Thrustmaster Viper TQS review: “a military-grade throttle for the most serious pilots”

If you’re right here in any respect, it’s protected to imagine you’re a veteran fight flight sim pilot. $349.99 / £299.99 is some huge cash to drop on specialist gear, and it doesn’t get way more specialised than a US Air Force-licensed reproduction of an F-16 Viper’s throttle controls. You most likely don’t should be advised that TQS stands for throttle quadrant system, and also you’ve most likely obtained extra hours in DCS World than most folks have logged in Windows 11. The Viper TQS is an expert-level peripheral, then, and that crowd picks up on the high quality particulars. So let’s get takeoff clearance and put this spectacular peripheral by its paces in lively fight to see simply the place it suits amongst the finest joysticks on the market. Swipe to scroll horizontallyKey SpecsAction buttons21ConnectionUSB-ADimensions3.4 x 11.7 x 3.2 inchesWeight2lb / 928gDesign and OptionsThe construct high quality jumps out at you once you take away the Viper TQS from its packaging. What a feature-laden monster it’s, and though numerous the elements have a plastic development it’s completed with a pleasant brushed aluminium aspect panel and a sturdy metallic throttle lever. The base plate’s additionally metallic, and these elements give the unit a very satisfying weight. Thrustmaster recommends mounting this TQS to a cockpit or utilizing a clamp, I discovered it sufficiently sturdy to make use of it freestanding on my desk. Don’t inform the US Air Force please. (Image credit score: Future)A observe for anybody who does intend to mount it to a cockpit, although: the mounting screw positions are non-standard so that you’ll must drill the holes your self. Our PR contact for Thrustmaster knowledgeable us that most producers’ cockpit mounting gap layouts might be up to date in the future to accommodate the Viper TQS’ design.A giant plus right here is that regardless of an absolute raft of inputs on this unit, it connects utilizing a single USB-C to USB cable. If you’ve ever tried to construct a flight sim setup containing swap and instrument panels that every want a separate USB port, you’ll recognize the Viper TQS’s single USB enter for the marvel of contemporary science that it’s.The management panel right here is backlit in navy inexperienced, which is each helpful for intense low-light night classes and appears suitably Top Gun. The textual content decision on the management labels is actually excessive, which suggests Thrustmaster has used a dual-layer development with textual content characters on a separate plastic layer to retain constancy.EfficiencyThere are extra axes, switches, dials and buttons than can be helpful to listing so as, so let’s use the context of taking off in a flight sim to run by them.Sensibly, the Viper TQS has been designed very a lot with DCS World in thoughts. That’s the pure residence for fight planes, and though the F-16 Viper’s out there as a third-party airplane in Flight Simulator 2020, it’s protected to imagine that most pilots will need this throttle for full fight eventualities, not simply for some jaunts over Bing Maps. While the Viper TQS is appropriate with Flight Sim 2020, its integration is just partial at current and the controls aren’t absolutely mapped. Given the sheer variety of controls on the unit, that could be a downside. Conversely, in DCS World it really works right away – simply plug in that USB cable and the sport will recognise the throttle and map its inputs fairly precisely to the F-16’s flight controls. There are a number of unmapped inputs by default, however we’ll cowl these as soon as we’re airborne. (Image credit score: Future)First issues first: Thrustmaster has precisely recreated the throttle cutoff lock and the afterburner lock from an F-16’s throttle, so to maneuver the throttle out of cutoff it is advisable pull in a swap oriented close to your pinky, rotate the throttle outwards, and transfer it into the flight idle place. The identical goes at the reverse finish of the throttle’s vary, it is advisable pull that pinky swap to entry afterburner vary and push all of it the means forwards. All the mechanisms concerned on this course of really feel high quality. It’s a easy motion, however it’s a pleasure to carry out.It’s barely disappointing that there’s no grasp startup swap on this unit’s controls. You’re free to map certainly one of the switches to grasp energy inside the sim, however clearly it’s a management you’re at all times going to want each flight so it’s odd that it doesn’t have a mapping by default. Notably, Thrustmaster’s providing a ‘Mission Pack’ bundle which features a joystick and an extra management panel, so