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on November 1, 2005
As a previous owner of the X45 flight control system and avid flight sim junkie, I was compelled to upgrade my HOTAS system to something newer. I was originally looking at the Thrustmaster HOTAS system, but could not conjur up enough money to purchase one. After playing with the X52 at a LAN party, I was sold and went out and purchased one that night.

The X52 has loads of improvements over the X45 - not even mentioning the LCD MFD. One addition which I would have loved to see in the X45 are the eight removable suction cups on the bottom of the stick and throttle bases. The cups first out of the box will do some sliding around, but nothing so drastic that it'll mess your flights up. They do a great enough job to keep the stick down during normal use - provided that you don't slam the stick around, but for a flight system that costs this much, I don't think that'll be too much of a problem for most people.

Just like all other Saitek sticks, the X52 is fully customizable in both hardware and software. Not only can you move the lower shelf on the joystick up and down to fit your hand, but you can also adjust the force on the throttle stick. Like all other Saitek sticks, however, you cannot adjust the centering force on the stick itself. But I did not find this to be too much of a problem as it is much looser than all other HOTAS systems that I have owned. The X52 also comes with the Saitek SST programming software, which (again, like all other Saitek sticks) allows you to program every button on the joystick to either an axis, mouse axis, single keyboard stroke, or a complex macro.

I also fell in love with the three modes and color coded mode identification LED to let you know what mode you are in. As a result I can have a mode for A-A, one for A-G, and one mode for general tasks when playing Falcon 4.0: Allied Force, making it easier to keep my hands on the flight system at all times.

The MFD is also a cool addition to the X52. It has a time display to let you know what time it is in up to three time zones, as well as a built-in stopwatch to time your flights and coordinate your turns right on time. And if you can't remember what you programmed a button to - just simply hold down the info button and click the button you want to know about and voila! Your button's function is displayed on the screen.

All in all - a great HOTAS system for those of us that cannot afford the Thrustmaster HOTAS systems. This flight stick runs perfectly with games like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Falcon 4.0 - my two choices and recommendations to pair up with this stick.

And for those of you who want to know about Windows XP Professional x64 support - the stick works perfectly using drivers available on the Saitek website.
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on December 5, 2004
I probably spend more time than I should with flight sims, mainly IL2-sturmovik but also FS2004 and lomac, and have worked my way through a few sticks.

before I purchased the X-52 I used an X-45 for near a year. I was happy with it and it still worked perfectly, but when saitek released the'52 I knew I wanted one.

I have used it about 2 weeks now, and man is it sweet. the action on all the axis' is silky smooth,and accurate. I believe the "non contact" technology they are advertising has alot to do with this.

All the buttons are laid out in an intuitive manner, and there are more control options than the X-45 has. the blue LEDs are spiffy, and they thought to allow a way to dim or extinguish them if you so desire

The multi function display is nice to have, but essentialy just eye candy unless you need to know what time it is or what profile you are running.

overall it has a quality feel and look the X-45 was maybe lacking a bit.the hand rest on the stick is adjustable for height, which is also a nice touch. its large enough to accomodate large hands, mine arent exactly tiny and I moved the rest up a notch to be comfortable

I also liked the "two stage" trigger as now a slight pull is guns, and pull it fully and its guns+cannons.its the little things that mean so much.

anyway, it comes highly recommended by me, and at least 6 of the people I fly with also have and love their X-52's. you can't go wrong if you are looking for an advanced flightstick/throttle at a fair price.
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on June 5, 2005
EDIT: Use a bit of silicone grease under the plastic swash plate disk to drastically reduce friction and improve control fidelity. Audio fader or scuba types work well, but you may also find it at a hardware store. Teflon grease also works. Use thick grease. Do not use petroleum-derived products on plastic.

We can't compare this stick to Thrustmaster really because their stuff now is garbage. Thrustmaster pretty much forced Suncom (maker of the fab F-15 series) out of business with lawsuits claiming the newcomer was infringing on their patents to produce "realistic" flight sticks. Then we now have a monopoly on the supposedly authentic stuff which has produced crap like The Cougar. Thanks Thrustmaster! Then there's CH Products...good, smooth, but ugly, expensive, and low resistence. Saitek has been making these strange looking, possibly gimmick-rich products for a while. I think they've finally created a near ultimate HOTAS with the X52.

