Commercial Hardware Review



Saitek X52 Pro Control System


Publisher / Developer: Saitek
Description: Saitek X52 Pro Control System Impression
Software Source / Size: N.A.
Flight Simulator: FS2004 / FSX / X-Plane
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen
Published: December 22nd, 2012


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - iMac 27" 3.4Ghz Mid 2011
- Intel i7 3.4/3.8Ghz / 3.8Ghz during Boost Mode
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- 16GB DDR3 RAM
- 256Gb Intel SSD and 2Tb 7200RPM HDD
- Saitek Pro Flight System
Software: - Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (BootCamp) / Mac OS X 10.8.2
- Flight Simulator X Acceleration
- X-Plane 10.11 (32) and 10.20 (64)
- PrePar3D
























Introduction

Reviewing hardware is always fun! That’s also the case with this Saitek X52 Pro Control System review.

A while ago I reviewed for AVSIM the X-65F and at that time, I called it a “Semi-professional HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) unit.” This was partly because the whole stick was made of metal, which is not the case with the X52 Pro stick. Another interesting difference is that the X-65F stick doesn’t move or, more accurately, you can’t move it. Your force is sensed by integral sensors and that gives a Flight Simulator an output for roll, pitch or yaw. The X52 Pro joystick can move and therefore doesn’t need these kinds of sensors.

Long story short, this review deals with the X52 Pro set and I don’t have any intention of comparing the two. This X52 Pro review is worth checking out on it’s own. I had the good fortune to test this X52 Pro with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, Flight Simulator X and Laminar Research X-Plane under Windows and Mac OS X. The two X52 Pro components work flawlessly with either flight simulator type.


The Saitek X52 Pro Control System

Belonging to the Pro Flight hardware group, the X52 Pro is the most fully integrated Stick and throttle flight controller and has been built to meet the demands of the best virtual pilots in the world! By the way, that’s according to Saitek.

Further, Saitek thinks, The MFD screen (Multi Function Display), first introduced on the X52 Flight Controller, is now interactive. Now you can display important in-game information such as the Radio Stack and interact with your games directly. Shipping with support for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X, there’s also a Software Development Kit (SDK) included which allows budding programmers to create interactions with their own favorite games. See what’s already been created on our forum.

New metal parts increase durability and the unique dual-spring mechanism provides a progressive spring force on the stick’s movement, making it more resistant the further you move it from centre. The X52 Pro uses the same magnetic hall sensor, non-contact technology as the X52 but we’ve doubled the number of sensors to improve response.

The Saitek joystick:
- Precision centering mechanism, non-contact technology on X and Y axis
- Constant spring force reduces free play, improves control and increases durability
- 2-stage metal trigger; 2 primary buttons in 1 convenient position
- 4 fire buttons including missile launcher with spring-loaded safety cover
- Conveniently positioned metal pinkie switch provides shift functionality
- 2 X 8-way Hat Switches
- 3D rudder twist
- 3-position rotary mode selector switch with LED indicators
- 3 spring-loaded, base-mounted toggle switches for up to 6 program commands
- 5-position handle adjustment system to suit all hand sizes.

The throttle Unit:
- Progressive throttle with tension adjustment, detents for afterburner and idle
- 2 fire buttons
- Scroll wheel with built-in button
- Mouse controller / hat switch with left mouse button
- 8-way hat switch
- 2 x rotary controls
- Smooth-action slider control
- Clutch button initiates ‘safe mode’ to allow on-the-fly profile selection.

And last but not least for those who want to become an approved Combat Pilot ….. This product is also Combat Pilot approved. Combat Pilot is the ultimate multiplayer combat flying experience created within the Microsoft Flight Simulator X Universe that puts you in the cockpit of realistic, interactive combat training and encounters.


OK, that’s all of it according to Saitek. It’s up to me to find out if this X52 Pro is fun to work with and if it’s accurate and most importantly, in combination with which Flight Simulators can you use it. All questions, and hopefully, I’ll be able to give you answers for all of the questions.


What’s in the Box?

