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Home / Features / Best Nintendo Switch controller 2023: reviewed and rated

Best Nintendo Switch controller 2023: reviewed and rated

Sometimes you just need a regular controller with your Switch, so we've picked out all the best Joy-Con alternatives

Thanks to being part ‘in front of the TV’ console and part handheld, the Nintendo Switch already has fairly comprehensive controls in the form of the Joy-Cons.

Joy-cons are built-in on the Switch Lite or detachable with the standard console or its newer OLED counterpart.

However, while such controllers are great for many games and any casual multiplayer sessions, you’ll soon find yourself longing for a more traditional controller experience.

That’s why we’ve picked out the best Nintendo Switch controllers. Many of these will feel as comfortable as other gaming controllers, with some dedicated towards certain tasks such as fighting games. Whether you want an extra controller for playing Mario Kart Deluxe 8 with your family or you simply want one to make negotiating the lands of Hyrule in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom, there’s a good option for you below. We’ve also considered different budgets and even hand sizes, so there’s something for all members of your household here.

Once you’ve finished reading this guide to the best Nintendo Switch controller, check out our thoughts on the best console and which you should choose.

The 30 best Nintendo Switch games to play today

What are the best Nintendo Switch controllers to buy today?

  • Best overall Nintendo Switch Controller: Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (buy now)
    With a traditional layout, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is perfect for diving into single-player epics and feeling in full control. It’s comfortable matching similar stylings to your Xbox or PlayStation controller, with precise thumb sticks that are ideal for more accurate movements. It still offers up HD rumble along with motion sensors, and there’s Amiibo/NFC support for any occasions that arise. If you only ever need one controller, this is the perfect choice.
  • Best third-party Nintendo Switch Controller: PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller (buy now)
    Not quite as comfy as the official Pro controller but offering some key benefits, the PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller is the nearest the Switch has to an Elite controller. It has programmable paddles on the back along with analog thumb sticks you can swap out to get the perfect fit for your hands. Rubberised handles provide you with a firm grip so if you’re losing yourself to Zelda for hours, you won’t feel any aches.
  • Best budget Nintendo Switch Controller: PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Wired (buy now)
    Frequently available very cheaply, the PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Wired is ideal for the family setup. Numerous color schemes are available including Mario or Animal Crossing-themed choices, so each family member can have their own controller. Wired means no need to worry about recharging it while the controller feels good in your hands. It even has programmable back buttons and audio controllers making it more useful than you’d anticipate for the price.

Looking for something to play

The best Nintendo Switch controllers you can buy today

1. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Stuff Says…

The official Pro controller has everything you could want going for it, as long as you don’t mind dull colours.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | NFC Support: Yes

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller looks just like a regular controller so if you’ve been itching to use something like an Xbox or PlayStation controller with your Switch, this is the solution for you. It doesn’t offer any additional customisation options but it doesn’t really need to as it works well as is.

It offers thumb sticks that are far more precise and accurate than relying on Joy-Cons, along with some effective HD rumble for a kick back effect or two. It’s all suitably weighty too and feels a bit more high-end than a third-party alternative, with even buttons feeling satisfying rather than overly clicky. It has a slightly textured feel too, so it’s simple to grip for extended periods.

As standard, it’s available in a very dull black but there are frequently special editions around if you want something a bit more interesting to look at. These tend to sell out fast but the black edition is always fairly well-priced these days.

2. PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller

Stuff Says…

Offering decent customisation options and a reliable alternative to the official model, the PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller is worth checking out.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | NFC Support: No

For those wanting to spend a little more, the PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller is a fairly appealing controller. It doesn’t offer Amiibo support, annoyingly, but it does have some great advanced features to warrant the Pro name. It comes with two different-sized thumb sticks so you can find the right fit for the size of your hands. It also has four paddles that can be attached magnetically to add to your button options at the back of the controller. Instantly, it’s reminiscent of the Xbox Elite Controller, even if it doesn’t feel quite as satisfying to clunk down on.

Such customisation is the focus of the PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller with the rest of the controller being fairly standard yet weighty to grip. A carry case comes with it to add to the high-end qualities going on here, although the lack of HD rumble and Amiibo support means some will still prefer Nintendo’s offering.

3. 8BitDo Pro 2

Stuff Says…

Ideal for playing older retro titles on your Switch, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is comfy to hold while offering some more modern flourishes.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | NFC Support: No

If you think gaming was at its best during the SNES era (we don’t blame you), you’ll love how familiar the 8BitDo Pro 2 feels. It still offers all the functionality you need from a modern controller but there’s no denying its SNES-esque roots. It feels good in your hand being lightweight yet not flimsy. The highlight here is both its d-pad and face buttons which feel chunky and satisfying to tap on.

In a similar way, the trigger buttons are just as good to tap, meaning the 8BitDo Pro 2 is instantly the ideal controller if you play a lot of retro titles on your Switch. While feeling old-school, the triggers are still analog so they can detect how deeply you’re pressing them for supported games.

Preset profiles can be set up too with that tying into the two back paddle buttons that can be customised to whatever you’re prioritising. The focus here is on a retro yet modern experience.

4. Nintendo Joy-Con

Stuff Says…

Joy-Cons are ideal for many types of games. An extra pair is perfect for some competitive playing.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | NFC Support: Yes

We know you came looking for an alternative to the Nintendo Joy-Con but it’s worth remembering how useful the pair really are. While their thumb sticks may not be as precise at times as the competition, the design of the Nintendo Joy-Con is perfect for multiplayer gaming, easy storage, or for smaller (and younger) hands.

