The best flight simulator will vary depending on your goals.

Typically, most flight simulator fans are either looking for the most realistic setup or a good, dependable budget setup.

So, in this article, we recommend all the software and hardware, including headsets, rudder pedals, yokes, and throttle quadrants, you need to create a worthy flight simulator setup that any hobbyist or experienced pilot would be lucky to have.

Most Realistic Flight Simulator Setup

Software

When it comes to flight simulator software, the choice almost always comes down to X-Plane 11 or Microsoft Flight Simulator.

While both deliver a very enjoyable flying experience, X-Plane 11 is the way to go if you want the most realistic experience, especially if you already have or are working towards your private pilot license.

X-Plane 11 has a wider selection of planes and the accuracy of flying these planes is unmatched, especially when it comes to general aviation aircraft.

X-Plane 11 is generally considered to be the most realistic option due to its better physics, IFR flying and how in-depth it is.

Microsoft Flight Simulator can be the better option when it comes to VFR, though it depends on what you are looking for.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is unmatched when it comes to visuals, especially the visuals of the terrain and overall fidelity of the scenery.

If flight modeling, avionics and accurate layouts of airports/taxiways/gates are more important to you, X-Plane 11 is the better choice.

X-Plane 11

Most Realistic Flight Simulator The X-Plane 11 delivers the most realism with its better physics, IFR flying, flight modeling and avionics.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator

Flight Simulator With the Best Visuals Microsoft Flight Simulator has unmatched visuals when it comes to the terrain and overall scenery fidelity.

New: $74.99
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Headset

Thrustmaster T.Flight U.S. Air Force Edition Headset

Most Realistic Headset The Thrustmaster T.Flight is the only headset that is officially licensed by the U.S. Air Force.

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The Thrustmaster T.Flight U.S. Air Force Edition Headset is our top pick, especially as it is licensed by the U.S. Air Force.

It was inspired by the aviation headsets worn by pilots in the USAF and strikes an excellent balance between high-quality audio and comfort with its padded ear pads, and 2”/50 mm drivers that make sure that audio comes through loud and clear.

The ear pads feature a layer of gel to keep your ears cool, and the mic is almost unmatched in its ability to only pick up your voice instead of background noise

VR Headset

HP Reverb G2

Most Realistic VR Headset With its unmmatched image resolution and clarity, the HP Reverb G2 delivers the most realistic flight sim experience.

New: $448.92
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If you want the most realistic flight simulator experience, a VR headset is a better choice over a standard headset.

The HP Reverb G2 is the way to go with its 2160 x 2160 LCD display and incredible resolution and image clarity.

Hook up a pilot to the G2 and your flight sim of choice, and it’s very likely that he will say that it provides a very similar experience to flying a real airplane

Rudder Pedals

Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder Pedals

Most Realistic Rudder Pedals The Thrustmaster Pendular Pedals comfortably provide the most realistic flying experience with their incredibly smooth motion and feel.

New: $599.99
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In an attempt to engineer the most realistic rudder pedals available, Thrustmaster sought feedback from commercial and military pilots – and it looks like they succeeded.

What makes the Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder Pedals so great is their suspended mechanism that delivers a smooth motion and realistic feel.

Additionally, the sensor system is unique to this model and creates an ultra-precise and fluid flow of each pedal – just like what you would experience inside the cockpit of a real plane

Yoke

Honeycomb Alpha Yoke & Switch Panel

Most Realistic Yoke The Honeycomb Alpha is unmatched in every aspect with the realism it provides.

New: $249.99
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The Honeycomb Alpha Yoke & Switch Panel is comfortably the most realistic flight simulator yoke available.

While the unit’s solid metal yoke shaft and full 180 degrees of rotation play a large role in this, the elimination of any deadzone or misleading spring pressure – both of which are problems far too many yokes suffer from – is unmatched.

Additionally, aerospace-grade internal components were used by Honeycomb to match the realistic ergonomics found in actual planes.

Pilot license holders and pilots who have had extensive experience in FAA-approved Aviation Training Devices (ATD) recommend the Honeycomb Alpha Yoke & Switch Panel.

Throttle Quadrant

Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant

Most Realistic Throttle Quadrant The Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant features all the realistic details necessary to make it feel like you're inside a real cockpit.

