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Best Xbox Wheel for Sim Racing [2024]

Best Xbox Wheel for Sim Racing [2024]

, by Alex Myastan, 26 min reading time

Explore the challenges of finding the perfect racing wheel, understand the unique Xbox hardware licensing, and compare every Xbox wheel base on the market.

(Header Photo by Billy Freeman on Unsplash.)

In the exhilarating world of sim racing, the right equipment can make all the difference in your pursuit of both immersion and pace. However, for Xbox enthusiasts, the journey to find the perfect racing wheel is more challenging than for PC racers. One of the primary reasons is the unique hardware licensing system that Xbox employs.

Xbox requires there to be an officially licensed chip inside the steering wheel rim, while Playstation requires the chip to be inside the wheel base (and PC requires none). You’d think that means you're free to choose any wheel base, but unfortunately that is not the case. The reason? Both the manufacturer’s tuning software and the firmware need to be compatible with not only the console, but the games you wish to play.

Our starting point will be to look at compatible Xbox wheelbases, of which there are fifteen in total: six are direct drives and nine are belt- or gear-driven. Historically Xbox users would opt for a belt- or gear-driven wheel base due to affordability, but over the last two years direct drives have forced their way into the entry-level budget bracket.

After seeing the wheelbase options, I’ll also mention other factors to consider, including which steering wheel rim, pedals and other peripherals to consider.

JUMP TO SECTION

 

Every Single Xbox Wheel Base: A Comparison Table

The following table has every single Xbox wheel base on the market as of the latest article update. The prices are all without VAT so that we can compare them properly. (Note all prices are taken from the manufacturers’ websites, except for the Hori which is only sold on Amazon.)

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Name Price (ex VAT) Torque FFB System Pedals Incl. Wheel Rim Incl. PC PS Xbox
Hori DLX €200 2.0 N·m Gear Fixed
Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 €106 N/A Bungee Cord Fixed ✅ + 360
Thrustmaster T128 €163 2.4 N·m Gear + Belt Fixed
Thrustmaster TMX €187 2.0 N·m Belt Fixed T150
Thrustmaster TX €228 3.9 N·m Belt T300
Thrustmaster T248 €285 3.5 N·m Belt Fixed ✅ + 360
Thrustmaster TS-XW €366 6.0 N·m Belt TS-PC T-GT II
Logitech G920 €340 2.1 N·m Gear Fixed G29
Logitech G923 €350 2.2 N·m Gear Fixed
Logitech G-Pro €908 11.0 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) Swappable
Moza R3 €331 3.9 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) Swappable
Turtle Beach VelocityOne™ Race €650 TBD Direct Drive (Servo) TBD
Fanatec CSL DD €290 5.0 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) GT DD
Fanatec CSL DD Pro €415 8.0 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) GT DD
Fanatec ClubSport DD €700 12 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) ClubSport DD+
Fanatec Podium DD1 €825 20.0 N·m Direct Drive (Servo) Wheel Bundle
Fanatec Podium DD2 €1,260 25.0 N·m Direct Drive (Servo)
❱ ❱ ❱   SCROLL   ❱ ❱ ❱

Table Notes:
> A fixed wheel rim is one permanently attached to the wheel base, while swappable is one that can be removed.
> The product models in the PC and PS column indicate variations of the same base product, but specifically made for that platform.
> A ✅ on the Xbox column means it’s compatible with Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. The ‘+ 360’ means that… well… I’m sure you get it.

We have plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, from a variety of manufacturers including Moza Racing, Cube Controls, Sim-Lab and more. Check out this article with tables that specify which products and brands have discounts, and how much those discounts are. It also contains some general tips for tactically approaching the Black Friday craze.

Is a Direct Drive for Xbox Worth It?

The three primary force feedback systems are direct drives, belt-driven, and gear-driven wheel bases. Each comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Direct Drives: These are the crème de la crème of the sim racing world. Direct drives are renowned for their frictionless and high fidelity force feedback. They provide a realistic portrayal of car steering dynamics, making every turn, bump, and crash feel incredibly authentic. Over the past few years, direct drives have become more affordable, making them a viable option even for those on a tighter budget. In terms of build quality, direct drives are generally more robust and durable than their counterparts.

Belt-Driven: Once the go-to choice for many sim racers, belt-driven wheel bases offer a balance between price and performance. They use a combination of gears and a toothed belt to generate torque, providing a satisfactory simulation experience. However, they might not offer the same level of realism as direct drives.

