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    By Alex Myastan, 15 june 2022

    The Complete Sim Racing Wheel Guide

    Introduction

    This article contains every sim racing wheel on the market in 2022.

    A wheel provides resistance when steering in the form of force feedback. It communicates under- and over-steer, as well as the texture of the road. Your wheel rim is then attached to your wheel a.k.a. wheel base. (The rest of the article will use the term wheel base.)

    It’s important to choose right. In a poll I did, wheel bases were voted as the second most important piece of equipment for improving your pace and consistency in sim racing. The takeaway is that you can’t not have a wheel, but you don’t need the best.

    In this article you’ll see extensive comparison tables that pit all of the wheel bases against each other in four spending brackets:

    • Budget ($100 - $300). Thrustmaster dominates this dirt cheap bracket.
    • Entry-level ($400 - $500). This bracket features among others the Logitech G923, the Fanatec CSL DD and the incredible Moza Racing R9, as direct drives enter the picture.
    • Mid-range ($500 - $1000). Fanatec continues its presence and the highly underrated Sim-plicity makes its entrance.
    • High-end ($1000 - $4500). We see the precision machines, like the Simucube 2 and SimSteering2. The latter is used by F1 teams for training.

     

    Contents

    • Factors to Consider
      • 1. The Force Feedback System
      • 2. Platform and Game Compatibility
      • 3. Ecosystem
      • 4. Max Turning Angle
      • 5. Price
    • Notes on the Comparison Tables
    • Budget Wheel Bases ($100-$300)
    • Entry-Level Wheel Bases ($400-$500)
    • Mid-range Wheel Bases ($500-$1000)
    • High-end ($1000-$4500)
    • Conclusion

     

    Factors to Consider

    There are several facets that make a good wheel base. Do you want a belt-driven wheel or direct drive? Are you going to drive on PC, Xbox or Playstation? And what about the price!?

     

    Sim racing equipment is more complex than you would think! (Image by Andrzej Rembowski from Pixabay.)

     

    1. The Force Feedback (FFB) System

    There are 3 main types of force feedback systems:

    • Gears. Uses a series of gears to generate around 2-3 Nm of torque.
    • Belts. Uses gears as well as a toothed belt to generate around 3-8 Nm of torque.
    • Direct drive. Motor directly linked to the wheel to generate 5-32 Nm of torque.

     

    The average joe in the average car will experience around 7-12 Nm of torque when driving. When racing, your torque may peak at around 20Nm, but will still average around 10-15 Nm.

    Sometimes it may be higher. I recall learning to drive in my Mother’s ford pick-up, before power steering had hit the market. My forearms would bulge when I took turns with it! Most racing cars have power steering, even F1, although some people enjoy fighting with the force feedback.

    Over the last year, direct drive wheel bases have become easier to entertain as prices have dropped. However, you should note what type of motor the direct drive uses:

    • Stepper Motor. The motor turns a discrete number of steps in an open loop, with around 50-100 magnets (pole count). Notchiest.
    • Hybrid Motor. A stepper motor that operates in a closed-loop, similar pole count to stepper motors. Notchy.
    • Servo Motor. The motor uses a sensor in a closed-loop to continually update position, with a pole count of around 16 or lower. Smooth.

     

    Servo motors are generally considered to be the best choice since they have the smoothest feel when you turn the wheel.

    A side note: most motors are inrunners, where the inside turns and the case is static. The alternative is an outrunner motor, where the opposite happens. Only some Fanatec products use outrunner motors, although it won’t impact your driving much.

     

    2. Platform and Game Compatibility

    Are you on Xbox, Playstation or PC? (Image by Anthony Poynton from Public Domain Pictures.)

     

    You can find yourself in a web when trying to find out what hardware is compatible with which games and with what platform. In each of the comparisons, you will see platform compatibility and a link to a list of compatible games.

    In the comparisons, you will see which platforms the different wheel bases work on: PC, Xbox and/or Playstation.

    Note that compatibility for consoles depends on whether the sim racing equipment have security chips in them. Playstation requires a security chip to be placed inside the wheel base. Xbox works differently: they require a security chip inside the wheel rim.

