Like most gaming perihperals, racing wheels come in many varieties and price points. Options range from a couple of hundred dollars going all the way into the thousands. Some racing wheels come with pedals and a shift stick. More specialized racing wheels don’t come with extras, but you can buy them separately. The best racing wheels should be comfortable to hold and have force feedback to emulate real driving conditions.
Racing wheels with force feedback create a realistic feel by providing resistance when you’re cornering and it emulates the feel of bumps and crashes. It works using electric motors, and there are typically three different types.
The best and most expensive type is the direct drive system. The steering is mounted directly onto the motor via a hub, so the feedback is instantaneous without the energy going through belts or gears.
Belt drives are much more affordable and are the most common type of force feedback system. It uses a motor connected to a belt and pulley system. The force created by the motor is transferred through the belt to the steering. Belt drives generally have less feedback than direct drive systems.
Gear-driven racing wheels also use a motor, but the force is amplified through a set of metal gears to the steering wheel. The force feedback on gear systems isn’t as fast or responsive as the other two types, but it’s more affordable.
Before outlaying cash on a new racing wheel, you need to ensure it’s compatible with whatever platform you’re using. Most racing wheels are compatible with PC, but some are only compatible with certain consoles. You should also ensure that your racing wheel works with the games you like playing.
These are some of the best racing wheels currently available.
Fanatec CSL Elite F1
The Fanatec CSL Elite F1 is the racing wheel of choice for Formula 1 esports pros. It’s officially licensed by Formula 1 and Sony. This racing wheel works on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox.
One of the best things about this racing wheel is that it comes as a complete set. The CSL Elite F1 includes the wheel, pedals, and wheelbase. The base has a clamp, so you can easily attach it to your desk.
The centerpiece of the set is the F1-style steering wheel. It’s finished in Alcantara and has an ergonomic shape that puts your hands in a perfect position to reach the buttons.
The dual aluminum pedals feature individual adjustment options for added comfort. They and can be positioned close together or further apart from each other. The drawback is to the included pedal set is that only the brake and accelerator pedals are included, and there’s no clutch pedal.
There’s no shortage of buttons on the CSL Elite F1. The F1-inspired buttons include three thumb buttons on each side, adjustable paddle shifters, and an analog D-pad. The buttons come with standard action caps, and an additional set with PlayStation icons is also included. Apart from the buttons, the steering has an LED speedometer and LED lights to inform you when to switch gears.
Another impressive feature of the CSL Elite F1 is the force feedback. Its belt-driven system quite intense, and you can adjust the force feedback and vibration intensity. The feedback allows you to feel all the bumps and crashes for a more authentic driving experience.
The Fanatec CSL Elite has outstanding performance that justifies its price.
SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2
The SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2 comes with the steering wheel and wheelbase, but there are no pedals or shift sticks like the CSL Elite F1.
The main reason to get this racing wheel is the force feedback. It uses a direct drive motor to give the fastest and most accurate feedback possible. You can also adjust the force feedback and steering feedback like on the CSL Elite F1.
One of the other standout features is the attention to detail. The AccuForce Pro V2 feels like it belongs in a real race car because of its machined aluminum and Alcantara construction. It has 13 color-coded buttons and replaceable carbon fiber paddle shifters.
You can easily customize your racing experience using the SimXperience Sim Commander 4 software. It allows in-depth tuning and profile creation for each car or car type.
One of the drawbacks of this racing wheel is the price. The SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2 doesn’t come cheap, and you still need to get compatible pedals to go with it. If this wheel fits into your budget, it’s worth it for the quality and authentic racing experience.
The Thrustmaster T300 RS GT has premium features for a great price. It’s officially licensed for PlayStation consoles and is PC compatible. The set comes with an 11-inch steering wheel, base, and pedals.
All the components have an eye-catching look. The steering wheel is aluminum with a rubberized coating and a prominent Gran Turismo logo in the center. PlayStation users will recognize the familiar D-pad and button layout. The paddle shifters are also well-placed and easy to reach.
Compared to the Fanatec CSL Elite F1, all the pedals are included with this racing wheel. The three metal pedals look amazing in drilled metal, but they don’t seem as solid as the rest of the package.
The one major drawback is that you need a separate gear shifter to use the clutch.
Just like the Fanatec CSL Elite F1, it has a belt-driven base. It provides instant feedback when taking corners or spinning out while you drive. The base is mostly silent, but the fan can kick in after extended play.
The Logitech G29 is much more affordable than the Thrustmaster T300 RS GT and includes a shift stick and pedals. It’s only compatible with PC, PS3, and PS4, so Xbox users will have to choose the G920 instead.
It comes at a lower price than the other racing wheels we’ve mentioned. Unfortunately, a lower price means that this racing wheel can’t compete when it comes to force feedback because of its gear-based system.
The G29 may have less feedback, but everything else looks good. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has ergonomic bumps in the right places. PlayStation users will be comfortable with the DualShock button layout. It’s also impressive to see an included LED tachometer to inform you when to shift.
Another great feature is the sporty-looking drilled pedals. All three pedals have adequate space between them and are designed to have a car-like resistance when pressed. The six-speed stick uses the popular H-pattern.
The Logitech G29 offers more value than other options by adding all the components you need in a single package. It’s ideal for beginners wanting to get into racing sims without a huge investment.
The Logitech G920 is the Xbox-compatible alternative to the Logitech G29 and has a slightly lower price. Instead of a Playstation logo and buttons, it has Xbox-style buttons with the Logitech logo in the middle.
There are a couple of reasons for the price difference between the two Logitech models. The G920 has the same leather-wrapped construction and comfort as the G29, but it lacks the LED tachometer. Another reason for the price difference is the G920’s lack of an included shift lever.
The pedals are exactly like the G29 and feature the same drilled look. Just like on the G29, the pedals look great and are designed to provide adequate resistance when pressed. The brake pedal has different stages and is pressure-sensitive.
The G920 is an excellent option if you need an Xbox-compatible racing wheel on a limited budget.
Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 GT Forza Motorsport
The Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 GT Forza Motorsport is an excellent choice if you want something more advanced for Xbox or PC. It has a similar belt drive design to the CSL Elite F1, but it only comes with the racing wheel like the AccuForce Pro V2.
One of the best features of this racing wheel is its genuine look. This racing wheel is made from lightweight aluminum wrapped in genuine leather. The ClubSport V2.5 GT’s squared-off bottom and ergonomic shape give it a more authentic look.
The added modularity is another outstanding feature of this racing wheel. The button boxes and the paddle shifters have a modular design and can be moved around or removed to suit your preference. This Fanatec model has four button boxes, each containing three buttons. There are a total of 16 buttons on the hub.
There are no pedals, or shift sticks are included, so you’ll have to buy them separately from Fanatec’s vast ecosystem. The downside is that this racing wheel is already expensive, and when you factor in the extras, it becomes unaffordable for most people.
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