Here i will share my and my friends(flight sim enthusiasts) experience about flight sim hardware such as joysticks, throttle, pedals and headtracking and i hope you will participate too with your experience giving new players best guidance and sparing them some money.
I currently use Thrustmaster T16000M joystick with Trackir5 and aiming upgrade to VKB-sim Gunfigter with spare "Kosmosima" grip handle made for space sims.
T16000m is great and precise joystick with hall sensors but under heavy use it's spring can get a bit loose and fire button can worn out, even all those small flaws i think it's best for it's budget, so i will upgrade on top quality gear; VKB which is fully metal made with easily replacement springs and parts and clearly best HW on market.
Some rough quality list depending on type of games it is used for (space sims/flight sims) taking in consideration software support, durability, ease of use(button configuration) and precision.
1.VKB-sim Gunfighter/Gladiator/Cobra (gunfighter will have twist/jaw axis)
2.CH product fighterstick (no twist/jaw)
3.Thrustmaster Warthog/T16000M (Warthog no twist/jaw, T16000m have twist/jaw)
4.Saitek x52 pro (now under Logitech) (have twist/jaw)
For space sims(button availability and customization):
1.Vkb gunfighter with kosmosima grip
2.Saitek x52 pro
Flight sims (mostly quality and precision):
2.Warthog (more precise than CH flightstick but lower quality)
3.CH flightstick (better quality than Warthog but less precise)
5.saitek x52 pro (lottery; may be good/bad quality, less precise than T1600m/warthog, waiting what will logitech do with it)
NOTICE for joysticks without twist/jaw feature pedals are must have, even keyboard can be used!
HEADTRACKING is something essential and immersive and it's hard to play without it once you tried it.
While Trackir is best solution when comes to performance and ease of use there are also cheap alternatives like freetrack, tracknoir and others software with DIY guidance (cam and infrared clip) which are also great.
PEDALS are another immersive feature used to control rudder giving better precision because it removes jaw feature from joystick(under adrenaline player can unaware move rudder without intention with low precision result) . There are top quality and precision pedals like Crosswind brand and others like CH Product, thrustmaster, saitek....etc.
Throttle/throttle quadrants there are great from CH Product, Thrustmaster and Saitek and it all comes to number of buttons and ease of use. Flight sims will require Throttle Quadrants while Space sims will do better with normal Throttle.
Crown of flight-sim gears, very quality and durable metal internals with price of 200+€ for flagship joysticks, also there is great cheaper versions for 100$ but with mix of plastic and metal internals.
small team of engineers trying to create perfection!
This company manufacture controller equipment for medical, heavy and precise tools and other industry purpose where precision, reliability and durability is needed. Joysticks are their side product and despite it's cheap look they are most durable josticks on market with top quality potentiometers inside with also quality plastic and metal parts.
Don't make cheap plastic look fools you, they have excellant joysticks, pedals and throttles. Depends on game it may lack of buttons needed. Very good driver support with small hit on cpu load.
Well this company with it's hall sensors provide best precision, while joysticks quality is also good but with some flaws.
Warthog; metal exterior and grip but with plastic gimb ball inside (require greasing) may be big flaw for it's price (hotas version 450$).
T16000m; has same hall sensors like it's big brother which gives it amazing precision, overall quality and durability is good with few flaws like under heavy use it's spring will deform resulting impossible for spring to put it back in neutral position when grip is released. Also it's fire button may worn out, so be gentle! Driver support is excellent.
Very good driver support.
Saitek is now sold to Logitech so things may change on better. While it's products are questionable quality and with constant "silicon" lottery will you get good or bad one. if you're unlucky after few months it will fall apart, if you're lucky it may last few years.
It is less precise than these brands up,not so good driver support(x65rhino) and with medium quality it is last on my list. BUT it has best button customization for space and modern jets flight sims not to mention fancy look!
This is my "opinion" on these brands gathered from multiple flight-sim forums and my friends who own these brands.
You don't have to agree with my opinion and that's why there is comment section bellow so you can express your opinion, number of opinions will give trustworthy guidance.
Please share your experience and HW suggestion so we can update it with new products and help new sim players to chose best for the buck.