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Steering Wheels In Simracing

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Before proposing in detail what the current market offers, let's analyze the three essential characteristics for a good racing wheel . The first is undoubtedly its maximum rotation, which nowadays must be at least 900 degrees. With this configuration it is much easier to obtain the 1: 1 match in terms of rotation between the "real" wheel we are using and the virtual one of our simulator. Obviously nowadays this value has been widely exceeded, especially to cope with some particular titles of Rally and Drifting , which require a much higher range in order to better appreciate their characteristics.


Second point: fluidity of use. When driving real racing cars, what you feel at first glance is how smooth the steering wheel behavior is. No hesitation, no abrupt or "lag" behavior: obviously, we want the same things for our virtual steering wheels.

Last aspect: force feedback must be precise and fast. Also in this case it is preferable to have in your hands a product with the least possible latency between what we see on the screen and what we feel in our hands, in order to obtain the most accurate driving experience possible.


In the steering wheels dedicated to simracing there are basically three types of force return : the gear type , the belt type and the direct drive type . The first two are equipped with an internal system capable of transferring and amplifying the forces of the engine inside the crown of the steering wheel, with the advantage of being able to use sufficiently small internal units which are however capable of producing a certain level of force.

More specifically, gear force feedback wheels use an internal transmission generally constructed of plastic, which is the optimal choice for economic solutions . There are, however, the disadvantages: the noise generated, the highest among the other solutions adopted for the steering wheels, and the roughness of the force return system, certainly the least accurate in circulation.


Let's move on to steering wheels with belt force feedback : the first models of this type were released by Fanatec in 2009, and then they were also adopted by Thrustmaster with his famous T500RS, selected as the "official steering wheel" by the Gran Turismo 5 video game in 2010. Compared to the gear technology, the belt technology is a much more recent system, which guarantees greater smoothness of use and powers generated up to two or three times higher than those with gears, while remaining extremely silent.


Last but not least, here are the steering wheels with direct feedback force feedback , the so-called "Direct Drive" : compared to the systems just seen, these products have no internal system, since the crown of the steering wheel is directly installed on the engine. The result? A return of power powerful, fast and fluid like no other.




Having made the necessary distinctions, we begin our buying guide with the first category of steering wheels, the one for products with a cost of less than 100 Euros . In this price range, in reality, there is not much: what is available, moreover, does not even reach the bare minimum to have a driving experience at least ... "decent".

The only alternatives in this category are Thrustmaster branded : we are talking about the T80 and the Ferrari 458 Spider , two essentially identical steering wheels in terms of characteristics but which differ in being compatible (as well as for PC) for PS4 and Xbox One respectively. We are faced with very simple steering wheels, with a rotation range of only 270 degrees, a basic pedal with accelerator and brake ... but without force feedback.


Our advice? Look further: if you are really looking for an inexpensive product, consider orienting yourself on the second-hand market . You can find more refined steering wheels at a reasonable price, which will certainly offer you more than these two Thrustmasters. In this case the rule applies: "the more you spend, the less you spend!".



Here we begin to reason. In the price range between 150 and 300 Euros we find products that, finally, will offer us a convincing, fun and practical driving experience. The best? It can only be the Logitech G29: a direct descendant of the G27, which in turn was an evolution of the G25, this steering wheel offers an 11-inch leather crown , embellished with a series of fully configurable buttons.

The G29 also brings a pedal complete with accelerator, clutch and brake, which has been modified with an internal rubber resistance that tries to replicate the "hard" feeling of the true brake pedal of a racing car. Compared to the G27, however, it is not sold with the shifter (i.e. the external gear lever) included, which must be purchased separately.


Of the G29 there is also a variant called G920 , essentially identical except for the fact that it is compatible with PC and Xbox One. The former, however, can be used on Sony branded consoles, namely PS3 and PS4. As for the price , today this Logitech steering wheel can also be found under 200 Euros , but most of the time it is offered on the market at a cost that varies between 220 and 250 Euros.

A valid alternative to this product is branded Thrustmaster again and responds to the names of TMX and T150 : this time we are dealing with steering wheels with an internal hybrid technology , made up partly of gears and partly of a belt system, which guarantees a fluidity and quietness slightly higher than the G29. The two steering wheels in question are very similar and differ only in some characteristics: a different arrangement of the buttons, compatibility with the consoles (T150 on PlayStation, TMX on Xbox One) and the degrees of rotation, which in the TMX are 900 while in the T150 arrive at 1080.


As standard, however, these products come bundled with a basic pedal with accelerator and brake : luckily Thrustmaster has also thought of the most demanding simdrivers, proposing a Pro version with a more refined set called T3PA , also equipped with a clutch. Their price? In line if not less than the Logitech G29: if you want something other than this best-buy, then the TMX and T150 are the answer you are looking for.



Let's take the next step and go up in price range: between 300 and 500 Euro the gear technology is definitively abandoned to leave room for the belt technology , where Thrustmaster practically dominates the scene with the TX and T300RS . As for the previous TMX and T150, these two steering wheels are compatible for Xbox One and Sony consoles respectively, which have the advantage of a rotation of 1080 degrees compared to the 900 guaranteed on the opposing Microsoft.


Even the TX and T300RS come standard with a basic pedal, which however can be integrated by the T3PA present in the Pro versions. In any case we are faced with much more solid steering wheels than the previous ones , equipped with a more consistent, fluid and fast force feedback in transferring the sensations to the pilot. Their price, at the moment, is in the 350-400 Euro range , to which Fanatec has launched the challenge with its series of CSL Elite steering wheels.

