VKB vs. Thrustmaster: A Comprehensive Comparison of Premium Flight & Space Simulator Products

VKB is the leading manufacturer of Flight and Space sim controllers in the world.
But how do they stack up against the popular Thrustmaster HOTAS?

 

about Gladiator EVO 'Space Combat Edition' Premium

A massive improvement

I bought this joystick after getting tired of continually recalibrating and battling drift/inaccuracy in a cheaper Thrustmaster stick. I read reviews suggesting you could afford to buy 5 or more replacement Thrustmaster sticks for the price of the Gladiator EVO, but that just means putting up with 5 or more inaccurate sticks ruining your gaming experience when it can be so much better with the EVO. I absolutely do not regret spending the extra money on the EVO - it feels so stable, with over-the-top button/switch options. There is a little bit of assembly to do, but there are good YouTube guides, and I did have to download the VKB config utility to unlock full functionality, but now it has really put the "joy" into "joystick".

Are you also ready to become the best pilot you can be?

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Read the detailed VKB vs Thrustmaster HOTAS comparison:

Introduction

Flight simulation enthusiasts often find themselves torn between various high-quality products from leading manufacturers such as VKB and Thrustmaster. Both companies have established a strong reputation in the industry for producing top-tier flight simulator equipment that caters to the needs of beginners and seasoned pilots alike. In this comparison, we will delve into the key features, performance, and overall user experience offered by VKB and Thrustmaster products to help you make an informed decision.

Customer reviews

VKB

VKB products are rated via independent review provider Judge.me.
VKB products receive an overall rating of 4.89 out of 5 stars.
The product reviews and shop reviews can be found here.
To go to Judge.me click here.

Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster does not publish customer reviews nor product ratings on its website.
Alternatively, reviews on independent review site Trustpilot show a rating of 2 out of 5 stars. This is rated as 'Poor' by Trustpilot.
Read all reviews here.

Build Quality and Design

VKB

VKB is known for their commitment to superior build quality and ergonomic design. VKB products, such as the Gunfighter series, are renowned for their robust construction and precision engineering. The use of high-quality materials and attention to detail make VKB products a favourite among serious flight and space sim enthusiasts.

Even their mid-tier Gladiator series boasts engineering, design and build features that are often only found in top-tier products. Many simmers are astounded by the feel, precision and robustness of the Gladiator EVO controllers.

It is not uncommon for VKB customers to use their controllers for well over 8 years due to the products' extreme reliability.

Thrustmaster

On the other hand, Thrustmaster products like the HOTAS Warthog are celebrated for their realistic designs. The solid construction and attention to detail give Thrustmaster products a premium look and feel. Unfortunately, their lower end products have often been reported as flimsy and unreliable by simmers in the past.

So the points here would have to go to VKB for their superior build quality, design and engineering across their complete product range without any compromises.
Many simmers report their preference for VKB in online forums too.

Performance and Customisation

VKB

When it comes to performance, VKB offer products that deliver exceptional precision and responsiveness. VKB's use of high-end sensors and advanced technology ensures smooth and accurate control inputs, making flying a truly immersive experience.
The customisable nature of VKB products allows users to fine-tune their settings to suit their specific preferences and flying style. Most products come with a variety of different buttons and parts such as multiple detent options for their STECS throttle series and highly adjustable gimbals in their Gunfighter and Gladiator series.

Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster products are no slouch when it comes to performance either. The use of Hall effect sensors and high-quality components ensures that users experience precise and realistic control over their virtual aircraft.
Since Thrustmaster products carefully mimic real-life controls, they offer less customisation than VKB controllers. 

So if you are after highest performing controllers that can be customised for a multitude of games and aircraft or spacecraft, then VKB should be your choice.
If you are after a specific real-life replica of an aircraft controller, then Thrustmaster is a good option. It is however a one-trick pony and if you ever wish to venture outside the controls for a specific aircraft - and let's face it, we all like to fly a variety of military and general aviation aircraft, let alone spacecraft- then you may want to reconsider your best option.

Versatility

VKB

VKB products are well known in the sim gaming community for their incredible versatility. Many simmers use and customise their controllers for various games such as DCS, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Star Citizen, etc.
That's the philosophy of VKB: to give simmers the freedom to mix and match controllers of all types as it suits the gamers' needs.

Take the VKB Omni Throttle for example. Due to its angled stick, it is perfect for space sim games. It may also be converted into a straight stick for flight sim games, a process that only takes a minute.
Then the x axis can be locked while the springs in the y axis may be removed, turning it into a smooth flight sim throttle.
Thrustmaster do not offer an angled joystick.  

Similarly for the Gladiator and Gunfighter flights sticks, they come with a variety of swappable grips. So rather than investing in multiple joystick bases you only need one and then mix and match the grips you like.

Thrustmaster

This is where Thrustmaster products just can not keep up. You get what you get out of the box and that's pretty much it. If you need controllers for a very specific aircraft type then Thrustmaster is a good option. But beware of your strict limitations and future upgradeability.

Compatibility and Software Support

VKB and Thrustmaster

Both VKB and Thrustmaster products are compatible with a wide range of flight simulation software, making them versatile options for users who enjoy exploring different virtual environments. VKB and Thrustmaster also provide dedicated software support to ensure that users can easily configure their devices and access firmware updates for improved performance and functionality.

Innovation and upgradeability

VKB

VKB is known in the industry for its innovation capabilities. The company has released no less than three major product upgrades in the last three years for its Gladiator, Gunfighter and T-Rudder product series.