Gear-Driven: The most affordable of the lot, gear-driven wheel bases use a series of gears to generate torque. While they are reliable, they might not provide the same level of immersion as the other two.

In recent times, the dropping prices of direct drives have made belt and gear-driven wheel bases less competitive. The build quality associated with direct drives is generally superior, making them a more long-term investment.

If you are interested in a complete look at the best entry-level direct drives for PC, take a look at this article. It includes a measure called TPE which shows how undervalued or overvalued a direct drive is relative to the market.

The Importance of Ecosystem

The Fanatec GT DD Bundle
Fanatec were the pioneers in creating a fully-fledged ecosystem, with all peripherals available and optimised for compatibility within a single manufacturer’s offerings. (The image is of the Fanatec GT Bundle for Playstation. They didn't have a picture for a complete CSL DD Bundle, but that uses the same base direct drive.)

 

When diving into the world of sim racing, especially on platforms like Xbox, there are several factors to consider:

USB Ports: Xbox consoles come with a limited number of USB ports. Wheel bases come with a certain number of USB ports, which can support peripherals.

Software/Firmware Compatibility: It's crucial to ensure that both the manufacturer’s tuning software and the firmware are compatible with the Xbox console and the games you wish to play.

Chip License and QR Systems: Due to Xbox's unique hardware licensing system, the steering wheel rim must contain an officially licensed chip. Additionally, each of these Manufacturers have QR systems that are unique to the manufacturer. Fanatec does have the Podium Hub which allows other steering wheel rims to be connected, but it costs extra.

The Open Sim Wheel (OSW) movement has been a significant force in the sim racing community, promoting open-source collaboration, and I generally advocate for promoting their principles. However, in the context of Xbox sim racing, it's advisable to stick to a single manufacturer, especially one that offers a range of peripherals. This ensures compatibility and a smoother gaming experience.

Manufacturer Comparison

A quick look at each of the relevant manufacturers. Note that Hori used to have an even cheaper product on their catalogue, called the Apex/Overdrive, but they don’t seem to sell it anymore.

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Manufacturer Build Quality Budget Bracket Notes Wheelbases
Hori Decent Budget Only one product 1
Thrustmaster Robust Entry to Mid Often provides good value bundles 6
Logitech Robust Entry to Mid Limited, but well considered bundles for newcomers 3
Fanatec Premium Entry to High Good CSL bundle and the only high-end options 4.5
Moza Premium Entry to High One excellent bundle 1
Turtle Beach TBD Entry One excellent bundle 1
❱ ❱ ❱   SCROLL   ❱ ❱ ❱

 

Budget: Thrustmaster T128 vs Logitech G923

Which is more worth it? The cheapest option out there, or one from reliable Logitech?

 

Thrustmaster and Logitech are both well-established brands in the sim racing community, known for producing reliable and widely compatible products. While brands like Fanatec, Moza Racing and higher-end Thrustmaster and Logitech models might cater to the more dedicated sim racing professionals with features like load cell brake pedals and direct drive force feedback systems, the T128 and G923 are designed for those who seek a balance between performance and price. 

The Logitech G923 (2.2 N·m, Gear-driven) is a successor to the well-regarded G920 racing wheel. One of the most notable advancements in the G923 is the introduction of TRUEFORCE feedback technology. This is a significant step up from the traditional force feedback found in the G920. The G923 also boasts a refined pedal set, with a more responsive and accurate progressive brake pedal. 

In contrast, the Thrustmaster T128 comes in at a similar torque of 2.4 N·m (Belt+Gear Hybrid Drive), but at around half the price. It also includes serviceable peripherals in the pedal set and the wheel rim. The concern is that build quality is distinctly worse than that of the G923, for all the parts included. On the other hand, if you are leaning towards the G923, note that the Moza R3 Bundle is cheaper and superior in every way.

Given we are comparing these products in the “budget’ category, I’d say that the Thrustmaster T128 is the way to go.

Xbox Games Compatible with the Thrustmaster T128 ▼ Show

Direct Drives: Moza R3 Bundle vs Fanatec CSL DD Bundle

Comparison between Moza R3 Bundle and Fanatec CSL DD Bundle
The Fanatec CSL DD changed the market when it entered, but will the Moza R3 bring better value-for-money?

