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Best PC Joystick 2021: From Flight Sticks and Fight Sticks to PC Keypads

Before the analog stick or directional pad, there was the joystick. These primitive rudders might seem simply by today’s standards, but it’s the granddaddy of all modern control schemes we have today. Over the years joysticks have delineated into several different types of controllers including your standard gamepad, flight sticks and fight sticks, and joysticks have even made their way into specialized gaming mice and PC keypads.

The right joystick can make you feel like Maverick in Top Gun, or perhaps Kara Thrace in Battlestar Galactica. Other implementations of joysticks offer a surprising amount of innovation with some devices like vertical mice and fight sticks giving people better and more customizable ways to play.

Whatever you are looking for, I’ve rounded up the best PC joysticks below, organized by category. And be sure to check out the end of the article, where I’ve put together a buying guide that highlights what you should keep in mind when you shop for a controller outside of our recommendations. If you're browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can find the best PC joystick.

TL;DR – These are the Best PC Joysticks

1. Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog PC

Best Flight Sim Joystick

Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog PC
Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog PC
Controls: 20 ● Dimensions: 18.1 x 9.8 x 12.6 inches ● Weight: 12.2 pounds ● Good for games like: IL-2 SturmovikFor the ultimate flight simulation, you need the ultimate flight joystick. That happens to be Thrustmaster's Hotas Warthog PC joystick. You won't find cheap plastic or fake buttons added just to give it an authentic look. Instead, you're getting a joystick with almost a complete metal construction. As far as authenticity goes, the Hotas Warthog PC joystick is perhaps predictably modeled after the A-10C Warthog.

On the joystick and throttle, you'll find 20 controls split up between switches, hats, and triggers. And, all of those controls are made not only to look like those found on the A-10C Warthog but also to feel like them. Each is programmable as well, so you can get your flight setup tweaked just how you like it. When it comes to the actual flying, you'll get fine control through the joystick's magnetic HallEffect sensor. So, if you want to rule the skies, this is a worthy ally.

2. Hori PS4 HOTAS Flight Stick

Best Midpriced HOTAS Joystick

Hori PS4 HOTAS Flight Stick
Hori PS4 HOTAS Flight Stick
Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS3 ● Good for games like: Ace Combat 7Hori has just what you need to get deep into your favorite flight sims or space dogfighting, and it doesn't charge an absurd premium to get you there. The Hori HOTAS flight stick, as the name suggests, isn't just a joystick but also a throttle, letting you get both hands fully in on the action.

You'll find this flight stick particularly well suited to games that have been ported from console, as it has been made for PlayStation. It has all the typical controls you'd need spread out between the joystick and throttle and will work with your PC. Since buttons and controls are only part of the experience, the Hori HOTAS Flight Stick also includes rumble, so you can feel when you're under fire from enemies in your game. The throttle will also let you dial in the resistance while the joystick lets you tune sensitivity, so you can get the controls operating just how you like.

3. Logitech Extreme 3D Pro

Best Budget Joystick

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro
Controls: 13 ● Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.8 x 8.4 inches ● Weight: 2.7 pounds ● Good for games like: Star CitizenNot everyone needs an authentic flight stick – if you just want to jump in the cockpit and start flying without mastering dozens of controls, a budget stick like Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro is just what the doctor ordered. Even so, it offers a dozen buttons and an eight-way hat for controlling your ship without resorting to the keyboard.

The focus here is on simplicity, so the trigger features a rapid-fire mode, you get a manageable number of programmable buttons, and the z-axis rotation delivers simple rudder control. The whole thing sits firmly on a very wide base to prevent tipping and sliding during gameplay.

4. Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

Best Flight Sim Joystick

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition
Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

Controls: 17 (Joystick), 16 (Quadrant) ● Dimensions: 8.86 x 8.46 x 10.43 inches (joystick) ● Good for games like: Microsoft Flight Simulator

If you've got a bit of wiggle room in your budget, you can move up to the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition. This joystick really has it all, and that's because it's practically real. Thrustmaster has modeled this after the sidestick and quadrant in the Airbus A320. It's actually a 1:1 scale replica, making it perfect if you're looking to go deep into Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Between the joystick and quadrant, you're getting a ton of control. The joystick features 17 controls and the quadrant has 16, so you'll be able to map a ton of functions to be easily within reach. You can also swap out a number of the head buttons on the joystick to suit your needs. For nuance and feel while you're flying, the joystick uses a Hall Effect sensor. You'll also be getting rudder control thanks to the joystick's ability to twist, and the quadrant offers a thrust reverser mechanism, so you're definitely getting more for your money.

5. Thrustmaster T16000M FCS

Best Joystick for Lefties

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS
Controls: 17 ● Dimensions: 9.6 x 8.3 x 8 inches ● Weight: 2.6 pounds ● Good for games like: Elite: DangerousAnother solid budget-priced joystick made of the same DNA as Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro, this model uses Hall Effect magnetic sensors for precision, which is great in a budget-priced stick. It also features 16 buttons, an eight-way hat switch, and z-axis rotation.

The best feature, though, is a gift to leftie gamers. The joystick is fully ambidextrous; by swapping around three components, you can play it with either the left or right hand.

6. Logitech G Flight Yoke System

Best Flight Yoke

Logitech G Flight Yoke System
Logitech G Flight Yoke System

Controls: 75 (25 x 3 modes) ● Dimensions: 18.26 x 7.28 x 12.2 inches ● Weight: 4.62 pounds ● Good for games like: Microsoft Flight Simulator

You don’t have to feel like you’re flying a fighter jet or starship if you don’t want to. The Logitech G Flight Yoke System will get you geared up for a bit more realistic flight, giving you the yoke-based controls you’ll want for flying large commercial planes and smaller private planes.

The Logitech G Flight Yoke System will center you around a yoke sitting on a stainless steel shaft with elevator and aileron controls. While the yoke puts a lot of precise control in front of you, letting you build up muscle memory for your flying, Logitech also includes a throttle quadrant as part of the kit. The controls are customizable, so you can set it up for multi-engine control or have it operate flaps or propeller pitch. The system will let you add multiple quadrants together if you need more control. And, with 25 individual controls on the yoke and quadrant as well a three-way mode switch, you can set up 75 individual, custom controls to have at the ready.

7. Lexip Np93 Alpha

Best Mouse Joystick

Lexip Np93 Alpha

Controls: 12 ● Good for games like: Battlefield V

The Lexip Np93 Alpha is there for you when you need some of the control of an analog joystick while still demanding the precise control offered by a mouse. The Lexip Np93 Alpha looks like your typical gaming mouse with flashy RGB lighting around its base and on its palm rest, but when you peek at the side of the mouse, you’ll find an analog thumb joystick below the two thumb buttons.

That analog thumbstick can give you controller-like movement or aim — perhaps while flying a jet — but you’ll still get to use the 12,000 DPI optical sensor in the mouse when you need it. You can also set up the analog stick to work for macros or button assignments. The whole mouse can glide around smoothly on special ceramic skates, which ought to last a while with higher durability than the teflon found on other mice. And the braided cable for this mouse should be able to hold up to some abuse.

8. ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse

Best Vertical Gaming Mouse Joystick

ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse
ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse
Controls: 11 ● Dimensions: 4.3 x 2.8 x 3 inches ● Weight: 7.8 ounces ● Good for games like: Counter-strikeIt might seem odd to put a joystick on a gaming mouse when they’re designed to be pointing devices in the first place, but the ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse makes good use of its stick. You can think of the joystick on this peripheral as more of a four-way toggle than a true joystick. Sure you can set each of the cardinal directions as WASD, but you won’t get the diagonal movement control of a true joystick. Still, you can use the stick here for quickly switching weapons, activating character abilities, and putting other commands.

