Racing wheels are the best thing ever invented since, I don’t know, sliced bread. This holds true at least for us, racing-simulator aficionados. And since it’s an indisputable fact that every geek wants the best gear to complement his or her gaming rig, whether we’re talking about PC, Playstation or Xbox, today’s article is aimed at helping you choose the best racing wheel.
Now, if you own a gaming PC, you probably already have a gaming mouse. Or, even a couple of joysticks, provided you’re old school. Yet, if you’re a hardcore racer, who enjoys playing Need for Speed, Forza Motorsport 7, or Gran Turismo Sport, you may appreciate a word of advice with regard to choosing to best racing wheel for PC, right? Nothing compares to a dedicated racing wheel with regard to gaming experience when playing car simulators. If you want a smooth, realistic and immersive adventure, racing wheels are the way to go, there’s no way around it.
However, the truth is that the gaming industry is now focusing on gaming consoles, like Xbox and Playstation, while the old PC is taking a step-back, hence we’ll also take a look at the best racing wheels for PlayStation and Xbox One. Basically, we’ll try to cover all “angles” and give you the best deals, so you won’t have to waste your time, nor your hard earned dollars. As usual, I might add. So, let’s begin with the obvious:
How to Choose the Best Racing Wheel
Vibration and Force Feedback
When playing racing games, the optimal experience can be achieved only by using the right controller, also known as “racing wheel” in geek parlance, a piece of gear specifically designed to deliver a realistic first-person gaming experience. So, here are the basics: first, look for racing wheels with vibration and force feedback. Yes, I know, almost all racing wheels have that nowadays.
However, it’s worth mentioning that a racing wheel featuring force feedback and vibration will deliver a more realistic gaming experience, as you’ll be able to actually feel bumps in the virtual road, along with tire grip slip, drifting, hitting other cars and so on and so forth.
The philosophy of playing racing simulators is about getting as close as possible to the real thing, as in you should experience something close to driving a real race car. The most advanced racing wheels on the market come with 2 force feedback motors, which provide the best simulated experience money can buy. And yes, they are pretty expensive, glad you asked.
Wheel Size and Rotation
Next, you should take a look at wheel size and rotation. What’s that, you asked? Most racing wheels are approximately 11 inches in diameter; this is the “standard in the industry” so to speak, as most racing wheels are not identical replicas of real-life wheels for real-life sports cars. The idea is to create a piece of gaming gear which makes for the ideal melange of function, size and rotation to suit a plethora of car-models while keeping the respective racing wheel as gamer-friendly and as portable as humanly possible. Creating a 1:1 scale replica of a “real” steering wheel is very difficult, for practical reasons, not to mention expensive.
Finally, everything revolves around one’s budget, i.e. if you want a more realistic (as in bigger, with a range of rotation of up to 1080 degrees) racing wheel, you’ll have to cough up more dollars. If you’re into playing Euro Truck Simulator, you’ll definitely love a maximum level of rotation (the 1080 degrees thingy). Regular racing games, which require twitchy steering and “agility”, can be played with “regular” quick-steering racing wheels. In the final equation, it all depends on what games are you going to play, besides one’s budget.
Wide-angle racing wheels are not suitable for any game, as they’re pretty difficult to center. However, top-tier racing wheels allow you to customize the rotation angle, to suit any figure, and auto-centering is pretty much standard nowadays.
Clutch and Pedals
A real (race) car has clutch and pedals, or at least it used to have until recently, hence if you want the ultimate driving experience, you’ll have to look for the whole package, i.e. a racing wheel which includes the aforementioned accessories. Yes, a racing wheel with clutch and pedals, so you can drive like a pro, using heel and toe technique and everything. And, finally, there’s the compatibility issue.
Generally speaking, Playstation and Xbox racing wheels are also PC compatible, so you don’t have to worry much about this issue. Just to play it on the safe side, before going on a shopping spree, make sure that your racing wheel works fine with, let’s say, your OS version, that if you’re using a PC. If the respective racing wheel is a 2018 model, while your gaming rig still uses Windows 7, you may encounter some performance issues, as in your racing wheel may not work as well as it should. So, check out any compatibility problems before you buy. Now, here are our best racing wheel picks, in no particular order.
