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starshattermods » Star Citizen Discussion » Star Citizen General Discussion
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Thoughts On Joysticks
wdboyd
Salutations,

Good joysticks are expensive. Very much like comparing a cheap $12 keyboard to a $150 mechanical one. The cheap one "works", but you don't realize how shitty it is until you type on the expensive mechanical one. There is a complete night-and-day difference between a cheap stick and a more expensive one.

Some of the problems you get with cheap sticks:

Deadzone. That is, a "dead" area around the centre where you get no reaction from movement of the stick. Better sticks have zero deadzone.

Quality. Better sticks are just built better. Unlike mice, a joystick is a mechanical device that gets a lot more abuse when gaming. Cheap sticks don't stand up to abuse very well. The best quality sticks (CH Products) can last 15 years and still function like the day they were bought. Cheaper sticks sometimes don't even make it 6 months before they start to develop issues. Cheaper sticks sometimes even have buttons that are DOA or don't work properly after a very short period of time.

Precision. Cheap sticks have shit internals (with the exception of the T16000m). They're not precise. They don't calibrate well, they'll develop 'spiking' over time (spiking is a quick and uncommanded "blip" in the stick's motion). Expensive sticks use significantly higher quality internals, and the motion on them is much smoother. This means it's easier to game with. Imagine using a mouse that would randomly move your cursor a couple of inches every now and then. That's what joystick spiking is like.

Expensive sticks have better control software. Far, FAR too many people underestimate the usefulness of a joystick's control software. This software lets you do things like assign keymaps for programs, macros, custom sensitivity and response curves, axis reassignment or axis inversion, and depending on the software other more complex functions. Saitek's is decent, Thrustmaster's TARGET is very good and CH Product's Control Manager is widely considered the best on the market.

Expensive sticks have better resale value. You can probably reclaim 80-90% of what you spent on a good stick or HOTAS if it's lightly used and you decide you don't like it. I've seen 5 year old CH gear go for a mere $20-$40 less than brand new stuff.

A quick note on prices: This stuff is very subject to regional pricing, some of it extremely so. Don't be surprised if you go on amazon or whatever and see different prices listed than what I have down here. For the most part I've used CAD regional pricing as a guide.

Under $100 Bracket

Mad Catz/Saitek AV8R: I would consider this the bottom-of-the-barrel entry. MSRP is around $30 so you're not going to find anything cheaper. Poor design, throttles in very awkward position. Cheaply made, few buttons. Ambidextrous. I believe this was originally made as a PS3 controller. No longer in production. Probably best to avoid.

Mad Catz/Saitek FLY V1
: Saitek's new bottom-of-the-barrel entry. Very new stick, not much info available. Allows alt/shifted functions, which is a nice feature to see on a cheap stick.

Mad Catz/Saitek FLY 5: Better than the above. Much more customizable. IMO expensive stick for what you get, especially if you're in Europe and can get VKB stuff. Better throttle placement than the AV8R. Might be worth looking into if you find most sticks uncomfortable.

T16000m: Oddball stick for the simple fact that, despite the cost and "meh" plastic plastic build, it's got a lot going for it. Uses magnetic HALL sensors instead of cheap pots, very accurate, ambidextrous. Compatible with TM's TARGET software (big, BIG plus).

Logitec Extreme 3D: Cheap stick. Poor quality pots. I've had calibration issues with them. Can develop spiking. Won't last near as long as better sticks.. you get what you pay for.

Thrustmaster HOTAS X: Personally not a fan, as it has all the problems of a cheap joystick crammed into a HOTAS form-factor. Maybe only useful to see if you like the HOTAS setup.. but keep in mind it's a $30-$50 HOTAS when "proper" HOTAS systems start at $160. Is not compatible with TM's TARGET software, which IMO totally kills it.

$100 - $200 Bracket


T16000m + CH Pro Throttle: IMO best budget HOTAS solution. The good-for-the-money T16000m combined with the best throttle unit on the market. Makes use of TM's TARGET (for the stick) and CH Control Manager (for the throttle). Gives you twist on the stick + a fully analogue thumbstick on the throttle.

Saitek x52 Pro: Old design. Generally requires magnet mod to make it a decent stick. Known for throttle quadrant failures. On the plus side, old design improved over the original x52 means that a lot of Saitek's QC issues don't apply to this stick. Personally I found them very sloppy, poor centering requiring a large deadzone, and poor calibration. This was all on an unmodded stick though.