Joystick aside, the vertical tower design in the ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse reduces stress on your wrist and fingers and improves reaction time while eliminating fatigue. Despite being easy on the budget, the ZLOT mouse uses a Pixart PMW3325 IR sensor with five adjustable resolution settings from 1,500 to 10,000 DPI, and includes 11 programmable, macro-capable buttons (including the thumbstick), with the settings stored in the mouse’s internal memory.

9. Mayflash F500 Elite

Best Fight Stick

Mayflash F500 Elite
Controls: 9 ● Dimensions: 14.2 x 9.1 x 4.7 inches ● Weight: 6.58 pounds ● Good for games like: Mortal Kombat

The Mayflash F500 Elite is a phenomenal fight stick that will have you taking down opponents in your favorite fighting and arcade games on just about any platform you want to play on, including PC. You can just wire it straight up to your PC, or connect to Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo consoles when you’re away from your PC. And, with that versatility comes support for both X-Input and D-Input on PC. The fight stick connects over a USB cable that can conveniently tuck away into a built-in compartment

The Mayflash F500 Elite has a robust build with metal top and bottom plates. It also comes with quality Sanwa parts. You’ll get nine Sanwa buttons as well as a four-way Sanwa joystick. With these, you can rely on highly responsive controls that last. If you prefer other parts, Mayflash has built the fight stick for simple customization. You can also put on custom artwork for the top while protecting it underneath a clear acrylic plate.

10. Razer Tartarus Pro

Best Gaming Keypad

Razer Tartarus Pro
Controls: 32 ● Dimensions: 2.5 x 7.96 x 5.95 inches ● Weight: 12.8 ounces ● Good for games like: OverwatchThe Razer Tartarus was already a pretty nifty accessory. It provided you with some dedicated keys for gaming while also giving you a handy directional pad for your thumb. Now, with the Razer Tartarus Pro, the capabilities are going even further, letting you get closer to joystick-like control.

The Razer Tartarus Pro still has a set of twenty keyboard-style buttons with per-key RGB backlighting. But, this time around, those keys have analog optical key switches that can detect how far they've been pressed. This allows for analog input through the keys rather than the typical binary input you get from keyboards. In addition to the pressure-sensitive response, the keys can be set to register at different actuation points or even have two actuation points that each trigger a different action. Besides the keys, the Razer Tartarus Pro includes a clickable scroll wheel and an eight-way direction pad, giving your thumb a lot more to do than just jump.

Where to Get the Best PC Joystick in the UK

Are you still marvelling at the brilliance of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020? Well, maybe it's time to up your game and invest in a brand new joystick for the PC. There are plenty of brilliant options to choose from, with our favorites including the lovely mid-priced Hori HOTAS Flight Stick, or the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition, which is currently up for preorder on Amazon.

What to Look for in a PC Joystick

Joysticks aren’t run-of-the-mill gaming accessories. They’re specialized gadgets with their own lingo and features. Right off the bat, for example, you should decide if you just need a stick, or also a detached throttle control. HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) configurations try to authentically simulate aircraft and, more fantastically, spaceships. For sure, having your hands on both throttle and stick can feel authentic and significantly increase your immersion.

Bonus points: Some throttles also split to let you separately control two engines. On the other hand, you can sacrifice realism with a less pricey joystick that includes a rudimentary throttle lever integrated into the base.

The quantity and configuration of buttons is also critical; more controls add up to more realism and fewer reasons to ever touch the keyboard in-game. But 30 buttons with three programmable modes each can mean 100 or more different commands, which may be a lot more than you have the patience to learn as a casual gamer. If that sounds intimidating, you might be happy with a simple keyboard with a dozen buttons and switches.

