The automotive genre is going through a period of splendor, with titles that are well distributed between the arcade and the most extreme simulation, thus involving a very large slice of the public. If after taking a door with your friends you have decided to do things seriously and try your hand at the world title, the first step is definitely starting from a good steering wheel.
In this buying guide we will analyze the most important steering wheels proposed by manufacturers, leaving out those of too low or too high end. If you're on a bit more budget, check out the written and video preview of the new Fanatec Gran Turismo DD PRO.
Logitech G29 (200/270 euros currently) Introductory price 410 euros
For several years now in the field of peripherals for driving games, Logitech retires the excellent G27 by launching its successor on the market: the G29 (compatible with PC and PlayStation 4/5).
One of the strengths of the G29 is the build quality: the steering wheel is entirely covered in eco-leather, the handle is very solid and it is practically impossible to escape from your hands even in the most agitated driving sections, or in the most difficult genres to drive such as rallying. The buttons of the Dualshock 4 are reproduced on the front of the steering wheel, made of a plastic qualitatively a little below the rest of the package. To quickly navigate the menus there is a small ring highlighted in orange, which allows us to make changes to the settings of your car even during the race. The steering wheel is equipped with two clamps to be fixed to your desk; they work very well, but be careful: if you have a desk that is a little thicker than the standard, you will probably not be able to fix it firmly, since the travel of the clamps is very short just to maximize stability during the moments when the steering wheel will suffer the returns of strength. The sequential shift paddles are anchored on the crown and not on the engine, giving us the ability to change gears even during the most stubborn curve, without ever losing stability on the steering wheel. On the top there is a strip of LEDs that indicates the engine rpm as on the Formula 1 steering wheels, giving a hint when to change gear. From a technical point of view, the steering wheel motor is inherited from the predecessor G27, making use of two helical motors that guarantee a truly remarkable force feedback, albeit not comparable to the force feedback present on other steering wheels that we will discuss later. The rotation of the crown is 900 degrees, which guarantees good coverage of the steering angles, guaranteeing excellent performance, despite some small uncertainties in the phases in which many fast corners alternate.
The G29 comes with a really well made pedal set that is inherited in part from the G27's pedal set, with full aluminum pedals, and a very wide plastic base, which allows the foot to move freely. An honorable mention should be made to the brake pedal which enjoys a non-linear pressure following the braking trend, allowing resistance on the pedal: gentle on the first millimeters, and then drastically increase when you sink more on the most agitated braking.
To complete the package, Logitech offers an H gearbox that can be purchased separately, even if it represents the sore point of the offer, not so much for the mechanical part, as for the construction. The eco-leather that covers it comes off after a few uses and moreover the base tends to move even on surfaces suitable to keep it still, due to its not too appropriate design.
Thrustmaster T-150 (150/180 euros) Introductory price 200 euros
When it comes to peripherals for automotive titles, Thrustmaster represents a good portion of the competition that Logitech must guard against. Launched in September 2015, the T-150 arrived with the very specific goal of grabbing that slice of the public that is approaching simulation-oriented automotive titles for the first time, guaranteeing a game / driving experience that is not at all trivial.