Clearly if you don't like twist rudders on the stick (as the real Comanche has) then you need to buy some pedals (everyone raves about CH's). But the throttle alone on this Saitek is worth the price. X-Plane and Longbow Anthology (when it works, which is rarely...might have to partition Win '95 spot for it) love this system. Every trim control and slider is recognized in X-Plane. In Longbow 1/2 I have most of the flight and cockpit commands in just one main mode and its pinkie mode. I'll save another mode and its pinkie equivolent for campaign comm stuff. That still leaves two more modes on this thing. Amazing. It's a bit of a headache programming it, but not from the standpoint of design. There's so much you can do with it that it's easy to get overwhelmed with where to put what command. Then you realize you could put such and such on a pinkie shift mode and move it over to the next button, yadda yadda yadda. It'll take hours unless you sit down and plan out your programming strategy ahead of time. But it pays off. Oh, and the mouse stick on the throttle works fine. I'm using it right now to surf the net since my Viewsonic optical was DOA (with no warranty, instructions, 800-number...unbelievable). I don't want to take my hands off the controls to retract flaps and gear after just taking off in an's the easiest moment to stall.

My first gripe is that the twist rudder is a little weak on the spring to the right, but I set a significant deadspot in the control panel configuration to prevent me from accidentally yawing when I don't want to. Also, I haven't managed to get the toggles or the fire button to recognize pinkie shifts. For instance, I wanted engine offs and weapons jetison to be toggles+pinkie, with the fire+pinkie as master arm. It doesn't work with that, in Longbow Anthology, at least. But I need the keyboard nearby for a variety of other commands anyway, so it's not a big deal. I leave master arm on, I just wanted the neat effect of switching to it on the fly. There's nothing quite like having laser designator on a stick button to trigger one or two seconds before a hellfire impact, though. The lower hat on the stick does tend to get flipped occasionaly, but I put all my target next/previous/best/close on it. That makes it less of an issue.

The stick is adjustable to your handsize (my first adjustment that seemed perfect actually was too cramped) and it feels well built. I completely discount any complaints that the stick is too easy to tip over or has too much range of motion. If you're not strapping, taping, tying or otherwise attaching them to something, then you're an idiot. You should do that with any HOTAS. Even with my old Playstation I had the Flight Force Pro throttle and stick tied to the flat arms of a wooden deck chair with wrapping present ribbon/string. Couch throw pillows, queen size pillow, and standard pillow made great cushions. You can get a whole flight seat set up with just stuff around the house or from the local department store. Friends would freak out seeing me with Gunship 2000, Ace Combat 2, Colony Wars, and Star Fighter with that setup. Like I said, if you don't do twist rudders, buy pedals. If you don't like the stick, buy a CH one. The throttle is probably the best out there. I like the Saitek how it is and for the price you're getting stick and rudder for free when the only thing left on the market anymore that can compete with this is CH at $100 per item. I'm thrilled with my purchase.

Saitek has very few useful profiles, and it is not easy to make good ones. Go to Simhq and look for any of my posts. I have a link at the bottom of my signature that will take you to a zip of profiles. Amazon apparently doesn't allow for URL's to be listed.
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on October 11, 2011
First video review ever, and used a few year old $100 Digital Camera at that.. so quality isn't so great, the blue LEDS tend to make cameras go haywire as well, :)

Anyhow, I felt this joystick/flight stick deserved a video review so you could get a little better picture (so to speak) of what it is about. Given the limitations of 100MB file size and 10 minutes, I couldn't talk about everything I wanted and show it in game. I originally made a video that was 34minutes and showed how I utilized this stick in FSX with autopilot modes on the toggle switches and so forth.. but that had to get scraped to fit the Amazon quota.

The x52 Flight System is great. For about $80 you can't beat it, price for price it beats anything in the same range. I argue it beats some HOTAS sticks pricier. It has been around a few years and is fairly proven. Made of good quality parts and great engineering (I've had it apart).

Very little in the way of Cons, and many Pro's. For anyone who enjoys Flight Sim's.. or any *flight* , combat, or leisure/commercial simulators or just arcade type games -- this won't let you down. Especially if you take the time to really program the functions of the joystick to your unique preferences,.. you eliminate the need for any keyboard input (and technically the mouse as well.. as it has a mouse built in).

