TV show playing on a Nintendo Switch with disconnected Joy-Cons
Corbin Davenport / How-To Geek
Update, 01/29/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best Nintendo Switch controllers you can buy.

What to Look For in a Switch Controller in 2023

Since the Nintendo Switch can be played in both handheld and docked mode, the unique platform has become home to various intriguing gamepads. That means anyone in the market for a Switch controller will have to wade through hundreds of products—which often results in the best choices getting buried below a pile of third-party knockoffs.

To further complicate matters, many manufacturers have launched gamepads inspired by previous generations of Nintendo consoles. Take a quick look at any reputable retailer, and you’ll see Switch gamepads that look like iconic controllers for GameCube, N64, SNES, and NES. Toss in the availability of fighting sticks, racing wheels, and other auxiliary peripherals, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by your options.

The best way to narrow down your Nintendo Switch controller search is to determine which type of gamepad best fits your playstyle. Do you mostly play classic games through Switch Online? Consider looking at retro controllers. Are you a fighting game enthusiast? A fight stick or customizable gamepad are good options. If you can’t decide, stick with most Pro-style controllers’ traditional layout.

After establishing the type of controller best for your play style, you’ll need to figure out your budget. Controllers nowadays come with all sorts of price tags. Wired controllers are typically cheaper than their wireless counterparts, and first-party products from Nintendo are typically among the most expensive.

Nintendo products are always an easy recommendation, but if you’re shopping on a budget, consider checking out reputable third-party brands such as PowerA, HORI, and PDP. That’s not to say that other manufacturers are putting out subpar products—but you’ll need to do a bit more legwork before scooping up anything from a lesser-known company.

If that all seems a bit daunting, we’ve compiled a list of the best Switch controllers available today. Whether you’re shopping for a budget gamepad or a premium controller for fighting games, something below is bound to fit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I connect a Switch controller?

Connection methods will vary based on your specific product. Wired controllers will simply need to be plugged into the USB port on the back of your Switch Dock. Most wireless controllers can also be connected this way, then you can simply unplug them once the console and controller have synced. Be sure to read the manual for each product, as exact methods may differ.

How do I charge a Switch Controller?
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Most Switch controllers can be chargedΒ using a USB-C cable. These can be connected directly to the console or any standard electrical outlet. Joy-Cons will charge automatically when connected to a docked console.

How do I connect a Switch controller to the PC?
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Many Switch controllers can connect to PC via Bluetooth. If you need a step-by-step rundown of the process, check out our guide on connecting Joy-Con or Pro Controllers to your PC.

How do I fix Switch controller drift?
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Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to fix controller drift. Your best bet is to dive into the calibration menu and try to adjust your settings. For a detailed rundown of your options, take a look at our guide to fixing Joy-Con drift.

How do I turn off motion controls on Switch Controllers?
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A universal motion controls setting is not available on Nintendo Switch. Instead, you’ll need to manually turn off the option for each game in your library. This option will typically be found in a submenu dedicated to controller settings, although it varies from game to game.

Best Switch Controller Overall: Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller on purple background
Nintendo

Pros

  • Official Nintendo product
  • Premium design and components
  • Supports motion controls and HD rumble

Cons

  • No headphone jack

Despite all the third-party options on the market, nothing is as well-rounded as the first-party Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Built with an ergonomic design that’s great for extended play sessions and boasting some premium face buttons and analog sticks, few products come close to rivaling its performance.

Not only is it built with high-end components, but it supports various useful features not found in lesser gamepads. This includes motion controls, HD rumble, and amiibo support. Its wireless connection lets you quickly sync the device with your console—and it can even be used on a PC if you have a gaming rig.

The main drawback of the Switch Pro Controller is the lack of a headphone jack. That’s a minor nitpick when you consider everything else the gamepad offers, but no doubt it’s a bit of an oversight from Nintendo. Look past that quirk, however, and you’ll be treated to one of the best Switch controllers money can buy.

