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The Best 5 HOTAS Joysticks For DCS: Ultimate Guide

Whether you are an avid in-game pilot or simply a beginner in DCS, a HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle And Stick) is necessary for more immersive gameplay. Below you will find some of the best HOTAS on the market that will deliver an overall superior flying experience.

The Top-Rated HOTAS for DCS

Editor's PickHOTASScore
Top PickLogitech G X56 HOTAS91%
Runner UpCH Fighterstick + CH Pro Throttle88%
Budget PickThrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 485%
Luxury PickThrustmaster Warthog HOTAS94%
Good ValueThrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS89%
Honorable MentionLogitech G X52 Pro Flight Control System89%

Top Pick: Logitech G X56 HOTAS

Logitech G X56 HOTAS
  • Military-grade Space and Flight Sim Precision. Customizable options including all the control surface options required to achieve the exact level of performance that aspiring combat pilots demand
  • New Mini Analog Stick Control Surfaces: Control pitch, roll, yaw, backwards, forwards, up, down, left and right as well as gimballed weapons that are controlled separately from the space craft
  • RGB Backlighting: Many PC peripherals now feature RGB backlighting and the X-56 is no exception. Use the software to set the color of the lighting to match the rest of your gaming rig
  • Ideal for VR: The X-56 places controls perfectly under your fingers where subtle distinctions in button feel and shape help you navigate the control set with ease
  • Fully Featured HOTAS: Accurate 16-bit aileron and elevator axis with hall-effect sensors. Adjustable Stick Force via Advanced 4-Spring System. Twin Throttles with Friction Adjuster and Throttle Lock

The Logitech G X56 HOTAS, which is also our favourite HOTAS for Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen, features a streamlined design with an all black colorway. Despite its full plastic build, it feels very solid and high quality with no annoying creaks. The throttle base tends to move around if you use too much force, but it can be mounted on your desk to avoid this. It also features RGB backlight to match your gaming setup.

The stick on the X56 is very well made, with a smooth rubber finish. It is removable so you can transport or store it more easily, and the spring connecting it to the base is interchangeable so you can control its stiffness. Its ergonomics are excellent with a good number of well-placed inputs, including three 4-way hats with discrete patterns, an analog thumb stick and a responsive pinky trigger. There is also a twist for yaw feature, which is always a plus.

The throttle on the X56 can be locked and used as a single axis, or split into a dual throttle. It has a consistent and adjustable tension mechanism for a more realistic experience. The throttle is also packed with inputs, including two 4-way hats and a thumbstick. There are also a lot of flip up switches on the throttle base for even more customization.

Runner-Up: CH Fighterstick + CH Pro Throttle

CH Fighterstick + CH Pro Throttle
  • Three axis and 24 buttons (3 pushbuttons, 1 mode selector, 1 4-way & 1 8-way switch)
  • X and Y axis on miniature joystick and Z axis on accurate throttle sliding motion
  • Total of 176 programmable functions with Control Manager software (included) VERY IMPORTANT !!! Before installing the newest version of Control Manager, be sure to uninstall any previous versions from your computer. Also, be sure that any anti-virus software is disabled.
  • Three color mode indicator LED's on base. Please Note: Kindly refer the User Manual before use.
  • Compatible with Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 and Mac OSX

The CH Fighterstick and CH Pro Throttle are the newest iterations of a classic HOTAS that CH has been making for over 30 years. CH products are known for their simplistic design and great build quality. While made of plastic, the throttle and stick feel solid and the buttons and switches are precise and accurate.

The Fighterstick is modelled after an F-16 handle with great ergonomics. It features three 4-way hats and an 8-way POV hat, as well as a good amount of extra buttons to map all the essential functions of your plane. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a twist function, which might deter some users from picking it up.

The Pro Throttle offers fantastic throttle performance with its slider design. There are also three additional 4-way hats, an 8-way hat, an analog switch and 4 extra buttons for mapping different functions. The only con of the Pro Throttle is the short motion, which can also be a plus for rapid adjustments of speed.

Budget Pick: Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4

Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4
  • Ready for takeoff with adjustable stick resistance, real-size detachable throttle, dual rudder system and built-in PS4/PC sliding switch; Realistic joystick is designed to adapt to all types of flights (aerial combat, space adventure, civil flight, etc.)
  • Adjustable stick resistance with large hand rest; Dual rudder system: by rotating handle (with integrated locking system) or by progressive tilting lever.
  • Comprehensive flight gear: 5 axes + 12 action buttons + 1 rapid fire trigger + 1 multidirectional hat switch (navigation / panoramic view)
  • Comprehensive flight gear: 5 axes + 12 action buttons + 1 rapid fire trigger + 1 multidirectional hat switch (navigation / panoramic view)
  • PC compatibility (Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP) ensured thanks to Thrust master drivers available for download from our website; Internal memory and upgradeable firmware via the PC drivers

The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4 has a single unit design for using it on your lap, but you can also split it into a separate throttle and stick for use on your desk. It is fully made of plastic, as is expected in this price, but still feels durable enough with a good weight. It also has a port for accessories such as pedals if you want to enhance your experience further.

