If you are a fan of drifting or rally sim racing, having a handbrake installed in your setup can enhance the immersion and realism of your experience, and even help improve your performance. This may leave many PlayStation users wondering what the best compatible handbrakes are.
The best sim racing handbrakes for PS4 and PS5 are the Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod + and the Fanatec ClubSport V 1.5. Both of these handbrakes are fully compatible with PlayStation, both PS4 and PS5, as long as you use them alongside racing wheels from the same brand.
Compatibility is recurring issue for PlayStation sim racers, and not being able to mix and match brands is frustrating. In this article we’ll discuss a potential way around this issue, as well as highlighting the pros and cons of the two handbrakes that we think are the best on offer.
Can You Use A Sim Racing Handbrake On PlayStation?
You can use a sim racing handbrake on PlayStation, but it’s not as easy to find compatible handbrakes as it is on PC. Handbrakes are not as easy to source for PlayStation as other pieces of equipment such as racing wheels are, as they don’t appeal to as wide a section of the sim racing market.
Licensing issues and the console’s lack of processing power compared to that of a PC (regardless of whether it’s PS4 or PS5) means that most sim racing handbrakes are unfortunately off the table for PlayStation users. There are also licensing issues that manufacturers must work around, which is why most console hardware items have two variations to suit both consoles.
Thankfully, two of the leading sim racing hardware manufacturers, Thrustmaster and Fanatec, have worked with Sony to make sure their handbrakes can be used on PlayStation.
However, you can only use both companies’ handbrakes alongside their respective wheels/wheel bases. This lack of ability to mix and match brands affects all forms of sim racing hardware on PlayStation, not just handbrakes. But while you may be limited to what you can use, there are at least two great-quality options available from two reputable suppliers.
Note: The issue of compatibility is not exclusive to PlayStation, as it’s also hard to find compatible sim racing gear for Xbox too
Using A Drive Hub
If you want to buy a handbrake but your wheel isn’t compatible with any of the options, all hope is not necessarily lost. The Drive Hub is a small box that allows you to connect pieces of hardware from different brands to your PlayStation, meaning you may be able to use a handbrake with a wheel previously deemed incompatible.
While it may seem as though the Drive Hub solves everything, it isn’t necessarily a future proof option. There is every chance that compatibility may be lost in the future through console updates and hardware updates. Drive Hubs aren’t cheap, and there are currently no alternatives available. We talk more about this option at the end of this article.
Do You Really Need A Sim Racing Handbrake?
For most sim racers, buying a handbrake won’t be necessary, as they don’t usually come in handy for track-based racing. However, if you are into any form of sim racing that involves drifting or throwing your car around rally courses, then a handbrake will be a worthwhile investment.
Handbrakes are there to suit a niche within sim racing, offering performance and immersion benefits to rally and drift enthusiasts. If you only occasionally delve into these styles of games, it may not make sense to invest in a handbrake, as most racing wheels or controllers will have a button in place to act as a handbrake, although it won’t be as effective or enjoyable.
Why You Should Buy A Handbrake
While there will inevitably be a button or trigger to do the job of a handbrake, it simply won’t be as rewarding as using a manually controlled handbrake. Having a physical lever to pull will enhance the immersive aspect of driving down an intense rally stage or drifting around a tight corner. This added enjoyment will instantly make the extra money spent worthwhile.
It isn’t just about gaining a new level of enjoyment from your game, as having a handbrake can also make you a more competent sim racer. Good quality sim racing handbrakes, such as the two we discuss below, will provide you with more accuracy than a button on a controller or a wheel ever can.
If you buy a progressive handbrake, it will measure precisely how much force you want to brake with, meaning you get far more accurate behaviors from the car as you are turning. Once your muscle memory has fully grasped the concept of using a lever, your consistency will improve and so will your race/stage times!
KEY POINTS• You can use a handbrake on PlayStation
• However, there are only a few that are compatible
• They’re only really essential for rallying and drifting
The Best Sim Racing Handbrakes For PS4 & PS5
Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod +
Materials: Aluminum / Steel / Plastic | Measurements (mm): 65 x 100 x 100
The Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod + is a two-in-one handbrake that can also be adjusted to act as a sequential shifter. The handbrake is licensed by motorsport equipment manufacturer Sparco, giving it an added layer of professionalism. It is fully compatible with PlayStation consoles, as long as you use it alongside either the Thrustmaster T-GT or T300 racing wheels.
Look & Feel
Straight out of the box, this handbrake looks sturdy, largely because of its all-metal casing. The main bulk of the casing is made from black powder coated steel, with an aluminum sheet covering the top of the base. The lever is made from solid aluminum with a plastic grip. While the grip may not feel as comfortable as the ClubSport V 1.5’s foam end (see below), it is likely to last longer.
The height of the lever can be adjusted to fit into your setup using tools provided in the box. This changes the angle and height of the lever, but be aware that you may experience some left to right movement when it’s at its highest configuration. The handbrake is primarily designed for those with a full sim racing rig, but you can buy a separate Thrustmaster desk clamp too.
Thrustmaster have used their patented H.E.A.R.T technology in the making of this handbrake, which essentially means that the internal input sensors are magnetic, not potentiometers or switches. This eliminates any contact between metals inside the cage, which means the performance will be more consistent and the internal components won’t wear away from constant use.