Taking away the need for a keyboard and the realistic feel of the stick and throttle over the typical Bestbuy, and other similar stores $50 models is night and day.

Hope you get some use out of the video.

Take care,

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on December 29, 2004
First, a short plug for AMAZON: They've provided the SAITEK X52 at a terrific Christmas price, delivering it with flawless service!!! Kudos to all of you at! Happy New Year!

I own and operate the Thrustmaster Cougar and now have the Saitek X52 to compare. First of all, they are similar and different but you can't fully appreciate one without knowing the other. This is a terrific opportunity to do a head to head comparison.

The X52 is simply a delightful work of art. It is beautiful sitting on my desk in the dark with it's illuminated buttons, switches and most of all the throttle's blue, backlit LCD. I wouldn't have believed I could own such technology for approximately one Ben Franklin but it's true and I'm in a little bliss over this new, superb flight control system.


There's so much to say about this pair of controllers and almost all of it is positive. The aesthetics are unpretentiously modern star wars motif. The textured black on silver puts one to mind of a new stereo outfit. The little rubber inset grippers on the rotaries, dials and POVs are very appealing but the configurable intensity blue LEDs and LCD are so peerless that a smile is invoked every time I look the controls over. You can move the hand rest for the flight stick to five positions. This should accommodate a range of large to small hands nicely as the POVs, buttons and mode switch are put in effortless reach of thumb, index and pinky fingers. The stick has a short rotational throw with "relatively" strong spring resistance for rudder control. This is one 3D stick that doesn't seem to produce an affect on the X and Y axes when the rudder twist is engaged. There's a lock at the base of the stick to eliminate the rudder function but isn't especially necessary if you don't wish to use the stick's rudder feature. It really doesn't seem to interfere at any time.

The SST programming software can be optionally installed. In other words, you can keep things bare bone simple by allowing the buttons to be assigned to basic tasks within a game. You lose a great deal of potential function by not programming the X52 but you will still have a very powerful controller even in its most basic form. The SST isn't exactly intuitive but with a few hours of reading the installed Profile Editor's manual, under the HELP tab, and some experimentation, you will be amazed and pleased by a powerful and well thought out programming interface. You can really open up the interface by switching from a 3D display to a tabled "Data View". It seems as though there is no limit to the variation and combination of switch settings with 3 Modes and six base toggle positions. Like the Cougar, you can continue to multiply function by invoking the pinky button while selecting what a button, slider or POV will do. You have a micro stick on the throttle that will most likely be used as a mouse control. There's a hat on the throttle as well as a thumbwheel that operates very much like the thumbwheel mouse button combination on modern pc mice. The fore mentioned Slider and Thumbwheel are not on the Cougar's throttle but the X52 lacks the dogfight and Speed Brake switches. All else has comparable counter parts. The Cougar and X52 flight sticks are also close in features. The X52 lacks two POVs but has a 3 position rotary and six toggles on the base. The flip-up cover for the primary pickle button on the X52 stick is an Easter egg to me. Some might consider it a nuisance or waste but it can be left in the up position and poses no restrictions for critics. I find it an appealing item that shows a playful and generous attitude on the part of Saitek's engineering team. Another nice item is the small green power LEDs on the X52 controls. Again, it may be unnecessary but why not? There's a space for them and if you should choose to turn the LEDs and LCD backlighting to the off option, you'll still know your units are powered up.


Hardly worth mentioning when considering the incredible price! The units are very light weight; less than a pound for the throttle and perhaps a little more than that for the stick. Unless fastened down or minimum resistance is set for the throttle, you will be tipping and sliding it around when throwing the handle forward or back. I haven't wanted / bothered to install the supplied suction cups so that may be the way to go for many users. Suction cups aren't for me though. The action of the flight stick's axes is so light that you will require some practice getting used to a feather touch for control. It can be readily done but may not be immediately what you want for confidence inducing sensory resistance. I am happy with the action now but initially it didn't feel right. You might wish the flight stick handle to sit an inch lower as the zero contact design seems to have elevated the stick a bit more than it would be otherwise. If you can mount the stick a little lower than desk top level you might like the stick height a little bit more. Also, there is no solid detent for the idle and afterburner on the throttle. The resistance at least doubles when these boundaries are engaged and I do know that I have reached them but the familiar snick into a detent is what I'm used to and thus it doesn't feel quite right at this stage of my introduction to the X52. It's not a disaster without the detents and the lack of them may prove to be an absent point of wear that won't become an issue one day.

