How do you play PC games?
Have you tried with a joystick or flight stick? It’s more fun than the boring keyboard and mouse. Why? Because you have more control and you create a better game simulation.
And here is the list that will help you find the perfect computer game controller. We recommend these nine best joysticks and flight sticks for PC.
In summary, they’re the high-end controllers that give you that exhilarating feeling you seek. Which one will you pick after reading the review?
- 1 Top-Rated Joysticks & Flight Sticks
- 2 Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick for Windows (TOP Choice)
- 3 Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick | Best for Elite Dangerous (Best Value)
- 4 Saitek Pro Flight X-55 Rhino Hands on Throttle and Stick System | Perfect for War Thunder
- 5 Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick X Flight Stick for PC
- 6 Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS Controller | Good for Star Citizen
- 7 Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Flight Stick | Great For Flight Simulators
- 8 CH Products Pro Throttle USB Computer Joystick
- 9 Mad Catz V.1 Stick for PC
- 10 Jaybird Logitech Freedom Cordless Joystick
- 11 Factors to Consider before Buying a Joystick
Top-Rated Joysticks & Flight Sticks
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick for Windows (TOP Choice)
This is the recommended joystick compatible with Windows computers. This joystick is a prime example of what you’d want in a controller. There are no limits to all the actions you can perform in your games.
The various movements are achieved by:
- 12 action buttons
- An eight-way hat switch
- Rapid fire trigger
As you may know, games may not always have the same action sequence. To increase your game actions the buttons can be customized. Multiple controller configurations are possible for a better gaming experience.
With the different customizations and configurations you can:
- Aim better before you throw grenades
- Aim better when under time pressure when you’re a sniper
- Move between players smoothly in most sports games
The joystick is a perfect match for the online games such as Star Citizen and War Thunder. The different actions required can be performed simultaneously. This helps you achieve game objectives better, especially when you have a time limit.
There is also a preset configuration for War Thunder, making set up and play faster.
The Logitech Extreme 3D Pro is powered by USB. Setup is quick and installation is straightforward when you follow the guide. The setup guide explains well how to customize and configure the joystick to suit your gaming needs.
- The weight and size of the joystick contribute to a comfortable gameplay:
- It’s large enough for a proper hold on the stick. Buttons are spaced well so you don’t accidentally tap on the one you’re not supposed to.
- The stick weighs 2.75lb so it doesn’t slip around when you’re playing at full throttle.
- High response time: The joystick is sturdy and responsive to commands. When centered the car, plane or person in the simulator responds immediately.
- Not only for Windows: Can be used on MAC computers.
- Compatible with most games. Ideal for Elite dangerous and other FSX games.
- Wide base: When you tilt the stick the base doesn’t follow. It stays fixed on the table.
- Noisy: A clunking noise can be heard when you pull the stick along the x-axis.
- Sticky movement: There may be resistance to certain moves from the stick.
- Movements can be too sensitive. Time and patience are needed to adjust the sensitivity according to your preference.
- Small base for men: The base can be small for men with large hands which can cause them to hit the wrong action button.
Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick | Best for Elite Dangerous (Best Value)
The T-flight Hotas is more than just a good flight stick. Many reviews suggest it’s the best joystick for Elite Dangerous. Firstly setup is effortless through wired USB. The installation is faster than expected because most functions are pre-configured so you can immediately take off.
The control stick resembles the one you’ll find in a jet which gives you a realistic experience. The controller has a dual system aerodynamic control. This means the handle rotates and the lever tilts simultaneously.
The rotating handle is equipped with an integrated blocking system that protects you from the blasts from opponents when playing Elite Dangerous. The flight simulator joystick has the precision you need when flying any form of aircraft. The vehicle or person centers immediately when you place the joystick in the middle.
The T-Flight Hotas X isn’t only a good gaming stick for Elite Dangerous. The customizable controls let you play other aviation games.
