Choosing the right beginner wheel base is an important decision for those looking to get into sim racing, as it can dictate the overall quality of your experience. With an abundance of options out there, it may leave many beginners wondering what the best entry-level wheel base is.
The 3 best sim racing wheel bases for beginners are:
There are many factors to consider before purchasing a new wheel base, with different products offering a variety of different features. In this article we will discuss the three best beginner wheel bases, and we’ll give you some options for wheel rims you may want to match them with.
We won’t be discussing beginner favorites like the Logitech G29/G920 and the Thrustmaster T150/TMX, as they are not standalone wheel bases. If you’re looking for a full wheel + wheel rim setup, check out our guide to the best beginner sim racing wheels.
The 3 Best Sim Racing Wheel Bases For Beginners
1. Thrustmaster T300/TX
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation (T300) / Xbox (TX) | Force Feedback: Belt Drive
The Thrustmaster T300, for PC and PlayStation, and the TX, for PC and Xbox, present users with a mid-range belt-driven force feedback experience. The wheel base is compact and will fit into a variety of setups, whether they are desk-based or cockpit based. It is an affordable product that uses Thrustmaster’s patented H.E.A.R.T technology for accurate in-game performance.
The main difference between the T300 and the TX (other than console compatibility) is their range of rotation (1080° vs 900°), so for this section we’re largely going to be treating them as one wheel base.
Belt Driven Force Feedback
Considering it isn’t direct drive, the force feedback on the Thrustmaster T300/TX is impressive. While limited in peak torque, it still manages to offer users a good amount of detail and information, without feeling overly sensitive. It’s not quite silent though, as the belt drive system requires a fan that comes on pretty quickly (although it’s not too loud).
The T300/TX wheel bases can produce around 3-5 Nm worth of force, which fall just short of Fanatec’s cheapest direct drive options (although it’s the difference in quality that’s key). This is not bad at all when you consider the price of the product. There aren’t any upgradability options for this wheel base to increase its maximum force, unlike Fanatec’s boost kit for the CSL DD and GT DD Pro.
Thrustmaster have used their Hall Effect AccuRate Technology (H.E.A.R.T) which is effectively a smartened-up version of hall effect technology. This means that the system inside relies on small magnets to register inputs, working with the game to produce accurate and efficient responses to your wheel movements.
The TX wheel base has a range of rotation that is limited to 900°. This is good enough, but doesn’t offer users the same amount of freedom as the Fanatec and MOZA wheel bases, which both have infinite rotation ranges. The T300 is limited to 1080°.
Quick Release System
Thrustmaster have implemented a quick release system into the T300/TX wheel bases, making it easy to attach and detach wheels from the system. However, it’s a poor show compared to Fanatec and MOZA’s QRs, as it doesn’t feel all that secure and it requires you to tighten up a screw in order to secure it. I’ve had my T300 RS GT wheel rim come loose mid-race a good few times as a result!
This lack of sturdiness is present throughout the wheel base, with Thrustmaster using cheaper materials in order to keep the manufacturing costs down. This does lower the quality and overall feel of the wheel base, which is a downside, but then again, it is cheaper than the direct drive offerings below.
Overall, the T300/TX is a fantastic option for the price. It provides a good level of force feedback, especially when you compare it to other wheel bases around its price range. It lacks the professional feel of a higher end product, but it makes up for it with its accuracy in-game and its immersive qualities.
You will only be able to use Thrustmaster wheel rims with this wheel base, unless you look for third-party adaptors, but this is generally going to be more trouble than it’s worth.
- Well priced
- Provides a good level of force feedback for a belt-driven system
- Provides accurate in-game inputs
- Doesn’t feel as high quality as other options
- Range of rotation is limited to 900°
Good Wheel Rims For This Base
- Thrustmaster’s Ferrari Formula SF1000 wheel add-on is a 1:1 replica of the wheel used in the Ferrari SF1000 F1 car, making it a superb choice for those who enjoy single-seater racing games. It features a 100% carbon fiber face plate, making it lightweight and impressive to look at. It features all the buttons that anyone would need for a successful F1 race, as well as shifter paddles on the rear of the wheel.
- The Thrustmaster Open Wheel add-on is less detailed than the SF1000, but it is substantially cheaper. It is the lightest wheel ever released by Thrustmaster, which they claim will help the user feel more of the force feedback provided by the wheel base.
- The Sparco Rally R383 is great if you are into rally games. It is perfectly round, allowing you to maintain your grip even throughout the most intense rally stages. It features a minimalist face plate, with a selection of buttons that are perfectly placed for rapid in-game use.
2. Fanatec CSL DD/GT DD Pro
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation (GT DD Pro only) / Xbox | Force Feedback: Direct Drive
The CSL DD wheel base for Xbox and PC, or the GT DD Pro if you are on PlayStation, is Fanatec’s cheapest direct drive wheel base offering, helping to bring high-end force feedback into the hands of more people than ever before. You’ll instantly notice that it is smaller than Fanatec’s other direct drive options, making it suitable for all types of sim racing setups.
As with the Thrustmaster T300/TX, there are very few differences between the CSL DD and GT DD Pro (besides price, aesthetics, and console compatibility).
Design & Build Quality
It may be more compact that what we’ve previously seen from Fanatec (we’re looking at you DD1/DD2!), but the CSL DD/GT DD Pro still maintains the aggressive look that Fanatec wheel bases have become known for. Its metal casing is lined with grooved edges, which are more than just a design feature. These grooves also act as heat sinks, which allow the wheel base to cool itself without the need for an internal fan.
This lack of a fan reduces the noise created by the wheel base, making it ideal for those who race with other people around. A reduction in moving parts also means that there are fewer internal components that can fail, a bonus for durability.
Wheel Base Performance
If you are going straight into direct drive for your first taste of force feedback, you will no doubt be impressed by the immersion felt when using this wheel base. If you are upgrading from a belt or gear driven force feedback setup, then you will definitely notice the improvement in detail and smoothness of the direct drive force feedback that the CSL DD and GT DD Pro provide.
After a while of using this wheel base, there is every chance that you will find yourself wanting a bit more force than the default 5 Nm the wheel base can provide. Thankfully, there is a Boost Kit 180 that can be purchased separately, which will increase the resistance force to 8 Nm. I recommend going for the 8 Nm versions, as it just gives you much needed extra torque headroom.
- Its compact size means it will fit into any setup
- Smooth, detailed force feedback
- Almost silent when in use
- Requires the Boost Kit 180 add-on for best results
Good Wheel Rims For This Base
- The CSL P1 V2 is Fanatec’s cheapest wheel rim and is a great option for those on a budget. It contains basic features, with paddle shifters and 12 buttons on the face plate for easy access during races. The P1 V2 isn’t a standout wheel but it will suit beginners and those on tight budgets until it is time to upgrade.
- The CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 is based on real life McLaren GT3 wheels, and this is a well-priced option that offers a great racing experience. The wheel features redesigned electronics, making it more durable and accurate than its predecessor. Everything on the wheel has been designed around realism, making it a highly immersive option, especially for GT racers.
- The ClubSport F1 Esports wheel is a great choice for those who enjoy racing in F1 style games. Ergonomically, it is comfortable to use, and it features well-placed buttons for things like ERS and DRS.
3. MOZA R5
Compatibility: PC | Force Feedback: Direct Drive
The MOZA R5 wheel base is a compact direct drive wheel base and is a great alternative to the CSL DD from Fanatec. It offers 5.5 Nm of torque, and for PC sim racers it is the cheapest direct drive option on the market.
Wheel Base Performance
The MOZA R5’s best feature is the detail of the force feedback it provides. When using this wheel base you will notice every bump in the road and the subtle changes in tire wear. This will greatly enhance your performance levels, as well as offering higher levels of immersion and realism to you experience than what a belt-driven wheel can offer.
You may find that, once you get used to the torque that the wheel base provides, you feel you may want slightly more. Unfortunately, there is no boost kit that can be purchased separately, meaning your only option will be to upgrade to a more expensive direct drive system. This makes the MOZA R9 a better option for those that see a longer future in sim racing.
Wheel Base Construction
The MOZA R5 has a small, stocky build, meaning you should have no trouble mounting it to a cockpit, as it will be able to fit into even the most compact of setups. It will also fit nicely onto a desk, while leaving enough room for a screen and other desktop peripherals you may want to use (although we always recommend you have a solid rig for direct drive wheel bases).
Its solid metal casing makes it durable with a professional feel. It features grooves around the top and sides, which do the same heat sink job as the grooves on the Fanatec CSL DD/GT DD Pro (although they’re less pronounced here). This makes up for the lack of a cooling fan inside the mechanism. This prevents overheating and reduces noise output from the wheel base.
The MOZA R5 is also available as a bundle, which comes with a wheel rim and pedal set, meaning you’ll be able to purchase everything you need to complete your first sim racing setup in one single purchase.
- Detailed force feedback
- Solid metal construction
- Will fit nicely into any setup
- Isn’t upgradeable
- Only compatible with PC
Good Wheel Rims For This Base
- MOZA’s ES Wheel is delightfully versatile, giving users the option of using it as a fully round rally style wheel or adapting it into a formula style wheel with their formula mod kit. It is made from sturdy aluminum, with sweat-proof grips for comfort during long sessions. With 22 buttons, it has all possible inputs covered.
- The MOZA CS wheel is a round wheel designed for use in a variety of different disciplines. It features MOZA’s outstanding dedication to quality at affordable prices, as it is made from strong aluminum. It looks great too, with an RBG flow light towards the top of the base plate, letting you know when to shift gears.
