Fanatec and Thrustmaster are two of the most well-known sim racing hardware manufacturers, with their products being used in setups up and down the sim racing experience spectrum. But you may wonder if it is possible to combine Fanatec and Thrustmaster into the same sim racing setup.
Fanatec is compatible with Thrustmaster if you race on PC, but not if you race on PlayStation or Xbox. This is because PCs can recognize multiple USB devices simultaneously, but consoles can’t. You can buy some third-party adapters such as the Drive Hub to improve console compatibility.
These adapters aren’t officially licensed and aren’t always reliable, making them a risky purchase. In this article we will dive deeper into the compatibility between the Fanatec and Thrustmaster and discuss in greater depth why console users can’t mix the two together.
Are Thrustmaster & Fanatec Compatible On PC?
One of the main benefits of sim racing on PC is its inclusivity for mixing and matching hardware brands. PC sim racers aren’t restricted to using one ecosystem and can put together highly diverse setups should they wish to do so. Fanatec and Thrustmaster are two of the most popular brands on the scene (especially for beginners) and can largely be used together without issue.
PC’s hardware inclusivity is largely down to USB input ports. If you are using hardware from one ecosystem, you will usually be able to plug everything in via the wheel base. But if you wanted to pair a Fanatec pedal set with a Thrustmaster wheel, you will have to plug it separately into the PC. Thankfully, PC’s have multiple USB ports which support this.
Thrustmaster & Fanatec Compatibility Issues
There are a couple of minor hitches with certain Thrustmaster and Fanatec products that can be worked around. For example, to use Fanatec shifters or handbrakes with a Thrustmaster wheel, you will need to purchase a Fanatec ClubSport USB adapter to convert the RJ12 input into a USB input.
Another potential problem is that some PC sim racing games may not support the use of multiple inputs. This isn’t the case for any of the major titles such as iRacing, Assetto Corsa or Codemasters’ F1 games, but it may be a problem with some of the lesser-known titles. It is important to check the game details beforehand to ensure you won’t have any issues with it.
Overall, combining Fanatec and Thrustmaster hardware into one setup will not typically be an issue for PC sim racers, as long as your PC has enough USB ports, and you have the relevant adapters for the equipment you want to use (although you can always pick up USB hubs). It is far easier to mix and match brands on PC than it is on console, and you won’t require any third-party products such as the Drive Hub.
Fanatec & Thrustmaster Compatibility On Console
Unlike PC, consoles do not tend to support the use of multiple sim racing brands in one setup, meaning you won’t be able to combine Fanatec and Thrustmaster products (or any other brands) without the use of third-party adapters. This is down to a few reasons, including security chip requirements, licensing issues and the fact that consoles can’t recognize multiple USB inputs.
Security Chip Requirements
Compatibility for sim racing hardware on console is enabled by security chips placed inside the hardware. For Fanatec equipment on Xbox, the security chip needs to be inside the wheel rim, whereas PlayStation compatibility comes from a security chip inside the wheel base. This means that in order to get a Fanatec shifter or handbrake to work on Xbox, it must be paired with a Fanatec wheel rim.
The same goes for PlayStation, only the source of compatibility is found within the wheel base. This prevents console users from using Thrustmaster peripherals with Fanatec wheels/wheel bases and vice versa. It is also the reason you will see certain pedals/shifters/handbrakes marked as ‘Xbox ready’ or ‘PlayStation ready’ rather than claiming outright compatibility.
The two big console manufacturers, Microsoft and Sony, also have strict (and expensive) licenses that they provide to other hardware manufacturers to allow their products to work together. These licenses can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) per region, and there may be more strings attached as well, such as button layouts and functionality requirements.
Some sim racing manufacturers may just be unable to afford these licenses when compared with the potential returns, or they may not be willing to give up some creative control over the design of the equipment in order to cater to a console market.
USB Port Issues
While gaming PCs are able to recognize multiple USB inputs, the two major consoles only recognize one, resulting in zero chance of implementing multiple brands into a setup. Extra peripherals will connect through the wheel base if they are part of the same brand’s ecosystem.
To get around this problem, you will have to rely on third-party adapters, which leads us into a discussion on the Drive Hub, a small electronic box that can allow you to mix your sim racing hardware brands on console.
The Drive Hub is loved by many console sim racers, allowing for compatibility between Fanatec and Thrustmaster products on your Xbox or PlayStation. As Thrustmaster and Fanatec are two of the sim racing hardware market leaders, there is a wide range of their products that are compatible with Drive Hub, meaning your equipment will likely be suitable.
The Drive Hub box plugs into your console via USB and has the capability to detect and configure your hardware to whichever console you are using. It has three USB slots, so you can connect both Thrustmaster and Fanatec products simultaneously without compatibility worries. While Drive Hub seems like the answer to all previous problems, it does have some fundamental flaws.
Drive Hub Issues
Drive Hub will allow your equipment to work without any input lag, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to access the full range of power that your hardware has to offer. In some cases, users have had to compromise some of their hardware’s features, such as progressive handbraking and some of their wheel base’s torque output.
