If you’re a flight sim enthusiast, you probably already know that you need to invest in some hardware to have the best possible experience. A joystick base, grips rudder pedals, head tracking, throttles, and multiple other accessories are part of an ecosystem of parts that vary wildly in price, quality and capability. This review is my in-depth examination of VIRPIL’s MongoosT-50 Throttle Control System. Is this throttle for you? Read on and find out!
About the VIRPIL and the MongoosT-50 TCS
VIRPIL is one of the newest companies to enter the flight sim peripherals market. VIRPIL was founded in 2016 and was started by flight sim enthusiast Andrei Lukyanov. Their first product, the MongoosT-50 grip, gained instant popularity around the flight sim community. The company has since opened a factory in Lithuania although their home base of operations is located in Belarus.
VIRPIL is aimed squarely at the medium to high end of the enthusiast market. They are one of a few companies that are building flight sim peripherals that tend to cost a little more yet are built with longevity and user customizable features in mind.
The MongoosT-50 Throttle Control System (hereafter referred to as the MT-50 TCS in this review) is one plank in the VIRPIL line-up that also includes the MongoosT-50 grip and the MongoosT-50 Flightsick Base. The company is also busy releasing several products under their WarBRD line-up including a base, multiple grips (both released and planned), and some recently announced rudder pedals.
The MT-50 TCS is a fully independent USB peripheral and it can be easily integrated into your flight sim setup. The throttle features dual independent, linkable, throttle axes with two position adjustable detents and adjustable friction. It also has programmable LED lighting so you can easily match it with your RGB peripherals.
Controls on the throttle body:
- 9 buttons (one with a red surround to prevent accidental presses)
- 6 toggle switches
- one 5-way mode dial
- two axis dials
- three encoder dials with push button
- and an auxiliary axis that works like a throttle that you can use for almost anything – zoom, prop pitch, etc.
Additional controls can be found on the throttle:
- four buttons
- four 4-way hat switches with push button
- a single wheel axis
The MT-50 TCS has no shortage of buttons, switches, dials or axis and this is exactly what drew me to it.
The throttle also has a variety of LED light options that can be configured via the mode dial. The LED’s are bright but not overly bright and can be matched roughly with whatever other peripherals you have.
The thing that immediately struck me about the MT-50 TCS was how solid this unit is. There are a mix of materials used in the construction of the unit with metal casing and a mix of metal switches and plastic buttons and dials. The interior components on the throttle are, according to VIRPIL’s product information, made from aircraft-grade duraluminum which are designed to last a very long time.
The throttle in feel without being overly stiff and I think that VIRPIL has found a beautiful middle ground with a weight and effort that feels substantial but without needing an excessive amount of force to use. The stiffness is adjustable so you can dial it in to your own preference and I’ve personally set the resistance down just slight from the out of the box setting.
The throttle grip is made of industrial grade plastic and has a diamond patterned texture that makes it easy and comfortable to grip. The ergonomics are good for my average sized hands and fingers and I can reach most buttons as well as the four-way hat switches without difficulty. The button on the side of the throttle is slightly more difficult to reach but this didn’t cause me any issues in actual use.
Throttle body, toggle switches and mode dials
The MT-50 TCS throttle body is, as mentioned before, made of metal and is screwed together tightly. There is no doubt that this is a solid unit and there is no flex anywhere on the throttle body. As a nice extra touch, the unit has chamfered edges ensuring a smooth transition to the sides of the unit – not quite smartphone smooth but extremely good and a welcome touch.
Located on the body are six metal toggle switches which all have a satisfying ‘thunk’ when you switch them. The eight plastic buttons on the mid section of the throttle also have weight and click to them when activated. The mode dial clicks to each position and it, by default, controls the LED lighting on the unit. You can, of course, use the VPC configuration software to make that mode dial do just about anything including be a button for each position.
Three of the six metal toggle switches count as individual button presses (both up and down) while two are more like a toggle switching on and off. These can be useful for things like switching WEP on and off on a warbird but less useful in other instances. One of the toggle switches has a red protector over it – this is great for things like a master arm switch or toggling the bomb-bay doors. It’s very satisfying!
The only disappointing button on the whole unit is the yellow plastic button with the red-surround. This is meant to work as a protective rim similar to what you might see on a jettison ordinance button on some aircraft. The button itself works just fine but it feels cheaper than everything around it and seems slightly mismatched from the rest of the unit.
Dials and auxiliary axis
The units two axis dials move smoothly and have weight like a volume knob from a stereo unit. The two axis dials also have a non-adjustable detent at 50% so you could easily use these for trim dials if you wanted to.
The three encoder dials movement is not quite as smooth as the axis dials and they turn infinitely in both directions. They can also be pressed in as buttons. I have mine setup in DCS to control exterior lighting options with the button press as a on/off toggle. That seems to be an ideal setup for them but your uses for them can be creative.
