best-fight-sticks

6 Best Fight Sticks (Arcade Sticks) in 2019

Using a generic PS4 controller for fighting games is okay, but if you’re really serious about fighting games on any platform, investing in a proper fight stick is the way to go. 

Fightsticks, especially high end ones, can cost half as much as your gaming console, but the arcade platform is just so much better for fighting games as it gives you more control and performance than the alternative. 

Here is a table with a few of our recommended sticks at various price ranges, but this not a comprehensive selection of good fight sticks. It’s just a quick overview of sticks that are universally regarded as decent for their price.

PositionBest PS4 Fightsticks Best XBox 1 FightstickBest Mid-Range FightstickBest Budget FightstickBest Ultra-Budget Fightstick
NameQanba ObsidianRazer PantheraRazer AtroxHORI RAP4Mayflash F500Qanba Drone
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PlatformsPS4, PS3, PCPS4, PS3, PCXBox 1, XBox 360, PCPS4, PS3, PCPS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, AndroidPS4, PS3, PC
LevelPremiumPremiumPremiumMid-RangeBudgetBudget
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
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Best Fightstick for PS4 

The Playstation 4, being the most popular console in the world right now, is the biggest platform for fightsticks. Most fightsticks today are designed to be used on the Playstation platform, so there are a ton of options if you game on a PS4 or PS3. 

Right now, the two best PS4 fightsticks are the Razer Panthera and Qanba Obsidian. They are very similar, with both having the same Sanwa Denshi components and both being priced at $200 MSRP. 

Qanba Obsidian

The Qanba Obsidian would be one of the best fightsticks based on looks alone. Just look at how sexy it is, especially when it’s dark and you can see the blue LED rings shining from the sides. The build quality and attention to detail Qanba put in the Obsidian is phenomenal. It’s just be the best designed fightstick ever. It’s got a clean design without any unremoveable artwork on the top. Since the plastic faceplate is secured by screws, you can add your own artwork to the fightstick.

The good news doesn’t stop at the design of the Obsidian, as it comes with Sanwa OSBF buttons and a Sanwa JFL lever. You’ll void the warranty if you open up the fightstick though, so it’s not the most mod friendly platform out there. 

Qanba also offers the Qanba Dragon, a fightstick with the same Sanwa parts that is even larger (and $100 pricier) than the Obsidian, which is already a pretty big fightstick on it’s own. If you want a behemoth of a fightstick that also offers amazing performance, the Dragon might be the one for you. 

Read our In-Depth Qanba Obsidian Review

PROS:

Top tier build quality

Stylish design and side LED rings

Sanwa components for superior performance

CONS:

Could be more mod friendly

Costly

Razor Panthera

If the Qanba didn’t exist, the Razer would be the company that is producing the best fightsticks. 

The Panthera is an excellent PS4 fightstick that excels in two important areas: performance and customization. 

It’s got a ton of features that make the Panthera well worth it’s pricey $200 MSRP. The Panthera comes with all-Sanwa internal components, two balltops, a touchpad, and all the command center buttons you would ever need on a fightstick.

Though the aesthetics of the Razer Panthera can’t be compared to the Qanba Obsidian, it’s a well designed fightstick in it’s own right both on ergonomics and looks.  

If you’re a modder, the Panthera might be the best overall premium PS4 stick for you. Razer built the Obsidian to be modded, and opening up the stick is as easy as pressing down on the Razer logo on the front of the fightstick — though Razer has made it impossible to replace the blue artwork plastered all over the top of the fightstick.

However, one massive flaw that plagues the Panthera is it’s spotty compatibility with PC. The stick is supposed to be compatible with PC, but you’ll have to jump through a lot of troubleshooting hoops to get it to work on some PC games. 

Razer has actually released a updated version of the Panthera, the Panthera Evo, but we think the original Panthera is still better.

Read our In-Depth Razer Panthera Review

PROS:

Top-shelf Sanwa components

One-touch access to interior

Good design

CONS:

Expensive

Artwork is more or less unchangable

Compatibility issues with PC

Best Fightstick for XBox

XBox users get a lot less love from fightstick makers because they are a smaller platform, but you still have quite a few good options if you game on an XBox. 