In addition VKB released the brand new STECS throttle series in 2023.

All the while VKB provided upgrade kits for their customers to easily and cost-effectively upgrade from previous versions to the latest models. This is a strategy that VKB customers have come to expect, getting comfort in knowing that such upgrade paths will always be available to them.

Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster on the other hand have only released one new product in the last two years. This is somewhat understandable as the company offers a wide range of sim products and does not specialise in flight and space sim controllers alone.

Thrustmaster saw a lot of success with their controllers in the past but they can't hide the lack of innovation in their current product range. Many products look and feel dated and hence why many of their customers choose to upgrade to VKB controllers.

Price and Value

VKB

In terms of pricing, VKB offers mid-tier, mid-prized controllers as well as top-tier, premium products.

Their Gladiator series is widely acclaimed as the best value, highest performing and best in class quality joysticks in the mid-price segment.

The Gunfighter series may only be for the very serious gamers but given the robustness, versatility, configurability and longevity they provide outstanding value for money in the long run.

Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster may offer products well below VKB's price point but the old wisdom of 'you get what you pay for' certainly applies here.
Take one of their most popular products, the T.16000M flight pack. What may seem a terrific value for money package is really only useful for the very occasional gamer due to reliability and durability issues.

So while VKB products may come at a higher price point, many users find the investment worthwhile for the exceptional performance and durability they offer.

Conclusion - VKB or Thrustmaster flight simulator?

In conclusion, both VKB and Thrustmaster offer flight and space simulation products that cater for a wide range of simmers.

If you prioritise premium build quality, customisation options, versatility, performance, innovation and value for money then VKB is your type of controller ecosystem.

If you are looking for a controller for a very specific aircraft and are not fussed about flying any other aircraft or spacecraft altogether in the future, and you only occasionally play with no major expectations of immersive controller feel, then a Thrustmaster may just do the trick.

Ultimately, the choice between VKB and Thrustmaster products will come down to your personal preferences, budget, and specific requirements for your virtual flying experience.

So have you made up your mind between the Thrustmaster Flight sticks or the versatile VKB controller ecosystem?

Buy VKB now and save 5% (coupon code: VKBTM5)


 

What sim gamers say about their journey from Thrustmaster Warthog and T.16000m to their new VKB controller

about  Gunfighter Mk.IV Modern Combat Edition Ultimate with Twist

Just wow...

This stick is amazing! Feels so good in hand, is butter smooth and super customizable. With the amount of options you get with the different cams, spring strengths and dampener settings you can get the feel just how you want. Build quality is excellent.

Having been a happy Warthog user for the past 5 years I had been debating upgrading to one of the higher tier products for a while now and was unsure if it would be worth the expense for the benefit I'd get. But after setting up the Gunfighter and taking my first flight I immediately knew it was completely worth it. The Warthog had served me well, but this thing is just on another level!

Also want to say, in doing research on whether I would upgrade, and potentially which product I would go for, I saw multiple examples of VKB providing stellar customer support and was very impressed by the way they make newer technology accessible to previous customers through upgrade paths. It's refreshing to see in this day and age and speaks to a quality company.

So happy with this purchase!

about Gladiator EVO 'Space Combat Edition' Premium

Worth the purchase

After using VKB products for the first 2 weeks, I can say that I am more than happy with my purchase.
The change from dual T1600 to gladiators is like chalk and cheese. The number of buttons available and customisation is excellent. A very solid feeling and comfortable controller that seems to be great quality. If the price doesn’t put you off, I recommend getting yourself these sticks. You won’t regret your choice.

about  STECS Throttle System - Standard

Amazing throttle

Finally unplugged the warthog. The STECS throttle is smooth and precise so many buttons and so easy to customise. The flexibility is amazing. The build quality is superb and the feel makes you a better pilot slowly getting my head around the software. For me a superb upgrade from my warthog.

about  STECS Throttle System - Standard

Great stecs throttle

10/10. A great upgrade from TM HOTAS Warthog

about  Gladiator EVO 'Space Combat Edition' Standard

Durable, Precise and Easily Configurable

Fantastically durable, calibration remains pristine after multiple falls from my desk and intense Project Wingman sessions.
I bought the standard version but I am regretting not going for the premium, definitely worth the cost if you're looking for something to justify the extra $$$. (Or perhaps I now have a reason to buy a premium lefty and swap the thumb stick over.)
I've heard from some that their joystick self configured itself to their games, I was not fortunate enough and it was a ~20ish minute struggle to configure everything and download 3rd party software for every game.
Be careful if you have ginormous hands, like my fathers 14cm palm wide hands which practically ingulfed the stick like it was a crayon stuck in a bushel of bananas, causing great discomfort.
This does not feel cheap in any way and looks fantastic, the texture and shape works perfectly for me. An amazing product. Will be buying from VKB again, far outclassing all other company's, including the Warthog which costs 4x the price but is all bells and whistles whilst only being half the quality of the GLADIATOR!!!

 

Still deciding between a Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog and the VKB controller system for all types of aircraft and spacecraft?

Get your complete VKB flight cockpit now!
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Unrivalled local support and fast shipping!

Your next mission doesn't wait for you.
That's why you can always rely on the Australia-based VKB Customer Services team for fast responses and clear communication.

And we are the only top-tier global controller manufacturer with an Australian warehouse.
We not only stock most popular products but also spare parts if ever there is a need for it.

So whether you are new to sims or want to upgrade from your Thrustmaster joystick, look no further than the VKB controller ecosystem - your trusted co-pilot!

All information correct as per 14 April 2024.

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