One of the joys of sim racing is the huge variety you have when it comes to choice, not only for setting up your rig, but also for choosing the console or medium on which you want to play. Through the course of this article, I’ll be looking at the best sim racing wheels on a variety of platforms!
The 7 best sim racing wheels are:
- Fanatec Podium F1 Racing Wheel
- Precision Sim Engineering GT1 Steering Wheel
- Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 GT Forza Motorsport Racing Wheel
- Ascher Racing F64-USB Steering Wheel
- Fanatec CSL Elite Racing Wheel
- ThrustMaster T300 Ferrari GTE Official Force Feedback Wheel
- ThrustMaster TX Leather Edition Racing Wheel
You might know the best sim racing wheels now, but there’s a lot more to consider when buying a new one! How should you choose the best wheel for you? And what should you look for when buying? Before I review each one, these questions need to be answered above all else.
The biggest thing to remember when picking out gear for sim racing is that the process will have a certain amount of personal relevance due to everybody having a different rig in mind. There are a few buying rules, but otherwise, it all depends on your personal budget and preferences.
It’s pretty easy to dismiss how important a sim racing wheel is, especially if you’re new to the e-sport. But the wheel is the most important part of the whole rig! This is because the sim racing wheel and its wheelbase will dictate what brands your rig will use unless you’re using a PC. On console, however, a ThrustMaster wheel and wheelbase will only work with other ThrustMaster accessories.
PC gamers have the benefit of using a whole host of the best products regardless of brand due to the higher processing ability of their chosen medium.
Because console players will be relying on a big decision in particular, I’d recommend that you should do some research into the big brands I’m covering in this article: Fanatec, Precision Sim Engineering, Ascher Racing, and ThrustMaster. Within the realms of sim racing, they’re considered to be the peak in performance and choice of products.
Due to a sim racing wheel essentially creating the basis for your whole rig, it’s important to not only do plenty of research but also remember that budget shouldn’t really be an object if you’re looking for the best of the best.
In the same ilk as doing some research on different sim racing brands, I also highly recommend that you start frequenting places like Reddit to get honest opinions on everything sim racing!
Reddit is full of sub-boards dedicated to sim racing and everybody shares their collective knowledge and first-hand experiences of everything from good sim racing wheels all the way to which gaming chairs are worth the price. I typically check out Reddit before committing to a new purchase, and it hasn’t steered me wrong.
While each bit of gear out there works better for different people, there are a few key things you absolutely need to have in your sim racing wheel:
- Good range of rotation
- Force feedback
- High-quality materials
Across every sim racing game, there’s a magic degree of rotation which is what sets the amount that the wheel needs to be turned. Anything less than 900 degrees of rotation will mean that you have to turn the physical wheel more than what the in-game sim wheel requires. It’ll feel far more like playing an arcade game as opposed to driving a car in an immersive fashion.
Simply put, force feedback is the factor that replicates driving a car in real-life. A wheel without force feedback or with weak force feedback won’t feel satisfying to drive, and you’ll actually be at a disadvantage when feeling how much wheel input is required. For full immersion, force feedback is a must!
The actual types of material used are down to personal preference and experience. If you’ve driven a lot of cars with leather steering wheels, you’ll probably feel the most comfortable with a leather-clad wheel.
However, a fabric-covered wheel can actually provide you with more grip and will allow you to race for longer without potentially sweaty palms interfering. This can also be negated by wearing racing gloves.
All of this aside, you don’t want to get your hands on something which feels cheap and tacky! Good-quality leather and fabrics being used comes down to buying from reputable brands. Buying imported wheels over Amazon, as an example, won’t give you the same level of tactile feel as getting a high-quality Fanatec wheel.
Again, a wheel’s design is something very much based on personal preference. Personally, I think that most wheels look sleek and sophisticated to own.
If you’re after a specific badge to appear in the middle of your wheel, that can sometimes come with an extra price tag attached but otherwise, you can simply shop for that daring Ferrari logo! There are 2 types of wheel typically: ones that take a racing appearance and others that look like the standard wheel as seen in cars.
Lastly, you want to keep an eye out for any extra features on a racing wheel that provide added realism for your driving experience. This can vary from magnetic paddles, easily reachable buttons on the wheel’s front panel, and entirely adjustable force feedback with sophisticated rumble controls.
