Released back in 2007 the Saitek X52 Pro remains the gold standard for many in the flight sim / space flight world. Yes there are newer HOTAS systems on the market, but the X52 Pro (and its non-Pro cousin) remain accessible to the masses thanks to their rich feature set and reasonable price point.
The Saitek X52 Pro Flight System is a H.O.T.A.S. (Hands On Throttle And Stick) flight controller for PC and Mac and it is one of the main flightsticks chosen by developers Frontier to show off their space epic Elite:Dangerous.
The X52 Pro Flightstick
The flightstick part of the X52 Pro is amazingly natural to hold. Saitek obviously spent time and effort making it a comfortable fit. Your right hand wraps naturally around the stick in a comfortable relaxed grip.
One excellent feature of the X52 Pro flightstick, and one that Saitek really should have included with the X55 Rhino, is the adjustable height of the hand grip. The hand rest can be adjusted to five different preset heights allowing the X52 Pro flightstick to be used by players with all sorts of different hand sizes. It seems like such a simple idea that I don’t know why this isn’t included in all gaming flightsticks.
With your preferred height setup, your right thumb will be poised to control a great selection of buttons and switches. Within easy thumb reach you have two hat switches and four buttons, one of which is under a spring loaded guard.
You also have a two stage trigger, a pinky switch and a rotating mode selector.
We’re not done yet either. The base of the flightstick has three two-way toggle switches. These add a lot of button options but the need to take your hand off the flightstick might limit the options for using these toggle switches.
Given the array of buttons available it might seem churlish to want more, but a thumb button on the side of the flightstick would be a nice bonus.
Many of the buttons on the X52 Pro flightstick are illuminated by LEDs. Using the Saitek software you can change the brightness and colour of the LEDs to give you visual cues in-game. Purely an aesthetic feature but nice bonus for those that like to personalise their flightstick.
The X52 Pro flightstick has two springs, one inside the other, to help centre the flightstick and to provide more resistance the further you push it. That said, the stick can still feel a little slack, a bit limp and wobbly. A stiffer spring would have helped. But you can find various home-built solutions on YouTube including using a CD spindle case or tiewraps to stiffen up the flightstick.
The X52 Pro Throttle with MFD
Your left hand will find a comfortable, natural position wrapped around the X52 Pro throttle control. Molded to fit your hand, you will find another array of buttons and other controls under your thumb and fingers.
The throttle has an adjustable tension and two detents at 25% and 75% for idle power and afterburner.
An 8 way hat and a scroll wheel with press button lie underneath your index and middle finger as you grip the X52 Pro throttle.
Your thumb gets to work up to four different buttons, two rotaries, a slider and a mouse pointer nipple.
There is finally an interactive Multi Function Display screen (MFD) on the X52 Pro Throttle base which can display information directly from your flight sim software, assuming it has this functionality built in. This is customisable with the Saitek software making the MFD actually useful.