Some preset controls give versatility in the type of game sim you play:
- Trigger for brakes: Practical for all civil flight games
- Rapid fire trigger: Ideal trigger for all military flight games
There is also a multi-directional hat which gives you a panoramic view of the sky around your airplane. You can be on high alert for all possible attacks.
There are two exclusive buttons:
- Mapping: All functions can be switched between one another while playing
- Preset: You can switch from one game to another
As a gamer what is one design flaw that frustrates you? Sometimes when you disconnect the joystick from the PC all customized features get erased. But here the internal memory saves all configurations for a more efficient plug and play.
- Ergonomic: The stick is comfortable to hold for long hours. Rotations and/or tilts won’t twist your hand awkwardly.
- Compatible: The joystick is compatible with most software.
- Long lasting: You can use the joystick for years and it’ll be completely functional.
- Programmable features: The 12 buttons and 5 axels are programmable.
- Cheap materials: Wear and tear of buttons & internal wiring can cause shooting & flying defects.
- Dead zone issues: Some areas on the controller won’t send command information to the console.
- Inconsistent resistance: The resistance doesn’t always match your adjustments.
- Needs support: You can’t use the joystick on your lap. The instability can affect your aiming.
Saitek Pro Flight X-55 Rhino Hands on Throttle and Stick System | Perfect for War Thunder
Do you love War Thunder? Then be happy you’ve come across this product as it’s considered the best joystick for War Thunder.
The first design feature you’ll love is the military grade flight precision. The real controls found within an actual fighter plane were the design inspiration. You have excellent control over a simulated aircraft.
The Saitek flight stick has better accuracy compared to other hotas products.
The accuracy is improved because of the:
- 16-bit aileron
- 16-but elevator axis
Each of these employ hall effect sensors.
There are two units you work with, the stick and throttle. Each has its own USB connection which offers flexible customization. You can configure the controls of each unit without affecting the other. You have an array of action buttons that give you the advantage to beat other competitors.
The four spring system lets you adjust the resistance of the stick. You can almost experience what real pilots feel when they fly planes.
The throttle base offers you additional toggles and rotaries. FlightSim programs require the most customizable controls which virtual pilots require. The throttle base offers you:
- Seven extra three-way toggle switches
- Two rotaries
You can configure the entire unit according to your own needs.
The Saitek hotas stick is compatible with every flying game including:
- Flight simulator 2004
- X-Plane 10
- Flaming cliff 3
- Allied force
- Falcon BMS 4.32
- World of Warplanes
- Good layout design: All buttons and triggers are easy to reach for quick reactions.
- No keyboard required: You don’t need a mouse or keyboard because there is a number of action buttons.
- Professionals: The Flight X-55 tough resistance and difficult software are ideal for experienced virtual pilots who want to improve their skills.
- Strong build: The Flight X-55 is built with thick materials for added durability.
- Large stick: The stick is too large. Those with smaller hands may not reach all the hat switches.
- Long setup: The unit doesn’t offer a plug and play setup. Installations and configurations are not user-friendly.
- Sticky stick: The analog feature jerks and doesn’t consistently move smoothly.
- Indistinguishable resistance adjustments: There is barely any difference in the resistance settings. The lightest one still requires some force to pull the throttle.
Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick X Flight Stick for PC
Gamers prefer joysticks that offer maximum flexibility for the best gaming experience. Do you feel the same? If so, then you’ll enjoy using this T-flight Stick X. It connects to your PC via the USB port. As soon as the device is connected you can immediately begin game play because most features are preconfigured. Installation is practically effortless.
There are 12 buttons and four axes that are programmable. When you set these based on the game and how you fly virtually, you may not need to change them again. The internal memory ensures the settings remain the same even after disconnection.
Whether you’re left or right handed the ergonomic design makes the joystick pleasant to hold. The wide hand base makes for a good place to rest for hands for comfort. The throttle lever is comfortable to hold and move for hours.
It’s effortless to rotate the handle. This handle type is equipped with a built-in locking system which allows you control over the plane’s rudder.
