Gaming wheels are typically the first piece of equipment that sim racers invest in, and they can cost a lot. It is important then to know what you need, what to look for and what to expect before buying one. But you may still be unsure how much sim racing wheels cost.
The cost of a sim racing wheel will vary from $50 to thousands of dollars. Price is linked to quality, and for the entry-level gaming wheel, expect a price range between $50 and $300. For mid-range the cost is about $300 to $700, and anything above that would typically be premium quality.
For this article we are going to compare what to expect across the three price brackets. Each of these have different options and are better suited to different players’ needs. We’ll also provide some options in each category to help you in your search for your first sim racing wheel.
How Much Does A Gaming Steering Wheel Cost?
A gaming steering wheel can cost anywhere from $50 to $2,000 or more depending on the brand, type of wheel, and the materials used to make it. Good entry-level, gear/belt-driven sim racing wheels come in at around $150-$300, while a more mid-range or direct drive option can cost $500-$1,500.
How Much Do Entry-Level Sim Racing Wheels Cost?
Entry-level sim racing wheels typically cost around $50-$300. If you are unsure whether this is a hobby you really want to spend a lot of money on, or just want something simple to get started in sim racing, then this would be a perfect starting point.
Here are the typical features of an entry-level wheel:
- Force feedback: Often not included but force rumble is sometimes available
- Turning rotation: Between 180 and 360 degrees
- Wheel size: Small to average
- Material: Typically plastic
What To Expect
The look, feel, and style, even for entry-level wheels, can be pretty good. With not so much money being spent on a lot of the motorized features on the wheel, companies often have more to spend on their styling budgets, so you can still expect some good-looking products at this price.
The shortfall comes when we talk about features and build quality. There are no wheels with good force feedback currently available for under $100. Force rumble can be purchased at around $100, but force feedback is an extremely important feature to have should you want your racing to feel more realistic.
However, if you are just looking to get behind a wheel and play, then this should not be much of an issue for you. At this price point, the wheels are often light and don’t connect well to surfaces either.
Stability & Build Quality
This is something that no player wants to deal with. A wheel that shifts around can be problematic when you’re racing, so do some research and try to spend a little extra on something that is stronger in this aspect, ideally that you can hard mount to your rig if you can avoid using a desk clamp.
Finally, it’s almost universal that the pedals that are often bundled with these wheels aren’t the best. They tend to offer little resistance, and don’t feel terribly realistic. If you want to improve this in the future, try to look for a wheel that is expandable and will let you attach third party accessories to it. However, if you’re an absolute beginner, any pedal set will be somewhat useful.
Don’t expect too much at this price point. If a sturdy, good-looking wheel that can control your game comfortably is all that you’re after, expect to spend around $200-$300. Below are some options within the entry-level range, with the Logitech G29 being the best value for money, and something like the Thrustmaster Ferrari wheel being closer to the lower end of the pricing scale.
The Best Entry-Level Sim Racing Wheels
How Much Do Mid-Range Sim Racing Wheels Cost?
Mid-range sim racing wheels tend to cost between $300 and $700. A lot more features tend to be found at this range, and if you are into racing for a more realistic feel – rather than just for some fun – you can be expecting to pay closer to the $500 mark.
Here are the typical features of a mid-range wheel:
- Force feedback: Usually gear/belt-drive, some cheaper direct drive options
- Turning rotation: Between 360 and 1080 degrees
- Wheel size: Small to average
- Material: Plastic or metal
What To Expect
There are a lot of great options here from all over the price range. For styling, expect something that looks pretty good at the higher end of the range. It does tend to fall short the less you pay as, in this price range, more money seems to go on the actual features of the wheel rather than how it looks.
Also, as with entry-level wheels, expect pedals to be included in some bundles. However, the quality of pedals doesn’t necessarily increase with the quality of the wheel. Often, cheap pedals are bundled with expensive wheels to make the value of the bundle appear higher, when realistically you’d be better buying the wheel itself and buying more appropriate pedals separately.
