The 7 Best PC Joysticks to Buy in 2018

More realistic control for your gaming simulations

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Keyboards can only go so far when it comes to manipulating and navigating gaming environments, especially if you’re flying without a PC joystick. In fact, flying games that have you operating virtual commercial air flights or engaging in intense dogfights beckon to be played with the real-life controls that actual planes operate with. Thankfully, PC joysticks allow you to experience these simulations the way they were meant to be. The immersion level becomes even more realistic when you pull back on these joysticks, pull triggers, flip switches, and feel the throttle as when you carefully land a plane on a runway or zoom past enemy fighters in the skies. Some of these joysticks can even be used with your video game consoles, too, as well as for arcade and fighter type games. 

Below we rounded up the best PC joysticks to buy today, so if you're ready for an introductory model or prefer a high-end option that's a crafted replica of real aircraft controls, there's something perfect for your needs. 

Best Overall: Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick

Affordably priced, quick to install and easily programmable, the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick is the best PC joystick overall. The joystick works in tune with the latest flight simulation games whether you’re piloting civic aircraft or engaging in intense military dogfights.

The Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick has an ergonomically designed throttle control with a wide hand rest for optimal comfort. And it can be detached from the main joystick’s stabilized base. Its dual system aerodynamic controls allow players to rotate the handle or tilt its level. The joystick’s 12 buttons and five axles are completely programmable for any specific custom settings and can be instantly altered and switched via a mapping and preset button. It comes with a two-year warranty.

Best Budget: Thrustmaster USB Joystick

For just under $20, you can get your hands on an entry-level Thrustmaster USB Joystick, the best on the list for both newcomer rookie pilots and thrifty shoppers. The joystick comes with everything you need to familiarize yourself with its controls and is backed by a two-year warranty, so you can take it to the extreme.

The Thrustmaster USB joystick comes sculpted with a natural grip, offering a point of view (POV) button for easy camera control with its thumb-triggered eight-way toggle switch “hat." The joystick’s three axes control comes built with four buttons and a visceral trigger that feels good to pull right at your fingertips. The bottom weighted base rests on non-slip rubber pads to stabilize your flight control with accurate precision without wobbling.

Best for Arcade + Fighting Games: Mayflash F500 Arcade Fight Stick

Whether you’re duking jabs on the streets or fighting foes in the dojo, the Mayflash F500 Arcade Fight Stick is the best PC joystick around to accommodate your favorite arcade style and competitive fighting games. Aside from its PC compatibility, the Mayflash F500 Arcade Fight Stick can also be used with your console systems such as the PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

The Mayflash F500 weighs six pounds and measures 14.2 x 2.4 x 9.2 inches, giving it enough wiggle room for players to navigate their palms and fingers on its large face. The joystick has multiple outputs for headsets, PC connections and has an alternating d-pad and x/y analog axes that can be exchanged. The bottom of the fighting stick has rubber feet that plant firmly on level surfaces, while the body’s cover and base are made of metal for a solid and secure feeling.

Most Immersive: Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack

Start your engines, rev the accelerator and push the throttle to 11 with the Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack, the best immersive full set for PC joystick controls that comes with everything you need to command your machines. The set includes a T160000M joystick, a TWCS throttle, as well as a rubber pedaling system called the Thrustmaster TFRP.

The Thrustmaster T16000M FCS joystick includes four independent axes with a twist rudder, progress throttle, 16 programmable action buttons, an eight-way POV, “Braille"-style physical button identification and an ergonomic trigger. The system also comes with a two pedaled Thurstmaster TFRP that is constructed of industrial grade anodized aluminum and works in conjunction with the other units. Players who want a fully immersive control station that’s customizable with specific mapping profiles for each game should consider the Flight Pack for the ultimate gaming experience.

Best Splurge: Thrustmaster 2960720 Hotas Warthog

When you want to go all out and strap on your pilot’s glasses, the 13.23-pound Thrustmaster 2960720 Hotas Warthog has you covered with one of the most high-end and realistically designed PC joysticks on the list. The unique replica set is modeled after the U.S. Air Force A-10C’s joystick and features a dual throttle system and control panel.

The 16-bit resolution Thrustmaster 2960720 Hotas Warthog is built so you can feel a surgical precision with every adjustment utilizing its HallEffect AccuRate Technology magnetic sensor system. The joystick feels identical to the real thing, with buttons and triggers that require the same pressure of an actual airplane. The carefully designed dual throttle system features 17 buttons, a POV hat, as well as a “mouse hat/slew control” that gives players the chance to operate two independent motors with a 14-bit resolution magnetic sensor for added realism. Gamers can adjust the control panel’s resistance, which includes industrial metal switches and five programmable LEDs for dark or low-light conditions.

Most Simplistic: Logitech WingMan Attack 3

The sleekly designed Logitech WingMan Attack 3 is the most attractive PC joystick, not to mention it's smooth to the touch and easy to handle. It’s compatible not only for PC systems, but Macs, too, and includes a one-year manufacturer warranty.

The Logitech WingMan Attack 3 weighs 2.05 pounds and measures 9.5 x 7 x 7 inches, making it a little more compact than the other PC joysticks. It includes 11 different programmable buttons, including six buttons at the base that are ideal for menu navigation and four on the head for in-game flight effects. Though it’s a bit older and lacks multiple axes, the PC joystick is fairly responsive with a comfortable grip and control scheme.

Best for Replicating Airplane Controls: Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight Yoke System

The Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight Yoke System replicates the controls of an actual airplane cockpit. The full POV hat is 9.55 pounds and measures 18.8 x 15.8 x 8.7 inches. The Logitech G Saitek PRO has a stainless steel yoke shaft that features a two-position clamp with 25 buttons and includes a separate three axes lever throttle. The device delivers five total axes that simulate what it feels like to fly an aircraft, giving users one of the most immersive experiences for flight controls ever. The adaptable mounting clamps provide enough leeway for you to secure the controls to the front of your desk and connects via a four-foot-long USB port to your PC or Mac. The entire device is programmable (PC only), so you can tweak it to perfection for your favorite flight simulation games.