There are two buttons that provide the best functions for any airplane simulator games:
- Mapping button: Allows the pilot to promptly reposition functions from one button to another
- Preset button: You can move between the different configurations
The weighted base offers added stability so the flight stick doesn’t slip from the desk when moved rapidly.
- For beginners: The basics of the T-Flight stick makes for a good device for beginners to practice virtual simulation.
- Connects to other gaming units: You can connect the joystick to a PlayStation’s console.
- Few configurations needed: Some games detect the T-Flight stick and automatically preset the controls. You’re ready for immediate takeoff.
- Resistance sensitivity: The sensitivity is at an ideal level at startup. It can still be adjusted if you want to make it stronger or weaker
- Inconsistent command response: The virtual plane doesn’t respond to commands when needed or it moves too quickly.
- Dead zone: There is a dead zone from the handle twist. You would need to twist almost all the way around to get a response.
- Fragile materials: Some plastic parts can break off.
- Sticky buttons: The buttons are large and have a “sticky” feel to them. They don’t spring back to the original positions after being pushed down.
Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS Controller | Good for Star Citizen
This Star Citizen hotas controller improves your gaming experience. This top computer gaming stick is compatible with Windows 10,8,7 and Vista (32-or 64-bit). The Thrustmaster FCS HOTAS connects to the computer via USB.
As you know compatibility doesn’t determine if the gaming experience will be improved. The design and features do. The Thrustmaster FCS HOTAS is specifically designed for advanced virtual fliers. Both the stick and throttle offer you an array of action buttons making it easier for you to game without the mouse & keyboard.
The flight control system (FCS) offers you:
- Four independent axes
- Twist rudder
- 16 action buttons with a braille style button identification
- One eight-way point of view hat switch
The throttle also helps you compete effectively as it offers:
- 14 action buttons
- One eight-way point of view hat switch
The throttle also features five axes. You can add three more axes with the rear RJ12 connector. As an advanced flier, you need a controller that offers precision. The Hall Effect accurate technology 3D magnetic sensors located on the stick gives that exclusive precision you need. The virtual pilot responds immediately to your commands.
The controllers fit comfortably in your right and left hand. When you use both hands you have better control of the gameplay. You increase your skills in attacking and defending when you have 30 action buttons to your advantage.
- Easy setup. The hotas has preset configurations. You can play immediately after setup.
- Accuracy: All commands are performed with accuracy. You gravitate to the center immediately after you’ve centered the stick.
- Compatible: The Thrustmaster FCS Hotas is a perfect gaming control for other flight simulator games.
- Good for beginners: The hotas system also helps beginners develop their virtual piloting skills from an intermediate level.
- Axes duplication. You use up to eight axes depending on the window limitation. The problem lies that some axes are duplicated as part of the eight. Duplication can lead to inaccurate mapping.
- Awkward design: Some buttons and triggers are positioned in places that are difficult or hard to reach.
- Design flaw: There is a dent in the unit where dust and other debris can accumulate which are difficult to remove.
- Soft buttons: The buttons covering is made of a sponge. The soft feeling doesn’t give you confidence the buttons have been pressed.
Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Flight Stick | Great For Flight Simulators
All the preset configurations make it easier for you to tackle different challenges of Warthog. The simple design has those features necessary for combat. Sometimes an influx of buttons makes gameplay too easy. With a push of one button, your jet can do a series of actions.
When you’re slightly limited in controls you constantly learn a new defense and attack moves that give you an advantage. The design was inspired by the dual throttle system and control panel of the US Air Force A- 100 attack aircraft. The functions and design meet the requirements of expert virtual pilots.
You can program up to 55 action sequences by using different button and/triggers. There are two directional hat switches that are activated at the push of a button. This is the first hotas unit to have such a feature.
The unit is embedded with Hal Effect accurate technology magnetic sensors. They offer better precision when you fly or aim. One other unique feature is the Afterburner Detent. This system allows the gamer to adapt the throttle control to the type of aircraft they fly for a more realistic experience.
