VKB vs Virpil; 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 Virpil joystick?


Best base and joystick on the market

I bought a pair of Gladiator NXTs to play Elite: Dangerous and soon wanted more precise sticks. Like a fool, I fell prey to the hype around Virpil's offering, the Constellation Alpha, and picked up a pair of those, onselling my excellent NXTs to a friend. He still loves them, by the way - bonus extra review!

Anyway, turns out I got terrible hand and arm pain using the Alphas on the desktop, and they really weren't as ergonomic as the Kosmosima/Gladiator NXT. So I sold those and bought a pair of Gunfighter IIIs with Kosmosima grips.

I could not be happier. These are exceptional products. The grip fits my hand so well, the buttons are exactly where I want them to be and extremely pleasing, and the fact it ships with multiple cams (which the competition charges extra for) is just icing on the cake. Between the cams and the dry clutch/damper, the base is adjustable to your exact specifications.

This is a brilliant product - well-priced, high-quality, full of options and customisable, and a joy to use.

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

Buy VKB now and save 5% (coupon code: VKBVI5)

Read the detailed VKB vs Virpil HOTAS comparison:

Introduction

Flight simulation enthusiasts often find themselves torn between various high-quality products from leading manufacturers such as VKB and Virpil. 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 Virpil 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.

Virpil

Virpil publishes product reviews on its website.
It is not clear however how these reviews are collected and there is no indication that an independent review service is being used - a critical factor in ensuring that product reviews are genuine and not manipulated.
In general Virpil products receive positive reviews and good ratings.

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.

Virpil

On the other hand, Virpil products such as their Virpil Constellation Alphas are known for their realistic designs. The solid construction and attention to detail give Virpil products a premium look and feel. Given Virpil only sells high-end products at premium prices this is somewhat to be expected.

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.

Virpil

Virpil products are no slouch when it comes to performance either. The use of quality sensors and high-quality components - for example in their Virpil Alpha Prime - ensures that users experience precise and realistic control over their virtual aircraft.
Since Virpil 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 Virpil 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.  

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.

Virpil

This is where Virpil 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, eg. Virpil Alpha, then Virpil is a good option. But beware of your strict limitations and future upgradeability.

Compatibility and Software Support

VKB and Virpil

Both VKB and Virpil 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 Virpil 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.

Virpil

Virpil on the other hand have only released one new product in the last two years. This is somewhat surprising given their limited focus on the high-end segment of the controller market. 
It is also quite obvious that Virpil replicate many design and engineering elements innovated by VKB.

Local support and shipping

VKB

VKB has a dedicated support team based in Australia plus direct technical support from specialised technicians at head office.
The Australian team responds to customer messages during and outside of business hours, including weekends and public holidays. Most emails are answered in less than 2 hours.
Further, VKB operates a Discord server where the gaming community meets. VKB customers have direct access to ask questions to VKB technicians.

VKB stocks most products and warranty parts at their Australian warehouse. Orders received before 12pm are dispatched the same day. This allows for very fast and cost-effective shipping to customers.
If there is ever a need to send spare parts to customers, the postage is fast and cheap.

Virpil

Virpil does not have a local presence in Australia and offers phone and email support. Their support hours are strictly weekdays and only during Eastern European Time. This may not be convenient for Australian and New Zealand customers.

Products are shipped from Europe and customers will have to put up with extended delivery times and very high shipping costs.
Whereas a typical VKB controller is shipped at A$15, a similar Virpil controller shipment will cost around A$100!
Acquiring spare or warranty parts is equally slow and very expensive..

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.

Unlike Virpil, customers purchase VKB products in their local currency (A$ or NZ$). VKB have left their prices stable despite inflationary price increases and a weaker Australian Dollar.

Virpil

Virpil only offer products in the top tier premium controller segment, making them unaffordable for many pilots.
Gamers new to this type of genre will find a distinct lack of entry products.

Virpil products are bought from the European webstore and customers pay in Euros. Due to a weakening Australian Dollar in the last few years, Virpil products and their very high shipping costs have become successively more and more expensive in the last few years.

So VKB offers a much wider range of high-quality products that are affordable and much better suited for people new to flight and space sims. VKB provides an ideal entry point with their Gladiator EVO series of controllers.

While costs for VKB products have remained stable in the last few years, Virpil products have become more expensive due to a falling Australian Dollar.

Conclusion - VKB or Virpil flight simulator?

In conclusion, both VKB and Virpil 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 in the future, then a Virpil may just do the trick.

Ultimately, the choice between VKB and Virpil 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 Virpil flight sticks or the versatile VKB controller ecosystem?

Buy VKB now and save 5% (coupon code: VKBVI5)


 



What sim gamers say about VKB vs Virpil

about  Gunfighter Mk.IV Modern Combat Edition Ultimate with Twist

Ultimate joystick...

I have a joystick problem and I admin it. I have over the years spent way too much on joysticks and still have many of them tucked away in drawers and shelves, ThrustMaster, Virpil and Winwing to name a few. I think I am done once and for all. This is simply the best I have ever used. I did swap out the springs from the default 20lbs and went to 40lbs and may go to 50lbs, not sure yet. The feel is incredible and for DCS I can't think of a better choice. I am not sure I needed the metal version but at the time just got a bonus so went for it. I am sure the lesser expensive one would have been fine. The software is as good as any, better than most, none of them seem to have a great UI or UX IMHO.

about Gladiator EVO 'Space Combat Edition' Premium

Perfect midrange upgrade.

Bought this to finally replace an aging T.16000M and it is an impressive upgrade. Much smoother axis and a significant increase in hats meaning I no longer need to use modifiers for any aircraft I have flown with this so far. It feels excellent in the hand and the plastic is quality. Definitely recommended as an upgrade without spending big for the Gunfighter or a similar product from Virpil/etc.
 

about Gladiator EVO 'Space Combat Edition' Premium

Love the flight sticks!

I’ve had the Gladiator EVO Space Combat Edition’ Premium and Gladiator EVO Omni Throttle flight sticks for just over a month now and couldn’t be happier.

Delivery was flawless. Ordered on a Tuesday morning, turned up the following day (27km out of Melbourne). Well packaged and economical use of materials.
I am an Elite Dangerous Console refugee and have recently made the switch to PC. My last time using a flight stick was excessive hours back in the 90s playing X-wing! So I don’t have a direct comparative experience with modern flight sticks.
I was keen for an immersive space-sim experience and opted for dual sticks (HOSAS). The entry-level sticks appealed price wise, but that was all. I could see myself upgrading from there before too long so. I was looking at Virpil, but that seemed a significant price jump, then I came across VKB which had excellent reviews and also the added bonus of a local distributor.
The sticks themselves are well made, seem very durable and are customisable to how one wants to use them. I have been logging some solid hours on Star Citizen and the level of precision control is thoroughly enjoyable. And the buttons! Soooo many buttons to set up binds to exactly what works for me. I did opt for the Premium over the Standard due to the additional button options, and for the price differential, was a no-brainer. The stupid grin I had on my face for the first few hours using them was justification enough!
I can confidently recommend the Gladiator sticks and Omni Throttle, along with VKB as a company. I’m wrapped with the purchase and overall experience of both products and company.


Still deciding between an expensive Virpil or the affordable VKB controller system for all types of aircraft and spacecraft?

Get your complete VKB flight cockpit now!
Don't miss out on your 5% discount (coupon code: VKBVI5)

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 previously considered Virpil Australia, look no further than the VKB controller ecosystem - your trusted co-pilot!

All information correct as per 14 April 2024.

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