Best Steam Deck controllers in 2024: 8BitDo, Nacon & more

Joel Loynds
Steam Deck surrounded by the best Steam Deck controllers

Getting the best Steam Deck controller in 2024 can be more complicated than you think so we’ve broken down what game controllers work best for the Valve handheld.

The Steam Deck might be a portable device, but if you want to get the best controller for the handheld, then you have to weigh up heaps of options.

Should you stick with a standard console controller, or reach for something more bespoke? Do you need gyro controls for all of those Emudeck consoles you have set up, or do you require something long-lasting with Hall Effect sticks?

With loads of options out there across a huge number of price ranges, getting the best controller for Steam Deck doesn’t have to be complicated, as we’ve broken it all down right here for you.

1. 8BitDo Ultimate Controller: The best Steam Deck controller overall

8bitdo ultimate controller charger
  • Connectivity: USB-C, 2.4 GHz Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Price: $69.99
  • Features: Hall effect sticks & triggers, included charging dock, configurable app, two rear buttons, gyro functionality, custom profiles
Hall effect sticksExpensive
Gyro functionalityMid-range battery life
Includes charging dock
Straightforward setup

When it comes to getting the best controller, you’ll want a pad that’s long-lasting, has all the features you need, and doesn’t break the bank. Luckily, the 8BitDo Ultimate controller ticks all of those boxes for you, which is why it’s one of our favorite game controllers around. In our review, we called it “one of the ultimate choices” when picking up a game controller.

From its hall effect sticks, which mean that the controller will be resistant to drift, in addition to its gyro functions, long battery life, and wealth of connectivity options, it might just be perfect for the Steam Deck. When combined with the included charging dock, the 8BitDo Ultimate controller is the best of all worlds, meaning that you can hook it up right next to your Steam Deck dock to transform it into a bonafide gaming console.

2. 8BitDo SN30 Pro: The best retro Steam Deck controller

8BitDo SN30 Pro in transluscent green on a desk
  • Connectivity: USB-C, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Price: $44.99
  • Features: Hall effect sticks, retro design, gyro functionality, classic d-pad, rumble, home and screenshot buttons
Nostalgic designExpensive
CompactLess ergonomic than modern controllers
Hall Effect sticks
Includes dual-analog sticks
Great D-pad

8BitDo rules the roost when it comes to retro gaming controllers, and their SN30 Pro might just be the best of them. Sporting a classic form factor heavily inspired by the classic SNES pad of yore, the controller is compact. This makes it ideal for playing the Steam Deck on the go, but still wanting to use a dedicated controller.

It’s also been recently upgraded to feature two hall effect sticks, so you can ensure that this controller won’t drift on you any time soon. But, despite its retro appearance, the pad also sports dual analog sticks, and four shoulder buttons, making it suitable for use in both retro and modern games. It also uses one of the best d-pads that we’ve ever used on a modern controller, making it an obvious go-to if you want a Steam Deck controller for emulation, too.

3. Nacon Revolution 5 Pro: The best premium Steam Deck controller

Nacon R5P on a desk
  • Connectivity: USB-C, 2.4 GHz
  • Battery: 10 hours
  • Price: $199.99
  • Features: Two-stage trigger stop, wireless Bluetooth 5.2, onboard audio mixing, swappable stick caps, additional weights, hall effect sticks & triggers, included carrying case.
Supports Steam Deck & PS5Expensive
Hall Effect sticksHeavy
Removable stick caps
Customizable back buttons
Includes carry case

If you’ve got some cash to spare, and also want a great controller to use on your PS5 as well as your Steam Deck, the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro might be one to watch out for. This “pro” controller has almost everything you’d want out of a Steam Deck controller, and more thanks to its removable stick caps, four rear buttons, adjustable d-pad, and additional weight customization.

It is expensive, but it also houses hall effect sensors for its sticks and triggers. With a robust build quality, it’s one of the best controllers out there, if you can manage to stomach the price. If you’re disappointed that the official Xbox Elite controller doesn’t have hall-effect sticks, this is the best alternative out there if you want the best controller for your Steam Deck, and money is no object.