Starting from the materials, Thrustmaster T-150 in the first moments of the game does not return a pleasant sensation to the touch, given its full plastic shell covered in hard rubber near the handledespite everything, however, after a few driving sessions, you will certainly be surprised by the fact that the steering wheel adheres very well even after long gaming sessions, also aided by the gear levers (in aluminum) that turn together with the ring nut. Aesthetically, there are two versions: one born from the collaboration with Ferrari, with the red handle and the prancing horse on the center of the steering wheel; and a Gran Turismo branded version, with blue grip and GT logo in the center. No kind of feature changes, just a simple reskin. Like the vast majority of console steering wheels, the interface of the Dualshock 4 is reproduced on the front of the steering wheel with the addition of a switch on the motor that gives the possibility to change the compatibility setting between PlayStation 4/5 and PC, since the steering wheel works in double configuration. Compared to the G29, the T150 has a vice that fits very well even on larger desks than usual, even if it does not have any seat to fix the base of the steering wheel on a driving position such as Playseat. A singular note of the T 150 is the very large steering angle, 1080 degrees against the usual 900 of all the other steering wheels: this allows it to be used in various configurations, giving us the possibility to vary the steering angle according to the type. of the car we are driving. The strong point of this T150 is represented by its force feedback: by far the best compared to all the others in the entry level range. The steering wheel motor is a belt / gear hybrid that guarantees exceptional responsiveness, especially when you are in particular moments of the race, or in drift races in which rapid reactivity is required at the wheel, to respond to the stresses deriving from sudden changes of direction. The T150's pedal set is an insult to the good done for its respective top. Entirely made of plastic, it immediately gives the feeling cheap in contact with the foot, so much so that during the most agitated phases such as sudden braking or during a brawl, you have the feeling that they can break at any moment, go easy! The distance between the pedals is adequate, even if there is neither clutch nor any dynamic brake resistance mechanism. One of the strengths of Thrustmaster is to make its products perfectly interchangeable; the T150 is no exception: if you want your beloved steering wheel to become the pivot of your station, you can integrate it with the T3pa or T3pa PRO pedal sets and the Th8a H gearbox, significantly increasing the total quality of your driving experience. Finally, we mention that Thrustmaster has recently launched a version of the T150 with T3pa pedal at a cost of around 250 euros, which allows the little one of the house to make a notable leap in quality.
Thrustmaster T300 (270-400 euros) introductory price 400 euros
T300 (or more simply the king of commercial steering wheels for this price range) comes in a disproportionate amount of configurations.
In its standard set-up, like its younger brother, Thrustmaster offers two skins: a PlayStation branded and a GTE edition that derives (as for the T150) from the collaboration with Ferrari. The differences between the two versions of the crown are fundamental: the Playstation version reproduces the Dualshock 4 key palette with the Playstation logo in plain sight in the center; in the second case, the crown is a real 8/10 scale reproduction of the Ferrari 458 Challenge, thus also offering the same keys that the drivers use in real competitions, including the clip. The material of which the T300 is made is a mixture of plastic and rubber. The grip is always firm even for long game sessions and in the most critical phases of the races. The central part of the plate is in brushed aluminum. The shift paddles are also made of aluminum, giving a very satisfying feeling to each shift (personally we have a lot of fun at every imperious braking like the first corner of the Monza racetrack). What will make the T300 the center of your racing lounge, however, will be the motor: a beast with servomotor and 1080 degrees of steering moved by an industrial-class brushless device, which, when set to maximum, will put even the most powerful arms to the test.; every curve, every overtaking, every straight will give you the feeling of having a real racing car under your hands, even returning a tactile feeling during the slipstream phases, in the tail of a car we are chasing. The rotation of the crown is adjustable from 270 to 900 degrees allowing optimal settings for both single-seaters and more traditional cars.
The proposed pedal set, again this time is not up to the offer, especially when compared with the motor and crown, offering pedals with variable spring resistance, covered with aluminum. Although there are the usual rubber pads to fix the pedal to the ground, you will hardly be able to keep it still, unless you are equipped with a special stand or Playseat to block it. What makes the difference compared to the other steering wheels listed above is the possibility of upgrading, both for the crown and for the pedals. Thrustmaster has thought of everything: Are you a Formula 1 fan? You can apply Fernando Alonso's Ferrari F300 add-on to your T2011, making the most of your steering wheel even on the single-seaters; do you like to whiz with the Gt3? You can buy the Ferrari FXX Evo, or the 8/10 scale reproduction of the Ferrari 599XX-EVO entirely made of Alcantara. For the most demanding drivers, at a recommended price of 400 euros, it is possible to buy the T300 Ferrari Racing Wheel Alcantara Edition which includes: the T300 force feedback, the Ferrari crown in Alcantara and the T3PA pedal set with clutch and pedals with variable resistance. All versions of the T300 are compatible with Thrustmaster's eco system, Th8a shifter and all pedal sets, can be purchased individually and can be swapped with the one currently fitted to your device.
After having tried the three most important wheels of the PlayStation 4/5 panorama, our preference falls on the T300. The undeniable build quality, the extraordinary feeling of being in a real racing car thanks to the force feedback and the possibility of upgrades thanks to the Thrustmaster ecosystem make it the favorite wheel of Gameplay Cafè, battling tightly against an excellent G29 which, however, must come down to too many compromises and which we do not yet consider up to par, and a T150 for those who want to approach the world of simulation on four wheels.
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