MODULES: Thrusters - #00046
Thrusters are - who would have thought - the primary source of speed and agility in normal speed mode.
Choice of thrusters has zero effect on your ship's handling in SuperCruise or when jumping in between systems.
The regular module descriptions in terms of numbers (1..8) for size and qualities (A..E) apply.
For almost all ships except of long range trading ships and exploration vessels, you should always use the biggest number available as any attempt to use a smaller module than 'maximum size' will degrade your ship's agility and top speed.
You should avoid using thruster modules of 'E' quality for their low integrity and abysmal performance.
You should consider (!) using thruster modules of 'D' quality for their low weight whenever you are not going to combat - they got the least amount of integrity of all qualities provided - or if you're flying a very agile ship that simply doesn't need more thrust when dancing in space. Ships that go well with D thrusters are the Eagle, the Cobra Mk II, the Diamond Back Explorer and the Vulture... IF you keep them really light in weight. Don't apply 'D' thrusters to an overweight ship. It's a pain to fly.
Thrusters of 'C' quality should only be used over 'D' thrusters if you originally wanted to install 'A' thrusters for maximum performance but either didn't have the money at hand or if you were lacking power plant capacity. It's a 'C'ompromise.
You should avoid (!) using 'B' rated thrusters. They do have the highest integrity - about 10% more than 'A' - but that comes at a price: They're terribly heavy, which lowers your ship's agility and your fun in flying.
'A' rated thrusters are best performance wise, but they're not only very expensive, they also draw a lot of energy from the power plant. Go for these if you are building a combat ship that depends on agility.
When outfitting Thrusters, do a dry run in CORIOLIS.IO or EDSY.ORG (ED ship yard) and check for power consumption and performance (pitch, roll, normal speed, boost). You will soon see what a huge difference thrusters make.
If you want to go 'fast and agile', you should consider using thrusters with as much "Minimum Mass" as you can get. This value - better: how close your actual ship weight is to this value - defines your ship's maximum speed and its performance agility wise. If you manage to bring your ship's weight down to minimum mass, you will top out on possible performance.
(Unfortunately, this won't work without engineering and it won't work on all ships, as some are too heavy. Just remember making your ship as light as possible and your thrusters as potent as possible if you want it to be a 'fast mover'.)
About Engineering: Tuning thrusters is an art which will be described in detail in the Engineering chapter. There are ways to make thrusters immensely strong for ships going up to 900+ m/s in some cases. There are also ways to make thrusters better performers while reducing generated heat by a huge factor. Also, there's a way to make thrusters incredibly reliable, which is a wonderful thing when running shieldless ships or in case you're an explorer with 'will I get home in the end' issues :-)