Works with Windows 98 through 10. Plug and play installation. Has four push buttons and one eight-way point of view hat. 22 programmable functions with their Control Manager software. Solid, quality construction. Comfortable grip. Good range of motion.
Some had trouble getting this to work with USB. Joystick does not have a twist axis.
Plug and play through USB. Works with a number of retrogaming operating systems such as RetroPie, Lakka, and ChameleonPi. For Windows 98 through 10, as well as some Linux installs and Mac OS X. Very sensitive buttons. Comes with two controllers to a pack. Nice look at a low price.
At just 5 feet in length, the cords could be longer (plan on getting USB cord extensions). Some thought the controllers felt cheap. Buttons sometimes stick.
Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10, as well as a variety of gaming systems. Has arcade-style lever and button placement. Supports Turbo functions. Solid, heavy construction, with rubber feet for stability. Easily modded. Responsive buttons and stick.
You have to have an Xbox or PS controller plugged into it when using it with an Xbox or PS. Joystick has a square restrictor plate under it, which should be upgraded to get a better range of motion.
Works with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 (users say 8 as well, although you may need to get the driver off the Logitech site). Plug and play through USB. Has 10 buttons and an eight-way D-pad, all programmable through the included Profiler software. Decent price. Lightweight and comfortable to hold.
Triggers can be a little stiff. Some buyers felt the D-pad was poorly designed. Some cite durability issues (arrived dead or stopped working within a few weeks).
Features include dual-system aerodynamics control, adjustable resistance, and an internal memory. For use with PC and game consoles. Very comfortable to use. Easy to map. Weighted base. Throttle control is detachable. Has a dozen buttons and five axles, all programmable.
Assembly is a bit of a hassle. Some felt that this option could use more buttons, or that the ones it did have had an inconsistent feel.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
For serious PC gamers, there is nothing more annoying than realizing you aren’t really in the game. The best PC joysticks become almost an extension of yourself, a way to seamlessly teleport to an alien landscape, World War II battlefield, or stunning fantasy panorama in the search for conquest, a way to level up, or a few more gold coins for that invisibility cloak you’ve had your eye on.
In addition to creating a more immersive experience, PC joysticks can also provide an ergonomic way to play your favorite games for hours more comfortably and more safely. But choosing the right PC joystick for your setup can be confusing.
Our buying guide examines all the features and controls you’ll find when shopping for a PC joystick. From types to controls, we cover everything you need to know to pick up the right joystick for your PC gaming needs. We also cover what you can expect to pay and offer a few of our favorites to get you started.
We’re looking at gaming devices for PCs, so if you run the Windows OS, the odds are good that they’ll work with your system. However, if you have a computer running an older version of Windows, you might run into some compatibility issues. First and foremost, be sure that any PC joystick you’re considering will work with your computer.
“PC joysticks” is a broad term that covers a variety of PC gaming devices. While there is a bit of a gray area between categories, these can generally be broken down into three device types: gaming pads, flight joysticks, and fight sticks.
Gaming pads: These are the devices you typically find with gaming consoles such as Xbox or PlayStation. These two-handed controllers often incorporate buttons and other elements for gaming that are similar to popular console controllers.
Flight joysticks: Designed for use with one or two hands, these gaming devices are used in games that simulate aircraft or spacecraft. Some have two separate components to control flight and throttle with separate hands.
Fight sticks: Often used for retro gaming on classic game emulators, fight sticks are usually designed as a tabletop unit with controls that are familiar to anyone who has ever played classic arcade games.
PC joysticks can connect to your computer in one of two ways. They can be wired (usually via USB) or wireless. This comes down to personal preference, but there are pros and cons to using either, such as whether you want to deal with cords or batteries.
For wired PC joysticks, note the length of the device's cable, because some of these can be quite short (such as 5 feet).
From the rigors of a virtual war to the frenzied attack on an alien battlegroup, your PC joystick is going to take a beating. While all these devices are mostly made of plastic, some are more rugged than others. All elements of a PC joystick, from the casing to the buttons to the cord, should be able to hold up to the abuse that gamers throw at it.
