If you love playing sim racing games with a controller and want to step up to using a steering wheel that doesn’t break the bank, then this one’s for you.
Today, many professional sim racing steering wheels’ technological capabilities and material choices have advanced to the point where it is difficult to tell some gaming hardware apart from real-life racing equipment. As a matter of fact, market leaders in the digital motorsport industry can create true masterpieces that are almost indistinguishable from what you would find in an actual racecar.
While this is great news for sim racing purists who strive to create cockpits that push the boundaries of gameplay and immersion, what about those of us who just want to jump onto our PC and play some racing games without taking things too seriously? Do we really need to spend thousands of dollars just to have some fun behind the wheel? Are those people on the sim racing forums who say you shouldn’t buy anything other than a direct drive (DD) wheelbase correct, or are they just being snobs?
Well, while it’s true that DD wheelbases currently offer the best way of delivering force feedback through your wheel and into your hands, it doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t more budget-friendly equipment available that can still provide you with enough usability and functionality to experience countless hours of entertainment. If you’re someone who simply wants to plug in a wheel and start playing at your desk, or if you don’t have hours to spend tuning every little detail of each piece of sim hardware, a more straightforward and cheaper steering wheel option may be right for you.
With that in mind, in this post, I thought it would serve the sim community well to highlight a few entry-level wheels from Logitech and Thrustmaster that won’t leave your pockets empty. Additionally, I’ve listed a few points below to take into consideration which should help you find the right wheel for your needs.
When choosing a steering wheel for your PC, you may want to consider picking one that combines the rim and wheelbase as a package. This will save you from running into any connectivity issues with third-party devices and usually cuts down on set-up times. You’ll also find that some wheels are sold as a bundle with a pedal set and desk clamp, which is a great way to save costs and time.
Also, make sure your wheel comes with a software package that allows you to calibrate the hardware quickly, as this can save you a lot of time when it comes to setting up before playing games. Usually, the more advanced the hardware gets, and the more components you have from separate manufacturers, the longer you will spend to get everything working, so this is also a significant element to take into account.
Given that manufacturers of entry-level wheels typically focus on mass production, you can’t expect top-shelf merchandise, but don’t let that trick you into thinking that sim racers who use these wheels aren’t fast. In fact, some of the most successful and competitive sim racers in the world swear by their Logitech and Thrustmaster wheels and regularly beat drivers using DD wheels to the finish line.
Logitech G29, G920, & G923
Given Logitech’s track record of worldwide success in the technology and PC component industries, it’s no surprise that it is one of the first brands consumers encounter when looking for a sim racing wheel. The company’s line-up of wheels is unquestionably the most well-known and most used globally, thanks to the hardware’s ease of use, price point, and reliability.
Moreover, Logitech’s wheels are famous for their simplicity, robust design, and the fact that you can use them to play basically every racing game available. They also hold their value well, which could come in handy down the road if you ever want to upgrade and sell your Logitech wheel.
One drawback to highlight about all the Logitech wheels is that the wheel itself is not removable, meaning you cannot switch to a different rim to suit various driving disciplines.
Old (G29 & G920) vs New (G923)
The G923 is the latest iteration in Logitech’s product roster, replacing both the older G29 (PlayStation and PC) and G920 (Xbox and PC) models. The brand refers to it as “the future of racing”; however, for the most part, all three wheels are the same (platform compatibility aside), and all come with the same pedal set, which features a brake, throttle, and clutch.
The main differences between the G923 and its predecessors include an updated all-black design which overall looks a bit more modern, software that allows you to control the biting point when launching, and a new feature that Logitech has dubbed TrueForce.
TrueForce allows the wheel to recognize audio frequencies from sim racing games, which it transmits to the wheel as vibration, adding another level of immersion to the G923.
Nevertheless, the differences between the newer and older wheels are not that significant even with the G923’s updated features, and the G29 and G920 wheels still offer a lot of bang for your buck. Any of the three would make an excellent entry-level wheel that you can quickly set up at your desk any time you feel like playing sim racing games.
It’s also worth noting for console users that you can still select separate versions of the G923 to cater to both PlayStation and Xbox, but rather than assigning different names to each edition, Logitech has gone with the universal “G923” branding. As was always the case, PC sim racers can still use any of Logitech’s wheels.
Thrustmaster T300/TX Racing Wheel Servo Base
Thrustmaster has been making high-quality gaming equipment that delivers a fun and realistic racing experience for over thirty years. As such, the company is a go-to brand for sim racers, especially those looking for something affordable without sacrificing performance and durability.
The brand’s two most popular wheelbases – the T300 and TX – are essentially the same product, differing only in their compatibility. The T300 is compatible with PS4 and PC, and the TX is compatible with Xbox One and PC, so, as was the case with Logitech, PC users can select either of the two units.
However, what’s important to note is that Thrustmaster, unlike Logitech, sells rims and wheelbases separately. Consequently, Thrustmaster sells various bundle packages that include all types of wheel styles and pedal options, although you can select any combination of products to match your requirements.
T300RS & T300RS GT Edition
Two of Thrustmaster’s most popular bundles are the T300RS which includes the T300 wheelbase, a PC and Playstation compatible rim, and a pedal set with a brake and throttle, while the T300RS GT Edition features everything you get with the regular ‘RS’ package but also adds a clutch to the pedal set for more immersion.
Ferrari & Sparco Wheel Rims
Thrustmaster has worked in partnership with Ferrari and Sparco for years to produce some excellent wheels.
Currently, Thrustmaster offers four Ferrari and two Sparco wheel choices.
Two of the Ferrari wheels are only available through bundle packages, while the other two can be purchased separately. Here’s a list of the six options:
- T300 Ferrari Integral Racing Wheel Alcantara Edition
- Ferrari 250 GTO Wheel Add-On
- Formula Wheel Add-On Ferrari SF1000 Edition
- TS-PC RACER Ferrari 488 Challenge Edition
- Rally Wheel Add-On Sparco R383 Mod
- TM COMPETITION WHEEL Add-On Sparco P310 Mod