Once you get past those basics, there are a lot of smaller details that distinguish joysticks. Stick tension is important to the feel of the game, and that’s something you can really only appreciate by trying out in person. Some joysticks err on the side of being too stiff, but that’s probably far preferable to a joystick that’s too lose, which feels cheap and inauthentic.

Some joysticks twist from side to side – this is referred to as “z-axis rotation” and lets you easily apply rudder or yaw. As a general rule, you’ll want this, particularly in flight and space simulators. And don’t forget that in the heat of combat, it’s good to have a joystick that stays put. Some joysticks ensure stability through sheer mass. Others have suction cups to keep it from sliding.

Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh

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People everywhere are booting up their computers and taking to the skies. With the huge launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2020, alongside the grounding of most real world travel, the desire to fly free is stronger than ever. With games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, along with Elite Dangerous and Star War: Squadrons, flying a real Boeing 747 or TIE Fighter has never been more fun.

But if you want to feel like a real, skilled pilot, you’ll need a dedicated flight controller.

What to Consider

Like flight simulators, the world of flight controllers is nuanced and complex. For a first-time buyer, it can get overwhelming quickly. The most important thing to consider is your individual need. Are you looking to simulate flying a real-life Cessna 172? Or are you more interested in arcade style combat games like in Star Wars: Squadrons and Ace Combat 7? Your answer will decide which controller is best for you.

For anyone new to flight simulation, the most popular control system is called a hands-on throttle-and-stick, or HOTAS. HOTAS systems include a flight stick for maneuvering your aircraft and a throttle for controlling your engine(s).

Low Joystick Supply in 2021

Due to the large influx of new flyers, demand for flight controllers has far outweighed supply, leading to some serious price gouging on some third party storefronts. We recommend you check the product’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to avoid being up-charged.

How We Selected

We strive to rigorously test every product we recommend. For those products we can’t test ourselves, we perform intensive research, review content from expert sources like PC Gamer, GamesRadar, PCGamesN, Polygon, and others, as well as thousands of consumer reviews from online storefronts on Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. As for the products themselves, we evaluated them on functionality, precision, design, and cost.

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Best Entry-Level Hotas

Thrustmaster T.16000M HOTAS



The Thrustmaster T.16000M Hotas is a great entry-level pick for folks who have caught the flight bug, and want more precision, flexibility, and customization. With more programmable buttons and hat switches between the stick and throttle, you can really customize your aircraft control without costing a fortune.

It also has a few standout features that set it above the entry-level crowd. The stick is ambidextrous, with the buttons all central and symmetrical, and the stick grips swappable to either side of the stick. The throttle also includes a rotary knob, allowing for easy adjustment to trim during flight. This model supports Z-axis rotation.

  • Ambidextrous stick grip
  • Ample programmable buttons for beginners
  • Sturdy base thanks to rubber suction cups
  • Quality control issues around throttle and Z-axis twist
  • Thrustmaster software could be better

Best Mid-Range Hotas

Logitech X56 Hotas

$249.99 (24% off)


If you're already dedicated to flight controllers and flight simulation, the Logitech X56 is an amazing system offering a sleek design, great precision, a plethora of programmable inputs, and easy to use software.

What puts it above the competition is its precision and input options. Both the stick and the throttle have a ton of programmable hats, triggers, joysticks, rotaries, switches, and dials, which make this system especially great for space and combat simulators. 

Control on the X56 feels great, with the stick and throttle offering much more precision and accuracy compared to other systems. Tension on the stick and throttle can be adjusted, with multiple included springs for the stick.

One strike against the X56 is its weight: The bases are too light compared to the tension of the stick and throttle. Without rubber grips or mounting, the X56 will slide around your desk a lot.

  • Beautiful, sleek design (with RGB lighting)
  • Intensely programmable and adjustable
  • Throttle can be unlocked for individual, separated engine control
  • Needs grips or mounting
  • Some quality-control issues

Best Premium Hotas

Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog



If you are looking for a premium, ultra-realistic, fully immersive HOTAS, especially for combat-based simulation, the Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog can’t be beat. Licensed by the U.S. Air Force, the Warthog is a replica system, faithfully recreating the stick and throttle used in the actual A-10C attack aircraft. The end result is a system with incredible quality, precision, and feel throughout.

