With a market flowing over the top with newer and fancier joysticks, it becomes a hard choice between going all out and purchasing a joystick for a couple of hundred dollars, or budgeting for one that can be an entire order of magnitude cheaper. HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) is an acronym known in the flight simulator community for describing joystick packages that include a separate throttle and quite often a multitude of other buttons and functions. These really improve the experience, especially for those pilots flying fully functional flight simulators. We will look at 10 different controls, ranging from the most expensive HOTAS joysticks and cheaper alternatives for those looking to fly in FPS vehicle or space flight games, such as Battlefield 4 and Elite: Dangerous.
The list here is going to range from the most expensive controllers to the least, but do not consider the order to be reflective of each individual joysticks experience.
Best Joysticks and Flight Controller Comparison Chart
|1. Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS||Joystick replica of the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft flight stick|
19 action buttons in total
USB connector and upgradeable firmware
|2. Saitek X-55 Rhino HOTAS||Everything you need to fly aircraft in even the most complex of simulators|
H.O.T.A.S. configuration software enables programmable controls
|3. Saitek X-52 Pro HOTAS||It includes an advanced LCD display and a great customized setup for advanced functions|
This will work great for both advanced pilots and FPS lovers alike
|4. Saitek PS28 X-52 Flight Control System||5 position handle adjustment system to suit all hand sizes|
Program your controller for each game
|5. Saitek Aviator Joystick||Rapid fire trigger / 4 buttons|
8-way ‘point-of-view’ hat switch
Dual throttles / Single spring gimbal mechanism
|6. Mad Catz F.L.Y 5 Joystick||Twin Throttle - control separate engines or assign one throttle to the engine and the other lever to another function such as elevator trim|
Includes a ton of buttons and both the throttle and joystick are able to be adjusted to fit comfortably in your hand while flying
|7. Thrustmaster T-16000M Joystick||16 action buttons, 12 on the base & 4 on the stick|
Fully ambidextrous joystick
|8. Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS||The 12 buttons and 5 axles are entirely programmable|
Internal memory: to save all of your programming
The throttle module itself is able to be removed from the joystick
|9. Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick||12 action buttons, an eight-way hat switch, and a rapid-fire trigger|
Button customization and multiple controller configurations
|10. Thrustmaster USB Joystick||3 Axis and 4 Buttons plus 1 Trigger for complete control|
The only entry-level joystick with a point of view button
This package is almost unanimously considered the best out there in the PC gaming community. This joystick and throttle combination has it all! A high resolution of 16-bit means it is sensitive and accurate. It is even a unique replica of the United States’ Air Force A-10C jet fighter. The Warthog controller has a beautiful feel to it. It includes enough buttons and switches to use on any professional flight simulator program, and has the customization necessary for advanced FPS games. The joystick is a full metal design and has been engineered down to the finest details. If you want a joystick with absolute great precision for your flight simulator adventures, this is the way to go.
Another great upscale choice of flight controllers. Also 16-bit sensitivity, this controller features an enormous range of sticks and buttons, all of which feel uniquely realistic to an actual cockpit. Although considered by some to be not very intuitive to set up, once done, it can be a powerful piece of hardware for your flight sim needs. It includes a very custom feel to the joystick, preferably better than the Warthog! The joystick includes twin throttle for great flight simulator action and is fully compatible with all of the major flight simulators and games. It also has a software program that enables easy control editing. The Rhino has a very natural feel to it and is so customizable it is highly recommended as a high-end flight controller. Everything you need to fly aircraft in even the most complex of simulators is here at your disposal!
A real contender in the PC flight controller world. This is one of the best you can buy for your money. It includes an advanced LCD display and a great customized setup for advanced functions. This will work great for both advanced pilots and FPS lovers alike. This joystick feels very study and has a higher quality designed than many around this price region. The Pro version includes a variety of improvements. The joystick action and tension has been improved to feel sturdier and the construction quality has improved.
If you are upgrading to a quality filght control system this is almost always an excellent choice. Mid-range prices with full functionality, its fully customization LCD, and a very sturdy design. The button layout is intuitive enough to be used by beginner HOTAS owners!
A joystick that works well for both PC and Playstation gamers. Players wanting a study feel to their joystick will want to upgrade to this. If you play space simulators and are a flight sim fan you may want to try this out. The joystick also comes with 5 different button styles, and a throttle switch mounted on the joystick pad.
A very unique design, the Mad Catz F.L.Y 5 controller will appeal to many looking for a great first-person-shooter and vehicle gaming joystick. It includes a ton of buttons and both the throttle and joystick are able to be adjusted to fit comfortably in your hand while flying. The controller is very easy to use and is fully adjustable. Although the joystick is plastic it looks great and feels robust.
A great choice for both lefties and righties. The Thrustmaster T-16000M has a uniquely strong feel. Anyone looking for a mid-range flight stick, for both FPS and flight simulators, will love the amount of customizable buttons and point-of-view stick for precise control. This joystick is also fairly smaller than most, which means it can comfortably be using any you might be gaming!
This HOTAS flight stick is an excellent choice for the entry-level gamer. Known by many as the “go-to” flight controller, this is a cheap controller that has everything. It has 12 programmable buttons and a 5-axis controller which includes a separate throttle stick. No space on your desk? The throttle module itself is able to be removed from the joystick, which means you will be able to use this just about anywhere! The T-Flight also works great for the Playstation gamer, as well. This is a solid controller that remains an excellent value all around!
A personal favorite of mine, this joystick includes 12 buttons, a multi-directional hat (point-of-view button) switch and side mounted buttons near the joystick’s trigger. This is an excellent choice for the first-person-shooter gamer and those looking for an entry level flight simulator controller. This joystick is best for right-handed people. It is very stable with a large base and the action is incredibly smooth for a joystick in this price range.
Are you looking for an entry-level joystick? Perhaps you have not had the experience of using a joystick. If you want to give it a try this is a great place to start. Incredibly cheap but includes 4 buttons plus a trigger. Will be great for anyone out there playing FPS combat simulators or space combat simulators!