The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is a once-in-a-generation revolutionary sim. Its something we simmers have been waiting for a long while. Sure, there are plenty of flight sims out there but they all have pretty dated engines and graphics. That is what Microsoft is changing. They have the financial muscle to make a revolutionary new engine that uses advanced AI for realizing the entire surface of planet Earth!
Anyway, let me not waste time selling you on MS Flight Sim. You should already own it if you have even a tiny bit of interest in flight simming. This article is for those who want to know which controller to buy. But first, its important to decide between a Yoke and a Stick setup.
Yoke or Joystick for Flight Simulator?
Yoke + Throttle
Stick + Throttle
|Used mostly in civilian planes so might be a better choice for MS Flight Simulator||Military aircraft use Sticks for the most part|
|Boeing uses Yokes so if you want maximum immersion with Boeing planes, you need a yoke.||Airbus uses a side stick.|
|The position of the Yoke is a great visual indicator of the position of the actual aircraft||The stick does not provide this. In fact, in more modern military aircraft the actual movement of the stick is small enough to not even be discernible.|
|You can use either hand so it’s arguably more comfortable for long trips||You can use either hands if you mount it in the centre like some military aircraft. But most civilian aircraft and modern military aircraft have it on one side so you can only use that hand.|
|Acceptable option if you are only flying civilian planes||Sticks are more common and more versatile. You can use them both for civilian and military aircraft.|
|Usually fewer buttons but that is in line with real life civilian aircraft designs||More buttons including triggers and hat switches.|
|Generally, are more sensitive because they have a bigger throw||Less sensitive than a yoke out of the box but some of the higher end sticks can be modded with after market parts to increase their length|
So what’s the TL;DR?
- If you only want to fly the friendly skies and no combat sims, a Yoke feels better.
- If you have are a first-time simmer and need a jack of all trades, get a Stick.
Time to look at the best Options!
1. Best Yoke (Mid-range)
- POV Hat, 14 button controls, and 3-position mode switch
- Stainless steel yoke shaft and 2-position clamp
The best yoke + throttle option in the mid-range category. This is a quality product that will be the best default option for most flight simmers not looking to spend too much.
The build quality is excellent with stainless steel parts, good quality bearings allowing for super smooth and precise control, 25 buttons to map all your controls, a small display and even extra USB ports for attaching other hardware if you need to.
Another nice feature is that the three-lever throttle is a separate attachment which means you can better mount is as per your comfort and specifications. This definitely makes it each easier to reach as compared to other yokes which have the throttles attached to them.
2. Best Yoke (Premium)
- Left handle features one 8-WAY HAT SWITCH, two Vertical 2-way rocker switches, a button and a push...
- Right handle features two Horizontal 2-Way ROCKER SWITCHES, one large & one small button
One of the best premium yokes available on the market today. It’s a relatively new 2019 design and it has taken the civilian flight sim market with a storm. Honeycomb uses aerospace grade internal components which gives them a durable feel. No wonder they are offering a 5-year warranty. There is a switch panel and more buttons than you’ll even need. The smooth quality of movement is just unmatched. Rolling or elevator movements seem buttery smooth.
The throttle is an even newer design and offers premium build quality and custom functionality for civilian simmers. If you are committed to flight simming, this combo is a worthwhile investment. You are offered granular control over your engines and using all the switches and levers has a satisfying feel to it. Construction quality is unmatched and the details are breathtaking. An excellent product in the premium segment.
3. Best Yoke (Budget)
- 5 Axis and 20 Buttons: X & Y axis on the grips for aileron and elevator, Z, R & U axis in the levers...
- Four traditional push buttons, 2 bi-directional flip switches, 2 bi-directional rocker switches and...
The best entry level yoke for the new flight simmer. CH builds quality products at a good price point and this yoke is no exception.
This popular yoke is known for being extremely precise which is a big deal at this price point. Most budget sticks/ yokes have a big problem with accuracy, so this is a major plus point.
The build quality, the mounting system, the weight of the unit itself are good for the price as well. There are more expensive options out there that cost more than a grand, but this baby gets the job done.
A total of 5 axes (including throttle) and 20 buttons should have you covered. Although rudder pedals are highly recommended.
1. Best Joystick (Mid-range)
- Ergonomic replicas: sidestick and throttle quadrant inspired by those found on iconic Airbus...
- Joystick featuring 4 swappable head button modules, 12 Remappable buttons, built-in throttle, plus...
The Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition is an amazing mid-range option that has been custom built for civilian sims. It is an ergonomic replica of the sidestick and throttle quadrant that is used by Airbus taking the immersion level on notch above. The stick has a dozen remappable buttons, 4 swappable head buttons, a built in throttle, and you can even opt to map rudder to twist or prevent twist using the lock. The throttle has 2 navigational axes and 16 buttons along with detents, switch and a thrust reverser mechanism. Pretty much all you might need is here.
The materials used feels premium and this is a good starting off point for those who are willing to spend a bit more than the basic products. The sturdy base and quality construction provide good stability. This is a product that is going to last you years and years. It uses contactless magnetic sensors instead of potentiometers which is what provides it that longevity.
Accuracy is great and stick movement is smooth. This is a rather comfortable stick with ergonomic design for both the throttle and the stick. You won’t get tired on long flights with this thing. Buttons are also easier to reach compared to the budget options. The buttons are probably the weakest point of this product. They get the job done but don’t have the nice premium feel of the expensive HOTAS systems.
2. Best Joystick (Premium)
- 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...
- 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 Warthog has been the gold standard for flight sims for over a decade now. I got mine early on and it still works like new. near flawless execution. While it is mostly a combat stick, there is nothing stopping you form using it for civilian sims. The Warthog offers heavy metal construction, unmatched tactile feedback on buttons both on the stick and HOTAS and a host of customization options and after market upgrades.
There are more than enough buttons and switches that you will know what to do with. The movement of the stick is precise and smooth and you can even adjust it using springs and stick extensions from online stores. It is heavy enough that it will stay where you put it but a decent mounting option is still recommended.
3. Best Joystick (Budget)
- 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
This is undoubtedly the most popular Joysticks on the market. Of course, the very reasonable asking price has got a lot to do with it, but it also is an overall great product.
One of the few ambidextrous joysticks, the T16000 is widely popular amongst the milsim fans and even civilians fans who decide not to get a yoke. It has everything you need for a flight sim (rudders are always recommended but not needed as it has twist) plus some extra features that make it punch above its weight.
The stiffness of the stick can be adjusted as per your liking. The solid base makes sure the platform is stable. It is durable. The build quality is good for the price.
This is quite easily my top recommendation for first timers.
Rudder pedals are needed for yaw movement. It is possible to assign yaw to some other axis (like the twist on your stick) or even normal buttons but unless you are on a very tight budget, I highly recommend rudder pedals. The linked article has some in-depth rudder reviews. Or you can just see the top recommendations here:
- Smooth and accurate self-centering rudder pedals add another layer of realistic control to your...
- Whether you prefer the lighter response of a small aircraft or the more robust feel of a heavy jet,...
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