Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control Systemajmatson - August 9, 2007
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Now we get to the best part the testing. For the testing phase, I wanted to see the difference between using a generic mouse and keyboard, a Saitek ST290 Pro and the X52 Pro Flight Control System. I played both Microsoft Flight Simulator and Battlefield 2142 for several hours with each setup, to see how my performance was compared.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 @ 2.0GHz
- Motherboard: ECS PT890T-A
- RAM: 2048MB Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon X850XT
- Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts 500
- Hard Drive: 1x 40GB and 1x 80GB Western Digital HDD
- Media (CD ROM/DVD ROM): Lite-On 8X DVDR+/-W
- Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
First up, was Microsoft Flight Simulator X. I have played the older Flight Simulator 2004 version for a while with the ST290 and it never felt like I was "really there", so I was looking forward to the "X" version to see if it would be improved. During the testing, I gave up on the mouse and keyboard combo after 10 minutes, because I just could not control it enough to even take off correctly. With the ST290 I could stay in flight, but landing was another story. There is way too much going on in the landing sequence to be able to have it programmed on the stick. You constantly have to look away towards the keyboard to activate some things and it take seconds away from you that is critical to landing the aircraft. The X52 however, from take off to landing held up superbly. It allowed me to concentrate solely on flying and maneuvering, so that I did not have to look away to find a key. I also have completed something I have not been able to do before and that is to land perfectly.
One other big point I wanted to mention, even though I was not able to use it in my testing, is the ability to use the MFD with plugins for Flight Simulator X, to control and view the radio stacks in game.
Next up was Battlefield 2142. Even though this is an infantry style game, there is some flying in it. There have been many times that I have seen the winning side switch because of someone doing so well in an aircraft and giving that balance-shift the edge it needs. I always wondered if it was because of skill or the equipment the pilot was using. Again, I found the mouse and keyboard to be usable but not practical. It was too hard having to scroll the mouse to move the aircraft. Because of the simple setup of 2142, the ST290 and the X52 Pro were head-to-head though. What gave the X52 Pro the edge, was the ability to have the throttle controls and the stick in opposite hands. It made it easier to throttle down to hover and make tight turns. With the X52 Pro, I was able to get behind or underneath enemies easier, for the perfect angle kill shots. I was at one point accused of cheating because I was out maneuvering other pilots so easily.
Finally this is where the system really shined. The last game I tested this with was Ubisoft's Lock-On. Lock-On really puts you in the seat of intense dogfights. This is where the difference between the Saitek ST290 and the X52 Pro really came through. Its one thing to be able to turn and manuever, but by adding the throttle and all of the extra customizations that keep you alive. I was able to turn and change speeds while dropping countermeasures and still get behind the target so much faster with the X52 Pro, because I did not have to take my eyes off of the screen and "look" for the button to activate a feature. When using the ST290 my kill/death ratio was 1:1 and with the X52 Pro it went to 4:1. That means for every time I died I had 4 kills, which is a tremendous improvement.
Now that we have completed the in-game testing, we want to know how the X52 Pro compared to other devices in different areas of use. The scale is a one to one hundred rating, with one being the lowest and one hundred being the highest. The X52 Pro was compared to using the Saitek ST290 Pro and a standard mouse/keyboard combination.