Best joystick for PC

Computer Accessories & Peripherals

Joysticks are not limited to Windows users. Some joysticks let you play on Mac computers, too.

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Which joystick for PC IS best?

Using a joystick is a unique and old-school way to enjoy your favorite video games. PC gamers have an advantage because of the huge variety of games they can play and the number of controls they can use. Whether you’re playing a flight simulator game or a smash ’em up fighting game, joysticks can take your PC gaming skills to the next level. 

The best joystick for PC is CH Products Flightstick Pro. This is a high-quality joystick with programmable buttons and a smooth and sturdy feel.

What to know before you buy a joystick for PC

Varieties

Fight sticks

There are various types of joysticks for PC gaming. For example, fighting games use what are called fight sticks. These are portable devices that look like the top of an old-school arcade game. Successful fighting game players utilize quick 2D movements and combination attacks to beat their opponents. Fight sticks make this playstyle comfortable and easy to master.

There are also standalone joysticks that use programmable buttons. These are good for flight simulators and certain racing games. Controllers have joysticks as well, which lets you use two smaller sticks to control your character’s movement. Many PC games are compatible with this type of joystick.

Compatibility

In order to use a joystick for a certain game on PC, you’ll need to check off a few boxes to make sure everything will function correctly. First, you’ll need to check the game you plan to play and see if it’s compatible with a joystick. Keep in mind that some games may say they are compatible with a controller instead of a joystick. You’ll also need to ensure that the joystick itself is capable of playing certain types of games. While it technically may be compatible, it might not be the most efficient way to play. It’s good to read reviews and make sure you can be successful on this particular game. 

Connectivity

Universal serial bus (USB) is the most common type of connection for joystick gaming on a PC. This is a very easy way to set up your joystick because it doesn’t require you to remove your PC cover. Check with the joystick manufacturer before plugging in your joystick because you may have to download new software. Some joysticks may require you to install software before you can connect and operate the device.

What to look for in a quality joystick for PC

Programmable buttons

Joysticks aren’t always the easiest controls to use. Their size and shape may be hard to grasp for some gamers. For this reason, clever joystick manufacturers place easy-to-reach buttons around the joystick which can be programmed individually. If “E” is the default key for an action in a video game, a joystick will let you program that same action to a separate button. Certain high-quality joysticks have over 20 programmable buttons, which makes your gaming experience even more manageable.

Materials 

Like any electronic devices, especially for gaming, materials are super important. Gamers use their hands and fingers to control all in-game movements so having a comfortable and sturdy feel can help you succeed. Fight sticks will use metal plates on the bottom which protect your device and allow it to easily rest on your lap. Standalone joysticks will utilize rubber grips at their base and high-quality plastics and rubbers for the stick. Adding weighted material in certain areas of the joystick is also important in keeping the stick firm to a table or desk.

Ergonomics

Like many video game accessories, ergonomics is crucial. Gamers tend to play for many hours at a time and it’s important to be comfortable throughout each session. High-quality joysticks are designed using universal sizing. This means that regardless of your hand size, you should feel comfortable using the controls. Fight sticks offer a large pad to rest your wrist on, which makes them super comfortable for gaming. If you’re looking into a retro controller, keep in mind that ergonomics may not be what you’re used to with modern controllers.

How much you can expect to spend on a joystick for PC

Joysticks for PCs can cost anywhere from $10-$96.

Joystick for PC FAQ

Do all PC games support joysticks?

A. Most PC games support controllers, which are a type of joystick. However, not many games support standalone joysticks. It’s important to check with the game first before attempting to use your joystick.

What PC software can I use a joystick with?

A. Most joysticks are supported by Windows 10. This is the most current iteration of the Windows software. Some joysticks are even compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 9. Believe it or not, you can still find joysticks that work with Windows 98.

What ARE the best joystickS for PC to buy?

Top joystick for PC

CH Products Flightstick Pro

CH Products Flightstick Pro

What you need to know: With Flightstick in the name, you know this is the best joystick for flight simulator games.

What you’ll love: Test your air battle skills with this quality joystick featuring 22 programmable buttons. It includes Windows software compatibility and easy plug-in-play installation. 

What you should consider: This joystick does not have a twist axis, which may limit your movement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top joystick for PC for the money

Saffun retro gamepad controller

Saffun retro gamepad controller

What you need to know: If you remember the Super Nintendo controllers, you’ll quickly recognize the Saffun retro gamepad controller. 

What you’ll love: Reliving your favorite retro games is a breeze with this easy-to-install controller. It comes with two controllers and is compatible with a variety of retro gaming operating systems.

What you should consider: The chords are only 5 feet long, so you may need to purchase a USB extension.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Mayflash F300 Arcade Fight Stick

Mayflash F300 Arcade Fight Stick

What you need to know: Fighting game enthusiasts will love this well-designed fight stick pad made with high-quality materials.

What you’ll love: With eight programmable buttons and a wide base to rest your hand and wrist, this arcade fight stick is up there with the best.

What you should consider: This joystick has a square restrictor plate, which may limit your stick’s movement. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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