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If you’re a flight simulator enthusiast and/or love flying games, you absolutely have to invest in a HOTAS joystick. HOTAS stands for Hands-on Throttle and Stick, and as the name suggests it combines the throttle mechanism with a joystick to offer the ultimate flight control experience.
Best HOTAS Joysticks for PC Flight Simulators Reviewed
There are several manufacturers of great HOTAS joysticks out there. Buying one isn’t as simple as you think though, as many of the cheap models can break down after just a month’s worth of use. We’ve made life easier for you by reviewing the 5 best HOTAS joysticks available right now.
Before we get into the reviews, here are a few things to consider when buying a HOTAS flight stick:
Best HOTAS Joysticks – Buyer’s Guide
The build quality of any flight stick is the most important factor to consider when you’re purchasing. HOTAS flight sticks have a lot of moving parts, which means parts that will wear and tear over time with excessive use. For this reason, the build quality and material choice of any flight stick are extremely important in determining how well it functions and its longevity.
The material usage also dictates how the flight simulation stick feels in your hands. A heavier, more robust stick with a high-quality spring system will feel sturdy and stable, with just enough resistance on the joystick to offer smooth control.
A lighter joystick made of plastic will not only become unbalanced and fly around with every serious maneuver, but it will also be much more prone to breaking because of the cheaper plastic materials used in it.
For this reason, you should ideally opt for a heavy flight stick to ensure it is stable and doesn’t move when you tilt the joystick. Additionally, any thrust lever (separate or integrated) needs to have some resistance, yet also have a smooth enough operation to allow for precision control.
The input options on HOTAS joysticks vary greatly. Some give a lot of buttons and input options, while other models keep it simple and minimalistic.
When determining how many buttons you need on a HOTAS flight stick, you need to first assess what kind of videogames you’ll be using it for. If you plan to use your flight stick with a flight simulator like Prepar3d, you’ll want to have as many input options on the HOTAs flight stick system as possible, covering all essential controls like brakes, flaps, trim, autopilot, and more.
Of course, you don’t want a flight stick that is overloaded with buttons that results in accidental presses though. For this reason, you should opt for as many inputs as possible without them ever hindering your experience.
Precision and Control
The precision and control of your joystick will largely depend on the build quality and hardware design as well as the software. Costlier HOTAS flight sticks will have higher quality hardware and excellent software that gives them the accuracy and precision that you’ll require.
Ideally, you want a HOTAS joystick that can provide variable resistance so you can adjust it according to your own preferred sensitivity. You should also pay attention to the software aspect of any HOTAS flight stick.
The hat-switch is an underrated and overlooked part of a HOTAS flight stick. It is one of the most important parts. Unless you have a head-tracking system that you use during flight simulations, you’ll have to rely on some form of manual input to look around. That is where the hat-switch comes into play.
It is usually located on the top of the joystick and is designed to be manipulated with your thumb. It essentially behaves like a D-pad and used for looking around in the simulator. You should ideally get a HOTAS flight stick with as many directions on its hat-switch as possible for the best control.
Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
Brilliant Design and Performance
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog can be considered the dream choice for any flight simulator enthusiast. It utilizes premium materials for its systems, offers a dedicated, separate throttle, and a plethora of switches and buttons for ultimate control and immersion.
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog looks premium, feels premium, and functions as a premium flight stick. It is by far the best overall HOTAS joystick you can buy right now.
Thrustmaster’s Warthog is the dream choice for flight simulation enthusiasts for its combination of build quality, performance, and a plethora of input features. It has a full metal construction that makes it heavy and stable, and it is cable of withstanding abuse like a real flight control system.
Thrustmaster Warthog features realistic controls with its high-quality joystick and dedicated dual throttle system. The Warthog’s design is based on the United States Air Force A-10C aircraft, so the realism and immersion are enhanced knowing you practically have a replica of a real aircraft on your desk.
With this flight stick, you get a total of 19 programmable buttons and 7 different axes, making this the most feature-rich HOTAS joystick you can buy right now. The handle-base of this model is also completely detachable for additional configuration options.
Thrustmaster has also integrated its own proprietary H.E.A.R.T HallEffect AccuRate Technology that utilizes a magnetic system for incredible precision that is simply unmatched by other HOTAS joysticks. The buttons and triggers are pressure-sensitive to add realism and enhanced precision to the user.
Another great aspect of this flight stick is its software. The Warthog uses the T.A.R.G.E.T. software through which users can set up different configurations based on their preferences. You can work at your own required level and make this HOTA joystick as intuitive or advanced as you like through the software.
Given the reviews and what we have to say about the Thrustmaster Warthog flight stick, it seems this product is simply flawless. And that’s true for the most part.
It’s only when you look at that price that you’ll probably feel a little ache in your heart. This flight stick can cost upwards of $400, making it ridiculously impactful on your wallet. However, it is designed to be the enthusiast’s flight gear, and we have to say that it does live up to its price.
Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB
Feel the Flight
Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB is basically modeled after real-life military-grade flight and space simulators in mind. It is an absolutely beautiful HOTAS that has buttons that are designed differently so even if you are in flight you just need to feel the buttons to know which one is which.
The G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB has a plethora of buttons and a special adjustable spring tensioning system to provide you the best experience. It also has a dual throttle system, so you can actually see the precision they have designed this HOTAS with.
