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PowerA Enhanced Wired Nintendo Switch Controller review: A pro-level gamepad on a budget

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A PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller resting against a chessboard, with Link and Pikachu figures in the background.PowerA’s Enhanced Wired Controller is a great full-sized gamepad.

William Antonelli/Insider

  • The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch is a full-sized gamepad with a budget-friendly price.
  • You can use the PowerA Enhanced while your Switch is connected to a TV, and with a PC or Mac.
  • The build quality leaves some to be desired, but the PowerA Enhanced is comfortable and affordable.

There’s little doubt that the best way to play most Nintendo Switch games is with the official Pro Controller. But the Pro Controller is also expensive, selling for $70 from most stores.

If you’re looking for a full-sized Switch controller that won’t break the bank, check out the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller. For less than $30, you’ll get a comfortable and capable Switch gamepad that can improve almost any game. And while it does have its flaws, there aren’t many controllers that give this much value for such a low price.

What works

  • Bigger buttons and grippier joysticks than the Joy-Cons
  • Extra customizable buttons on the back
  • Also works with PC and Mac games

What needs work

  • Plastic casing feels cheap
  • Requires a microUSB connection
  • Doesn’t have motion controls, rumble, or Amiibo support

The Enhanced Wired Controller feels great to play, but isn’t as nice as its main competitor

A PowerA Enhanced Controller (left) sitting next to a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (right).The Enhanced Controller (left) and Pro Controller (right) look very similar, but feel different.

William Antonelli/Insider

Compared to the Joy-Cons that come packaged with every Nintendo Switch, the Enhanced Wired Controller feels fantastic. Its bigger buttons and long handles put less strain on your hands, meaning you can play for longer with less potential for aching. 

These bigger buttons are also louder than the Joy-Con buttons, which makes for a great tactile experience. There’s no sound more satisfying than the rapid clacking of buttons during a heated Smash Bros. match, and this controller delivers just that.

Although I don’t personally use them, I appreciate the remappable “Advanced Gaming Buttons” built into the back of each handle. You might consider mapping each one to a bumper (L/R), so you can dedicate a single finger to each shoulder button. And unlike other controllers with extra paddle buttons, like the Hori Split Pad Pro, the paddles are thin enough that you won’t press them accidentally.

There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack built into the controller. This enables you to plug in a headset to listen to your Switch’s audio privately while playing.

And amazingly, the Enhanced Wired Controller’s joysticks are actually better than both the Joy-Cons’ and official Pro Controller’s. Each stick is made with a finely textured plastic cap that ensures a solid finger-grip every time.

The textured joystick grips on a PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller.Both joysticks have a textured grip.

William Antonelli/Insider

But for everything that the Enhanced Wired Controller does right, it’s also got its drawbacks.

The plastic PowerA uses to make the controller feels cheap, especially compared to the Pro Controller. It’s not as smooth, the back is dotted with screw holes, and it’s much more prone to scuffing and other forms of visual damage. The handles also lack the gripped texture that makes the Pro Controller so nice to hold.

The Enhanced Wired Controller has a proper D-pad — a combined crosspad instead of separated buttons — which is lovely. But the D-pad also feels loose, and wobbles around a bit in its casing when you touch it.

And lastly, while the full-sized handles are an improvement over the Joy-Cons, they’re also wider than the handles on the Pro Controller. This makes moving your index fingers between the controller’s shoulder buttons slightly harder to do.

Without Bluetooth or motion controls, the Enhanced Wired Controller isn’t versatile

A PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller connected to a Nintendo Switch dock.The Enhanced Controller plugs into the Switch’s dock.

William Antonelli/Insider

As the name implies, the Enhanced Wired Controller can’t be played wirelessly. To use it, you’ll need to connect it to your Switch’s dock with a cable. 

And not just any cable, but an outdated microUSB cable (yuck) that plugs into an unsightly hole at the top of the gamepad. Considering that both the Switch and Pro Controller (along with most modern devices) rely on USB-C cables, having to use a microUSB cable is just annoying. Thankfully, PowerA includes a compatible 10-foot cable with each package. 

Having a wired connection does mean that you don’t have to worry about battery life, but without any wireless Bluetooth features, there are a lot of limits on where you can play using the Enhanced Wired Controller. On the Switch, you can only use it while the system is docked and connected to a TV. 

You can also use it on a PC or Mac with Steam games, but only by connecting it to a USB port. And it won’t work with an iPhone, iPad, or Android device at all.

Like most budget controllers, the Enhanced Wired Controller lacks features like motion controls, HD rumble, and Amiibo support. Missing motion controls will lock you out of a number of games, and removes key features in games like Splatoon and Metroid Prime. If you don’t use motion controls often, this won’t matter much, but it’s worth considering.

The Enhanced Wired controller comes in loads of different designs

An animated GIF showing off the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller’s LED lights.The Spectra edition lets you cycle through eight different color options by pressing a button on the back of the controller, or you can let it cycle automatically.

William Antonelli/Insider

PowerA offers the Enhanced Wired Controller in dozens of different graphic designs. Most of these feature official artwork from popular Nintendo games, like Pokémon or The Legend of Zelda, and retailers offer each of them for slightly different prices. 

I tested the Spectra model, which has the added bonus of color-changing LED lights. The Spectra tends to retail for a few dollars more than the other designs, but it’s definitely the sleekest of the lot. It’d be great for streamers who want a flashy controller while they’re on camera, or gamers with an RGB setup who want another matching accessory.

Should you buy the PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch?

Someone playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch with a PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller.The Enhanced Wired Controller is inexpensive and capable.

William Antonelli/Insider; Nintendo

The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller holds a massive amount of value. For a remarkably affordable price, you’ll get a near-Pro level gamepad with tactile buttons, grippy joysticks, and customizable paddles. For most gamers, it’ll be more than enough to satisfy their need for a full-sized Switch controller. 

But the Enhanced Wired Controller’s low price is its main selling point. Though it’s an excellent controller on a budget, it does have limitations. If price isn’t an issue for you, I can’t recommend it over the more expensive official Pro Controller. The Pro Controller does nearly everything better, can be played wirelessly, and includes features like motion controls.

The Enhanced Controller will work best in compact setups, where your Switch is always docked and always nearby. That way, you don’t have to worry as much about the long wires. It’ll also work for players who need a capable but cheap controller for PC games.

PowerA also sells a wireless version of the Enhanced Controller for about $20 more. I haven’t tested this model, but with Bluetooth support and motion controls included, it likely solves a lot of the wired model’s problems. For under $30, however, it’s hard to beat the Enhanced Wired Controller’s overall value.

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