Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big joystick test 2022. Here we present all the joysticks we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best joystick for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a joystick.




Summary

  • Joysticks offer you significantly better gameplay in certain game genres than conventional input devices can.
  • A basic distinction is made between standard joysticks, HOTAS joysticks and fighting sticks. All types are available in numerous variants and have different areas of application.
  • Standard joysticks and HOTAS joysticks are mainly useful in flight simulations. Fighting sticks, on the other hand, are mainly used in fighting games.

The Best Joystick: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a joystick

What are the advantages of a joystick over other input devices, such as a gamepad or mouse and keyboard?

The joystick offers many advantages that give you a better gaming experience through optimal control. However, this only has an effect in certain game genres, with flight simulators and fighting games standing out in particular.

Here you can find out which joystick is the right one for your purposes. (Image source: Pixabay.com)

In flight simulators, sensitive inputs are very important, which are difficult to make with gamepads. Above all, however, the simulation idea of these games is completely lost with a gamepad or gaming mouse and gaming keyboard.

You never get rid of the feeling that in the end you are just playing a game, whereas a joystick can give you a real feeling of realism.

For fighting games, a joystick offers completely different advantages. For one thing, the placement of the buttons is very convenient.

Did you know that you can also use the joystick as a computer mouse?

A joystick has all the control elements to successfully replace a computer mouse. Under Windows 10, you can calibrate the joystick either under Settings -> Devices or with software provided by the manufacturer.

While with the gamepad you can use almost exclusively your thumbs to perform quick keystrokes, with a fighting stick you have your whole hand at your disposal.

On the other hand, the stick offers a larger gripping surface than the analogue sticks of a gamepad, so you won't slip or make inaccurate movements.

Which video games are worth buying a joystick for?

In the previous sections, we have already frequently discussed the fact that joysticks only offer a real improvement over conventional input devices in certain genres. In the following, we would like to specifically recommend some games that justify the purchase of a joystick.

Standard joystick / HOTAS joystick

These joysticks are a real enrichment for flight simulators. For example, there is the Flight Simulator X series from Microsoft, which impresses with detailed replicas of real aircraft.

The X-Plane series, which also convinces with extreme realism, is in the same vein. It should also be mentioned that both series are supported with numerous add-ons and extensions from the community, so that no wishes remain unfulfilled.

The space flight simulators represent a different spectrum of flight simulators. One representative of this genre is Elite Dangerous, which scores points with a huge, freely explorable sci-fi world and great freedom of action.

Also in this genre is Star Citizen, which is still in development but is already partially playable. It offers a promising alternative with a greater single-player focus and exciting space battles.

Kerbal Space Program takes a slightly different approach by reducing the action aspect and instead focusing more on the simulation of real space expeditions.

This includes, among other things, the management of your crew and the construction of your own spaceships.

Fighting Stick

The biggest representatives of the fighting game genre are Street Fighter and Tekken, both series can impress with a large number of varied characters and have an active tournament scene dominated by fighting stick users.

So if you plan to play against real players in particular, the Fighting Stick can give you a decisive advantage here.

What does a joystick cost?

Joysticks are available in all price ranges - from inexpensive entry-level devices that cost only a few euros to professional devices that cost in the three-digit range. Overall, however, we think that these prices are well justifiable, especially if you plan to use your joystick to its full potential with the right games.

Simpler standard joysticks with fewer buttons start at around 20 euros and are a good way to get started with the right games.

So if you are a beginner and don't know whether this type of control appeals to you, you can first try out a device in this price range without being overwhelmed. Nevertheless, there are also models that cost around 200 euros.

The HOTAS joystick is also available from around 40 euros, but you have to expect to pay upwards of 200 euros for really high-quality models. These are often direct copies of real control units from aircraft and offer the greatest possible realism.

Fighting sticks start at 30 euros, which offers you a cheap upgrade to the gamepad. However, if you are looking for a tournament-level fighting stick, you can spend up to 250 euros.

Decision: What types of joysticks are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three different types of joystick.

  • Standard joystick
  • HOTAS joystick
  • Fighting stick

Each of these types has a different use, or different advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on which games you want to use your joystick for and which things are most important to you, a different joystick may be suitable for you.

In the following section, we would like to help you find out which joystick is the right one for you.

For this purpose, we will introduce you to all of the above-mentioned input devices and explain their advantages and disadvantages.

For which video games is a standard joystick suitable and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Basically, the standard joystick is the most versatile and can therefore be used for many game genres.