Unpacking the hardware
As you can see on the pictures below, the two components – joystick and throttle unit – are well packed. So far, all OK. If you want, you can mount each unit fixed to your flight control table, but you can also connect the four suction cups at the bottom of each unit. All you have to do is to press each unit firmly to the table and the suction cups will do the work. By the way, you won't have 100% guarantee that the suction cups will keep the unit in place. When that happens, make them a little wet with water, press each unit again firmly to the table. That should work out just fine.



Anyway, that's about it for the joystick and throttle units with suction cups. You’ll find a USB cable connected directly to the throttle unit. This cable should be inserted directly into the PC or iMac (in my case). Although a USB hub could be used, Saitek prefers that you connect the cable directly to the PC.

Also in the box you’ll find a separate cable that must be inserted into the joystick and the other end connected to the throttle unit. This was so easy even I was able to manage this. Regarding the hardware, that was it.


CD with Driver and SST Software
Before I start with the Saitek CD, I found that the CD is only for Windows since Saitek doesn’t support the Mac and Linux platform. This is where I got into trouble. After I inserted the Saitek CD, I found at the CD only two folders, named WinXP and WinXP64. I could be wrong, but why are there no Windows Vista and Windows 7 drivers?

OK, if you’re still using a version of Windows XP, you can use this CD and manuals. However, if you’re using Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, 32 or 64 bits, then you need to visit the Drivers website from Saitek.

When you're at this web page the correct selections to make are:
- “Pro Flight Range” and
- “Windows 7/8 and Vista 32 (64) bits”.

One you’ve done that, you can download the drivers and/or software. And, I know, I’m repeating myself, but these drivers and software are only intended for Windows and not for Mac or Linux! Now let's get back to our download software.

The Software button gives you the Saitek Smart Technology programming software (Smart_Technology_7_0_2_7_64 (32)bit.exe). It allows you to program every button, selector or whatever is there on your joystick and throttle unit. If you don’t want to do this yourself, On this Saitek web page there are pre-programmed buttons, switches etc. profile files for FSX and X-Plane. Of course, it’s a possibility to use it in combination with FSX and/or X-Plane, although that's probably not the best way to use them.

In that case, you can make your own profiles too. By the way, when you’ve downloaded the profiles package, you’ll find a ZIP file that contains a group of profile files for many game types. Unzip it, and pick out “FSX_v2.pr0” and/or “Xplane_v2.pr0”.

And then …. Just follow these steps as suggested by Saitek:
Deposit the profiles into your Saitek profile folder. In XP, this is located in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents. In Vista, it's in C:\Users\Public\Documents, and in Windows 7 the folder is located in your Documents Library.

Open your profile editor, and then use the 'open' function to view a profile.

To assign a function to a button, right click a button cell in the editor. The menu will show all the commands saved to the profile document. Left click the command name and it will be assigned to that button.

Repeat this process for any other commands you want to add.

Once you are happy with your setup, click the Save As button and give your new profile a name. You can save over the existing one if you want, but it may be best to keep this one unchanged as a template for new profiles.

You can then activate the profile by clicking the profile button (blue target reticule) in the editor window. Alternatively, once saved, the profile will appear in your Saitek icon menu located in the system tray. Left click on the profile name to activate, and click clear profile to deactivate the profile.



An interesting SST (Saitek Smart Technology) programming software manual is this Saitek link. (http://www.saitek.com/uk/supp/sstmanual.zip). When unzipped, you get a wealth of useful information about the SST programming software and how to deal with it.

OK, back to the software button screen.
The Driver button for downloading the drivers. When you start the executable file (Saitek_X52Pro_Flight_Controller_SD6_64 (32).exe) if you haven't already done so, the software will ask you to insert the throttle unit USB cable connector. Then follow the steps as indicated by the installer. This will install all the drivers for the joystick and throttle unit.

But what will happen if you don’t do this and you just insert the USB cable in your PC/Mac, and fire up FSX or X-Plane? Then FSX and/or X-Plane will still recognize the controllers and using the FSX calibration menu or, for X-Plane, the Joystick Control, you’re able to program each button and/or switch, but with some limitations. Therefore, it’s always better to use the Saitek drivers and, if you can, the SST software.

