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Nintendo Switch Controller drifting? Try these alternatives

Joy-Con Drift is a cause of frustration for many Switch owners, but there are plenty of great alternatives out there.

Nintendo Switch Controller Drifting? Try these alternatives, the Hori Split Pad Pro, the Switch GameCube controller, and the Switch Pro controller, all pictured in a triangle formation.

If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch controller drifting, you can rest assured that you’re in good company – it’s a fate that has befallen almost every Switch player at this point. How many times has Link been trampled? How many times has an Inkling missed a crucial shot? And all down to unreliable Joy-Cons.

Although Nintendo is now doing free repairs on Joy-Cons, we can understand why someone might prefer to buy one of the other best Nintendo Switch controllers for a fresh start. After all, many of them are more comfortable than the Joy-Cons (and this way you don’t have to go without a controller for a while. Some of the options on this list would be just as at home on our best mobile game controller list.

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Here are our picks for alternatives if your Nintendo Switch controller is drifting:

  1. Switch Pro Wireless Controller – best overall
  2. PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller – affordable alternative
  3. Afterglow Wireless Deluxe Controller – stylish choice
  4. Switch GameCube Controller – best retro option
  5. Retro-Bit 64 Tribute Controller – best for N64 games
  6. 8BitDo Bluetooth Gamepad – best for SNES games
  7. Hori Split Pad Pro – best for handheld play

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, pictured in the image.

1. Switch Pro Wireless Controller

The best Joy-Con alternative overall.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller specs:

Customizable buttons None
Wired/Wireless Both
Battery life Around 40 hours
Handheld or docked play Docked
Weight 362.9g


  • Official Nintendo product
  • Long battery life
  • Comfortable design


  • Expensive
  • Inconvenient for handheld play

This is the go-to choice for anybody who’s looking for something a little better than the Joy-Cons. Not only does it feel much more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time than the Joy-Cons, but with a decent 40-hour battery life, longer play sessions should be no problem at all. On top of that, it has a very slick, black design which is great if you’re looking for a little more of that N64 feel.

As one of Nintendo’s official Joy-Con alternatives, this is an option that’s likely to appeal to most fans and you’re not going to have to worry about compatibility issues. It works perfectly with the vast majority of Switch games and still retains the Joy-Con’s motion control functionality.

Nintendo Switch Controller drifting? Try PowerA enhanced Switch controllers - image shows a variety of styles, including a Mario controller, a Pikachu controller, a plain black controller, an Animal Crossing controller, and a Waluigi controller.

2. PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller

A more affordable alternative to the Switch Pro.

PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller specs:

Customizable buttons Two remappable buttons
Wired/Wireless   Wireless (wired model also available)
Battery life Up to 30 hours
Handheld or docked play  Docked
Weight  226.8g


  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Remappable buttons
  • Lots of designs


  • Not rechargeable
  • No rumble

This controller is very similar to the standard Switch Pro, though it comes with three more buttons on the back for extra button mapping. It’s also got an internal battery with a 30-hour rechargeable life (up to ten more hours than you get with the standard Joy-Cons). Plus, it’s been ergonomically designed to make it as comfortable to your hands as possible and is less likely to send your main character running gleefully off to meet their doom.

Another aspect of this controller that will be particularly appealing to Nintendo fans is the sheer variety of designs available for it. There are two that feature artwork from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an Amazon-exclusive design featuring vibrant Super Mario art, a cute Animal Crossing: New Horizons design, and even a Waluigi controller (among others). Wired alternatives are also available if you want to cut the recharge time out altogether. Plus, you can find even more cool controller themes (like Crash Bandicoot) with the PowerA Spectra, which is also great for use in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and LED lights which you can toggle to switch between colors.

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the Afterglow Wireless Deluxe Controller, pictured in the image. It has a clear shell and resembles a regular Switch Pro controller.

3. Afterglow Wireless Deluxe Controller

The most stylish Joy-Con alternative.

Afterglow Wireless Deluxe Controller specs:

Customizable buttons Two remappable buttons
Wired/Wireless Wireless (wired model also available)
Battery life Roughly 40 hours
Handheld or docked play Docked
Weight 379.88g


  • Stylish vintage Nintendo design
  • Customizable lights
  • Comfortable to hold


  • Control sticks a little too long
  • Inconvenient for handheld play

This controller’s design echoes the old Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64 models which were made with transparent plastics, except the Afterglow takes things a step further. Inside its sleek case, you’ll find LED lights that can be customized to shine in different colors, giving you RGB-esque customization to best suit your gaming space (or your mood).

As with many other Switch controllers, it offers wireless connectivity in addition to an internal rechargeable battery. Also, its back paddle-style back buttons are dual programmable, allowing you to use them in the way that best suits your own play style.

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the Switch GameCube controllers, pictured in the image. They are identical to classic GameCube controllers, with the addition of the Switch logo and a few extra buttons.

4. Switch GameCube Controller

The best retro Switch controller.

