Instead of using a standard joystick, more and more gamers are now choosing to invest in a HOTAS joystick. HOTAS, which means “Hands On Throttle And Stick”, offer you the best simulation experience – whether for flight simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Elite: Dangerous or games like World of Tanks. With the best HOTAS you simply get an extraordinary feeling of flight and at the same time improve your piloting skills drastically.
To help you make a purchase decision, here are some of the top rated HOTAS joysticks for PC and Playstation. We’ll be showing some inexpensive options as well as some of the more expensive, professional HOTAS joysticks. After a short overview of the respective models, a detailed purchase advice follows so that you can use this to buy the HOTAS joystick that is right for you.
What are the best HOTAS Joysticks?
1. Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick
Just a “simple” joystick, but ingenious for its price. The Extreme 3D Pro comes with no frills and is characterized by ease of use, reliability and durability. In addition, the stick has a stable and weighted base, which reliably prevents the joystick from falling over or slipping while playing.
There are 11 programmable buttons and a trigger available. The 11 buttons, five of which are on the stick and six on the base, are freely programmable. Programming ranges from simple commands to complex macros. The model also has four control axes that allow the control stick to be moved forwards and backwards as well as right and left.
The 8-way panoramic switch allows you to quickly switch between perspectives, weapons, etc. In chaotic game situations, you can keep track of what’s going on in the game. In addition, the Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro impresses with its ergonomic design, which is why you won’t notice any discomfort in your arms even after hours of gaming.
The price-performance ratio clearly speaks for the Extreme 3D. No other model offers you so much for the price. However, the model is mainly aimed at casual gamers or beginners. If you want to enjoy a flight simulator to the fullest, you should get a more expensive model.
The workmanship of the individual components feels very stable overall, and you also get a three-year guarantee with the purchase.
As with its predecessors, the twist axis of the Logitech G Extreme 3D also has a slight angle to the left, which constantly pushes your aircraft slightly in that direction. You have to get used to it for better or for worse with this model.
It more than lives up to the term “plug and play”, because you can connect the stick to your computer immediately and Windows will configure the whole thing within a very short time. Right after that you can start playing. If you are looking for an easy to use joystick that is very durable and inexpensive, this is it.
2. ThrustMaster T.Flight Hotas 4
If you are looking for a cheap HOTAS joystick to try out, then this is your choice. The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS is available in two versions, “one” and “4”. The “One” version is compatible with a PC and the XBOX one and the “4” version is compatible with a PC and the PlayStation 4.
Both versions have a removable throttle. This enables you to create an authentic “pilot feeling” when you position the joystick and throttle next to each other. Since the joystick’s USB connection cable is only around 1.5 meters long, you should possibly get a suitable extension cable so that you can sit far enough away from the screen.
You will find a variety of buttons on the joystick and throttle. In total, there are twelve buttons that you can program. For example, the joystick has two buttons for your trigger finger and two more, as well as a hat switch for your thumb. The joystick also has a dual rudder system, which you can control by turning the joystick or using a progressive rocker arm.
The internal memory of the Thrustmaster T.Flight allows you to use the joystick on different devices without having to reconfigure the settings each time.
Both models are characterized by robust workmanship and ease of use. However, the Thrustmaster T Flight HOTAS could also have a larger number of buttons; compared to the other joysticks, some savings have been made in this area.
3. Thrustmaster T16000M FCS
- The T.16000M FCS is compatible with PC via…
- The T.16000M FCS offers you a precision…
- Fully ambidextrous joystick: 3 removable…
- The joystick includes 16 action buttons…
- The T.A.R.G.E.T software allows you to load…
The T.16000m FCS HOTAS is in the mid-price range, while it offers a variety of functions that are not found in entry-level models. With the exception of a few rubberized parts on the handle, it consists exclusively of hard plastic, which is well made. In addition, the T16000 lies comfortably in the hand, especially since the buttons are all sensibly placed – even after hours of use.
You can also configure the model for right or left-handers in a few simple steps. The necessary tools are included with the joystick.
The Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS is equipped with 16 action buttons, which are provided with a kind of Braille. So you can find the right keys without taking your eyes off the screen.
The throttle is positioned lower than is normally the case with comparable models. This allows you to operate the joystick more comfortably overall. There are also 14 additional buttons and an eight-way hat switch on the throttle. So you have a total of 30 programmable buttons available, which allow you to adjust the settings of the Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Hotas according to your needs.
Movement of the actual control stick is easy and smooth, including the rotary movement. It all feels very good and the joystick also quickly returns to the starting point. Nevertheless, the resistance is well dosed and fits exactly right, but unfortunately it is not adjustable. The same applies to the throttle control, which provides you with every button. If you want, you can use the TARGET software to program up to 256 butons on the joystick.
