Whether you are a beginner or a veteran Elite Dangerous player, a HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) offers superior playing experience compared to a controller or mouse and keyboard. Below are some of the best HOTAS for Elite Dangerous to help you enhance your flying experience.
The Top-Rated HOTAS For Elite Dangerous
|Top Pick||Logitech G X56 Rhino||90%|
|Runner Up||CH Fighterstick + CH Pro Throttle||86%|
|Budget Pick||Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS||85%|
|Luxury Pick||Thrustmaster Warthog||94%|
|Best for Xbox One||Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One||89%|
|Best for PS4||Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4||89%|
Top Pick: Logitech G X52 Pro
The Logitech G X56 Rhino is a very well-built midrange HOTAS, and happens to be our top pick for other titles like DCS and Star Citizen. The base of the throttle and stick are mostly made of metal, giving it some heft and a premium feel. The throttle and stick are made of soft plastic, making them really comfortable. They also feel nice to the touch.
The stick of the X52 Pro comes with several buttons and switches, including 2 four-way hats, a high quality dual stage trigger, and a button behind a safety cover. There is also a twist for yaw feature, which is a pleasant addition. The spring on the X52 Pro joystick is rather loose, which is good for quick maneuvers in Elite Dangerous, but can be a negative, depending on the user’s preferences.
The X52 throttle has adjustable stiffness, so you can fine tune it to suit your style. It comes with a single 4-way hat, a slider axis, and a small pointer stick that acts as a mouse. The base of the throttle also features a small LCD screen to control various modes and button mappings, allowing for easy switching between profiles for different game modes or games.
Runner-Up: CH Fighterstick + CH Pro Throttle
With over 20 years on the market, this reliable HOTAS should cover all your flying needs.
The Fighterstick and Pro Throttle are an updated USB version of the classic HOTAS made by CH Products, which has been in the joystick market for more than 30 years, thus being very well known and popular with long time flight sim enthusiasts. While both the stick and throttle are constructed of high quality plastic, they are very well built with excellent community ratings. However, their simplistic design is antiquated, which may not appeal to modern gamers.
The stick has great ergonomics and offers three 4-way hats, one of them being on your thumb, to control the three axes. It also has an 8-way primary and secondary fire buttons and a few extra buttons, giving you an overall good versatility for controlling the primary functions of Elite Dangerous.
The Pro throttle offers a high quality slider design with a smooth feel. The motion range is on the short side, which may bother some, but has the advantage of quicker speed adjustment. The three 4-way hats and single 8-way POV hat, coupled with 4 extra buttons and an analog switch, enable many combinations for button mapping on the throttle.
Budget Pick: Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS
This simple value for money HOTAS should cover the essentials for users on a tight budget.
The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS has a standard practical design and is black with orange accents to match the default cockpit colors in Elite Dangerous. The HOTAS is made solely of plastic, but overall feels solid with no creaks.
One of the major selling points of the T.16000M is its ambidextrous joystick, which allows it to be used in dual joystick setups, or paired with an ambidextrous throttle for left-handed users. The stick itself has a single 4-way hat, as well as three buttons and a weapon trigger. It also features twist for yaw. In the base there are an additional twelve buttons and a slider axis, giving you a sizable amount of options.
The throttle operates using a sliding mechanism, as opposed to a rocker mechanism, which matches well with the in game ships in Elite. However, this also makes it seem flimsy and cheap. Thrustmaster has packed the throttle of the T.1600m with plenty of inputs, including buttons, switches and a few 4-way hats for endless combinations.
Luxury Pick: Thrustmaster Warthog
Considered the pinnacle of flight sim controls, this HOTAS should please even the most demanding players.
The Thrustmaster Warthog is designed to be a 1:1 replica of the A10 Warthog aircraft of the US Air Force. It has a superior all metal build quality and is very heavy and sturdy. Its large weight also ensures no movement when using it on a desk.
