Best Controllers For RetroPie 2022

Since RetroPie burst on to the retro gaming scene all the way back in 2013, it quickly became a favourite with retro game lovers across the world when it became the quickest and easiest way to play retro games on the Raspberry Pi. Since then, we are now spoilt for choice for retro style USB, Bluetooth & Wireless controllers to use with RetroPie. From faithful recreations of classic home computer joysticks like the Competition Pro USB, to replicas of consoles most famous controllers such as the SNES inspired 8BitDo SN30 Pro, blending old design with more modern functions. Here we look at some of the best controllers for RetroPie.

Best Bluetooth Controllers For RetroPie

Best Bluetooth Controllers for RetroPie

When searching for the best bluetooth controllers for RetroPie, I personally veer towards 8BitDo Bluetooth controllers. 8BitDo have an excellent range of Bluetooth Controllers which are compatible with RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi as well as a number of modern systems.

Depending on whether you are looking for a classic digital style d-pad and buttons with the 8BitDo N30 NS (An NES inspired Bluetooth Controller), or you want a fully analogue Switch compatible controller, 8BitDo have you covered. Since the Raspberry Pi 3 onwards has had Bluetooth built in, it makes getting up and running that little bit easier.

Here are a few of the best Bluetooth Controllers for RetroPie that 8BitDo have to offer for use with Retropie.

8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller

8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller

Retro Looks With Modern Functionality

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wireless Bluetooth®4.0
USB-C
Dimensions / Weight
153.6*100.6*64.5mm
228g
Features
2 Pro back paddle buttons
Custom Profile switch button, 3 profiles, switch on the fly
Mode switch button (Switch, macOS, D-input, X-input)
Ultimate Software on PC and mobile (Android/iOS)
Enhanced grip
Modifiable vibration
6 axis motion sensor
PROS+ Great Value vs. Functionality
+ Familiar Button Layout
+ Rechargeable / Removable Battery
+ Macros
CONS– Customisation Slightly Limited on Mac & Switch
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

The 8BitDo Pro 2 is an evolution of the brilliant SN30 Pro+. It benefits from some great additions such as two additional rear triggers and customisation software allowing remapping and macro set up, perfect for fighting game fans! It even has a removable rechargeable battery, which can be swapped out for AA batteries too, perfect!

Just like its predecessor, the 8BitDo2 Pro 2 is very comfortable. It adopts the same primary button layout as the SN30, but with a modern PS4 style feel complete with analogue controls. This makes the 8BitDo Pro 2 perfect for both 8-bit and 16-bit era games as well as the 32-bit PlayStation era too.

Priced at under £40 / $50, it is one of the best controllers you can buy in terms of quality, functionality and compatibility. If you’re anything like me and regularly need more controllers for your Retropie, Switch, PC. & XBox, you will not do much better than the 8BitDo Pro 2 for the price.

8BitDo M30 Bluetooth Controller

8BitDo M30 Bluetooth Controller

One Of The Best D-Pads Around

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wireless Bluetooth®
USB-C
Dimensions / Weight
147*74*31 mm
115g
Features
Turbo function
Lag – free
PROS+ Excellent D-Pad
+ Lightweight & Comfortable
+ Ideal for 16 Bit Retro Gaming
+ Sega Inspired Aesthetics
CONS– No Analogue Sticks
– Battery Not Replaceable
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

Modelled on the 6 button Sega Mega Drive / Genesis controller, the 8BitDo M30 is without doubt one of the best Bluetooth controllers for RetroPie. It’s d-pad alone is one of it’s main selling points, it is one of the most responsive d-pads I have used on a modern day controller. Perfect for fighting and platform games.

The 8BitDo M30 comes with two shoulder buttons, a central start button and three function buttons which can be assigned easily in RetroPie to make navigating menus and quitting games a breeze.

In terms of compatibility, again as with most 8BitDo products, the M30 will work with your Raspberry Pi/RetroPie set up as well as Android, PC, Mac & Nintendo Switch.

The M30 is competitively priced too with it often being available for under £25 / $30. Another quality 8BitDo controller that is a must have in your controller collection.

8BitDo SN30 Pro Bluetooth Controller

Perfect SNES & All Round Retro Controller

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wireless Bluetooth® 4.0
USB-C
Dimensions / Weight
144*63.5*33 mm
114g
Features
Rumble vibration
Motion controls
Turbo function
USB-C
PROS+ A Lot Of Buttons Crammed In To A Great Looking Controller
+ Great SNES Controller Inspired Looks
+ Addition Of Analogue Sticks Bring Versatility
CONS– Possibly A Little Fiddly For Larger Hands
– Battery Not Replaceable
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

In the same way the M30 ticks the boxes for Sega fans, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro will do the same for fans of the SNES.

The SN30 Pro gives you a classic SNES layout, complete with authentic feeling d-pad and shoulder buttons. We also get the benefit of dual analogue sticks with the SN30 Pro, which then makes playing PlayStation games, etc far more enjoyable. These do not affect the retro feel of the SN30 Pro too much, as they are positioned discretely, but not uncomfortably in the lower mid section of the controller.

