Today´s Android TV boxes are getting increasingly more powerful. With their multicore CPUs and graphics processors, they are able to cope with more and more demanding games. And, because the Google Play store provides access to countless gaming apps, Android set-top boxes present a cheap yet very capable alternative to traditional game consoles with their high price tag and expensive games. In this article, I look at the best Android TV box game controllers on the market.
Best Android TV Gamepads Review
Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R Mobile Gamepad and Game Controller for Android, Fire TV, Samsung, PC, Steam and... ||
GameSir G4 Pro Bluetooth Game Controller 2.4GHz Wireless Gamepad for Nintendo Switch Apple Arcade... ||
Matricom G-Pad XYBA Wireless Rechargeable Bluetooth Pro Game Pad Joystick Controller (Samsung Gear... ||
SteelSeries Stratus Duo Wireless Gaming Controller – Compatible with Android, Windows, VR, and... ||
8Bitdo M30 Bluetooth Gamepad for Switch, PC, macOS and Android with Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Style ||
Most media players ship with fairly cheap remote controls that are clearly not built for gaming.
Playing video games is supposed to be an immersive experience. Precision control is of utmost importance. It should be you versus the game. But, any standard remote control ruins this experience.
Ultimately, the whole fun of gaming is ruined as you are struggling with your controls. Anyone that has tried gaming using a standard remote or air mouse will instantly recognize that feeling of frustration.
Therefore, I decided to look at all the popular game controllers currently available and reviewed the best gamepads for Android TV boxes.
Gaming on Android Set-Top Box
Chances are, you didn’t buy your Android TV box specifically for playing games. Most likely, it was the streaming capabilities that convinced you to get your set-top box. The ability to easily stream movies and shows to your TV via Kodi, Netflix, or any of the other streaming services is the most popular use of these Android-powered streaming media players.
However, all that hardware that allows you to stream crisp HD content can do much more than you might have thought. Any of the current Android media players sport the latest generation quad-core processors with enough processing power to put your aged office PC to shame. Paired with 2 GB of RAM and a dedicated multi-core graphics processor, these small powerhouses run even the most demanding 3d games.
Check out my top picks for the best Android TV boxes that will handle demanding games with ease.
Of course, these Android boxes can’t compete with the high-end gaming consoles. Maybe with the exception of the Nvidia Shield TV which is purpose-built for gaming. Also, the Nvidia box comes with a great looking and game controller that performs exceptionally well. But, a PS4 or Xbox One will set you back hundreds of dollars. Additionally, the pricing of games is simply ridiculous. Especially when compared to the price of games on the Android Play store.
Gaming on Android TV Box Rocks
An Android media player is the ideal living room gaming device for casual gamers. Below are some of the key reasons why gaming on Android boxes is experiencing such an influx in popularity:
- Low price of games
- Insane amount of available games for every type of gamer (see some recommendations here)
- Cheapest way to turn your existing living room TV into a gaming hub
- Very powerful yet affordable Android TV boxes available
However, nearly every media player currently on the market is not fit for gaming right out of the box. One thing that you will find missing is a high-quality Android gamepad.
The Perfect Android Box Game Controller
So what should you look out for when shopping for the best gamepad for your new Android TV box?
- Durability: Buying a cheap controller that breaks easily is the most obvious mistake you could make. Sometimes, things can get a little heated when trying to beat that end-boss. Opt for a quality product that survives a fall or a frustrated toss.
- Precision & Feedback: Gaming is about skill and timing. A great gamepad gives you adequate stick precision and registers every press of a button without any hiccups.
- Connectivity: Opt for a wireless controller to avoid having to deal with wires. Also, keep an eye out for battery life as you don’t want to take an unplanned break because you run out of juice.
- Full size and familiar layout: Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Console controllers are tried and tested designs. All the gamepads I recommend below closely mimic their layout and size.
The Best Android Gamepads
Many manufacturers have released gamepads in recent years due to the increasing popularity of gaming on set-top boxes. However, many of these controllers are cheap and unreliable. Below are the top 5 gamepads for Android media players to ensure you’ll enjoy your living room gaming to the fullest.
1. Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R
Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R
- Premium brand
- Multimedia buttons
- Mouse emulation mode
- As precise as a console controller
- Clicky buttons
- More dead zone in left stick than I’d like to see
Okay, we’ll give Mad Catz the benefit of the doubt and just assume that there was an online petition to name their newest Android controller. And an eight-year-old apparently won. However, apart from the overly edgy name, there is very little wrong with this gamepad.
To be honest, it is great to see one of the big gaming brands entering the Android gaming market. Mad Catz is a respected company amongst enthusiasts, well-known for its quality products. And, without a doubt, their expertise shines through in this product.
The Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R is an absolute beast. It’s built like a tank, able to cope with the most aggressive button-mashers out there. Rest assured that this device will easily survive an accidental drop. Also, anyone with previous gaming experience will feel immediately at home when they pick up the C.T.R.L.R. All the buttons and sticks are exactly where you’d expect them. Additionally, the controller has a good weight to it.
Obviously, one of the most important aspects of any gamepad is precision. All the buttons and sticks have a snappy feel. You won’t struggle for control with this gamepad. However, the buttons tend to be a bit clicky. This is annoying but doesn’t impact the performance of this device. But, there is one downside: The dead zone on the left stick. This might be a personal preference, but we’d like to have a smaller dead zone than what is present on the C.T.R.L.R. Still, you get great precision and no noticeable lag with Mad Catz’ Android gamepad.
Connecting the controller is super easy. Simply pair it via Bluetooth and you are ready to go. Thankfully, Mad Catz added an auto-off feature to the C.T.R.L.R, which ensures that you don’t drain the battery when the gamepad is not in use.
Additionally, you get dedicated multimedia buttons, making this one of the best gamepads for Android TV boxes. This allows you to control your favorite streaming apps without having to switch between the controller and your remote.
Lastly, the C.T.R.L.R comes with different usage modes, allowing you to use the controller as a mouse or as a traditional gamepad.
Why I Like It
Without a doubt, the Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R is probably the top gamepad currently on the market with a very reputable company behind it. In my tests, it didn’t take me long to adapt to this controller. All the buttons were exactly where I expected them, they were responsive, and I noticed no lag when playing fast action games. In my opinion, if you can afford it and are serious about your gaming, then definitely consider this fine controller.
2. GameSir G4s
- Changeable position of D-pad and left joystick
- Textured materials for secure grip
- Feels similar to Xbox controller
- Comes with a separate wireless USB dongle
- Average battery life
- Shoulder buttons are a bit wonky
The GameSir G4s is the second premium gamepad in this roundup. While it certainly isn’t the cheapest in this list, the quality of this device is second to none. The G4s is made out of durable materials, yet is surprisingly light. Also, the texturing of the product ensures a secure grip even in the sweatiest hands.
Compared to the C.T.R.L.R, the design of the GameSir pad is less flashy. It’s all black with some chrome-like finish on the top. Overall, it looks a bit more mature and won’t stand out in your living room than some of the other brightly colored game controllers.
In terms of functionality, the killer feature surely is the G4s ability to switch the D-pad and left joystick. Every gamer has their own preference here, but having the ability to adapt the layout to your liking is great. Even more so if you have friends over who might be used to having the D-pad on the top left. However, the D-pad itself isn’t the greatest out of all the gamepads I looked at. It certainly gets the job done. But, it does feel a little inaccurate and might require some time to get used to.
Additionally, the shoulder buttons aren’t the best either. They work perfectly fine when pressed on the outer edges. However, because the hinges are on the inside of the pad, shoulder pad presses towards the middle of the controller don’t register well. Apart from that, tough, all the buttons and sticks are extremely precise and have great haptic feedback.
When it comes to battery life, the GameSir G4s can’t cope with marathon gaming sessions without a recharge. Expect to hook up this controller every 4 to 5 hours of heavy use. But, on the plus side, charging the batteries is quick and easy with the supplied cable.
Why I Like It
If you ask me, the GameSir G4s is the best Xbox-like controller for Android set-top boxes despite some of its minor flaws. The layout, size, and ergonomic design are very close to Microsoft’s gamepad and provide great value for this controller’s price. I really liked the more mature design. This is a controller you can leave lying around in your living room.
3. Matricom G-Pad XYBA
Matricom G-Pad XYBA
- Great value
- High precision joysticks
- Very comfortable and ergonomic
- Good battery life
- Some of the buttons feel a little cheap
- Can be difficult to pair or connect to some devices
The Matricom G-Pad XYBA is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest gamepad on my list today. While some people may be scared off by the low price as an indication of low quality, we’re going to dispel those concerns. This is a great value gamepad that would be a fantastic choice for anyone who is on a budget.
One of the best things about the Matricon is how much it reminded me of a typical Playstation controller, particularly the Dualshock 3. Both of the joysticks are located on the lower half of the controller’s front side. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone who is used to gaming on a PS3 console.
While it may be reminiscent of slightly older consoles and controllers, it still has enough buttons to easily be considered a modern gamepad. The shoulder buttons are very weighty and responsive and always feel satisfying to press. The Home button is conveniently located right in between the joysticks.
This is also a very comfortable gamepad which may be surprising despite the low price point. It’s not too big and not too small either. The rounded edges of the handgrips simply feel smooth.