The grip on the stick of the T.Flight is very ergonomic and comfortable, partially thanks to the large wrist rest. The stick is easy to move around, without feeling flimsy, and the tension can be controlled via a knob on the bottom. The stick features twist for yaw, a single 4-way hat, three buttons and a good quality trigger.

The throttle of the T.Flight performs well enough with a solid return to center action and good feedback. Its six extra buttons and two triggers are very well placed and can easily be reached with one hand. The one caveat is the tactile stop at the halfway point of the throttle, which can annoy users and reduce accuracy.

Luxury Pick: Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS

The Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS is considered as the pinnacle of controllers and was made to replicate the stick of the A-10 Warthog aircraft. It features a black all metal design with outstanding build quality and a substantial weight ensuring it won’t move an inch from your desk.

The HallEffect magnetic sensors on the stick of the Thrustmaster Warthog give it excellent movement precision and a smooth feel. The joystick is equipped with a plethora of buttons, including two 4-way hats and two 8-way hats. All of them have distinctive patterns, so you can access them without looking. The lack of a twist feature is a drawback and necessitates the purchase of pedals for yaw.

The throttle is one of the more responsive on the market. It has a split design, so you can control two different axes and numerous different inputs, which include two 4-way hats, three 2-way thumb switches and an analog thumb stick that works really well for thruster control.

Good Value: Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS

Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS
  • The T.16000M FCS HOTAS is compatible with PC via USB in Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • 16 action buttons with braille - style physical button identification
  • Exclusive precision:Hall Effect accurate technology 3D (Hall Effect) magnetic sensors located on the Stick (us patent: Us08471815)
  • 4 independent axes, including twist rudder (controlled by rotating the Stick)
  • 14 action buttons + 8-way POV hat: two 4-Way switches + 3 buttons + one 2-position Slider + 1 push mini-stick + one 8-way point of view hat switch

The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS is an excellent value for money option for anyone looking for a solid HOTAS to enjoy DCS. Its design is simple, with orange accents on a black color scheme and the all plastic build feels sturdy enough to last for a while.

The main selling point of the T.16000M is its very ergonomic, ambidextrous joystick. The ambidextrous design allows you to purchase another one in the future for an affordable dual joystick setup. It’s also one of the few budget solutions for left-handed users. The stick is equipped with a single 4-way hat, three buttons and a weapon trigger, as well as twist for yaw. The base of the joystick features twelve buttons for endless customization options.

The throttle uses a solid slide mechanism with adjustable feedback to suit your needs. However, it can feel a bit flimsy at times. The extra fourteen buttons and single 8-way POV hat give you a lot of additional mapping options, which adds to the overall versatility of the HOTAS.

Honorable Mention: Logitech G X52 Pro Flight Control System

Logitech G X52 Pro Flight Control System
  • Illuminated buttons and enhanced gameplay through intuitive LCD multi-function display
  • Progressive throttle with resistance adjustment and detents for Afterburner and Idle
  • Precision centering mechanism; No contact Technology on x and Y axes and constant spring force improve control
  • Program your controller for each game using the powerful smart technology software. System requirements: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, 2-usb 2.0 port, internet connection for optional software download
  • 5 position handle adjustment system to suit all hand sizes with soft-touch, contoured grip for maximum gaming comfort

The Logitech G X52 Pro Flight Control System has an elegant design and a very good build quality. The bases are mostly made of plastic with some metal accents while the stick and throttle are made of soft touch plastic for added comfort.

The joystick has a very ergonomic handle with good button placement and a twist for yaw feature. Resistance on the joystick increases gradually as you move it, which prevents accidental movements. The stick is equipped with a number of inputs including two 4-way hats, a button behind a safety cover and an excellent dual stage trigger.

The throttle on the X52 Pro performs very well, with adjustable resistance so you can fit it to your tastes. It comes with a slider axis, one 4-way hat and a useful pointer stick that can be used as a mouse. There is also a small LCD screen on the base of the throttle which is used to switch between your different profiles for different in-game scenarios.

What to Look for in a HOTAS

When looking for a new HOTAS to play DCS you need to consider the following:

Build Quality

One of the most important features when buying a new HOTAS is its build quality. Things can easily get very expensive, especially if you want a high end HOTAS, so it has to be built well in order to last for a while. Also the components are subjected to constant mechanical loads every time you use your HOTAS and thus need to be sturdy.

Twist vs No twist

The absence of the twist feature on HOTAS can be significant, as it entails the purchase of additional pedals for yaw, thus increasing the overall cost of your setup. However, the twist feature can make a joystick more flimsy and prone to axis bleed.

Number Of Inputs

A solid number and different types of inputs will provide you with different mapping options for all your necessary functions. As with all flight sim games, in DCS there are a number of things you need to be controlling on the fly, and a good number of inputs ensures you won’t have to take your hands off the joystick to look for a key on your keyboard, thus breaking immersion.

Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Thomas Bush