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The 10 Best 3rd Party Nintendo Switch Controllers

It's no secret Nintendo hasn't nailed their 1st party controllers this time around. See your other options.

The most defining feature of the Nintendo Switch is that gamers can switch between using it as a home console and a mobile gamepad. This is largely possible because of the JoyCon controllers that come in the box with the console.  These can either slide into the side of the console or work remotely when you want to play on the couch. They’re incredibly versatile.

JoyCons aren’t exactly cheap though, and they aren’t the most ergonomic controllers in the world. There are a lot of 3rd party controllers out there that are cheaper and more comfortable to hold over long periods. Some of them are designed for more competitive play and a few even have special designs for specific types of games. There are a lot of them to choose from though, so you probably want to know which of these controllers are the best. Here are my top 10 best 3rd party Switch controllers.

8Bitdo Pro 2

Best 3rd party switch controller overall

  • Manufacturer: 8Bitdo
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $49.99

Traditional wisdom suggests that a great 3rd party controller should be affordable while still maintaining the quality and overall design of the original. The 8Bitdo Pro is modeled closely after Nintendo’s official Switch Pro controller but with a few additions. It has the same slim, minimalist design with two thumbsticks in the center, as well as modifiable vibration, a built-in 6-axis motion sensor, and anti-slip grips. But the big features that make it stand out are the profile switch button that allows players to switch between three customizable profiles and the two extra back buttons built into the grips.

The Pro 2 comes in 5 colors: black, grey, white, transparent black, and transparent purple. The controller comes with a cable and a built-in 1000mAh battery which grants players 20 hours of play and only takes four hours to charge. It has two connectivity modes: wired via USB or wireless via Bluetooth and is compatible with Switch, PC, macOS, Android, Steam, and Raspberry Pi.

This high degree of customization coupled with its relatively low price is why the 8Bitdo Pro 2 is our top choice for the best 3rd party Switch controller overall.

Users Like:

  • Similar design to the official Switch Pro controller
  • Longer battery life than most controllers
  • Cheaper than most 3rd party Pro controllers

Users Dislike:

  • Triggers can be spongy and overly sensitive
  • Some users have reported connectivity issues in rare instances
  • Some users prefer an Xbox-style layout

PowerA Enhanced

Best budget 3rd party Switch controller

  • Manufacturer: PowerA
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $41.99

If you’re looking to spend even less money, but still get your hands on a decent controller then the PowerA Enhanced Switch controller is a pretty solid choice. This controller is one of very few that have actually been officially licensed by Nintendo.

The standard color scheme comes in either black or white, but there are also several special designs featuring various Nintendo games and characters.

It has a more Xbox-inspired shape, with the left thumbstick over the d-pad and more ergonomic grips. The rest of the design has retained the Nintendo layout, however, making it easy to use while playing Switch games. It connects via Bluetooth 5.0 and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to 30 hours of playtime per charge. It also comes with two mappable back buttons. Hard to beat at that price.

Users Like:

  • Much cheaper than most Switch Pro controllers
  • Ergonomic Design with mappable game buttons
  • Long-lasting battery

Users Dislike:

  • Doesn’t work with other gaming consoles
  • Several reports of drift in the thumbstick
  • Doesn’t work with Amiibo

8Bitdo Ultimate

Best high-end 3rd party Switch controller

  • Manufacturer: 8Bitdo
  • Connectivity: 2.4g, Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $69.99

Not everyone who’s looking to buy a 3rd party Switch controller is trying to save money. Some people are perfectly willing to pay the price of an official controller but are more interested in finding the best 3rd party Switch Pro controller they can get. For those people, I would suggest the 8Bitdo Ultimate. This isn’t just a cheap imitation of the Switch Pro. It has its own design and features that make it an equally worthy alternative.

Its most noteworthy feature is probably its connectivity options. This is the only pro controller on this list that has 2.4G connectivity, meaning that it has a faster and lower latency connection than Bluetooth, though it also has the ability to connect over Bluetooth or a wired USB connection as well. On top of that, it has customizable button mapping, a profile switching button, two pro back buttons, Hall Effect sensing joysticks, motion controls, and turbo functionality.

This would be my top choice for players looking to get the best 3rd party Switch Pro controller money can buy.

Users Like:

  • Features 2.4G connectivity and Bluetooth
  • Hall Effect sensing joysticks are very responsive
  • Very comfortable build quality

Users Dislike:

  • More expensive than most 3rd party controllers
  • Plastic grips feel cheaper than the official Switch Pro controller
  • D-pad is a little stiff

GuliKit KingKong Pro 2

Best 3rd party Switch Pro controller

  • Manufacturer: GuliKit
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $69.70

If you’re looking for a different pro-style controller and aren’t interested in the 8Bitdo options, then your best bet is probably the GuliKit KingKong 2. This controller also has a more Xbox-inspired design and was actually the first 3rd party controller to boast Hall Effect sensing joysticks. It’s the same price as the 8Bitdo Ultimate and has many of the same features, though doesn’t offer 2.4g connectivity. It does have a few unique features of its own though.

To start, the KingKong 2 has patented rubberized buttons which GuliKit claims have anti-sticking and anti-disconnect features built-in. These buttons can be swapped to an Xbox layout so you can use it on PC as well. The controller can also scan all of the original Amiibo and other Amiibo NFC tags and cards.

