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Many games have more than enough a keyboard with a mouse, and therefore some gamers do not even think about buying a PC joystick. However, a PC joystick is quite a handy gadget, without which it is simply difficult to enjoy some games. First of all, a joystick is ideally suited for such genres of games as flight simulators, races, and fighting. If you are wondering what you need to take into account before buying a joystick, you’ve come to the right place! This guide will help you to choose the best PC joysticks.
When buying a PC game joystick, you need to know what a joystick is and get familiar with some types of joystick.
1. What is a PC joystick?
At some point in computing life, you need to control a machine or character in a computer program. This is exactly what a joystick does. The joystick is an input device that enables a computer user to control a machine or character in a computer program, like a plane in a flight simulator.
Yes, the joystick is a device that translates your hand movement into electrical signals, and the movements are converted by computational units into entirely mathematical. In other words, a joystick translates entirely to physical movement. Although the joystick looks similar to a control device that can be found on an arcade, it comes with extra features (buttons) for additional functionality.
The first joystick to be invented which was a two-axis electronic joystick was designed for piloting aircraft remotely.
As of today there are numerous joysticks in the market that can be compatible with your PC, and most PC joysticks connect to the PC via a USB port. A joystick is a natural option for precision control applications like camera control, thanks to the intuitive nature of Joystick. Joysticks manufacturers have added additional functionality thus creating a range of specialized products.
The joystick features some buttons and a stick. Its stick comes pivoted to the base. As the stick (handle) moves its angle and direction vary with respect to the base.
The direction and angle are sensed, and appropriate control actions are taken using it. Most joysticks are two-dimensional although some joysticks are one-dimensional and three-dimensional.
2. Types of PC joysticks
- Digital Joysticks
Digital joysticks are the most common joysticks used for PCs, employing simple left, right, up, down, and firing commands. They are also called "Atari-style" digital joysticks, since they were first implemented with the Atari 2600 video game system.
- Paddle Joysticks
Paddle joysticks consist of one knob used to control the game and one firing button. This is one of the oldest joysticks, as it was first introduced with the very first home video game consoles.
- Analog Joysticks
Analog joysticks combine both concepts presented in the digital and paddle joysticks; they control the game like a digital joystick, but also use potentiometers to measure the movements like the paddle joysticks.
- PC Analog Joysticks
IBM first presented this joystick with their personal computer. It's a simple analog-style joystick with multiple buttons that usually connects via a USB port.
Joypads are joysticks without the sticks. Instead, they employ a directional pad (D-pad) to control the game. Joypads are considered a bit primitive, but they are still featured among the current video game controllers.
Best PC joysticks in 2020
- CH Products Fighterstick - Best Overall PC Joystick
The Flightstick (200-571) by CH Products are wonderful. Although it’s maybe a little classic. Sometimes classic products are the best, and if it ain't broke, you really shouldn't fix it. That basically sums up the Flightstick. This is a classic joystick that is clearly showing its age when compared to other, more modern choices. But there's a good reason CH has yet to update the Flightstick — it's an incredible product. Should you have some cash to spare on a joystick, you absolutely must think about 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 hundreds 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 and not luxurious on the outside, but this joystick has it all where it counts most. The software is excellent, too, allowing you to configure everything to your liking, and it'll respond without issue in-game.
However, there are a few odd features, including the lack of twist support and the fact that potentiometers (commonly referred to as "pots") need to be recalibrated after some time. That said, Flightstick packs premium internal components, and the difference compared to cheaper joysticks is immediately noticeable.
- Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick - Best Premium PC Joystick
Thrustmaster is the brand behind many quality sticks, and the HOTAS Warthog is its premium presenting. 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.
If you want to play a flight simulator game on PC, there's no better way to recreate a cockpit without much effort than this. It looks as though Thrustmaster plucked the hardware straight out a jet.
The HOTAS Warthog has 19 action buttons and a hat, allowing you to map plenty of functions that don't require a keyboard. This makes it much more convenient to manage flight controls and other important tasks with little effort. Everything requires the same amount of pressure as it would inside the plane it's modeled after.
- Logitech Pro Flight X-56 - Best Mid-range HOTAS PC Joystick
The Pro Flight X-56 used to be made by Saitek until Logitech bought out the vendor, and it's now part of Logitech's gaming family. It's a modest 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.
- Thrustmaster VG T16000M - Best Value HOTAS PC Joystick
If you are looking to save big on a high-quality stick, look no further than the Thrustmaster VG T16000M. Don't let the low price fool you into thinking this is a cheap stick because it's definitely not. Thrustmaster packed in high-quality internals with the same HEART tech found in the more expensive HOTAS Warthog.
If you can ignore the poor aesthetic, you're getting a Windows 10 stick loaded with buttons, hats, and sliders, plus twist rudder control and adjustable resistance. It's perfect for playing Elite: Dangerous, Star Citizen, and other space simulators. There's also no button on the handle, which may prove to be a limitation to quick action mapping.
- Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X - Best Budget HOTAS PC Joystick
This T-Flight HOTAS X is a must-buy for anyone looking to get started with space or flight simulators who isn't completely 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.
Even though it feels a little cheap to use and the stick has some dead zone, it's still sturdy and plays well with supported games. HOTAS setups can run into hundreds of dollars. But the T-Flight HOTAS X offers an affordable entry point for gamers looking to replace the mouse and keyboard or gamepad with something a little more immersive.
1. How does a joystick work?
Basically, the joystick detects the direction you are holding the stick in by the use of an electronic switch. There is a printed circuit board inside the joystick base. The terminals can't complete the electric circuit when the joystick is in a neutral state (the stick is not pressing the contacts into the 'on' position).
2. Are longer joysticks better?
No, it does make sense to go higher. The point of higher sensitivity is to make turning around more quickly at the cost of fine movement. With longer sticks, you make up that loss in fine movement. Longer sticks pair well with higher sensitivity.
3. What is the advantage of the joystick?
They give a better gaming experience for racing or flying styles of computer games. Trust us, playing flying styles or racing games with joysticks is a whole different gaming experience.
4. Do joysticks have downsides?
Well, nothing is perfect. So are joysticks. Joysticks are not particularly robust and can break easily if too much force is used on them. Moreover, Some people find joysticks more difficult to control than a traditional mouse.
5. Do most gamers still use a PC joystick or controller?
Yes, they do. Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller is by far the most popular controller for gamers on PC gaming's single largest platform, Steam. According to a report from Steam, 27.2 million players have registered an Xbox 360 controller since 2015, making it more popular than PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers combined.
Looking for a PC gaming stick, you'll want to consider the excellent CH Products Fighterstick. It's made of hard and 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.
And if you want to save a little money, but still want to enjoy the best gaming experience with a PC joystick, then the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X is perfect to go for. It is truly a budget joystick that doesn't feel or play like a true budget joystick.
Well, that’s all for this guide. We hope that this guide could give you enough information on how to select the best PC joysticks and have amazing gaming experience.