    In both cases the manufacturer must pay Playstation or Xbox a license fee. That means that wheelbases are often only compatible with one console - it’s cheaper for the consumer that way. This also means that manufacturers will often have two models that are practically the same except one is for Playstation, the other Xbox.

    Most of the wheels are compatible with most of the big simulation games: iRacing, Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo etc. However, with each comparison, you can click a link to see precisely which games are plug-and-play (see the Notes on the Comparison Tables below), which require advanced setup and which are incompatible.

     

    3. Ecosystem

    You can’t underestimate the value of plug-and-play. Instead of spending thirty minutes setting up a game, you spend thirty minutes actually playing it!

    Lining up your path of progress can save you time and money. Time because hardware, firmware and software from the same brand will work well together; money because you don’t need adapters between this and that and this again.

     

    The Fanatec ecosystem is world class. (Image from Fanatec.)

     

    This is particularly pertinent for wheel bases because they are usually the hub your peripherals go through. Your pedals, shifter and handbrake all connect to your wheel base.

    If you have incompatible peripherals, you can connect them directly to your PC or console, but then you may not have enough ports and may require adapters. The cost and complexity begin to tally up…. Thirty minutes after you sat down to start playing, your wife set a task on you and you hadn’t yet seen a patch of tarmac.

    So, when you begin to invest in equipment ask yourself: is this an ecosystem with legs?



    4. Max Turning Angle

    A minor concern for most. Since most setups require 900° or 1080° of wheel rotation, almost all wheels will suffice. There are a couple of instances where you may want more freedom, however.

    If you are driving trucks around the countryside, you may need to increase the limit when you are parking and have to wiggle your way in. The other case is drifting, where you need a massive counter steer.

     

    5. Price

    The deciding factor! If we could all afford a private island, we would each have one. With a bungalow, and in that bungalow a triple monitor screen in front of a setup to drool over.

    Alas, here we are.

    This article categorizes all the wheel bases on the market in 2022 into 4 spending brackets: budget, entry-level, mid-range and high-end. Let’s see which sim racing wheel bases are the best in each bracket!

     

    Notes on the Comparison Tables

    • When there are multiple models of the same wheel base there may be variations in max turning angle, price and other factors.
    • The reason for multiple models is that they cater to different platforms. Be sure to check which model is made for which platform.
    • A fixed wheel cannot be removed or upgraded. A swappable wheel can be. Sometimes wheel rims are also sold separately (see below).
    • Initially every wheel had a link to a game compatibility list and to a product page, but the limits of our blogging platform mean we can't had them. Click here to see a game compatibility list for every wheel base. It is not complete, so please comment on the sheet if you have something to add or amend.
    • Generally speaking PS means PS4 and PS5 and Xbox means Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. However, some are available on older PS and Xbox generations while some are only available on a single console generation, so be sure to read up.

     

    Budget Wheel Bases ($100-$300)

    If you just want to jump in on a limited budget, these are the wheels you should consider.

    The 5 Best Budget Wheel Bases in 2022 

    1. Thrustmaster TX/T300: $230.
    2. Thrustmaster T150/TMX: $230.
    3. Hori DLX: $300.
    4. Hori Apex/Overdrive: $100-$130.
    5. Thrustmaster Ferrari 458: $130.

     

    The Hori Apex/Overdrive is truly budget, but it only runs on a bungee cord, meaning there is no force feedback at all. The same goes for the Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider. The Hori DLX is a step up, but doesn’t compete in price with either of the Thrustmasters.

     

    Recommendation: Thrustmaster TX/T300 for $230.

    The Thrustmaster TX: a 3.9 Nm belt drive for $230… amazing.

     

    The belt-driven TX/T300 really is a stand-out in this bracket with twice as much torque at the same price as its T150/TMX cousin. It is also the only option in this bracket that has a swappable wheel! That means you can always upgrade your wheel rim.

    The TX is for the Xbox and can rotate 900, while the T300 is for Playstation and can rotate 1080. Both are compatible with PC and most racing sims on PC and console.