Weighing in at over 15 pounds, the build quality on the Warthog is extraordinary, with solid metal bases, metal housing, sturdy materials, and detailed input labeling everywhere. In terms of feel (and cost), it makes every other system listed look like a toy. 

Like other HOTAS systems in this premium category, the Warthog has all the buttons, switches, hats, rotaries, rudders, and joysticks you could ask for.

  • Incredible build quality
  • Outstanding precision and feel
  • Very expensive
  • Lack of Z-axis twist on the flight stick

For the Aspiring Pilot

Logitech Pro Flight Yoke System



If you’ve been spending time in simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, you may have noticed that a wide variety of planes don’t actually use a HOTAS system. Instead you’ll find something that looks a lot more like a steering wheel, called a yoke. If you’re specifically seeking accurate simulation for popular, real-life planes like Cessna civilian planes or Boeing jetliners, a yoke controller is the perfect fit.

A great starting yoke is the Logitech Pro Flight Yoke System. The steel yoke shaft ensures that controlling pitch and roll feels great, with smooth action and resistance. Together with the included three lever throttle controls, flying through the sky feels a lot more real.

  • Added realism
  • Smooth yoke and throttle controls
  • Included desk clamps for mounting
  • Some quality-control issues

Best Budget Hotas

Thrustmaster Hotas X



If you are trying a HOTAS controller for the very first time, the Thrustmaster Hotas X is the best way to test the skies. Like most HOTAS, it plugs in via USB, and comes with a flight stick and throttle controller that can be used locked together or separated at your desk. Even this entry-level, budget system will give you a feel for the kind of immersion and precision a dedicated flight system can offer.

The whole package is plastic and basic, but comes with all the necessary buttons, triggers, hat switches and rockers to get started. The stick does include Z-axis rotation, and the throttle has a left-right rudder control, both of which are great additions for controlling your aircraft's yaw.

  • Great starting point for first timers
  • Adjustable stick tension via knob on the bottom
  • Build quality is cheap
  • No resistance on the throttle

Harry RabinowitzHarry Rabinowitz is a writer, editor, and columnist covering the latest and greatest products in the gaming industry.

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HARAP TANYAKAN STOK TERLEBIH DAHULU SEBELUM DIORDER REGARDS, HRW SOLUTION Features Extremely precise joystick with adjustable resistance control Wide hand rest for perfect comfort Fully programmable: 12 buttons and 4 axes, all extensively programmable. Weighted base for enhanced stability Unique: Plug & Play device offering extremely simple and quick installation, with all features preconfigured for immediate and hassle-free take-off! 100% PS3®* and PC compatible Exclusive MAPPING button allows users to instantly relocate functions from one button to another picto feature Rotating handle with built-in locking system offering flawless control over plane rudder Ergonomic throttle lever Internal memory stores all programmed configurations, even when the joystick is disconnected from the PC picto feature Airbrake (civilian flight) or rapid fire (military flight) trigger with multidirectional hat (panoramic view) picto feature Exclusive button enables users to instantly switch from one programmed configuration to another

Sours: https://shopee.co.id/Thrustmaster-T.FLIGHT-STICK-X-for-PC-and-PS3-i.77540206.2446298790
MY 2020 FLIGHT SIM SETUP! - Drewski's HOTAS, Rudder, and Headtracking Review!

