While getting into the air in modern PC games is a rarity these days, there are still some top titles and old favourites that make owning a joystick a worthwhile thing to do. As well as the lack of decent flight simulators, the range of joysticks is also a lot smaller than it was a few years ago too. However, there are still some classics around and one or two companies still release new ones every now and then.
If you’re in the market for a joystick, or need to replace your old venerable model that’s showing its age, we’ve got just the thing for you, especially if you don’t want to spend more than forty pounds. We’re looking at two budget joysticks that come with a surprising array of features considering their price. In fact, they both include features that are absent on far more expensive models. Both have their pros and cons though, and we’ll be looking at both in detail so you can decide which is best for you.
Click to enlarge - Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X (left) Cyborg FLY 5 (right)
Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Manufacturer: Thrustmaster UK Price (as reviewed):£38.12 (inc VAT) US Price(as reviewed): $46.81(ex tax)
The models we’re looking at are Thrustmaster’s venerable T-Flight Hotas X and Cyborg’s new FLY 5 joystick. The Thrustmaster has been around for a while and has been our favourite sub £40 joystick thanks to its solid design, separate throttle control and excellent value.
Cyborg FLY 5 Manufacturer: Cyborg UK Price (as reviewed):£36.98 (inc VAT) US Price(as reviewed): $44.05 (ex tax)
The new kid on the block is Cyborg’s FLY 5. It’s less substantial than the T-Flight Hotas X, but has dual throttle control, scores of programmable buttons, and can be totally dismantled – a first for a joystick to our knowledge. Let's move on to the testing where we’ll be putting each joystick through its paces.
T-Flight Hotas X
Number of programmable buttons
12 (24 using shift button)
Yaw stick twist / lock
Adjustable stick resistance
Adjustable stick dimensions
Look And Feel
To start with then, how do the two joysticks compare in comfort and ease of use? The T-Flight Hotas Xis a bulky bit of kit, but has the tried and tested feel of a stick that’s moulded to your hand and its weight means it sits very firmly on your des,k providing a solid base for heated dogfighting. Its stick is smooth and positive although the throttle feels a little clunky but is far from cheap-feeling.
Click to enlarge - the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X
The FLY 5 is more of a lightweight. Its stand is just about large enough to provide a firm base, although aggressive use does see it wobble a little. The stick feels positive although not quite as smooth as the T-Flight Hotas X, but is pleasant to use, despite its numerous buttons appearing to be a little prickly.
Click to enlarge - the Cyborg FLY 5
Even more so are its dual throttles. These are exceptionally smooth and are better-feeling than that of the T-Flight Hotas X. The locking button on the side is well-located and works well, switching from dual to single throttle control in an instant.
The buttons on the FLY 5 are generally well-made and solid, but a few feel a little tinny and cheap. All on the T-Flight Hotas X feel more substantial, although the difference is far from being a deal-breaker. We'd feel confident about being happy owning either.