Although not at the top of every sim racer’s wish list, gear shifters can provide an added layer of immersion and realism to your sim racing experience. With options being harder to source for console, it can leave many PS4 and PS5 users wondering what the best compatible sim racing shifters are.
The 4 best sim racing shifters for PS4 and PS5 are:
- Fanatec SQ V 1.5 Shifter
- Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake/Shifter
- Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
- Logitech Driving Force Shifter
Each different sim racing shifter comes with its own pros and cons, meaning your final choice will ultimately come down to what you want to add to your experience. In this article we will discuss the best options, as well as highlighting the best way to choose your new shifter.
The 4 Best Sim Racing Shifters For PlayStation
1. Fanatec SQ V 1.5 Shifter
Mode: Sequential / H-Pattern | Materials: Metal | Dimensions (cm): 38 x 23 x 18 | Gears: 7
The Fanatec SQ V 1.5 is the best all-round shifter available for PlayStation sim racers. It can be used as a sequential shifter and an H-pattern shifter, making it appropriate for multiple racing styles. This change is easy to make, changing modes with the flick of a switch on the outer casing. Both modes work equally well, making this shifter great value for money.
The movement between the seven forward gears feels easy and natural, with the gears engaging positively. There is no heavy mechanical feel once you engage the gears, giving this shifter a high-quality smoothness, but it’s perhaps not as immersive as something like the PSL V2 shifter (not console compatible).
The lever has a short throw to it, which is ideal for racing as you can make quick gear changes without having to push or pull too far.
The smoothness is once again evident when you change the shifter into sequential mode, with the central third gear used for upshifts and fourth gear for downshifts. This is the only physical change that you’ll experience when you make the switch, as the gear engagement feels the same as it does when you are using the H-pattern mode.
If you prefer a tighter feeling shift, then you can use the Allen key provided in the box to stiffen the lever’s movement. You can do this without taking the shifter apart, making experimenting easy and doable within seconds. Unfortunately, you can only change the resistance of the lever’s vertical movement, and not its horizontal movement.
Excellent Build Quality
The SQ V 1.5 is one of the best shifters on the market and one of the most well-built. The entire shifter is made from metal, giving it a high-quality, durable feel from the base to the lever. There are two levers that come in the box, which screw on and off easily, meaning you’ll be able to swap them over in between races.
The shifter is easy to mount onto a cockpit, with screw holes on the bottom. The weight of the SQ V 1.5 may put extra strain on your cockpit if it isn’t sturdy, which can provide stability issues. As for table/desk mounting, you will need to purchase a separate add-on, as there is nothing supplied in the box that will allow you to mount the shifter this way.
Overall, the Fanatec SQ V 1.5 shifter is a high-quality, higher priced option. For your money you will get a product that can act as a sequential shifter or an H-pattern shifter, making it one of the most versatile shifters around. It is made to a high standard, with an all-metal design, and it’s perfect for sim racers in the Fanatec ecosystem looking for an extra layer of immersion.
- Well-built, all-metal design
- Smooth and positive gear engagement
- Sequential and H-pattern modes
- Quite heavy
- A little expensive
2. Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake/Shifter
Mode: Sequential / Handbrake | Materials: Steel / Aluminum / Plastic | Dimensions (cm): 26 x 14 x 33 | Gears: Sequential
The Thrustmaster TSS is primarily a handbrake, but it doubles up as a sequential shifter with the flick of a switch. It is bulkier and more solid looking than most shifters, mainly because of its ability to act as a handbrake, a piece of hardware that must withstand more force than most items on a sim racing rig. This adds greatly to the durability of the Thrustmaster TSS.
The TSS has a definitive responsive click when shifting up and down, which adds a layer of satisfaction when using the shifter as it feels like how you would imagine a real-life sequential shifter to feel. However, the lever offers slightly lower resistance than you might expect from a product within the TSS’ price range.
This is a slight downside from an immersion standpoint, but it still offers more feeling and responsiveness than Thrustmaster’s other shifter option, the TH8A (see below). There’s no doubt that the high price of this shifter comes down to its use as a handbrake and the Sparco design, making it two products in one. For those who enjoy a variety of racing styles, this could be a major selling point.