The springs feel sturdy enough, offering a maximum of 4 kg (8.8 lbs) of resistance. However, the resistance feels substantially lower than this when you use the handbrake, and I felt there could be a little more for the optimal experience. The two metal pieces attached to the lever inside the casing add a bit of texture to the movement, which is more noticeable if you use it as a sequential shifter.
A Progressive Choice
The TSS is a progressive handbrake, which gives you control over how much brake force you are applying, unlike many handbrakes that run on an ‘on-off’ system. Progressive handbrakes are not only more realistic, but far more beneficial to your performance as you can apply the correct amount of force required to take on specific corners.
Overall, the Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod + is an effective handbrake offering great value for money as it can also be utilized as a sequential shifter. It is certain to last you for as long as you need it to thanks to its excellent metal build quality and its use of magnetic technology rather than potentiometers.
- Two products for the price of one
- H.E.A.R.T technology is accurate and consistent
- Lever height and angle can be adjusted
- Spring resistance could be stronger
- A bit of side-to-side movement if at its highest setting
Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V 1.5
Materials: Steel / Foam | Measurements (mm): 485 x 180 x 125
The Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V 1.5 is fully compatible with PlayStation consoles if used with one of Fanatec’s PlayStation compatible wheels/wheel bases. Thanks to Fanatec’s largely console inclusive ecosystem, you will have a decent range of high-quality options to choose from.
Much like most of Fanatec’s products, this handbrake looks and feels like you’d expect a top of the range piece of hardware to feel. It is weighty and sturdy and designed to fit into all manner of sim racing setups. The mounting capabilities mean that you can fit it onto your rig horizontally or vertically. The angle of the lever is also easily adjustable to suit your style.
The lever is made from stainless steel, which is durable and solid, meaning this handbrake will last a very long time without issue. The lever is topped off with a soft foam grip, which will provide comfort and prevent any slippages if you aren’t wearing sim racing gloves. It certainly feels more comfortable than the TSS handbrake’s grip, albeit less durable.
One of the first things you will notice when pulling the handbrake for the first time is the smoothness of the lever’s motion. Fanatec have also installed a damper inside the casing that prevents the lever from harsh metal to metal contact if you were to let it go accidentally.
Fanatec have used potentiometers inside their handbrake, which is traditionally not the most accurate method, but it works perfectly fine with this product. The pull force is consistent with no variation through its pull range, although it’s not overly strong. It does have less advertised strength than the Thrustmaster TSS, but it doesn’t feel too different in comparison (although it’s much cheaper).
The ClubSport handbrake is indeed very enjoyable to use in game, especially if you are throwing a car around a rally stage. While it may not have many outstanding features, it is a great tool to have if you are a drifter or rally sim racer and it will feel a lot more immersive than just pressing a button on your wheel. It’s easy to setup and compatible with PlayStation consoles.
- Budget friendly
- Durable all-metal casing
- Adjustable lever angle and multiple mounting options
- No resistance variation throughout the pull range
- Uses potentiometers rather than better sensors
Using The Drive Hub To Connect A Handbrake To PlayStation
As we mentioned earlier in the article, there is a small box called a Drive Hub that allows PlayStation users to mix and match hardware brands on their console. While this may seem as though it opens all the doors locked by incompatibility issues on consoles, it is not as simple as it seems. After all, the Drive Hub’s main priority is to connect racing wheels, not handbrakes.
There are currently three handbrakes that work with Drive Hub, two of them being the Fanatec and Thrustmaster options mentioned previously in the article. The other is an Aiologs handbrake, which has recently had its board chip updated to work with Drive Hub. Other than these three options, the handbrake choices for PlayStation remain limited.
What the Drive Hub should allow you to do is to use one of these three handbrakes with wheels outside of their respective ecosystems.
Drive Hub Stumbling Blocks
While the premise of the Drive Hub appears to be great, sim racing is constantly evolving, with hardware and software undergoing regular updates. There’s no doubt that the Drive Hub will move with the times, but there is no guarantee that it will still support your setup in the future. Drive Hub boxes aren’t cheap either, so you may risk wasting a chunk of cash.
There have also been issues reported surrounding Drive Hub’s occasional faults when trying to use progressive handbrakes. This has caused some users to resort to using their handbrake in on/off mode, losing the realism of their handbrake. There are ways around this that involve remapping the hardware, but this won’t be an easy job for many.
The general consensus among the sim racing community is that the Drive Hub will only be fully operational with certain setups, meaning that while it is potentially a great product, it isn’t the miracle device that many console sim racers have hoped for.
Obokidly 2-In-1 USB Handbrake
If you’re looking into the Drive Hub, you may also come across the Obokidly 2-in-1 USB handbrake. It claims to be perfectly compatible with PS4 and PS5 without the use of a Drive Hub, but there are some mixed reviews about its true performance. It’s also more expensive than the Fanatec and Thrustmaster options, which makes it a risky buy.
It looks a lot like many other non-brand handbrakes that you see online, and the way it’s marketed and the pictures to go along with it are fairly questionable.
The number of spelling errors in the pictures alone should be enough to make you think twice about buying this handbrake (see for yourself), but the fact that it’s more expensive than two highly reputable handbrakes from some of the biggest brands in the sim racing space suggests that this handbrake is one to avoid.
Handbrakes aren’t essential for every sim racer, but they can greatly enhance the experience for rally and drift fans. The options for sim racing handbrakes may be limited for PlayStation players, but with the Fanatec ClubSport V 1.5 and the Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod +, you have two very capable options available to you, from two very capable manufacturers.
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