Mouse and keyboard is the preference of many when it comes to flight and space simulators, but nothing beats a joystick for realism and immersion. We've rounded up the best joysticks to use with games on PC, and our number one spot goes to the CH Products Flightstick because it's the best mid-range stick around.
The Flightstick from CH Products is an old joystick that's been around for years, but it's still one of the best sticks you can buy today.
- Excellent value
- Premium internals
- Good companion software
- Bunch of buttons
- No throttle
- Looks cheap
- No twist support
You're probably wondering why I haven't selected the Warthog or another premium stick as the best overall choice. While those expensive HOTAS (hands-on throttle-and-stick) are _really_ good, they're not without flaws and mid-range units like the Flightstick (200-571) by CH Products are fantastic. I argue this stick is among the best on the market.
Sometimes classic products are the best, and if it ain't broke you really shouldn't fix it. That essentially sums up the Fighterstick. This is a classic joystick that is clearly showing its age when compared to other, more modern alternatives. But there's a good reason CH has yet to update the Fighterstick — it's an incredible product. Should you have some cash to spare on a joystick, you absolutely must consider this option.
Interestingly, CH HOTAS products can be purchased as separate units or combined to create the ultimate cockpit experience. (The HOTAS is a full setup, including a joystick and throttle.) For the money (it's easy to spend anywhere up to $400 on a full setup), it may seem odd that these units aren't made of aluminum or some other sort of premium material. But the plastic used is fiber-reinforced nylon polymer. That means it'll last a long time
What makes this joystick particularly good is the internal components. It may look rather cheap on the outside, but this joystick has it all where it counts most. The software is great too, allowing you to configure everything to your liking, and it'll respond without issue in-game.
There are a few odd features, include the lack of twist support and the fact that potentiometers (commonly referred to as "pots") need to be recalibrated after some time. That said, the product packs premium internal components, and the difference compared to cheaper joysticks is immediately noticeable.
High external quality let down by cheaper internals
The HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick is made of metal but houses some cheaper components, though it feels solid in hand. It's ideal for flight sims.
- Solid build
- Excellent design
- Metal chassis
- 16-bit resolution
- 19 buttons
- Cheaper internals
- No twist support
Thrustmaster is the brand behind many quality sticks, and the HOTAS Warthog is its premium offering. From the outside, this is one fine-looking stick, packing metal parts and a weighted build — this joystick weighs in at more than 6 pounds. It's a replica of the same hardware the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft utilizes.
For features, you're looking at Thrustmaster's HEART system with 16-bit resolution for impressive precision. The stick has 19 action buttons and a hat, and everything requires the same amount of pressure as in the plane it's modeled after. Some owners have complained about quality issues with the internal components, and there's no twist (or z-axis rotation) support.
Good value full HOTAS setup
The Pro Flight X-56 is a solid HOTAS solution if you manage to get a unit that doesn't have any issues. The reliable and accurate stick is excellent.
- Full HOTAS
- Great stick
- Solid design
- Works for VR
- Cool-looking switches
- Some quality issues
The Pro Flight X-56 used to be by Saitek until Logitech bought out the vendor and it's now part of Logitech's gaming family. It's a decent mid-range HOTAS solution that offers not only a joystick with a four-spring system but twin throttles, too. Depending on what games you'll be using the system with, you can use both components or rely on the stick alone.
Some have had quality control issues with faulty units, but there are fans of the HOTAS who swear by it. There are a bunch of advanced features too, including backlighting and programmable controls. The Pro Flight X-56 is a highly accurate HOTAS with numerous customizable buttons. We even recommend it for a VR setup.
A budget-friendly, sturdy HOTAS setup that's not _that_ bad to use. I still frequently use my three-year-old unit without issue.
- A good number of buttons
- Comfortable to use
- Sturdy build
- Feels and looks cheap
- Lack of premium materials
- Stick dead zone
This Thrustmaster HOTAS is a must-buy for anyone looking to get started with space or flight simulators who isn't entirely sure if a throttle and joystick system is right for them. The inexpensive price tag ensures money isn't wasted, and the reliable performance doesn't leave one feeling regretful for not spending a hundred or more.
Although it feels a little cheap to use and the stick has some dead zone, it's sturdy and plays well with supported games. HOTAS setups can run into hundreds of dollars. But the T-Flight X offers an affordable entry point for gamers looking to replace the mouse and keyboard or gamepad with something a little more immersive.
Looking for a PC gaming stick, you'll want to consider the excellent CH Products Flightstick. It's made of hard, durable plastic, and while isn't the best-looking of the sticks out there, it'll last for ages. It's also not ridiculously expensive. This makes it possible to improve your game and immersion in titles like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen without paying out an arm and leg.
When you want to take your immersive flight experience to the next level, the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick is an excellent choice. Not only does it look the part, rocking the same design of the hardware found in the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft, so you know this HOTAS setup means business. That's as long as you can overlook the rather high price tag.