When it comes to controllers for the Switch, Nintendo has two options only: the Joy-Con and the Pro Controller. And while both of those are great to use, people who want specific features or prefer different layouts might find them limiting. Fortunately, plenty of third-party companies have made controllers that aim to be different—or at the very least, cheaper.
What to Look for in a Switch Controller
While any controller will let you play games, there are still a few things to look for when considering which one to buy.
- Layout: Everyone has their preference for how they like joysticks and buttons to be arranged, and you can easily find a third-party controller that matches your preference.
- Connection method: The Switch allows for both wireless and wired controllers, so it’s up to you on which to choose. Wireless has the advantage of being more convenient, but with wired you’ll never have to worry about a dead battery.
- Battery life: If you’ve chosen to buy a wireless controller, you don’t want it dying mid-game. Longer battery life is obviously better—bonus points if the controller comes with a rechargeable battery.
- Customization: Whether you want to remap face buttons for certain games or disable HD rumble altogether, many third-party controllers (even at lower price points) will allow for customization far beyond what Nintendo offers.
With all that in mind, here are our favorite third-party Switch controllers you can buy right now.
Best for Most People: PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller
If you want an alternative to Nintendo’s Pro Controller, this is your best bet. It uses the same layout as the Pro Controller and Joy-Con, connects via Bluetooth, has motion controls, features an ergonomic design, and offers up to 30 hours of battery life, making this controller well suited for long sessions of docked play (although it is worth keeping in mind it runs on AA batteries).
There are also two additional buttons located on the back that can be remapped to anything you want. The controller does lack rumble (which could be a slight annoyance in some games), but even then, you’re getting a well-built controller that can rival Nintendo’s finest at a much lower price.
PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller for Nintendo Switch - Black
If the Pro Controller is just out of your price range, PowerA's Enhanced controller is a well-suited replacement.
Best Budget Option: PowerA Nintendo Switch Wired Controller Plus
Buying four premium controllers for the sake of local multiplayer is expensive, so if you need a couple to round out that number, PowerA’s wired controller is your best option. Using a design reminiscent of controllers like the Xbox One, it will be comfortable to hold and will work great in most games you throw at it. The controller even comes with a few swappable joysticks, so you can choose whichever works best for you.
As the name implies, the controller is wired and comes with a 10-foot long removable USB cable—more than enough to reach the couch. Just keep in mind, this controller lacks rumble and motion controls, so don’t rely on it for games that require those features.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch - Mario Vintage Star
An easy recommendation if you need some spare controllers for local multiplayer or are on a budget.
Best Classic Controller Alternative: 8Bitdo Sn30 Pro+ Bluetooth Gamepad
8Bitdo makes a lot of classic style controllers for various platforms and is your best bet if you want a controller well-suited for the large collection of legacy titles on the Switch. The design mirrors the Nintendo-made classic controllers from the Wii and Wii U eras and can be extensively customized. By connecting your controller to a PC with 8Bitdo’s Ultimate Software installed, you can edit joystick detection, trigger sensitivity, vibration intensity, remap buttons, and even program macros.
The controller comes with a rechargeable 1000mAh battery pack which should last you around 20 hours according to 8Bitdo—more than enough for even the longest play sessions. It charges with a USB-C cable.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ Wireless Bluetooth Game Controller for Windows, macOS, Android, Steam, Nintendo Switch, Raspberry Pi (SN Edition)
If you're playing NES, SNES, or other classic legacy titles on your Switch, this is the controller to buy.
Best for Portability: 8Bitdo Lite Bluetooth Gamepad
While the Sn30 Pro+’s layout is classic and recognizable, 8Bitdo’s Lite gamepad might seem odd. The controller does not have analog sticks but instead opts for d-pads. This design does limit the games you can comfortably play on this controller, but it makes it perfect for taking on the go.
Most controllers are shaped to be ergonomic and have joysticks poking out; although this makes them great for at-home use, transporting them safely can be tricky. 8Bitdo’s Lite gamepad completely sidesteps this problem with a thin, rectangular design. Those d-pads, while a bit tough to use in 3D games, work great for 2D ones. And with a 480mAh rechargeable battery pack, it should last you around 18 hours—plenty for a day out.
8Bitdo Lite Bluetooth Gamepad for Switch Lite, Switch & Windows (Yellow Edition)
While the lack of joysticks limits the games it can play, that design makes it easy to transport and store.
Honorable Mention: HORI D-Pad Controller
If you’ve been annoyed at the lack of a proper d-pad on the Switch since launch, HORI’s got you covered. This is a simple replacement for your left Joy-Con controller for when you’re using handheld mode. While it lacks rumble, motion controls, and an internal battery (meaning you can use it only when it’s connected to the Switch), if you play in handheld mode a lot and enjoy 2D games, it’s a great solution to a long-standing problem.
Hori Nintendo Switch D-Pad Controller (L) (Super Mario) By - Officially Licensed By Nintendo - Nintendo Switch
HORI's D-Pad Controller is a great solution to the long-standing problem of the left Joy-Con's d-pad.