New: $249.99
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With its six commercial levers with flaps, spoilers, and functional thrust reversers, the Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant is able to accurately simulate two-engine and four-engine aircraft.

Six general aviation levers with functional TOGA (Take-Off/Go Around) Button also allows for multiple aircraft configurations, including single-engine, single-engine complex, multi-engine, and single and multi-engine turboprop aircraft.

The Honeycomb Bravo features all the realistic details necessary to make it feel like you are inside a real cockpit

Note that if you are only concerned with piloting Airbus aircraft, the Thrustmaster TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition can’t be beaten.

This is because it is designed to replicate the controls in an Airbus airliner.


Best Budget Flight Simulator Setup

Software

There isn’t much difference between the cost of X-Plane 11 and Microsoft Flight Simulator, so it comes down to your preferences.

X-Plane 11 is better if you want the most realistic experience due to its better physics, IFR flying and how in-depth it is.

Namely, it’s flight modeling, avionics and accurate layouts of airports/taxiways/gates.

X-Plane 11 also has a wider selection of planes and the accuracy of flying these planes is excellent, especially when it comes to general aviation aircraft.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is unmatched when it comes to visuals, and just exploring the terrain and your surrounding is a joy to behold.

X-Plane 11

Most Realistic Flight Simulator The X-Plane 11 delivers the most realism with its better physics, IFR flying, flight modeling and avionics.

Check Amazon for Pricing
Buy Now

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Flight Simulator With the Best Visuals Microsoft Flight Simulator has unmatched visuals when it comes to the terrain and overall scenery fidelity.

New: $74.99
Buy Now

Headset

RUNMUS Gaming Headset

Best Value Headset The RUNMUS Gaming Headset is comfortably the best headset at its price point.

New: $32.87
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The RUNMUS Gaming Headset is a great budget option for flight simulator due to its comfort and audio quality.

The audio comes through clearly, and the mic does a good job at ignoring background noise.

VR Headset

Oculus Quest 2

Best Value VR Headset The Oculus Quest 2 is your best option if you're on a budget. Its standalone design can be a real plus for some shoppers.

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The Oculus Quest 2 can’t match the resolution and clarity of the G2.

But it’s an excellent starter option if you just can’t wait any longer to see what all the fuss of flight simulation in VR is all about.

Keep in mind that you will need to buy the Oculus Link Cable to attach the Quest 2 to your PC.

Rudder Pedals

Thrustmaster T.Flight Rudder Pedals

Best Value Rudder Pedals The Thrustmaster T.Flight Rudder Pedals manage to provide a comfortable flying experience at a friendly price.

New: $129.99
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The T.Flight Rudder Pedals are an excellent choice for flight sim fans who want a reliable, enjoyable experience without breaking the bank.

While not quite as realistic as other pedals due to the way in which they are angled towards you, this has the benefit of allowing for a more comfortable flying experience.

Additionally, what makes them a great choice is their S.M.A.R.T (Sliding Motion on Aluminum Rail Tracks) system that ensures a smooth sliding motion every time.

Yoke

Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight Yoke System

Best Value Yoke The Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight strikes an excellent balance between realism and price.

New: $169.99
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The Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight Yoke System strikes just the right balance between realism and price, which has made it one of the most popular options on the market.

It is also a great option if you see yourself buying add-on panels for switches/gear, avionics, autopilot, and additional throttle quadrants down the line.

Throttle Quadrant

Logitech Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant

Best Value Throttle Quadrant The Logitech Pro Flight Quadrant is modular, interchangeable, and allows for a wide range of customization at an unbeatable price.

New: $39.99
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The Logitech Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant is an excellent choice if you’re on a budget, and makes a great addition to the Logitech G Flight Yoke System.

What we really like is thanks to its 3 axis levers and 3 two-way rocker switches, you can add a sense of realism to your flight sim setup at a very friendly price point.

It is modular and interchangeable, so you can create a custom configuration of throttle, flaps, mixture, and prop pitch for all flying conditions.

How Much Does a Flight Simulator Setup Cost?

Excluding the cost of a PC and monitor, which we assume that you already have, a good flight simulator setup for home use can cost anywhere between from $350 to over $1,000.

While the best flight simulator can vary depending on your goals, the more realistic you want the experience to be, the more expensive the setup will be.