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Kraven213

Joystick/HOTAS Discussion: Buyers guide

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So I went looking for a decent thread or article about what the current Joystick options are, and I couldn't find anything I agreed with 100%, so I guess I'll make my own! I'm going to make a lot of assumptions based on what I understand is popular opinion, so feel free to add your thoughts or experiences below! I'm only pricing out amazon.com to try to keep an even baseline. you may be able to find items cheaper elsewhere so look around!

 

This whole post is based entirely on my limited personal knowledge, so if you use a different stick than any of these that you love and it's still available for purchase, post it and I'll add it to the post!

 

spoiler tags to prevent Image-wall.

 

Budget / Starter Joysticks

[spoiler]

Bottom of the pile:

There are plenty of basic joysticks around for $20 or less. Would not recommend for Star Citizen because you're going to need a lot of buttons to control everything and limiting your one hand to the 4-5 buttons (at most) you'll find on these guys won't do you any favors. If you've never used a joystick before and you want to just try it a bit before dropping a hundred bucks on something, sure, maybe try one of these for a while.

 

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick $35 on amazon.com

414X2Z0A7TL.jpg

Logitech used to be a huge name in these kind of products but now they only really offer the entry level stuff. This stick is the most popular of the cheap options. Even has twist function and a throttle... flap.

 

Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X ~$50 on amazon.com (out of stock right now a lot of places)

61bLKZPpBzL._SL1181_.jpg

This is the de-facto, popular, entry level HOTAS. The two halves can be locked together for stability, or decoupled for a more standard setup. The stick doesn't have many buttons but the throttle has enough to make it a decent option. It doesn't stack up all that well against the next group of sticks, but for $50, it's not a bad deal.

[/spoiler]

 

 

Affordable / Mid-level

[spoiler]

SAITEK

Saitek is a very popular mid-level option for most people. They have had some issues in the past with poor quality control, and sometimes their stuff looks cooler than it is good for, but they're generally pretty decent.

 

Saitek X52 $149 on amazon.com / X52 Pro $177 on amazon.com

71CcNsSNqZL._SL1500_.jpg71sfDyBBTaL._SL1500_.jpg

The X52 and the X52 Pro are basically the same joystick, with the Pro having a few minor upgrades (more sensors on the stick and stronger construction), and a less EXTREEEEME style. Positive notes include a twist on the stick, double trigger, pinkie button for alternate functions, customizable LED colours, and adjustable hand rest and throttle tension settings. There is also a knob on the stick that lets you flip between three button configuration sets on the fly. All this combined give you an obscene amount of available key options, more than even Star Citizen will be able to throw at you.

A few downsides on the design are a stupid mouse-nipple on the throttle that isn't very sensitive and (like mine) can get stuck sending bad inputs, and a largely useless display panel on the throttle base.

 

All things considered, the X52 Pro is generally considered the best bang for your buck and is currently the #1 seller on Amazon in the "PC Game Flight Controller" category. I own an X52 Pro, and think it is great (though with a flaw or two).

 

 

Saitek X55 $199 on amazon.com

710iPWoEXxL._SL1500_.jpg

The more recent descendant of the X52, I've heard it had a lot of quality control issues early in it's lifetime but the newer batches seem to be better at not being broken. Main upgrades over the 52 are better throttle base buttons, and a split throttle.

 

Saitek Pedals $143 on amazon.com

81wV5b7euUL._SL1500_.jpg

Adjustable pedal size and tension.

 

 

CH Products

CH is a big name in professional flight sim hardware. Their quality is better than anyone and their stuff should last forever.

That being said, most of it is ugly and looks cheap because of its basic styling and durable construction.

 

CH Flighstick $89 on amazon.com

31YMZ3EJBSL.jpg

The basic thing. A hat, three buttons and a trigger. pew pew.

 

CH Combatstick $103 on amazon.com

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A more robust version of the flightstick.

 

CH Pro Throttle $149 on amazon.com

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Lots of nice hats on this one, it's worth noting that the throttle travels in a flat, linear track, and not an arc like most throttles.

