Finding the best Nintendo Switch controller can not only elevate your docked gameplay, but can also give your handheld sessions a new lease of life. From wireless gamepads to super cheap tethered connections, there are plenty of Nintendo Switch controllers vying for your attention right now. In a sea of D-Pads and thumbsticks, then, we're helping you find the right set of buttons for your console.
We don't see too many of the absolute best Nintendo Switch controllers offered up in Nintendo Switch bundles, but cheaper options are often found discounted when bought with the consoles themselves. If you're after a premium experience, though, it's well worth investing in a higher quality gamepad.
The most expensive Nintendo Switch controller is the traditional Joy-Con. Priced at $79.99 / £69.99, you're certainly paying for the nifty tech packed in here, but you are technically getting two gamepads for that price. The $69.99 / £69.99 Pro Controller does see more regular discounts, and is more readily available for $59.99 / £49.99 these days.
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's plenty of wired and wireless models to choose from. You'll find all the best Nintendo Switch controllers on the market right now just below.
The best Nintendo Switch controllers available now
Looking for 'normal' Switch controllers? The Joy-Con is what you're after. Built as this console's answer to the Nintendo Wii Remote, Joy-Cons come with the machine and are designed for use as a pair or separately. 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.
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.
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 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.
However, 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.
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.
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.
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, a new attachment is due out in April 2022 (now available to pre-order for $79.99 at Amazon) which will enable the controllers to be used in docked mode. This will still be wired into the console's dock, though, rather than relying on its own battery.
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.
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.
It might not be the most attractive Nintendo Switch controller on the market, but the 8BitDo Lite gets the job done. Designed with the Nintendo Switch Lite in mind, the compact gamepad offers a split D-pad design rather than adding extra height with thumbsticks, and offers eight total face buttons. At just 120mm long, this isn't going to be a controller for longer intense sessions, but if you're keeping your Nintendo Switch experience lightweight while you're out it's an excellent case accessory.
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.
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.
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.
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.