Fanatec vs Thrustmaster: Which Is Better?

Fanatec and Thrustmaster are two of the biggest names in the sim racing world. Both of the brands have lots to offer to sim racers, and their products are some of the highest quality in the business. However, there are some key differences between the two.

So, which is better Fanatec or Thrustmaster? If you are a beginner sim racer, Thrustmaster is definitely the more accessible brand. However, if you are a more serious gamer, Fanatec have a better range of high-end sim racing equipment.

Which brand is better for you is highly dependent on your experience level and on what you want to gain from the sim racing experience. There are a few things that set these brands apart from each other and knowing them will help you to choose which one is right for you.

What You Need To Consider

When comparing any two brands in any industry you have to first think about your own situation. With sim racing, this means considering things such as your own experience level, your budget and your expectations. If you have never bought a sim racing wheel for example, you may have to do a lot of your own research to find equipment that is targeted at beginners.

The quality of the equipment will dictate how realistic it feels, as well as how reliable and durable the product is. There are lots of ultra-cheap options on the market for those that just want to get that arcade racer feel and Thrustmaster and Fanatec are definitely not aimed at that market. Both brands use high-quality materials for superior products.

You also have to decide what sort of setup you are looking for. Do you just need a racing wheel? Or would you prefer to add on a gear shifter and some pedals? Not all brands offer these options, and for some it can mean buying lots of individual products at higher prices. So, decide on your ideal setup and that will narrow down your options and it will be easier to make a decision.

If you are more experienced, you may need to think about how strong you want the force feedback to be, and this can mean choosing between gear, belt, and direct drive wheels. This will also be affected by your budget, as direct drive wheels in particular are only accessible to those with a fair amount of cash to spend. Thus, your budget will help you decide which brand to go for.

Finally, your expectations are important in the decision-making process as well. If you are looking for a highly realistic experience, then you will most likely want to spend a bit more money on at least a belt-driven wheel or pedals with built-in force feedback. However, if you are more focused on the fun factor, then cheaper equipment might suit you better, and not all brands offer these options.

Both Fanatec and Thrustmaster have been in the sim racing world for a long time, and they are both slightly higher-end options for sim racers. They have their similarities and their differences, and these can help you to decide which brand is the one to go for.

Summary Of Fanatec

Fanatec was founded in 1997 and was one of the first brands to offer steering wheels that were compatible with the force feedback functionalities of racing games. They offer a wide range of wheels, pedals and other sim racing equipment, and they are usually at a higher price point than other brands. They are one of the few brands that offer their own direct drive steering wheels.

Summary Of Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster has its roots in flight simulators and was founded in 1990. Having started off selling flight sim equipment, they later went into the sim racing industry and have since become one of the most popular entry and intermediate level brands of sim racing equipment. They sell wheels, pedals and other equipment, with prices ranging from $75 to upwards of $700.

Steering Wheels

When it comes to steering wheels, Thrustmaster is definitely the cheaper option. Although they do offer a lot of intermediate racing wheels, they also have a couple of entry level options for beginner sim racers. They offer wheels for PC, Xbox and PlayStation, and so they are ideal for sim racers on all of the major platforms.

Thrustmaster also offer Ferrari branded wheels, which can be a strong selling point if you are a big Ferrari fan. Their low-end options are great for casual sim racers, and although they do offer high-end wheels as well, they are still gear and belt-driven. This means they do provide decent force feedback, but there are no Thrustmaster direct drive wheels available.

Fanatec offers wheels for PC, Xbox and PlayStation as well, and so there are options for gamers that use both console and computer for their sim racing. Fanatec is definitely geared more towards the experienced sim racer, with their wheels being priced higher than most of Thrustmaster’s options.

A lot of Fanatec’s wheels require a separate base, and so this can make them even more expensive, but it does allow for more customization of your setup. Another big selling point of Fanatec is their range of direct drive wheels. This means you can achieve even more realism through the far more detailed force feedback that is experienced with direct drive wheels.

When considering which brand to go for when buying a new steering wheel for your sim racing setup, it is important that you know exactly what you are looking for. Price isn’t everything, as you have to decide what feel you are after as well as the level and type of force feedback. Choosing a belt-driven wheel over a gear-driven wheel can make more difference than the price.

In terms of steering wheels, Thrustmaster offers more entry level options and so is the one to go for if you are less experienced and perhaps don’t have too much money to spend. Fanatec is the best choice if you want the most realistic experience and have a larger budget as they offer direct drive wheels.

Pedals

When it comes to pedals, Thrustmaster offer several products at a reasonable price point for both beginner and intermediate sim racers. They are made of high-quality materials and are highly compatible. Their pedals are definitely geared more towards entry level sim racers.

Fanatec also offer several pedal options, and they come in at a higher price point than those of Thrustmaster. However, they do come with extra features such as built-in pedal vibration, along with a lot of room for customization. This makes Fanatec pedals the ones to go for if you want more realism and more adjustability.

Other Things To Consider

Both Thrustmaster and Fanatec offer gear shifters and handbrake addons for your sim racing setup. As far as the differences between them go, you really will have to just look at them both and decide which one suits your setup best. Once again Fanatec’s shifters are more expensive, but Thrustmaster’s options are not the cheapest either, with some costing around $200.

Other equipment offered by both brands includes rig accessories and addons to increase the customization of your existing setup. In terms of quality, Fanatec might just win it with its ultra-high-quality construction, but when it comes to extras for your rig it really is just down to personal preference.

Both brands have their own ecosystems of products, meaning you can find a full setup with each one from wheels to other specific addons. There are plenty of stories online regarding their reliability, but both offer highly reliable products that do the job well. The main difference between the two brands in every aspect is the price.

With Thrustmaster, you can get your hands on a decent setup with a wheel, pedals and a shifter for a few hundred dollars. Fanatec products on the other hand tend to be sold individually, meaning you will often have to buy a base for your wheel, which alone can cost $100+. So, it is often not as simple as buying a new steering wheel or shifter as you have to consider the prices of all of the other parts too.

Final Thoughts

Thrustmaster and Fanatec are both top brands in the sim racing industry, but there are some subtle differences and some obvious ones too that set them apart from each other. Thrustmaster is a better brand to go for if you are just getting into sim racing, as they offer a wide range of products for all levels of experience.

Fanatec on the other hand will give you access to some really high-end sim acing equipment, such as direct drive steering wheels. They also build all of their products out of high-quality materials that are built to last, whereas some Thrustmaster products are made with rubber coatings, giving them a slightly cheaper feel.

As a general rule of thumb, Thrustmaster is better for beginners, while Fanatec is better for more experienced sim racers.