A Deep Dive Into The Logitech X56
The controller was originally developed by space and flight simulator peripherals manufacturer Saitek, on the same platform as their previous-generation X-55. Saitek had noticed that the then-new technology of Virtual Reality headsets had resurrected the previously popular genre of space sims. The X-56’s hands-on throttle and stick design became specifically space simulator-focused and was released towards the end of 2016.
After Logitech purchased Saitek from its parent-company Mad Catz in September 2017, it started development on improvement, in nearly every aspect, of the older Saitek design. In March 2018, Logitech released their revamped model.
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It still kept many of the same features that had made its original itineration innovational and popular. Its throttle could still be unlocked to provide inputs for the left and right engines individually, and the throttle panel still hosted its entire series of awesome looking and feeling metal switches and knobs.
But it had three new structural and aesthetic: two mini joysticks, a revamped color scheme, and full-spectrum RGB lighting that can be edited to your liking by the new feature-rich software.
Logitech’s advanced X56 was, and remains, a shining example of complete control featuring: analog thumbsticks, dual throttles with friction adjuster and throttle lock, accurate 16-bit aileron, and elevator axis with hall-effect sensors. adjustable stick force via an advanced 4-spring system, 189 programmable controls, that RGB lighting, and more.
Upgrade the VR gaming experience with the re-emerging space simulation genre and the advanced X56 HOTAS. After testing, using, and reviewing, (ok, weeks of fun gaming!) taking into consideration the most important features, we’ll make our final verdict.
Who’s It For?
If you’re a fan of aircraft games, and particularly flight and space simulators for your PC, even the best gaming keyboard paired with the best gaming mouse, isn’t going to make you feel like Top Gun’s Maverick or Luke Skywalker. A dogfight in the blue sky above or in deep space, often calls for better precision and a more realistic feel than can be offered by a mouse and keyboard. For certain games, with the best joystick, you may not need to use your keyboard or mouse at all!
Whether you want to test your flying skills as a fighter jet pilot in the skies, or as a space commander beyond, these two experiences demand a quality flight stick. Without a great HOTAS, that’s Hands-On Throttle and Stick to the uninitiated, you’ll never get the most out of your airborne gaming experience.
You’re truly fully-emersed as you’re required to use one hand on the throttle and one hand on the joystick at all times if you’re to use all the buttons on the joystick.
A reliable and programmable joystick is a great investment for flight gamers then. The large advantage to the joystick being its throttle. This is a lever that can be pressed forward or pulled backward to make the craft that you’re piloting speed up or slow down. The throttle can be either integrated on the base of the joystick itself or come as a detached control.
Having a separate detached throttle control can be beneficial in several ways. It gives you a more natural, ergonomic feel, as your hands do not have to be so close together. There are also more buttons to access instead of using a mouse or a throttle on the base of a joystick.
With button configuration and layout vitally important for many games; this is especially true for flight and space simulators. A lot of gamers enjoy having a separate control for throttle as it offers more versatility, and extra speed, at your fingertips.
If you’re used to looking at your keyboard for keys mapped to controls, doing everything – and we mean everything! – by feel with the joystick and thruster, takes some adjusting. And perhaps even more practice! To achieve enhanced immersion and quicker reactions requires a fair bit of learning until you find the layout comfortable and truly believe that you have every necessary control at your fingertips.
For Logitech X56, the flight training and control binding took around three hours; time well spent, and we’d recommend that new X-56 users, especially those unfamiliar with HOTAS setups in general, do the same.
The downside to having a detached throttle is that they’re generally more expensive. Although bear in mind that they aren’t just great for strictly aircraft games, or flight or space simulators; they can also work for a wide range of games, such as some FPSs where you might jump into a jet or helicopter.
Logitech X56 is a detached throttle stick, that even at its price, deserves your attention.
What We Like About Logitech X56
This two-piece system is packed with high-tech features, including a mini analog stick on both the throttle and joystick to enable “6 Degrees of Freedom” control of your craft. The X56 has a multitude of customizable options, such as configurable button placement on both units, that gives you even greater control in your favorite space sim, and are ideal for other virtual reality games as well.