The Thrustmaster Advanced Programming Graphical Editor (T.A.R.G.E.T) software lets you test, configure and program the controller to your piloting style. The software is user-friendly. Simply use a drag and drop motion to get the configurations you want.
- Quality built: The joystick and throttle are made of metal for added durability & weight stability.
- LED lights: The five LED backlights can be used as status indicators, idle stop and afterburn configurations which are useful for gaming.
- Versatility: The product can be used with most DCS and other types of simulators.
- Heavy-duty base: You don’t need additional desk clamps to keep the hotas in place.
- Friction in some areas: The stick doesn’t maneuver smoothly all around.
- Some throttle design flaws: When the throttle hasn’t been used for a while it feels stuck. You need to push or pull it for it to break free.
- No updates: Thrustmaster doesn’t release new software updates for the hotas controller which are necessary for new game releases.
- No instructions guide: There are no instructions or complementary CD to help you with the installation.
CH Products Pro Throttle USB Computer Joystick
This joystick is perfect for anyone who is left-handed. The small lever fits well in your hand. You can access all action buttons. You could also make gameplay slightly easier when you control the buttons on the side of the handle with your right hand.
The materials used to construct the Pro Throttle match those for higher end joysticks. The base is large and heavy & has non slip rubber feet. These ensure it doesn’t move during gameplay.
The Pro Throttle has a simple plug and plays installation. There is no need for any drivers because your computer will automatically detect and install the device.
The unit is compatible with all Windows versions and also Mac OSX. The control manager software is only compatible with Windows operating systems and other CH USB products such as:
- Pro pedals
You can set required action commands and other configurations with the CH control manager advance programming. With this software, you can program up to 176 functions.
The device is embedded with:
- 24 buttons
- Three push buttons
- One four-way switch
- One eight-way switch
There are an X, Y-axis and a Z-axis too which work together for better mapping. Review these likes and dislikes & determine if this is the product for you.
- Ideal software: The software is also updated which allows you to function with or without other CH products. The software is also user-friendly.
- Long lasting: The throttle can last years even with heavy usage.
- Unique button design: The buttons are designed differently from one another. You can feel the difference between the buttons so you don’t have to look down during gameplay.
- Responds rapidly: There is no lag.
- Dead zone: The throttle can develop a dead zone in the middle.
- Need for recalibration: Settings get erased. You must reprogram action buttons often.
- Inconsistent tension: The lever doesn’t pull or push at a consistent resistance level.
- No wheels or dials: The unit isn’t an ideal match for fighter sims that use dials for radar control.
Mad Catz V.1 Stick for PC
When you’re ambidextrous you can switch hands when they get tired after long gameplay. Finding a controller that caters to this is difficult because sometimes buttons aren’t easily accessible by the right or left hand.
Not to worry if you’re in need of an ambidextrous controller. The Mad Catz V1 offers a comfortable ambidextrous design with a trigger and five buttons. All are positioned strategically for instant access.
There is one point of view switch that lets you change the cockpit view. This helps you to keep track of where your enemies are hiding or which direction they’re blasting from. The point of view switch lets you be highly vigilant of everything around you.
The pinkie switch is versatile. It can be used as a normal control or a shift button. The shift button doubles the control and attack features.
The lever is designed according to the needs of many gamers. You’ll experience these:
- Smooth consistent movements
- Realistic engine control
- Twist rudder action control
The legs are removable which makes for easier storage.
The Mad Cats V.1 is compatible with Windows 8,7, XP/XP64 and Vista. Its supported by Saitek’s powerful SST programming software to ensure you get the most practical flight action commands.
- Beginners: The joystick is user-friendly which makes flying easy for amateurs.
- Symmetrical: The stick is designed symmetrically so both hands are comfortable.
- Feedback force: The controller mimics the onscreen action. If you crash it vibrates.
- Plug and play set up: You can play right after connection. You may only need to configure the game map.
- Short USB: You need to be close to your computer when playing which can strain your eyes.
- Lightweight: The base can slip when under heavy use.