Whatever it may be, if there’s anything extra on a wheel that promises another layer of realism and immersion, you should absolutely make a beeline for that!
Compatibility: PC, PS4, Xbox One | Max Rotation: 1080 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: No | Buttons: 12 | Expandable: Yes
The Podium F1 Racing Wheel by Fanatec, a manufacturer whose focus is always on technology and innovation, is the first ever direct drive wheel that offers cross-platform functionality. Something entirely unheard of in the industry before; you can use this wheel on PC, PS4, and Xbox One!
Unfortunately, consoles have somewhat lacking processing power compared to PCs, which leads to somewhat lacking innovation. Fanatec decided to truly act on the pleas and recommendations from consumers, and found an amazing way to integrate high-level tech that plays seamlessly across all platforms.
A partnership with Sony has guaranteed that this wheelbase will keep working with new game releases and its full potential is properly realized in PlayStation systems.
Force feedback refers to a system that replicates real driving conditions, whatever they might be. This is usually achieved in a variety of ways such as motors or electronics systems within the wheelbase. Sim racing wheels will offer better or worse feedback depending on the system it uses specifically.
In a very basic sense, direct drive is the more refined, sophisticated relative of force feedback. Almost everything is wirelessly transferred for instantaneous, realistic force feedback tested by real racing drivers to confirm the validity of how the car responds.
This cutting-edge wheel offers direct drive and is endorsed by F1, the most recognizable and prestigious motorsport entity worldwide. In fact, a lot of Formula 1 drivers actually wanted to have sim racing rigs that they could use for training, and this was Fanatec’s solution!
This very simple fact really points to the immersion and absolute quality of the F1 Podium wheel. The wheelbase is built by hand, and everything is contained within the sleek lines of this far-from-simple box. This is achieved with a remarkable level of wireless data transfer, meaning that reliability is a huge deal without cables that can short out/ frazzle.
What about the wheel rim that you’ll be driving with? You’ll be transported straight into an F1 cockpit with its appearance alone, and as ever, looks simply aren’t everything (but they’re still super important!!).
There are 12 buttons all with functionality you can program for the ultimate set-up, and a whole host of toggle switches, thumb encoders, and rocker switches, designed to be used without taking your hands off the wheel.
Although designed for the aesthetic and feel of an F1 cockpit, it is a highly competitive, technologically advanced wheel that will work wonders in any racing sim.
Using high-powered, highly sensitive magnets, the paddle shifters will never lag nor lose potency or responsiveness. Every shift will feel positive; complete with a satisfying ‘clack’ sound! And to truly top off the immersive F1 experience, you have two sets of paddle shifters. One for gear changes, and one for DRS activation.
I could just keep writing, but I’m sure you get the picture by now. A review can’t properly capture all of the amazing features of this wheel! I recommend you try this wheel and its winning wheelbase with guaranteed plug-and-play functionality with the PS4, so you can try it out for yourself!
- Has direct drive, the most refined form of force feedback available
- Sponsored, endorsed, and created by both Sony and F1 for premium sim racing
- Although it functions with every other racing game, it’s specialized for F1 sims; might not be the best fit for everyone
- Xbox One compatibility is temperamental, the best results are on PC and PS4
Compatibility: PC, Console compatibility with a Fanatec wheelbase + Podium Hub only | Max Rotation: 1080 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: No | Buttons: 8 | Expandable: Yes
Coming in a very close second on this list of the best sim racing wheels, the GT1 Steering Wheel made by Precision Sim Engineering lives up to the brand name and then some! It’s described as being the ultimate all-around wheel due to the realistic 31 cm diameter and high level of personalization. It benefits from a unique wheel shape to give a driver full control of how they want to handle it.
Typically, a wheel’s shape is rounded or designed to replicate vehicles such as F1 cars, much like the Podium F1 wheel mentioned above. The benefit of this somewhat oval-shaped wheel is that you gain the benefits of both drastically different types typically seen!
As an example of the Podium F1’s shortcoming, F1-styled wheels are pretty specific to a select number of racing sims. Driving regular road circuits breaks the immersion typically afforded when you load up F1 simulators! Not only that, but the whole driving style and how you hold a wheel are different when racing on regular tracks in a typical race car.
