Chromebooks can support Android apps, and also offer Bluetooth connectivity — ergo I must be able to connect a gaming controllers to a Chromebook to play my favorite Android games! Well, not so fast. Bluetooth is too unreliable to use for gaming on Chromebooks, so a wired controller is preferred. Good news is you might already own a controller that will work, and there are great controllers available that will work great.
A retro-styled classic
8Bitdo SN30 Pro
The 8Biitdo SN30 Pro is a perfectly portable controller that's designed to work with Android, Windows, and even Nintendo Switch. I would still stick with the wired version here because it's more reliable and Bluetooth connections are fraught with issues.
Straight from Google
Google Stadia Controller
Google launched its Stadia game-streaming service late in 2019 and released a new gaming controller alongside it. Since this comes directly from Google, you know you are just about guaranteed to get this controller paired up to your Chromebook for those intense gaming sessions. Plus, there are three different colorways to choose from if you want something other than the traditional white option.
It really does it all
Razer Raiju Mobile
The Razer Raiju is designed to let you connect your phone easily using Bluetooth or a wired connection — and it's that wired connection that we're after for Chromebook gaming. Use the extra long USB-A to USB-C cable included with the controller for best results. The Raiju Mobile is the best gaming controller for Android so it's good to know it works well here, too, but at this price, you're going to want to use this thing for all your mobile gaming needs.
Grab your microUSB cable
PS3 Dualshock 3
I've tried and tested the DualShock 3 controller connected via USB to a Chromebook and it works really well. If you've already got a DualShock 3 laying around, you're good to go. If you don't have one of these controllers, we'd recommend this third-party version rather than shelling out $60 or more for one from Sony.
Get the upgrade
Sony DualShock 4
An obvious upgrade from the DualShock 3, the DualShock 4 is becoming a fan favorite for gamers everywhere. And when you pair this control with the included Micro-USB cable, you'll be able to get up and running on your Chromebook. Some have even stated that the DS4 will even work when paired via Bluetooth.
Long gaming sessions
SteelSeries Stratus Duo
Originally released with Android, Windows, and VR in mind, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo works great with Chromebooks. The controller offers over 20 hours of battery life, or you can pair it via the included cable for a more reliable connection. Additionally, the Stratus Duo includes a 2.4GHz dongle in the box for a better overall connection.
Just like the Pros
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
An update to ChromeOS brought support for the Switch Pro controller to be used with Chromebooks. Now, you can take your favorite Switch controller and play your favorite games on the Chromebook. Although we do warn that not all of the features (i.e. Motion Control and HD Rumble) may work when paired.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Con (L/R)
Along with the Switch Pro Controller, updates to ChromeOS brought support for you to use Nintendo's Joy-Cons. You can pair both controllers, or just one and use the buttons on the inside of the Joy-Con to play your favorite games. The portability of this cannot be understated as you can throw a Joy-Con in the bag and not much space will be taken up.
What's the deal with Chromebooks and controllers?
Using controllers with your Chromebook to do some gaming has always been a bit cumbersome and down-right annoying at times. Part of this has to do with the open-source Bluetooth technology that Google has used, which is not exactly designed to work well with Chromebooks.
However, recent updates have started pushing the limits and opening the possibilities of what you can really do with gaming on Chromebooks. In some instances, the experience still is not as seamless as pairing a controller to your Android phone or PC, but the experience has improved some.
Having said that, we've tested and connected controllers that we've gotten to connect to a Chromebook but not reliably enough to recommend in this space. If we had to pick just one, we would go with the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro because it's retro, works with Android and PC gaming, and is affordably priced.
Another great pick is the Google Stadia Controller as it was just released, makes Stadia gaming a breeze, and can be used for other gaming on your Chromebook. The Stadia Controller comes in three different colors, includes a USB-C cable for wired gaming, and even has a dedicated Google Assistant button. Oh, the 2,000mAh battery is bigger than that of the Sony DualShock 4 controller so you'll be able to put in some hours.
Generally you can use console controllers like the DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers and Joy-Cons. Unfortunately, in our testing we found that Xbox One controllers didn't work, and Xbox 360 controllers are hard to find new. If you have a controller at home, play around and see if you can get it to work!