The auxiliary axis to the right of the throttle uses the same contactless system that the throttle does. It moves with only a slight effort and I wish had a bit of extra weight to it. However, it is smooth and precise and very easy to work with. I’ve really come to value having it for things like controlling prop pitch on WWII aircraft and adjusting the nozzle direction on the DCS: AV-8B. Again, your uses can be creative here.
There are four hat switches on the throttle. All of them are four-way that also have a push button. Two on the side and one on the front of the throttle are textured in the same way while the top-most switch has its own unique pyramid like structure. This helps make it easier to find the right switch and is useful for both regular players but especially VR pilots.
They need only small amounts of pressure to actuate and I think they could be made to be a bit more ‘clicky’ in their usage. That said, I never had any difficulty being precise with them in operation and this is purely a preference.
One of the primary reasons for buying the MT-50 was because I was lacking in hat switches for the functions on many of the DCS World aircraft such as the DCS: F/A-18C or DCS: AV-8B. This covers that requirement nicely by having as many as or more than the aircraft that I’m flying. It also use the hat switches to cover some of the engine controls for the various WWII warbirds that are available in DCS and in IL-2: Great Battles.
If there is any real weak spot to the MT-50 TCS it would be the VPC configurator software which is powerful but not always intuitive.
One of the first things I did, out of the box and after plugging in, was updating the firmware. This is actually a fairly painless process but only so long as you follow the instructions. If you try and go through the process on your own, as I did at first, you may miss a critical part of the procedure and your throttle won’t work. Do exactly as it suggests and you’ll be fine.
While I didn’t find it intuitive, it is almost immediately clear that it is very customizable piece of hardware thanks to the software. It appears to be setup to satisfy quite a wide variety of configurations that you might have or at least that I’ve thought of. If you want switches to do specific actions
or correspond to a certain keypress you can do that all right here. Note: To emulate key presses you need to use an external keymapper such as Joystick Gremlin (thanks to Sokol for the info and the software suggestion).
Frankly, the VPC configurator software isn’t something that I use all that often as all of the actual control setup I’ve done from within DCS World and IL-2. Here the hardware performs flawlessly being picked up by both pieces of software without any issues.
Shipping and purchasing experience
VIRPIL is a small company and ordering products from them can be difficult in some circumstances. Especially so if you’re outside of the EU. VIRPIL’s products are ordered (or pre-ordered) and shipped from their factory direct to the customer.
Since they setup their factory and ramped up their production, they seem to be able to restock the store roughly every 2-weeks. They do publish restock dates but sometimes there can be a mad dash to get a limited number of items available during that restock. I’ve read mixed reports from people who have had issues with the order or pre-order but I cannot speak directly to that experience as mine went smoothly and I can only speak to that experience personally.
I used VIRPIL’s “Rest of World” online store to order my MT-50 TCS. I used their stock reschedule announcement to see when the next restocking of their store would be and made a purchase that same day. Stock was available for a few days after that restocking date so it appears that they had more than a few units in stock. Good news if you’re thinking about picking one up. Just make sure you pay attention to the restock date to cut down on the chances of waiting another few weeks.
I had some trouble changing the shipping address to be different from the billing address during my order. I contacted their support e-mail and very promptly received a reply. The correction was made to the order without any fuss. They were polite, courteous, and extremely helpful.
Shipping the product to Canada did incur some duty fees (about $65 CDN). I paid no taxes buying the product (because I was outside of the European Union) so this was roughly the equivalent in sales taxes. Once paid the product arrived in very short order via their express shipping (the only option). Everything was tracked at every step of the way, it was double boxed, well packaged, and the outer box was in excellent shape.
I know not everyone has had a smooth experience in ordering products from VIRPIL but mine was smooth without any real issues. It can take a few weeks, there were some duty fees, but that was all to be expected
Overall thoughts and conclusion
The MongoosT-50 Throttle Control System is ultimately a premium product that commands a premium price. The question then becomes of it offers a the same level of experience. My answer is unequivocally yes.
Superb build quality, excellent switches and controls, and insanely customizable software suite, all round out to create an outstanding experience. Its the experience that this throttle provides that makes it worth paying for. Everything from the weight of the throttle, the satisfying movement of the metal toggle switches, the precision of the movement translated into your simulator of choice, to the awesome array of buttons and the overall ergonomics of the unit that make this so satisfying to use.
Importantly, this throttle was designed to be generic enough that it could be used for almost any virtual aircraft. VIRPIL really thought long and hard about how each switch, button and dial might be used in popular flight simulators and they made it flexible enough that you can use your own creativity to create the control scheme that works best for you.
The MongoostT-50 Throttle Control System is, simply put, the best throttle currently available on the market. If you want to upgrade your flight sim hardware to the next level and want a premium throttle experience, this unit is worth the price.
Of course, these are my thoughts based on my first few weeks with this hardware. Feel free to add your own thoughts on this hardware or others in the comments!