When it comes to controllers for the Nintendo Switch, the versatile and reliable GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro is top dog. But there’s a slew of other worthy contenders that’ll pair perfectly with your portable console, and we’re hoping many of these controllers will be compatible with the Nintendo Switch 2, rumored to be released later this year. Click to jump to detailed looks at the best Switch controllers, or check out our list below:
TL;DR – These are the Best Nintendo Switch Controllers:
Controllers are one of the most essential and best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy. Whether you’re playing Tears of the Kingdom, need some ergonomic assistance, or even just use the Switch as a Smash Bros. box, moving away from the standard Joy-Cons can make a world of difference. Take a look at these well-tested and thoroughly researched recommendations. You’re bound to find one that fits your needs.
The Best Switch Controllers
1. GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro
Best Switch Controller
It’s hard to beat out Nintendo’s own Switch Pro Controller, but GuliKit’s KingKong 2 Pro does just that to earn our top spot. Coming with a look and feel very similar to Nintendo’s offering, this controller delivers tactile, swappable buttons, easy-to-pull triggers, and a large D-pad while toting the same $70 price tag.
That’s just scratching the surface of what’s available, as the KingKong Pro 2 comes with a whole batch of features that really amp up your playing experience—and work flawlessly with the Switch. There’s motion rumble and motion control for a more immersive in-game experience, but the real star is the anti-drift sticks that feature hall effect sensors and sensitivity adjustments.
Of course, this controller offers a wired connection to the Switch or seamlessly pairs with the console, PCs, smartphones, and tablets over Bluetooth with a handy button that lets you swap between devices. The KingKong Pro 2 can even wake the Switch from sleeping and supports Amiibo.
2. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
Best Official Switch Controller
For just about any Nintendo Switch game that you’re looking to play seriously, Nintendo’s very own Pro Controller for Switch is comfortable and effective to get you by in any game. Costing just $70, means you’ll have money to spend on the best game deals.
Since its start as a video game hardware maker, Nintendo has consistently designed excellent controllers. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is the same with its large face buttons, tactile triggers, and trademark (literally) D-Pad for the best retro gaming. Although children under 6 years old might find it a bit too large.
The Switch Pro controller also features HD rumble, so you won’t miss anything while having your system docked. We also find the battery life to be quite generous, living well up to the measured 40 hours per charge.
3. Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons
Best Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons
This might sound a bit redundant, but Nintendo’s own $80 Joy-Cons truly make the Switch’s magic. Yes, that’s even considering Joy-Con drift.
They’re essential to how the console works both in docked and handheld modes. You can play games with both Joy-Cons slotted into the system or wirelessly while you have it sitting on a table or docked with your TV.
You can even share Joy-Cons with friends by turning them sideways to act as tinier standard controllers, though we strongly recommend keeping the straps handy for a bit more to hold onto while playing this way.
4. Hori Split Pad Pro
Best Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons for Handheld Play
While the Nintendo-issued Joy-Cons are fine for most people, perhaps you need something more ergonomic for playing handheld. The $50 Hori Split Pad Pro is licensed by Nintendo and features a much wider area to help you hold on while playing on the go.
The ergonomics go further with larger buttons everywhere, alternate shoulder triggers placed with reach of your middle or ring fingers, and a turbo setting for fewer button presses.
However, these alternative Joy-Cons only work while connected to the Switch. You cannot use the Split Pad Pro controllers wirelessly, so game modes in which you need to share individual Joy-Cons are not supported.
5. PowerA Fusion Pro
Best Customizable Switch Controller
With the PowerA Fusion Pro, you can truly customize the controller to your specific needs for comfort and better performance. However, you do lose the rumble pack inside compared to Nintendo’s own Pro Controller, and the battery lasts about half as long: 20 hours.
That’s a trade-off you’ll have to consider going in and weighing the benefits. Those include swappable magnetic faceplates, multiple joysticks to choose from, additional customizable rear trigger paddles, and motion controls for games that support it.
With that many options to tailor the controller to your specific gaming needs, you’re getting quite a bit to make up for the loss of rumble and shorter battery life.
6. 8BitDo Arcade Stick
Best Fight Stick for Switch
Since you’re not likely to play on Nintendo Switch in a fighting game tournament (unless it’s Smash Bros.), we heartily recommend the $90 8BitDo Arcade Stick for fighting games on the console.
Not only does this fight stick have lovable retro stylings, but it’s also customizable with support for Sanwa parts. The stick also automatically recognizes whether it is connected to a Switch or PC — wired or wireless — and instantly changes button assignments.
The Arcade Stick can store two profiles worth of button assignments, for either different platforms or different games, with digital icons that change between profiles. Lastly, the stick includes turbo support and its battery can last for up to 40 hours on a 2.4GHz wireless connection or 30 hours on Bluetooth.
See more of our picks for the best fight sticks for gaming.
7. Nintendo GameCube Controller
Best Super Smash Bros. Controller
While not the first controller for a Smash Bros. game, the Nintendo GameCube Controller solidified itself as the gold standard almost immediately back in 2001.
The strange button layout of the GameCube Controller – with gray, jelly-bean shaped X and Y buttons surrounding a green, oversized A button and a red, shrunken B button – inherently makes playing Smash Bros. easier. For instance, quickly jumping and making air attacks, as well as pulling off smash attacks with the yellow C-stick, are much simpler.