Compare this to the GT1 Steering Wheel and you won’t have this issue. You can accurately adjust your hand positionings and have a lot more wheel to hold, making it great for all kinds of sim racing, from chilled-out drifting all the way to hardcore endurance driving.
In terms of material quality, there aren’t many wheels out there on the market that can truly compete. The GT1’s base is hand-crafted by Sparco, one of the world’s leading racing manufacturers, for absolute precision and excellence.
The whole wheel rim’s base is made of weighty (but not cumbersome) metal, giving it a realistic weight and satisfying feel. It is then covered with a high-quality carbon material, giving it the unique ‘brushed’ look which also adds extra grip; especially when used with sim racing gloves. But you don’t have to wear them in order to benefit from a grippy wheel!
Much like Fanatec, the shifter paddles are magnetic which ensures that there is no degradation over time. They are also made of carbon, providing the driver with yet more high-quality materials that enhance the tactile experience.
Perhaps the most exciting, innovative part of this wheel, however, is the full-color LCD display mounted between the center panel and top of the rim. This screen can be programmed to the user’s wishes and will display vital information about their car in the racing sim they’re currently in.
Unlike some of the other wheels on this list (looking at you, CSL Elite!), the GT1’s buttons are rather minimalistic and all included in separate brackets protruding from the center. This keeps the center a clear, uncluttered area and the buttons will be easier to reach while driving due to being closer to your hands on the wheel rim.
Amazing quality, amazing adaptability, and peak excellence are combined in this wheel for sim racers who are at the top of their game! Precision Sim Engineering is a UK-based company, and as such, their website is in GBP. It will cost a lot for the wheel… with no wheelbase included.
Compare this to the Podium F1 Direct Drive wheel in the top spot, which comes with a wheelbase and immediate ability to plug and play, and you’ll see why the GT1 is ranked that bit lower on the list.
- Hand-crafted by Sparco for the ultimate levels of realism and quality
- Oval wheel shape allows for high versatility in racing sims/ driving styles
- No wheelbase
- Can only be used on a PC unless the user has specific tools to hook it up to consoles
Compatibility: PC, Xbox One | Max Rotation: 900 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: No | Buttons: 16 | Expandable: Yes
Not only is this wheel directly sponsored by and developed in partnership with Microsoft and the makers of Forza, but it is part of Fanatec’s ClubSport line of products, designed for excellence and competitive racing.
Unlike a lot of wheels, the GT Forza model boasts a totally realistic diameter of 33 cm putting it close if not identical to real racing cars. It feels weighty to the touch yet not undrivable, nor does it feel like a chore to get any wheel lock due to the perfectly lightweight aluminum rim.
I’ve found in sim racing that anything made of a metal compound replicates the feeling of race cars far better than hard plastics. It’s also covered in genuine leather, a highly luxurious touch, and completed with stylish white stitching for a means to contrast the sleek black colors elsewhere.
The material cladding sim racing wheels is honestly up to driver preference above all else, but I will say that leather is a great material to have in conjunction with sim racing gloves.
There is also a touch of luxury that comes from having genuine leather on a wheel, compared to something like Alcantara which is all about grip and functionality, like what you’ll see on the F64-USB wheel.
This wheel comes with both regular-sized and long shifter paddles that can be switched out at your leisure, allowing for yet more personalization for the driver. If you compare this to ThrustMaster, whose wheels come with shifter paddles as standard which can’t be switched out, the GT Forza has a great advantage.
When it comes to force feedback, I’d honestly struggle with finding another wheel on the market that can offer the level of realism that this one gives on a constant, reliable basis.
Direct drive has recently evolved in the world of sim racing, and is only available for PCs or with one wheel which only works with the PS4 and PC flawlessly (as seen in the Fanatec Podium P1). It’s an indisputable fact that direct drive is the best, most immersive, and competitive force feedback and unfortunately, it just isn’t available reliably for Xbox exclusively yet.
The ClubSport V2.5 Wheel Base which comes as standard with the GT Forza has perfected a balance between brushless servo motors, belt drivers, and ball bearings within its inner workings that I was amazed to find out it wasn’t direct drive.