But what happens if you run X-plane on a Mac?
In that case, you can’t use the Saitek drivers nor the SST programmable software. Is that a problem?
Not at all! You’re able to program many things within X-Plane and as a result, you won’t miss anything.


Hardware Inspection

Lets start with the X52 Pro joystick.
Once I pressed it firmly to the table, remember, I used the four suction cups that hold it, you can easily move the stick in any direction – pitch and roll - or twisting it (yaw channel) without too much force. Although it has dual spring control, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or give you the feeling that you can’t reach the end of the travel. When twisting the joy, the springs are felt more actively and when removing the applied force, the stick returns, in no time, back to the neutral position. On the right hand side, there’s a hand palm plate that you can adjust in height. Depending on your hand size, there could be a need to raise the hand palm plate to a higher position. Although the manual explains how to raise or lower the hand palm plate, the first time isn’t easy to figure this out.

A bigger problem is when you’re left handed. If you are left handed, then there’s no hand palm plate or any other option to put your palm on.

Long or short … as far as I know, all joysticks are asymmetric with hand palm plate always situated on the right hand side. That said, although I’m left handed, I control the stick with my right hand and that works.



The stick comes with many buttons, switches, and even a guarded red SAFE switch on the top. On the top right hand there’s a silver colored knob to select MODE 1, 2 or 3. When you’re not using the SST programming software, this has no function. With the SST programming software and the profile file, you can, depending on the selected MODE position, use every switch and button several times. Lets give you a small example. The white button next to this silver knob can have three different functions within FSX or X-Plane. The three functions depend on the MODE selector knob. With the knob in MODE 1 position, the button has function 1, MODE selector in MODE 2, button offers the second function and finally, with the MODE knob in MODE 3, the button gives you the third function. Which mode is active, is shown on the throttle MFD (Multi Function Display).

On the front side of the base plate, you’ll find three silver colored switches that can be moved UP and DOWN. Those switches are indicated with T1, T3 and T5. The numbering is right now not important, but when you use this in combination with the TSS programming software, you will see these numbers again in the software.



Last but not least, with the joystick connected to the throttle unit and the throttle unit connected to a PC using the USB cable, the joystick is powered with a green LED that will illuminate. There are also other LED lights that will be illuminated on the joystick unit.

Let's have a closer look at the Saitek X52 Pro throttle unit.
You can’t miss the massive and huge throttle. A wonderfully shaped unit, and easy to move from full IDLE, by means of a detent to FULL TAKEOFF thrust, and again, before reaching this FULL stop, you need to pass a detent. The force to move this handle can be adjusted. The handle offers also a scale with marking from 0-25-50-75-100. But it's much more than a handle that can just move forward and backwards. On the right hand side you’ll find several switches, buttons, rotary knobs and sliders.

All of these switches, knobs etc. are programmable, either directly in your favorite flight simulator, if recognized, or you can program these switches, sliders, knobs etc. with the help of the SST programming software. If you use Saitek’s SST software, all switches, knobs, sliders etc. are recognized and programmable.

On the right hand side of the base you’ll find the MFD (Multi Function Display). The MFD offers time and a stopwatch function. But it's also controllable to work with the radio stack and it shows you which MODE is active. More about the MFD later when we’re checking out how this throttle unit functions when connected to a flight simulator.



At the backside of the throttle unit you’ll find the connection for the joystick cable and the previously mentioned USB cable which goes to your PC or Mac. And, the same as for the joystick unit, when the throttle unit is connected to a PC or Mac and the USB cable connected to a PC, a green LED will illuminate and indicate that the unit and the MFD are powered and ready to use. This means, that when the USB cable is connected to a PC or Mac, the unit(s) are powered via this cable and no separate power supply is needed. This is also applicable to many Saitek components.

Lets give you some bonus photos of the X52 Pro hardware. Check the text beneath each photo for additional information.

Some additional photo's of the joystick assembly




Some additional photo's of the throttle unit assembly




Checking Out

X-Plane on Mac OS X Platform
I’ll start this check out paragraph by connecting the X52 Pro to my Mac, which is using Mac OS X 10.8.2. Also, I’m going to use and test this X52 Pro in combination with Laminar Research X-Plane 10. Connect the joystick to the throttle unit and place the USB cable in a free USB fitting on your PC or in my case in my iMac and do this before you start X-Plane otherwise X-Plane won’t recognize the units!