Features Of These Wheels
Decent force feedback, a good amount of turning rotation, and mounting holes to attach the wheel to your rig are all to be expected at this price range. Turning rotation and the force feedback quality can differ a lot depending on how much you are willing to pay, and most will work via belt drive mechanisms, with a few cheaper direct drive options now on the market too.
You definitely don’t need direct drive to enjoy your sim racing experience or even be the fastest on the track, but you can get some decent performance from these kinds of wheels at the higher end of the mid-range pricing scale. Below is a good example of a budget-friendly direct drive wheel.
The Best Mid-Range Sim Racing Wheel
The best mid-range sim racing wheel is the Gran Turismo DD Pro from Fanatec. This is a fairly budget-friendly direct drive setup, ideal for those looking for their first taste of the most immersive drive system around. The wheel itself looks great and is perfect for fans of Gran Turismo 7. You also get a handy set of pedals with this bundle, making it a decent choice for beginners with the budget.
How Much Do Premium Sim Racing Wheels Cost?
Premium sim racing wheels tend to cost upwards of $700, often getting closer to $2,000. At this price level, as with anything, you can spend huge amounts of money should you want to, and the more you spend, the better quality the components tend to be.
Here are the typical features of a premium wheel:
- Force feedback: Normally always direct drive
- Turning rotation: Often unlimited
- Wheel size: All sizes
- Material: Normally metal or even carbon fiber
What To Expect
Features are aplenty for this range. In terms of force feedback, top-of-the-line wheels offer more detail than mid-range wheels, and it’s almost exclusively direct drive at these price points.
The materials and style of the wheel are also premium. Often hand stitched and comfortable to use, some are even designed alongside real race-car teams and drivers to give you the most authentic experience. They are also often race discipline-specific, with formula-style wheels for F1 fans, and GT-style rims for fans of endurance racing.
The Best Premium Sim Racing Wheels
There is a lot to choose from in the premium sim racing wheel department, and this is when you really need to separate rims and wheel bases, as they’re typically purchased separately. There are the odd bundles, such as the now-discontinued Podium F1 bundle from Fanatec, or the still-available Podium Formula bundle.
However, in terms of premium wheel rims, there are great choices out there from the likes of Cube Controls with their F-Pro wheel, and Simucube also have their excellent Tahko rim. Fanatec’s Porsche GT3 rim is a great choice for GT racers, while Ascher is another manufacturer of excellent wheels, such as their F64 rim.
When it comes to wheel bases, you’ll struggle to find a better option than Simucube’s Ultimate, Pro and Sport offerings. These are some of the best in the industry, and they offer incredibly immersive force feedback combined with ultra-high build quality. There are also cheaper options like the Fanatec CSL DD, or even MOZA’s R5 and R9 wheel bases, which are ideal for beginners.
What To Look For When Buying A Sim Racing Wheel
Consider What You Want In A Wheel
When it comes to sim racing wheels, it all depends on what you want your wheel for. For those that are just looking for a wheel for some fun, something to make their game more interesting, or for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a wheel, head straight for the entry-level wheels.
Make sure your wheel offers solid mounting options too, so that you can securely attach it to your rig, or your desk if you don’t have a cockpit yet.
Quality Force Feedback
Force feedback is a must, and the quality of the force feedback is just as important. You want to feel the bumps of the track and when your tires start losing grip, so get something with high-quality force feedback if you can.
You also want to consider the other features of the wheel. Does it offer a realistic range of rotation? Is the build quality going to allow you to get years of fun out of the wheel? Does it have programmable buttons for increased immersion and quality of experience? Considering how important these things are to you will allow you to make the right choice.
When choosing a sim racing wheel, think about how much you want to spend and what features are important to you. With the vast range of options available out there at all price ranges, and with the industry continuing to grow, there really is a sim racing wheel for everyone.
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