An Important Note
It’s worth noting that, while it can be used as both a shifter and a handbrake, you can’t do both at the same time. Those that need a handbrake likely use it for rally racing or drifting, where you may also want a sequential shifter, so having both products in one doesn’t solve that problem as you’ll need to purchase another one separately anyway.
So, this is best for those that simply want an immersive sequential shifter. The handbrake is a nice bonus, as you can of course use it and simply use your wheel’s paddle shifters to change gears. Likewise, if you only need a console-compatible handbrake, this one is worth considering. But this article is about shifters, so let’s get back to that!
Adjustability & Build Quality
The TSS has good adjustability features, with users being able to change both the height and angle of the lever. When using the TSS as a shifter, it will be easier for most to have the lever completely vertical, as it will support more natural push and pull movements. However, there will be some slight side to side movement when the lever is at its tallest position.
The overall build quality of the Thrustmaster TSS is great, with the casing, lever arm and internal mechanism being made almost entirely out of metal. The only major use of plastic comes on the handle, which isn’t a bad thing at all, especially as it has been made in this way to replicate the shifter handles of real-life race cars. The TSS shifter’s height is also designed for realism.
This realistic design strategy is no doubt partly down to the influence of racing manufacturer Sparco, who have officially licensed this product. This partnership helps to give the TSS a professional edge, as well as adding to the look of your sim rig. If you don’t have a full sim cockpit, you can purchase a table clamp specifically for this shifter to ensure a sturdy mount (although we always recommend using a dedicated rig).
Overall, the TSS Sparco Mod + may seem a little expensive, but you are getting two products in one, as it can be used as either a handbrake or a sequential shifter. It is a very well-built piece of hardware, made almost entirely out of metal. While it can be a little noisy, this shifter has a real positive feel, and there’s no doubt it looks great too!
- Can be used as a shifter or handbrake
- Great build quality
- Responsive gear shifting
- Lacks a bit of resistance
- Quite expensive if you only want a shifter
3. Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
Mode: Sequential / H-Pattern | Materials: Metal / Plastic | Dimensions (cm): 13 x 26 x 34 | Gears: 8
The Thrustmaster TH8A is another dual-mode shifter, capable both sequential and H-pattern modes. It isn’t as easy to switch between the two settings as it is with the Fanatec SQ V 1.5, but it does mean that the TH8A is a versatile shifter, able to suit multiple different styles of racing.
Shifter Build Quality
The TH8A has the look of a conventional shifter, with clearly cut out gear positions, and a spherical shifter knob. The shifter is constructed with a mix of metal and plastic, which slightly takes away from the product’s overall quality and feel. Despite Thrustmaster’s use of plastic, the TH8A is a durable choice.
The shifter has a long throw, which makes it a good choice if that’s what you’re looking for compared to the Fanatec shifter’s short throw. You can purchase aftermarket products that will shorten the throw if you find that it feels too long. It isn’t the quietest of shifters, and it will produce a definitive click when you engage the gears.
The shifting of the gears with the TH8A provides less resistance than what you find when using the Fanatec Shifter SQ V 1.5, which does make it feel less of a premium option. However, it can’t be disputed that the TH8A is a lesser option, in price and overall build quality. This lack of resistance won’t be a negative for everyone, as the inputs are still sharp and accurate.
Two Shifting Modes
The two shifting modes add to the TH8A’s value for money, making it a solid choice for those who enjoy a variety of racing disciplines. H-pattern shifters are great for those who enjoy driving road or classic cars, while GT racers will likely prefer the TH8A’s sequential mode. Switching between the two modes isn’t that quick and easy though.
To change to the sequential setup, you will have to unscrew the H-pattern lid and replace it with the sequential shifter cap provided in the box. Once you have the new cap screwed on you will be good to go, but it requires substantially more effort than flicking a switch, as is possible on the Fanatec SQ V 1.5.
The sequential shifter doesn’t feel as positive as the H-pattern shifter, with no real resistance or feeling when you shift upwards. Despite this, the TH8A does do the job it is intended to do, and with the inclusion of magnetic sensors within the system, it will provide an accurate and durable experience.
Overall, the Thrustmaster TH8A is a decent addition to any sim racing setup, but it lacks the premium feel of the Fanatec SQ V 1.5. The fact that you can use it in two shifting modes is a positive, although the H-pattern feels better to use than the sequential mode.
