Best Joysticks/ HOTAS for Elite Dangerous (2020)

Elite Dangerous has been the premiere space sim since it hit Beta in 2014. Despite it’s considerable age, it continues to attract fans due to its wonderful depiction of our galaxy which allows for an immersive exploration experience as well as good mining and combat.

I have been playing Elite since 2014 but I only really got into it once I got VR in 2016. Since then, I have invested a lot into VR simming including buying premium joysticks, VR headsets, desk mounts, steering wheels, and PC hardware to run all of this.

For Elite, I recommend dual joysticks or a HOTAS system. Dual joysticks are awesome for space sims like Star Citizen, but I find that in Elite even a HOTAS works fine due to the lower manoeuvrability of ships. Dual joysticks are still more fun and immersive though which is why I am starting this list with just that!

1. Best Dual Joystick (mid-range)

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS for PC, Black
  •          The T.16000M FCS is compatible with PC via USB in Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista...
  •          The T.16000M FCS offers you a precision level greater than current systems, which...

Twin Thrustmaster T.16000M are the best option for reasonably priced dual joysticks. In fact, there is no competition since no one makes ambidextrous joysticks in this price range so far.

Are dual joysticks absolutely essential for Elite? Not entirely since the combat is not as much about fast reflexes in Elite as it is about kitting out your craft. But do I still recommend dual joysticks? Yes, because they are fun, immersive and sort of how space combat is supposed to be happen.

You see spaceships need 6 axes just for movement control. Dual joysticks with twist, like the 16000s give you all six axes. Perfect control.

2. Best HOTAS (mid-range)

Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle and Stick Simulation Controller...
  • Military-grade Space and Flight Sim Precision. Customizable options including all the control...
  • New Mini Analog Stick Control Surfaces: Control pitch, roll, yaw, backwards, forwards, up, down,...

The Best HOTAS (Hands on Throttle And Stick) for Elite Dangerous is the Logitech X56. The X56 has been built specifically with space sims in mind and has added functionalities which reflect this fact.

The X56 has extra thumbsticks compared to the older X52 (which is also good) which gives you the extra axes needed for space sims. The thing is you don’t use strafe as often in Elite as you do in something like Star Citizen, so you can bind them to one of these hat switches and not be any worst for it.

Logitech has also been kind enough to throw in some extra springs which you can use to adjust the spring tension to your liking. There is RGB lighting too if that’s your thing.

There are more than enough axes for everything you need in Elite with many to spare. I find a HOTAS better suited for daily use since it feels easier on the arms compared to dual joysticks. I use dual joysticks mostly when I am in a fighty mood and want to kill some baddies.

3. Best Dual Joystick (premium)

ThrustMaster 2960738 HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick PC
  • Joystick replica of the U.S. Air Force a 10c attack aircraft flight Stick
  • Stand alone HOTAS warthog joystick, from the creator of the original HOTAS concept and the worldwide...

While the T.16000s are hard to beat, the Warthog trumps them in sheer build quality. The Warthog has a metal body with buttons that feel so so good when you press them. The premium feel is unmatched.

I have been using the Warthog for 7-8 years now and it never gave me any issues. It just keeps trucking on.

The reason I like it over other premium options is availability and flexibility. What do mean by flexibility? There are tonnes of different mods out there for the Warthog. I personally use one to extended the length of the stick which gives me finer control. You can change the sew or adjust the spring tension as well. It is also compatible with several mounts like the Wheel Stand Pro and J-PEIN desk mounts.

The downside of the Warhtog is that it is not explicitly ambidextrous. But frankly I do not have any issues using it with either hands. The hand-rest goes around all the way and its fine. I already had a Warthog and when playing space sims, I just added another.

4. Best HOTAS (budget)

Thrustmaster 2960778 T.16000M FCS HOTAS Controller
  • The T.16000M FCS HOTAS is compatible with PC via USB in Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista (32-bit and...
  • 16 action buttons with braille - style physical button identification

For a budget HOTAS option, I recommend the T16000M FCM HOTAS. Isn’t it amazing that the T16000 is the best budget option both for dual sticks and HOTAS? That means you can just buy an extra stick and use both! I tend to do that often since I switch between asteroid mining, exploring, bounty hunting quite often.

The price tag on this HOTAS is just too good to beat. If you are new to space sims and don’t want to throw down a lot of cash, the T16000 will start you up quite nicely. It has enough axes and buttons to take care of everything you need.

I do believe that if it is your first joystick, you should get something like this. I spend thousands on joysticks now but my first one was a $30 Logitech 3d Pro! Don’t over invest unless you can.

5. Best Throttle (for Dual sticks + Throttle setup)

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Dual Throttles PC
  • Dual replica throttles 3D magnetic sensors on the 2 throttles allow you to enjoy surgical precision...
  • Dual throttles, featuring a Metal hand rest, Locking system, Adjustable friction system, Realistic...

The ultimate control setup for Elite Dangerous? Two joysticks and a throttle. This way you get the best of both worlds. The HOTAS setup is easy when you just want to chill and explore. The dual joysticks are helpful when you want to go pew-pew.

The Warthog Throttle is pretty decent. I really like the tactile feel of the switches. Unfortunately, Elite does not require the use of so many buttons but in DCS I really go to town on these bad boys!

The dual throttle is nice and smooth. There are plenty of hat switches, slew control and you can even adjust the friction of the throttle.

The build quality id great. It feels really heavy which isn’t surprising considering the metal body. A great piece of equipment, all things considered.

If you are looking for a budget option, then you should consider the Thrustmaster TWCS Throttle .

6. Rudder Pedals

Logitech G PRO Flight Rudder Pedals
  • Self-centering pedals with adjustable damping / Foot rests adjust to fit all sizes and include...
  • Precise rudder and braking control / Tension adjustment - choose resistance to suit the way you fly

Rudder pedals add immersion to space sims. If you have dual joysticks with twist, you don’t necessarily need rudder pedals but they still add an additional degree of finer control. Also, some joysticks like the Warthog don’t have twist (which is better for control and stability) which makes rudder pedals all the more important.

The Logitech pedals are pretty great and my top recommendation for mid-range options. If you are looking for budget or premium rudder pedals, here’s an article that reviews the best rudder options. It was written for DCS but I use the same for Elite as well.

7. Gamepad

Sale
Logitech Gamepad F710
  • 2.4 ghz wireless connectivity
  • Customizable controls with profiler software (requires software installation)

Some people do use gamepads and although its not nearly as immersive as a joystick setup, it does have its advantages.

  • Firstly, they are dirt cheap and you may already own them.
  • Secondly, you can use them for a tonne of other games.
  • Thirdly, they allow you to play from the comfort of your couch.
  • Lastly, if you just have a passing interest in space sims (gasp!), then you might not want to invest too much and just get a cheap gamepad to see how it feels.

If these apply to you then I recommend the Logitech xbox controller which I have been using for almost a decade without issue.

About the Author

Gary (Flanker)

Gary has been "hard landing" into runways and driving his Mitsubishi Evo off of cliffs since the early 2000s. These days, he spends most of his precious hobby time with his favorite flight, racing and space simulations in VR. He also has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science which helps a lot with his obsession with optimizing PC hardware like CPUs, Graphics Cards, VR Headsets, HOTAS, Racing Wheels etc. for high end sims.