The first time you connect the X52 Pro to X-Plane, X-Plane will ask you to calibrate the units. The screen tells you to move the stick in all three directions – pitch, roll and yaw – and move the throttle forward and back several times. Once you’ve done this, continue with X-Plane. If X-Plane is up and running, move your mouse to the top of the X-Plane window, select from menu Settings “Joystick & Equipment”. In the window that appears you see six tabs. Those that are important right now are the tabs “Axis”, “Buttons: Basic” and “Buttons: Adv”. There’s not really a need for me to go into each possible step as to how you assign a button or switch to the joystick or throttle unit since the X-Plane manual covers this in much detail.

One thing I would like to highlight is that during the initial movements of the joystick and throttle unit, both basic movements – roll and pitch - are detected by X-Plane. Only thing you need to confirm is the YAW channel and the THROTTLE channel. For this, see the screen shots below.

Assigning the different functions within X-Plane for Mac and Windows


As I've said before, how you assign X-Plane functions to your joystick or throttle unit is described in the X-Plane manual. Once you've assigned one, two, three or more X-Plane functions to the X52 unit switches, buttons sliders etc., they are kept in the X-Plane memory. This means that when you shut down X-Plane, disconnect the X52 Pro from your Mac and start X-Plane, nothing happens with these settings. You would say, logically, since there’s nothing connected, which is true. However, when you reconnect the X52 Pro to your Mac, fire up X-Plane, the previous assigned functions are active again and there's no need to reprogram them.

What have I learned so far? X-Plane on Mac OS X versus X52 Pro? There are no problems at all and therefore fully compatible. We do know, however, that Saitek doesn’t offer any dedicated X52 Pro drivers or SST programming software for the Mac OS X environment since that’s only available for the Windows platform.

Intro … Saitek X52 Pro versus Windows 7
When you plug in the X52 Pro USB cable into your PC, Windows will start a driver software installation process. This means the correct drivers are downloaded from the Internet and once this process is finished, your throttle unit comes more alive than before. Suddenly, the green MFD backlight illuminates and the green or red LEDs along the throttle travel illuminate too. This download and installation of the correct Window drivers is enough to use the X52 Pro with FSX or X-Plane. It's better, of course, to start with the original Saitek drivers, but I only want to make clear that there’s not always a need for this.

X-Plane on Windows 7 Platform
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Windows 7 only installed Saitek drivers taken from the Internet. These are not necessarily the same drivers as the one we downloaded from Saitek. So, up to now, we still haven’t installed dedicated Saitek drivers nor Saitek’s SST programming software. Now then, the first time you start X-Plane 10, it will tell you that “Uncalibrated joystick devices have been found. Do you want to calibrate them now?” The answer is of course YES. You click the Yes button. The next window will tell you to move all joystick axis including the throttle handle. Move each axis a few times and when you’re done, click the Continue button. It will tell you that all axis are now calibrated and you could fly with basic flight controls, but you want to assign more X-Plane functions to the joystick and/or throttle unit buttons, switches, sliders etc.

You will see this whenever your X52 isn't assigned yet


This procedure was already earlier explained, and if needed, check for correct assignment in the X-Plane user manual.

Microsoft FSX (and a little FS9 and Prepar3D) on Windows 7 Platform
Based on a default FSX Saitek driver installation and not the drivers you downloaded from the Saitek website, we start FSX, and once FSX is up and running, you select from the Options-Settings-Controls menu in the right hand upper corner the “Calibrate” button. In the pop-up menu you’ll see the Saitek X52 Pro Flight Controller being OK. If that’s the case, click the Properties button. In the right hand screen shot below you see that Properties window. You’re now able to move the joystick, the throttle, press switches, move the HAT switch, slider, rotary knobs etc. On the Properties screens you can see if each is detected by FSX. I only found 2 items on the throttle unit that didn’t gave an FSX input and were not recognized.