 

CH Pedals $120 on amazon.com

71VzZn8ViWL._SL1500_.jpg

You put your feet on them.

[/spoiler]

 

 

Expensive / Fancy High-end

[spoiler]

Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Joystick $400 on Amazon.com

710p74zGf6L._SL1500_.jpg

There's really no other joystick to talk about up here, this is the most expensive mass produced consumer joystick commonly available. Quality is very good, most of the construction is metal, and it is modeled after the real A10. The software isn't any more amazing than others though, and it does lack the twist function (as do real joysticks in real planes), so you kind of need pedals to get the complete and full control you're obviously after (personally I like the twist option). Unfortunately Thrustmaster doesn't sell pedals though, so you'll have to go Saitek/CH for them. You can also buy the stick without the throttle if you only need the one piece, or can't justify the combined price tag (be aware it will probably cost more if you end up buying the throttle later, they can sell at over $250 for either piece). Bottom line is this is the best there is right now and pretty much everyone I've read about who owns one says it's worth it. It will be very interesting to see of anyone else ever steps up to compete with it's level of cost and production.

[/spoiler]

 

 

Other Common Items

[spoiler]

TrackIR $149 on Amazon.com

trackir5-clip-bundle_1.jpg

This is a fairly popular (among the sim crowd) head-tracking device that translates the movement of your head into the game so you can look around the cockpit naturally (usually amplified so you don't have to turn away from the screen much) without taking your hands off the controls. depending on your settings/game you can use it to control just your view, or you can do things like attach it to your gimballed mounts/turrets and control them independently from the rest of your ship.

 

Pros:

  • Hardcore
  • Extra immersion
  • Finer control

Cons:

  • Expensive for something that essentially only controls one axis
  • You need to wear a thing on your head for it to work (there are hat clips and clips for headphones)
  • not fully supported in SC right now (it will be eventually)

 

Voice Attack $8 on voiceattack.com (free 21 day trial)

screenshot.png

This is software that translates custom voice commands into keypresses, so you can use your mouth to control things. Good for commands you want to have available but can't justify assigning to a joystick button. Also invokes Star trek feelings while you're yelling at your computer and it listens.

[/spoiler]

Edited by Kraven213

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Thank you very much for your report.  I guess I'll have to save up.  I found it rather easy just using a mouse and keybad to tilt, speed up or down, so I don't undersatnd how the pdeals would effect Star Citizen play.  Could you elaborate? 

Thank you again for your work.

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I own the X55. It's a great joystick and the 4 spring options provide different stick tension. Only issue I have with it is that the "twist" axis on the joystick can be a bit sticky. Very minor, though. 

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I have the X55 as well along with Saitek pedals... very happy with the overall setup, no issues to report. Saitek gear is definitely work checking out if you are in the market.

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Thank you very much for your report.  I guess I'll have to save up.  I found it rather easy just using a mouse and keybad to tilt, speed up or down, so I don't undersatnd how the pdeals would effect Star Citizen play.  Could you elaborate? 

Thank you again for your work.

In a traditional flight sim you would have the joystick controlling pitch and roll (nose up/down, rolling side to side) and the pedals control the yaw, or rudder (turning left/right without rolling). Traditionally in space sims the joystick will control pitch and yaw, with pedals then handling the roll. Some joysticks combine all this and let you twist the stick side to side to get that extra input. You can of course swap any of the motions to control any of the flight axis, so it's really just an extra feature you can use how you like.

 

On the flip side it's perfectly ok to stick to a mouse/kb if that works for you. Each setup has its own advantages :)

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x55.  Using yaw on my x twist axis makes is a bit difficult to  get the precision im after, but im still getting used to it.  definitely some minor stickage when i try to fine tune my movements, any way to adjust sensitivity for yaw movements only?

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I was going to get the saitek x55 so I could play this week when I get home but spending 200 dollars when I am just going to spend 400 later on to get the warthog doesn't make sense over all, so I'll just be patient and wait.

