Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2024 is on its way. For many players, that means it’s time to get a new joystick for their gaming PC. Even though most flight simulator games allow for other controls, such as a standard mouse and keyboard or gamepad, the opinion that flight sticks are infinitely better is almost universally accepted as fact.


The Best Budget Gaming PCs for 2024

Buying a gaming PC doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. These are the most affordable gaming desktops in 2024!

However, until recently, many players had been priced out of using joysticks with their flight sim of choice, either because of the cost of the flight stick itself or because of the cost of handling extra drivers and other programs. Contemporary joystick designs have cut out a lot of the bloatware and manufacturers have turned to using more affordable materials where they can get away with it. Both of these factors have resulted in a modern joystick market ready to serve a much wider audience going forward.

What Are the Best PC Joysticks?

Despite the much more consumer-friendly array of options, it can be difficult to know how to choose a good flight stick. Most players will find the best one for them by choosing a flight stick based on a few specific details.

Mechanism: The process through which the joystick registers the input matters the most. While there are several mechanisms available for its actuation, the most commonly found are ALPS and Hall Effect. ALPS is the most common technology that utilizes a potentiometer and actual moving parts in the sensor. The Hall Effect on the other hand, is based on the changes in the magnetic field to calculate the position.

Number of Buttons: Some flight sticks are just the joystick with some menu buttons, while others offer thrust controls or even the full gamepad spread of ABXY buttons and a D-pad. More buttons are much more convenient, but they often come at a higher price.

Comfort: Contoured joysticks are going to offer players the most comfortable grip, though some go even further. Features such as textured sides or padded hand rests are well worth the extra cost if a gamer plans on playing their flight sim of choice frequently or for hours at a time.

Compatibility: Most, if not all, flight sticks can work with PCs, but some players need their joystick to work with other systems as well. Thanks to Xbox Game Pass, players on the Xbox Series X can play Microsoft Flight Simulator on both PC and Xbox, but only some options offer such compatibility.

Durability: Most flight sticks cost as much as name-brand gamepads or more, and the price largely decides the quality of the joystick. Features such as metal frames and advanced Hall effect sensors can seriously enhance the reliability of a flight stick. Meanwhile, some more affordable design choices, such as ABS plastic and replaceable components, can offer similar durability.

Game Rant’s Picks for the Best PC Joysticks in 2024

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

Best Overall PC Joystick

This flight stick comes with 17 action buttons with “braille”-style identification and is inspired by the iconic Airbus sidestick: Ergonomic 1:1 scale replica. With four swappable joystick head button modules, and 12 remappable buttons, this flight stick offers a multitude of possibilities in flight, and on the ground. The throttle comes with a built-in thrust reverser mechanism, and rudder control by rotating the sidestick’s handle, while the stick uses contactless magnetic sensor technology, with no potentiometers, to deliver an unlimited lifespan and optimal precision.


Programmable Buttons

2.0 lbs

  • Uses Hall effect sensors
  • Swappable parts
  • 17 programmable buttons

  • May not be as durable as other options

Any search for the best joystick will inevitably lead players to a Thrustmaster controller, so it will surprise no one to see the Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition as the top choice. This controller meets most players’ needs while offering advanced Hall effect sensors and remaining affordable.

Though the controller is only slightly contoured, it manages to be super comfortable for most grips. Players can even swap out the joystick’s side buttons and have either raised, tactile buttons or smooth, mushy ones. There are a total of 17 buttons on the joystick, all with etched markings (similar to braille), which help players instantly identify which button their finger is on.

The flight stick itself is fairly immersive too. The previously mentioned Hall effect sensor makes movement feel extremely smooth as now the motion registration depends on the changing magnetic field instead of moving parts, resulting in accurate and consistent movements. The joystick can be twisted laterally as well, a feature that can easily be locked when rudder control isn’t available in a game. Additionally, the throttle on the TCA Sidestick can be reversed with a simple dial on the controller base.

Some reviews do complain about the long-term durability of the device, but most users say the TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition lasts over a year before issues arise. For less than $100, that’s fairly good value, and considering the use of Hall effect sensors, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Thrustmaster’s best flight stick is unusable, even after a few years of gaming. This flight stick is perfect for most gamers and has all the important features players want, making it the best joystick for PC gaming in 2024.

console game controller hub discounts sales january

Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Best Budget PC Joystick

The Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro is a joystick that has advanced controls and a custom twist-handle rudder for precise and stable action for all flight simulator needs. The joystick is primarily and specifically designed to deliver accurate flight simulator controls via an 8-way hat switch. In addition to the ergonomic joystick, the controller features twelve programmable buttons that can be easily configured to execute anything from simple commands to intricate and complex macros that feature multiple keystrokes and mouse events.

