The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (2022)

The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (1)

Staff, Courtesy of Logitech

People everywhere are booting up their computers and taking to the skies. With the huge launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2020, alongside other standout titles like Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, and Star War: Squadrons, it’s never been easier to pilot your own passenger plane or battle in your own TIE fighter.

But controlling any type of plane with a traditional mouse and keyboard can feel off. The main reason is that sensitive flight controls like throttle, pitch, yaw, and roll are not controlled through simple, linear inputs like those found in a keyboard and mouse. Thankfully, there exists a wide array of PC joysticks and yokes that offer accurate, responsive, and realistic control for sci-fi and simulator games alike.

Best PC Joysticks and Yokes

    What to Consider

    Like flight simulators themselves, the world of PC joysticks is nuanced and complex. For a first time buyer, it can get overwhelming fast. The most important thing to consider is your individual need. Are you looking to simulate flying a real-life Cessna 172? Or are you more interested in arcade style combat games like in Star Wars: Squadrons and Ace Combat 7? Your answer will help decide which flight controller is best for you.

    For anyone new to flight simulation, the two most popular control systems are the hands on throttle-and-stick, or HOTAS, and the flight yoke. HOTAS systems are centered around a separate flight stick and throttle setup, while yoke systems are focused on a central, realistic steering controller.

    Low Joystick Supply in 2022

    Due to supply chain issues and high demand, flight controllers are in low supply, leading to price gouging on some third party storefronts. We recommend you check the product’s suggested retail price (MSRP) before buying.

    How We Selected

    Many of these recommendations come from hundreds of hours of in-house use. For the products we couldn’t test ourselves, we perform intensive research, reviewing content from expert sources like Wirecutter, The Verge, CNET, Tom’s Guide, DigitalTrends, and others, as well as thousands of consumer reviews from online storefronts like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. As for the products themselves, we evaluated them on design, comfort, build quality, and price.

    1

    Best Entry-Level Hotas

    THRUSTMASTER

    T.16000M HOTAS

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (2)

    • Ambidextrous stick grip
    • Ample programmable buttons for beginners
    • Sturdy base thanks to rubber suction cups
    • Quality control issues around throttle and Z-axis twist
    • Thrustmaster software could be better

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Four-axis flight stick, ambidextrous design

    The Thrustmaster T.16000M HOTAS is a great entry level pick for folks who have caught the flight bug and want more precision, flexibility, and customization than standard computer gear can provide. With tons of programmable buttons and hat switches between the stick and throttle, you’ll feel much more in control of your aircraft than you would using a standard gaming controller or mouse and keyboard.

    The T.16000M also has a few standout features that set it apart from the competition. The stick is ambidextrous, with the buttons all central and symmetrical, and the stick grips swappable to either side of the stick. The throttle also includes a rotary knob, allowing for easy adjustment to trim during flight. The T.16000M also supports Z-axis rotation, a boon at this price point.

    2

    Best Mid-Range Hotas

    Logitech G

    X56 Hotas

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (3)

    • Beautiful, sleek design (with RGB lighting)
    • Highly programmable and adjustable
    • Throttle can be unlocked for individual, separated engine control
    • Needs grips or mounting
    • Some quality control issues

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows
    • Connectivity: 2x USB
    • Key Features: Ample programmable inputs, twin throttle control

    If you're already dedicated to flight controllers and flight simulation, the Logitech X56 is an amazing system offering a sleek design, great precision, a plethora of programmable inputs, and easy to use software.

    What puts it above the competition is its precision and input options. Both the stick and the throttle have a ton of programmable hats, triggers, joysticks, rotaries, switches, and dials, which make this system especially great for space and combat simulators. Control on the X56 feels great, with the stick and throttle offering much more precision and accuracy compared to other systems. Tension on the stick and throttle can be adjusted, with multiple included springs for the stick.

    One strike against the X56 is its weight: the bases are too light compared to the tension of the stick and throttle. Without rubber grips or mounting, the X56 will slide around your desk a lot.

    3

    Best Premium Hotas

    Thrustmaster

    Hotas Warthog

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (4)

    • Incredible build quality
    • Outstanding precision and feel
    • Very expensive
    • Lack of Z-axis twist on the flight stick

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Official replica design, twin throttle controls

    If you are looking for a premium, ultra-realistic, fully immersive HOTAS—especially for combat-based simulation—the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog can’t be beat. Licensed by the U.S. Air Force, the Warthog is a replica system, faithfully recreating the stick and throttle used in the actual A-10C attack aircraft. The end result is a system with incredible quality, precision, and feel throughout.

    Weighing in at over 15 pounds, the build quality on the Warthog is extraordinary, with solid metal bases, metal housing, sturdy materials, and detailed input labeling everywhere. In terms of feel (and cost), it makes more budget systems feel like toys.