Note: While it isn’t always the case, gaming devices from well-known brand names are often more durable than those from lesser-known retailers.
Most PC joysticks come fully assembled, and the installation is as simple as plug and play. That said, some PC joysticks require minimal assembly before you can use them, while others require that you download the software or install it from an included disc.
Some PC joysticks also have a programming option, which means you can set up various buttons and triggers to get the device working the way you want it to. This programming is typically optional and appeals to those gamers who like to “get under the hood” and personalize their devices.
The types and number of controls on your PC joystick depend largely on the type of device you purchase. In general, any levers, switches, and buttons should operate smoothly and be clearly responsive to touch (some joysticks allow you to tweak the sensitivity of the controls).
Specific controls found on the various gaming device types include the following:
Gaming pads: In addition to buttons and triggers, gaming pads often have a D-pad that provides added functionality.
Flight joysticks: Most of these joysticks include a variety of controls that simulate flight, from pitch and roll control (for going backward or forward and left or right) to more advanced Z-axis twist controls (used to mimic the rudder controls in an airplane). You can upgrade the immersive experience with a HOTAS (hands-on throttle and stick) system, which is in the form of a dual controller: one for flight control and one for throttle. If you buy a flight joystick, choose one that offers greater stick tension because this provides a more authentic feel during a game.
Fight sticks: These emulate old video arcade controllers, usually with a simple joystick and a variety of buttons to control kicks, punches, or other actions.
To add to your gaming experience, consider choosing a PC joystick that includes vibration, or feedback. Usually available with more advanced gaming devices, this feature causes the device to vibrate when, for example, you roll over rough terrain with your tank, take enemy fire, get ambushed, or any number of other actions that programmers can add to a game.
Gamers often spend hours gaming, so any PC joystick you buy should be comfortable to hold and operate for long periods of time. A well-designed gaming device should be well-balanced and ergonomic enough that you won’t experience excessive hand fatigue (or worse) when using it.
While most PC joysticks are sold individually, you can sometimes buy a pair of controllers as a set. This is more common with gaming pads. Bottom line: know how many gaming devices you are paying for.
More buttons and controls on a PC joystick provide you with more programmable options but might be too much of a learning curve for the casual user.
PC joysticks in the $10 to $30 range are typically in the form of simple gaming pads similar to what you would find with Xbox and PlayStation consoles. These are usually wired and sometimes offer a more classic design for retro gaming using emulators.
In the $30 to $100 range, you can find a variety of types of PC joysticks. Options here range from higher-quality gaming pads (often wireless) to fight sticks to flight joysticks, some with simple HOTAS systems. Pairs of gaming pads are also in this range.
Serious gamers will want to consider those PC joysticks in the $100 to $200 and higher range. Here you can find top-quality fight sticks and HOTAS flight joysticks. PC joysticks at these price points are more durable and tend to offer more programmable options, so gamers can customize their devices to work the way they want them to.
A. While this is a matter of personal preference, there are some issues to consider when deciding between a wired and wireless joystick. A wired joystick means you need to constantly deal with cables, but you won’t need to stop a game to swap out batteries or recharge the gaming device.
A wireless device isn’t limited by cord length, nor are you constantly tripping over cords. However, if the device uses batteries, these will be an ongoing expense, and recharge time can really put a dent in your gameplay. Users of some wireless devices also notice some minor issues with lagging.
A. That depends on what types of games you play most often. If you usually play Microsoft Flight Simulator or some other type of flight game, then a flight joystick can provide you with a more realistic experience.
For a wider variety of gaming, however, we recommend a gaming pad. This can be used with everything from first-person shooters to RPGs and is a great option if you’re into side-scrollers or other retro games.
A. You certainly can, and some gamers do just fine with nothing but a mouse and keyboard to control their actions in a game. Often gamers find that some games, such as shooters or strategy games, are easier to play using a keyboard and mouse. For something like a flight simulator or classic scroller, though, a specialized controller (like a flight joystick) adds a lot more to the experience than a keyboard and mouse. PC joysticks also offer a much more immersive gaming experience than what you can have with a keyboard and mouse.