The Hori RWA Apex racing wheel is an entry level sim racing wheel designed to be a cheaper alternative to other options on the market. However, it’s worth finding out a bit more about this wheel to decide if it’s the right choice for you.
The Hori Apex racing wheel is definitely aimed at beginners. However, for the cheap price you do get a decent amount of functionality, and once you get used to the lack of force feedback and small range of rotation, the wheel actually performs quite well.
Below, I’ll go into more detail about why the Hori Apex racing wheel has more to offer than first meets the eye. I’ll go through both the good things and the bad things about it, so you can decide if it’s right for you. Let’s start with a brief overview of the wheel.
Overview Of The Hori Apex
The first thing you’ll notice about the Hori Apex racing wheel is its small form factor and lightweight design. This is what you might come to expect from a circa-$100 racing wheel, but overall, it looks quite good. It’s fully licensed by Sony and is designed to work with the PlayStation 3 and 4, along with PCs as well.
It comes with a bunch of programmable buttons, along with a set of two pedals as well. These are also lightweight and are made out of plastic, so they’re not quite up there in terms of quality with a set of load cell pedals for example.
The wheel uses a clamp system to connect to your sim racing setup, and if you’re using something like a glass table top you could even use the included suction cups instead.
No Force Feedback
The Hori Apex is not a force feedback wheel. It also has a short range of rotation, coming in at 270 degrees, although you can set it to 180 degrees as well. These two factors are arguably the most important for anyone considering buying this wheel, and they are what define this wheel as one for beginners in the world of sim racing.
The Design Of The Wheel
The overall design of the Hori Apex racing wheel is actually quite good, featuring a sleek style and nice rubber grips that make it feel quite nice to use. However, it does still feel cheap (because it is) and so this might put more seasoned sim racers off buying this wheel.
One small thing I noticed with my wheel was that it was slightly off center as you can see in the picture above, with the red band at the top of the wheel being not quite in the middle when the wheel is at rest (note the Hori logo being aligned with the bottom of the frame). This could be a quality control issue, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Plenty Of Buttons
You have lots of buttons at your disposal, which is always a good thing. Including the d-pad and the PlayStation button, there are 18 in total, plus two plastic paddle shifters. These do the job, but they feel very flimsy, and I can’t help but think they might break after a lot of use.
The pedals are only available in a set of two, and they also feel very cheap. They have an alright range of motion, and they come with a fold out footrest that is really best kept unfolded as it offers some extra grip on carpets and is uncomfortable on your feet if you’re not wearing shoes!
You’ll notice from the picture below that the pedals have quite a narrow base as well, which means they were a bit awkward to fit on the pedal base of my Playseat Challenge. This isn’t really a fault with the Hori Apex, but it’s worth noting if you also use the Playseat Challenge that you might want to put something under the pedals to make them more secure (I also use a strap to keep them down).
The wheel is plug and play, which streamlines the setup, and you don’t need a power cable as it just works off your PlayStation or PC via USB. The pedals connect to the wheel via their own RJ connector to the back of the wheel, and cable management is really nothing to worry about here.
As for attaching the wheel to your rig, you can use the included suction cups if you want like I mentioned, but I imagine most sim racers will either have a dedicated rig or be using a desk or other wooden surface to attach the wheel to, and so you’re more likely to use the included clamp.
Attaching It To Your Rig
As is common with cheap sim racing wheels that use a clamp system, you might run into some trouble with regard to the thickness of the surface to which you’re attaching the wheel. As you can see in the picture the wheel platform of my Playseat Challenge is fairly thin, and not optimized for clamps that can’t go tight enough to secure it in place.
This is why I have a book in place underneath to make up the difference, just to keep things secure. This is because there are no screw holes in the underside of the wheel base as you would find with high-end sim racing wheels. While these would be nice to have, the Hori Apex doesn’t really need them as the wheel doesn’t offer force feedback.
This means you won’t be exerting too much force on the wheel, and so the clamp is more than secure enough as long as you have it tight against a surface. I can’t vouch for the suction cups, but I would imagine the clamp is stronger!
That’s it for the design, but how does the Hori Apex wheel feel to use?
How Does The Hori Apex Feel To Use?
As I’ve already mentioned a few times, this is not a force feedback racing wheel. This comes with inherent and obvious limitations, with the main result being a lack of feel when racing. It can also make it quite difficult to get used to if you normally use a force feedback wheel.