it seems that that is certainly one of the controls it intends for certainly one of the different Mission Pack items.The touchdown gear is mapped to this unit although, with a lever that it is advisable pull upwards with a purpose to retract and drop. The authenticity of this enter kind is nice, however it feels a bit flimsy. There’s various wiggle in the lever itself and the plastic grip feels, frankly, nasty. Points for together with a lit show for the wheels standing above the lever although. Next to that’s your jettison button, with genuine yellow banding round it. You don’t need to hit this one by chance.Below that you’ve a weapons arm swap with three states – armed, off and simulate, and two dials for program and mode, with 5 and 6 notches respectively. Once once more these are helpful and genuine, however they’re extraordinarily stiff to function.(Image credit score: Future)Below which are six extra metallic flick switches, with both two or three states relying on their perform. The jammer is simply on or off, for instance, whereas the pitch and roll/heading and altitude autopilot switches at the backside have three states. Together with the heading dial to the proper of them, they can be utilized to dial in an autopilot heading and a set altitude shortly and simply. The heading dial additionally has a separate enter when it’s pushed in, simply in case you have been low on mappings. The four-way mode dial above that additionally isn’t mapped to something in DCS by default, so you could have extra flexibility there. Finally, above these controls are 4 buttons for radar techniques, and a big scroll wheel.Radar controls are joyous throughout the board because of a super-light and tactical radar cursor oriented for your thumb on the joystick (critically, it feels so prime quality) and an antenna elevation dial above that which contains a notch at the centre level. In reality, all the controls on the joystick itself really feel of a barely increased high quality than these on the swap panel beneath. In a beautiful bonus contact, you may regulate the throttle stress with a tiny allen key that’s stowed away on the different aspect of the throttle mount.The finest button of all although is the chaff/flare button on the aspect panel, above the throttle itself. There’s a mechanical swap underneath there to make it really feel further satisfying. It didn’t must really feel this good, however I’m glad it does.If there’s any subject with the ergonomics, it’s the blackout button on the underside of the throttle. I received’t faux to be an F-16 pilot, however the schematics I discovered of actual F-16 throttles do function a blackout swap in an identical place, however they appear smaller and tucked additional beneath so that you could relaxation your fingers round the throttle whilst you function it. For my hand at the very least, that’s not doable with the Viper TQS’ blackout swap orientation.Should you purchase the Thrustmaster Viper TQS?(Image credit score: Future)It’s simple that Thrustmaster’s super-specialised throttle system brings rather a lot to piloting an F-16 or related fighters. There’s one thing magical about trying down in your digital cockpit and seeing the identical piece of apparatus there that you simply’re truly working. And regardless of a number of controls that really feel flimsier than the relaxation, total that is an impressively sturdy and feature-packed unit. Its premium pricing means you need to pause for thought when you’re trying for a multi-purpose throttle, although. Since it solely has one thruster, it’ll be much less enjoyable for controlling enormous industrial jet engines and that chaff/flare button will go unused until you consider a intelligent remapping for it on an Airbus. One for the consultants, actually, however these consultants have been effectively served. How we examined the Thrustmaster Viper TQSI spent every week in the skies of DCS World on PC utilizing the Viper QTS as my left-hand man paired with a Logitech G X56 flightstick, working easy flights and dogfights alike. And sure, I flew in the F-16. I additionally loaded up Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 for a few multi-hour classes and used this throttle for some industrial flights, mapping the necessary controls and leaving the relaxation.For extra on how we take a look at the newest gaming tech right here at Video gamesRadar+, check out our {hardware} coverage.We’re additionally rounding up all the finest racing wheels for PC in addition to the finest PC controllers for extra. Or, check out the finest gaming PCs for one thing to attach all these equipment to.Thrustmaster Viper TQS: Price Comparison

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