The SST programmer interface lacks the availability of a REMark statement but a comment can be made to momentarily appear on the throttle's LCD when a button press or macro is engaged. This quieted that lacking REMark complaint to a barely audible murmur from me. To see a short definition of a key press on the LCD adds to a sense of total technology coolery.

The multi language hardcopy manual looks loaded and promising but once opened you will be disappointed in the 30 pages of pertinent information that in part is a warrantee disclaimer and Saitek contact information. The manual that gets installed with the SST software doesn't mention the X52 at all but refers to the X36 and X45. One reference to setting milisecond timing for keypresses isn't correct with this version of the SST. There's still enough help available to understand the X52 adequately and it's a good guess that an update help system is in the making. By contrast the Cougar has an excellent hardcopy manual but in just a few hours I feel I know as much about the X52 as I do of the Cougar after two years of intermittent exposure. Sometimes less can be more.

The SST programming software lacks a literal KEYTEST applet, as well as many other FOXY like application and programming aids. Any of the FOXY like applets would be a terrific addition to an otherwise great programming interface. I might add that within the X52's control panel is a TEST tab. When testing each button, POV, mode switch and rotary, there's has been an ever so slight jittering in one or the other rotaries. Right now, I'm seeing nothing so I won't know how that will fair in the future but for now, it is not a problem to me and at present, doesn't even exist.


Quality, at least in part, is in the eye of the beholder. The Saitek X52 is light weight plastic. The Thrustmaster is heavy duty aluminum. You can never compare the two on a price level. The Cougar's FOXY programming language interface with all it's tutorials, keytest applications and interactive graphical interface is without comparison. The X52 simply is no match for these two features. But the Cougar is more than twice the price and doesn't have the LEDs and informational mode LCD with three time zones, button engagement information and timer. But, in the end neither really performs any greater or less than the other. One is a Honda and the other is a Hummer. They're both terrific and will get you reliably to your destination. I wouldn't want to choose between them and I'd rather own them both if possible. If you want the most expensive and robust feel that performs extensively and well, then you need the Cougar. If want the coolest looking, feature laden outfit available, go for the X52. I love the X52. I won't know how it will work in two years like I know of the Cougar but for the moment, I'm a coon in a cabbage patch.
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on March 10, 2005
I've owned the x45 HOTAS for almost a year since I decided to finally try the x52. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the x45, I just got a little curious about the x45's older brother.

Here are my observations comparing the two HOTAS: x45 vs. x52

* x45 - Buttons/Hats were a little hard to reach with smaller hands on the stick, but I actually prefer the rocker switch for rudder control located on the throttle. I only wish it was designed better and more ergonomically. It felt weird for me to pull on the stick on the x52 and have to rotate the it for rudder control as more often than not I find myself rotating the stick inadvertently. Stability sucks while playing games, it's just not heavy/stable enough to keep from tipping often. SOLUTION: I've fabricated a bracket out of wood and steel to solve this. Solid as a rock on my chair or desk! Heavy as a rock though... =0(

* x52 - Buttons/Hats are easier to reach on the stick, but having the rudder twist on the stick is a drawback for me. I'd rather use the rocker on the throttle or rudder pedals. More available modes are nice, but I've honestly never run out of buttons on the x45. Stability sucks while playing games, it's just not heavy/stable enough to keep from tipping over. Fabricating a bracket to mount on would solve this. The x52 just feels much bigger than the x45. It's a little uncomfortable moving the stick around because of its size, but the huge deadzone in the stick seems to be the biggest drawback for me. Can't seem to solve it with software either...

Unfortunately, I will be returning the x52 after only a few weeks of use and going back to my trusty x45. It looks cooler than the x45, feels better, but functionality has not been improved for me. Biggest drawbacks of the x52 are as follows (in order of importance):

1) Huge deadzone that can't be compromised with software. My x45 doesn't exhibit this flaw.