The stick has 16-bit non-contact elevator sensors, and an aileron axis with hall-effect characters, for one of the most accurate levels of control on the market today. You can enhance this control even further by adjustment of the response curves and dead zones. RGB lighting enables the customization of the stick’s appearance to become fully integrated into the simulation setup.
Logitech X56’s throttle unit has a tension adjuster, and both have large bases to keep them steady on your desk. We also like the fact you can adjust the resistance on the stick through a simple 4-spring system.
The latest model features a stealthy new black and gray finish. But the changes go beyond the aesthetic, engineering updates in response to feedback from its community of users. Let’s examine more closely, these features and others that we like about Logitech X56.
Logitech X56 looked and felt solid out of the box, and throughout our 400-plus hours of testing, it remained fully functional with no problems in terms of its build quality. If you want it to be a more fixed and permanent part of your setup, the X56 has holes present in bases to affix it to nearly any surface.
Its most important and impressive feature is its pair of analog mini sticks; one each on the joystick and the throttle. This innovation is ideal for dual-engine spacecraft and aircraft. Even more so in battle situations if your primary engine is disabled and you’re down to just one; just adjust the friction to move each throttle, and the throttle lock reliably converts the twin throttles into a single unit.
The mini stick is equipped with horizontal and vertical thrust control that navigate naturally. While those thrusters could have been controlled with a hat or keyboard, the mini stick has a gentler touch for greater accuracy. Additionally, you can map both mini sticks acted as a button when pushed. By doing so, Logitech X56 gives you 3 triggers. Nice!
In the latest space sims with their more dynamic spacecraft, control is becoming increasingly complex. Even more so from atmosphere-based flight simulations. Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) – that’s pitch, roll, yaw, backward, forwards, up, down, left, and right – needed for realism in 360-degrees of space have to be carefully considered. Logitech X56 lets you, with the mini analog sticks at the thumbs providing four more axes of control.
We found the throttle’s thumb slider, dials, and switches operated consistently. Setting the pinky dial to radar zoom and the two thumb dials to manipulate the various axes in the galaxy and system maps, worked a treat along with the mini sticks controlling map rotation. Additionally, resetting zoom levels back to zero with the thumb dials center detents is made easy.
The X-56 features five hats: three full hats on the joystick and two mini hats on the thruster. The silver concave hat on the joystick is effective for mouselook, while the d-pad style hat is suited for menu selection. The placement of those two hats made them easy to reach, and we found them indispensable.
When we first opened the box, we thought that the F.E.E.L. spring system would be a gimmick. However, these four interchangeable springs each gave the joystick a very different feel. This is great for controlling different-sized ships. We liked the lower-tension springs on smaller ships and the higher-tension springs on larger ships. The lighter and heavier tension made the ships feel more like they respond in-game; faster for lighter ships, whereas slower for heavier ships. We even changed the springs mid-game without any problems. And of course, you can opt for no spring at all.
The included HOTAS configuration software gives you 189 programmable controls. The 13 axes, 5 HATS, and 31 programmable buttons can be customized over three modes, while the dead bands can be adjusted with the response curves to fine-tune axes. Also, to assign any button to any number of in-sim commands. You can even assign mouse and keyboard commands, from single-key inputs to timed and macro commands.
The RGB lighting is the most aesthetically pleasing feature of Logitech X56. You can set it to match, complement, or contrast to the color of your gaming keyboard, making for a beautiful setup.
What We Don’t Like About Logitech X56
We found that the RGB lighting didn’t quite reproduce all of the color spectra accurately or consistently; especially white, which appeared as more pale blue, and yellow and orange looked greenish.
Also, regarding its design, it’s a shame that the metal top plate on both the flight stick and throttle doesn’t extend to the base. Instead, both are composed mostly of plastic. And while Logitech X56 still feels very sturdy, there’s a sharp seamline on the top of the right throttle that we found to be irritating, when your hand fully-encloses the control. Also, the seam running along the handle of the joystick is a bit distracting, and both are just a shame to its otherwise super-cool aesthetics.