    The Thrustmaster TX is available on Simplace.

     

    Budget Wheel Base Comparison

    Table 1: All characteristics of the five budget wheel bases.

    If you are on mobile, scroll to the right.

    CharacteristicHori Apex/OverdriveThrustmaster Ferrari 458Thrustmaster T150/TMXHori DLXThrustmaster TX/T300
    FFB SystemBungee CordBungee CordBeltGearsBelt
    Peak TorqueN/AN/A2 Nm*2 Nm3.9 Nm
    Max Turning Angle270°240°900°/1080°900°900°/1080°
    Wheel RimFixedFixedFixedFixedSwappable
    PCYESNOYESNOYES
    XboxYESYESYESYESYES
    PSYESNOYESNOYES
    Price$100-$130$130$230$300$230
    Warranty90 Day2 Year2 Year90 Day2 Year

    * Torque not specified but gear FFB systems are usually 2-3 Nm.

     

    Entry-Level Wheel Bases ($400-$500)

    Logitech makes its entrance and exit in this bracket, while direct drives arrive and declare they are here to stay!

    The 5 Best Entry-Level Wheel Bases in 2022 

    1. Moza Racing R9. $460.
    2. Fanatec CSL DD. $380.
    3. Simagic M10. $470.
    4. Thrustmaster TS-PC/TS-XW/T-GT II. $400-$500.
    5. Logitech G923 TRUEFORCE. $400.

     

    The three Thrustmaster variations are each 6Nm belt-driven wheel bases, but for different platforms and with different wheel rims attached. The Logitech has a third of the force feedback and is gear-driven, but it makes the list because it is compatible with PC, Xbox and Playstation and because it is bundled with pedals. Both are solid entries, but neither compares with the direct drives in this bracket.

    The Moza Racing R9 comes in cheaper than the Fanatec CSL DD when you include the booster kits that take them up to 8 Nm, while the R9 matches their fidelity. The Simagic M10 is also a solid direct drive entry, although it uses a stepper motor, which is not as smooth as the servo motors.

     

    Recommendation: Moza Racing R9 for $460.

    The Moza Racing R9 with an equally great steering wheel rim.

     

    The Moza Racing R9 is the new kid on the block that arrived in April/May 2022. Following in the footsteps of his R21 and R16 brothers, he brings incredible value for money.

    We were certain the CSL DD would take the cake here, but after looking closer at the Moza Racing R9, we can’t refuse! With 9 Nm of direct drive force feedback at $460 it even beats the CSL DD 8 Nm booster that comes in at around $540. It’s smooth, it’s quiet, it’s a joy. Deserved.

    The Moza Racing R9 is in high demand. It is currently available for pre-order on Simplace, with stock estimated to arrive in the 3rd week of June.

     

    Entry-Level Wheel Base Comparison

    Table 2: A comparison of the eight entry-level wheel bases.

    If you are on mobile, scroll to the right.

    CharacteristicLogitech G920/G29Logitech G923Thrustmaster T248Thrustmaster T300RSFanatec CSL DDThrustmaster TS-PC/TS-XW/T-GT IIMoza Racing R9Simagic M10
    FFB SystemGearsGearsBeltBeltDirect DriveBeltDirect DriveDirect Drive
    DD Motor    Servo ServoStepper
    Peak Torque2.1/2.2 Nm2.2 Nm3.5 Nm3.9 Nm*5 Nm6 Nm9 Nm10 Nm
    Max Turning Angle900°900°900°1080°**2520°900°-1080°~1500°
    Wheel RimFixedFixedFixedSwappableSold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold Separately
    PCYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
    XboxYESYESNONOYESYESNONO
    PSYESYESYESYESNOYESNONO
    Price$400$400$400$400$380$400-$500$460$470
    Warranty2 Year2 Year2 Year2 Year1 Year2 Year2 Year2 Year
    *The CSL DD can be boosted to 8 Nm with a booster kit worth around $165.
    **All Fanatec wheels are electronically limited (as opposed to mechanically), but this limit is adjustable.

