What are the best PC joysticks? One of the joys of PC gaming is the dizzying amount of genres on offer, and the world of flight sims is still rising to new heights. Plane games like Microsoft Flight Simulator keep the torch lit, and if your idea of a relaxing evening is a short-haul flight from Fort Worth to San Francisco then you really owe it to yourself to own a PC joystick.
You’ll still want the best gaming mouse and best gaming keyboard for navigating menus, but the experience and immersion of flying are truly elevated when paired with a good joystick or HOTAS (hands-on throttle-and-stick) setup. Of course, commercial flights are just one use – you could use a joystick for shooting down hostiles from your starfighter in Star Wars Squadrons, so picking up a dedicated joystick rather than using the best PC controller is a great way to improve your accuracy and immersion.
A simple all-in-one HOTAS controller combines both the throttle and the flight stick, while a dedicated flight wheel with multiple instrument panels and a triplet of the best gaming monitors can create the ultimate flight simulator setup. The amount of cash you’re spending on a flight sim setup can vary massively, so to ensure you’ve got all of the options we’ve rounded up the best pick for every price point and use.
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These are the best PC joysticks today:
- Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog – best PC joystick overall
- Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition – best for beginners
- Logitech G Saitek X56 Throttle and Stick – great value
- Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X – best budget option
- Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight stick – best all-in-one
- Logitech G Extreme 3D PRO Joystick – best standalone
1. Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
This Thrustmaster joystick and the best overall.
Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog specs:
|Weight||3.97 lbs / 1.8kg|
- High-quality construction
- Modelled after a real A-10 aircraft
- Superb feeling
- Lacking z-axis rotation
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog is the best premium PC joystick for good reason. The Warthog is modeled after the joystick found in the real U.S. Air Force’s A-10C aircraft. The joystick went through many phases of development, and the end result is a product with a fantastic metal build and laser precision. This is the best flight simulator joystick if you can handle the high price.
The HOTAS Warthog has 55 customizable buttons and hat switches to ensure that you can fly any digital aircraft – be it military, civilian or spacecraft. This quality does come at a premium as the full set has an MSRP of $549.99 (£449.99), but it regularly goes on sale for less.
The HOTAS Warthog has been a flight-simmer favorite for years now. With a weighty and authentic feel, a nitpick from us virtual helicopter and spaceship pilots is the lack of z-axis rotation built into the joystick. Admittedly, pedals would be ideal for this and there are a number of inputs available on the stick. We can’t fault Thrustmaster for staying true to the A-10 though, as this isn’t found in the real thing either. Get the HOTAS Warthog if you want the most authentic and very best PC joystick that money can buy.
2. Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition
Best beginners PC joystick.
Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition specs:
|Weight||3.97 lbs / 1.8kg|
- A good entry point for flight-sims
- Included throttle
- Cheap construction
Thrustmaster isn’t relegated just to the realm of the ultra high-end – it also caters for those who want a great flight sim experience and do not want to spend a month’s rent doing so which is why the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus edition is our best beginners PC joystick.
The included throttle ensures you won’t be missing out on any major functionalities and despite the low cost – you’ll feel like a real pro when you’re soaring through the skies (or space).
Unlike the Warthog HOTAS setup – the TCA features an integrated twist rudder meaning you can freely manoeuvre on the z-axis without having to reach for another control. It’s lockable too if you’d prefer to have it assigned to another button or don’t want to accidentally use your rudders during a long-haul flight.
The paltry amount of hats does make the TCA less suited to combat sims but you can still make do with what’s on offer – given its Airbus credentials though you might not be surprised that it is most at home in the likes of Microsoft Flight Simulator rather than in DCS. It also feels a little plasticky in the hand and doesn’t offer the tactical realism of the Warthog joystick but at this price point that is to be expected.
The Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition isn’t the cheapest on this list but if you’re somewhat serious about getting into flight sims then you’ll be well served if you can stretch your budget to this choice. What’s more – it is regularly discounted so you may nab yourself a sweet deal.
3. Logitech GX56 Throttle and Stick
Great value for the performance.
Logitech G Saitek X56 Throttle and Stick specs:
|Weight||4.5 lbs / 2.kg|
- Huge customizability
- Included throttle
- Great value
- Slightly cheap-feeling construction
The Logitech G Saitek X56 throttle and stick offers the best price-to-performance ratio which is why we have crowned it as our best-value PC joystick. The X56 features 31 programmable buttons and 5 hats meaning that pretty much any craft should be covered.
You won’t need to shell out for pedals either as the joystick can rotate to engage z-axis movement from rudder adjustments. An adjustable spring tensioning system means you can dial in what level of resistance you want to allowing for even more granular control.
The joystick also benefits from Hall effect sensors which enable you to further adjust how it feels if you want an authentic experience when flying a craft with sluggish controls. The sensors also mean that the X56 should remain as accurate as the day you bought it as it won’t be susceptible to stick-drift.
