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Gaming Input Devices

Understand the Definition of Input Devices When Building Your System

Gaming input devices are critical to your gaming system (types of input devices are joystick, keyboard, game pads, etc.). What is an input device? A simple definition of input devices is computer hardware that provides data and controls signals.

Types of input devices include gamepads, joysticks, and specialized gaming keypads. These devices are all designed to control your in-game character, vehicle, animal or widget. The controllers all connect to your computer the same way that a mouse or keyboard would, through a USB port. For gamining in particular, it is important to get input devices that are responsive and fast and that fit your needs. We'll take a look here at the most common of them.



Computer Flight Simulation JoystickJoysticks were once the king of gaming input devices. The advancements of the mouse have taken over a lot of the jobs it once held. Now, joysticks are used mostly for flight or space simulations.

A basic joystick consists of a handheld stick that can be tilted in 360 degrees, and sometimes twisted left or right. Joysticks that are made for flight simulators will normally come with a separate controller for the throttle controls.

Joysticks are designed to be used in one hand, with the base either being held or on a desktop. Normally, the hand not using the joystick will use the keyboard or throttle control. This is a must for flight simulators, as today's simulators are quite realistic and complex.

As with some other gaming input devices, joysticks can also come with Force Feedback. Force feedback is a technology that vibrates or moves the joystick based on in game actions, for instance when getting shot at in a dogfight.

Purchasing a joystick takes a bit of research. There is a wide range of joysticks and along with that is a wide range of prices. Things to take into consideration...

Saitek Pro Flight Yoke SystemWhat type of games do you play? If you are a flight simulation fan or enjoy space fighting games, then you will want to consider a joystick / throttle combination.

Depending on the quality of construction, available functions, and customization options, you can pay anywhere from $30.00 to $250.00. Some of the top joystick / throttle controllers include: Saitek X52 Flight Control System, Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar Flight Stick and Saitek PZ44 Pro Flight Yoke System.


If you are not looking to spend quite that much, there are highly rated joysticks available at a lower price, such as Saitek PS27 Cyborg Evo Force Joystick and Thrustmaster TG Fox 2 Pro Joystick.



Computer GamepadGamepads have their origin with console gaming systems like Nintendo and Atari. Gamepads are held in both hands, and use 1 or 2 joysticks or joypads (directional pads) along with multiple buttons to control your onscreen action.

Normally, the joypad or joysticks are controlled by the thumbs, along with multiple buttons, while there may be trigger buttons below the gamepad for use by the index fingers.

Gamepads come in various layouts, with anywhere from 4 to 16 buttons, and 2-4 joysticks / joypads. When purchasing a gamepad, there are a couple things to keep in mind:

Price: most gamepads are priced in the $10.00 to $35.00 range (although you can always find more expensive models if you look).

Compatibility: not all games will support a gamepad. If you are looking to pick up a gamepad for a specific game, make sure the game supports a gamepad.

Logitech, Razor, Cyborg and Saitek are all well-reviewed, quality gamepads.


Gaming Keypads

Gaming KeypadGaming keypads, are not your typical keyboard. They are small desktop keypads with specialized sets of keys.

These keypads are normally used for first person shooter type games. The keypads are programmable and allow you to map the keys to specific actions of your choosing.

These keypads will normally contain 2 to 3 rows of 5 keys, a multi-directional thumbpad or thumbstick, and one or more buttons by the thumbstick. These allow multiple keys to be at your fingertips, but arranged for quicker access than a normal keyboard.

Check out these gaming keypads: Belkin Nostromo Speed Pad and Saitek Pro Gamer Command Pad.

Understanding the definition of gaming input devices and the types of input devices available (and their performance differences), is important in selecting the best computer components or peripherals for your computer build. To develop better skills in gaming, you need to undertstand 'what is an input device' and how to select the best device for your gaming needs.

Return to Input Devices from Gaming Input Devices.

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