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The Best RetroPie Controllers – Top 10 (2023)

Don't skimp on your RetroPie controller—get the best!
howchoo   (451)
September 28, 2023
12 minutes

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If you want to play retro games on RetroPie, you need a controller. But not all controllers are created equal and the best one for you depends on what you want to play, how you like to play, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Most of these controllers are USB only, but there are a few wireless options sprinkled throughout the list. You should be able to find at least one controller to suit your retro gaming needs.

1 – All-around best wireless

Cables? Forget ’em. The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ is your best option when it comes to wire-free gaming on RetroPie.

8BitDo has established itself in the retrogaming community as a reliable brand and somewhat of a staple. If you’re after a retro-themed controller with plenty of buttons, check out the SN30 Pro+ from 8BitDo.

SpecSN30 Pro+
Battery Life20 Hours
Price$49.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeWireless / Bluetooth / USB – C
MaterialPlastic
StyleSNES
QualityHigh

2 – All-around best wired

If wired controllers are your speed, you need something reliable.

This official Xbox One controller from Microsoft connects via USB and has the nearly instantaneous response times you want from a wired device.

Because this is an officially licensed controller, you can expect industry-standard quality with the feel of a modern console.

SpecXbox One Wired Controller
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$66 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialABS
StyleXbox One
QualityIndustry Standard
Microsoft

3 – Best Bluetooth controller for RetroPie

The Xbox One Wireless controller relies on a Bluetooth connection. Because of the number of buttons, it’s versatile enough to use with many different console emulators—from NES to Dreamcast.

You will need a Bluetooth compatible Pi to connect. Check out our list of Raspberry Pi models for detailed specs to see if yours will work.

Raspberry Pi Models and Specs: A Comprehensive Guide
What flavor of Pi is your favorite?

If not, you can always try using a USB Bluetooth adapter. Setting up your Xbox One Controller on RetroPie is a cinch, too.

SpecXbox One Wireless Controller
Battery Life30 Hours
Price$75.97 on Amazon
Connection TypeWireless / Bluetooth
MaterialABS
StyleXbox One
QualityIndustry Standard
Microsoft

4 – Best 8BitDo controller for RetroPie

Like we said before, 8bitDo is a hit in the RetroPie community. But which controller is the top-dog when it comes to 8BitDo? We believe that honor goes to the SN30 Pro.

It uses Bluetooth to connect and has a classy retro look—perfectly shaped for an SNES experience. It’s definitely pricier than some other models, the payoff is worth it for retrogaming aficionados. It has rumble support, motion controls, and USB-C support.

SpecSN30 Pro
Battery Life20 Hours
Price$44.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeWireless / Bluetooth
MaterialPlastic
StyleRetro Original
QualityHigh

5 – Best budget RetroPie controller

If the retrogaming hobby is burning a hole in your wallet, take control and invest in a reliable budget controller.

The cheapest knock-offs will cost you more in the long run. The RetroFlag Classic Gaming Controller (Jpad) is perfect for anyone who wants something that looks old-school but plays with modern finesse.

SpecRetroFlag Classic Gaming Controller (Jpad)
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$16.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialPlastic
StyleSNES
QualityGood
RetroFlag

6 – Best Nintendo 64 RetroPie controller

When it comes to emulating the Nintendo 64, controller shape is almost everything!

The buttons and joysticks need to be ready for some serious abuse, especially if you plan on playing anything remotely as off-the-wall as Mario Party. Check out this USB N64 controller from iNNEXT for the reliable tri-grip delight you’re most familiar with.

SpecSaffun N64
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$17.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialPlastic
StyleNintendo 64
QualityGood
iNNEXT

7 – Best NES controller for RetroPie

If you want a realistic NES experience, a SNES controller won’t do. This classic Nintendo platform had a unique controller with a distinct look and feel.

That’s why we chose Hyperkin’s Premium NES controller as the best option for NES emulation on RetroPie. It brings the quality and feedback you expect from a modern controller with the design and button placement you remember.

SpecHyperkin Premium NES
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$19.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialPlastic
StyleNES
QualityGood

8 – Best SNES controller for RetroPie

The SNES controller was a well-received upgrade to the NES controller. It had more buttons and a rounded design that fits comfortably in your hands. This controller is one of the most preferred when it comes to retrogaming emulation.

If you want a reliable device for SNES emulators, check out the RetroFlag Classic Gaming Controller (Upad). This is from the same team that brought us the Raspberry Pi GPi Case.

SpecRetroFlag Classic Gaming Controller (Upad)
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$16.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialPlastic
StyleSNES
QualityGood
RetroFlag

9 – Best PlayStation controller for RetroPie

Whether you want a PlayStation experience or just prefer the classic design, PlayStation controllers are definitely a good option when it comes to RetroPie.

They have plenty of buttons for older and newer platforms and come with industry-standard quality. The DualShock 4 Wireless Controller from PlayStation works seamlessly with the Raspberry Pi while delivering the highly-responsive feedback you want while gaming.

SpecDualShock 4 Wireless Controller
Battery Life4 – 8 Hours
Price$59.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeWireless / Bluetooth
Material
StylePlayStation 4
QualityIndustry Standard
Sony

10 – Best arcade controller for RetroPie

This arcade controller, known as the Switch Fighting Stick Mini from HORI, is officially licensed for the Nintendo Switch, but works just as well with the Raspberry Pi.

It has a classic arcade-style joystick and button layout, connecting with USB support. Short of making your own Raspberry Pi arcade controller, this is one of your best options when it comes to simulating arcade hardware.

SpecSwitch Fighting Stick Mini
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)
Price$49.99 on Amazon
Connection TypeUSB
MaterialPlastic
StyleArcade
QualityIndustry Standard
HORI
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