It’s possible to buy Nintendo Joy-Cons in a wide variety of different colours so there’s something for every taste as well as the opportunity to have different colours for different family members. Motion support is strong here when other controllers may lack it. There’s also HD rumble and Amiibo support. For certain games, you can even turn one pair of Nintendo Joy-Con into two controllers like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, so there’s great value for money here. It’s a simple solution that’s almost too obvious but not everyone needs an Xbox-style controller for every occasion.

5. 8BitDo Arcade Stick

Stuff Says…

For fighting fans, a dedicated arcade stick like the 8BitDo Arcade Stick is an absolute must.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | NFC Support: No

The 8BitDo Arcade Stick looks like an old-school NES fighting stick which is sure to delight older gamers. It has all the buttons laid out perfectly just like you’d see at an arcade. To the left of it is the joystick which gives you plenty of control when putting together combos in your favourite fighting games.

As anyone who’s browsed the eStore will know, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick has a fantastic library of retro fighting games, arcade titles, and newer games that are designed in a similar way. If that’s where your habits lie, you really need the 8BitDo Arcade Stick in your life. It’ll make Mario Kart or Zelda horrific to play, but something like the Street Fighter Collection is a delight here.

Surprisingly, it can be used wirelessly although dedicated gamers may prefer to plug it in to avoid any input lag. It’s even customisable if you want to take it apart although things do get fiddly.

6. PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller

Stuff Says…

If there’s no need for extra buttons but you still want a reliable controller, the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller more than suits the role.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 30 hours | NFC Support: No

The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is straightforward and very easy to use. It can be just a regular wireless controller. Your most complicated decision can be which colour or design to go for (we rather like the Pikachu-flavoured one) with setup taking mere seconds. It’s designed in a similar way to the official Pro controller but adds anti-friction rings to make using the thumb sticks smoother. It’s also fairly robustly built which makes it a good choice for family gaming sessions.

It can be more complicated if you prefer though. Two mappable buttons are also included on the controller but won’t exactly steal your attention away from the core build here. That’s rather nice to see on a controller that is very affordable. With great battery life, it’s hard to fault the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller for the average user, unless NFC support is essential.

7. GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro Wireless Controller

Stuff Says…

Ideal for anyone who hates to blame their controller, the GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro Wireless Controller is overkill for others, but packed with useful features.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Up to 25 hours | NFC Support: Yes

The GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro Wireless Controller promises to eliminate any joystick drift that you’ve almost certainly noticed with Joy-Cons and even other controllers. That’s thanks to it using fancy Hall Effect sensors beneath the joysticks so it uses magnetic fields instead of mechanical resistance to detect movement. It feels instantly a little better than before with your movements instantly translating on screen and feeling that touch snappier.

It’s a comfortable controller too, taking a leaf out of the Switch Pro controller’s book and feeling just as intuitive. Besides feeling good to hold, the controller also has two extra face buttons for built-in macro functionality along with an auto-shoot button and the ability to record and repeat a series of inputs. It’s all likely to be a bit unnecessary if you’re more of a casual gamer but if you want to get the absolute most out of every game, it’s a useful set of tools.

8. PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Wired

Stuff Says…

Cheap, cheerful and perfect to keep the whole family happy.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wired | Battery life: N/A | NFC Support: No

The PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Wired keeps things nice and simple, and ideal for the whole family. As with the PowerA range, there’s a huge choice of colours and designs here. We’re particularly taken with all things Mario, Zelda, and Animal Crossing. Crucially, it means you can buy one for each member of the family and there’s no chance of confusion as to which controller is which.

A wired controller, you won’t have to worry about recharging either although you’ll need to keep nearer to the console than with a wireless alternative. The controller feels good in your hands if a little lightweight but it has all the essentials here. A 3.5mm jack is available for plugging in headphones while you can also use the D-pad to control the volume. It fits in some programmable back buttons too although we’d stick with something else for the customisation side of things. Ultimately, these are cute controllers for simple purposes.

9. 8BitDo Zero 2

Stuff Says…

The ultimate retro controller, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is tiny but ideal for nostalgia.

Tech spec:

Connection: Wireless | Battery life: Lithium batteries | NFC Support: No

Secretly prefer playing Super Mario World over the latest Mario or Zelda games? The 8BitDo Zero 2 will let you hark back to the good old days in tiny style. 8Bitdo reckons it’s the world’s smallest gamepad and we think it might be right. It’s incredibly small and reminds us of a curved version of the NES controller.

That means very few features here. No programmable paddles, no NFC support, nothing that gives a flash of the modern world really. Instead, it feels slight in your hands and oddly, all the better for it. It’s available in many different colours which is nice too. We’re not convinced this is a controller you’ll use every day as it’s a bit too basic for playing the latest games on. However, it feels right and proper to use on old games through Nintendo Switch Online.

Profile image of Jennifier Allen Jennifier Allen


Jennifer is a tech and games freelancer with over 10 years of experience. In the past, she's written for sites including TechRadar, Mashable, Lifewire, NME, T3, Eurogamer, and many others. She can never settle on just one pair of headphones or one wearable. In her spare time, she continues to fail to train her guinea pigs and watches too many obscure films.