Best HOTAS controllers for VR

Hands On Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS) controllers employ a joystick and throttle grip setup to emulate the controls in an authentic aircraft's (or spacecraft's) cockpit. These controllers have always been popular in the flight-sim world, but they've taken on a new life in the VR world. Games like Elite Dangerous, War Thunder, EVE: Valkyrie, and House of the Dying Sun can all be used with a HOTAS controller, and the immersion level is immediately ramped up when you place your hands on the hardware. If you're thinking about investing in this new type of controller, I've rounded the best HOTAS controllers out there now.

Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X

Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X

As the cheapest controller in this roundup, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X (about $50) might come across as inferior, but in reality it will satisfy a large audience. It was designed way back in the PlayStation 3 days, but it works fine with Windows 10 and VR.

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.

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Logitech G Saitek X52

Logitech G Saitek X52

For something a bit more advanced, the Logitech G Saitek X52 (about $150) has you covered, with backlit buttons, customization software, an LCD display that grants access to programmed commands, and a ton of buttons.

In addition to the two-stage triggers, fire buttons, hat switches, toggles, sliders, and rotary controls, the stick can be twisted for rudder control and the throttle can have its resistance adjusted as necessary. It's comfortable, it's been around for quite awhile, and it will work with Windows 10 and VR, requiring only a couple of USB-A ports for connection.

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Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS

Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS

Those wanting to emulate a spacecraft's cockpit should consider the Thrustmaster T.16000M HOTAS (about $100), which has arguably the best look of the bunch, with its black primary and orange secondary colors.

Looking past the otherworldly aesthetic, you're getting a 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 16-bit resolution as the $400 Warthog HOTAS, but you'll only pay a quarter of the price. Rest assured it is compatible with Windows 10 and VR, and it requires a USB-A 2.0 port and USB-A 3.0 port to plug in.

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Thrustmaster Warthog

Thrustmaster Warthog

If the price of the Thrustmaster Warthog (about $400) doesn't immediately scare you away, you'll likely end up with this piece of hardware sitting on your desk. 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 here is actually 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 additional controls. Plug it in with a couple of USB-A ports, don your VR headset, and forget about the rest.

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