Instead, it uses a bungee cord system, which provides some resistance, and auto centers the wheel. However, this is helped by the vibration functionality of the wheel, which is a nice touch that just helps to make the racing experience feel a little better than what the bungee cord would offer on its own.
With a lack of force feedback comes a lack of finer control, but the lack of more rotation also makes the wheel a tough one to get used to. It’s fine for most games, and with some fiddling around of the in-game settings you will be able to find a setup that works for you, but in something like F1 2020 – where the finest of controls need to be dialed in – it can become quite jumpy and almost unusable.
Speaking of settings and changing things around, one nice feature of the Hori Apex is that you can change things like the steering sensitivity on the wheel itself. I found this to be essential, albeit a little fiddly. But being able to change dead zones on both the pedals and the wheel without going in and out of menus does make it a little faster to make changes.
When you first plug this wheel in, you’ll notice that there are a few options to choose from right off the bat. There’s a switch that says PS4-N, PS4-S and PS3. The final option is self-explanatory, but the first two refer to PlayStation 4 normal mode and PlayStation 4 steering mode.
One is supposed to make the wheel function as if it were a controller, and the other as if it were a wheel. From my experience, different options work in different ways for different games. You’ll just need to do a bit of trial and error to see which mode works best for which games.
Some Odd Settings
For example, for some games the wrong setting will make the gear shifters unusable, and so it’s just a case of switching it back, waiting for the PlayStation to recognize it again, and going once more. This lack of obvious consistency isn’t great, but you get used to it with such a cheap wheel.
While this isn’t really useful for sim racing, it can make navigating menus a little easier as you can switch between using it as a wheel and as a controller with just a quick switch. But it also allows you to use the wheel as a controller in other games, such as GTA V or Watch Dogs 2, which traditionally don’t support racing wheels. I personally had a lot of fun messing around with this.
There are also a few buttons labelled DP, LS and RS (see picture above), which change the d-pad to work as either the d-pad, the left stick or the right stick. I kept mine set to DP, as I don’t think the other two are much use for sim racing.
While you might find the array of buttons to be impressive at a glance, as is common with controller-based sim racing wheels, some of the buttons are duplicates. For example, the L1 and R1 buttons on the 10 and 2 positions of the wheel correspond to the same functions as the pedals. So, you can accelerate with the gas pedal or the button on the wheel.
Range Of Rotation
The short 270degrees of rotation takes a lot of getting used to if you’ve ever used a 900-degree wheel for example. While it’s fine for arcade racers, racing sims can be a bit twitchy and there can be big noticeable feedback gaps that take a lot of fine tuning and messing around with the settings to fix.
You can change to just 180o if you want, but I don’t think this would be very usable beyond the most arcade-like racing games. Still, it’s worth knowing about as everyone has a different driving style and different preferences.
The pedals are the next real limiting factor. They are potentiometer pedals, like you might find on something like the Logitech G29, but there are no rubber stoppers or springs behind the brake pedal to add resistance, so it’s really more like a switch at times.
It takes a lot of practice to work out the right pressure to apply, and even after messing around with the settings for a while I found it was hard to get much in the way of feel. However, after a decent amount of use, you will get used to this wheel and the pedals.
It Takes Some Getting Used To
I managed to get my lap times on GT Sport to within a second of what I normally manage with the Thrustmaster T300RS, but it was definitely harder to do well! So, that brings me to my final point, regarding who should buy the Hori Apex sim racing wheel.
Who Should Buy The Hori Apex Racing Wheel?
Overall, I think the Hori Apex wheel is a fun one to use if you’ve never tried sim racing before. If you want to just get a feel for what sim racing is and aren’t too serious about it, I think this is a good shout. It’s also a good buy for those looking for a present to buy for a kid that loves racing and playing video games.
However, if you are at all serious about getting into sim racing, or if you’re used to using higher end equipment, I would recommend you spend the extra money on a force feedback wheel and some decent pedals. Not only will you benefit from better feel and more potential, you’ll also just find the higher quality wheels to offer a more enjoyable sim racing experience.
The Hori Apex sim racing wheel is a good choice for anyone that’s curious about what sim racing has to offer. While the lack of force feedback and load cell pedals will be tough to get used to for more experienced racers, it’s an ideal way to get into the world of sim racing on a budget.