The standard joystick consists of a long movable stick that is attached to a base plate. It also has a button on the back of the stick, which usually has a shooting function. In addition, the base plate has a different number of buttons depending on the model, and usually a thrust control.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Cost-effective
Disadvantages
  • Less specialised

The standard joystick is more versatile than the other variants, which are strongly tailored to specific genres.

Because it comes with fewer extras, it is easier to use than the other variants. And because it is less specialised, it often costs less. So it is a good choice if you are unsure what you want to use the joystick for.

What games is a HOTAS joystick suitable for and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A HOTAS joystick is specifically designed for flight simulators, which is also reflected in its design.

The HOTAS joystick gets its name from the fact that, in addition to the normal control stick, it has a separate thrust control, i.e. "Hands on Throttle and Stick". Apart from that, a HOTAS joystick is basically no different from a standard joystick.

Advantages
  • Precise control
  • Realistic simulation
Disadvantages
  • Possibly cost-intensive
  • Genre-specific

The HOTAS joystick is perfect for recreating flights as realistically as possible in video games. So if you are sure that you want to use your joystick for flight simulation, you can safely go for a HOTAS joystick.

However, the thrust controller is rather unsuitable for almost all other genres, which means that you are somewhat limited in your game variety.

For which games is a fighting stick suitable and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The fighting stick does not correspond to the image of a normal joystick, but it is also a variant of this input device. It can be used to operate fighting games in the best possible way.

The fighting stick is basically similar to the standard joystick, but the handle is much shorter and has no buttons. Furthermore, it has fewer buttons on the base plate than the other joysticks, but the buttons on the fighting stick are larger.

This makes it easier to hit the right buttons at the right moment.

Advantages
  • Precise inputs
  • Retro feeling
Disadvantages
  • Requires a lot of practice
  • Genre-specific
  • Possibly cost-intensive

The name says it all with the Fighting Stick, as it is used exclusively for fighting games. These require fast and precise inputs, for which the fighting stick is perfectly suited.

If you have spent a little time at arcade machines in the past, the Fighting Stick may look familiar to you, because its design is based on that of the machines.

Of course, it's not just the look that's important when buying a joystick, but it's a nice addition. (Image source: Pixabay.com)

It is not for nothing that it is often called an arcade stick and is therefore perfect for creating a retro feeling or reliving a piece of video game history.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate joysticks based on these factors

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate joysticks. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain device is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Purpose of the joystick
  • Weight / stability
  • Basic functions
  • Configuration options
  • Comfort features

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Intended use of the joystick

The intended use, i.e. whether a standard joystick, HOTAS joystick or fighting stick is recommended for you, has already been dealt with in detail above. Nevertheless, we would like to point out once again that the intended use is probably the most important purchase criterion, because it decisively defines which joystick is suitable for you.

On the one hand, you should ask yourself which video games you want to play. If you are completely focused on flight simulators or space simulators, then there is no better alternative for you than a HOTAS joystick.

There are also some models among the standard joysticks that are well-suited for this genre - but these are generally designed for a broader range of uses and are perfectly adequate, for example, if you like to climb into the cockpit in Battlefield or Arma .

If flight simulations are not your thing, but the virtual trial of strength in fighting games is exactly your thing, you are best served with a fighting stick.

Secondly, it is also relevant on which system (PC, Playstation, Xbox, etc.) you want to play these video games. This is because not every joystick is compatible with every platform. Basically, however, all advanced flight simulators are based on the PC, which is why all HOTAS joysticks are compatible with it.

Flight simulators are rare on consoles, which is why the selection of compatible HOTAS joysticks and standard joysticks is small. In contrast, fighting games are very prominent on consoles as well as on the PC, and accordingly, fighting sticks are often compatible with many platforms.

It should also be mentioned that some normally incompatible joysticks can be made usable through unofficial software. However, this is not so easy and does not always work, which is why we only stick to the manufacturer's specifications here.

Weight / stability

The weight and stability of joysticks are often neglected. However, you should bear in mind that weight and stability can have a significant influence on your gaming fun.

A higher weight logically ensures a firmer stand. This is relevant for you because models that are too light tend to slip or topple over when you apply pressure to the thrust regulator or control stick.

Joysticks with high spring resistance are particularly affected by this, which is also a reason why many more expensive models are equipped with adjustable resistors.

However, this does not automatically mean that a lighter joystick is always worse, as many of these joysticks compensate for their low weight with additional aids, such as suction cups on the bottom.

With fighting sticks, you won't have any problems here because their base is very wide and they also require less force. Therefore, they will normally not tip over or slip.

Basic functions

While these features may have been considered a luxury in the past, they should be built into every standard joystick and HOTAS stick by now, as they are a must for every flight simulation.