 

The Moza R3 and Fanatec CSL DD are both racing wheel bases designed for gaming enthusiasts that want the fidelity of a direct drive at an affordable price. Both use a servo motor design for their torque, and both have excellent build quality.

The Moza R3 is priced at €400 (Incl. VAT) and offers a torque of 3.9 N·m. It boasts features such as an aviation-grade aluminium construction, ISF PU grips on the steering wheel, and high-strength steel pedals. The R3 is officially licensed for Xbox and is compatible with a wide range of both PC and Xbox games.

The Fanatec CSL DD uses a direct-drive system and offers features like the patented FluxBarrier technology for optimised motor efficiency. It's compatible with PC and becomes Xbox-ready when combined with an Xbox-licensed steering wheel. The strongest card in Fanatec’s hand here is that the CSL DD comes with a booster kit that takes it from 5 N·m to 8 N·m, the former priced at €349.95 (Incl. VAT) and the latter at €449.95 (Incl. VAT). (The booster kit is €150 Incl. VAT when bought by itself.)

Note that when purchased in a bundle, the CSL DD 5 N·m is priced at €200 (Incl. VAT), bringing the total cost of a full CSL bundle, including CSL Pedals and a CSL Wheel, to €480 (Incl. VAT). This makes it competitive with the Moza R3 Bundle price, but still 20% more expensive (€80). Is that worth the extra 1.1 N·m it provides? Well that’s up to you (the analysis I did in the direct drive article predicts that 1 N·m is worth about €36, so perhaps not…).

I’m going to give the Moza R3 Bundle the win here due to its affordability, but I will say that if you are committed to sim racing then the CSL DD is the way to go simply because of your ability to upgrade to the CSL DD Pro if you want some more power.

The Moza R3 Bundle has not yet been released, but it is planned to release in early 2024. It looks to be worth the wait.

Xbox Games Compatible with the Moza R3 Bundle ▼ Show

Conclusion

Given the work Moza Racing and Fanatec have been doing to bring direct drives into the entry-level category, there is less and less reason to start off with a belt or gear driven wheel base. If you currently own a gear- or belt-driven base, then it’s not really worth it to upgrade (unless you can sell your old base).

If you are serious about being an Xbox Sim Racer, then you can look into the Logitech G-Pro and the Fanatec Podium DDs, although they are far, far more expensive. But, if you are looking into buying your first sim racing gear, then the Moza R3 is the perfect choice.

Extra: What Racing Wheels are Compatible with Xbox 360?

The Xbox 360 was launched nearly twenty years ago, but some few of us are excellent stewards of technology and may still use it. For those seeking a more immersive racing experience on the Xbox 360, the Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 and the Thrustmaster T248 are your only two compatible wheelbases. (Note however that some wheels are backwards compatible with a select few games.)


Editor's Note: This article was originally published in late-2023. It has been updated with all the new Xbox compatible direct drives.


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SIMPLACE KNOWLEDGE BASE 

We aim to create a comprehensive repository to help you make your sim racing gear decisions. Check out some of our other detailed articles:

> A Beginner's Guide to a Sim Racing Setup: This article provides an overview of your entire setup.

> Best Sim Racing Cockpits: This article recommends the top ten cockpits for all budgets and compares ~70% of all the cockpits on the market in a simple table.

> The Wheel Base Guide: A comparison of every single wheel base on the market. We show the torque, platform compatibility, price and other relevant information in tables. We also have an article that analyses the value of entry-level direct drives, and one that recommends Xbox wheel bases.

> The Steering Wheel Guide: See types of wheels and the other considerations when buying one. We also have one that ranks the 12 Best F1 Steering Wheels.

> The Wheel Compatibility Guide: See the bolt patterns and QR Hubs of all the major wheel and wheel base brands.

> The Shifter and Handbrake Guide: A comparison of every sim racing stick shifter and handbrake on the market.

> The Pedal Guide: A comparison of all the budget and entry-level pedal sets, and the most popular mid-range and high-end pedal sets on the market.

> How to Earn Money in Sim Racing: An overview of the various ways in which you can get income from your favourite hobby.

We've started a series of posts where we spotlight different brands. To start off with, check out our spotlight on Moza Racing, and our spotlight on Simons Gaming Solutions, an up-and-coming manufacturer.

We also publish sim related news, like analysing the value of the Fanatec ClubSport DD, reviewing the Fanatec QR2 or looking at the latest WRC updates. You can also find articles about us, like this article about our visit to the recent ADAC Sim Racing Expo.

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