This is the most important aspect. You buy an arcade stick because you want to better your game. This means that it does not matter how an arcade stick looks as long as it gives you the results you desire. When it comes to hardware, arcade sticks that perform well usually have good hardware, resulting in a win-win situation.


After confirming that an arcade stick is compatible with the platform of your choice, generally speaking, you should be looking for an arcade stick with a size & weight that make it comfortable on both your lap and a table.

If you have to pick between lap and table, it is best to go with the arcade stick that is more comfortable on your lap as your lap is what you will consistently have to place your arcade stick on when you scour the globe competing in tournaments or simply go to your friend’s place for some games.

Now, you might have specific requirements such as a small size and light weight. Reasons can range from wanting a secondary arcade stick that you can take to your friend’s place with ease to not wanting to exceed your airline’s baggage weight limit.

Although most arcade sticks have long cables, you might have a specific requirement if you like to sit a certain distance away from the monitor. Fortunately, some arcade sticks have a detachable cable design, so if your new arcade stick arrives with a short cable, you can upgrade to a longer one.

Although rare, some arcade sticks are actually wireless, but input lag and reliability are a concern for most serious fighting gamers.


Apart from the buttons, the highlight of an arcade stick’s performance is the joystick. Whether it is the Japanese or Korean style, and whether the gate is square or octagonal, it should be flexible but not loose.

The joystick should also not be stiff. It should not rush to go back to neutral once you let go of it after inputting a direction. In addition, it should not expect you to hit up or down perfectly in order to register an up or down input.


What usually separates good buttons from bad buttons is how much travel distance they have. You want the buttons to be pressed only when you mean to press them, not when you just rest your fingers on them.

You do not want to have to smash the buttons to register an input. There should be adequate travel distance to avoid accidents, and you should be given enough feedback that you actually pressed a button.

Partially silent buttons are the way to go as they do not instantly reveal your inputs to your opponent next to you, but they are still loud enough for you to receive an audio cue per press.


There should be ample space for you to rest your wrists. In fact, whether or not your wrists are receiving support can make or break your arcade stick experience.

The overall layout of the components of the arcade stick should be optimized for your comfort. That includes the distance from the joystick to the buttons, their distance to the edges of the arcade stick, and so on.


Many arcade sticks come with a compartment in which you can store your cable and sometimes even more. Cables are either detachable or go inside the compartment while staying connected to the arcade stick.

The best type seems to be when there is a button that allows the arcade stick to fully open, revealing some storage space inside.

On the other hand, there can be a compartment with a magnetic door. If not, a standard door can be present, but it is usually at risk of breaking from overuse. Some arcade sticks have handles to carry them like a bag.


Modding is quite popular among arcade stick enthusiasts. However, some arcade sticks are harder to mod than others. Optimally, an arcade stick can be opened with no screwdrivers, buttons are not soldered directly onto the PCB, and the artwork is placed under easily removable plexiglass, for example.


Besides the color of the joystick, buttons, and frame, a large factor that determines the aesthetic caliber of an arcade stick is the artwork on the top panel. In addition, the arcade stick should not smudge nor scratch easily.


You might have special requirements such as all parts of an arcade stick being free of animal products or products that have been tested on animals.


The better arcade stick should always be chosen despite the potential difference in price with an inferior counterpart. That is because better hardware can lead to more wins given the same effort. However, not everyone has an unlimited budget, so you should buy the best arcade stick that is still within affordable limits.

If anything, you should avoid arcade sticks that are a limited edition due to their exclusive artwork when there may exist an identical unit that is cheaper due to its stock artwork. Luckily, artwork is often changeable, and we at The Arcade Stick actually have an art service.

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To make things easier for you, check out our top arcade sticks and top hitboxes.