If you want the best out of the incredible driving games on offer in 2017, you need the ultimate experience and that includes getting your hands on a very real racing wheel. There's never been a better time to get more analogue into your digital experience and there's a full range of wheels that'll have you covered however much you want to spend. But, here it is. The big question. What's the best racing wheel to buy this year?
Well at the budget end, you'll definitely find some fun from a well-synched wheel, even if its key function is, well, turning. Better yet, you could opt for something a bit more deluxe, featuring ‘force feedback’ that pushes against you when you steer (and rotates on its own when you let go). Do you need pedals? A dedicated clutch pedal? And what about manual gears? Paddle shifting with your hands behind the wheel like Formula One drivers is great fun, but maybe a sequential stick shift is what you need, especially if you plan on playing a rally sim.
Good news: we've got you covered. Here are the best racing wheels on PS4, Xbox One and PC, whatever your budget, in order of our preference – most recommended first.
1. Thrustmaster T300 RS
The best-value serious racing wheel money can buy
Compatible with: PS4/PS3/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 3kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 1080 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: No | Expandable: Yes
This is one of the best racing wheels for the serious racing game enthusiast. It incorporates high-quality force feedback so powerful, hitting a wall at the wrong angle could potentially hurt your thumbs. There is a downside to all this motorised resistance, and that’s the fan that ejects hot air from the top of the unit, right out the top of the unit, so after a while you may smell the hot air which is a bit off-putting.
In track racers like Assetto Corsa, F1 2016 or Project CARS, as you can really feel the sensation of grip via the superb motorised feedback, and the speed of response to your inputs is superb. It’s precise, weighty and really shakes when the game demands it, making a rally game like WRC 6 feel so much more involving.
The only real problem the wheel has is that the handbrake is inevitably mapped to a button you access with your thumb, making rally games fiddly. You can buy a separate stick shift and use that as the handbrake with the paddles for changing gear, but that isn’t ideal. The wheel is often upside-down during rally stages, so you’ll have to compromise between handbrake and stick shifting somewhere. Still, handbrake aside, this is arguably the perfect when for the serious gamer, and gets my recommendation.
Best for… Serious PS4 racers. The wheel is officially supported, and works superbly.
2. Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel: Leather Edition
Great-feelin’ wheelin’ for your Xbox One
Compatible with: Xbox One/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 9kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 900 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: Yes | Expandable: Yes
This is the Xbox One equivalent of the T300 RS and it’s just as awesome when it comes to quality of control and feedback. This bundle costs more than the standard version of the RX, but the reason we’re recommending it so highly is because of the two items it ships with, namely the T3PA 3-pedal pedal set and the TM Leather 28 GT 11" detachable leather wheel.
The leather wheel may not be Xbox-branded (indeed it can connect to the PS4 servo base too as it’s universal), but it’s a very high-quality steering wheel. Our only criticism of it would be the stitching on the leather that lines the inside of the wheel, which can rub slightly against your thumb if you use it a lot on your first day with it.
The pedal set is superb, with full-size, weighty pedals that feel really good under your feet and afford subtle, nuanced control over your accelerating and braking. You will probably want to mount it to a racing seat if you’re going so seriously that you’re buying this set, though the floor and a desk would work – there is a desk attachment clamp included, which is sturdy and easy to set up and take apart.
Best for... Serious simulation track racing for the equally serious racing enthusiast.
3. Logitech G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel
Simply the best racing wheel for sims
Compatible with: PS4/PS3/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 8kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 900 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: Yes | Expandable: Yes
An excellent wheel from Logitech, the G29 replaces the incredibly popular G27 wheel from previous generation PlayStations. The unit is designed specifically for PlayStation 4 gaming, and as such features additional buttons over the Xbox equivalent G920, namely a click wheel for adjusting brake balances on the fly, and positive/negative buttons for adjusting traction control (or whatever you map it to).
Also new for this unit are coloured LEDs at the top of the steering wheel’s central column, which light up to tell you when it’s time to change gear (if supported by the game). The pedals are responsive and the brake pedal is non-linear, giving you a more realistic braking sensation than cheaper pedal sets.
This is an excellent wheel for any PlayStation 4 gamer. It’s a pity the stick shifter is no longer built into the unit, but it isn’t massively expensive to buy it bundled-in on Amazon. This is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get the full driving experience in your home.
Best for… Racing sims like Project CARS and Dirt Rally. Serious race fans will love it.
4. Logitech G920 Driving Force
A smooth, responsive wheel with great force feedback
Compatible with: Xbox One/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 7.21kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 1080 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: No | Expandable: Yes
This Xbox One wheel is super-smooth and feels superb to drive. It’s ergonomic (though keep in mind that any wheel will make unaccustomed hands sore after a few hours) and pleasantly slimline, while retaining a good, solid feel.
