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Tech Accessories

Best PC Joystick

Joysticks are game controllers designed with a single stick that (depending on the game of course) typically controls character aim or movement, with one or more buttons for additional input if required. These types of controllers were once extremely common because they can provide a great deal of control and flexibility. While other types of controllers have become popular, these are still great for some games.

When considering a joystick for your PC games, you want to know how accurate its movements are as well as an options with a good number of buttons for interacting with a wide range of games without the need for additional peripherals. If you want incredibly realistic flight simulation controls you’ll want to consider a PC flight control option, although some of these joysticks featured here may work well for simpler flying games.

We’ve chosen the following PC joysticks because of their accurate, sensitive control sticks for responsive gameplay. They’ve also been designed to have a minimum of 12 programmable buttons and a trigger, which are essential ideal for use in combat-oriented flight and “mecha” games. Stability is also important during play so all of these picks have large, solid bases which keep them in place while you’re are playing. Lastly, these joysticks are all plug-and-play devices which don’t require any software installation to use, although optional software provided with many of them will certainly give you more options for customized set ups.

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Pretty much everything about this sleek joystick is well designed, and it's clear that this picks was created for easy gaming and general PC use. The stick itself is well-built, though obviously designed for a right-handed user. It has twist sensitivity along with directional control and a comfortable mold that lets you play longer and guide your gameplay with great accuracy.

This pick features 12 buttons which should be more than enough for most games, giving you options to program each one with simple commands or complex macros. This makes it easy for you to play with just the joystick and eliminates the need for a mouse or keyboard which may just clutter up your desk. There's even an eight way hat switch that’s ideal for POV cockpit views and a small throttle controller which is perfect for flight simulators. The trigger button is very sensitive so you can easily strafe your opponents or take your time to line up each shot for picture-perfect kills.

Thrustmaster T-16000M PC Flight Stick

Although this model is a bit simple, it also has everything you’re likely to need in a PC joystick. The stick itself is well-made with an ergonomic design that keeps your hand comfortable, plus it responds well so you have precise control over your game. While the trigger isn’t particularly special, your do have four buttons within immediate reach you can program as you see fit. There are 12 additional buttons on the base, along with a switch that lets you configure them in a left-handed or right-handed position. The hat button is rather simple, but it works well and gives you POV control within your favorite game.

This joystick also includes a simple throttle control you can use with your thumb, but like the trigger it isn’t as sensitive or precise as a full-handled throttle control. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t perform satisfactory. The base of this joystick is heavy with rubberized grips on the bottom to stay in place during use. Overall this is a great, straightforward joystick which is a great option for the casual user.

Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control System

There is a lot to like about this joystick, but it is offers far more features than many PC gamers are probably looking for in a control device. The handle is adjustable to five positions which can accommodate a particular grip style along with a joystick which not only has multi-directional input but includes twist features and a rudder lock if you prefer more traditional controls without twisting. There are a multitude of buttons and switches on this joystick, and even more on the included thrust module.

This advanced module even integrates an LCD display that you can use to adjust almost 300 different programmable commands and options on a whim. All of this joysticks functionality comes together to provide the serious gamer or simulation enthusiast an unprecedented level of control and functionality. However, this level of control comes at a fairly high price and the multitude of options can be overwhelming, so while perfect for dedicated use it’s certainly less so for the casual player.

CH Products Fighterstick Joystick

While there’s a lot to like about this PC joystick, a few additional features would make it much better. It's well-built and sturdy, with a solid base for long play sessions but there are certainly other models which might not move and shift as much with rigorous use. This joystick is designed with a lot of buttons including an eight way POV hat switch and three 4-way hats for great overall control. It doesn't have quite as many buttons in total as some other joysticks on the market, and they primarily take the form of hat switches on the stick itself.

This is a great joystick that's easy to use, but it would be better if it was a bit larger at the base and had more buttons and controls for effective two-handed use. While there is a throttle wheel on the side, it’s not quite as effective as a separate throttle input which can provide much more sensitive control. If you are comfortable with using a lot of hat switches for input (rather than standard buttons) then this is a great choice, but it just lacks some of the options other models on the market.

ThrustMaster T.Flight Stick X Joystick

If you just want a pretty simple, easy-to-use option, then take a good look at this joystick. While it may not have as much customization or other features as some models on the market, it's still a great pick. The joystick itself is easy to use with 12 programmable buttons, and the ability to easily switch between two different programmed setups. The handle is comfortable and can rotate and move easily, though it's not as precise as some other models like the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro.

 If you plan on using your joystick for some flight simulators and other games, then this is a good option since it includes a thrust lever that’s easy to use and comfortably built into the large and stable base. This joystick can even work with a Playstation 3, though it's definitely designed to double as a PC controller. While it may not deliver much in the way of bells and whistles, it's a solid option that you should definitely consider.

Greg Wiesen
With an AA in Computer Animation, I have spent years building computers and playing video games. I learned early on that the best way to figure out a new software program was to just start pushing buttons and see what happens (saving often, of course), and that is still my philosophy. From hard drives and motherboards to graphics cards and "holographic" keyboards, I enjoy checking out and playing with all the tech I can get my hands on. I have written hundreds of informative computer and technology articles in the past, and I believe that anyone can understand and use a computer. I'll worry about research and trying out different hardware, you just enjoy the results.
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