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The best fight sticks in 2021

best fight sticks
(Image credit: Razer)

You don't need one of the best fight sticks to enjoy playing arcade-style fighting games. However it's closer to the original arcade machine experiences these games originally had, plus can be a more straightforward way of executing special moves and combos.

While playing titles like Street Fighter, Guilty Gear or Tekken with a gamepad is still effective all the way up to the professional level, using a traditional arcade layout puts the controls exactly where you want them to be. They'll take some getting used to in-game, let alone trying to navigate menus with one, but performing special moves with precise inputs or just mashing the chunky buttons is an experience worth trying out.

Our selection of the best fight sticks below offers something to all kinds of players, no matter your console or budget. Some of them work with the PS5 and Xbox Series X too, so you won't have to change sticks when you upgrade to a next-gen console.

What are the best fight sticks?

If you want the cheapest way into best fight stick gaming, look to the Hori Fighting Stick Mini for a compact and well-priced offering. On the other hand you want something more luxurious, try Razer's Panthera or Atrox sticks (depending on if you're team PlayStation or Xbox), Qanba's Dragon or Obsidian models, or the Victrix Pro FS.

If you fancy customizing your stick's components or adding a custom artwork layer, then Razer's sticks are well suited to this with their easy disassembly. The Victrix is also convenient for swapping out buttons or the joystick, but its smart metal exterior does mean you can't change the look of the thing like you can with rival products.

Qanba's Dragon is the best fight stick to choose if you only play fighting games at home. It feels great to use, and its heavy construction isn't such an issue if it's just sat by your couch when not in use. For portability, the Hori Fighting Stick Mini can't be beaten since it's just so small, but if you want to spend a little more, the Qanba Drone and Victrix Pro FS both have travel-friendly dedicated cable storage, with the Victrix also offering slots for attaching a shoulder strap if needed.

The best fight sticks you can buy today

Nacon Daija

(Image credit: Nacon)

1. Nacon Daija

This stick only works on PlayStation and PC, but is a great pick for players who want a sleek, focussed design. It features Sanwa-made parts, the gold standard for arcade sticks, but many of the auxiliary controls are mounted on the side panel instead of the top, meaning you're unlikely to hit them by accident in the middle of a bout.

Nacon also offers some nice customization options, giving you full access to the stick's interior to replace components, a removable faceplate to swap out the artwork and the choice of a ball or baton top for your joystick.

best fight sticks: Hori Fighting Stick Mini

(Image credit: Hori)

2. Hori Fighting Stick Mini

At just $49, the Hori Fighting Stick Mini is the best fight stick option for folks who want to see what sticks are all about before throwing down hundreds of dollars. Compatible with PS4, PS3 and PC, this tiny stick is highly portable. The peripheral features a traditional 8-button layout and provides easy access to the PS4's Share button for recording those crazy combos.

best fight sticks: Mayflash F300 Arcade

(Image credit: Mayflash)

3. Mayflash F300 Arcade Fight Stick

One of the most popular cheap best fight stick options on Amazon, the Mayflash F300 is another great starter stick. This peripheral features turbo functionality for mapping multiple button presses, as well as a switch for making the joystick behave as either a D-pad or an analog stick. It's also popular for its easy modifiability. There's just one catch: When using the F300 on a PlayStation or Xbox, you'll have to plug that console's controller into it to use the stick.  

best fight sticks: Qanba Drone

(Image credit: Qanba)

4. Qanba Drone

The Qanba Drone is an excellent middle ground when considering affordability, portability and build quality among our best fight stick selections. This striking yellow-and-black stick works with PS4, PS3 and PC, and has a special lock functionality to keep you from accidentally pausing a match. It's got a front-facing cable compartment for when you're traveling, as well as soft padding on the bottom to keep it from slipping off of your lap.

best fight sticks: Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai/V Kai Blue

(Image credit: Hori)

5. Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai/V Kai Blue

If you're ready to get serious, Hori's Real Arcade Pro V is one of the best fight sticks, and one with a fancy premium build. This slick, extra-wide fight stick features arcade-standard Kuro buttons and metallic accents, with a smart button layout designed to prevent accidental pauses. The V Kai works with Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. There’s an attractive V Kai Blue variant available for PS4, PS3 and PC players, as well as a red V Hayabusa option for Nintendo Switch.