We also thought the X56 to be deceptively light, and before we attached its included suction cups to the base for increased stability, the stick, and throttle
slipped around on the desk.
Anyhow, neither the throttle nor the joystick performed perfectly and drifted. This can be overcome by setting separate dead zones for both units, but the mini sticks also drifted, and they don’t have a dead zone setting in the software, so have to manually overcome this by wiggling them.
Another issue is that the throttle is without a center detent. When setting the thumb slider to swap between forward and reverse thrust, it sometimes lost track of its position and took two back-and-forth movements for it to change the throttle’s direction.
Logitech X56 has two rotary knobs on the throttle’s base that, like its dials, can be mapped to anything. However, we couldn’t find any real benefit in doing so.
Similarly, we found that the conical hat above the d-pad style is positioned just a little too far for the thumb, so we didn’t use it much. The thumb trigger which sat next to it was also difficult to reach.
Sometimes, some random actions just occurred during gameplay, such as opening the galaxy map and engaging the frame shift drive. Sometimes this happened when we first started playing, and at other times after a few hours of gameplay. An internet search pulled up threads about this. Seemingly the unit’s high-power draw could be the issue, even though we connected our Logitech X56 to an aftermarket USB 3.0 PCIe card. Whatever the cause, unplugging and re-plugging the USB cables fixes the issue; at least until the next time it happens.
Additionally, the joystick we used squeaked loudly enough to be heard over a home theater surround system, although not when wearing closed-back headphones. Logitech X56 is a solid bit of kit overall, but maybe quality control can be an issue.
- A nice compromise between function and price
- Great HOTAS for multi-purpose involved sims
- Decent customizable buttons layout
- Precision. Aesthetic. Ergonomic. Craftmanship
- Smooth and responsive sliders and joysticks
- VR compatible
- Split option on the multi-engine throttle
- Multiple springs which can be easily changed
- Quality control issues. Taking a chance on getting a lemon!
- Throttle issues on arrival
- You MUST use with a powered USB hub
- Stopped working after 6 months
- Awful construction for the price point
As well as the stick and throttle units with 2m USB connector cables, you receive the F.E.E.L. spring system with 4 springs of varied resistance, 1 Lithium-ion battery, user guide, and warranty card.
Overview Of Features
Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle and Stick Controller connect by an included 2m USB cable to PC, using Microsoft Windows OS. At 11.4 x 6.69 x 7.08 inches in dimension, it weighs 5.07 pounds.
Giving military-grade precision to flight and space sims, its HOTAS configuration software allows 189 programmable controls for you to:
- Customize all 13 axes of movement, 5 HATS, and 31 programmable buttons over three modes
- Modify the dead bands and response curves to fine-tune axes
- Designate any button to any number of in-sim commands
- Assign mouse and keyboard commands, from single-key inputs to timed and macro commands
Such customization, combined with 2 mini analog stick controls gives you all 6 Degrees of Freedom: pitch, roll, yaw, backward and forward, up and down, and left and right. This allows you to completely control surface options to achieve the exact level of performance required by aspiring combat pilots, and
needed for realism in 360-degrees of space sim.
Logitech X56’s fully featured HOTAS has twin throttles with friction adjuster and throttle lock and accurate 16-bit aileron and elevator axis with hall-effect sensors. Its adjustable stick force is provided by the advanced F.E.E.L. 4-spring system.
RGB lighting means that you can program the color to match with the rest of your rig.
With all those features, Logitech X56 is a quality combination throttle and joystick setup, delivering an even more amazing experience for all flight and space enthusiasts; from fun, plug-and-play gaming to professional fine-tuned simulation. It offers more precise control which is invaluable for all VR games and sims. All without the need for a keyboard or mouse, including navigating the in-game and settings menu.
Sure, the X-56 has its quirks, such as drifting in its rudder, throttle, and mini sticks. But hopefully, Logitech will take this controller to the next level by rectifying these issues, and with better build quality moving forward.
But overall, we think that its huge number and sensitivity of controls make Logitech X56 a worthwhile and valuable addition to any gaming rig.