Having the throttle with independent sticks means you’ll have much more control over dual-engined spaceships and planes. All this choice makes the X56 a great setup to grow into as the controls can be as simple or complex as you like.
Hopefully, the joystick and throttle will last long enough though as the construction of the unit feels a little lacking as it is mostly comprised of plastic. This means that it is quite lightweight so you will definitely need to make use of the suction cups or attach it more permanently or the unit will slide about your desk.
4. Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X
Best budget PC Joystick with dedicated throttle.
Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X specs:
|Weight||4.5 lbs / 2.kg|
- Detachable throttle
- Fewer buttons
- Only one throttle
Even further down the Thrustmaster stack, we find the T.Flight HOTAS X but make no mistake – even though this costs a fraction of the Warthog’s offering, there is real quality here.
For a start, the throttle can be connected to the joystick meaning you can have a very tidy setup on your desk or when stowed away. If you require the use of your keyboard or want a more realistic set-up with your arms spaced out, you can take them apart and place them as far apart from one another as you need them to be.
You might be thinking you’re out of luck for rudder controls but unlike its most expensive sibling – the joystick can rotate meaning you can 360 no-scope aliens even out in the cold desolate reaches of space (or fly a plane properly).
Concessions at this price have to be made ad as such, there are far fewer buttons and controls on offer. There’s also only one throttle control but it’s a great entry point for those on a budget at an MSRP of $99.99 (£87.99) especially when it’s on sale.
5. Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flightstick
Best value all-in-one PC joystick.
Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flightstick specs:
|Weight||28.96 oz / 821g|
- Lots of inputs
- Lovely Construction
- Odd throttle layout
- Too lightweight
Turtle Beach isn’t known for its flight sim peripherals first. Still, its first outing into the business has been remarkably successful and the VelocityOne Flightstick ticks many boxes in a very tidy package which is why it is our best all-in-one PC joystick.
The throttle controls are built directly into the base of the unit meaning you don’t have to bother with multiple cables running across your desk. There are additional USB-C ports and these can be used to connect to other controls such as pedals and the like.
There are many customizable controls too and to help make sense of what you’re doing – a monochromatic OLED screen adorns the top of the joystick which shows your axis, trim and a chronograph.
The joystick is beautifully built too and every time we look at it we are shocked that Turtle Beach knocked it out of the park on their first attempt. It even has z-axis controls!
It’s not without its quirks mind you as the throttle controls are bewilderingly not off to one side but flank the joystick. Whilst this may aid in making it more ambidextrous – it means that anytime you need to adjust the throttle at the same time (which is most of the time) you will have to remove your hand from the joystick entirely which isn’t ideal.
The VelocityOne Flightstick is also very lightweight so unless you attach it to a set-up, you may find yourself knocking it about. These issues withstanding, for around $129.99 (£119.99) you are getting an awful lot for your money.
6. Logitech G Extreme 3D PRO Joystick
Best budget standalone PC Joystick.
Logitech G Extreme 3D PRO Joystick specs:
|Weight||2.7 lbs oz / 1.2kg|
- Very cheap
- Great for casual players
- Lack of features and depth
- Not ambidextrous
Sometimes we just want to hop in a Boeing 747, turn down the realism of the flight model, and just enjoy the view. If you fall into this category then the Logitech G Extreme 3D PRO Joystick offers everything you need to have a great casual experience, which is why it earns our pick as the best budget standalone Pc joystick.
With 12 customizable buttons including an 8-way hat switch – you’ll find plenty of options for your controls as long as you’re not planning on diving into DCS and starting up an Apache gunship.
The integrated throttle is all you need for flying about in games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator in its easier settings or Battlefield and the level of control will be far better than a mouse and keyboard or gamepad. Z-axis enjoyers are well catered for here too as you can twist the joystick with reckless abandon for rudder controls for accurate flying.
At an MSRP of $39.99 (£44.98), it’s hard to fault it, but it would be nice to have some extra buttons or for it to be more ambidextrous or have alternative models so that lefties aren’t left out. The joystick is frequently discounted too – making this option more enticing despite its few setbacks.
How to choose a PC joystick
Grabbing the best joystick for PC entirely depends on what games you like to play. Like real planes, the controls are wildly different and the prices can be equally wild. A dedicated throttle helps if you’re serious about the flight sim scene, which is why some of our premium selections include them. Some units, like the Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X, include a throttle at a very reasonable price.
If you play combat sims, opt for something a bit more involved such as the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog which features many buttons, hats (a multi-directional switch), a dedicated throttle and bombproof construction whereas if you’re more of a casual user you may be well served by the budget-friendly Turtle Beach VelocityOne.
Thrustmaster’s T-Flight HOTAS One is ideal if you’re cruising among the stars, while its TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition caters more to simulators. Logitech’s G X56 strikes a great middle-ground, however, and should suit most gamers wanting to take flight.
If you’re a sim veteran but haven’t tried your hand at dogfighting yet, or vice versa, then it might be worth subscribing to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass for PC, where you’ll be able to access multiple flight sims in one package.