Users Like:

  • Hall Effect sensing joysticks are very responsive
  • Ergonomic design with mappable buttons
  • Movable buttons make it useful for Switch and PC

Users Dislike:

  • Stiff buttons
  • Some reports of squeaky buttons and clicky triggers
  • Some issues connecting to PC and Xbox consoles

Hori Split Pad Pro

Best 3rd party Switch JoyCon alternative

  • Manufacturer: Hori
  • Connectivity: Switch JoyCon ports
  • Price: $39.99

The Nintendo Switch is easily one of the best handheld consoles on the market, but it isn’t very ergonomic when used with the JoyCons it comes with. One of the best JoyCon alternatives is the Hori Split Pad Pro. I loved this controller in my review and I still use it every time I want to play the Switch in mobile mode. It has a lightweight, yet ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold even during multi-hour-long gaming sessions.

The Hori Split Pad Pro is another of the few third-party controllers that Nintendo officially licenses. It has larger grips, buttons, triggers, analog sticks, and a larger d-pad. It also has assignable rear triggers and turbo functionality. The only thing it doesn’t have is wireless connectivity, so don’t expect to be able to use them when the Switch is docked. It comes in black, blue, red, and specialty Pokémon, Sonic, and Zelda editions.

Users Like:

  • Comfortable, ergonomic design
  • Large buttons that are easy to use
  • Fits on the standard Switch dock

Users Dislike:

  • Doesn’t work wirelessly
  • Lightweight plastic feels cheap to hold
  • No haptic motor

8bitdo Micro

Best compact 3rd party Switch controller

  • Manufacturer: 8Bitdo
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $23.86

Maybe you want a small controller that you can easily take with you. That way you can prop your switch up and play on the go. The 8Bitdo Micro is great for this. It’s a pocket-sized, flat controller that only comes with the basics and nothing else.

The Micro is tiny, weighing only 24.8g, yet it has 16 buttons. It’s also incredibly cheap, selling for just over $20, making it the most affordable controller on our list. The main drawback is that it doesn’t have joysticks, which is why 8Bitdo recommends using it primarily with 2D games. It comes in blue or green.

Users Like:

  • The compact, pocket-sized design is easy to travel with
  • Very affordable compared to other Switch controllers
  • Vibrant, colorful design

Users Dislike:

  • The tiny square design isn’t very ergonomic
  • Only designed to work with 2D games
  • No joysticks

Power A Fusion Pro

Best 3rd party Switch pro controller with paddles

  • Manufacturer: PowerA
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $99.99

Those who like to play competitive games like Overwatch or Apex Legends might appreciate a controller with some back paddles. The Power A Fusion Pro has a design that is similar to the Xbox Elite controllers. This layout can give players an edge in competitive games by allowing them to hot-key controls to these paddles that wouldn’t otherwise be as readily available.

The paddles aren’t all it comes with though. The Power A Fusion Pro also has a 900mAh rechargeable battery, rubberized grips, and wireless motion control. It does not support rumble vibration or Amiibo reading, however.

Users Like:

  • Paddles give players a competitive edge
  • More expensive than most Switch controllers
  • Fast and reliable connectivity

Users Dislike:

  • Doesn’t have a vibration rumble
  • Doesn’t work with Amiibo
  • Buttons have a little bit of wiggle

8BitDo Sn30 Pro

Best retro 3rd party switch controller

  • Manufacturer: 8Bitdo
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $45.99

Those of you who like to use your Nintendo Switch to play retro games might prefer a controller that reflects that. Few of Nintendo’s consoles inspire nostalgia quite like the SNES. That console and its controller both hold a special place in the hearts of Nintendo fans all over the world.

The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro emulates this classic design while simultaneously bringing several modern amenities, like a wireless Bluetooth connection, a rechargeable lithium battery that allows for up to 16 hours of gameplay, clickable joysticks, and rumble vibration.

This controller comes in transparent purple, transparent green, and three different variations of classic gray.

Users Like:

  • Classic SNES-inspired design
  • Long battery life
  • Fast connectivity and responsive buttons

Users Dislike:

  • Less ergonomic than other options
  • Some users found the controller uncomfortably small
  • Can’t wake the Switch from sleep mode

Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro

Best 3rd party Switch controller for racing games

  • Manufacturer: Hori
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Price: $95.00

Mario Kart is easily one of the best games available on the Nintendo Switch, but it isn’t the only one. There are also games like Absolute Drift and Super Street Racer for fans of the genre. Those who want to take their racing to the next level should take a look at some of the racing wheel controllers out there.

One of the better ones is the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro. This is another Nintendo-licensed product. Not only does the wheel come fully equipped with all the buttons you would typically find on a Switch controller, but it also comes with a set of pedals to give you a full simulated driving experience. They also make a smaller Racing Wheel Pro Mini for children.

Users Like:

  • Comes with peddles
  • Easy to set up and works well with Mario Kart
  • Excellent design with superior build quality

Users Dislike:

  • Suction cups on racing wheel don’t stick to wooden surfaces
  • More expensive than most racing wheels for the Switch
  • Reports of peddles moving while using the game

8Bitdo Arcade Stick

Best 3rd party Switch controller for arcade games

  • Manufacturer: 8Bitdo
  • Connectivity: 2.4g, Bluetooth, USB
  • Price: $89.99

A great controller for arcade game players is the 8Bitdo Arcade Stick. This is a lap-sized gamepad that has a joystick and button layout which goes back to the classic cabinets where you might have played Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros. It has a retro, gray, and black design with red buttons. It connects wirelessly over either Bluetooth or 2.4g and can also run on a wired, USB Type-C connection.

One of the interesting things about this gamepad is that you can use the 8Bitdo Ultimate Software to customize button mapping and create macros. It’s also designed to be moddable, so you can swap out the buttons and even the joystick if you want to upgrade down the line.

Users Like:

  • Unique arcade-inspired controller
  • Low-lag, responsive buttons
  • Comfortable weight

Users Dislike:

  • More expensive than most Switch controllers
  • Some users have experienced connectivity issues
  • Plastic shell can be creaky
 

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