1. Thrustmaster TX RW Leather Edition
The Thrustmaster TX RW is a racing simulator specifically designed for Xbox One (works on PC too), and it comes with a T3PA 3-pedal pedal set included in the retail box. The TX RW Leather Edition is by no means cheap, but you’ll definitely appreciate the luxury feel delivered by the 28 GT 11″ detachable hand-stitched leather wheel.
The force feedback mechanism is well implemented and delivers a seamless and super smooth experience. The 3-pedal set is fully adjustable, while the super silent TX Servo Base provides 900-degree force feedback.
- strong force feedback
- very realistic racing experience
- pedals feel real-world like
- early batches known for compatibility issues
- kind of expensive
2. Fanatec Forza Motorsport Racing Wheel and Pedals Bundle
If you’re an Xbox owner with an almost unlimited budget, looking for the ultimate racing wheel to complete your gaming rig, the Fanatec Forza Motorsport Racing Wheel and Clubsport V3 Pedals Bundle is the way to go. This wheel is expensive, but you’ll receive a lot of “premium feeling” and impeccable workmanship for that kind of money.
This racing wheel is specifically made for Xbox One, but it works just as well on your PC, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re not an Xbox fan. What’s most striking about this race-sim bundle is that it’s of better quality than most regular cars on the road. The wheel itself is covered in real leather, and it’s made using anodized aluminum, just like in a real racing car.
The customization level is impressive, but the most striking gaming experience is delivered by the ClubSport Wheel Base V2.5, which is currently the standard in the industry with regard to reliability and performance, making for a masterpiece of German engineering. Literally, everything on this gaming rig is automotive-grade, quality wise. If you’re a pro-gamer competing for prize money looking for the best, this is the droid you are looking for.
- realistic racing experience
- the Fanatec V3 pedals play in a league of their own
- full customization options
- stellar build quality
- full metal construction
3. Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback racing wheel
The Thrustmaster TMX is a budget-friendly racing wheel with force feedback, which is very similar to the T150 in terms of tech specs. The main difference is that the TMX is specifically designed for Xbox One, and it boasts certified software for the respective platform. That means it’s plug and play, i.e. it gets instantly recognized by your gaming console right out of the box. And yes, it works pretty well on PC too, but if you want to squeeze the last drop of performance out of this baby, remember it’s specifically designed for Xbox One.
If you’re looking for a mid-level no-nonsense force feedback racing wheel, the Thrustmaster TMX would make for an interesting choice, as it’s well designed and has all the bells and whistles required for an immersive gaming experience, including top-notch Xbox software support and variable force feedback.
Another difference between the T150 and the TMX is that the latter features adjustable 270-900 degrees of rotation (the T150 goes up to 1080). The rest is basically identical, including the 10-bit resolution pedal set, the 12-bit resolution wheel, the 11’’ non-removable rubber coated wheel and the cool metal shifter paddles.
- well built
- smooth force feedback
- metal paddle shifters
- plenty of features and customization options
- none really at this price point
4. HORI Racing Wheel Apex
When it comes to cheap racing wheels, the HORI Apex plays in a league of its own. The caveat with regard to low-cost gear is that you won’t benefit from the same features compared to a “regular” (as in more expensive) racing wheel, and the most depressing thing about the HORI Apex is that it lacks force feedback. However, if you’re a casual racer who doesn’t want to break the piggy bank, the HORI Apex makes for a no-nonsense racing wheel, as in it’s worth the money asked.
Despite its very low price tag and the full plastic/rubber construction, the Apex looks pretty good. The pedal set is obviously the place where the company skimped a little bit, but the real issue is the lack of a true force feedback mechanism. Instead of electric motors to simulate resistance/force-feedback, the HORI Apex is driven by a bungee-cord thingy, which feels rather weird.
- dirt cheap
- much better than a controller for racing simulators
- good build quality
- no force feedback
- sub-par pedals lack realism
5. Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel Ferrari 458 Italia Edition
As its name suggests, the Thrustmaster TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition is a proper replica of the Ferrari 458 Italia’s wheel, a 7:10 scale replica respectively, and it was developed in collaboration with Microsoft. Needless to say, the TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition is the best racing wheel for Xbox One owners, as it’s literally designed and built for the Xbox One, featuring Binder ID and Xbox One Guide button.