With Fanatec’s HallSensor tech which allows for accurate sensing of all wheel positioning, there’ll be no slippages or lag, unlike when you look at other manufacturers, such as ThrustMaster, which do seem to have this issue.
You can adjust force feedback, rumble sensitivity, range of rotation, and more before saving up to 5 distinctly different wheel settings that you can choose at will.
With so many options to fine-tune your drive, the GT Forza is a pretty phenomenal piece of kit. It will cost a fraction of what you’d pay for any direct drive wheel alone.
The only downside of this wheel is the fact that it has a slightly lesser range of rotation than a few other wheels on the list, which is a typical shortcoming of Xbox/Microsoft-specific wheels.
- Force feedback feels almost like direct drive, absolutely amazing
- With Fanatec tuning tech, you can adjust everything to your liking
- Other wheels offer 1080 degrees of rotation
- Doesn’t come with a table/desk clamp, this has to be bought separately
Compatibility: PC, Console compatibility requires USB adapter | Max Rotation: 1080 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: No | Buttons: 12 | Expandable: Yes
Quality, precision, and high-tech solutions. Those are words that I think sum up Ascher Racing in a nutshell; not least their F64-USB Steering Wheel! No expense has been spared to bring this high-quality bad boy to the market for an amazing sim racing experience, and all of you should know about it and why it’s secured a spot on this list.
Appearance-wise, the F64-USB is designed to be reminiscent of F1-styled wheels and it will certainly turn heads with the bright, functional buttons, switches, and toggles scattered on the wheel face!
It measures up to 28.5 cm in diameter; a measurement specifically chosen to replicate the size of steering wheels in an F1 car! Having a smaller diameter in this style doesn’t feel as jarring as a rounded wheel of this size (such as the ThrustMaster TX) due to the unique shape.
The base is machined from automotive aluminum, which provides the realistic weight/feel of a real steering wheel without making it feel cumbersome to rotate. It was then finished using a variety of different techniques to increase product longevity, such as brushing the front plate.
For having only 12 push buttons, the wheel has up to 64 inputs that a driver can make! These come from having multi-way joysticks, encoders, 12-position rotary switches… you name it, and the F64-USB has it! The very name of the product is inspired by the huge array of inputs you can make when driving.
This makes it perfect for F1-style sim racing games, of course, where the driver needs such precise, complicated inputs to get the best out of their car.
The paddle shifters, much like Fanatec’s Podium and ClubSport lines, are magnetic, ensuring that the shifting won’t degrade in sensitivity and reactivity over time. They are designed to have a strong ‘snap’ for the ultimately satisfying shift every time!
But, none of this compares to the electronic bite-point system encoded within every F64-USB wheel. You can adjust every aspect of the driving experience using this array, and bite-point for gear shifts and all other inputs can be programmed to 1.0 and 0.1 increments, giving you, the driver, perfect and precise control.
For the ultimate experience of using this wheel, you’ll want to look at adding one of Ascher Racing’s Quick Release systems to your basket! The F64-USB doesn’t come equipped with one as standard, but having one will mean that you can switch wheel rims with ease and it will give you access to more programmable buttons.
If you compare this to Fanatec’s Podium F1 and Forza GT, plus Precision Sim Engineering’s GT1 wheels which come with Quick Release mechanisms, this is a bit of a let-down on the F64-USB’s part.
But when it comes to grip, this wheel comes with Alcantara-clad grips which give it a truly superior edge when you look at leather coverings, such as those seen on the GT1 and Forza GT wheels.
In all, it’s an amazing wheel that gives experienced sim racers a huge opportunity to develop and tailor their drive however they wish. However, it doesn’t come with a wheelbase and will require a compatible one in order to be used.
- 64 potential inputs between buttons/switches allow for a highly precise driving experience
- Platform independent USB connection
- No wheelbase included unlike the Podium F1
- Very specific to F1 racing sims
Compatibility: PC, Console compatibility requires USB adapter | Max Rotation: 1080 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: No | Buttons: 15 | Expandable: Yes
If you’re familiar with Fanatec products, you’ll know that the CSL line isn’t anywhere near the top level of the wheels they offer and create. So why is this particular model on the list of the best sim racing wheels? Simply put, every innovation and drop of sim racing knowledge accrued by Fanatec has been pumped into the CSL Elite, providing a truly realistic, exciting driving experience.
