9 Best Joysticks and Flight Sticks You Can Find in 2018

Best joysticks and flight sticks
Are you a fan of flight simulators and aircraft games for PC? Whether you want to test your piloting skills as a fighter jet pilot or cruise through the galaxy, you’ll need to find the best joystick if you want the most out of your airborne gaming experience. Use this guide to find the best flight stick for your interests and budget.

How to Choose the Best Joystick for PC Games

Joysticks aren’t just great for flight simulators; they can actually work for a wide range of games, such as some FPSs where you can jump into a jet or helicopter. A dogfight in deep space might also call for better precision and a more realistic feel than what’s offered by a mouse and keyboard. A reliable and programmable joystick is a great investment for some gamers, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of the controls, configurations and features of joysticks and flight sticks before you buy.

Throttle Control

A large advantage to any joystick is a throttle. This is a lever that can be pressed forward or pulled backward to make the vehicle you are piloting speed up or slow down. Throttles can be either integrated on the base of the joystick itself or come as a detached control.

Having a separate throttle control can be beneficial in a number of ways. Your hands do not have to be so close together; instead, you’ll have a more natural, ergonomic feel. With the best joystick for certain games, you may not need to use your keyboard or mouse at all!

With a detached throttle, you also usually get more buttons than if you were using a mouse or a throttle on the base of a joystick. The downside to having a detached throttle is that it’s generally much more expensive.

Gameplay Setups

There are a variety of different setups you can have while playing your favorite game or simulator. Here are the most popular:

  • HOTAS: Hands on Throttle and Stick. This means that you are required to use one hand on the throttle and one hand on the joystick at all times (if you are to use all the buttons on the joystick). This can include detached throttles.
  • HOSAK: Hands on Stick and Keyboard. This setup may be beneficial if there is no throttle at all or when more buttons are necessary than what is on the joystick setup.
  • HOSAM: Hands on Stick and Mouse. This configuration can be ideal for those who want more flight precision. If you’ve already found the best gaming mouse, then you may feel more comfortable with an ambidextrous joystick.
  • HOSAS: Hands on Stick and Stick. This is similar to HOSAM, but with more realism and accuracy. This setup will also give you plenty of buttons.

There is no hard and fast rule about which one is best. It is your personal choice according to which you feel most comfortable with.

Button Configuration

Button configuration and layout is very important for many games; this is especially true for flight simulators. A lot of gamers enjoy having a separate control for throttle as it offers more versatility at your fingertips. Though many people still prefer the best gaming keyboard for PC games, a specialized stick and throttle set for flight and space simulators can mean all the difference in a dogfight!

Z-Axis and Hat Switch Control

“Z-Axis” means twisting the stick to the left or right. This controls the yaw in flight and space simulators. If a joystick does not have this functionality, a lot of people use pedals instead. Although they’ll cost extra, pedals can have the added functionality of strafing (moving sideways) or moving forward and backward. “Hat switch” is a directional control much like the D-Pad on console controllers. They commonly provide point-of-view control so you can switch between different camera angles.

9 Best Joysticks and Flight Sticks

*Please note: product prices, ratings and availability that are shown above are applicable for Amazon.com Marketplace only! Any prices, ratings and product availability from other Amazon local marketplaces such as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.in and others may be different from the ones shown in this table.

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Joystick

The Best Joystick for Flight Simulator Games

thrustmaster hotas warthog joystick
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog is a joystick, dual throttle system and control panel set modeled after the U.S. Air Force A-10C. If you’re willing to pay for the best, this is a precise and high-quality joystick with 3D magnetic sensors.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: No
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: 2, detached
Pros:

  • 2 throttles side by side
  • Great for precision
Cons:

  • No Z-Axis
  • May need to buy pedals if looking for Z-Axis or similar functionality
  • High price point and may be hard to get

Check Prices

 

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

The Best Cheap Joystick for PC

logitech extreme 3d pro joystick
The Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick has a simple yet functional design with 12 action buttons and a rapid-fire trigger. If you’re a beginner or you just want something reliable and affordable, this is a good option.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Attached
Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Buttons can be programmed
  • Comfortable ergonomic design
Cons:

  • Too light, may need to secure
  • Stiff joystick movement
  • Software is difficult to install and calibrate

Check Prices

 

Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X Flight Stick

The Best Joystick for Elite Dangerous

thrustmaster t-flight hotas x flight stick
The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X flight stick comes with a comfortable wrist rest and a detachable throttle control. It has 12 buttons and 5 axles that are programmable, making it a contender for the best flight stick for Elite Dangerous.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Attached, can be detached
Pros:

  • Internal memory for saving button configurations and programming
  • Joystick has adjustable resistance
  • Stylish design with plenty of buttons
Cons:

  • Poor build quality
  • Cord connecting thrust and stick too short for keyboards to fit between
  • Dead zones on multiple axis

Check Prices

 

Mad Catz V.1 Stick

The Best PC Flight Stick with a Unique Design

mad catz v1 stick
The Mad Catz V.1 Stick comes with a helpful POV switch so you can see everything around you while in flight. This could be a good choice if you’re looking for something basic and ambidextrous with an interesting appearance.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Attached
Pros:

  • Unique and stylish design
  • Ambidextrous, suitable for dual stick flying
  • Pinky switch can be used as a shift which doubles how many buttons you can have
Cons:

  • Poor trigger build quality
  • Pinky switch too easy to accidentally press
  • LED is overbearing and can shine onto monitor

Check Prices

 

Logitech G Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control System

The Best HOTAS Joystick

logitech g saitek x52 pro flight control system
The Logitech G Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control System is a set that comes with a detached throttle and a centering mechanism for improved control. It also has 5 different handle positions if you’re looking for something comfortable for a variety of hand sizes.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Detached
Pros:

  • LCD Multi-Function Display on throttle control
  • Handle adjustment on joystick for customizable grip
  • Throttle resistance adjuster
Cons:

  • Difficult to set up software and to configure
  • Poor quality control
  • Bad customer service

Check Prices

 

Saitek Pro Flight X-55 Rhino HOTAS

The Best Joystick for War Thunder

saitek pro flight x-55 rhino hotas
The Saitek Pro Flight X-55 Rhino HOTAS comes with twin throttles that can be adjusted according to your preferred friction levels. This throttle and stick set is particularly designed for flight simulators, making it a good option for games like War Thunder.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Detached
Pros:

  • Adjustable joystick force
  • Highly customizable
  • Ergonomic and stylish design
Cons:

  • Premium price point
  • May not work in USB 3.0 ports
  • Poor quality control

Check Prices

 

Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS

The Best Flight Stick for Star Citizen

thrustmaster t 16000m fcs hotas
The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS is a precision-oriented controller with several action button and switch controls. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best flight stick for Star Citizen that’s sensitive and functional.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Detached and on base of joystick
Pros:

  • Mini analog stick
  • Braille style button identification
  • Easy to set up
Cons:

  • Button layout is complicated
  • Throttle is not smooth
  • TARGET software is not intuitive

Check Prices

 

Speedlink Dark Tornado

The Best PC Joystick for Simplicity

speedlink dark tornado
The Speedlink Dark Tornado is a flight stick with adjustable force vibration and eight digital buttons. If you’re on a budget and you’d like something simple and incredibly easy to use, this flight stick is worth considering.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: No
  • Hat Switch: No
  • Throttle: Attached
Pros:

  • Force feedback
  • Suction cup grips
  • Inexpensive
Cons:

  • No hat switch
  • Throttle is in odd position
  • Very light

Check Prices

 

CH Products Pro Throttle USB

The Best Joystick for PC

ch products pro throttle usb
The CH Products Pro Throttle USB is a compact joystick that you can program to function in 176 different ways. It also has three color mode indicators on the base for added practicality.

Specs

  • Z-Axis: Yes
  • Hat Switch: Yes
  • Throttle: Yes
Pros:

  • Powerful software suite
  • Easy-to-reach button configuration
  • Sturdy construction
Cons:

  • Light base
  • Lacking aesthetics
  • Slight jitter from slider at times

Check Prices

 

Fly to Victory with the the Best Joystick for PC Games

There’s nothing like a joystick and throttle set to make you feel more in control during a flight simulator or spacecraft game. Are you looking for a simplistic joystick or a more authentic model flight stick? Perhaps dual wielding joysticks may be your choice of arsenal? Whatever you like, there’s options out there.

For a cheaper entry level joystick, the Logitech Extreme Pro 3D Joystick or Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick are affordable choices. For mid-tier joysticks and throttles, the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS and the CH Products Pro Throttle USB are both decent. For high-end enthusiast control options, you probably can’t beat the Saitek Pro Flight X-55 Rhino HOTAS or Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Joystick (while they may be more difficult to get your hands on, they can provide a more immersive, dynamic experience).

If you’re a game and simulator enthusiast, you might already have the best racing wheel for driving simulators, the best controller for PC FPSs or the best gaming keyboard for MOBAs and MMOs. If you’re hoping to conquer adversaries in the sky, the best gaming joystick for your playstyle will also feel right at home on your desk.

Leave a Reply