Unfortunately, though, the Matricom G-Pad isn’t perfect. I experienced a few issues getting it to connect to a couple of PCs via Bluetooth. Luckily this is primarily an Android box gamepad and the Matricom works great with these TV boxes. Just be wary that you may experience some technical difficulties if you also plan on using this gamepad for other devices.
What is arguably the biggest problem with the Matricom are some of the face buttons. The Start and Select buttons feel a little too stiff. The D-Pad is fine but could also be a little less stiff as well. The main XYBA buttons seemed fine at first but I noticed that some of them can get a little worn out too quickly if you press on them too hard.
Nevertheless, this is still a great gamepad for the price. The battery life is extremely good. You won’t have to charge this pad very often.
Why I Like It
For the price, I have to recommend the Matricom G-Pad XYBA despite some issues. Whilst I had a better experience with the Madcatz and Gamesir controllers, I would still consider this gamepad as a budget option.
4. SteelSeries Stratus Duo Wireless Gaming Controller
The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is more of a high-end gaming pad for Android boxes. One can probably guess this from the price but that really becomes apparent once you hold this baby in your hands and take it for a spin.
The Stratus Duo really knows how to leave a good first impression on you. The moment you pick this up and feel it in your hands you can tell that a lot of good craftsmanship went into this controller. It doesn’t feel light or hollow by any means. It is a sturdy and hefty gamepad despite the fact that it only weighs about half a pound.
This is definitely a controller that was designed to last a while. If you’re the type of gamer who hates having to replace controllers every few months or so then you should really consider this SteelSeries gamepad.
The button sensitivity feels like it was very well-tuned. The joysticks are really good but the craftsmanship really becomes apparent once you press down on the shoulder buttons and the face buttons. This Android box gamepad simply has great button feel.
It’s not the most ergonomic pad we’ve ever used but it is still quite comfy. The battery life has a very reasonable lifespan of 20 hours which makes it great for wireless gaming. Not to mention the fact that the Stratus Duo can be connected using both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz wireless functionality. This is a great pad for people who want to have just one gamepad for use on multiple devices.
The only thing to watch out for is a rather uncommon manufacturing defect some of these controllers have. The XYBA and the shoulder buttons might occasionally drop your inputs. It never happened to me but I am aware that a few other customers have complained about this issue.
Why I Like It
Sure it may be a relatively pricey controller but you really get what you pay for. I found this to be a great gamepad for both PC and Android boxes and even Android mobile devices. If you want a high-quality pad that will last you years, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo is my recommendation.
5. 8Bitdo M30 Bluetooth Gamepad
8Bitdo M30 Bluetooth Gamepad
- Awesome retro look
- Compatible with PC and Nintendo Switch as well as Android and Windows
- Sleep mode and Boost mode features
- Needs occasional firmware updates
- No joysticks
Anyone who is a fan of retro gaming and retro consoles will instantly be able to see the clear inspiration that the Sega Genesis had on this gamepad. The 8Bitdo M30 is an awesome 6-button controller for someone who enjoys the elegance and simplicity of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming.
Be advised, in case you haven’t already noticed, that this gamepad does not have any joysticks. The M30 gamepad was deliberately designed to be a modernized Sega Genesis controller with the benefits of newer technology, like wireless connectivity and a rechargeable battery. This means that you likely won’t be able to use this as your main controller if you plan on playing the newest big AAA shooter.
However, this is still one of the coolest Android box gamepads we’ve ever seen. Not only is the button layout adorably similar to an old 16-bit console but this really is a very high-quality gamepad. It works not only with Android TV boxes but PC and the Nintendo Switch as well.
The button feel is absolutely magical and probably puts older retro controllers to shame. The D-pad is great, the 6 main face buttons all feel buttery smooth and the two shoulder buttons have great response.
Sure, it may not have any joysticks, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting this great gamepad. It simply feels more natural to use a controller like this when playing older games or even more modern titles that are in a 2-D style. This is a great controller to use as your main device for these kinds of games.
Why I Like It
It won’t be for everybody but for the gamers who love going back and revisiting the glory days of retro games, the 8Bitdo M30 is a no-brainer.
Which Android gamepad you should go for ultimately depends on how often you think you will be using it. If your streaming media box will primarily be playing videos, and only once in a while you might jump into a game, then opt for a cheaper controller. The 8Bitdo M30 or SteelSeries Stratus Duo will still give you a good gaming experience and plenty of fun.
However, if you take your gaming a bit more seriously, then consider higher-priced controllers. Both the C.T.R.L.R and GameSir G4s are able to compete with the popular console gamepads and are excellent choices for intense gaming sessions that require precision and accuracy.
Last update on 2023-03-24 at 07:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.