 

For rudder control I'm going to order these: 

 

http://mfg.simundza.com/mfgcrosswind.php

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I recently purchased the X55 used from ebay @ $145 w/receipt.  It has one led out on SW5, I feel like the POV hat makes more noise than it should?  Lots of stick friction issues with these sticks, I've not owned it long enough to go after a greasing solution, or really tried to modify it.  I would say the pressure to move the stick away from center is currently greater than at other places. It's not horrible though, totally playable, and fairly precise.  I've heard of this issue being completely alleviated by resurfacing some plastic pieces, or greasing it up real nice.  I think I'll try to RMA mine on the basis of the LED / noisy hat / center sticking.  The unit is about 7 months old, no idea which production run it came from.  If I do end up getting a nice new RMA stick, I'll do a full report on how I find it to be. Or if I modify this stick to perfection, I will do the same.  If anybody has a 3d printer and is a moderate genius at modeling, I'd love to speak to you.

TL;DR Bottom line: I don't regret the purchase.  The throttle is AMAZING. And even if I went after a thrustmaster, I'll now just buy the stick separate and the pedals when I'm ready for upgrade, and I feel I'll have a perfect combination.

I'd love to see some screenshots of your software setups for the X-55.  I haven't had much of a chance to do custom curves, or deadzones yet. 

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I was going to get the saitek x55 so I could play this week when I get home but spending 200 dollars when I am just going to spend 400 later on to get the warthog doesn't make sense over all, so I'll just be patient and wait.

 

For rudder control I'm going to order these: 

 

http://mfg.simundza.com/mfgcrosswind.php

 

 

HAHA another mfg pedal fanatic, I'm so excited, if you plan on getting one better put in the order for it i put mine in back early feb and i wont be able to get them until june so the sooner the better.

 

you dont have to pay for them now just an intent to order they say they will give you a good notice on when your ready to to actually buy them so you can pay for it.

 

Also thrustmaster hotas is amazingbawls if you can fork out the cash for one do so, i could go on about how much i love it but it would get very weird me talking about a big metal stick that i play with while im on my pc whether im piloting or not.

Edited by Pheyte

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HAHA another mfg pedal fanatic, I'm so excited, if you plan on getting one better put in the order for it i put mine in back early feb and i wont be able to get them until june so the sooner the better.

 

you dont have to pay for them now just an intent to order they say they will give you a good notice on when your ready to to actually buy them so you can pay for it.

 

Also thrustmaster hotas is amazingbawls if you can fork out the cash for one do so, i could go on about how much i love it but it would get very weird me talking about a big metal stick that i play with while im on my pc whether im piloting or not.

 

I've already entered in my intent to purchase with them. I just did some research and the mainstream rudder pedals just didn't look like they'd hold up. I'm a rather large mammal, over 6'4" and my legs are just ridiculously heavy. I don't see plastic holding up to them at all, even in a resting position.

 

I broke down and got the x55 so I could have something to use while I'm waiting to get some other financial responsibilities taken care of first. I'll let my girlfriend use the x55 when I upgrade down the road to the thrustmaster warthhog.

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My leg weight never entirely rests on the pedals, much like when I'm driving a car or flying an aircraft in real life. I simply apply pressure from neutral when I wish for the desired result. You can also adjust how sensitive pressure requirements are on the pedals themselves.

 

The Saitek pro pedal rests are plastic, but the surrounding supports are medal. They have a very similar feel to most Cessna pedals (Saitek even has a Cessna line available) that are entirely medal or a plastic/medal combo. However, Saitek combat seem to be the bit more sturdy line of the brand if you are concerned about how long these things will hold up.

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I just need to man up and buy the thrustmaster my only problem would be getting used to them as for i have never used anything other than mouse and keyboard and the regular console controllers...  anyone want to weigh in on how someone thats never used sticks before, is the learning curve rough or would you call it a "pick it up naturally' type of thing? 

I mean i am a very fast learner and willing to dedicate my time to something but there is also alot of things out there that you can either pick it up or you cant, and id hate to be out $500 on something like this :P

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