The best Nintendo Switch controllers in 2023
Looking to grab a new Switch controller this year? Well, you don’t have to settle for Joycons or even Nintendo’s own stuff.
Since the Nintendo 64, all of Nintendo’s controllers have been a little divisive. The alien concoction of the 64’s three-horned beast, to the Gamecube’s subtle ergonomic return. Even the Wii was met with detractors back when Nintendo was still calling it the Revolution and promoting a delightful lime green version.
What isn’t so divisive is that Nintendo has made a woeful mistake with the Joycons. While perfect for (our) tiny hands, they’re always at risk of breaking down. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than sitting down to play, and noticing that your character is slowly making their way to the East without any kind of instruction.
Replacing them has also become another conversation in itself. While you absolutely need them for comfortable, portable play, when docked, we recommend stowing them aboard the Switch itself.
Switch controllers are also a dime-a-dozen at this point. Power-A, 8BitDo, Hori, and more all have their own massive amount of Switch controllers on sale. There are even some really bad ones out there, which we recommend you avoid. Cheapness does not equal goodness.
8BitDo Switch Bluetooth dongle – use your Xbox and PlayStation controllers on Switch
Though, before we begin, it’s got to be said if you’re coming to the Switch with controllers from other consoles, we’d probably recommend the 8BitDo Bluetooth Dongle. While not a perfect one-to-one conversion (you’ll need to remap the A and B buttons around for menus), you’ll find it works really well with PS4 and Xbox controllers. You lose the analog of the trigger as well, but that’s nothing to be too afraid of.
This way you can save your cash and use what’s already around you.
8BitDo Ultimate controller – our current favorite
There’s a reason that the 8BitDo Ultimate controller for the PC and Switch got the perfect score. Not only is it a sublime piece of hardware to use every day, but its flexibility and feature set are unparalleled in the Switch controller space.
Not only are you getting a solidly built controller, with a charging docking station for $69, but it comes with hall-effect sticks to avoid drift. These sticks use magnets to improve accuracy, but also to keep the stick aligned with where it needs to be.
Underneath the hood, there’s Bluetooth and 2.4GHz mode, and you can connect it to your phone to update profiles for different situations. All of these can be flipped on the fly as well.
The 8BitDo Ultimate Controller for the Switch is probably our top choice as of right now.
Hori Split Pad – Best for portable gaming
The major issue with Joycon replacements is their lack of wireless connectivity. However, if you’re planning on being on the go or just never have really docked the Switch, then you’re in luck.
Hori’s legendary controllers have graced consoles for a while now, and they brought that excellence to the Switch. Our review of the Joycon replacements said that not only do they improve the comfort of using the Switch in handheld mode, but they also offer better controls.
You’re not just getting a D-pad, but that level of Hori excellence that will see you making fireballs with immaculate ease.
There are two versions available, the Compact – which we reviewed – and the Pro, which offers as bigger grip.
Nyxi Switch controllers – Joycon replacements
Nyxi has been slowly releasing a boatload of controllers for a while now. They’ve turned heads recently, as they’re releasing a Gamecube-themed controller.
The entire Nyxi brand is a solid get, whether you’re replacing Joycons or want to sit on the couch and play with a traditional controller.
One thing that Nyxi has above companies like Hori is that their Joycon replacements are also wireless, so you’ll be able to play with that Gamecube ‘Wizard’ controller however you want.
Nintendo Switch Pro controller
Yes, we know it’s an official Nintendo product, but it’s legitimately very good. While fairly basic in terms of its features, it does offer a connect-and-go experience with no compromises. This means NFC support for Amiibos, that classic Nintendo D-pad, and all the menu buttons. There’s very little faff, and it even supports gyro controls.
Our only main issue is that when using the controller elsewhere, the triggers only have on or off, there’s no analog between the press. While a lot of official Nintendo first-party titles won’t ever really bother with this, when deciding to use the controller across PC games can be a little irritating.
PowerA controllers – wired supremacy
If you’re after a relatively affordable, but wired connection, you should look no further than PowerA. They don’t support most of the features found on the official Pro controller, nor do they work wirelessly. However, they feel similar enough to the Switch Pro controller that after a while they’re indistinguishable.
PowerA has a bunch in a tonne of themes, so you can take your pick and choose a favorite. They also make some decent alternatives to the Gamecube controller as well.