Suppose you decide to go for the SST software, then these two items will be recognized. In other words, what I’ve done right now is without any Saitek official drivers. I’m still able to use almost every switch, knob, slider etc. on my X52 Pro with FSX. Sounds good to me, however, this was all done with the MODE selector on the joystick in MODE 1. MODE 2 and MODE 3 are not working or I should say that the same switches are detected. That’s because I didn't use the SST programming software. In other words, when you need more than 32 switches and/or buttons, more sliders, more X/Y/Z rotations, then you need to install Saitek’s STT Programming Software.

After this test, you can now assign the functions to the joystick and/or throttle unit with the FSX tabs “BUTTONS/KEYS” and “CONTROL AXES”. When you’re finished with this, it’s time to fly. The joystick responds directly without any slack. Although a spring would like to keep the stick in the middle position, it’s not annoying when you move the stick from its neutral middle position. The HAT switch works fine too and gives you a complete 360 degree look around your aircraft while flying. Ideal for making screen shots!



I felt it's easy to fly the aircraft with the complete joystick in my hand, but moving the joystick with your hand palm resting on the base and adjusting the stick from the lower part was easy too. Flying becomes even easier when you have assigned TRIM function to the PITCH and ROLL channel. Whatever you do, the X52 joystick functions flawlessly, even if you use a default FSX airplane or an advanced GA or commercial aircraft.

By the way, the force to move the joystick isn’t adjustable in case you thought it was possible. The throttle handle force, as I mentioned before, is adjustable. The Saitek throttle handle is easy and responds directly versus the FSX engine. When the throttle handle passes 75% of travel, the green travel LEDs become red, indicating that you’re using high power settings. This has, by the way, nothing to which aircraft type you’re using. It’s just something that’s built-into the Saitek throttle unit.

My overall impression when using FSX in combination with the Saitek X052 Pro is that it's perfect Flight Simulator hardware!

OK, here's some last minute notes if you plan to use this X52 Pro with FS9.1 and Prepar3D version 1.4. Flight Simulator 9.1 needs the X52 Pro calibration. This is 99% the same as under FSX. The only difference is the different window look. All buttons, switches, sliders etc. on the X52 Pro hardware are recognized in the same way as it is with FSX even without Saitek’s SST software. When you’ve made the necessary assignments as you did for FSX, you’re ready to use the X52 Pro with FS9.1. How does the joystick and throttle behave? The same as they did with FSX; direct control, slight resistance from the neutral stick position and it feels solid.

But what about if you're using Prepar3D? This will be a short story. All that’s applicable for FSX is the same for Prepar3D. That's also pretty much the same story for FS 9. Not strange, since Prepar3D is basically another version of FSX. All calibrations, adjustments and assignments are done in the same way and behave the same once you’re flying.



Saitek X52 Pro SST Software versus Windows 7
In the previous paragraphs we’ve seen that the X52 Pro joystick and throttle unit work perfectly even without the official Saitek drivers and without the SST Programming Software. You could ask yourself “then what’s the need of installing dedicated Saitek drivers and dedicated Saitek software?”

It’s always worth installing dedicated drivers to get the most out of your Saitek hardware and, using the SST Programming Software allows you to assign much more functionality to the X52 hardware. That said, let’s have a look how this process works. I’ll first start with disconnecting the Saitek hardware, following by starting the 64 bit Saitek driver executable file (Saitek_X52Pro_Flight_Controller_SD6_64.exe). For your convenience, find those steps within the screen shots below.



It’s a rather easy installation process without difficult questions. The only thing to keep in mind is that at a certain moment the software asks you to connect the USB cable. OK, that's the only thing you need to do besides clicking the OK or Continue button. When the actual installation process is done, the setup starts right after this.



The screen shots just above this line, are those that represent the setup process. The “Saitek X52 Pro Flight Controller” window has five tabs of which 4 are very interesting. The first tab, “Test”, looks very similar to the Microsoft Flight Simulator calibration window. Testing each switch, button, knob, slider, selector, HAT switches, mini-stick and much more are all recognized. The 2nd tab, “Dead zones”, allows you to adjust the null zone if the neutral position is not in the middle.

