Nick Capron - 2016-04-18

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Having spent a lot of time playing DCS A10 over the years, I was interested in upgrading my old Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick. The Saitek X52 Pro Flight System Controller seemed like a good choice, and I was lucky enough to get one for my Birthday.

The Saitek X52 Pro Flight System Controller, is a Hands On Throttle And Stick(HOTAS) joystick for your PC. It is the standard choice for a mid-tier joystick solution for most current flight and space simulators. The X52 Pro is rather expensive device. The pleasure of owning one will cost you around the total of $200 to $250 CAD.

Saitek offers an additional option of a non pro variant of the X52. It costs around $20 to $40 less than the pro version. The Difference between the two models are minimal. The pro version features better internal components, and a unique black paint job.

Locked on Target

The X52 Pro gives a great first impression upon plugging it into your PC. With it's fire safe switch, loads of buttons, LED Screen, and bright lights, the X52 is a great looking device. It features pretty much anything you need in a joystick, including embedded mouse support, and multiple button configurations that can be switched on the fly. With it's mass of buttons, switches, and hats, you should have more than enough options for mapping controls.

Besides looking great, the X52 is very comfortable to use. I've played some extended sessions of Elite Dangerous using the X52, and have had no complaints. The button placement feels natural, the grip on the throttle and stick are comfortable, making the X52 a good choice for comfortable extended gaming sessions.

Overall it's a huge improvement over my old Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick Hotas X Joystick. The thrustmaster served me well for a budget stick, but it would be hard to go back to it now after experiencing the advantages of the X52 Pro.

I'm Punching Out!

While the X52 Pro has a lot of good things going for it, it is definitely not flawless. For a device that costs over 200 dollars, the X52 Pro feels too light and fragile. Due to the X52’s light weight, it's easy to lift the joystick from the table if you push or pull on it too hard. This really isn't a problem under normal flying conditions, but in dogfights, or other tense situations where you're pulling hard on your stick(heh), you will easily lift the base from your table.

I personally found the X52’s stick to feel loose. I'd like a stiffer feeling stick that has some weight to it, vs the light touch that is required to use the X52’s stick effectively.

A more serious flaw is the large amount of “Jitter” the X52’s various dials and sliders produce. If you plan on using the dials or the switches for anything sensitive, they don't work. For example, I tried to use one of the sliders on the throttle to control the zoom level in DCS world. Doing so made the game completely unplayable. The zoom level moved around uncontrollably due to it detecting the small jitters of the switch “moving” even though the switch was not being actively moved. Thankfully, the X52’s software is pretty powerful and I was able to fix this problem by creating a profile for DCS that only moves the zoom in stages instead of picking up the small jitters in the switch I assigned to the zoom.

While the X52’s software is powerful, isn't the best looking or the easiest to learn. I had some minor difficulties getting it to work with Windows 10, and actually had to download a beta version of the software to get it to work correctly. After a few hours of struggling with it, I had enough comfort to load pre-made configurations and perform adjustments as needed. I would need to spend significantly more time with the software to become comfortable with creating configurations from scratch.

Should I Buy It?

If you can look past its flaws, the X52 is worth a purchase if you play flight and space simulation games often. Especially so, if spending close to $600 CAD on a Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Joystick, just isn't financially possible or desirable. If you have the cash, or spend the vast majority of your gaming time with flight sims, you may be better served by the Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog.

If you are a casual player of these types of games, I'd suggest getting a Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick Hotas X Joystick. The T-Flight Stick Hotas is a lot cheaper, and lacks a lot of the X52’s functionality, but is a very serviceable casual joystick.


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