Throttle Included

HAT Switches

Stick Rotation


  • Durable build
  • 12 progrmmable buttons
  • Very affordable

  • Hat switch doesn’t work in Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Doesn’t have great compatibility with Windows 10 and 11

Gamers looking for a joystick that will just work and not cost a lot of money should pick up Logitech’s G Extreme 3D Pro. Except for its unofficial support on Windows 10 and 11, it doesn’t seem to be lacking the crucial features. It will still work with the latest Windows versions without any problems. As for its build quality, Logitech is well-known for its durable peripherals, and this flight stick is far from an outlier. Featuring 12 programmable buttons and a twistable handle, this PC joystick is perfect for most flight sim games. There aren’t any other bells or whistles with this budget joystick, but nothing more is really necessary.

The simple black finish has a minimal amount of texture and contouring on it, making it a less ergonomic grip than many other options, though it’s still comfortable enough. Some users also report that the side buttons can be tricky to hit, but the responsiveness of the inputs is top-notch.


The Best Xbox Controllers for PC

Moving from console gaming to PC can be challenging, but these Xbox controllers are perfect for players new to desktop gaming.

While Logitech seems to have cut costs on the plastic casing, the internal specs of the Extreme 3D Pro are impressive considering it’s not even $40. The rudder control is done through the twisting handle, the joystick includes an 8-way Hat switch, and a rapid-fire switch makes it easy to unload on enemies. Plus, the base is weighted and uses rubber caps to offer complete stability, even in the heat of battle. It’s not the most impressive joystick on the market, but the Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro has everything a gamer needs for flight sims at an unbeatable price.

THRUSTMASTER Hotas Warthog Dual Throttles

THRUSTMASTER Hotas Warthog Dual Throttles

Best Premium PC Joystick

This flight stick features H.E.A.R.T Hall Effect AccuRate Technology and offers players dual replica throttles. The pull and push throttle system also includes a disengageable afterburner, plus the controller has five programmable LEDs. Players can easily customize their flight stick with the Thrustmaster expert flying T.A.R.G.E.T advanced programming software, available on PC.

Compatible Systems

Programmable Buttons

5 kg

Control Types
Hall Effect sensors

  • Official replica of dual throttle system of US Airforce A-10C
  • Comes with 17 action buttons
  • Hall effect sensors

  • Very expensive
  • Quite heavy. Weighs around 5 kg

The Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Dual Throttles PC joystick is a gaming accessory that’s designed for diehard flight sim enthusiasts. Users who want to have a realistic feel of flying an actual A-10C aircraft will love how the Warthog Dual Throttle performs. It’s officially licensed by the US Air Force and is incredibly durable and sturdy for long flight sessions. The backlit switches are far more immersive than standard buttons on a joystick, each labeled with green lettering almost identical to real cockpit controls. There are five LEDs and 17 buttons ready to be customized using Thrustmaster’s intuitive T.A.R.G.E.T. software.

The smooth thrust controls are split in two, giving players a pull-and-push throttle system that can use one or both of the handles. The flight stick uses Hall effect sensors for greater precision and durability, while also allowing for Afterburner detent to be engaged during certain games. Five buttons can be found on the sides of the thrust controls, all of which are easy to hit, yet difficult to miskey.

With a price tag of nearly $300, it can be tough to justify this joystick. However, players looking to upgrade their flight stick and not have to think about it for a few years will get their money’s worth with the Warthog. There are few other flight sticks with the same attention to detail and immersive design, especially for less than Thrustmaster’s offering. Thanks to the truly immersive gameplay, reliable hardware, and responsive software, the Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Dual Throttles joystick is the ultimate premium experience.

Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas One

Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas One

Best PC Joystick for Xbox

This flight stick is the first official joystick for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows. It includes the official buttons for the Xbox. It is ergonomically designed to be perfectly adapted for all types of flight simulation. The joystick offers players two detachable, full-size throttle for easy maneuverability, even in virtual reality. The T-Flight Hotas One provides players with comprehensive flight gear: 5 axes, 14 action buttons, 1 rapid-fire trigger, and 1 multi-directional hat switch.


Compatible Systems
Windows, Xbox

4.5 pounds

  • Compatible with multiple Xbox consoles and PC
  • Detachable throttle for different setups
  • Includes all of the Xbox buttons

  • The Throttle lacks enough resistance

Console gamers can join in on the fun of flight sims just as well as PC players, and Thrustmaster’s T-Flight HOTAS One makes it easy to game on either platform. The first to be officially licensed by Microsoft, this flight stick comes complete with the full array of Xbox buttons alongside the rest of the 14 action buttons.