- Can be used as a sequential or H-pattern shifter
- A durable option
- Uses magnetic sensors for great accuracy
- Lack of resistance when shifting gears
- Difficult to change between the two shifting modes
4. Logitech Driving Force Shifter
Mode: H-Pattern | Materials: Steel / Faux Leather / Plastic | Dimensions (cm): 21 x 18 x 15 | Gears: 7
The Logitech Driving Force H-pattern shifter is the budget entry on this list, and you use it on PS4/PS5 with a Logitech wheel. It may not contain the higher-end features that you see in the more expensive products, but it will serve you well if you want to add to your Logitech setup and don’t want to part with a large sum of money.
Materials & Build Quality
As this shifter is so cheap, compromises were made on the materials used. It is made almost entirely from plastic, with the only exception being the steel lever and the faux leather trim that encloses it. The faux leather look is reminiscent of the sort of shifters you find in road cars, which adds a charming element to it.
As shifters go, this is relatively compact and it will fit into most sim racing setups without getting in the way of anything. It would look and feel just fine when clamped to a desk, as it doesn’t provide a lot of resistance when you are shifting (which is a pro for stability but a con for realism), and it won’t take up the same amount of space as the Fanatec SQ V 1.5 or the Thrustmaster TSS.
As the majority of the shifter is made from plastic, the Logitech Driving Force doesn’t feel overly weighty, and while this may be a sign of a lesser quality product, it does mean that it won’t put any extra strain on your cockpit setup, especially if you don’t have a sturdy rig in place (which is arguably the segment of the sim racing market this shifter is aimed at).
How It Feels
When you take the price of this shifter into consideration, you have to match your performance expectations accordingly, as it doesn’t feel as immersive as the premium options on this list. There is no real feel to the shifting, and it won’t provide you with any real resistance when moving the lever. Despite this, your inputs will be accurate enough in-game.
The Logitech Driving Force shifter will take a bit of time to get used to, as unlike with most shifters, you can’t actually see which gear you are engaging as the H-pattern is covered with the faux leather trim (which replicates those found in many typical road cars). This, along with a lack of resistance in the movement, can leave you prone to mis-shifts until your muscle memory catches up.
Overall, the Logitech Driving Force is a good addition to entry level sim racing setups. What it lacks in features it makes up for with its exceptionally low price, making it a fairly risk-free addition to the Logitech G29/920 wheel. Its compactness and lightweight feel make it just as easy to mount to a table as a cockpit, which is ideal for those just starting out in sim racing.
- Very cheap
- Can be mounted to a desk or sim rig
- Provides accurate shifting in-game
- Made almost entirely out of plastic
- No real resistance to the shifting
Summary Of The Best Shifters For PS4 & PS5
|Fanatec SQ V 1.5 Shifter||Very high build quality |
Easily change between sequential and H-pattern modes
|A bit pricey|
|Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake/Shifter||Great Sparco-endorsed build quality and design |
Feels immersive to use
|Quite expensive |
Dual-function not the most useful
|Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter||H-pattern and sequential modes|
Fairly realistic look and feel
|Not as easy to change between modes |
Not the most resistance
|Logitech Driving Force Shifter||Very budget friendly |
Ideal choice for absolute beginners
|Low build quality |
Not a high level of immersion
How To Choose A Sim Racing Gear Shifter For PS4/PS5
Choosing a new sim racing gear shifter is a big decision that requires a fair amount of research. As with most pieces of sim racing hardware, prices for shifters range from very affordable to incredibly expensive, with the features on offer typically increasing the further up this scale you go. It’s a subjective decision, with your racing style, preferences and budget all worth considering.
There are three main types of gear shifter modes used in sim racing. These are paddle shifters on your wheel, H-pattern shifters, and sequential shifters. Paddle shifters are found on the back of most sim racing wheels, allowing you to change gears without having to take your hands off the wheel. These are most suited towards those who enjoy Formula 1 and GT style games.
The latter two options have to be purchased as separate hardware pieces. While they both require push and pull actions to operate, they both suit different cars and race styles. H-pattern shifters have more of a learning curve to use than sequential shifters, as they require moving the gear stick into specific places, not just up and down (forward and back).