It should be mentioned at the outset that these functions only refer to standard joysticks and HOTAS joysticks and are not relevant for fighting sticks.

Function Description
Z-axis In addition to the natural axes for front/back and left/right, your joystick should have an additional Z-axis. This ensures that you can turn the joystick around its own axis. In the game, this allows you to move horizontally without your aircraft rolling. This function has become indispensable.
Force Feedback With Force Feedback, the external influences that affect your aircraft are reflected in the joystick. This means, for example, that it becomes more sluggish in the case of high air resistance or that you feel the hits through vibration or recoil in the case of strafing. If realism is important to you, your joystick should have force feedback.
The round view switch, which is also often referred to as the coolie hat or hat switch, is used to change the angle of view and helps you to keep an overview.

Z-axis

In addition to the standard front/back and left/right axes, your joystick should have an additional Z-axis. This ensures that you can rotate the joystick around its own axis.

In the game, this allows you to move horizontally without your aircraft rolling. This function has become indispensable.

Force Feedback

With force feedback, the external influences that affect your aircraft are reflected in the joystick.

This means, for example, that it becomes more sluggish in the case of high air resistance or that you feel the hits through vibration or recoil in the case of strafing. If realism is important to you, your joystick should have force feedback.

Rotary switch

The circular view switch, often referred to as the coolie hat or hat switch, is used to change the angle of view and helps you keep an overview.

Configuration options

What is perhaps less relevant for newcomers is often a decisive purchase criterion for professionals. For this reason, we present the most important configuration options here.

Number of keys

First of all, the number of keys is interesting for you. Having many keys means that you can place important actions exactly on the keys that make the most sense to you.

You are therefore very flexible in this respect. Furthermore, many keys allow more complex manoeuvres and actions, which is very advantageous for flight simulators.

Often, more expensive joysticks have input methods in addition to the buttons, such as knobs or toggle switches, which open up a wide range of configuration options.

For this reason, you should not be immediately put off by a low number of buttons. Fighting sticks usually have no more than eight buttons, as fighting games simply do not require that many action buttons.

Adjustable resistance

Besides the buttons, the already mentioned adjustable resistance is a big advantage. You can adjust the pressure you have to apply to the joysticks and thrusters to your exact preferences. Often this is done with additional springs, which you can replace at will.

An additional Z-axis allows you to turn the control stick around its own axis. In the game, this allows you to move horizontally without your aircraft making a roll.

Cable length

If you don't feel like sitting in front of your computer or console, but want to play from the comfort of your sofa, a longer cable will come in handy.

Lighting

In addition to the very chic appearance, a light ensures that you can always find the right button in dicey battles, even in the dark. However, if the joystick of your choice doesn't have a light, that's not such a tragedy.

Divisible base

A separable base means that the thrust regulator and the joystick can be separated from each other, which is why this feature only exists in HOTAS joysticks. This means that you can adjust the distance between the two elements according to your wishes.

Internal memory / profile memory

If a joystick has a profile memory, this is helpful in that your button configurations and other settings are stored on the joystick, independent of the game. This way, you do not have to make these changes individually for each game. This feature is especially useful if you want to use the joystick for many games.

Material

Most joysticks are largely made of plastic, especially plastic and rubber. Higher-quality joysticks often use metal, which not only increases the weight of the joystick, but also makes it more durable and gives it a better feel.

Facts worth knowing about joysticks

When was the joystick invented?

The joystick is generally associated with video games, but its origins go back much further.

What is now often labelled as a toy was originally invented by the Frenchman Robert Esnault-Pelterie in the early 20th century as a control stick for aircraft.

Did you know that the first gaming joystick was made in 1967?

The first joysticks were invented in the early 20th century and were controls for steering an aircraft. These, of course, had mostly mechanical elements and only look like modern joysticks from the outside. The first gaming joystick was made about 60 years later, in 1967, and could only control the movement of a position on the screen horizontally and vertically.

The joystick was first used for the purpose of electronic remote control during the Second World War and has been used to control weapons ever since.

It was not until around 1970 that the joystick, together with the first video games, found a place in arcade halls and later, with the Commodore 64, also in front of home screens.

How do you calibrate a joystick in Windows 10?

Nothing is more annoying than wanting to get started with your new joystick and then realising that the inputs are not recognised correctly.

To prevent this from happening, we will briefly explain below how you can calibrate your joystick in Windows 10.

  1. Enter joy.cpl in the Cortana search field
  2. In the new window, select your connected joystick and go to "Properties"
  3. Now select "Settings" and then "Calibrate"

Image source: Pexels.com / eye4dtail

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