HARAP TANYAKAN STOK TERLEBIH DAHULU SEBELUM DIORDER REGARDS, HRW SOLUTION Features Detachable handle, crafted entirely of metal: Also compatible with the HOTAS Cougar™ (and vice-versa) Replica shape of the A-10C flight stick Detachable metal plate for desk- or cockpit-style use Realistic pressure on buttons and trigger 19 action buttons in total + one 8-way “point of view” hat: 1 x 8-way “point of view” hat 2 x 8-way hats 1 x 4-way hat with push button 1 x metal dual trigger 2 x push buttons 2 x pinkie push buttons USB connector and upgradeable firmware Super-stable, weighted joystick (over 3 kg) H.E.A.R.T Hall Effect AccuRate Technology***: 3D magnetic sensors (Hall Effect): surgical precision, that won’t decrease over time 16-bit resolution (65536 x 65536 values) 5 coil spring system: for tension that is firm, linear, smooth and without any dead zones * Throttle not included. ** HOTAS™ is a trademark. *** Patent pending. Compatible T.A.R.G.E.T (Thrustmaster Advanced pRogramming Graphical EdiTor) software suite, available free for download: Lets you test, configure and program the following Thrustmaster® controllers: HOTAS Warthog™, MFD Cougar, HOTAS Cougar™, T.16000M and HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick Uses the Drag and Drop principle Features different programming levels: Basic, Advanced and Script Optimized profiles (T.A.R.G.ET) HOTAS Warthog – IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad (PC) HOTAS Warthog – Elite: Dangerous (PC) HOTAS Warthog – Star Citizen (PC) HOTAS Warthog – World of Planes (PC) HOTAS Warthog – War Thunder (PC) T.A.R.G.E.T Software All optimized T.A.R.G.E.T presets for the HOTAS Warthog™ Joystick replica of the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft flight stick

Sours: https://shopee.co.id/THRUSTMASTER-HOTAS-WARTHOG-FLIGHT-STICK-FOR-PC-i.77540206.9511325018

Stick pc flight

The best PC joysticks in 2021

The best PC joystick will make a huge difference to both the level of control and the level of immersion you feel playing any flight or space sim. Whether ripping the wings off a Cessna in the expansive Microsoft Flight Simulator, exploring the far reaches of the galaxy in Elite Dangerous, or bulls-eyeing thermal exhaust ports not much bigger than a womp rat in the action-packed Star Wars Squadrons, you can live out your flyboy fantasies right at home.

We also recommend a good wireless gaming keyboard and gaming mouse combo since it's a good way to navigate a game's menu during one of your 'flights.' But a joystick is the building block for setting up a home cockpit. Serious flight sims are played best with a HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle and Stick), which can be a bit of an investment, but once you're set up, it's near impossible to even think about playing a flight sim without one.  

Easy is the name of the game; the joysticks on this list all require minimal setup, though if you're looking for the full cockpit experience, and more importantly, have the finances, by all means check out the likes of VKB and Virpil. You can customise your setup to the nth degree with either of those super-premium manufacturers, but you will have to pay through the nose.

So, here's a list of our favourite PC joysticks, ones we've personally tested over the years, and ones we think will make a real difference to the experience of most PC gamers. 

Best PC joystick

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1. Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog

Simply the best joystick for PC gamers


Type: Throttle and stick

Buttons: 36 action buttons

Hats: 7

Weight: 14 lbs

Reasons to buy

+Heavy, durable, and sturdy+Impeccable action+The best money can buy

Reasons to avoid

-No Z-rotation on the stick-Accompanying software isn't great

The Thrustmaster Warthog is hands-down the best PC joystick you can buy. It's beautifully made, looks like it was ripped straight out of an A-10, and comes with an industrial-strength that means the only thing left in our post-apocalyptic future will be a bunch of cockroaches trying to figure out how to use these sticks.

Sure, it's an expensive unit, but you will know your money's been well spent as soon as you lift the lid on the packaging and pull the setup out. The stick alone weighs a kilo even before it's been screwed down onto the solid, wide metal base. That's something to behold, but the throttle is something else. 