Drive Hubs have also been prone to random disconnects, which could completely derail any race. However, this isn’t guaranteed to happen all the time. As with any third-party add-on, you have to balance the good points with the bad before you purchase, and you must consider how future proof the product will be.
Sim racing is in a constant state of evolution, with continuous updates being made to both software and hardware. Drive Hub will also evolve, but there is no guarantee that it will continue to support your setup in the future, making it a risky purchase.
Despite this, Drive Hub does open a lot of doors that were previously locked in terms of console compatibility and even more so the previous inability to mix and match hardware brands on Xbox or PlayStation. It does cost and requires a bit of extra set-up, but if you already have Fanatec and Thrustmaster products and can’t get them to work together, it may be a risk worth taking.
If you really want to use equipment from different manufacturers and you have the budget, it’s usually just better to get or build a gaming PC. Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone, and it can be frustrating to know that console hardware is so limited. So, the Drive Hub does present a decent solution for those that need it.
KEY POINTS• Fanatec and Thrustmaster equipment will typically be compatible with each other on PC
• There are security chip, licensing, and USB port issues that limit sim racing hardware compatibility with console
• There are some third-party adapters that can help you get around this, such as the Drive Hub
Fanatec & Thrustmaster Wheel/Pedal Compatibility Explained
|Thrustmaster Pedals||Fanatec Wheel Base||Yes (RJ12-USB adaptor)|
|Thrustmaster Shifter||Fanatec Wheel Base||Yes (USB)|
|Thrustmaster Handbrake||Fanatec Wheel Base||Yes (USB)|
|Thrustmaster Wheel Base||Fanatec Pedals||Yes (USB but need CS adaptor for CSL 2-pedal set)|
|Thrustmaster Wheel Base||Fanatec Shifter||Yes (CS adaptor)|
|Thrustmaster Wheel Base||Fanatec Handbrake||Yes (CS adaptor)|
Fanatec Wheel With Thrustmaster Pedals
Thrustmaster’s T3PA and T3PM pedals are popular within the beginner sim racing community due to their decent set of features at an affordable price. Matching them with a Fanatec wheel base requires and adapter, as the T3PA pedals have an RJ12 connection. The same goes for the T3PM and the T-LCM pedals.
Thrustmaster Wheel With Fanatec Pedals
There are a couple of pitfalls when trying to pair Fanatec pedals with a Thrustmaster wheel, mostly because of the cables provided in the box. The two-pedal Fanatec CSL set doesn’t come with its own USB connection, which means that you will only be able to use them with a Fanatec wheel base. You can work around this if you are prepared to spend more on a load cell pedal.
The Fanatec CSL Pedals LC (Load Cell) set does come with its own USB connection, meaning you’ll be able to plug them into a separate USB port on the PC. There is no issue if you want to use the ClubSport V3 pedals or the CSL Elite V2s with a Thrustmaster wheel, as they also come with their own USB connection.
The main factor which allows for compatibility between both Thrustmaster and Fanatec wheels and their respective pedal sets is whether they have the pedals have their own USB connections. Unfortunately for console racers, this won’t matter unless you have a Drive Hub adapter.
Do Fanatec Shifters/Handbrakes Work With Thrustmaster Wheels?
Connecting Fanatec shifters and handbrakes to Thrustmaster wheels will require the additional purchase of the Fanatec ClubSport USB adapter. The adapter will cost a little extra but will allow for easy compatibility between your shifter or handbrake and a Thrustmaster wheel.
This adapter is required because Fanatec shifters and handbrakes come with a different type of connection (RJ12), which would usually connect directly into a Fanatec wheel base. The adapter works as the middleman in this situation, turning the RJ12 connection into a standard USB connection.
If you use both a Fanatec handbrake and a Fanatec shifter, you will need to purchase two ClubSport USB adapters, as they only contain one RJ12 input port.
This is only applicable to PC users, once again because of the lack of USB ports on the front of PlayStation and Xbox consoles. If you are a console racer you will require a third-party adapter such as the Drive Hub to allow compatibility.
Do Thrustmaster Shifters/Handbrakes Work With Fanatec Wheels?
Thrustmaster shifters and handbrakes are compatible with Fanatec wheels providing you are a PC sim racer. Both the Thrustmaster TH8A shifter and TSS Sparco Mod + handbrake come with USB connection, meaning you will just have to plug them into one of your PC’s USB ports in order to get them to work with your Fanatec wheel.
This USB connection means that you won’t require any sort of adapter like you would when trying to use a Fanatec shifter or handbrake alongside a Thrustmaster wheel and pedal setup. It is therefore easier this way round, and you will save yourself a bit of money by not having to purchase a separate add-on.
Unfortunately, console users won’t be able to use their Thrustmaster shifter or handbrake alongside a Fanatec wheel, unless they have a third-party adapter such as the Drive Hub to facilitate it.
If you are a PC sim racer, you should have no problem using Fanatec products alongside Thrustmaster products. Issues with security chips, licenses and USB ports makes it almost impossible for console users to mix the two brands, unless they have an adapter such as the Drive Hub. It remains to be seen whether hardware and console manufacturers will find a way around this in the future.
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