Released in 2017, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro remains a popular choice when it comes to retro aesthetic, with modern day qualities.

Best Wireless Controllers for RetroPie

With many Retro Gaming enthusiasts looking to keep lag to an absolute minimum, but without hardwiring your controller to your Raspberry Pi, 2.4ghz Wireless Controllers are the next best bet.

Highly recommended again are 8BitDo, with the best selection of 2.4ghz Wireless Controllers that are compatible with RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi.

8BitDo M30 2.4ghz Wireless Controller

The Great 8BitDo M30, But With 2.4Ghz Wireless

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
2.4G Wireless Technology for SEGA Genesis Mini & Mega Drive Mini
USB
Dimensions / Weight
147*74*31 mm
114g
Features
Turbo function
Access the SEGA Genesis Mini HOME menu wirelessly
480mAh Li-on battery, rechargeable
35 play hours with 1-2 hour charging time
PROS+ Top Quality D-Pad
+ Lightweight & Comfortable
+ Ideal for use with the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Mini Consoles
+ Sega Inspired Aesthetics
CONS– Battery Not Replaceable
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

There is an officially licences Sega Mega Drive / Genesis clone USB controller available (also recommended further down this list), but the prize for the Best Mega Drive / Genesis Controller goes to the 8BitDo M30.

The 8BitDo M30 has for a while now, been considered the standard when it comes to a recreation of the classic 16-Bit system controller.

The ace in it’s hand for me is the really tactile d-pad and really nice ergonomics. The M30 is everything I need in a 16-Bit era controller, it has 6 main fire buttons, 2 additional shoulder buttons, start button and 3 additional option buttons which are all able to be remapped in RetroPie.

The 2.4ghz Wireless model tends to be a bit harder to get hold of due to it’s popularity, but the Bluetooth model is still excellent and also comes with a USB-C cable for charging and the option to plug directly in to your Raspberry Pi, reducing any small amounts of latency further.

Best USB Controllers for RetroPie

Most controllers now tend to be Bluetooth or 2.4ghz Wireless, but there are still some good options available if you are only seeking a USB controller. 8BitDo again have a good option (in fact, all of their Bluetooth & Wireless controllers come with USB cables anyhow) if you are looking for only USB connectivity.

8BitDo SN30 Pro USB Controller

8BitDo SN30 Pro USB

Low Lag & Packed With Buttons

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wired USB
Dimensions / Weight
144*63.5*33 mm
145g
Features
Vibration
Customized Turbo function (Windows only)
PROS+ A Lot Of Buttons Crammed In To A Great Looking Controller
+ Great SNES Controller Inspired Looks
+ Addition Of Analogue Sticks Bring Versatility
+ Low Lag Thanks To It’s Wired Connection
CONS– Battery Not Replaceable
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

This is exactly the same as the SN30 Pro mentioned earlier, but it’s simply a USB version with no wireless capabilities. Perfect if you don’t need wireless and you’ll benefit from reduced latency and slightly lower cost!

The SN30 Pro USB controller has built in vibration, dual analogue sticks and has wide compatibility being able to be used on your Raspberry Pi, Switch & PC.

8 & 16 Bit Home Computing Nostalgia

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wired USB
Dimensions / Weight
96*118*130 mm
280g
Features
Digital USB joystick for PCs and Android® devices
Perfect for arcade and retro games
Nostalgic design taken from the original Competition Pro’s arcade machine stick
PROS+ A Great Recreation Of The Original
+ Extra Buttons At The Base Of The Joystick
+ Ideal for Amiga & Atari ST Emulation
+ Low Lag
CONS– Micro Switches Are A Little Loud
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK

Not one for console gamers due to it’s limited button functionality, but if you are a 8-bit and 16-bit home computer enthusiast, you probably remember the original Competition Pro from back in the day.

This modern recreation remains strongly faithful to the original and is a must have for when playing the likes of Amiga, Atari ST, C64, Amstrad & Spectrum games.

Best Arcade Stick for RetroPie

Something that fans of Arcade, Neo Geo and fighting games in general will be seeking, is a high quality, durable arcade stick.

8BitDo Arcade Stick

One For Arcade & Fighting Game Fans

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Bluetooth®
2.4g
Wired USB
Dimensions / Weight
303*203*111.5 mm
2.1kg
Features
Dynamic Button Layout
button swap function
Ultimate Software
Control stick switch
Turbo Functionality
2 Dedicated macro buttons (P1/P2)
PROS+ Multiple Connection Options Available
+ Moddable – Replace Buttons With Custom Parts
+ Programmable Macros
+ Comprehensive Button Configuration
CONS– Stick/Buttons Are Average
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

8BitDo follow up their popular N30 Arcade Stick with the more generically named ‘8BitDo Arcade Stick’. Ultimately, it’s a competitively priced Arcade Stick with a stack of excellent features.