While you can easily get by playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate using a Switch Pro Controller, anyone playing remotely competitively will agree: just get the $65 GameCube controller (and the $15-to-$20 adapter) for Switch.
8. 8BitDo Pro 2
Best Switch Controller for Retro Games
Makers of some of the best retro-themed controllers available. The $50 8BitDo Pro 2‘s retro aesthetic and modern sensibility feel tailor-made for Nintendo Switch Online’s growing classic game libraries.
The buttons, direction pad, and shoulder buttons all have a click and feedback that feel quite similar to the original SNES controller. However, the extended grips and dual joysticks feel much like the first PlayStation DualShock controller, save for the additional trigger paddles underneath.
We’ve even used the Pro 2 for modern Switch gameplay and were left satisfied. This and the support for three unique button layout profiles make the Pro 2 ideal for supporting multiple retro game consoles or a mix of both classic and contemporary games.
9. 8BitDo Ultimate
Best 3rd Party Switch Controller
The 8BitDo Ultimate makes for one competent controller with a design similar to the Switch Pro. However, you get a slightly larger D-pad, Hall Effect Sensors in the sticks, and extremely responsive buttons, which can be especially handy in fighting games like Smash Bros.
Using the 8BitDo’s Ultimate app, you can customize the button mapping, swap stick behavior, and adjust vibration levels while two extra back paddles are on the controller for additional commands. A custom profile switch button allows you to store three profiles on the pad for on-the-fly swapping.
This wireless controller offers a decent 22-hour battery life and comes with a charging dock that also acts as a wireless connection, though you get a 2.4GHz dongle, too. There’s even Bluetooth support for a super versatile gamepad that’s not exclusively for Switch.
10. Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe
Best Racing Wheel for Switch
Many of the best racing wheels aren’t compatible with the Switch, making the pool of contenders to cruise down Rainbow Road in Mario Kart very small. Luckily, Hori didn’t forget about the versatile gaming handheld, offering the Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe.
Coming in at $100, it isn’t a pro-level option with powerful force feedback or direct drive systems, but the wheel is decently sized and feels solid in hand. You’ll find all the customizable controls needed to navigate games, sturdy paddle shifters, and even different sensitivity levels for better handling.
A responsive two-pedal set for the break and gas round out this kit, ensuring a much more immersive gaming experience than a traditional controller. And it isn’t exclusively for Mario Kart, so it’ll work with your favorite Switch driving games and some PC offerings.
What to look for in a Nintendo Switch controller
When looking for a new Nintendo Switch controller, the list of criteria is thankfully short, as it really just comes down to comfort and the game type at hand.
If it’s just basic Nintendo Switch gameplay, then we recommend going with Nintendo’s own options. However, if you’re looking to play a specific game type on Switch, then there’s more specific advice for you:
Fighting games: Consider a fight stick for traditional, arcade style fighting games such as Street Fighter, BlazBlue, and Mortal Kombat. We recommend the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch players, but competitive players should consult our guide to the best fight sticks overall.
Racing games: There are very few racing wheels compatible with Switch, but the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe is a solid, affordable option. You can also find basic plastic wheels to slot your Joy-Cons into, but they are nowhere near the traditional racing wheel experience.
Retro games: Players of classic games are generally looking for controllers that feel as close to the originals as possible – if not just re-releases of those very controllers. Since those are extremely difficult to come by, we recommend the 8BitDo Pro 2 for most people playing retro games on Switch.
Nintendo Switch Controller FAQ
Can You Use Switch Controllers on a PC?
Nintendo offers some solid gamepads you may occasionally want to use with your gaming PC. Luckily, official Nintendo controllers like the Switch Pro and Joy-Cons are compatible.
The Switch Pro easily connects to PC via a wired connection. Going wireless requires jumping through a few hoops, but it’s a fairly painless process. You just need to pair the pad using Bluetooth. Your device should recognize the controller, and then you can set it up in Steam. With Steam, all the button mapping will be done for you, as it’s recognized as an Xbox controller. However, if you’re playing games outside of Steam, you’ll need the 8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter or special programs to make the Switch Pro Controller act like an Xbox gamepad.
Joy-Con controllers are compatible with PC and other devices over Bluetooth, similar to the Switch Pro. Once synced, programs like JoytoKey or BetterJoy allow the Joy-Cons to work with your computer.
Do Nintendo Switch Controllers Drift?
The Switch’s Joy-Cons have always been plagued with drift, meaning your controller will register an input when there weren’t any. It’s unclear what exactly has caused this problem, but it appears to be more than just wear and tear or dust. And this issue isn’t just a few isolated cases, as it affects a good chunk of Switch users. There are ways to fix Joy-Con drift yourself, or Nintendo will repair the Joy-Cons for you. Luckily, drift is less of a problem in other Nintendo controllers.
What Controllers Does a New Nintendo Switch Come With?
When purchasing a new Switch OLED or original Switch model, you get a set of Joy-Con controllers. You can use them attached to the console for handheld play or remove the Joy-Cons to play games in table-top and TV mode. Unfortunately, the Switch Lite doesn’t come with any controller, while its built-in controls only work with games that support handheld mode. You’ll have to purchase a compatible controller separately and connect wirelessly to play other types of games.
Joe Osborne is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in games and tech media. You can find his work elsewhere at Insider, TechRadar, Laptop Magazine, Tom’s Guide, and more.