Quick Guide for Picking a HOTAS

Since folks routinely ask about this (especially combat pilots) maybe this will help.

It’s advisable to try to get something better than the Thrustmaster 16,000s because the twist function WILL eventually break after rigorous use.

IMHO: VKBs are great! Especially if you aren’t a rudder pedal pilot - then go for the Omni Throttle.
VPCs are also amazing, but pricey and their software has a steep learning curve for many.

Enjoy! :grin:

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Note that the pricing as presented there is deceptive and confusing. The X52/X56 for example are full HOTAS setups, whereas the VKB gunfighter is 400USD JUST for the stick. Its basically a “go big or go home” sheet, and not really fair to those on a budget.

IMO, an X52 or X56 is ok (especially for a beginner) if they can find it on sale. I sometimes see the X56 for around 200USD. Sure there are issues to deal with and things to learn, but try to tell me there isn’t a learning curve dealing with the VKB or Virpil options.

All that said, when my X56 dies I’ll likely be going the VKB EVO+Omni route or similar. But I’ve learned a lot about my preferences on the X56, which I bought before this option existed.

I realize now my response may have come off a bit harsh, which was not intended. For that I apologize.

I just wanted to speak for those more willing to compromise on quality in order to hold to a budget.

One correction I’d like to make to the chart. The X52 MSRP is no longer $130. Today it is $180. If you can find a new set for close to $130, it would be a worthwhile. If someone is limited to $200 or less, I’d keep an eye open for sales on an X56.

My daily driver is the X-55 Rhino (discontinued) - Perfect Entry-level HOTAS combo.

I’ve never had to modify it, nor do any extensive maintenance. (other than dusting)
I bought my X-55 in 2015, when they were still sold by Saitek.

I too will be moving to a Virpil or VKB combo, when my X-55 gives up on me.

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That was my first one.
Loved it.

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I agree with Nom and Crue here. You’re kind of comparing Apples to Two Apples

I too currently have an X-55 which was developed by Saitek which was bought out by Logitech. When it came out it was top notch and I have had to make a few repairs but I purchased it in 2012. When I was flightsimming my life away you either had this, wanted this or flew with a yoke. After Saitek was bought out the X-56 was released and yes there’s little difference but if you want to you can get 10 or more years out of it easily. For 250 USD you’ll have stick and Throttle with more buttons than you need which you can also use for other flying games.

Thrustmaster TWCS… oh boy… don’t out of the box the sliders will seize within half a year but you can get kits to get it replaced (voids warranty). Overall known to flight simmers as the worst Throttle to spend money on.

ThrustMaster Warthog, they are actually not too bad but you will need pedals for your z-axis. Which takes up space not everyone has and adds another cost to your setup total. I’d steer clear for this because it’s the least value for money.

Turtle Beach Velocity One, Had some headsets by them and they were good enough for the price. Overall the feedback on this is… it’s actually not that bad. Especially in the Flight Simming scene they’re making headway since they are compact and for an Xbox compatible stick it has a lot of buttons. Another thing is that it’s able to be used for lefties and righties. Very important note though this joystick is part of the Velocity one series there’s rudder pedals and a Yoke with throttle quad. That series is a direct reaction to Honey Comb’s success in sales and an attempt to capitalize on their struggles with shipping and returns. Note that there is recently released VelocityOne Flightdeck which is a HOTAS for 550 USD but I wouldn’t be an early adopter on this one as there’s little known on how the touch screen works.

VKB for sure the best but there’s issues too… First of all they are expensive as hell as it’s only the stick you’re getting so just double it for HOSAS. Second if you don’t live in the US good luck getting any support within a reasonable time. And probably my biggest issue is with the Omni Throttle which is kind of HOSAS but also HOTAS… basically it’s the stick with and adaptor and you remove a spring to make it a throttle. Great for space games but not so for flightsimming and also no way to split throttles in flightsimming.

Virpil a nice product and maybe even better than VKB in some regard but due to their geographical location and sanctions hard to get and even harder to get support for than VKB outside of the US.

Everyone’s budget differs and you really need to look at what you want to do, what your budget is and what you think is important. I know a lot of people love the Omni set-up and it sounded great to me too but it does have downsides too.