The joystick has a very nice feel and is precise and accurate in its movement, thanks to the Hall Effect magnetic sensors that Thrustmaster has implemented. There is an array of buttons and switches, along with two 4-way and two 8-way hats, all of which have distinct patterns for easy and quick access. The lack of twist for yaw can be a deterrent for some users though.
The throttle offers a split dual axis design with two 4-way hats, a small pointer analog stick which works really well for thruster control, and three 2-way thumb switches. The lighted base also comes with several buttons and flip switches and a slider for a myriad of button mapping combinations.
Best For Xbox One: Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One
If you are looking for a better flying experience in your Xbox One game, then this HOTAS should fit your needs.
The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One is an entry level HOTAS, ideally used with the Xbox One, that can also be used on PC. The T.Flight One is designed as a single unit to use primarily on your lap, but can also split into a more traditional stick and throttle for desk use. Its plastic construction is expected at this price point, however the overall build quality seems robust.
The stick on the T.Flight One has a nice feel and smooth operation, thanks partially to its good weight distribution. It comes with one 4-way hat and four additional buttons, one of which is a well-made and responsive trigger. It also features twist for yaw, which is a plus.
The throttle performs adequately with good resistance and return to center action. It also offers an additional six buttons and single axis control. All the buttons are mapped to the controls of Elite Dangerous by default for a seamless plug and play experience.
Best For Playstation 4: Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4
If you want to upgrade from your PS4 controller, this HOTAS is the best entry level one.
The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4 is a mild revision and upgrade over the T.Flight HOTAS One. The key differences between the two are PS4 compatibility, and an accessory input port for use with pedals giving you an easy upgrade path for even richer immersion. Other than that, the build remains nearly identical.
The joystick on the T.Flight 4 has a very comfortable grip with a broad wrist support. There is also a tension control knob under the stick for adjusting stick resistance. There are 4 buttons with unique tactile feedback and a 4-way hat. The HOTAS also has twist for yaw that you can lock if you prefer not to use it.
The throttle fulfills its duty well enough with a solid amount of feedback. There is, however, a tactile stop at the halfway point which can be annoying at first and can compromise on precision around that point. It also has six added buttons, four of which are accessible with your thumb and a throttle rocker.
What To Look For In a HOTAS
When shopping for a new HOTAS for your system, keep the following parameters in mind:
This is probably the most important aspect when looking to buy a HOTAS. The stick has to be built well and be affixed securely onto the base, so it can endure the huge mechanical loads applied to it after many hours of flying. The buttons also need to be firm so that they last for many years of abuse.
Number Of Inputs
You need a good amount of buttons, switches, rockers and hats so you can have many options to map different functions of your ship. This is important both for enhanced immersion, and overall ease of use so you need not take your hands off the stick or throttle to press a button on your keyboard.
Twist vs No twist
If you want to play space sims in particular, then you need to consider a stick with a twist. It saves you from having to buy pedals for yaw, lowering the overall cost and saving desk space. On the flip side, sticks with twist are generally less robust and can present axis bleed. Another problem with using sticks with twist is the unorthodox motion of your wrists that can lead to pain over long gaming sessions.
Considering the cost of HOTAS setups, it’s probably a good idea to consider other games you might want to play as a side track from Elite Dangerous; after all, there are tons of other great games available now and in the near future that also require HOTAS, and you’d be remiss to stick to just one game forever!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most common questions users ask when choosing a HOTAS for Elite Dangerous:
You do not need a special controller for Elite Dangerous. However, a joystick, like those used for flight simulators, or HOTAS will greatly improve your gaming experience!
You certainly can, although it is hard to recommend as it’s awkward and challenging to pull off even basic maneuvers with a mouse and keyboard unless you’re immensely flexible or willing to set up all manner of hotkeys and macros to accommodate. It really is worth shelling out some money for the experience provided by a proper flight sim setup!
Last Updated on April 16, 2021