Fightstick vs Keyboard: The Comparison Guide

If you are an avid gamer who loves to play fighting games, you probably know that playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, or other games does not necessarily require a keyboard. Instead, the arcade stick or fight stick gives arcade game lovers a nostalgic feeling with buttons and joystick.

Here is a guide that will help you decide between these two gaming devices.

Playing Fighting Games

The most obvious options are mechanical keyboards or fight sticks when it comes to fighting games that can be played online and on consoles. But is one superior to the other?

Do competitive gamers need to get an arcade stick, or can they get by with mechanical keyboards?

Use of Mechanical Keyboards

Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards have individual switches under the keys, just like computer keyboards. As a result, each keystroke feels distinct, without the mushy feel of a membrane keyboard.

With the unique ‘N-key rollover’ feature in a mechanical keyboard, you can enter more inputs simultaneously than the typical six keys.

Feasibility of Mechanical Keyboards for Fighting Games

Most PC gamers today own a mechanical or gaming keyboard. Their inputs are more precise than those of a membrane keyboard, which proves extremely advantageous when playing fighting games.

Use of Fighting Sticks

A Fight Stick or Arcade Stick is a controller that emulates the layout and feel of a classic joystick, with (two) additional rows of buttons as found in typical arcade cabinets.

The size of a Fight Stick is just right to place on your lap or even on a table, depending on your preference.

Since the beginning of the fighting game genre, Fight Sticks have been the input device of choice for professional gamers. Since these devices are specifically designed for fighting games, they offer better precision.

They are the first choice for the best players and have the advantage that you can easily transfer the acquired skills/movements to other fighting games.

Is a Fight Stick Superior for Fighting Games?

The general answer to this question is that it’s a matter of preference, but the design of a Fight Stick enhances the experience in any fighting game. With various layouts and spacing, players can choose the optimal position for improved input and comfort.

These are a bit more expensive and can be customized with some effort (including replacing parts). However, the added precision will help you with combo consistency, especially under pressure.

These arcade sticks can prove deadly in a game and help you defeat your opponent in the right hands.

Additional advantages of Fighting Sticks

The beauty of Fight Sticks is that they are universal; you can use them for different platforms and games. Since you do not have to switch between controllers, you’ll have a higher comfort level to perform better in other fighting games.

There are parts that you can replace, upgrade, and customize with good fight sticks. For example, you can adjust the firmness of the joystick or the resistance when pressing the buttons. You can do this yourself because the Fight Sticks have instructions and a wiring diagram.

Why you should spend more on a Fight Stick

Fighting games are pretty uncomfortable! The device in your hand gets quite strained with all the repeated hits.

A Fight Stick is designed to last much longer than your average controller with potential wear and tear in mind. Instead, this device will take game performance to a whole new level, whether it’s the various twists, turns, or quarter circles.

If you damage your controller, there is most likely a warranty or guarantee that the device will help you with a free repair or replacement.
You can also ask friends who own a Fight Stick if you can borrow theirs and test it out before you buy one.

Which one should I choose: Fighting Stick or a Mechanical Keyboard?

If you are looking for a new gadget for your gaming needs, there are several factors you need to consider before deciding on a purchase.

You should only choose a Fight Stick if you are fully committed to fighting games.

Otherwise, this device might be unnecessary. On the other hand, a mechanical keyboard is a resourceful peripheral. It can be used not only for gaming but also for normal typing. Unfortunately, most local events do not have keyboard-friendly setups.

So you should consider this if you are dedicated to professional fighting games.

If you have used a keyboard for a long time and now curiously buy an arcade stick to find out if it feels better, it might take you a while to get used to it; thanks to the muscle memory you have built up for the keyboard and not yet for the stick.

Other available options

The console-based fighting games got people playing with controllers, which was pretty easy once you figured out the controls. Thanks to the bumpers and triggers, you do not have to bend too many fingers for the controller’s multi-button inputs.

The release of the Nintendo 64 and GameCube contributed to the popularity and success of the Super Smash Bros series of fighting games. This in turn increased the demand for the N64 and GameCube-like controllers, so Nintendo Switch has official N64 and GameCube controllers.

Another good option is the Hitbox controller, which allows precise movement inputs.

It looks like a Fight Stick, but the joystick is replaced by four buttons for directional input. If you are one of those gamers who switch from a keyboard to an arcade controller, preferring keyboard-like movements to a joystick, the Hitbox controller is the right choice.

The Mixbox is halfway between mechanical keyboards and arcade sticks; it is a hitbox with directional keys as configured on a keyboard. With mechanical keyboard switches, it gives the feel and movement of a keyboard.


With so many options available to avid and passionate gamers, those dedicated to playing fighting games prefer the fight sticks for a quality gaming experience.

A keyboard offers versatility, while an arcade stick provides more precision in movements.

Those used to joysticks in an arcade setup will certainly enjoy an arcade stick. However, the gaming device is only as good as the player’s skill.

Illustration of a smiling man with headphones next to an arcade machine, conveying a casual and playful vibe.
Chris "Iron Fist" Thompson

Chris stumbled upon the world of fight sticks after being mesmerized by the precision and technique of professional players in live streams. He soon picked up his first fight stick and quickly rose through the ranks of competitive gaming. With his unyielding determination, Chris has managed to achieve success in both local and national tournaments. Today, he's all about sharing his experience and passion with fellow fight stick enthusiasts.