All in all, you can buy the Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS without hesitation – regardless of whether you are left or right-handed.
4. Logitech G X52
- Magnetic, non-contact X and Y axis sensors provide enhanced…
- Multifunction LCD Display allows you to check all of the…
- 3D Twist with Rudder Lock, essential for simulation control….
- 5-position Grip System: Maintain excellent ergonomic comfort…
- 282 Programmable Commands over 3 modes: Have all of the…
Even after 15 years on the market, the G Saitek X52 still has a lot to offer. The G Saitek X52 is mostly made of brushed aluminum with a few bits of black plastic. Blue LEDs on the joystick and throttle control then wrap the whole thing in a blue shimmer.
The LEDs are not just for decoration, however. When you press a key, it lights up blue. In this way you can train the coordination of hand and eye as well as your peripheral vision.
You will find a variety of buttons on the joystick. For example, two 8-way hat switches, 4 weapons buttons and one trigger each for the index and little finger.
The multifunction LCD display is the first thing that catches your eye when you look at the throttle. Among other things, the display allows you to double-check that commands are correct. You can also display the currently assigned task of a key. For this you have to press the “i-key” and the key for which you want to display the task at the same time. You can find the “i-button” where your thumb is normally located.
You can adjust the joystick to the size of your hand using the five-stage handle adjustment. Both throttle and joystick have a constant resistance, so all controls require the same pressure. If you let the engine idle, you will also get realistic feedback thanks to the built-in locks. In addition, there is a centering mechanism that brings the joystick exactly into the middle when you turn it or take the pressure off. With this technology, both the X and Y axes provide a constant spring force so that every movement is carried out smoothly and precisely.
Here you will definitely get a lot of features and a high quality package, but the whole thing is not cheap.
5. Logitech G Pro Flight X56 Rhino HOTAS
- Military-grade Space and Flight Sim Precision: The X-56…
- New Mini Analog Stick Control Surfaces: Control pitch, roll,…
- RGB Backlighting: Many PC peripherals now feature RGB…
- Ideal for VR: The X-56 places controls perfectly under your…
- Fully Featured HOTAS: Accurate 16-bit aileron and elevator…
The successor to the X55 has improved some of the features that made the previous model a real hit. The throttle can be divided into two independently operating elements. With it you can control twin-engine spaceships, airplanes, etc. much more realistically. The whole thing is rounded off with a total of six control axes.
You can adjust the spring force of the model to your preferences thanks to an adjustable spring tensioning system. The main new feature of the X-56 is two analog mini-sticks, one on the joystick and the other on the throttle. In Elite: Dangerous, for example, you place the mini stick of the throttle on vertical and horizontal thrust and the mini stick of the joystick on forward and backward thrust. This will optimize your landings.
However, the joystick and throttle base are too light. This goes hand in hand with a loss of stability, which can be problematic in combat situations when the joystick and throttle control could possibly move from the spot. Even if there are prefabricated holes in the two bases, a joystick in this price range should not have to be attached to a wooden or metal plate in order to be stable.
In addition, the G X56 HOTAS has a total of 189 operating elements, which you can program according to your wishes and ideas. You have to say: The equipment of the G X56 in terms of buttons and axes beats most other HOTAS models in a direct comparison.
However, with a joystick in this price range, more metal could have been used. Visually and qualitatively, that would definitely be something different.
Some buttons on the joystick can also be a bit difficult to reach. For example, the upper right hats can only be reached by moving the hand slightly, which can lead to unintentional pressing of buttons. The bottom line is that you get a huge number of useful features in a good overall package.
6. Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog
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The design of the Warthog is based on the A-10 fighter aircraft of the US Air Force and, like the original, is made entirely of metal. That’s why you don’t have to worry about stability while playing with this model. With a total weight of approx. 6.5 kg, the joystick and throttle do not move so easily.
The model is also equipped according to its price. Among other things, the joystick has an 8-way angle switch, two conventional 8-way head switches and a total of 19 action buttons, which you can program according to your needs.
The thrust regulator of the Warthog can be divided into two independently usable elements. This enables you to better control spaceships, airplanes, etc. Using a locking mechanism, you can combine the two elements again to form a throttle. There are also 17 programmable action buttons and a “viewing angle switch” on the throttle.
Enthusiasts can even build the model into a cockpit. All you have to do is remove the joystick and throttle from the metal mount – then you can install the parts accordingly.
The only downer is the lack of a Z-turn on the control stick to enable rudder control. However, this can easily be mapped to any number of additional hat switches or even additional analog joysticks.
Yes, the Warthog is a couple of years old, but it’s still the best you can buy in terms of HOTAS. But that also means that the price has fallen in the meantime. But believe us: if you really want the best PC joystick and throttle control combo – this is it.
