Cheap fightsticks are usually the ones that most are going to look at first. Just remember this old wisdom: generally you get what you pay for.
If you are new to arcade sticks and not yet sure if they are something for you, the prices far above 100$+ can feel really steep. The budget sticks listed below can give you a decent experience, but there are some sacrifices.
If you are an experienced arcade controller player, or a player who has played excessively in arcades before, budget sticks won’t really give you that same “authentic arcade” feeling. The cheap joystick and buttons just doesn’t give that same feedback. Most of the sticks have changeable parts though, so you could fix that later down the road with some light DIY’ing.
If you’re not sure if arcade sticks are for you, or if it’s really worth it to pay over $100 for an arcade stick, you may find some pointers in our beginner’s guide to arcade sticks.
Here are some current hand-picked and most popular arcade sticks that won’t completely break your wallet. But we also have reviews of some of the sticks to help you make a decision.
If you want to compare the features of each stick in a handy table format, check the Arcade Stick Comparison Chart.
Mayflash F300 Review
At first this arcade stick may not seem like much. But wait, it’s often a best seller on Amazon? It’s very cheap, it supports multiple console platforms, and it’s mod-friendly.
If you’re planning to use this stick with PS4, XB1 or X360, you need to connect a USB cable from the fightstick to your console, and then you also need to connect another USB cable between your console’s gamepad and Mayflash F300. That’s the price you pay for multi-console compatibility. As the gamepad and fightstick are daisy-chained, you can use the connected gamepad to control the game too. Annoyingly the USB cable protrudes from the front towards you, which seems like a really weird design decision.
Artwork is not directly changeable. You could print an artwork sticker and apply it on the surface, but there’s no layer protecting it, so it will probably wear out the artwork quickly unless the paper has its own protective layer. For better artwork customization options, you should take a look at Mayflash F500.
This fightstick works well for beginners, but you’ll very likely outgrow it soon enough. That’s where the modding comes in: you can make it feel like a completely different stick with new parts, relatively cheaply. Mayflash even markets it as compatible with Sanwa parts. Button size is 30 mm (Start/Options button 24 mm). It’s quite compact in size and weight, so big hands beware. There’s no internal compartment to store the USB cable in.
Read the full Mayflash F300 review.
Mayflash F500 Review
Big brother to Mayflash F300. It’s larger, artwork is easily changeable, there’s a headphone jack, USB cable can be stored inside the case, and lastly, it comes with an additional octagonal restrictor gate (must be installed manually).
Overall this feels instantly better than F300, but it also costs more – and you still should mod better joystick and buttons to it; the stock ones aren’t nowhere near the same ballpark as the likes of Sanwa, Hayabusa or Seimitsu.
If you have big hands, I’d say this definitely works better than F300. It weighs more, thanks to the metal top and bottom plates. Weight is good if you prefer to keep the fightstick on your lap when playing.
Mayflash F500 supports multiple consoles just like F300, with the same caveat that you have to connect your gamepad to it with a USB cable. BUT if that bothers you, you can buy an addon called MagicBoots; you connect this small receiver to the USB port on the fightstick, and you don’t need to connect your gamepad to it anymore. Is it worth your money? Could be. One major con about that too; you need to buy that receiver for each console separately. It also supports a vibrating wrist strap (has to be bought separately).
When you add the modding costs (and if you buy any of the addons), it’s closing in on the price of Hori RAP4 Kai. It might be better to hold on and save a little more cash to get RAP4 instead. Unless you really want custom artwork and enjoy the challenge of taking things apart.
Read the full Mayflash F500 review.
Slightly better-feeling joystick and buttons than on Mayflash, but parts are still proprietary and not a match for Sanwa and the like. A rather compact arcade stick.
Modding the joystick to a different one might require some soldering, or cutting and connecting cables.
Hori Fighting Stick Mini 4
This is a really tiny plastic arcade stick. I wouldn’t recommend this to be used for serious gaming, because it simply is awkward to handle unless you have really tiny hands. If you have large hands, your palm can almost cover this whole fightstick.
Venom Arcade Stick
This stick is only sold in Europe (or expensive import in US). It actually looks to be built on Mayflash 500’s case. Venom Arcade Stick is officially licensed by Sony, but that doesn’t make this stick premium though, as the parts are on the same level as on Mayflash fightsicks, meaning you are proably going to want to mod them sooner or later.