2) Rudder twist on the stick rather than a rocker switch. I would have preferred that they improved upon the x45's rocker switch on the throttle on the x52.

3) The HOTAS just "seems" much bigger when I'm playing. It's a little uncomfortable how tall the stick is and how much I have to throw it around for fast game playing.

Anyways, my $0.02. Have fun with whatever HOTAS you end up going with. I happen to love the fact that I paid $64.98 for my x45 on amazon, less than half what I paid for the x52. In my case, the x45 is simply a much better buy for what I got. But whatever the case, go test drive first. See what works for you! Just make sure you can return either for a refund.
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on July 25, 2005
Ever since picking up BF2 I needed a new controller that could handle both choppers and jets. My original was a Logitech garbage. That thing wouldn't calibrate correctly to save its life...which as a result, is forefeit. My concern moving foward was that twist stick rudders are often too sensitive or have a slight margin of error for chopper flight.

After doing some research I bought the Saitek X45, which had great reviews and was a pretty good set up. It was unequalled with the control it gave you over the choppers since the rudders were easily controllable on the left thrust stick, rather than with a twist rudder on the joystick. The problem is, as soon as I switched from chopper to jets I found it very cumbersome to fly correctly, since I would have to think about what I wanted my left hand to do with the toggle rudder while trying to make intense flight decisions with my right. I did a full day of dogfighting head to head with the x45 and came to the conclusion that I just could not manuever fast enough with that rudder system, so back it went.

That leads us up to ...the SAITEK X52. For about $100-$130 bucks I am completely satisfied with the way this thing performs. It has a comfortable, flowing feel to it, with the tension on the throttle adjustable, as well as the height of the hand rest. I will say that at first the twist stick rudder did exactly what I feared, as soon as I got in a chopper it oversteered. However, one great feature about the x52 is the ability to set the dead zones where the stick will not react even if you twist it. With a little tweeking this thing now flys both choppers and jets with complete control. I haven't gotten into the profile set up yet, but that will come as needed. Overall its a great looking great feeling controller. It is a bit light, but the rubber pads at the bottom keep it in place even while making quick, broad moves. And if you need to, it has both suction cups or preset holes to mount it to the desk. If your looking for a comfortable, responsive controller without paying an absolute fortune, this is a good purchase.
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on December 15, 2014
A great place to start. Feel great in you hands. Downside feels slight light. There is a slight Driver issue. It seems that Saitek never got around to fixing it. What will happen if you keep the x52 plugged in and your computer goes to sleep. Suddenly you thumb boost button on your throttle no longer works. You will push it and it will just have and led flash on the Control stick. The solution i found after a few hours searching to try to even find out how to fix it. It seems if this happens you will have to download and install the drivers for the last update before the one on the included cd.
After that it worked fine. If anyone has this issue i hope this solves it for you so you don't have to search forums all night. Don't get me wrong, other than that issue i love this stick it works amazingly and responds well.
review image
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on April 15, 2015
Writing this review breaks my heart because I've owned an X52 for nearly 10 years (give or take), and I've generally loved it. I've been using it to revisit FreeSpace 1&2, to enjoy Flight Simulator X, and most recently to play Elite: Dangerous. It's never been a perfect stick. The spring tension is a bit weak and there's too much play in the center, but it's always been a winner in the bang-for-your-buck category, and I never regretted owning it. Honestly, I've always loved the thing. The recent resurgence in HOTAS popularity brought about by Elite: Dangerous and the upcoming Star Citizen was a great excuse to bring it out of the closet for another run.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and my X52 got old. It started to have calibration problems where sustained pressure on the stick would cause the y-axis to drift away from center. It was mild, but noticeable, and required frequent recalibration to keep it working normally. It was time for a new stick. And my experience with the X52 was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to get another one (ten years is a long time, after all, so I can hardly complain that it was finally wearing out). I didn't even want to upgrade to the Pro version (same stick with a stiffer spring, a few metal parts, and a different color scheme) because I already knew how nice this stick was. I was very excited when the new box (exactly the same as the box I purchased all those years ago, by the way... a testament to how stagnant this corner of the market is) arrived on my doorstep.