    Like other premium HOTAS systems, the Warthog has all the buttons, switches, hats, rotaries, rudders, and joysticks you could ask for.

    4

    Best Budget HOTAS

    THRUSTMASTER

    HOTAS One

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (5)

    • Great starting point for first timers
    • Adjustable stick tension via knob on the bottom
    • Build quality is cheap
    • No resistance on the throttle

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Detachable base, dual rudder system

    If you are trying a HOTAS controller for the very first time, the Thrustmaster HOTAS One is the best way to test the skies. Like most HOTAS, it plugs in via USB, and comes with a flight stick and throttle controller that can be used locked together or separated at your desk. Even this entry level, budget system will give you a feel for the kind of immersion and precision a dedicated flight system can offer.

    The whole package is plastic and basic, but comes with all the necessary buttons, triggers, hat switches, and rockers you need to get started. The stick does include Z-axis rotation, and the throttle has a left-right rudder control, both of which are great additions for controlling your aircraft's yaw.

    5

    Best Entry-Level Yoke

    Logitech

    Pro Flight Yoke System

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (6)

    • Added realism
    • Smooth yoke and throttle controls
    • Included desk clamps for mounting
    • Some quality-control issues

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Stainless steel yoke shaft, three lever throttle

    If you’ve been spending time using simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, you may have noticed that a wide variety of planes don’t actually use a HOTAS system. Instead you’ll find something that looks a lot more like a steering wheel, called a yoke. If you’re specifically seeking accurate simulation for popular, real-life aircrafts like Cessna civilian planes or Boeing jetliners, a yoke controller is the way to go.

    A great starting yoke is the Logitech Pro Flight Yoke System. The steel yoke shaft ensures that controlling pitch and roll feels great, with smooth action and resistance. Together with the included three-lever throttle controls, flying through the sky feels a lot more real.

    6

    Best Premium Yoke

    Honeycomb Aeronautical

    Alpha Flight Controls

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (7)

    • Excellent build quality
    • Smooth yoke action
    • Built-in switch panel
    • Throttle quadrant sold separately

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows, macOS
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Steel yoke shaft with 180 degree rotation, on-panel switches

    In the world of at-home flight simulation, no other brand enjoys the respect and popularity that Honeycomb Aeronautical does. Known for their sleek and realistic products, any piece of Honeycomb equipment will help elevate an at-home flight simulation setup. But their best piece of flying gear is the Alpha Flight Controls yoke and switch panel.

    At a glance, it may seem simpler than other options on this list, but this yoke has more to it than meets the eye. The yoke control itself is stellar, with realistic resistance and feedback. The console, which features red LED backlighting, has nine switches and an engine ignition, all of which are solid and tactile.

    The only real downside here is that there is no included throttle quadrant.

    7

    Best Multi-Compatible Yoke

    Turtle Beach

    VelocityOne

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (8)

    • All-in-one design with expansive throttle controls
    • Built-in display
    • Precise and responsive
    • Expensive

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Built-in display, modular throttle quadrant

    While flight controller supplies have been continuously low, there is good news in the form of some of the newer controllers to hit the market, like Turtle Beach’s VelocityOne. Designed for Xbox Series systems, but perfectly compatible with Windows PCs as well, the VelocityOne is a great yoke system out of the box, with tons (and I mean tons) of programmable controls.

    The VelocityOne’s main yoke system is busy, with ample buttons, switches, hats, LEDs, and even a built-in display. But perhaps even more impressive are the included throttle controls, boasting metal levers and vernier controls, a rarity among yoke systems.

    While there is a bit of a learning curve, the VelocityOne is one of the best yoke systems for Xbox and Windows gamers.

    8

    For Boeing Enthusiasts

    Thrustmaster Flight SIM

    TCA Yoke Boeing Edition

    The 8 Best PC Joysticks and Yokes for Taking Flight (9)

    • Excellent, Boeing-branded build quality
    • Pivot-based yoke control
    • Xbox- and Windows-compatible
    • Expensive

    Key Specs

    • Compatibility: Windows, Xbox Series X|S
    • Connectivity: USB
    • Key Features: Officially licensed by Boeing, pivot-axis yoke controller

    Also a recent release, the Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Boeing Edition has one major focus: replicating the look and feel of a real Boeing jet. Unlike the other yokes on our list, which utilize pulling and plunging motions, the Boeing Edition yoke pivots forward and backwards on a hinge. This motion is based on the floor-mounted yoke of the real Boeing 787 Dreamliner, making this yoke system a top-pick for any jumbo jet simulation.

    Both the yoke and throttle quadrant are very well made, with metal internals, solid feel, and excellent precision. While it may be ill-suited for space and combat simulators, the Boeing Edition is an excellent choice for controlling big jets in games like Microsoft Flight Simulator.

    Harry RabinowitzHarry Rabinowitz is a writer, editor, and columnist covering the latest and greatest products in the gaming industry.

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