The first thing is first, there are so many buttons on the Logitech G X56 RGB HOTAS controller, with each button and switch different from another to help you identify the difference between them so when you are using a VR it will not be very difficult for you to see where all the different switches at.
There are so many buttons on this thing and all of them are programmable to your needs. So we have 31 programmable buttons along with 13 axes and 5 HATS. You can program them the way you see them fit with an included software with the Logitech G X56 RGB HOTAS.
There is a lock mechanism on the throttle if you want to throttle dual engines or single. They are individually moveable if you are flying a dual engine on the simulator in case you want to control the throttle on each engine separately. For single-engine ones, you can just lock the throttle together for ease of control.
One great thing about this HOTAS is the RGB, we all know how much gamers love their RGB, we can adjust them as we like with the included software. This HOTAS is so pleasing to just look at, the throttle system feels so good when you are moving it.
The stick has contact-free Hall Effect sensors, adjustable spring tensioning, to give you the best experience. Aesthetic wise the Logitech G X56 RGB HOTAS is amazing, the feel of every switch and the stick itself, paired with a VR, felt so good!
The Gladiator joystick comes at below $100 but offers premium build quality and a fantastic design that meets the needs of most fighter sim enthusiasts.
The Gladiator joystick is a replica of a real aircraft’s control system, the popular World War 2 KG12 grip,, so you know right from there that’ll it’ll be an enticing option for any enthusiast who loves old-school aerial combat videogames and fighter jet simulation programs.
Even though it may not look it, the Gladiator joystick is surprisingly heavy. Yet this heaviness, combined with the silicone grip on the base of the joystick, ensures that it doesn’t move around even when you’re making the craziest maneuvers. The heavy weight of the flight stick also gives it an extremely sturdy feel.
But the focus isn’t on the durability and quality of components alone. With the Gladiator HOTA joystick, you get three axes: pitch, roll, and twist. The throttle is located to the side of the stick, and while it isn’t as immersive as a separate throttle pedal that comes with other HOTA joysticks, it performs well and feels solid. It’s far better than many of the throttles you’ll find in the sub $100 range of HOTAS flight sticks.
For input, there are a number of different buttons layered around the main joystick – all of which are programmable. What makes the Gladiator stand out from the rest of the crowd is the intricate layout of the buttons. Not of them feel oddly placed, and all of them are easily accessible and arranged in a way that makes sense
The performance of the joystick is smooth and efficient with a great self-centering mechanism. You can also change out the springs and cams for more customizability. Overall, there’s very little negative to say about the Gladiator joystick here, and it’s a great contender for being the best flight stick you can buy for around $100.
Best Mainstream Flight Stick
Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X
A Great Value HOTAS Stick
The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X is the company’s more affordable flight stick. This flight stick combines a large throttle with a contemporary joystick in an ergonomically designed unified body. It features a total of 12 programmable buttons and 5 axes for ultimate control and precision.
You don’t have to pay a premium price for a great HOTAS joystick. Thrustmaster’s T.Flight flight stick comes at an affordable price with the company’s signature performance and functionality.
There’s nothing truly fancy about the T-Flight HOTAS joystick. With this Thrustmaster product, you get all the basics you need. There’s a reason this flight stick is the number one seller on Amazon for PC game flight controls.
This flight stick comes in a combined throttle and stick combination out of the box, but the throttle is removable for a more flexible desktop arrangement and better access. Unlike the more expensive, premium Warthog, the T-Flight HOTAS X also comes with the Z-axis rudder spin control for additional precision while flying in realistic flight sims.
The T-Flight HOTAS X has five axes and a total of 12 buttons, all of which are programmable. Built into the joystick is a mapping button that you can use to switch between different functions easily. Furthermore, the resistance of the joystick is completely adjustable for ultimate comfort and precision.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect fancy LED lighting or pressure sensitivity with the price you’re paying for this Thrustmaster HOTAS joystick. You also don’t get the slickness and smooth operation of the throttle and stick as you would on a more expensive model. However, this is one incredible product for its price and represents everything great about what Thrustmaster does. It’s one of the most highly acclaimed mainstream flight sticks, and we can’t help recommend it if you’re unwilling to spend beyond $100 on a HOTAs joystick.
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro
Don’t Compromise on Experience
If you are a true gamer, you do not compromise even when you are on a budget, we have a solution for you if you are looking for the best budget HOTAS, the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, and the best part, it is super cheap compared to others.
Price point below $50, you get this amazing quality Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, so you can have a real flight experience. With adjustable buttons and the quality that is Logitech, you can expect some really great flight simulator feeling from this HOTAS.
We all know and understand why Logitech maintains a standard in the PC gaming community. They have the latest tech available to gaming hardware today in their products. They cater to almost all audiences, whether you have money to spend or are on a tight budget. The Logitech Extreme 3D Pro is one such budget product by Logitech that you can use to enjoy flight simulator games without compromising on the experience you get from a HOTAS controller.
So it is plastic but has a sturdy solid feel, the stick feels great, it is modeled so that your hand grips it comfortably. It has a weighted base so it does not fall over if you are engaged in a tense flight battle in the simulator.
There are 12 buttons that are programmable that you can program to your needs. You also get a rapid-fire trigger positioned on the index finger, while there is an 8 way HAT switch right under your thumb. That is all the buttons it has, but for the amount, this is not a bad amount of switches and buttons.
With the reliability and quality of Logitech, the Extreme 3D Pro is an excellent flight controller that you can buy just under the $50 price point.