It is one of the finest pieces of PC peripheral engineering I've ever experienced. Its casing is entirely made of metal and festooned with buttons. And not just buttons either; extra hat switches adorn the throttle itself, one that can be split in two should you need discrete control, and there are a host of toggles and metal flick switches too. I will honestly just sit there idly flipping switches even when the thing's unplugged, so satisfying is the action.

All that weight means it practically sticks to your desk as you fling your Cobra MkIII around in Elite: Dangerous like a BSG Viper, and if you're so inclined, the drill holes are there if you want to make it a permanent addition too. It feels great to use in-game, too, providing you with all the possible control permutations you could need without ever having to go near your keyboard again.

The only slight miss, and one that owes to its A-10C Warthog replica status, is the lack of Z-rotation on the stick to offering rudder control. However, that's easily mapped onto any number of extra hat switches or even extra analog joysticks.

The Warthog was originally released over ten years ago now and yet is still the best you can buy. This explains why the price has steadily crept up since then too. But trust me, if you're serious about the best PC joystick, this is it, and once you pick it up, you'll never think about its price again.

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2. Logitech G X56 HOTAS RGB

The next best joystick


Type: Throttle and stick

Buttons: 31 action buttons

Hats: 5

Weight: 5 lbs

Reasons to buy

+Clean design+Durable hardware+Switches and Knobs!

Reasons to avoid

-More plastic than you'd think-Surprisingly light

An update to the aging X55, the Logitech X56 HOTAS improves nearly every aspect of the older Saitek design, but it still has many of the same features that made its predecessor great. The throttle can be unlocked to provide inputs for left and right engines individually. The throttle panel also hosts an entire series of metal switches and knobs that feel absolutely awesome. 

I was a bit disappointed to find out that the metal top plate on both the flight stick and throttle doesn't extend to the base and that both the stick and throttle are composed mostly of plastic. The hardware still feels sturdy, but the seam running along the joystick handle is a bit jarring given the quality present on the rest of the build.

The entire setup for the X56 is deceptively light. While it does come with suction cups that can be attached to the base for increased stability, without them, I found the stick and throttle far too eager to slip around on my desk. However, for those inclined to make this indulgence a more permanent part of their setup, the X56 has holes present in its bases to allow you to affix it to nearly any surface with the appropriate hardware.   

Featuring adjustable stick tension and over 180 programmable controls, this throttle and joystick combo is a quality setup. It's not quite in the same league as the Warthog, but it is a little cheaper. If you're ready to kick tires and light fires, the X56 is a good way to go.

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Level up your Flight Simulator setup


Type: Throttle and stick sold separately

Buttons: 33 action buttons (17 on joystick, 16 on throttle)

Hats: 1

Weight: 3.97 lbs

Reasons to buy

+All you need for a solid flight sim experience+Additional throttle accessory+Nod to real-world Airbus design+Ambidextrous

Reasons to avoid

-Feels a little cheap-No button labels

With the arrival of Microsoft Flight Simulator and Star Wars: Squadrons last year, we saw a sonic boom in interest for compatible flight sticks. The Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus edition arrived just in time... and swiftly sold out. But it's back now and a solid upgrade for any wannabe long-haul pilot looking to ditch the controller for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

It's good for other games, of course, but as a piece of officially licensed Airbus kit, it feels best suited to the flight sim of the moment. With that in mind, it features a fluid and responsive control with a comfortable stick bolted on for long-haul flights. The joystick can also be reconfigured to your liking with a modular design, making this stick particularly friendly to lefties. There are a heap of buttons within reach to keep shortcuts accessible at an instant, too; we wish there were some clear indication which button was which—it can be tough to track down 'button 14' in a bind, especially if you have flying skills are a little rusty.

But kick in for the full kit, and you can divvy up even more shortcuts to the throttle quadrant module ripped right out of an A320—they got the color spot on, anyways. Baby blue isn't my first choice for gaming PC accessories, but I suppose it's a change from the standard black garb.