Switch GameCube Controller specs:

Customizable buttons None
Wired/Wireless  Wired
Battery life N/A
Handheld or docked play Docked
Weight  150.2g


  • Accurate GameCube controller recreation
  • Adapter allows you to use historic controllers


  • Doesn’t work with many games
  • Not a wireless Wavebird controller

Many veteran Nintendo gamers believe the GameCube controller to be one of the best ever. The good news for those who still have their old GameCube controllers lying around somewhere is that they’re compatible with the Switch… sort of. You need to buy an adapter (they’re not too expensive) and then you’re good to go.

But, wait! What if you don’t have any old GameCube controllers and you still want to try using one? Don’t worry. There’s a range of new GameCube controllers that have been specifically designed for use with the Nintendo Switch – they even have wireless functionality and a few extra buttons (+, -, home, and screen shot) so that they are better suited to the newer console. These come in all the classic color schemes, as well as a cool new Mario one, and Pikachu, Espeon, and Umbreon-themed controllers for Pokémon fans.

Now we just need a new, Switch-compatible set of the Donkey Konga bongo controllers. (What? That’s how I want to play. Leave me alone.)

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the Retro-Bit Tribute 64, pictured. It is a red controller reminiscent of the Nintendo 64 controller, but without three handles.

5. Retro-Bit 64 Tribute Controller

The best Joy-Con alternative for Nintendo 64 games.

Retro-Bit 64 Tribute Controller specs:

Customizable buttons  None
Wired/Wireless  Wired
Battery life  Up to 30 hours
Handheld or docked play  Docked
Weight  249.48g


  • Better than the original N64 design
  • Comfortable and stylish


  • Not specifically designed for Switch
  • Won’t work well in handheld mode

Do you enjoy playing the Nintendo Switch Online N64 games? Banjo-Kazooie is great, isn’t it? Yeah, well, not if you have to get to the top of the tree in Click Clock Wood while battling Switch drift. The Retro-Bit 64 Tribute controller is essentially a better version of the original N64 controller because it’s been designed for human beings with two hands, rather than the three-handed aliens who were apparently the target market for the original.

It’s worth mentioning that while this wireless controller is not a Nintendo product, it comes with a handy USB receiver which allows you to use it with the Switch. Also, if you’ve still got your old Nintendo 64 and like to get it out now and then, it comes with an N64 port, too.

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the 8bitdo, pictured. Image shows two mildly SNES-esque controllers side by side, one black and one grey.

6. 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad

The best SNES-like Joy-Con alternative.

8BitDo Bluetooth Gamepad specs:

Customizable buttons Two programmable back buttons
Wired/Wireless Wireless (wired also available)
Battery life Up to 20 hours
Handheld or docked play  Docked
Weight  226.8g


  • Much like a SNES controller
  • Wired and Wireless play available


  • Might be too small for some
  • Battery life kind of short

Another one for fans of retro gaming, this gamepad is reminiscent of the original SNES controllers. Sleek and classic in design, this wireless Switch controller gives you up to 20 hours of play per charge, but as it comes with a 1m USB-C cable, it can also be used as a wired option.

The fact that this controller connects using Bluetooth means that it can be used on things besides your Switch, including Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

Nintendo Switch controller drifting? Try the Hori Split Pad Pro, pictured. Image shows a controller resembling two large joy-cons.

7. Hori Split Pad Pro

The best controlled for handheld gaming.

Hori Split Pad Pro specs:

Customizable buttons 2
Wired/Wireless Must be slotted into Switch
Battery life N/A
Handheld or docked play Handheld
Weight 226.8g


  • Like Joy-Cons without the drift
  • Ergonomic design
  • Cheaper than Joy-Cons


  • No motion controls
  • No HD rumble
  • Handheld only

The Hori Split Pad Pro works in a similar way to the Joy-Cons when you’re using your Switch in handheld mode. The Switch slots into the center and you’re left with much larger controllers on either side, which is perfect if you’ve got bigger hands and struggle with the Joy-Cons’ fiddly layout.

This official Nintendo alternative does miss some of the features of the Joy-Cons (such as motion controls and HD Rumble), but it does have its advantages. The lessened chance of drift is one, but the fact that it has much larger buttons and grip means that it’s so much more comfortable to hold in your hands when you’re playing for a longer time, and it’s got assignable rear triggers for easier, more customizable play. Though you can’t use the Hori Split Pad Pro if you’re playing on the television screen, it’s a great option for those who love handheld mode.

How do I stop my Nintendo Switch controller from drifting?

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for the problem of drifting. We recommend contacting Nintendo directly for a free repair. Of course, if you play your Switch every day, you’re going to have to go a while without a controller with this method. That’s why many might prefer to buy a new one.

Is Joy-Con drift still a problem in 2023?

Yes. While Nintendo has responded to this problem with its controller design, it is still something that will be irksome for players who have Joy-Cons created a little while ago – and many of these are still in circulation. Some players have even encountered problems with newer Joy-Cons (though it doesn’t appear to be so widespread).

How quickly do Joy-Cons get drift?

The time span can vary enormously. For some people, it starts to happen within the first month. For others, it can occur after years of regular use. It’s a good idea to have other controllers available in case this ever does happen to you.

For more Switch content, read our Nintendo Switch vs Steam Deck article. Our best Nintendo Switch console guide might also be helpful if you’re planning on upgrading any time soon.