- Spring tension: The tension is held with a spring which can wear out with constant use.
- Hard spring: The spring is very hard which makes sensitivity adjustments difficult. The tension always feels tight.
Jaybird Logitech Freedom Cordless Joystick
The final item in the review is also one to consider. The first feature that is unique from the others is the wireless setup. The controller and your PC sync via a receiver & USB. You can sit back further from your computer.
You can play almost every DCS and flight sim game with this Jaybird product. It’s compatible with Windows operating systems 98, 2000, me, XP. It also works with Mac OS 8.6 or later and Input Sprockets 1.7 Imported.
You can defend and attack with the:
- 10 programmable buttons
- Eight-way hat switch
The twist handle rudder control lets you navigate through the virtual map with extreme accuracy. This reacts well to sudden commands helping you always be ready to defend or attack. The stick is comfortable to hold for hours. All the buttons are strategically placed for natural and quick access.
As the stick is cordless it, therefore, runs off three AA batteries. The estimated lifespan of these batteries is 50+ hours.
You’ll receive a setup guide and a CD ROM software tool. These help you:
- Customize buttons
- Download game profiles
- Assign shift buttons
The receiver included in the box has a high speed of 2.4GHz. This speed delivers a reliable, lag-free performance up to 20ft away.
- Battery saving: The lifespan of the batteries is increased with the battery saving feature.
- Higher sensitivity: Movements need to be more deliberate. This is great because accidental movements are avoided.
- Long distance range. The controls are functional when you’re at least 10ft away. You won’t experience any lag.
- Stability: The heavy duty aluminum material ensures the joystick stays fixed on the table even during rough use.
- Stick loses its calibration: There is no way for you to recalibrate.
- Not an easy plug and play setup: Sometimes the computer doesn’t automatically detect the receiver.
- Poor button placements: You can accidentally hit the wrong button because they’re positioned close to one another.
- Small size. The size of the unit is too small to hold the throttle comfortably. You can’t rest your other hand on the base.
Factors to Consider before Buying a Joystick
There are plenty of high-quality computer joysticks on the market. Finding the one suited for you may be difficult. Don’t simply compare based on looks. You need to review the different factors that determine overall performance.
Start by determining how the joystick will be used. You need to find the one suited for the video game you want to play. Joysticks are best suited for virtual games. You can either buy a stick, throttle or both. Each option gives you a different experience.
You must also determine how often you’ll use it. If you plan to use it every day and if you play roughly you may want one that’s made with heavy duty materials. You also need one that has a wider base for non slip support.
You wouldn’t want to buy a joystick and realize it’s not compatible with your computer. You need to check the technical details of all the joysticks.
There is a high chance that the joystick will be compatible with your computer if it has a Windows interface. Sometimes the joystick is compatible with more than one. Then it can be plugged into a computer with windows, 7 or 10 and It’ll work consistently well.
Mac may be an issue as there are only a selected few that are compatible with this operating software.
Are you left or right-handed? Or both? You need to find the joystick that brings you comfort when you play for hours.
There are many joysticks that cater to this and have their buttons or triggers strategically placed. Look at images of the item and determine if where the buttons are placed allows for a comfortable hold for your needs.
The design also contributes to comfort:
- Finger indentations: Your hand mold to the lever better for a proper hold.
- Soft construction materials: These are better to hold for longer. Harder materials can cause friction.
Evaluate the different features and determine which ones are suited for your gameplay.
Some features include:
- The number of action buttons
- The number of programmed commands
- LED indicators
- Sensitivity adjustments
Technology is increasing the different features you find embedded in joysticks. These offer an improved gaming experience.
There are ultimately two connection types:
- Corded: The device connects to the computer via a USB cord. The wire may be short so you can’t play too far from your PC. The advantage is that this option has a more reliable connection.
- Wireless: The device connects to the computer with a USB transmitter. You can play from at least 10ft away from the transmitter. There won’t be any lags at all.
Pick the connection type that suits your computer setup.