Hands-On Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS) controllers employ a joystick and throttle grip to emulate the controls in an authentic aircraft (or spacecraft) cockpit, and the best VR HOTAS controllers can change your gaming world. If you're thinking about investing in this type of controller, I've rounded up the best HOTAS joystick and throttle systems out there now. Availability seems to be limited at the moment for a lot of top models, but there are still some great options.
Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X (opens in new tab)
With a relatively affordable price (considering the current market), comfortable grip on throttle and stick, weighted base, and detachable build, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X should satisfy most people. It has 12 programmable buttons and five programmable axles so you can set things up how you want, and it connects to your PC with USB-A.
Sticks and Pedals
If you'd like to add even more control over your aircraft, this kit includes the awesome mid-range Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS as well as dual pedals for rudder control. These pedals are made of industrial-grade aluminum for a premium feel, and they have the perfect amount of resistance for precision control.
Best Mid-Range Option
Looking past the otherworldly aesthetic, you're getting a Windows 10 throttle and stick both loaded with buttons, hats, and sliders, plus twist rudder control and adjustable resistance. This HOTAS controller uses the same HallEffect AccuRate Technology (HEART) system with a 16-bit resolution as the pricier Warthog HOTAS, but you'll only pay a quarter of the price.
This is a replica set of HOTAS controls from the A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog" aircraft, and it's built for precision and durability. The stick — which uses the HEART system with 16-bit resolution for impressive precision — has 19 action buttons and a hat, and everything requires the same amount of pressure as in the real plane. The throttle is split into two parts for control over independent engines and altogether has 17 action buttons and a couple of hats. On the base of the throttle are an additional 15 buttons and switches for added controls.
For another tremendous high-end option, check out Logitech's G X56 with stick and throttle. It's absolutely covered in buttons, toggles, and dials, all backlit with RGB to help you see when you're not flying by feel. In total, there are 189 buttons you can program to your liking, and it's built well with metal and plastic materials.
If we're making a suggestion
The best VR HOTAS controllers currently seem to be in short supply, and prices have gone up quite a bit in the last year. This, no doubt, has something to do with the unreal success of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X (opens in new tab) is still the most affordable option in our roundup, and it will satisfy most people. It was designed way back in the PlayStation 3 days, but it works fine with Windows 10 and the best PC VR games with HOTAS support.
You get 12 programmable buttons split between throttle and stick, and you can adjust the resistance felt when using the latter. A weighted base keeps things steady, and you can separate the two pieces to sit on either side of you for a truly immersive experience. The HOTAS controller plugs in with USB-A, and it will save up to five preset button mappings for quick switching.
If you're interested in adding pedals to the HOTAS setup, something like the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Flight Pack (opens in new tab) is still not crazy overpriced. It has a quality joystick and throttle, as well as aluminum pedals for something like rudder control. It's not that much more than our overall top pick, and it adds that extra piece of hardware for a more realistic flight experience.
Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
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