That was a mistake. I don't know if I'm just unlucky, or if the brand has gone downhill since being acquired by MadCatz (a company known for inferior knockoff controllers and little else -- the kind that your well-intentioned grandmother gets you for Christmas because it was $5 cheaper than the real one, but about $20 worse), but this thing is a lemon right out of the box. The stick has an electrical fault which causes it to periodically disconnect from the throttle. It happens every 5-10 minutes, and although the disconnection is brief (you can see the lights turn off for just a moment), it picks a new "center" based on the current position of the stick when it turns back on again. In other words, if you're steering at all when this happens, you're going to spin wildly out of control until you reset the stick. At first, you just think you're going crazy. But after the tenth time in less than an hour, you're ready to hurl the entire setup out the window.

Although it sounds similar, this is a different problem than my previous unit had. My previous stick had just become old and imprecise after years of hard use, and the calibration would gradually break down. You could often fix it by just waggling the stick back and forth a few times (awkward as that is in the middle of flight). This one is literally just turning off and on again, and picking new x and y values for center each time. You can't fix it without rebooting the stick. It renders the setup completely unusable. And after reading dozens of similar stories from other E:D players, I just can't trust the brand anymore.

So take this review to heart, because it comes from someone who has owned and loved the X52 for a very long time. I'm no hater. The stick is gorgeous (in its cheesy, plasticky way), and has a great sci-fi feel that fits right in with space simulators, complete with blue LEDs. It has a bazillion buttons, and E:D even comes with X52 profiles built in. It has been a proud centerpiece of my gaming equipment for nearly a decade. And I still feel compelled to hammer it in this review because purchasing an X52 today is basically just rolling $150 dice. The quality control stinks, and you have no idea whether you're going to get a good one or a bad one.

I got a bad one. And as much as I'd love to have a functioning X52 in my home again, I don't plan on rolling the dice more than once. I'll just stumble along with my old half-broken one until someone finally makes a solid, cost-effective alternative. The Saitek Rhino might be nice, but it looks like it was decorated by a seven-year-old who recently watched Top Gun, and at this point, I'm afraid of anything from MadCatz. The Thrustmaster Warthog is supposedly a winner, but I can't decide if I'm ready to spend more than $400 to find out (plus, I'm really attached to having a twist rudder -- apologies to pedal purists).

So here we are with some excellent space sims -- a genre that had been dying out until recently -- and nothing to play them with.

PS: If you plan on rolling the dice anyway (you might get lucky!), it's worth noting that most of these units aren't sold directly by Amazon, which means you're on the hook for shipping if you decide to return them and try another unit. I'm sending this one back tomorrow, and I have no idea what it will cost me to put it in the mail. The price of misguided optimism, I suppose...
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on December 2, 2006
I bought this after playing Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) for a couple of days using the keyboard and mouse. I actually got it from a local electrical retailer, who evidently didn't sell many of them and my box took a while to locate in some back-room somewhere and was covered in dust. It was also a third more than on Amazon.

In any event I got it home, unpacked the box and plugged it's single USB connector in to my Toshiba Tecra M4 laptop running the final, released version of Windows Vista. Vista recognized it immediately and after some disk-access said it was done and that was it.

I hadn't actually thought to shut down FSX during this and went I went to manage the controls in it, it appeared to have just discovered the X52 and defaulted various buttons to it. I was able to set a huge number of buttons to anything I want and spent some time configuring it the way I wanted. The only problem I had was I couldn't work out how to get some of the sliding controls to control anything; it all seemed to be on/off switches - even the flaps are two buttons (more flaps / less). I think one of the wiggly buttons on the throttle is supposed to replace the mouse, too but I couldn't get that to work and didn't miss it either as obviously I have a mouse so I don't consider this a big deal.

I've been playing FSX very happily with the X52 ever since and it makes a huge difference to this game - highly recommended; much easier to control the various aircraft than with the keyboard and / or mouse.

It came with a cd with some software on it that promised to offer various additional configuration options; I couldn't think what it could do that would be of use to me in FSX as I had everything I wanted but I thought I'd try and install it anyway to see. It didn't work on Vista so I still don't know if I'm missing anything there. Hopefully Saitek will bring out a version that runs on Vista at some point; I will keep an eye out although to be honest I am very happy with it just as it is and I don't plan to use it for anything other than FSX anyway so I don't think that's a very big deal, either.

Overall, highly recommended if you are looking to run the new FSX from Microsoft.
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