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Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Review

Product Overview:

The Logitech Extreme 3D Pro was my first decent joystick. I’ve owned a very cheap, and not very good joystick before that, but it was my 3D Pro that paved the way for me to go into serious flightsimming. The Extreme 3D Pro is a simple but sturdy USB-joystick that requires no extra connections. It has all the necessary stuff: 4 control axis (stick fore-aft and left-right, a stick twist for the rudder, and a throttle lever), 11 buttons (1 trigger, 5 extra buttons on the stick, and 6 on the base) and a 8-way hat switch on top of the stick. It’s not a new product, I bought mine more than 6 years ago, but in my opinion, it deserves a review here nevertheless. The fact that’s it’s still available for purchase proves the fact that it’s a decent piece of hardware.

Layout:

The Extreme 3D Pro is built out of black plastic, with gray plastic buttons on the stick, and a gray base with black buttons. The base that supports the stick is quite flat, but quite wide with rubber pads under the 4 corners. This gives a very stable stick that doesn’t go sliding over your desk. The stick is centered on the base, with the 6 buttons on the base to the left of the stick in a 2 by 3 arrangement. The small throttle lever is placed on the base between you and the stick. This placing has received some negative remarks from people saying it is easily actuated by accident, or is in the way for your right arm controlling the stick. This can be the case if you place the stick at the right side, like a sidestick, but I have never experience trouble with it when using it centered in front of my pc. Your right arm arks around it, and it’s easily reached with your left hand in this case. The stick itself is very comfortable to hold, and in my opinion neither too big or too small. It features a trigger in the front, a thumb-controlled button on the left side, and 4 buttons and an 8-way hat switch on top. For people with small hands, these buttons on top might be hard to reach with their right-hand thumb, but when you have average to big hands, this is no problem at all and these controls are very easily reached. This is clearly not an ambidextrous stick, evidence of that is the thumb button on the left side of the stick, and the 6 buttons on the left side of the base, but even so I have found it’s not uncomfortable when you have to use your left hand. However, if you use your left hand all the time, I’d suggest looking for something truly ambidextrous.

Build-quality:

I was very pleased with the Extreme 3D Pro when I first got it. Especially the stick and the throttle lever are quite though. They are not very loose to move, which I like. Although helicopter pilots may want it otherwise. The stick has a little play in the center when new, but this was very small, and thus perfectly acceptable. All of the buttons feel very well made, and I have neither found any problems with them giving false-positives or not responding to commands. The same with the hat switch. I have used this joystick for over 6 years now, and quite intensely, I might add, and I’m surprised by the lack of wear on it. I have moved it around in my backpack hundreds of times, without any protection at all, but this didn’t harm the stick in any way. Over the years, the play in the center of the sticks movement grew a bit, but despite its age and the level of use, I still find it very acceptable. Last year I started to look for a replacement, as I started to experience problems with the hat switch. One of the 8 positions didn’t respond at times. Although pushing a little harder than usual still made it work. I purchased a Saitek X-52 Pro then, but I still use my old but reliable Logitech in the weekends or when I’m on the move, leaving my X-52 where I stay during the weekdays. My Extreme 3D Pro has so far forgiven any abuse I give it. Being stuck in a small backpack with lots of other stuff in an unnatural position, with the handle of center for hours, all it takes to get it working perfectly is taking it out, unrolling the cable and plugging it in.

Centering and programming:

Although the Extreme 3D pro comes with a CD with software, I never found any real use for it. I even don’t have it installed on my current pc, and the stick still works flawlessly. It is the real example of plug-and-play functionality. You can plug it in in a new pc, and it only takes a minute for Windows to configure it before you can start using it. No need for custom drivers to be downloaded and installed, no cumbersome setups to go through or software to program. Most (if not all) flightsim related games will have the axis set up perfectly by default. The only thing left to do for you is program the switches on top of the joystick and on the base. FSX (and FS2002 before it, I never used FS9) will have the trigger by default for the brakes, and the thumb-actuated button on the side to change view categories. The rudder, throttle and hat switch also work by default. What is remarkable is that there is no calibrating software included. Even when you go through your Windows Control Panel, you can’t center the stick or calibrate it. As the stick does produce off-center inputs sometimes, especially after a while of use, this might be a problem, if not for a very simple solution. If the stick does do something unwanted, like sending a rolling command to FSX when the stick is centered, all you have to do is unplug it, leave the stick centered, and plug it back in. Everything will be working fine again when you do. Couldn’t be easier!

My settings:

As an example of how you can use this stick, I’ll tell you how I have its buttons programmed in FSX. Everything is done through the FSX controls window, no other software required.
First of all, I left the trigger and thumb button as default: trigger for the brakes, thumb button (number 2 button) for changing view categories. Obviously, the hat switch is for turning the camera. The 4 buttons on top of the stick I have programmed for flaps up and down (the left 2) and elevator trim up and down (the right 2). I use the 2 most forward buttons on the base for gear and spoilers, the 2 in the middle for the tail hook and wingfold commands (I’m a carrier ops fan) and the ones closest to me are programmed for controlling some of the aircraft lights in FSX. Obviously, there are millions of possible settings, and if you buy this stick, you’ll have to experiment until you find what suits you and your flying style best. Besides for FSX, I also use this stick for MS Combat Flight Simulator (I’ve had all 3), Lock On, Rise of Flight, and then some…

Conclusion:

Even though I now have a much more advanced Saitek X-52 Pro, I find myself regularly falling back to the durable and reliable Logitech Extreme 3D Pro. It has no LED lighting, no LCD screens, or other such stuff that breaks easily. It also doesn’t have over a hundred programmable controls, but in the end, although those can be useful, you don’t really need that in my opinion. This is a joystick that excels in ease-of-use, reliability and durability, and I love it for that. It also has near perfect build-quality. It’s not super cheap (and it certainly wasn’t when I bought it) but that’s the price you pay for the traits I’ve named above. I’ve seen cheaper sticks not being used half as much break down in not half the time. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use stick, which is very durable and will serve for a long time, this is the one for you.

Like:

  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • reliable

Don’t like:

  • apart from the odd inputs when the joystick was centered (which only started happening after 4+ years of intense use on mine) I can’t say there’s anything I don’t like about this joystick.

Rating:

5 out of 5


Useful links:

Logitech Product Page

Pricing:

Dependant on location, I’ve seen anything between US$ 30 and US$ 70. (not including shipping)

3 comments to Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Review

  • BdJ

    Can you tell what your joystick settings are with the Extreme 3D? (null zone, sensitivity etcetc)

  • I only have one problem with it (we have a FFB version, which I don’t use, preferring my Saitek CyborgX or whatever they’ve named it this week…) which is now common to a lot of joysticks, as you say in the review.

    What on Earth is the point of putting the throttle on the back of the stick? It doesn’t get in my way with the Logitech stick, but it makes it far too small to use with any degree of accuracy, in my experience, and it is an utterly unintuitive place to have the control.

    Does anyone actually know why so many hardware developers have gone down this route?

  • Lars

    @ BdJ, I never changed the sensitivity settings, so they’re in the default middle position for me.
    Dead zones were also the same for years, but I increased them a little when I started having problems with the centring of the stick, as described in the review. So now, they’re at about 1 third for elevator and aileron, and in the middle for rudder.

    @Ian P, it is indeed small, but with some practice, I’ve been able to use it quite accurately. There’s no play on the throttle lever, so that at least helps a little.
    I have absolutely no idea why developer do what they do… :P

    Lars