The third tab, “LEDs”, is a funny but interesting tab. It has nothing to do with testing or calibration. It has to do with the LED intensity or the color to display. For example, with the brightness slider you can adjust the brightness of all LED’s on the throttle and joystick unit, not included the MFD. The fourth tab, “MFD”, allows you to adjust the brightness of the MFD screen and how and what time is displayed. Do you want a 12 or 24 hour clock, do you want a time offset and how do you want to display the date? The last tab, “About”, well, that speaks for itself.

Now it’s time to install the SST Programming Software.
Grab the downloaded Smart_Technology_7_0_2_7_64bit.exe file, start it and follow the screen instructions. It’s a straightforward installation and before you know it you’re done, but at the end, unless you un-tick “Run Profiler Editor”, the Saitek SST Profiler program will start. I suggest that you prevent the Profiler Editor from starting and finish the SST installation.



Now, go to your downloaded profilesv2.zip file, unzip it and install the FSX_v2.pr0 and if applicable, Xplane_v2.pr0 into the correct folder as described on the Saitek website or earlier explained in What’s In the Box - CD with Driver and SST Software. Doing this makes your life easier since it offers pre-programed examples for FSX and X-Plane.
All settled?

Now start the Saitek Profiler program from the Windows Start Menu-Smart Technology-Profiler Editor. Here's a tip. It’s easier and faster to make a shortcut to your desktop. It’s not my intention to offer you, within this review, a complete tutorial on how to program a profile file for FSX and/or X-Plane. Remember that I mentioned that there’s a nice and informative manual available on how to deal with the SST program. Just follow these steps to create your own profile file.

Let’s highlight a few steps before referring to this dedicated SST manual. When you click the Profiler Editor shortcut, the SST program starts and offers you a “Did You Know?” window. It explains essential elements about how this profiler program works and how easy it is. You can click the OK button to continue.

The Saitek Pro Flight screen offers three options to select from; Product, Programming and Support. The most interesting one is the Programming option, so click that one. As you can see in the screen shot below, this is the Product View mode and on the right hand side shows which Mode is the active mode, and below all the switches, buttons, knobs etc. which are assigned to something. Below the three options (Product-Programming-Support) you’ll see the text, “Loaded Profile: Untitled”.

We just loaded some pre-programmed profile file, so let’s pick them up. Select the Open icon on the top. It will go directly to the Profiles folder. Then select the FSX_v2.pr0 file, followed by clicking the “open” button. Now, in the right hand upper corner you’ll see the text “Loaded Profile: FSX_v2” and together with that, the Mode 1 section on the right hand side shows all assignments as programmed in this profile file. By the way, if you don’t like this Product View mode, you can also go for the Grid View mode. No difference, only a different look!



How to program or re-program this FSX file is contained in that well written and explained SST manual.

Finally, I would like to highlight how to activate a created or pre-programmed profiler file. It’s very simple. In the right hand bottom side of the Windows bar, you’ll see an icon that represents the X52 throttle unit in black. When you right click on it, a window pops-up with some options. Click from the list “FSX_v2”. Once you’ve done this, the area around the X52 icon becomes green.

This indicates that the profile file and the X52 hardware is ready to work with FSX.

You can always request the Saitek SST via the Smart Technology entry.
In the Task Bar check for the X52 icon. When it's green, it means it's active.


You could ask yourself … what’s the difference without all of this SST software? As I said before, without this SST software and a profile file for FSX (or X-Plane) you're not using the X52 Pro in its optimal mode. Not all items on the throttle unit are recognized by FSX and X-Plane and thus you miss them. Furthermore, the SST software makes it possible to use every switch, knob, slider, mini-stick and anything else that can be found, three times, due to the MODE 1,2 and 3 in combination with the SST Programming software.

Does it fly better with the SST profiles being active? No, but it does give you more control over your flight sim compared to no SST software.


What does the MFD (Multi Function Display) offer?

The Multi Function Display, or in short MFD, shows not only which Mode is active, what the time and date are but also details of your remote Radio Stack too. One of the supplied manuals, “mfd_en.pdf” tells you all about this remote radio stack. Although the example in the Acrobat manual deals with the default FSX Cessna 172, other default FSX airplanes and even some Carenado models can also use these commands. What’s the advantage of this remote radio stack? Not too many words are needed to see the benefits. However, operating the right hand knob underneath the MFD isn’t as easy as it looks. Why you might ask? The right hand knob can be pressed and you can rotate it up and down. Up and down changes the value in the window and pressing it means to activate it to make changes.