Now, if you enjoy playing Forza Motorsport on your Xbox, the Thrustmaster TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition is a must-have addition to your gaming rig, as it comes with metal pedals and gear sequential paddle shifters, just like a Ferrari does, for delivering racing sensations as close to the “real world” as possible. The Thrustmaster TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition is also compatible with PC, but you’ll have to download the drivers from the official website.
- amazing force feedback
- solid construction
- 1,080 degrees wheel
- looks sexy
- the wheel doesn’t look or feel as premium as expected from a Ferrari branded product
- pedals are nothing to write home about
6. Thrustmaster T150 RS Racing Wheel
If you’re on a tight budget, the T150 RS racing wheel, which sells for under $200 would make for an interesting choice, provided you’re a PS3/PS4/PC owner.
Despite its relatively low price tag, the T150 RS comes loaded with all the essential features a sim-racer would require from its gaming gear: adjustable rotation angle from 270° to 1080° and force feedback, a pedal set included in the retail package and, most importantly, PS4 certified software. Mind you, the T150 RS racing wheel is branded as the official racing simulator for Playstation, thus features built-in official buttons (PS/SHARE/OPTIONS) for PS 4.
There are also two metal-made sequential paddle shifters mounted on the 11’’ wheel, for a perfectly realistic racing experience, and all the controls are ergonomically designed and within reach. If you’re looking for multi-platform versatility doubled by a solid price/performance ratio, the T 150 RS should rank high on your shopping list.
- 2 pedal board, 1080 degree wheel
- good value for money, well implemented and strong force feedback
- steering precision feels a bit mushy compared to higher-end (and more expensive) products
- low-quality D-pad
7. Logitech G29 Racing Wheel
If you’re a PS3/PS4 owner looking for the best bang for your hard-earned dollars, the G29 has your name on it.
Considering the fact that Logitech is an established name in the gaming industry, the G29 racing wheel really has it where it counts: stainless steel pedals and shifter, solid steel ball bearings, leather grip and a great dual motor force feedback mechanism for a realistic racing-feel and performance. But wait, there’s more: the G29 comes with paddle shifters, a D-pad, buttons on the console and LED lights.
The most impressive thing in its price range is represented by the responsive floor pedal unit, which makes you feel like in an actual racing car. Nota bene, the Logitech G29 also works on PC, but not on Xbox. Finally, for the ultimate racing experience, the G29 can be upgraded using Logitech’s Driving Force Shifter, for an immersive and realistic racing experience.
- PS3, PS4 and PC compatibility
- solid and durable
- premium grip courtesy of the hand-stitched leather cover
- paddle shifters are better compared to the previous generation
- shifter sold separately makes it rather pricey
- not much of an upgrade over the old G27
8. Thrustmaster T300 RS GT Racing Wheel
The Thrustmaster T300 RS GT is a racing wheel optimized for Playstation 4, yet it also works on PS3 or PC. However, be advised that this wheel doesn’t work with Xbox. Basically, if you’re a Playstation 4 owner, you should seriously consider the Thrustmaster T300 RS GT, that if you want to improve your gaming rig with a high-quality piece of gear.
The T300 RS GT delivers a realistic gaming experience, due to its powerful motors which enable it to provide amazing force feedback feel, which is pretty similar to “real world” stuff. As expected from a top-tier racing wheel, the Thrustmaster T300 RS GT comes with a pedal board (height and spacing can be adjusted), yet, on the “bummer-side”, there’s no separate gearbox available.
The wheel is made out of metal, which makes it look like a rally-car wheel, with a rugged high friction rubber coating, for delivering amazing grip. Overall, the Thrustmaster T300 RS GT looks and feels solid, and the workmanship is great. Moreover, you’ll enjoy the 1080-degree rotation capability, that can be customized down to 270 degrees via software adjustments.
- good value for money
- excellent force feedback implementation
- full PS4 support
- comes with HallEffect AccuRate Technology (goes to sensitivity)
- the pedals are made of metal
- great button layout
- the pedal board has a light plasticky feel
- built-in cooling fans can be annoying
- the clutch pedal is useless sans gear-stick