This joystick comes with a detachable throttle control, allowing players to choose their level of immersion while gaming. This is also helpful for players with limited space on their desks or in front of their consoles. Both parts of the joystick are very comfortable to use, thanks to the excellent contouring and smooth finish, plus the wide hand rest on the stick itself. However, there aren’t many other premium features of the stick, even though it costs about $100.


The Best Customizable Gaming Controllers in 2024

Having a personalized controller isn’t reserved for tech experts anymore. These customizable gaming controllers are the best for players everywhere!

Regardless, for Xbox players on PC who would like to fly on both consoles, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS One is a great choice that will serve most players very well through hours-long gaming sessions.

best game controller deals

Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flightstick Game Controller

Best RGB PC Joystick

This Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flightstick game controller is designed to be the best companion for flight simulators. It features high-precision, non-contact main axes, customizable and multi-function throttle and flap levers, POV Hat, rapid-fire trigger, and 27 programmable buttons. 

In the controller, there’s also an integrated OLED flight management display and an intuitive flight configuration wheel. The joystick is compatible with Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, and PC.

Windows, Xbox


1.81 pounds

  • Compatible with Xbox and PC
  • Includes useful touchpad navigation sensor
  • Has 27 programmable buttons, including 8-way hat, trigger, sticks, base buttons etc.

  • Only offers mid-range performance and features, despite price

Some players really love the glow of a control panel when they’re in a flight sim, but they aren’t willing or able to shell out exorbitant prices just for some lighting. Luckily, Turtle Beach has created the Velocity One Flight Stick, offering a mid-range experience at a reasonable price with plenty of RGB lighting to back it up.

The RGB lighting can be customized with ease. It displays around the buttons, the stick, and the top of the handle. In total, there are 27 buttons that can also be programmed according to a user’s preferences. Even the handrest can be swapped to support left-handed players. The throttle control is a bit small, but the controller base also includes a lever for ship flaps, giving players even more control over their flight.

One of the coolest aspects of this joystick is the touch screen on the top of the handle. This screen allows players to switch between customized profiles, adjust inputs, and even change up the audio settings for any headset plugged into the 3.5mm jack. Plus, with Bluetooth connectivity and an easy-to-use app, the Turtle Beach Velocity One joystick is ideal for gaming on PC or Xbox, and it looks great the whole time.

HORI PlayStation 5 Fighting Stick Alpha

HORI PlayStation 5 Fighting Stick Alpha

Best PC Joystick for Fighting Games

HORI PlayStation 5 Fighting Stick Alpha is a professional arcade stick for fighting games, featuring the Hayabusa lever and matte-finished buttons. With its excellent sensitivity and consistency in performing complex moves, it provides an advantage over the opponents while also enabling users to customize the parts without voiding the warranty.


PS4, PS5, PC




  • Uses the Legendary Habusa lever for competitive gaming
  • Customizable parts
  • Works flawlessly with PS4, PS5, and PC

  • Not ideal for flight simulation games

Joysticks aren’t just used for flight simulations but can be excellent for various game genres, including fighting and action/adventure. When joysticks are used on arcade sticks along with dedicated buttons to perform various actions, the playstyle gets simplified and that’s why the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha gives users an edge over their opponents when it comes to competitive fighting games. While best for Tekken 7/8, the Hori Alpha Stick will perform impressively in other fighting games as well.


The Best Wired Controllers for PC in 2024

If you want to rely on the low latency of a wired controller, consider some of these best picks for PC from Amazon.

With the usage of the legendary Hayabusa lever, the joystick has a much better input register, which helps in executing complex moves such as Tekken’s EWGF consistently most of the time. This is achieved through a square gate instead of a circular unit that has an input load cut by 5-15%. Similarly, the Hayabusa buttons are short-throw, activating faster than regular buttons on most arcade sticks.

The Stick Alpha can be opened without voiding warranty and can be customized with different parts based on users’ preferences. It’s surely an expensive unit but has excellent durability and will work for years before introducing any type of joystick drift. This particular unit is designed for PC and latest PlayStation controls but there is another edition that works with Xbox consoles flawlessly.


Q: Is it worth getting a flight stick?

For people who often play flight simulation games or who have some extra cash to throw around, getting a flight stick is usually a good idea and can greatly improve immersion. That being said, joysticks are far from necessary to successfully play flight sims.

Q: What is HOTAS?

HOTAS is an acronym that means “hands on throttle and stick.” It is used to describe flight sticks with buttons on the handle, as opposed to on the console or base. Most gaming flight sticks are designed for HOTAS layouts.

Q: Do real fighter jets use joystick controls?

Yes, flight sticks are often built into modern military fighter jets.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *