The best Steam Deck controllers in 2023

best steam deck controller

Looking for the best Steam Deck controller to use while you play docked? We’ve rounded up our favorites to save you the hassle of having to look around.

Gaming docked on the Steam Deck will probably need you to pick up a controller. Rather than having a dongle sticking out the end, it might be best to skip the awkwardness and go for one of the bad boys below.

You’ll find nearly any controller you throw at the Steam Deck is compatible. From Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, the choices are incredibly open.

8BitDo Ultimate: The best Steam Deck controller

8bitdo ultimate controllerDexerto

There’s not enough praise that can be sung about the 8BitDo Ultimate controller. It is a fascinatingly great controller aimed more at the Switch, but the Steam Deck has built-in settings to swap over the buttons (B as A, A as B, thanks, Nintendo).

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The sticks will resist drifting thanks to them featuring magnets inside, keeping them centered. Underneath, there’s a pair of mappable buttons and the overall feel of the controller is premium – at a low cost.

That’s right, 8BitDo’s Ultimate Controller is just $69, coming with a charger and either Bluetooth or 2.4GHz connection options.

Besides that, it’s an immensely comfortable controller to use for long play sessions and one that we’d recommend for everyone.

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2: Premium without the drawbacks

Xbox Series Controller black backgroundMicrosoft

The Xbox family of controllers runs exceptionally well on the Steam Deck. With near-instantaneous connection and built-in UI alterations, the Xbox controller is already one of the ideal options to go for.

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However, the Xbox Elite Controller 2 on the Steam Deck? Nearly flawless. The only downside is its high cost. Though with that high cost, you’re not only getting the excellent controller but the full kit as well. The bumpers on the back and included optional Dpad make the Elite controller a flexible beast on the Steam Deck.

Plus, switching the triggers to a lower threshold while playing, makes the games that don’t need the full trigger press much easier to play.

DualSense or Xbox Series controllers on Steam Deck


We’d consider these the baseline controllers for the Steam Deck.

The differences between the DualSense and the Xbox controller aren’t truly fair, but on the Steam Deck, that doesn’t matter. Both of these controllers will be set to their default states and for the most part, the DualSense won’t be able to use its nifty features.

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What this comes down to is taste. Do you want the familiarity of the Xbox brand or Sony’s PlayStation? Whichever one you prefer, you can probably default to that.

However, we would not recommend the DualSense Edge controller at this time.

Steam Controller

steam controller

The Steam Controller isn’t as bad as it looks, honestly. It’s quite comfortable once you get used to its bizarre nature.

We know it’s weird, but it is what birthed the concept of the Steam Deck’s controllers right now. The only thing is, you’ll have this very odd controller that is ideal for those trackpad games.

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It’s not an ideal recommendation, but we thought we’d include it for those who might find one or already have access to one.

How to access menus with a docked Steam Deck

One thing to note with the Steam Deck and controllers is that you’re more than likely going to have to learn a few new shortcuts. With no buttons matching the Steam Deck’s own layout, take note of the below to ensure you’ve got access to the right menus.

To get to the menu with battery control, and FSR (or the … button) you can press the home button on your controller with the A/X buttons on a PlayStation and Xbox controller. B on a Switch controller.

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For everything else you’d do with the Steam button, like taking a screenshot, you can just mimic the Steam Deck itself using the home buttons. Be careful though, pressing it down too long will turn off your controller in most cases.

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