Saitek x55: Good stick on par with the money if you get one that works. Saitek's quality control is complete crap though. Issues range from button ghosting, buttons not working, sticks DOA, throttle issues, and other problems. Some people have had to RMA 3 times before they got one that worked. Others got one that worked out of the box. Very large stick with sub-optimal button layout. Throttle unit is better in this regard. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest components in the system starts to fail around 600-700 hours of use.

$300 - < $500 Bracket

CH HOTAS
: Must be bought in pieces (throttle, stick, pedals). IMO best quality HOTAS on the market. Yea, it's "plastic".. that plastic is fibre-reinforced nylon polymer. CH builds stuff for industrial, agriculture, and military use. Their shit lasts forever (20+ years, no joke). Only throttle that has an analogue thumbstick. Best control software on the market. All components have some odd ergonomics some users don't like. No twist (not a liability, IMO). Uses pots, so still requires re-calibration every now and then, but they're excellent quality pots, so you won't run into the spiking and drift issues common to cheaper sticks. Modeled after the stick and throttle in the F-16 fighter. Unfortunately, very subject to regional pricing and difficult to find outside of North America. Large stick; roughly same size as the X55 but with better button layout.

>$500 Bracket

Thrustmaster Warthog
: Stick licensed copy of the one in the A-10C Thunderbolt II aeroplane. Very sturdy exterior build on the stick, though still uses plastic internal parts. Very heavy throw weight. IMO best looking of all the sticks. Compatible with TM TARGET software. No twist. Better suited to jet/DCS/BMS sims than space sims or WWII sims, but still a good stick. Various reports of stick suffering from stiction issues.

Others

VKB: Please see this post. I've heard conflicting reports as to whether or not the Defender Cobra M5 is still in production. Either way it's hard to get a hold of.

My Personal Recommendations


Best Budget Stick: T16000m.

Best Budget HOTAS: CH Pro Throttle + T16000m (or two T16000m sticks if all you play is SC/ED)

Best HOTAS: Full CH setup. Unless you're playing a shitton of jet sims, then probably the warthog.

What about pedals?

If you don't have a twist stick they're pretty much required. Even if you have a twist stick I can't recommend pedals enough. They give you far more control and feel much more natural, not to mention you don't end up killing your wrist over longer gaming sessions.

Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals: Honestly, I don't know a lot about them. Better suited to Saitek's civvie flight sim line. Retail for around $150. Same internals as the PRO Flight Combat Pedals, but different layout.

Saitek PRO Flight Combat Rudder Pedals: Probably the best piece of 'combat oriented' gear Saitek makes. I haven't heard many complaints about them. Nice and large, sturdy. Retail around $200

CH Pro Pedals: Good quality pedals, like all of CH's stuff. Smooth but stiff motion with very abrupt centering. Nicknamed "nutcracker" because of how close together the pedals are (8"Wink. If you're think in the thighs this could be a problem. Otherwise on-par with the rest of CH's gear. Come with stops so you can use them as gas/break in car or tank sims or something. Compatible with CH's software. Retail for around $160.

VKB T-rudder MkII pedals: Responsive pedals with a simple push down action (adjustable), but with no toe pedals. All metal, well constructed and not insanely priced. A mid-tier step between Saitek/CH Pedals and MFG or Slaw device.

MFG Crosswind: Very high quality pedals. Second only to Slaw Device pedals. Retail around $500-$600.

Slaw Device Pedals: Best pedals on the market. Very expensive, but hand-made, all metal. Extremely high quality. Around $700 IIRC.

Twist vs. No Twist

This is largely an issue of personal preference, and there's valid points of view for it either way. I'll outline a couple based on my own experience:

Pros of Twist:

Saves real-estate.

Twist sticks are widely available by comparison.

Don't need to invest in pedals.

Arguably easier to use.

Cons of Twist:

Axis bleed is a real issue.

Torqueing motion is unnatural for the wrist, and it can start to ache after longer gaming sessions.

Not as accurate as pedals.

Generally leads to weaker stick.

Can exasperate calibration issues.

After switching to a non-twist stick and getting pedals some never go back, but again, personal preference.

As for the Saitek ones being developed for SC, I'm very much in the "Wait and see" category. Saitek's quality control since Mad Catz bought them has been spotty at best, and in the HOTAS arena they're not known for high quality.
 
braddw25
Great information. Thanks for posting. Is this from your brain or did you get this from Trip?
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you, and be sure of this, I will be with you always even unto the end of the age. Mathew 28:20
 
wdboyd
No... it was taken from some reddit posts. !biggrin!
 
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