     

    Is Thrustmaster or Logitech better?

    The Logitech G923 and G920/G29 just don’t hold up when it comes to torque. The Thrustmaster TS-PC offers triple the force feedback at exactly the same price, a smoother belt-driven system beating the notchy gear-driven Logitech system and they have swappable wheel rims. However, Thrustmaster is known to have issues with long term endurance of its products.

    It is worth noting the Logitech G923 TRUEFORCE Sim Racing Wheel comes with a good pedal set, but you can still pair up the 4 Nm Thrustmaster TX/T300 and the T3PM pedal set for a total of $360. That’s still twice the torque, a belt-driven system, swappable wheel rims and it’s 10% cheaper.

     

    Are the Thrustmaster TS-PC, TS-XW and T-GT II all the same?

    Their internal force feedback systems are similar: each one is belt-driven with 6 Nm of torque. Each one is between $400 and $500. Note that the TS-PC is PC only, TS-XW is Xbox and PC, while T-GT II is Playstation and PC. Their steering wheel rims also differ.

     

    Mid-Range Wheel Bases ($500-$1000)

    This is that awkward teenage phase. You’re not quite ready to take on the big, wide world, but you’re working up to it.

    The 5 Best Mid-Range Wheel Bases in 2022 

    1. Sim-plicity SW Esport series: $620-$770.
    2. VRS DirectForce Pro: $830. 
    3. Moza Racing R9. $460.
    4. Fanatec CSL DD 8 Nm/GT DD Pro: $540.
    5. Simagic Alpha Mini: $630.

     

    Even though the Moza Racing R9 is under the $500 bracket, it still deserves to be here given the punch it packs. The Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro are listed together because they use the same motor, while another Simagic appears: the Alpha Mini. This Simagic provides 10 Nm of torque with a servo motor.

    Both the VRS DFP and the Sim-plicity series are excellent value, bringing you to 20 Nm of torque for under $1000.

     

    Recommendation: Sim-plicity SW15 Esport for $700.

    The SW20 is great value for money.

     

    This underrated brand is an excellent option to go with because of its upwards mobility. You can start at the 10 Nm SW10 Esport, then upgrade your controller all the way to the 20 Nm SW20, while also improving the encoder for a smoother experience.

    That’s not to mention the value for money you are getting here. Only the VRS DFP comes close in value. All other options to get into the 20 Nms are over $1000.

    You can buy Sim-plicity from their store. Note they are based in the UK.

     

    Mid-Range Wheel Base Comparison

    Table 3: A comparison of the five mid-range wheel bases.

    If you are on mobile, scroll to the right.

    CharacteristicFanatec CSL DD/GT DD ProMoza Racing R9Simagic Alpha MiniSim-plicity SW10/15/20VRS DirectForce Pro
    FFB SystemDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect Drive
    DD MotorServoServoServoServoServo
    Peak Torque8 Nm9 Nm10 Nm10/15/20 Nm20 Nm
    Max Turning Angle*2520°~1500°2160°**x
    Wheel RimSold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold Separately
    PCYESYESYESYESYES
    XboxYESNONONONO
    PSYESNONONONO
    Price$545-$650$460$630$620-$770$830
    Warranty1 Year2 Year2 Year2 Year3 Year
    *The Sim-plicity price range is for the cheaper Esport alternatives, but can be upgraded with a better encoder for around $150 at each torque level.
    **We are uncertain of the max turning angle for the VRS DFS, but it is electronically limited which suggests it’s mechanically unlimited.
    ***All Fanatec wheels are electronically limited (as opposed to mechanically), but this limit is adjustable.



    Are the Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro the same?

    Basically yes, they use the same motor. However, the CSL DD can be bought with 5 or 8 Nm of torque, while the GT DD Pro is only available with 8 Nm. The other difference is that the CSL DD is only compatible with PC and Xbox while the GT DD Pro is compatible with PC, Xbox and Playstation. That also means it’s around $100 more expensive than the 8 Nm CSL DD.

