Best PC Joystick 2020: From Flight Sticks and Fight Sticks to PC Keypads

There was a joystick in front of the analog stick or directional pad. These primitive rudders may seem simple by today’s standards, but they are the grandfathers of all the modern control schemes we have today. Over the years, joysticks have been categorized into different types of controllers, including standard gamepads, flight sticks, and fight sticks, and joysticks have also been used in dedicated gaming mice and PC keypads. With the right joystick, you can feel like a Top Gun Maverick. , Or perhaps Battlestar Galactica’s Crow Wraith. Other implementations of the joystick bring amazing innovations on some devices such as vertical mice and fight sticks, providing people with a better and more customizable way of playing.

Whatever you are looking for, I have organized the best PC joysticks below by category. Also, check the end of the article. Here’s a buying guide that highlights things to keep in mind when buying a controller other than the recommendations. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can find the best PC joysticks.

TL; DR-These are the best PC joysticks

1. Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog PC

Best Flight Sim Joystick

Our pick

Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog PC

on Amazon

The ultimate flight joystick is required for the ultimate flight simulation. It happens to be a Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog PC joystick. You won’t find cheap plastic or fake buttons added just to give it a real look. Instead, I’m getting a joystick with a nearly complete metal construction. As far as reliability is concerned, the Hotas Warthog PC joystick is probably modeled after the A-10C Warthog.

The joystick and throttle have 20 controls divided into switches, hats and triggers. And all of these controls are designed to not only look and feel like those found in the A-10C Desert Warthog. Each is programmable, so you can adjust your flight setup to your liking. The actual flight can be finely controlled via the joystick’s magnetic Hall effect sensor. So if you want to rule the sky, this is a valuable ally.

2. Hori PS4 HOTAS Flight Stick

Best medium price HOTAS joystick

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Hori PS4 HOTAS Flight Stick

on Amazon

Hori has everything you need to get deep into your favorite flight sims and space dogfights, and you won’t charge an absurd premium to get there. As the name implies, the Hori HOTAS flight stick is not only a joystick but also a throttle, and you can fully operate both hands.

This flight stick is made for PlayStation, so it is especially suitable for games ported from the console. It has all the typical controls you would need to spread between the joystick and the throttle and works on your PC. Since the buttons and controls are only part of the experience, the Hori HOTAS Flight Stick also includes a rumble so you can feel when you’re being attacked by an enemy in-game. You can dial the resistance with the throttle and adjust the sensitivity with the joystick, so you can control the controls as you like.

3. Thrustmaster TCA Side Stick Airbus Edition

Best mid-priced flight sim joystick

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Thrustmaster TCA Side Stick Airbus Edition

on Amazon

If you’re looking for a solid starting point for your flight simulator, but don’t want to exceed your budget or be too poor in quality, the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition is for you. It’s not that expensive. You can purchase the joystick alone or bundle it with Thrustmaster’s corresponding throttle quadrant to add other accessories after the fact.

This joystick is a 1: 1 scale replica of the side sticks on the Airbus A320, so you get a real look. It also provides fairly deep control with 17 action buttons, 4 interchangeable head buttons on the joystick itself, and subtle flight control using Hall effect sensors. There is also a twist feature that allows for rudder control and thrust mechanism. These are two controls that not all joysticks have.

4. Logitech Extreme 3D Pro

Best budget joystick

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Logitech Extreme 3D Pro

on Amazon

Not everyone needs a real flight stick. If you want to dive into the cockpit and start flying without mastering dozens of controls, a budget stick like Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro is exactly what your doctor wants. Still, it has 12 buttons and an 8-way hat to control the ship without resorting to a keyboard.

Because we’re focusing on simplicity here, the trigger has a rapid fire mode, gets a manageable number of programmable buttons, and a z-axis rotation for simple rudder control. The whole is firmly secured to a very wide base to prevent falls and slips during gameplay.

5. Thrustmaster T16000M FCS

The best joystick for left-handed

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Thrustmaster T16000M FCS

on Amazon

Another solid, affordable joystick made from the same DNA as Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro, this model uses a Hall-effect magnetic sensor for accuracy. This is great for affordable sticks. It also features 16 buttons, an 8-way hat switch, and z-axis rotation.

However, the best feature is a gift for left-handed gamers. The joystick is completely ambidextrous. By swapping the three components, you can play with either your left or right hand.