Hori Real Arcade Pro.V Kai

The HORI RAP.V Kai is just the XBox version of the more common HORI RAP 4.  HORI’s naming scheme here is pretty confusing, but ‘5’ just stands for the Vewlix button layout and “Kai” just stands for where the stick is placed. 

The Real Arcade Pro is more reasonably priced than the Atrox at $150, but you’ll get HORI’s proprietary Hayabusha lever and buttons instead of the more revered Sanwa components. This doesn’t mean that Hayabusha components are worse than Sanwa components as both are pretty good. Though it is highly subjective, a lot of people say the Hayabusha lever is better than the Sanwa JFL lever, and some even perfer the 30mm buttons over everything else.

Being built entire of black plastic, the fightstick doesn’t have the sexiest design, but modding is easy and the overall build quality is good. You just need to unscrew the bottom of the stick to reveal the very neatly sorted and color-coded internals.

Read our In-Depth Hori RAP4 Review

PROS:

Good build quality

Great gaming performance

Easy to mod

CONS:

Doesn’t feel premium

Proprietary buttons and lever

Razer Atrox

The Razer Atrox looks a lot like it’s PS4 cousin, the Panthera. That’s because the two are basically the same fightstick apart from different color schemes, Playstation vs. XBox compatibility, and the lack of a touchpad on the Atrox. 

Because it’s an XBox clone of the Panthera, the Atrox also costs the same, with the hefty price tag of $200. 

As a result, the Atrox shares the same upsides and downsides the Panthera has. Both fightsticks offer elite tier performance and are amazing platforms to mod on, but it’s a nightmare to get these fightsticks to work properly on the PC in many instances. 

Read our In-Depth Razer Atrox Review

PROS:

Top-shelf Sanwa components

One-touch access to interior

Good design

CONS:

Expensive

Artwork is more or less unchangable

Compatibility issues with PC

Best Fightstick for Nintendo Switch

HORI RAP4 Nintendo

This is one of the only fightsticks specifically designed for the Nintendo Switch platform. Apart from the different color palate and it’s compatibility with the Nintendo Switch, this fightstick is basically a standard PS4 HORI RAP4. It has the same HORI Hayabusha components and modding options as the standard RAP4.

The RAP4 Nintendo is also fully comptabile with PC using Xinput. 

Read our In-Depth Hori RAP4 Review

PROS:

Good build quality

Great gaming performance

Easy to mod

CONS:

Pricey for a Nintendo Switch fightstick

Best Budget Fightsticks

Qanba Drone

Of Qanba’s three ultra-budget fightsticks, the Drone, Joy, and Carbon, the Qanba Drone is probably the best one.

Initially, the MSRP of the Qanba Drone was 89.99, and the Drone was not a fightstick that was worth almost $100, especially with how small and light it is.

However, most retailers are selling the Drone for around $50-$70, and the Drone is a really good little arcade stick at this price. 

The proprietary Qanba buttons and lever are surprisingly serviceable for a fightstick so cheap, and you can easily swap them out of high quality aftermarket components if you wish.

Read our In-Depth Qanba Drone Review

PROS:

Bears the Qanba name

Pretty mod friendly

Stock lever and buttons not bad at all

CONS:

The ugly yellow artwork is not removable

Mayflash F300

The Mayflash F300 doesn’t try to be anything else than a basic starter fightstick, evidenced by it’s very basic design and modest size and feature set. It occupies the same space as the Qanba Drone as a budget fightstick but the F300 has the added advantage of being compatible with pretty much everything. 

The Mayflash F300 is compatible with the PS4, PS3, XBox 1, XBox 360, Nintendo Switch, Android, and PC. 

Don’t expect the same build quality or performance you would get on a more expensive fightstick with the F300, but the Mayflash F300 still does everything any other fightstick can do. 

The F300 is also surprisingly mod-friendly and is specifically compatible with Sanwa components. If you want to venture into modding but want to invest too much initially into something like a HORI RAP 4 or Qanba Obsidian, getting a cheap stick like the F300 is the way to go. 

