ever. As a Sega Genesis kid, I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the six-button controller, which is what the M30 emulates and improves on. Its ergonomics have been shaped differently to make it more comfortable to hold than the Sega original, and the D-Pad is by far my favorite of any 8Bitdo controller. Classic titles, platformers, and fighting games are the obvious choice for the M30, but I’ve also found myself enjoying Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with it. It’s definitely not going to work with every game, especially those that rely on a second analog stick, but it’s a controller I’ll always go to if it’s possible to do so.
8Bitdo N30 Bluetooth
The best NES controller for Nintendo Switch
- Better shoulder buttons than the subscription-exclusive NES Joy-Cons
- Includes a Home button
- Connects directly to Nintendo Switch
- Also compatible with retro receivers and USB adapters
- Not suitable for all games
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. I prefer the NES controller’s shape and button layout for that console’s games, but in trying to find other uses for the N30, I was largely unsuccessful. Even modern Tetris games like Tetris 99 and Puyo Puyo Tetris require more than the D-Pad and B and A buttons–the extra two face buttons on the N30 are restricted to Turbo. The N30 includes shoulder buttons for L and R, which does extend the number of games it can be used with (e.g. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), but the options are still limited.
I mostly use my N30 in conjunction with a retro receiver that lets me use it with real NES hardware and RetroUSB’s AVS. It’s my new favorite pad for that console. It’s also an excellent option for the Switch, but it’s not necessary to enjoy any game, NES or not. However, if you are looking for that very specific NES experience, I can wholeheartedly recommend the N30. 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.
8Bitdo SN30 Bluetooth
The best SNES controller for Nintendo Switch
- Connects directly to Nintendo Switch
- Comes with a retro receiver for SNES use
- Also compatible with USB adapters
- Not suitable for select games
The SN30 Pro Plus discussed earlier might be the best Switch controller on this list, and with its SNES-style layout, it’s great for classic games. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more authentic to the SNES experience, then the basic SN30 is your best alternative. Like both the M30 and N30, it doesn’t work with every game, but there are plenty of great options with the Switch’s excellent selection of platformers and fighting games.
The SN30 also comes with a retro receiver that can be plugged into a SNES. If you still have a Super Nintendo–or an Analogue Super NT–then this is an awesome option to play classic games on that console. And as a bonus, this retro receiver can also be connected via USB, as long as you have an extra USB-C cable attached.
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Author: Mat Paget