Modular, equipped with LED shift lights and quick settings to adapt force feedback immediately with belt technology, these steering wheels provide compatibility with the PlayStation 4 and are available in two versions: with the base only , at a price of about 400 Euros , or with 11-inch base and crown, slightly more expensive and at the list price of 500 Euros . Their problem? Which in case of purchase do not arrive together with any pedal , which must be taken separately at a price that varies from 100 to 230 Euros depending on whether you want to use the brake pedal with load cell. Always if you don't want to focus on even more refined and expensive products.





We further increase the budget: in the price range 500-1000 Euro we find the top steering wheels with belt technology , mostly produced by Thrustmaster . Their names? TS-PC, TS-XW RACER and T-GT. The first two represent the direct evolution of the previous TX and T300RS and are equipped with a 40 watt "brushless" internal motor: the first is the only one compatible only for PC and is proposed without pedal, while the second includes not only the crown Sparco P310 Replica, but also the T3PA pedal set . Prices? 550 Euro for the TS-PC , recently also available with a Ferrari 488 Challenge replica crown, and700 Euros for the TS-XW RACER.


The last of the Thrustmaster range is called, however, T-GT : it is an 11-inch steering wheel expressly designed to be used on PS4 with Gran Turismo Sport , equipped with 4 rotary encoders and all the characteristic buttons of the DualShock 4 ... even analog sticks! Its peculiarity? A rear transducer that guarantees an even more intense immersion of the game, for a really strong, precise and fast Force Feedback. Its price, however, is not at all cheap: since it can be used with a single game, the 800 Euros in the price list (600 on Amazon) can turn up your nose when it is time to validate the purchase.


Turning to Fanatec, the German company offers in this price range the ClubSport Wheel Version 2.5 , certainly one of the most valid, if not the best, before moving on to Direct Drive. The force feedback of which it is capable of very solid, precise and very fast, for an extremely modular and feature-rich product, just like the CSL Elite in the previous category. Its price? It starts from 850 Euros to reach almost 1000, in a complete bundle of base, crown (BMW GT2 or traditional replica) and pedal with accelerator and brake.




In the same price range just analyzed, we also find steering wheels with direct force economic feedback : compared to more expensive units we are faced with entry-level products, which do not have the total operating accuracy that, on the contrary, distinguishes this category . The first is the Simagic M10 , a steering wheel made in China equipped with a 10 Nm engine, to which however we relaunch with the SimXperience AccuForce V2.

A few years ago the latter steering wheel was among the most expensive, while today it can be found at the interesting price of 999 dollars (about 930 Euros) in its complete configuration, equipped with a base with 13 Nm engine, 330mm crown with 12 buttons. and paddle shifters . Alternatively, you can opt for the "AccuForce Your Way" variant , which provides the only base on which you can install a 50 or 70mm steering wheel or "button box" for a price of 699 Euros . SimXperience's offer ends with the DIY (Do It Yourself) alternative , which offers the same bundle that had been dismantled for 100 Euros less.


Alongside these products, SimPliCities also find a place under 1000 Euros : we are talking about two entry level units of the Compact Series , called SW8C + and SW13C + which use two internal 8 and 13 Nm motors respectively . Their prices are extremely competitive: 479 pounds for the first (520 Euros), 600 for the second (650 Euros). To which, however, we must add the crown. In terms of quality / price ratio and equipped equipment, the AccuForce is certainly the best entry door for Direct Drive steering wheels.



The last category, as you can imagine, contains all the simracing steering wheels that go beyond 1000 Euros: here we find exclusively direct drive technology , where among the most interesting products the Fanatec offer with the Podium Wheels series cannot be missing . Here the scene is dominated by both the separate DD1 and DD2 bases, which differ in engine power from 20 and 25 Nm respectively , and the all-in-one Podium Wheel F1 solution , which offers the package in its entirety without components separate. This, by the way, is also the only alternative for consoles , both for PS4 and for Xbox One.


The price, of course, is not the easiest to deal with: the DD1 base alone costs 1200 Euros , the DD2 rises to 1500 Euros while the all-in-one solutions start from 1650 Euros to reach 1800 Euros . Simucube 2 is placed on the same wavelength , divided into three specific products: the Sport version (1270 Euro), the Pro (1470 Euro) and the Ultimate (3170 Euro!) , All compatible with the Wireless Protocol, which allows the connection of compatible crowns or "button boxes" through the wireless connection.


Last but not least, here is Leo Bodnar's SimSteering2 offer , one of the historical manufacturers of simracing equipment to the point of being widely recommended by some of the most important professionals in the sector. As for the Simucube 2, here too there are three variants that differ in the power of the internal engine: 16 Nm FFB System 52 (2400 pounds = 2600 Euro), 20.5 Nm FFB System 53 (2600 pounds = 2800 Euro ) and the more performance 26 Nm FFB System 54 (2650 pounds = 2870 Euros).


So for those who don't mind spending, which one to recommend? If you intend to use a Direct Drive steering wheel of this kind not only on PC, then the choice falls on the Fanatec Podium Wheels , perhaps on the all-in-one solution which is also the official one from the F1 eSports Series of the world championship Circus. Otherwise, better orient yourself on Simucube 2 , leaving out the Ultimate: on the other hand, we are talking about simulated driving ... at that price it is more worth investing in a competition go-kart and really going on the track!


Sim Racing Wheel Buyer's Guide - 2020 Edition


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