Best Switch Controller Overall

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

As a first-party product, it should come as no surprise that the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller offers incredible performance, an ergonomic design, and support for motion controls and HD rumble.

Best Budget Switch Controller: HORIPAD Wired Controller

HORIPAD on pink and yellow background
HORI

Pros

  • Fast-actuating shoulder buttons
  • Officially licensed product
  • Removable D-Pad adapter

Cons

  • No motion controls or HD rumble

Clocking in at less than $25, the HORIPAD Wired Controller punches well above its weight class. A unique D-Pad adapter gives a surprising level of customization not often seen in this price range, and the availability of three different colors (Black, Blue, and Red) makes it easy to find something that fits your style.

Beyond the nifty D-Pad adapter, the HORIPAD Wired Controller gives you a slick design with offset analog sticks, and fast-actuating shoulder buttons that are well-suited for frantic action games, and is officially licensed by Nintendo. You’ll have to put up with a wired connection, although a lengthy 10-foot cable should allow you comfortably lounge on the couch.

The budget price on the HORIPAD Wired Controller also means you won’t have motion controls or HD rumble. Motion controls typically aren’t offered on wired controllers, although the lack of HD rumble does result in a lost sense of immersion for some games. Considering its low price tag and other premium features, most players should be able to look past that omission.

Best Budget Switch Controller

HORI Nintendo Switch HORIPAD Wired Controller

At less than $25, you'd be hard-pressed to find a gamepad that's as sleek, customizable, and responsive as the HORIPAD Wired Controller.

Best Third Party Switch Controller: PowerA Fusion Pro

PowerA Fusion Pro on green and blue background
PowerA

Pros

  • Mappable back buttons
  • Ergonomic design
  • Swappable analog sticks and faceplates

Cons

  • Expensive

If you need more bells and whistles than the standard Switch Pro Controller, consider upgrading to the third-party PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller. Not only is it just as ergonomic as the standard Switch Pro Controller, but it adds a ton of customizable parts to enhance your gaming experience.

The PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless comes with four swappable thumbsticks, two faceplates, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a 10-foot USB-C cable for charging or wired play. A two-year warranty is also included with your purchase. Dedicated gamers will appreciate the four mappable paddles, which let you program actions in the middle of a play session and allow for an added degree of accessibility.

HD rumble and amiibo are not supported, although motion controls are available when playing in wireless mode. It’s a bit expensive compared to other products on this list, but anyone seeking a premium controller will find plenty to love about this popular gamepad.

Best 3rd Party Switch Controller

PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller

If you don't mind the price, you'll be treated to a customizable gamepad that comes with multiple analog sticks, faceplates, and a set of mappable buttons.

Best Wired Switch Controller: PDP Afterglow Deluxe+

PDP Afterglow Deluxe with headset being plugged in
PDP

Pros

  • Officially licensed
  • Eye-catching design
  • Highly affordable

Cons

  • Wired connection

Wired controllers have a reputation for being clunky and unattractive–but that’s not the case for the PDP Afterglow Deluxe+ Wired Controller. Designed with a transparent chassis and tons of LED lights, the Afterglow Deluxe+ is remarkably eye-catching for a budget, wired controller.

Four different LED modes are available, and you can swap between different colors to match your preference. You can even turn them off if they distract you while navigating menus or streaming a TV show. Toss in customizable paddles, dual vibration technology, and the designation as an officially licensed Nintendo product, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a wired controller better than this.

Of course, wired connections aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. Before pulling the trigger on the PDP Afterglow Deluxe+, make sure you won’t grow tired of its cable strewn across your game room whenever you sit down to play. As long as that doesn’t bother you, few wired gamepads can match the performance (and style) of the Afterglow.

Best Wired Switch Controller

PDP Afterglow Deluxe+ Wired Controller

The PDP Afterglow Deluxe+ proves that wired controllers don't have to be clunky, bringing a striking design to your game room that Nintendo officially licenses.