6. ZLOT vertical gaming mouse

The best vertical gaming mouse

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ZLOT vertical gaming mouse

on Amazon

It may seem strange to put a joystick on a gaming mouse that is designed as a pointing device in the first place, but the ZLOT vertical gaming mouse makes good use of that stick. The joystick of this peripheral can be thought of as a four-way toggle rather than a true joystick. Sure, you can set each base orientation as WASD, but you can’t control the diagonal movement of the true joystick. Still, you can use the sticks here to quickly switch weapons, activate your character’s abilities, and enter other commands.

Joystick aside, the vertical tower design of the ZLOT vertical gaming mouse reduces stress on the wrists and fingers, relieves fatigue and improves reaction time. Despite the budget, the ZLOT mouse uses a Pixart PMW3325 IR sensor with 5 adjustable resolution settings from 1,500 to 10,000 DPI and 11 programmable macro-enabled buttons (including thumbstick). The settings are stored inside the mouse, including memory.

7. May Flash F500 Arcade Fight Stick

The best fight stick

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May Flash F500 Arcade Fight Stick

on Amazon

Special games may require a special controller. For example, flight sims have flight sticks, and fighting games have fight sticks. The Mayflash F500 Arcade FightStick is a step up from an entry-level controller, justifying a slightly higher price tag with the support of expensive metal frames and headset audio for consoles. By the way, it has a wide range of compatibility. It can be connected to a PC or almost any game console. It also includes both square and octagonal top plates, so you can set it up in your preferred layout.

The F500 has eight buttons and is a completely maintainable control, but you can easily and inexpensively customize the F500 by replacing the buttons with arcade-quality Sanwa Denshi parts. Many enthusiastic fighting game users do just that.

8. Razer Tartarus v2 Gaming Keypad

Best game keypad

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Razer Tartarus v2 Gaming Keypad

on Amazon

These one-handed keypads are generally fairly limited to games only, so you need to be a gamer-only gamer (although some people also use them for professional applications such as Photoshop macros, see figure). ). The Razer Tartarus v2 includes 19 hybrid mechanical / membrane keys with low click and tactile input, and an 8-way D-pad with removable knobs. The entire keypad is programmable with remapping and macro options and allows you to switch between three different profiles on the fly, making it ideal for both MMO and FPS titles.

All supported by a cushioned removable palm rest and based on Tartarus ergonomics, you can place it on the side of your laptop for a very comfortable game. It also has full RGB lighting, which makes it look great. As it feels.

Where to get the best PC joysticks in the UK

Are you still amazed at how great Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is? Well, maybe it’s time to upload your game and invest in a brand new joystick for your PC. Choose from a wealth of options, including the lovely mid-priced Hori HOTAS Flight Stick and the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition currently pre-ordered on Amazon.

HOTAS Warthog PC


HOTAS Warthog PC

Best Flight Sim Joystick-In Stock

HOTAS Flight Stick


HOTAS flight stick

Best mid-priced flight sim joystick

TCA Side Stick Airbus Edition


TCA Side Stick Airbus Edition

Another great mid-priced flight sim joystick

Extreme 3D Pro
T16000M FCS

What to look for with a PC joystick

The joystick is not a mundane gaming accessory. They are special gadgets with unique terms and features. For example, you need to decide immediately if you need a stick or if you need to disconnect the throttle control. The HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) configuration seeks to simulate aircraft, and even better, spacecraft, as if they were real. Indeed, putting your hands on both the throttle and the stick can make you feel real and greatly enhance your immersiveness.

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

The number and composition of buttons is also important. The more controls you have, the more realistic and less likely you are to touch the keyboard in the game. However, 30 buttons with 3 programmable modes can each mean over 100 different commands. This can be much more than the patience you learn as a casual gamer. If that sounds scary, you might be happy with a simple keyboard with 12 buttons and switches.

Beyond these basics, there are many details that distinguish the joystick. Stick tension is important to the feel of the game, which can only be understood by actually trying it out. Some joysticks make mistakes in terms of being too stiff, which is probably much better than a too lost joystick that feels cheap and unreal.

Some joysticks twist left and right. This is called “z-axis rotation” and you can easily apply rudder and yaw. As a rule, this is necessary, especially for flight and space simulators. And keep in mind that it’s good to leave the joystick in place during the battle. Some joysticks ensure stability with full mass. Others have suction cups to prevent it from slipping.

Summary of more specialized technologies

Dave Johnson has been writing about games and technology since the days of the Palm Pilot.Watch him yell at the Twitter void @davejoh


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