Which Nintendo Switch controllers are best?
Picture this. You’ve just gotten to a point in your game on your Nintendo Switch that you’ve been looking forward to for multiple play sessions. Maybe it’s the final boss, or you just unlocked a cool new ability or mode. But, right as you get there and your excitement reaches its peak, your controller dies. If you had spares, you could get right back into your game. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have extras so you can play with friends at your next get-together.
Nintendo Switch controller types
There are four types of Nintendo Switch controllers.
- Joy-Con: These controllers are what come with a Nintendo Switch. There are two and each is unique, working in tandem to allow you to play.
- Pro: This is Nintendo’s answer to the “standard” controller you find on other consoles such as the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X.
- Retro: Nintendo’s online services include access to select classic games from the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, The Nintendo 64 and the Sega Genesis. Nintendo also offers controllers identical to the ones used on those legacy consoles, but updated to be wireless. However, you need to be subscribed to Nintendo’s premium online service to have the option of buying most of them.
First- vs. third-party
Nintendo Switch controllers can be further divided into first- and third-party controllers.
- First-party controllers are those made by the console manufacturer (Nintendo, in this case). First-party controllers are guaranteed to be of the highest quality, but they also typically cost more in return.
- Third-party controllers are those made by any other manufacturer. These controllers vary significantly in quality, so always do your due diligence before buying one. However, you can find a much wider range of designs. They’re also significantly cheaper.
Wired vs. wireless
For Nintendo Switch Pro controllers only, you need to decide between wired and wireless. There’s no wired option for Joy-Cons because it isn’t physically possible for them to be wired.
- Wired controllers are only available from third parties. These have two main benefits. First, you don’t have to worry about them dying in the middle of an intense gaming moment, and second, there’s no risk of losing your connection. However, there are two significant drawbacks. The first is that the cords of these controllers are typically no longer than 6 feet, so you have to sit closer to your TV than you might be used to. The second is that the cord can get tangled up in your hands if there’s too much slack.
- Wireless controllers are the standard, and all first-party controllers are wireless. With these, you can sit anywhere in your room you like as they have significant ranges. However, you need to worry about battery life. There’s also a small risk of dropping your connection even if your controller has a full battery.
Nintendo Switch controllers come in many design options, including ones as simple as solid colors or ones that feature your favorite game characters, such as Pikachu or Mario.
Joy-Cons typically cost $50 for one or $80 for a left and right pair. A first-party Pro controller typically costs $60, while a third-party one can cost $20-$50. Retro controllers typically cost $30-$60.
Best Nintendo Switch controllers
This pro controller has two extra buttons on the back that you can program as you see fit, including assigning button combos to them. It comes in four colors.
Sold by Amazon
When the first-party Joy-Cons are attached to the switch, those with larger hands sometimes feel cramped. These extra-wide Joy-Cons solve that problem. They come in 12 designs, including those featuring Mega Man and Sonic.
These Joy-Cons have high-sensitivity buttons and come in three designs. It takes roughly two hours to charge them and they last for 15 hours.
Sold by Amazon
If you need spare Joy-Cons as a backup or for playing with your friends, this first-party set is the highest-quality option available. They come in five sets of colors.
This first-party controller is the best option for playing your Switch in TV mode while sitting comfortably on your couch. On a full charge, it can last for roughly 40 hours.
This controller features a special back that adds four customizable triggers so you can improve your competitive play. It can be used wired or wirelessly but doesn’t include Amiibo or HD rumble support.
This GameCube-styled controller is perfect for your next big Super Smash Brothers tournament among your friends. The cable is long at 10 feet. It comes in 13 designs, including some Pokemon ones.
These Joy-Cons are half the price of the first-party versions and have all the same features except for Amiibo support. They take about three hours to charge and last for roughly 16 hours.
Sold by Amazon
This wireless controller has special grips on the handles to make it easier to hold during the sweatiest game sessions. It takes roughly two hours to charge and lasts for roughly eight hours.
Sold by Amazon
This wireless controller includes Amiibo support and has dual motor shocks to improve the accuracy of the vibration function. It takes roughly two and a half hours to charge fully and lasts around 10 hours.
Sold by Amazon
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan C Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.