Best GameCube Style Switch Controller: PowerA Wireless GameCube Controller

PowerA Gamecube controller on pink background
PowerA

Pros

  • Authentic layout
  • Several available colors
  • Convenient wireless connection

Cons

  • No HD rumble

Don’t let its clunky design fool you, as the GameCube controller is surprisingly comfortable. And while you can use the original, first-party Nintendo GameCube controller on your Switch (if you purchase an expensive adapter), the PowerA Wireless GameCube Controller is a faithful recreation of the iconic gamepad.

Available in a wide variety of designs and color palettes (including Purple, Black, and Silver), the PowerA GameCube controller has one big advantage over the classic Nintendo GameCube controller—a wireless connection. You’ll get up to 30 hours of wireless playtime on two AA batteries, making this a great option for Super Smash Bros. fans that want an authentic gameplay experience.

An enhanced D-Pad design, an additional left shoulder button, and the fact that it’s officially licensed by Nintendo all add up to make this the best GameCube controller on the market. You won’t get HD rumble, but no doubt that’s easy to overlook when compared to all the other upgrades.

Best GameCube Style Switch Controller

PowerA Wireless GameCube Controller for Switch

β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜† Read Review Geek's Full Review

The PowerA Wireless GameCube controller offers the same form-factor as the iconic controller while adding wireless capabilities and a few additional buttons.

Best Switch Controller for Fighting Games: 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Switch

8bitdo Arcade Stick with switch and laptop
8bitdo

Pros

  • Retro design
  • Secondary support for Windows
  • Wireless and wired connection options

Cons

  • Uses arcade stick instead of D-Pad
  • Expensive

While any old controller will work for fighting games, dedicated players will want something that allows for precise button actuation and can stand up to the rigors of rapid (and sometimes chaotic) button presses. The 8Bitdo Arcade Stick is a great option, offering a premium arcade stick, multiple buttons, and a slick retro design.

One of the great things about the 8Bitdo Arcade Stick is its button layout. Not only do you get a responsive stick for movement, but you’ll have easy access to eight face buttons that make it easy to control the action across all fighting games. You even have the option to connect wireless via Bluetooth or 2.4GHz with a USB receiver.

If you want to get really creative, you can swap out the arcade buttons or install different arcade sticks, as the 8Bitdo is designed with a universal mounting system. In other words, elite players with a bit of technical know-how will find tons of ways to optimize their setup for their specific playstyle.

It’s a bit pricey at $90 (and fans of D-Pads will need to look elsewhere), but a retro design, responsive controls, and tons of customizable parts make this a great option to consider.

Best Switch Controller for Fighting Games

8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Switch

Not only does it come with plenty of impressive standard features (such as eight face buttons and premium arcade stick), but savvy gamers can customize most of its components.

The Best Nintendo Switch Accessories of 2023

8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller - for Switch PC Windows Android MacOS Steam Raspberry Pi (Red)
Best Retro Controller
8Bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller - for Switch PC Windows Android MacOS Steam Raspberry Pi (Red)
Fixture S1
Best Controller Accessory
Fixture S1
GENKI Global Covert Dock
Best Portable Dock
GENKI Global Covert Dock
Nyko Power Pak
Best Battery Pack
Nyko Power Pak
SanDisk 512GB Ultra MicroSD
Best Nintendo Switch Memory Card
SanDisk 512GB Ultra MicroSD
Game Traveler Switch Case
Best Nintendo Switch Carrying Case
Game Traveler Switch Case
Profile Photo for Jon Bitner Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance writer who focuses on topics related to video games, science, and technology. His work can be found across the web, although he's a regular contributor to Digital Trends, Slickdeals, TVGuide, CordCuttersNews, and TheGamer. Before starting his writing career, Jon worked in the biotechnology industry, where he produced monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer patients.
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