- The MOZA FSR is one of the most impressive formula wheels on the market. It features perfect ergonomics for formula racing, with comfortable leather grips and expertly placed buttons. It has a large screen on the front, which will provide you with all the race information you need, which is both useful and highly immersive.
Summary Of The Best Beginner Sim Racing Wheel Bases
|Wheel Base||Best For|
|Thrustmaster T300/TX||Console racers that want a cheap and beginner friendly wheel base|
|Fanatec CSL DD/GT DD Pro||Beginners looking to jump straight into direct drive on console or PC|
|MOZA R5||Those looking for the absolute cheapest direct drive option on PC|
How To Choose A Wheel Base As A Beginner
Build quality is a vital factor to consider before purchasing any piece of sim racing hardware, including wheel bases. The care and thought that goes into building the wheel base will determine how long it lasts, especially as wheel bases can take a battering over the course of their lifespan. Constant heavy use requires good-quality metals to be used in their manufacturing.
Ideally, the wheel base you end up choosing will predominantly be made from metals such as aluminum or steel, as they are the most durable options seen in mass marketed wheel bases. However, metal is more expensive for manufacturers to use, which will subsequently raise the price of the product, which is why many use a lot of plastic too (such as on the T300/TX).
It is also important to consider the quality of the wheel base’s features, such as its quick release system. With the impressive range of features seen on modern wheel bases, it is important that you can get the best out of them for a long period of time.
Compatibility is more of an issue for PlayStation and Xbox users rather than PC sim racers. The options for console users are more limited in general, but there is also the issue of not being able to mix hardware brands. This is an unfortunate issue that comes with being a console user and can only be solved by third-party adaptors such as the Drive Hub.
If you don’t want to implement pricey adaptors into your console setup, then be sure to purchase a wheel base that aligns with the rest of your setup. For example, if you have a Thrustmaster wheel and pedals, then you will need to invest in a Thrustmaster wheel base. And if you like the look of Fanatec’s wheel rims, go for a Fanatec wheel base!
Different wheel bases offer different features, such as quick release systems and differing ranges of rotation. Most higher end wheel bases will naturally have wider ranges of rotation, as seen in both the Fanatec and MOZA options on this list, with their impressive infinite rotation capabilities. Cheaper entry-level bases may be limited to 900 or 1080 degrees.
However, the most important feature that wheel bases can offer is force feedback. There are three main types of force feedback, all offering different levels of immersion at different price points. These are gear driven, belt driven and direct drive force feedback. Direct drive is the pinnacle of sim racing force feedback, designed to give you ultimate realism while racing.
Gear Driven Force Feedback
Gear driven force feedback is typically seen as the entry level in sim racing. It relies on a system of gears to amplify the motor’s torque. Gear-driven force feedback rarely feels strong, but it offers users an insight into the joys of using force feedback technology, for a low price.
Gear driven force feedback systems are noisier than the other two forms due to the constant movement of gears within the wheel base. Users can also experience occasional grinding of gears within the mechanism, which is both uncomfortable and detrimental to the longevity of the product. It is unlikely you’ll want to settle with a gear driven wheel base forever.
The best gear-driven option on the market is the Logitech G29/G920, but it doesn’t function as a standalone wheel base.
Belt Driven Force Feedback
Belt driven force feedback systems represent a small step up from gear driven systems, usually for a higher price. The force feedback is provided by the use of a belt and pulleys inside the base that amplify the motor’s torque. Belt driven systems tend to provide stronger and smoother resistance than gear driven systems, but the belts can wear over time.
The Thrustmaster T300/TX wheel bases offer some of the best belt-driven force feedback on the current market.
Direct Drive Force Feedback
Direct drive is regarded as the pinnacle of sim racing force feedback. Top-level direct drive wheel bases can produce more than ten times the torque of some gear and belt driven wheels, edging you closer to the feeling of driving a real race car. Direct drive systems are able to produce this strength as they involve attaching the wheel directly to an electric motor.
As direct drive wheel bases can produce the most strength, accuracy, and immersion out of all the force feedback systems, they don’t come cheap. They are aimed at more experienced racers who are ready to take their setup to the next level. If you can afford direct drive, then it is certainly the recommended type of force feedback to go for.
KEY POINTS• Beginner sim racing wheel bases tend to be made of cheaper materials
• They’re also often compatible with consoles, but not other manufacturers
• While direct drive is desirable, belt-driven force feedback is enough for most beginners
Choosing a wheel base is an important decision for any sim racer, as it is one of the pieces of hardware that has a major impact on your overall experience. I believe the best wheel base for beginners is the Thrustmaster T300/TX, as it defies its low price with a good level of belt driven force feedback, but the Fanatec CSL DD/GT DD Pro and MOZA R5 are great budget friendly direct drive options.
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