HOTAS Joysticks: Things to keep in mind
In the run-up to the purchase, you should deal with the following questions in more detail. So that you don’t buy a wrong product for a lot of money for lack of knowledge. Pay attention to these points and you will find the right joystick or HOTAS joystick for you.
Determine intended use
Of course, you first need to know what you want to use your joystick for. It makes a clear difference whether you only play space or flight simulators, or whether that’s just a nice, minor matter for you. If your main focus is on the simulators, you should definitely buy a (more expensive) HOTAS model. If you occasionally use simulators that are not too complex, a standard joystick may also be sufficient.
Based on the following purchase criteria, you can weigh up exactly which model suits your needs.
What types of joysticks are there?
While the focus in this article is on the HOTAS joysticks, we’ll also take a look at the other two types of joysticks.
- Standard Joysticks: As the name suggests, standard joysticks are the most versatile. The big advantage of these is that they are not tied to any particular genre. Due to their versatility, some genre-related features are also missing, which often makes for a low price.
However, their greatest advantage is also their greatest disadvantage. Since standard joysticks don’t specialize in a particular direction, you can’t really use them for genre-specific use. If you are not yet sure whether a HOTAS joystick is the right choice for you, you can also consider buying a completely normal standard joystick.
- Fighting Joysticks: If you are a fan of the fighting genre, you will not be able to get around a fighting stick. These joysticks, often designed in a retro look, are characterized by their quick operability, as you have to react lightning-fast, especially in fighting games. That’s why the buttons and buttons are slightly larger than on other joysticks. Such a device also requires a lot of practice and similar to the HOTAS models, the acquisition can be a cost-intensive undertaking for you.
- HOTAS Joysticks: specially optimized for flight simulators and with many extras. They are characterized by more precise controls and unique features so that your games come across as more realistic. Aside from the included throttle, it doesn’t really differ from a standard joystick.
What are the basic functions of a joystick?
The following functions can be found in almost every HOTAS model and standard joystick. In order to choose the right joystick, you should understand what is behind the individual terms. Because these are a decisive criterion for the selection of your joystick.
The Z-axis allows you three-dimensional control of the aircraft, as you can turn the control stick around its own axis thanks to this axis.
The Force Feedback function ensures a good dose of realism when playing, as external influences (weather, shelling, etc.) affect the usability of the joystick.
With the help of the panorama switch you can view the game from different angles and thus always have an overview. Often referred to as a hat switch or coolie hat.
Ergonomics play an important role
So that even hours of gaming sessions do not become unpleasant for you, you should deal with the ergonomics of the various HOTAS joysticks. Even if all other factors are right for you, problematic ergonomics can permanently dampen the fun of the game. You should be able to reach the various buttons easily and comfortably with your hand. It would be an advantage if there is some kind of resting area for your arm, this avoids uncomfortable bad postures when gaming.
If you are already a little deeper into the matter, the adaptation options are one of the central purchase criteria for you. We present the most important ones below.
With some models, you can individually adjust the resistance that you have to overcome to operate the joystick and throttle. So you can change this according to your preferences in the course of the game.
Number of buttons
HOTAS joysticks often come with a large number of buttons, which allows you to carry out complex flight maneuvers. You can also link input commands with the keys that make the most sense for you. With a high-price model you will often find features such as rotary controls or toggle switches. Thanks to these additional buttons, you have a variety of configuration options.
With the mapping function, thanks to special software, you can easily configure all the buttons on your joystick according to your wishes. If your joystick has internal memory, you can safely disconnect it from your PC without losing the settings.
If the base of your HOTAS is divisible, you can set up the joystick and throttle control separately from each other according to your wishes.
In addition to the basic functions that a HOTAS joystick should have, there are other features that are not essential – but are still welcome.
The right lighting is particularly good looking, but it also has its uses. You can find the right keys even in the dark, so you always have a clear view even in combat situations. Especially if you like to play at night, lighting can be a great additional feature.
Length of the cable
If your cable is long enough, you don’t have to sit directly in front of the PC or the console, you can also hit the sofa. If the joystick doesn’t have a cable that is long enough for this, you can get an inexpensive extension cable.
Different materials are used in the HOTAS joysticks, depending on the price range. The cheaper models are mostly made of plastic. Metal is mainly used in high-priced models and, due to its weight, ensures additional stability when gaming and longevity.
Thanks to an internal memory, you can save all the settings you have made on your joystick directly on the joystick. This is especially useful if you use your HOTAS with a variety of games.
You should also make sure that your future joystick is stable. Be it through a higher weight or in the form of suction cups, which also hold lighter models in place while playing. If this is not the case, your joystick will slip or tip over more easily. With the expensive models, you also have the option of using an adjustable spring resistance to adjust the resistance of the joystick and throttle control so that it does not fall over.
Last update on 2020-10-20 | Source: Amazon Affiliate