The joystick and buttons are of decent enough quality and are responsive, but the great thing is that 8BitDo advertise the fact that this Arcade Stick is easy to mod with standard sized parts, so if you are really competitive player, you can even swap out parts for more premium sticks and buttons such as Sanwa parts.

The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is compatible as well across a number of platforms including the Raspberry Pi, Switch & PC.

Best Joystick for RetroPie

If you are a fan of 80s and early 90s Home Computers, then you will no doubt have memories of using joysticks more than joypads. There are Loads of classic joysticks of the time including the Cheetah 125+, Quickshot, the Konix Navigator and the Zip Stick. But one name has lived on and has received a second life – The Competition Pro.

The best Joystick for RetroPie in our view is without doubt the Speedlink Competition Pro USB. Perfect for the playing systems such as the ZX Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and many more, the Speedlink Competition Pro USB is built to a good standard (mine is still fully working several years after purchase) and has extra buttons added to make it easier to navigate more modern platforms, such as RetroPie.

Click here to find out more about the Competition Pro Extra.

Best Budget Controllers for RetroPie

There are plenty of budget priced retro style controllers on eBay & Amazon. If you are looking for minimal fuss and cost, then look no further than these best budget controllers for RetroPie.

Retro-Bit Official Sega Mega Drive USB Controller

The Officially Licenced Modern Mega Drive Controller

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wired USB
Dimensions / Weight
157*40*98 mm
250g
Features
Official SEGA Licensed Controller (Original Grade Quality)
New L/R Shoulder Buttons for Extra Configuration Options
10ft/3m Cable Length
Classic 6-Button Layout with Re-positioned Mode Button
Compatible with Sega Mega Drive Mini, PC, Mac, Steam, RetroPie, Raspberry Pi
PROS+ Low Lag Thanks To USB Connection
+ Includes Shoulder Buttons
+ 3m Cable Length
+ Fully Licenced
CONS– D-Pad Not As Good As The 8BitDo M30
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

This officially licenced copy of the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis 6 button controller is one of the cheapest good quality retro controllers available.

If you are willing to overlook Bluetooth / Wireless functionality, this faithful recreation can be the perfect companion for your RetroPie set up. Especially when diving in to your Mega Drive / Genesis collection.

8BitDo Zero 2 Bluetooth Gamepad

Tiny Retro Gaming Goodness

SPECIFICATIONSConnectivity
Wireless Bluetooth
Micro USB
Dimensions / Weight
73*36.5*14.7 mm
20.7g
Features
X-input, D-input, Mac mode, Switch mode, Keyboard
8 play hours with 1-2 hour charging time
PROS+ Small Enough To Always Have A Controller With You
+ 8 Hours Use With Just 1-2 Hours Charge
+ Compatible Across Lots Of Platforms
+ It’s Adorable
CONS– Not Practical For Long Use
WHERE TO BUYAmazon UK | Amazon US

Now this little cute, but functional controller has to be caveated first – It is a very small controller weighing in at a tiny 21 grams, BUT, perfect for kids who you might be introducing to Retro Gaming. Also really useful if you wanted to keep a controller tucked away for tablet/phone gaming too.

For us, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is bordering on too small, but it certainly has been very useful to have a couple on hand in case of any last minute extended multiplayer sessions on the Raspberry Pi. Oh, and it also comes with a small strap, making it easy to keep attached to your wrist or keyrings.

RetroPie Controller FAQs

Is The Steam Controller Compatible with RetroPie?

Technically yes, but with some difficulty. There are issues reported currently with the Steam Controller not working with the RPi4, but it has been successfully used on the RPi3 systems. This is achieved by manually installing Steam Controller drivers on your Raspberry Pi and configuring accordingly. This guide posted on Reddit shows how to set up a Steam Controller to work with RetroPie.

Are PS3 Controllers Compatible with RetroPie?

Yes, PS3 controllers are easy to set up in RetroPie. Simply go to the RetroPie setup, select ‘Manage Packages’, then ‘Driver’. You can then select the PS3 driver from the menu by selecting ‘Install from source’ from the PS3 driver section. Once installed, quite the RetroPie setup menu and back to the EmulationStation home screen and you should be able to connect your PS3 controller in the normal manner.

Does a wired Xbox Controller work on RetroPie?

Yes, a USB connected Xbox controller will work out of the box with RetroPie. Simply plug it in and it will be detected, then you just need configure your buttons and you are ready to play.

Does any Controller work with RetroPie?

Not any controller, but most commonly available controllers do. The Raspberry Pi comes with onboard USB ports as well as many Pi models possessing built in Bluetooth, so the Raspberry Pi and RetroPie will be compatible with most controllers you try out. Many modern controllers such as Xbox & PS3, PS4 & PS5 – Although with the PS5 you may have to connect via USB cable for it to properly work at this point in time.

What Gamepads work with RetroPie?

Many gamepads are compatible with RetroPie, many of which are listed in this article, check out the recommendations for Best Bluetooth Controllers For RetroPie.

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