And when the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick comes in at £69 in the UK, and the complete set at £154 (the TCA Quadrant throttle is actually pricier than the stick itself), you can hardly bash it for price. The Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X below is a more affordable alternative. Still, if you can splash out on this more airworthy kit, then the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus edition won't let you down.

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4. Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X

The best budget joystick


Type: Throttle and stick

Buttons: 12 action buttons

Hats: 1

Weight: 4.5 lbs

Reasons to buy

+Thrust can detach from the joystick+Great value for money

Reasons to avoid

-Limited buttons and hats-Can be noisy when pushed

The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X is a testament that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good stick. It's a much cheaper build and design than the Warthog, but for a tenth of the ticket price, you can forgive the use of plastic and lack of buttons and hats.

The key elements are there. The detachable throttle is probably the neatest feature: given that you're going to need easy access to your keyboard for its extra buttons, being able to split these components around it is a definite advantage.

It's also got the much-needed Z-axis rotation for rudder control, although the press of a switch will enable you to operate the rudder via a rocker on the front of the throttle grip. You get plenty of programmable buttons too, but they feel very much the sort you'd expect to find on a budget controller.

The action on the stick and throttle aren't great either, and you'll likely notice some graunching plastic noises as you push and pull the controller around. But it's still robust and feels solid on the desk. This is an excellent value pick if you can't convince yourself that an X56 or Warthog is a sensible purchase.

The best joystick FAQ

Aren't there any cheap joysticks?

You can spend the sort of money generally reserved for a new graphics card on a decent stick. But it can be possible to get an experience that's very close but for a fraction of the price. However, it can be tricky at times. 

Prices of joysticks increased dramatically at the end of 2020, which meant even the cheaper end of the market got pricey as stock disappeared. The market is slowly returning to normal now, though, so have another look around if you've been previously frustrated.

Do I need a separate throttle control?

For serious simulation, you're going to need some level of throttle control. This is the biggest thing that separates the joypad from a flight stick setup, and the granularity of speed it delivers when dogfighting can mean the difference between virtual life and virtual death. So that's number one: make sure your stick comes with a decent throttle.

But that doesn't mean you need a separate one, no. However, the best and most respected flight controllers have entirely separate control for the throttle, with extra toggle switches and LEDs. Others, such as the AV8R, have the throttle control built onto the base of the stick itself. So long as there's a decent amount of travel in the throttle, you'll have a good level of control in-game.

How many buttons do I need?

Some of the controllers in this test have gone overboard on that front. But sims do demand many different controls, and having them all directly to hand can be beneficial. Just don't forget that your trusty keyboard can make up for any buttons lacking on your controller. You will need at least four buttons arrayed around the stick itself and, ideally, a hat switch on the top of it.

What should I watch out for a space flightstick?

Maybe it's time we spoke about the Z-axis. Traditional joysticks have pitch and roll control—forward, back, left, and right—but some are configured for 3D movement. That means as well as controlling the X and Y axis; you can also twist the stick clockwise or anti-clockwise to control the Z-axis. Generally, this is used to control yaw and replicate the rudder controls of an aircraft.

In space, that three-dimensional control can be vital for accuracy, especially when you're zeroing in behind an escaping Sidewinder in an Elite dogfight. It is sorely missed on a stick with other controls that can mimic the rudder but on budget sticks that allow no such added control.

What does HOTAS stand for?

This exciting acronym stands for the rather mundane-sounding 'Hands-On Throttle And Stick' and denotes a dual controller where one hand rests permanently on the throttle and the other remains on the stick.

What is a Hat Switch on a joystick?

A hat switch is a multi-directional button akin to the d-pad on a controller. However, on a flight stick, the d-pad has a hat on top, which the thumb can easily push to activate the switches. They come in 4-way or 8-way flavors.

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.

Sours: https://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pc-joysticks/
Best sims to play with a flight stick


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