Learn all about what Hall effect joysticks are and how they can improve your gaming experience.

Hall effect joysticks arrive as a solution to one of the biggest issues plaguing modern video game controllers: stick drift. With less reliance on moving parts, instead shifting to a magnet-based design for determining the player's inputs, joysticks employing Hall effect technology can last for decades with little to no loss of precision.

Stick drift is one of the main reasons game controllers are thrown out or replaced. It has notoriously been a common problem for popular controllers such as the Nintendo Switch's Joy-Con, causing confusion and plenty of ranked losses through the inaccurate and unintentional input characteristic of stick drift. Thankfully, Hall effect joysticks have been gaining steam and can make stick drift an issue of the past.

What is stick drift?

Screenshot from "How To Fix Your Joycon Drift Permanently!" by VK's Channel on YouTube.
Screenshot from "How To Fix Your Joycon Drift Permanently!" by VK's Channel on YouTube.

Instead of Hall effect joysticks, most modern controllers contain analog joysticks that use moving parts to determine the joystick's position as it moves. Through simple wear and tear, the central position that a joystick rests at when not moving will slowly shift away from its original place.

This causes games and other programs to detect small directional inputs even when nobody touches the joystick. Sometimes it'll just move a character a few unintentional steps to the left.

However, in the worst-case scenario, it can make someone select the wrong weapon and find themselves back in the lobby. This frustrating phenomenon is what we call stick drift, and what the use of Hall effect sensors in joysticks aims to eliminate.

What is the Hall effect?

The Hall effect refers to the use of magnets to disrupt the flow of electricity in a conductor, resulting in a measurable change in voltage. As the joystick moves, the attached magnets move toward and away from the electrical conductors placed on both the X and Y axes.

The resulting change in voltage is then used to determine the joystick's position. Additionally, because the magnets and electrical conductors never physically touch, there is no wear and tear. This allows Hall effect joysticks to last for decades with no noticeable stick drift.

How to get Hall effect joysticks

Hall effect technology is nothing new. The Sega Dreamcast, a console from the late 90s, used Hall effect joysticks in its controllers, many of which are still going strong.

Back then, there may have been various technological or financial reasons for most controllers not to use this superior technology, but that is not the case today. Over 25 years later, Hall effect joysticks are now the same size and only a few cents more expensive than their analog counterparts.

The Sega Dreamcast controller next to the GuliKit King Kong 2 Pro (Image via iFixit)
The Sega Dreamcast controller next to the GuliKit King Kong 2 Pro (Image via iFixit)

Unfortunately, large console manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have yet to implement Hall effect sensors into their controllers. Thankfully, there are various third-party options for those looking for more reliable joysticks.

For Nintendo Switch players:

The MOBAPAD ChiTu ($60) is an alternative to the Switch Pro Controller. For Joy-Cons, the GuliKit Hall effect joystick replacement kits ($23) are a popular option. Many installation tutorials can be found on YouTube to make the DIY experience as easy as possible.

For Xbox players:

The GameSir G7 SE ($45) is an affordable controller equipped with Hall effect joysticks with thousands of positive reviews. It is worth noting that this is a wired controller, though, due to limitations placed on third-party controllers by Microsoft. If wireless connectivity is needed, the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra ($200) is available at a higher price point.

For PlayStation players:

Unfortunately, the PlayStation has the least options on the market, but HYPR has multiple controller offerings using Hall effect joysticks for both the PS4 and PS5 starting at $190 and $200 respectively. As a lower-budget DIY alternative, joystick modules can be purchased online from multiple vendors, but your mileage may vary.

For PC players:

The Flydigi Vader 3 Pro ($80) is one of the absolute best overall controllers featuring Hall effect joysticks. Additionally, almost every controller mentioned above is also compatible with PC.

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