Third-party Switch controllers vs. Nintendo’s Pro controller

There are a number of controllers that are compatible with the Nintendo Switch, including many third-party products (some of which have official Nintendo branding) and Nintendo’s own line of gaming gear for their newest console. Not all Nintendo Switch games need or even support the Pro controller and similar products, but for certain types of games, you will definitely want a sturdy, classic gaming controller. Great titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey all work with the classic joy-cons, but you might enjoy them more with a Pro controller or similar device.

But how do third-party controller options stand up to the Switch Pro controller? The main difference between third-party products and Nintendo are the features, which vary widely, and the price. Generally, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller is probably more expensive than any third-party product. 

Nintendo Switch controllers

The features of third-party products vary slightly between the different options, but most include the main buttons and functionality of a Nintendo Switch Pro controller. There is significantly more variation in terms of quality but also more customization and personalization options in choosing a controller.

Be wary of third-party products that use licensed Nintendo branding when they are not supposed to do so. While there are lots of cheap products, there are also lots of great third-party controllers that serve the same purpose as the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. In some cases, they might be better options for a budget-minded shopper or anyone who wants programmable hardware. 

You can find affordable options for under $30, while higher-quality or officially branded products run between $40-$60. 

What you’ll love about Nintendo Switch controllers

There are many colors and designs to browse. Many have programmable buttons or turbo functions that let you customize your inputs. Some even have more physical buttons at your fingertips than the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. They come in wired and wireless varieties and there is such a sheer volume of options that it is easy to find something that will suit your budget or aesthetic style.

What you should consider about Nintendo Switch controllers

Many third-party products may have less reliable quality, but if it is from a reliable manufacturer, it should work well. Not all Switch controllers are designed to function with all of the Nintendo Switch’s features. One of the features that seem to be regularly omitted is the NFC reader, which is required for scanning in an Amiibo figure. Be sure that your controller has all of the features you need for your gaming experience.

Top Nintendo Switch controllers

PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller

The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller, officially licensed by Nintendo, comes in many different colors and designs (many featuring fan-favorite Nintendo characters). PowerA is known for making fairly affordable but high-quality hardware. This controller uses Bluetooth for a reliable wireless connection and has gyro functionality. The buttons are programmable and the button mapping even connects to the LED lights. The PowerA controller gets about 30 hours of playtime out of AA batteries. If you register your controller on the PowerA website, you can get your two-year warranty. Unfortunately, the PowerA controller lacks an NFC reader or a rumble function.

Funlab Wireless Pro Controller

The Funlab Wireless Pro Controller may not have as much variety when it comes to colors and styles, but it is a very affordable option. It has gyro control, multiple turbo functions, Bluetooth wireless connection and a battery life of up to 10 hours after fully charged. Unfortunately, it takes a few hours to recharge, but you don’t have to purchase separate batteries since you can just plug the controller in and charge. It has dual motors and adjustable vibration levels for its rumble function, so you can change it to suit your comfort. It does not have an NFC reader, and it unpairs from the console if it goes into sleep mode. These are a bit smaller than the Nintendo Pro controllers.

Wireless Pro Controller

Another affordable option is GCHT Gaming’s Wireless Pro Controller, which features an NFC reader, turbo functions, gyro control, dual shock rumble, textured grip surfaces and programmable buttons. It has a battery life of around 10 hours, but potentially a bit longer with its sleep function that can save battery when it is left idle. It can be recharged without additional batteries by plugging in the included cable. Unlike Nintendo’s Pro controller, it is designed to be easily compatible with both the Switch and PCs. These are scaled-down a little in size compared to the Nintendo Switch Pro controllers.

Nintendo Switch Pro controller

Nintendo Switch Pro controller

These are available on Amazon for around $70. It is possible to find them used or refurbished at lower price points, but mostly you will find the same retail price for new Pro controllers.

Nintendo Switch Pro controller pros

It is designed to be comfortable to hold, has a good D-pad, gyro control, USB charging capabilities, an NFC reader for Amiibo and other products, rumble features and the overall quality that you would expect. The battery life lasts up to 40 hours without being charged. As wireless controllers go, it is a great way to play your favorite Switch games. 

Nintendo Switch Pro controller cons

The main downside of the Pro controller is the price tag. There are not as many colors or design options available. Also, the Pro controller’s buttons are not programmable, so this is not the most adaptable piece of gaming hardware. It is only suited for plugging in and playing compatible Switch games. 

Should you get a Nintendo Switch controller or the Pro controller?

If you can find the Switch controller for a low price or just prefer Nintendo’s products over other companies, the Pro controller is not a bad option by any means. However, third-party products will be easier on your budget and sometimes they even have more features. If you like to use Amiibo collectibles with your games, just be sure you have a controller with a built-in NFC reader.

If you also play games on PC, you definitely want a third-party controller that is compatible with the Switch but also has programmable inputs and the ability to connect to your computer. The Nintendo Switch Pro controller is not so adaptable. Unless you only play games on the Switch, a third-party controller is a better investment overall.

Switch Joy-Cons

Children and users with smaller hands might prefer to stick with the classic Switch Joy-Cons mounted in a comfort grip. If you do not like Switch controllers or the Pro controller, it is still a decent alternative and a functional option for playing Nintendo Switch titles. Purchasing a separate controller is certainly not required for playing games.

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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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