I’d never go for the HOKAM (Hands on Keyboard and Mouse) option and get a stick because why would you?
HOSAM (Hands on Stick and Mouse) in my opinion you use your stick for pitch and roll (especially with the new atmo flight mechanics coming soon™. And i’m not a captain on an airbus so my dominant (right for me) hand is on my stick and my other hand is on my throttle so I’d have to move my mouse to the other hand? Or even worse for when do upgrade to HOTAS or HOSAS use the stick for your strafing and your mouse for pitch and yaw. :nauseated_face:

For now I’m sticking with my dusty beat up X-55 as I’m torn between the Turtle Beach Velocityone Flightdeck and the VKB Setup. My issue is not budget but space as I’d ideally get an OMNI and an actual throttle. And then there’s the name I dropped before Honey Comb they’ve finally sorted out their logistics it seems and there’s rumbles of a flight stick being worked on. Note that this last rumor is as dependable as Star Citizen’s elevators…

Extra:
Rudder Pedals… I wouldn’t get them but if you do here’s my suggestions:
Budget: Thrustmaster TFRP (T.Flight Series) Going for about 100 to 140 € right now
Middle: Logitech G Flight Pedals (Saitek Pro Flight so very old but dependable design) about 140 to 160 €
You’re crazy go for something else: Thrustmaster TPR Pedals about 480 € (found one for 600 USD too)
Honorable Mention: VKB T-Rudders about 220 €

*This post is not financial advise

@Cugix - I didn’t author the spreadsheet, but your points are well taken. :+1:

Virpil opened new stores in the past, so that ordering and support has become a lot better. Shipping to EU is done from Latvia, UK has their own location in Telford, Shropshire, they opened a Showroom and Warehouse in the US and a new one in Hongkong for chinese market.

All Products are now made in the EU (Latvia), so there shouldn’t be any sanctions on their products

Besides the Setups you mentioned, there are some more, like throttle and mouse, game controller (great for Hoverbikes and Vehicles) etc.

In the list, some manufactors are also missing, like WinWing and some information are a bit outdated (mostly from 2021)

In the End, it comes down to what you want to spent and how long it should last. VKB (Premium) and Virpil are mostly made to last forever with their all Metal approach and hall sensors, Thrustmaster and Logitech will break sooner or later.

Besides Throttle, Sticks and Pedals, it’s also worth to look into other input devices like Button Boxes, StreamDeck, ControlPanels, programmable Keayboards etc.

I started with the TM16000 Stick, Upgraded then to the TM16000 Throttle, exchanged the Stick with Virpil Delta/WarBRD Base. Then exchanged my Logitech Throttle with Virpil Throttle and upgraded to Virpil Alpha Sticks.

My Current Setup is: Virpil HOTASAS with Pedals StreamDeck, MiniKeyboard, GameController and Keyboard/Mouse with Macro Buttons and TrackIR with DelanClip for Headtracking. In Addition with my Steelseries Wireless Headset, i don’t have any wires connected from PC to myself.

A HOTAS will be only a part of a gaming setup and every setup will be different

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As for the title (and list) I don’t have much to add that the previous replies hadn’t already covered. It is a bit misleading and misrepresented, although a very good start imho.
For great quality at a budget price, I’d add a not so well known company – CH Products. Up until recently, I used their products (Fighterstick, Throttle and Pedals) for years. My original setup was a Fighterstick (right hand) and Flightstick (left hand). I used that setup for months, until JayC suggested trying throttle. I met the challenge and never looked back.
The (external) build quality of CH Products is that of VKB – high end thick plastic (which I believe is ABS). I doubt the internals are near the quality of VKB, they’re likely quality plastic with metal springs. That said, my only reason for retiring the stick and throttle is that I was outperforming them. Although I hadn’t used any of them, I’d choose CH over everything on that list that isn’t VKB or Virpil.

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As not a very proficient pilot I would like to share my hands on experience.

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack
I had this setup from Microsoft Flight Sim days, so I hooked it up after using Keyboard and Mouse for about 3-4 months. The difference was huge and within a minute I undertood that flying with dedicated setup makes the game click in a very satisfactory manner.

However, the biggest issue with Thrusmaster is the tightness in the stick, it takes a lot of force to move it and there is no gentle curve or finesse of movement. The plastic quality is extremely cheap, there is no weight to the devices and the experience is crude at best.

VKB Gladiators
The leap in quality is through the roof. Lots of finesse, gentle gliding and I finally feel one with the craft. I’m terrible at spatial awareness, and yet, if there is an object to orient with, I can make some beautiful moves with my ship. There are so many buttons that everything is on fingertips (big thanks to BuzzKill for that). Its been an year that Ive had VKBs, I play pretty much everyday and so far, I’ve had no issue.

Simply put, I cannot imagine SC without VKBs.

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