Almost every arcade stick meant for the consoles are also compatible with the PC. That gives computers the largest pool of arcade sticks to choose from. Basically you can pick almost any arcade stick on the market currently, and it will work on your computer.
If you want to compare the features of each stick in a handy table format, check the Arcade Stick Comparison Chart.
Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 Kai Review
Hori RAP4 Kai is one of the most popular arcade sticks currently, if not the most popular. It’s made for Playstation, but works on PC. Hori stepped up their game with their own Hayabusa buttons and joystick; they are on equal level with the “industry standard” that is Sanwa. It’s merely a matter of preference if you prefer Hayabusas or Sanwas.
Hayabusa’s low-profile, short-throw buttons are very responsive with a short activation distance. If you’re the type of player who rests their fingers on the buttons, that might cause accidental presses until you get used to the buttons.
RAP4 Kai is the cheapest of the so called quality arcade sticks, and is often recommended as the first “proper” stick. RAP4 can often be seen in fighting tournaments. It’s also easily moddable with snap-in type buttons if you prefer Sanwa parts. The case has a pleasant slope for wrists, it’s easy to carry thanks to its handles on the sides, and it has a good medium weight to it.
There is no headphone jack. The buttons are hidden on the right side of the case, under the little carrying “lips” on the sides. Artwork is glued to the case, so it’s not easy to peel off and change.
This stick is offered in different colors: black, white, red, blue. White especially stands out in my opinion.
If you want a superb fightstick, but don’t want to be dealing with modding, Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 Kai is a great option that won’t completely break your wallet.
Supports Direct Input and X-Input. However note that the early versions of this stick (which has older shiny Kuro buttons) doesn’t support X-Input – the old model is missing the PC switch completely and officially only supports PS3 and PS4.
Read the full Hori RAP4 Kai review here.
Mayflash F500 Review
F500 is the big brother to F300. It’s larger, supports custom artwork, has a headphone jack, a place to store the USB cable in, and the latest shipments comes with an additional octagonal restrictor gate. Though it must be installed by yourself.
Overall this feels immediately better than F300, but it’s also pricier – but even with the price increase, the joystick and buttons won’t impress you. You would be wise to account the modding costs to the total price.
If you have big hands, F500 is a better fit than F300. It has metal top and bottom plates, so it also weighs more. Having some weight is good to prevent the stick from moving, especially if you play from your lap.
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. There is a cure for it though, an addon called MagicBoots. You connect this small receiver to the USB port on the arcade stick, and you don’t need to connect your gamepad to it anymore. Could be worth it. This stick supports a vibrating wrist strap (bought separately), but to me it sounds more like a silly gimmick.
When you add the modding costs plus the possible addon costs, it’s closing in on the price of other, “ready-to-go” sticks. If you enjoy taking things apart and some DIY’ing, this could be a good option. But if not, consider saving a bit more for Hori’s RAP.V or RAP Tekken 7 Edition.
Supports Direct Input and X-Input.
Read the full Mayflash F500 review.
Mayflash F300 Review
F300 is the most popular budget arcade stick currently, evne though it may not seem like much. It’s a cheap stick, it supports multiple console platforms including PC, and it’s easily moddable. It’s compact in size and weight. You could also use this stick for small projects, like if you were to build your own little Raspberry Pi retro machine.
There’s a price to be paid for the multi-platform support, if you plan to use this with consoles: You need to connect one USB cable from the fightstick to your console, and then another USB cable between the controller and this arcade stick. The gamepad and fightstick are daisy-chained, which means you can control both with the controller and arcade sticks, for example if you need to use the analogue sticks in a game briefly. One more annoying thing is the location of the USB port on F300; it’s in the front, pointing towards you, so it will be in the way and may risk bending if you hold it in your lap.
Artwork is not changeable, but you can print your own custom artwork and apply it on the surface. The problem here is that if there’s no layer protecting it, it will probably wear out the artwork quickly from rubbing and sweat from your hands. If custom artwork is important, consider Mayflash F500 fightstick.
Mayflash F300 is a good option for beginners – on the condition that you’ll mod it at some point. It’s not a stellar performer otherwise. You can make it feel like a completely different stick with Sanwa parts. Button size is 30 mm (24 mm for Start/Options button).
Read the full Mayflash F300 review.
Supports Direct Input and X-Input.
Qanba Obsidian Review
This simple, yet amazing-looking slab-like arcade stick stands out with its glossy black surface, metallic balltop, aluminium panels and LED lighting on the sides.
The unibody design with the slope at the front reminds me of Hori RAP4. Compared to RAP4 though, Obsidian is quite a bit wider and heavier, so it’s not very comfortable to be carried around. While the design is aesthetically very pleasing, the glossy black surface is unfortunately a kind of a fingerprint magnet.
The joystick and buttons are made by Sanwa, so many people will feel right at home with this, and find no need to start with modding after purchasing this stick. But it can be done with this stick as well. Artwork isn’t easily changeable, as you have to remove the plexi panel and replace it with a new one that has your custom art in it. But come on, it already looks so classy that there’s no need for that.
While Hori’s RAP Kai models here in the West have positioned the joystick further away from the buttons, Obsidian’s joystick is closer to the buttons. Rest of the buttons are in the front panel, and touchpad can be found from the back of the joystick, just behind the buttons at the top.
There’s a cable compartment at the front, a headphone jack, and some lights. The LED lights on the sides can be turned off, kept permanently on, or made to flash every time you press a button or use the joystick. The flashing lights won’t blind or distract you, as the LED lights won’t hit your eyeballs directly.
Want an awesome fightstick that is ready to go, no modding needed because it already has your favorite parts fitted? This could be it. Qanba Obsidian is a very solid arcade stick, looking and feeling premium. It has a tad higher price point than competition, and is not easily acquirable in Europe.
Support Direct Input and X-Input.
Hori Real Arcade Pro.N Hayabusa Review
Do you prefer a more box-like case with plenty of space, instead of RAP4’s smaller frame? RAP.N is Hori’s most recent additions to the arcade stick market. As the name suggests, it sports Hori’s own Hayabusa parts; smooth joystick and highly responsive buttons. But joystick and the 30 mm buttons are easily moddable.
What makes this stick a bit unsual one is the button layout; it uses the Noir layout which is not common here in the Western market. The buttons on the right are in a slightly different position, making a harder curve downwards. Some find it better especially on games like Tekken where 4 buttons are needed most.
It has a headphone jack, and the buttons are laid out on the front panel instead of the side. The case’s surface area is bigger than on RAP4 Kai, and it weighs a bit more. There’s no more convenient carrying handles unfortunately.
RAP.N Hayabusa is a sure performer, and is as warmly recommended as RAP4 Kai – they cost about the same too. Which design do you fancy more?
Read the full Hori RAP.N Hayabusa review here.
Supports Direct Input, X-Input.