The ‘elite’ part of its name isn’t just for show, it goes without saying that the build quality is made to last a lifetime and the wheel’s force feedback is pretty phenomenal.
The amazing parts of this wheel all link back to the wheelbase that comes with it and drives the experience of its force feedback functionality. It also has an exciting LED strip that lights up at different intensities to let you know when the optimum time to change gear is. You can also change this functionality to display whatever information you wish, such as desired braking points.
If you look at this next to the ThrustMaster TX, it goes without saying that the above-added extra on the CSL Elite gives you more of a true car’s cockpit experience.
Another nice part of this high-quality wheel and base is the fact that Fanatec ships out a high-quality clamp as standard, so you can set it up to be as permanent or temporary as you want.
It’s always nice to take a wheel with you to a friend’s house to do some racing, so the fact that this elite piece of kit actually caters to this fun, exciting aspect is a nod towards Fanatec as a high-quality brand.
The wheel itself is firm and weighty to the touch, which only adds to the satisfaction of inputting every turn. If you compare this, one of Fanatec’s supposed lower-level products, to the ThrustMaster T300, you just can’t beat the metal-based wheel rim of the CSL Elite in terms of realism!
The shifter paddles have been made with magnetic technology, so every click/shift feels weighty. A small screen at the top of the wheel rim itself can also be programmed to showcase data such as track temps, tire degradation, and more which keep the driving experience as comprehensive and neat as can be.
For the price, you’ll be receiving a wheel that can be used all the way up to Esports sim racing levels and everywhere in-between. It has the feeling of something used by professionals and the fact that you can enjoy this from the comfort of your own home will never get old.
The biggest drawback of this wheel specifically is the lack of specific innovation that it has compared to the other Fanatec products I have reviewed in this article (GT Forza is programmable, F1 Podium has direct drive). But if you’re looking for just clean sim racing, there’s no better choice than the CSL Elite.
- Incredible force feedback engine
- Some of the best realism available on the market
- Higher-end products exist for a more agreeable price tag
- The stitching is bumpy and scratchy when racing without gloves
Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS3 | Max Rotation: 1080 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: Yes | Buttons: 12 | Expandable: Yes
If you stop people on the street and ask them about sim racing, you can guarantee that they’ll at least know something about ThrustMaster Accessible. This company has some of the best to offer for this list for both casual gamers and esports professionals!
The T300 Ferrari wheel comes as a bundle, similar to most ThrustMaster wheels, and has a sleek, exciting design for one of the world’s most well-known, prestigious car manufacturers. There’s something pretty exciting about owning a piece of Ferrari prestige, even if it’s tied to your sim racing gear!
In terms of sim racing wheels that are ideal for both experienced and beginner sim racers, you’ll find no better competitor. ThrustMaster hasn’t spared any expense with the brushless motor inside the wheelbase to deliver astounding force feedback that you’ll find on an elite wheel, such as Fanatec’s famous inventions.
The attention to detail here means that you can feel your car understeering or oversteering simply by having your hands on the wheel, cutting down on needing to check the screen repeatedly when you should be focused on those lap times.
A notable plus to the T300 series wheel is that it’s compatible with the PS3, so if you’re feeling nostalgic for games like Sega Rally or OutRun Online, you can just hook up this wheel with total plug-and-play compatibility. The T300 is officially licensed with Sony, meaning you have a wide array of games that you can play using this wheel without issue.
And, rather surprisingly for what people deem to be ‘mid-range’, the T300 base is modular which means you can switch out the wheel rim at your leisure. This quick-release system is typically only seen in elite products, namely the ClubSport product line of Fanatec at a minimum, which costs considerably more money!
The wheel itself feels nice to drive with, a clear testament to ThrustMaster picking great materials for their products. There’s also a practical indicator stripe at the top of the wheel so you can distinctly see when the wheel is centered, a necessity for rally games!
Compared to other products on this list such as the tech giants, Fanatec, or the pinnacle levels of Precision Sim Engineering, the materials actually hold up rather well. There is, however, a notable difference in quality and, sometimes, reliability.