best fight sticks: Hori Real Arcade Pro N

(Image credit: Hori)

6. Hori Real Arcade Pro N

An even more premium best fight stick entry from Hori, the Real Arcade Pro N (PS4, PS3, PC) boasts slick metallic gold accents and Hori's sturdy Hayabusa joystick and buttons. Like the Real Arcade Pro V Kai Blue, the Pro N features a full touchpad for use on the PS4, as well as the typical turbo and button-assigning features. A well-hidden pause button and Hori's symmetrical "Noir" button layout help this high-end, sturdy stick stand out.

best fight sticks: Qanba Obsidian

(Image credit: Qanba)

7. Qanba Obsidian

If you're seeking a top-of-the-line stick that will definitely stand out at tournaments, the Qanba Obsidian is a great pick. The Obsidian boasts one of the most striking designs among the best fight sticks, with eye-catching aluminum edges that are accentuated by slick blue LED lights. This PS4, PS3 and PC peripheral sports high-end Sanwa Denshi buttons, a PS4-friendly touchpad and all of the extra programming features you'd expect from a modern fight stick.

Best fight sticks: Razer Panthera Evo

(Image credit: Razer)

8. Razer Panthera Evo

The Razer Panthera Evo is the latest version of the company's flagship fight stick, with 8 face buttons that sport the same responsive Razer mechanical switches you'll find in the company's popular gaming keyboards. As with previous iterations of the Panthera, the Evo is built with modding in mind, with a transparent top panel that lets you easily swap in your own artwork as well as a removable bottom panel that lets you open up the stick to swap out parts. Factor in a durable Sanwa joystick lever, an improved case design with a rubber base and a handy headset port for using the cans of your choice, and you've got a dependable premium best fight stick built for both performance and customizability.

9. Razer Atrox

best fight sticks: Razer Atrox

(Image credit: Razer)

The Razer Atrox is the Panthera's best fight stick counterpart for the Xbox, offering many of the same features for Xbox One and PC gamers. That means you get the same mod-friendly design, storage compartments and Sanwa buttons, but with a green Razer faceplate instead of a blue one.

10. Qanba Dragon

best fight sticks: Qanba Dragon

(Image credit: Qanba)

This monster of a controller sports a striking red-and-black design, complete with a big sturdy base, an LED lighting strip and a flip-up design that allows for easy modding and part replacement. The Dragon sports all of the essential features of a high-end best fight stick, including genuine Sanwa Denshi buttons, a dedicated PS3/PS4/PC switch and a 8.5-foot braided cable. You probably won't want to travel to tournaments with this massive stick, but it'll make a great centerpiece to your training area if you have the cash for it.

11. Victrix Pro FS

best fight sticks: Victrix Pro FS

(Image credit: Victrix )

The Victrix Pro FS is as high-end as fight sticks get. This premium stick packs a stunning, semi-hollow aluminum body, which is curved for wrist comfort and light enough to carry around via its convenient handles or optional strap attachment. The stick's premium Sanwa buttons and removable joystick are built to endure years of competitive play, and you can easily open up the Pro FS to swap in new parts. The stick's customizable RGB lights add to an already gorgeous design, and its handy onboard controls are built to let you conveniently access menus without accidentally pausing mid-match. 

Available in PS4 and Xbox One variations, the Pro FS carries a hefty asking price, but serious players just might find the investment worth it. 

How to choose the best fight stick for you

Beyond normal device buying tips like keep your budget in mind, here are some pieces of advice that are unique to buying fight sticks.

The first thing to consider is how portable you want the stick to be. Do you intend for the stick to remain plugged into your games console or will you be carrying this around to play at other venues? Let that decision guide you when it comes to picking a size and weight 

Another important factor you need to check is platform compatibility. There are third-party products to make fight sticks work with any console you wish, as well as some consoles that have multi-platform support built-in, but it's better if you know you can pair your new fight stick with at least your own console without any hassle.

If you want to get really in-depth, you could also take a look at the button and joystick arrangement. Some sticks place their buttons in two parallel lines, while others have the rightmost buttons offset to emulate a particular arcade cabinet layout. Likewise, some sticks use rounded tops for their joysticks, and others feature a longer 'baton' style top instead. The option to customize your stick is always there if don't mind opening up the fight stick to change the parts over. However if you can, try out some sticks in person before making a purchase to see which set-up you prefer.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.