     

    High-End Wheel Bases ($1000-$4500)

    Now we’ve entered the final stretch. These are the lands where your forearms grow strong and your GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) even stronger.

    The 5 Best High-End Wheel Bases in 2022 

    1. Simucube 2 Pro: $1,550.
    2. Fanatec Podium F1: $1,950.
    3. SimSteering2 Ultimate: $4,510.
    4. Sim-plicity SW15/20 Esport: $700-$770.
    5. VRS DirectForce Pro: $830.

     

    The Simucube 2 Pro is just the right mix between the brute strength of the Simucube 2 Ultimate and the tamer Sport version. The Fanatec Podium F1 takes second because its the only wheel base that caters to both consoles in this bracket.

    The Fanatec Podium F1 is a DD1 wheel base bundled with a beautiful F1 wheel. Unfortunately, you can’t buy this Playstation compatible wheel base without the wheel, which is why they are listed separately in the comparison table.

    The SimSteering Ultimate is not first, but it’s the king of this hill. It’s the best money can buy - even F1 teams use it for official training.

    The Sim-plicity SW15/20 Esport and the VRS DFP make another appearance, despite being under $1000. Why? Because these offer 20 Nm of torque, meaning they are high-end, despite their price.



    Recommendation: Simucube 2 Pro for $1,550.

    The Simucube 2 Pro and all its parts.

     

    Simucube grew from the open sim wheel (OSW) movement, which is a DIY direct drive wheel movement. OSW started off where hobbyists would take units made from a company called Granite Devices and combine them with ever-stronger servo motors to create force feedback systems.

    Granite Devices noticed this, so produced an item that would be easier for the OSW members to use. It did so well that the company decided to produce its own wheels. Thus, Simucube was born.

    This wheel base smacks of engineers that do what they do because they love their work. Equipment that’s created by people that care has a tell: it’s really good. The Simucube 2 Pro is proof. With 26 Nm, all your sim racing needs will be covered.

    All the Simucube 2 wheel bases are available on Simplace.

     

    High-end Wheel Base Comparison

    Table 4: A comparison of the sixteen high-end wheel bases.

    If you are on mobile, scroll to the right.

    CharacteristicSimXperience AccuForce Pro V2Simagic AlphaMoza Racing R16Ricmotech Mini-MiteSimSteering2 Standard (52)Simucube 2 SportSim-plicity SW15/20VRS DirectForce ProFanatec DD1Fanatec Podium F1 (DD1 for PS)SimSteering2 Advanced (53)Moza Racing R21Fanatec DD2Simucube 2 ProSimSteering2 Ultimate (54)Simucube 2 Ultimate
    FFB SystemDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect DriveDirect Drive
    DD MotorHybridServoServoServoServoServoServoServoServo OutrunnerServo OutrunnerServoServoServo OutrunnerServoServoServo
    Peak Torque13 Nm15 Nm16 Nm16 Nm16 Nm17 Nm15/20 Nm20 Nm20 Nm20 Nm20.5 Nm21 Nm25 Nm25 Nm26 Nm32 Nm
    Max Turning Angle4500°~1500°6000°1500°2160°2160°**x*2520°*2520°1500°*2520°2160°1500°2160°
    Wheel RimSold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySwappableSold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold SeparatelySold Separately
    PCYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
    XboxNONONONONONONONOYESYESNONOYESNONONO
    PSNONONONONONONONONOYESNONONONONONO
    Price$1,300$1,100$1,000$1,295$4,090$1,330$700-$770$830$1,300$1,950$4,090$1,200$1,620$1,550$4,510$3,370
    Warranty1 Year2 Year2 Year1 Year2 Year5 Year2 Year3 Year3-5 Year2-5 Year2 Year2 Year5 Year5 Year2 Year5 Year
    *All Fanatec wheels are electronically limited (as opposed to mechanically), but this limit is adjustable.
     
    Author’s Note: The prices are as of June 2022. Note prices will depend on location, time and retailer, and so will the warranties. We intend to update this article once a year. If you have any corrections or notes to add, please leave a comment or contact us on Twitter.

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