Getting a bundle not only makes this wheel a great purchase for newer sim racers but also for those of us who just want an easy set-up time and a hassle-free experience.
Not only that, but the manufacturer offers superb products that can be used to upgrade every rig, so we really shouldn’t even be scrutinizing the pedals too heavily. The wheel is the star of this show and the T300 does a fantastic job of creating realism while driving.
The bundle price of this wheel and a set of pedals make it the perfect option if you want to balance fun, competitive racing quality with affordability. There’s no denying the quality and features of this wheel and it has truly earned its spot on this list!
- Intuitive force feedback
- Compatible with the PS3 for ultimate nostalgia
- Two finishes available: leather or suede-like material. The former is slippery unless used with gloves
- Hard plastic on the wheelbase feels cheap compared to Fanatec
- Reliability of ThrustMaster isn’t as well-regarded as Fanatec
Compatibility: PC, Xbox One | Max Rotation: 900 degrees | Force Feedback: Yes | Pedals Included: Yes | Buttons: 6 | Expandable: Yes
If you’re looking for something that screams sophistication, look no further! ThrustMaster never ceases to amaze me with its range of amazing products, and even though the TX Leather Edition is coming in last today, it can be perfect for you Xbox gamers out there.
Just one glance at this wheel and you’ll agree that its looks are eye-catching, what with the brushed black metal front plate and complete leather covering. It looks luxurious and could easily be a display piece!
Unlike some other wheels out there, the face of the wheel is also lacking a lot of complicated-looking buttons. It keeps everything more pared down for a far more immersive driving experience.
I’ll actually give a nod to ThrustMaster’s attention to detail and comfort to begin with, by looking closer at the leather-clad wheel. All of the seams are hand-stitched, which is far better than machined stitching for comfort purposes.
Genuine leather feels especially luxurious here, and much like the GT Forza (#3 on this list), you’ll benefit greatly from using sim racing gloves for added grip potential. If you’re after outright grip without a helping hand, however, you’ll be better looking at the Podium P1 or the F64-USB due to their Alcantara grips.
Now, looking at the tech offered in the TX wheel, its force feedback is nothing to pass up. The wheelbase offers industrial-grade brushless servo motors, much like the GT Forza and other elite-level wheels.
You won’t be encountering any latency or delay in your inputs thanks to the contactless magnetic sensors that are powering the wheelbase; something typically only really seen in brands like Fanatec or Precision Sim Engineering.
A nice little boon is the fact that everything works without friction, which means that the wheelbase is positively silent. Even compared to the ThrustMaster T300, this is pretty unique!
Unlike the GT Forza wheel that Fanatec offers, you can’t create numerous wheel profiles using the wheel itself. However, if you hook it up to a PC, you can program different levels of force feedback, rumble, and button functions without spending hours tweaking it on racing sim games themselves.
This does become pretty fiddly and time-consuming if you play a lot of different racing sims.
You can also upgrade firmware free of charge by doing this, which will guarantee that your wheel can continue being played on new games. And if you’re like me and you appreciate technology like the Kinect, you’ll love the fact that you can hook up your Kinect to work with this wheel as a controller.
For the price, you’ll be able to buy the TX Leather Edition bundle which includes the wheel, wheelbase, and T3PA pedal set. In short, you’ll be getting a whole racing sim set-up for that neat little price. But honestly, I’d pay that and more for the wheel alone.
Sure, it’s a slightly smaller diameter of 28 cm which can make it feel a bit more like being at an arcade compared to Fanatec or Precision Sim Engineering products, but you’ll be buying excellence if you pick up this great wheel, that’s for sure.
- Bundle includes a wheel, wheelbase, and T3PA pedals
- Great value and amazing quality
- Amazing force feedback contends with Fanatec wheels
- Smaller wheel diameter (28cm vs. 33cm)
- Lower range of rotation, a typical feature seen in Xbox/Microsoft wheels
- Reliability of ThrustMaster isn’t as well-regarded as Fanatec
With 7 superb wheels that offer an amazing driving experience, you’ve got quite the decision ahead of you! Choose a wheel based on looks, brand knowledge/experience, and features that are offered. Our personal recommendation is the Fanatec Podium F1 racing wheel.