Read our In-Depth Mayflash F300 Review

PROS:

Really cheap

Mod-friendly

Compatible with every platform

CONS:

Very minimal design

Build quality is cheap

Mayflash F500

The Mayflash F500 is basically a larger F300 with a better set of features for a modest price premium. 

In terms of core functionality, the F500 and F300 are identical. They share the same buttons and lever and both are compatible with a bunch of different platforms. 

The F500 is a really good fightstick to mod. The manufacturer literally advertises the F500’s easy compatibility with Sanwa components as one of its main selling points and you can replace the artwork under the removable plexi panel, something that the F300 does not have.

The Mayflash F500 is also significantly larger and heavier than the F300, not to mention that the F500 has significantly more metal components than the F300, giving it a more premium and less toyish feel. Because the F500’s case is pretty large, it actually has a interior compartment to store the cable.

You also get a headphone jack with the F500, a nice bonus.

PROS:

Solid build quality

Compatible with every platform

Extremely moddable

Very affordable

CONS:

Same proprietary buttons and lever as F300

Basic design

Best Midrange Fightstick

See Options

MadCatz TES+

If you want a fightstick that comes stock with Sanwa components but don’t want to pay the $200 to get a Qanba Obsidian or Razer Panthera, the Mad Catz TES+ is your best bet. The TES+ may not be the longest or feature packed fightstick, but it is in no way inferior to premium fightsticks in terms of performance.

The TES+ is a good fightstick, but there is a big catch: MadCatz decided to stop making fightsticks.They didn’t go out of business, but they for whatever reason decided to stop making fightsticks and ended all support for all their fightsticks as well. It’s not easy to find a new TES+ these days and if you do, there’s not much you can do if it breaks. So there is no more warranty for MadCatz sticks and you’ll have to source replacement components from third-party sellers as MadCatz shut down everything about their fightsticks business. 

PROS:

Switchable between 4-way and 8-way stick modes Fast PCB One of the cheapest sticks with a full set of Sanwa parts

CONS:

RIP MadCatz no more warranty and support Has a reputation for reliability issues

Best Premium Fightstick

Qanba Dragon

 

If you are rich and want to flex on everyone, look no further than the Qanba Dragon. The Dragon is easily the most unnecessarily massive fightstick ever made, weighing almost 12 pounds and measuring at almost two feet long. 

Style wise, it’s similar to the Obsidian but the design is totally different when you put the two sticks side by side. 

When you compared the performance of the Dragon to the Qanba Obsidian, there isn’t really a difference. Both fightsticks have the same layout and same Sanwa components so what you’re really paying extra for on the Dragon is that extra size and the ability to access the internals more easily. The circuit board on the Obsidian is different, but performance shouldn’t be affected by a slightly different PCB. 

Read out In-Depth Qanba Dragon Review

PROS:

Top tier Qanba build quality

Stock Sanwa components

Super big and heavy 

CONS:

Size renders it immobile

Extremely expensive

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our 2019 guide on the best fightsticks. 

There are a lot of different options on this list, so you might ask what sticks are our personal favorites. 

Personally, we love the Qanba Obsidian and the HORI RAP 4 and it’s many derivatives — but that’s just our opinion. 

Do Your Own Research!

A fightstick is a substantial investment, so don’t just take our word for it. Everyone has different preference and needs, and some people might even prefer using a controller over an arcade stick.

While we have included most of the good fightsticks on the market in this guide, this is still by no means a comprehensive list! MadCatz used to make some really good performance fight sticks for good prices, but we didn’t include great fightsticks like the TES+ or TE2+ because all MadCatz sticks are now out of production and you won’t get any warranty support.

Finally, here are some useful pointers for your research in what fightstick to buy. Good luck!

  • Understand that user preference for the buttons and lever is very subjective. Some people hate Sanwa buttons!
  • Don’t be afraid of a budget stick. They don’t suck.
  • It’s better to mod on a high quality stick than a cheaper one
  • Make sure the fightstick you buy is compatible with the platform you game on!
  • Do you research!

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