Aside from the same handbrake-as-a-button problem as the Thrustmaster offerings, a unique area of consternation is the pedals. The unit we tried features an unusually stiff brake pedal, requiring immense pressure to get the brakes to engage. Reviews on Amazon suggest other people have the same criticism – something that isn’t true of the PS4 equivalent G29. You can usually reassign the brakes to the clutch pedal (which is included as standard on this wheel), but that’s not ideal if you’re a serious racing fan. Things are improved somewhat if you mount the pedals properly on a racing seat or on non-slip flooring like carpet, but it really shouldn’t be quite so stiff.
Brakes aside, this is an otherwise exemplary force feedback steering wheel and one that will make any racing game more enjoyable… if not necessarily easier to play.
Best for... Xbox One owners who want to feel the race, not just play it.
5. Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel
Entry-level force-feedback wheel for current-gen racing
Compatible with: Xbox One/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 0.998kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 900 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: No | Expandable: Yes
There’s absolutely no question that force feedback makes a huge difference to how fun a racing game is. Having the wheel push against your hands with varying degrees of resistance when you crash or steer gives you a realistic feel, and even evokes memories of arcade coin-op racers like Daytona USA. But the technology is expensive, meaning you need to be serious before buying… or at least you did. Thrustmaster has produced a cut-down, but still impressive force feedback wheel as an entry level purchase and it’s very desirable indeed.
The pedals included are plasticky, and offer little resistance, and don’t include a clutch pedal either. However they can be swapped out for a better compatible set if you decide to upgrade later on. The steering wheel is similarly low-cost, and nowhere near as deluxe-feeling as the high-end units’ interchangeable wheels.
And that force feedback? It’s not as strong as the other bases, but it does work. If you’re on a tight budget, this product provides a true force feedback wheel with 900 degrees of rotation and a set of pedals for your money, which is pretty darn awesome.
Best for... Gamers who want force feedback steering but don’t have loads of money to drop on high-end rigs.
6. Thrustmaster T150 Force Feedback Wheel
Entry-level force feedback for PS4 with Ferrari branding
Compatible with: PS4/PS3/PC | Connection type: USB | Weight: 0.998kg | Force Feedback: Yes | Rumble: Yes | Maximum rotation angle: 900 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: No | Expandable: Yes
This is the PS4 version of the Xbox One’s TX unit. While there is a standard version of the T150, the Ferrari-branded set is actually cheaper at the moment on Amazon. And hey – who doesn’t like Ferrari? The Ferrari wheel’s red rubber grips look good too as well as offering comfort and control, and the slight flaring of the paddle shifters behind the wheel mean you can grip the wheel at either three/nine o’clock or a more controllable ’10-to-12’ position and still be able to comfortably shift gear when using manual transmission.
The pedal unit is unchanged from the standard version and remains slightly thin-feeling and with far less resistance than the optional metal pedal set you can buy separately. But the unit does support a stick shift attachment if you elect to pay for one, and the pedals can be upgraded too. But even if you don’t do that, this is a fine way to get into simulation driving.
Best for... PS4 gamers with limited budgets but who want a realistic racing feel.
7. Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider Racing Wheel
The only budget option we would recommend on Xbox One
Compatible with: Xbox One | Connection type: USB | Weight: 3.5kg | Force Feedback: No | Rumble: No | Maximum rotation angle: 240 degrees | Pedals included: Yes | Clutch pedal: No | Expandable: No
Right, let’s be clear about this: Budget-priced steering wheels are almost universally poor. Compatibility is rarely guaranteed, there’s no force feedback when you turn (sometimes there isn’t even rumble), pedals are flimsy and many don’t have a proper clamp to stop them sliding around. And don’t try playing with a wheel on your lap – I have and it’s awful.
But this offering from Thrustmaster is a decent budget option for racing on Xbox One. It’s officially licensed, has linear resistance to inputs thanks to a bungee system (sounds high tech but it’s essentially internal rubber bands) and a clamp to secure it to a desk or racing seat. However, the diminutive 240 degrees of turning angle means this is more of an arcade-style controller rather than something you would seriously use for a racing sim. Sensitivity is an issue though there is the option to reduce this each time you play if you read the manual and set it up correctly.
Still, it is more fun than using a control pad, and while it’s still more expensive than the cheapest wheels on the market, it’s the only budget-price wheel we would consider buying ourselves.
Best for... Casual racing fans who don’t have loads of money but still want something half-decent.