And that’s where I found it isn’t as easy as I thought. Once you made your selection, lets say your AP altitude, you can turn the knob to change the selected altitude but you easily press it incidentally again and then you’re no longer able to change the altitude. You can handle it, but keep that little problem in mind. Then there’s another thing to remember. When you change the NAV, COM, ADF, TRANSPONDER etc frequencies, they only change on the MFD when the simulator is not in PAUSE mode! The following screenshots show you which MFD possibilities exist. Along with the well-designed joystick and throttle handle, this is a nice MFD feature.

Different MFD (Multi Function Display) options


Can the Radio Stack MFDS features be used with FS9 and X-Plane? I’m sorry, the answer is no! Especially designed for FSX, a trusted SaiFlightSimX.exe file is added to the fsx.cfg and therefore only dedicated for FSX.


Summary

The X52 Pro has passed my test!
I’m pleased with the way it’s made and with the materials that are used, although mainly from plastic. It looks good, is solid and the grip on the throttle and joystick units give you a good feeling. The amount of switches, knobs, sliders, rotary knobs, HAT switch and buttons are probably far too much for the average flight simmer, but for those who want to program everything, there are plenty of possibilities. This is partly because of the MODE 1,2 and 3 switch on the right hand side of the joystick since that function allows you to triple all the switch, buttons etc. functions.

Because of the four suction cups on each unit, you can easily mount the units to your table and when no longer needed, you can remove the units quickly and park them somewhere else. The cable to be used to connect the joystick to the throttle is 1.72 meters/5.6 feet. The USB cable from the throttle unit is 1.50 meters/4.9 feet. In other words, long enough for general use.

One thing I don’t understand is why the CD supplied in the box only offers such an old Windows Operating system as XP while the website offers all other Windows systems including the new Windows 8 as well as the necessary SST profiles for FSX and X-Plane. Anyway, although not available on the CD, the proper systems are available via the Internet.

Talking to many flight simmers, I learned that most of them don’t use the SST programming software and thus don't use the profiles. On one hand I must admit that it’s some work to program your own FSX or X-Plane profile (under the Windows OS only), but the advantage is that you will then be able to use every button, switch, slider etc. Having said that, it seems most of the simmers prefer to use the built-in assignments of FSX or X-Plane.

I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't said anything about FS2004. I still have FS2004 installed and did a quick test to see how and if the assignments work within FS2004. I can confirm that the X52 Pro works more or less in the same way you program the X52 Pro for FSX.

Overall, it’s a nice piece of Saitek equipment that works flawlessly under every condition. The MFD on the throttle unit offers additional features when in combination with FSX. Suddenly the MFD becomes a remote radio stack for different aircraft types and not only for default FSX airplanes. All together, keeping the price in mind, a good-looking joystick and throttle unit. Not only just looking good, it works great in combination with many flight simulators.

Before I forget it, I would like to thank Martin Crompton from Saitek UK who offered me this hardware and allowed me to test it for Saitek, but also to test on behalf of all the flight simmers who are new and looking for some kind of hardware equipment or for those who want to go for something new.

More information about the Saitek X52 Pro can be found at the dedicated Saitek web page. I mentioned this before, but let's highlight it once more. When you're a Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, 32 or 64 bit user, then follow these links for the manuals, drivers, software and profiles:
- Saitek manuals
- Saitek drivers and SST Programming Software
- Saitek Profile package (only for FSX and Windows X-Plane)
- Saitek SST Programming Manual
- Saitek Video Tutorials for SST Software (you need to be a registered user to see this forum thread.)

You can buy the X52 Pro at many places, but let's stick for now with the Aerosoft eShop web page.

As you can see, there’s no average price given in this review. That’s because it’s December and prices changing depending on Christmas and/or other promotions. You can find this X52 Pro ranging from 140.00 Euros/$181.00 USD up to 200.00 Euro’s/$259.00 USD. The rate conversions are as this review was written and change regularly.

With Greetings,
Angelique van Campen


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.