In our review, we said the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro “has almost everything you could want out of an accomplished PS5 controller”, and the same rings true for the Steam Deck. With an included carry case, it’s also great, if you want to pop it in your bag and take it on the move.

4. GameSir T4 Kaleid: The best wired Steam Deck controller

GameSir T7 Kaleid side profile
  • Connectivity: USB-C
  • Price: $41.99
  • Features: Dual programmable buttons, dual rumble motors, gyroscope, hall sensing analog sticks, turbo function, dedicated software app
Gorgeous transparent designWired only
RGB lightingSub-par D-pad
Hall Effect sticks

If you’re not into charging your controllers, then the GameSir T4 Kaleid is the answer, not only does the controller sport a standard Xbox layout, but it does so in a gorgeous transparent shell that glows, complete with a PCB to match. Its wired-only nature means that if you’re playing games and want immediate feedback with no chance of lag, then this is your best bet.

The T4 Kaleid is naturally sporting hall effect sensors, ensuring long-lasting usage, too. It has all of the features you can want, including gyro support. So, if you’ve got a desktop Steam Deck station and don’t want to mess around with Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz connections, this is the best option out there right now.

In our review, we praised the GameSir T4 Kaleid for its value offering, stating that the number of features you get at the price is something “high-profile manufacturers should put more effort into”.

5. 8BitDo Pro 2: The best budget Steam Deck controller

8BitDo Pro 2 controller on a desk
  • Connectivity: USB-C, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Price: $39.99 / $49.99
  • Features: Retro design, gyro functionality, classic d-pad, rumble, two back buttons, removable rechargeable battery, home and screenshot buttons, hall effect sticks available
Nostalgic designLow battery life
Removable batteryShort cable
Multiple colorways

If you’re looking for a no-frills gamepad that won’t break the bank entirely, the 8BitDo Pro 2 might be your next port of call, it’s essentially an 8BitDo SN30 Pro with elongated handles, two back buttons, and a removable battery pack. There are several versions you can pick up, the first can be had for under $40 and does not come with Hall Effect sticks. But, if you’re willing to shell out $10 more, you can get the Hall effect version, which houses upgraded sticks.

The price, alongside the design changes, could make it more palatable to many users than the SN30 Pro, in addition to having extra features like two rear buttons. Its Bluetooth functionality makes it easy to use and switch between devices too, making it great for both older and modern titles alike.

What to consider when buying a controller for Steam Deck

When purchasing a controller for the Steam Deck, you need to consider how it connects to the handheld, in addition to its stick technology. The Steam Deck can recognize Bluetooth controllers easily, but if you want a more stable connection, sacrificing a port for 2.4GHz is more than worth it.

Steam Deck OLED next to Steam Deck

Secondly, Hall Effect sticks are a must for a modern gaming controller in 2024. Getting sticks that drift is simply not acceptable for modern controllers. With Hall Effect sticks being absent from the Steam Deck, and the upgraded OLED model, using a controller to play your Valve handheld instead can help put off drift a little longer.

Do official PS5 & Xbox controllers work on Steam Deck?

You might notice that we’ve not recommended Microsoft’s official controllers or a Dualsense. This is because they do not support hall effect sticks, and are therefore prone to degradation after 417 hours, according to iFixit.

If you already have one of these lying around, don’t care about drift, and want to save a couple of bucks, this could be a good option for you. Just note that these controllers are prone to drift issues over time.

The Steam Deck itself also does not house hall effect sticks, but there are third-party mods that allow you to upgrade them.

Do third-party controllers work on Steam Deck?

Thanks to SteamOS, third-party controllers work just fine on Steam Deck, so don’t be afraid if some of our recommendations are from lesser-known brands. We’ve used every single controller on this list, and can vouch for their quality, and compatibility using a Steam Deck OLED. Just note that some functions such as paddles, may require configuration first.

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