We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller (2023): Top Picks from Nintendo, PowerA, HORI & More

If you’re after the best Nintendo Switch controller, then you could do better than the standard Joy-Cons not only because of their tendency to develop drift issues but also because of their lack of grips for more intense titles. Fortunately, gamers are spoiled for choice, as there are a ton of official and third-party options.

The obvious pick is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, and for most folks, it’s the most intuitive upgrade. Then there’s the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller that’s easier on the budget, and the 8BitDo Zero 2 as a travel-friendly alternative. On the other hand, the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro and the HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) can improve the experience in their own ways, particularly in handheld mode.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller Comparison Chart

ModelImageHighlightsPrice
Nintendo Switch Pro ControllerBest Nintendo Switch ControllerThe best Nintendo Switch controller overallCheck Price at Nintendo.com
PowerA Enhanced Wireless ControllerBest Nintendo Switch ControllerBudget alternative to the Nintendo Switch Pro ControllerCheck Price at Walmart.com
8BitDo Zero 2Best Nintendo Switch ControllerTravel-friendly wireless controller for docked or tabletop modeCheck Price at 8BitDo.com
HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad ProBest Nintendo Switch ControllerFull controller experience in handheld modeCheck Price at HORIUSA.com
HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L)Best Nintendo Switch ControllerEasy upgrade for a D-pad in handheld modeCheck Price at HORIUSA.com

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is easily one of the best controllers.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
A closer look at the buttons and grips of the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

There’s no doubt about it—the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller offers better performance than the standard Joy-Cons, and it’s more comfortable to use to boot, owing to its larger and ergonomic form factor and grips. Plus, it sports bigger buttons, thumbsticks, triggers and bumpers, as well as a more traditional D-pad as opposed to the split button layout on the left Joy-Con.

Also, its battery life is arguably one of its most underappreciated features. Sure, it takes about six hours to fully charge, but you’ll get up to 40 hours of runtime afterward, which could last at least a whole month for the casual gamer.

However, its high price tag is what’s keeping most people from nabbing one, but considering what it offers, it’s a worthwhile investment.

PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller

While it may have fewer features, the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is a decent budget alternative to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller
The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller features two programmable back buttons.

What makes the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is how similar it is to the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. From form factor to button layout, it’s practically the same, and its biggest advantage is it costs less.

That lower price means you’ll be sacrificing some features, though. It doesn’t have Amiibo NFC support, nor does it have HD Rumble. In its defense, it does have motion controls, but more importantly, it has two programmable buttons on the back, which are aptly called “Advanced Gaming Buttons.” These make it closer to the likes of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and its rear paddles.

It’s worth mentioning that the earlier version uses two AA batteries to function, but newer models now use an internal rechargeable battery that’s rated to last up to 30 hours on a single charge.

8BitDo Zero 2

Sharing a similar size as Joy-Cons, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is an excellent portable option.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller 8BitDo Zero 2
The 8BitDo Zero 2 is tinier than a Joy-Con and features a D-pad.

There are a lot of things to love about the 8BitDo Zero 2. First off, it’s smaller than a Joy-Con, measuring 73mm x 36.5mm x 14.7mm and weighing only 20.7g. It’s touted as a keychain-sized controller, and it really lives up to it, making it one of the best travel-friendly controllers. What’s more, it isn’t just a substitute for a Joy-Con, as it brings a traditional D-pad and larger buttons and bumpers to the table.

In terms of appearance, it uses a similar design language as the Nintendo Switch Lite. It even comes in turquoise, yellow and pink, all of which are available colorways of the stripped-down version of the console.

Besides the Nintendo Switch, it also plays nicely with Windows, macOS and Android, which is a huge plus.

HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro

The HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro takes the handheld experience to a whole new level.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro
The HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro can be attached to the console for a full controller in handheld mode.

For more complex games in handheld mode, the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro has got you covered. It’s like a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller split in the middle and attachable to the console. That also means you’d get large buttons and thumbsticks, as well as a D-pad. More than that, it adds programmable back triggers and turbo functionality as well.

HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L)

In handheld mode, the HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) takes the split button layout of the left Joy-Con and replaces it with a D-pad.

Best Nintendo Switch Controller HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L)
A look at the Super Mario variant of the HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L).

Unlike options such as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, the HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) is a simpler upgrade. Basically, it’s a left Joy-Con that replaces the split button layout with a D-pad. This, of course, only makes sense when playing handheld. In fact, it only works in that specific mode, and speaking of limitations, you’ll also have to make do without HD Rumble.

On the upside, you do get to choose from a wide variety of officially licensed designs themed after Pikachu, Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, to name a few.

Verdict

For most folks, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller are their best bet, while the 8BitDo Zero 2, HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro and HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) offer unique improvements.

That’s it for our list of the best Nintendo Switch controller, and in our humble opinion, the reigning champ is none other than the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller because of its performance and features. However, if budget is tight, then the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller can serve as a decent alternative, though you’ll miss out on things like HD Rumble.

For a wireless substitute that’s just as travel-friendly as a Joy-Con, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is one of your best options, not to mention that it’s perfect if you prefer to use a D-pad. Last but not least, the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro and HORI Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) are two ways to improve the whole handheld experience, with the former offering a “full controller” experience and the latter adding a D-pad to the mix in the mode.

FAQs

📌 Which is the best Nintendo Switch controller?

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is still the controller to beat for the Nintendo Switch. It has a long battery life, comfortable grips and larger buttons and triggers for more complex games.

📌 Which is the best budget alternative to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller?

The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller is generally considered as the closest thing to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, owing to its similar form factor and button layout. While it lacks features like HD Rumble and Amiibo NFC, it’s more affordable.

📌 Is the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pro worth it?

Yes, the HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pro allows you to play more intense games in handheld mode, as it attaches to the sides of the Nintendo Switch like Joy-Cons.

📌 Which is the best alternative to Joy-Cons?

Arguably, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is one of the best substitutes for Joy-Cons in docked or tabletop mode. It has a smaller size, making it more portable, and on top of that, it has a D-pad and slightly bigger buttons.

RELATED  PS5 Pulse 3D Headset vs ASTRO A50 (2021): Take Your Gaming Experience To The Next Level
Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.