H-pattern shifters feature all available gears in one layout, like you see in manual road cars. Sequential shifters only require vertical (forward and back) lever movements, allowing you to move up or down one gear at a time. Whereas H-pattern shifters allow you to move from 5th gear to 2nd gear in one movement, you’d have to shift down through 4th and 3rd gear with a sequential shifter.
Some sim racing gear shifters come with both sequential and H-pattern modes, meaning you can choose between the two depending on what car you are driving at any one time. Shifters with this feature are ideal for those who enjoy driving in multiple different racing disciplines, such as classic F1 cars for H-pattern modes and rally racing for sequential.
Size & Weight
Shifters come in all different shapes and sizes and tend to be made from a variety of materials. Options such as the Fanatec SQ V 1.5 are large and heavy and will put strain on weaker sim racing setups. They may also get in the way if you have a more compact setup, so it is important to know the dimensions and mounting capabilities before you buy.
There are a couple of smaller, lighter choices available, such as the Logitech shifter, which will be better for those with less sturdy setups. Most gear shifters will have additional table clamps available for purchase if you don’t yet have a full sim racing cockpit setup. Bear in mind that lighter shifters may not be made from high-quality materials, which may lead to a less durable product overall.
Ideally, every sim racing gear shifter would be made predominantly from metal, as it is sturdier and more durable than plastic. However, all-metal shifters will naturally cost more than shifters made with a lot of plastic, due to the difference in cost between the two materials. If your budget allows, I recommend you opt for a metal shifter, as it will last longer and feel better to use.
The price of the shifter will be the most important factor for many, as a lot of people’s budgets will struggle to justify paying the ever-rising costs of sim racing hardware. However, paying more will often give you access to more high-end features, which can greatly enhance the immersion and realism of your sim racing experience.
If you can’t stretch your budget too far, it is important to remember that you can still have a good time using cheaper equipment, and not having all the high-end features doesn’t necessarily mean that your lap times will be slower. Plus, you can always upgrade later down the line when your budget allows.
Unfortunately, PlayStation sim racers don’t have access to the wealth of options available to PC users. There is also the issue of PS4 and PS5 users not being able to mix and match brands, meaning they have to use equipment from the same ecosystem. Thankfully, larger brands like Fanatec, Thrustmaster and Logitech have inclusive ecosystems producing great products for PS4 and PS5 racers.
There is also the option of using a small, third-party adapter called a Drive Hub, which will allow you to use a shifter from a different brand to your racing wheel. The Drive Hub isn’t perfect though and has often presented issues that we will discuss in more detail below.
KEY POINTS• You need to consider what kind of shifter you want (H-pattern vs sequential)
• The build quality, size and weight of the shifter are also important
• Price and PlayStation compatibility are also key to consider when buying a shifter
Using The Drive Hub To Connect A Shifter To PS4 / PS5
The Drive Hub is a box that allows PlayStation users to mix hardware brands without compatibility issues. On the surface this seems like a miracle product that will unlock a lot of doors for PlayStation users, but there are some negatives to go with the positives. The Drive Hub isn’t necessarily futureproof, but it will provide you with more freedom when it comes to hardware.
Note: Not all sim racing products are compatible with the Drive Hub
Drive Hub Issues
While the premise of the Drive Hub seems great, sim racing is in a constant state of evolution, with hardware and software both undergoing regular updates. There is no doubt that the Drive Hub will move with the times, but there is no guarantee that it will continue to support your setup in the future. Drive Hub boxes aren’t cheap either, making them a somewhat risky purchase for those on a budget.
Drive Hubs (or any other third-party adapters) aren’t guaranteed to work seamlessly with every setup, with multiple reports suggesting they are prone to random disconnects. This won’t necessarily happen with everyone, but it does increase the risk factor of purchasing a Drive Hub. They have also been known to limit some features in sim racing hardware, meaning you may not get the best out of your equipment.
While the Drive Hub is a potential game changer for some console sim racers, it is not a guarantee that everything will work perfectly, both in the present and in the future. But if you have a spare bit of cash and don’t want to change your whole setup to fit in a new shifter, it may still be worth checking out.
While the options for sim racing gear shifters may be more limited for PlayStation users than they are for PC users, there are still some great options to choose from, none more so than the Fanatec SQ V 1.5. The Thrustmaster TSS provides solid competition giving users the choice to also use it as a handbrake, but the premium feel of the SQ V 1.5 sets it apart from the rest.
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