Within the world of sim racing, there are several brands that stand above the rest. Some brands produce the best pedals that money can buy, while others produce excellent gaming seats and rigs. And then there are those who are the best when it comes to the crown jewel, sim racing steering wheels.
In no particular order, the top sim racing wheel manufacturers are:
- Ascher Racing
- Ricmotech (RealGear)
- Precision Sim Engineering
- SimXperience (AccuForce)
- Leo Bodnar (SimSteering)
These brands all utilize the best and most advanced technology in the sim racing industry to produce high-quality steering wheels. Some brands are better at producing certain types of wheel, but nevertheless they all produce quality products. So, in no particular order, let’s look at each in detail.
The Top Sim Racing Wheel Manufacturers
Fanatec is one of the best-known racing wheel manufacturers on the sim racing market. It is a German company, with its roots going back to a company called Endor which was founded in 1997. This company didn’t sell racing wheels like Fanatec does today, but it did sell PC input devices like joysticks and other controllers for some of the earliest simulator games.
Entering The Console Space
The company launched its first wheel for PC, which was the Le Mans model. Then, following that, Fanatec launched its first fully licensed PlayStation sim racing wheel with the Speedster 2. Later down the line, Fanatec started working with Turn10, the company behind the Forza Motorsport series of games. This led to some of the most innovative console wheel technology on the market at the time.
Fast forward a little further and Fanatec have produced some of the best sim racing wheels that money can buy. They have several different models, ranging from belt-driven to direct drive, with a focus on quality. They are known for their “Germaneering”, and each wheel that they produce is made from the highest quality materials and utilizes the most advanced technology.
Not Just Steering Wheels
Aside from steering wheels, Fanatec also produces a large range of other sim racing products. These range from pedal and gear shifter bundles, to seats and other more specific accessories for your rig. The brand is a very versatile one, with lots on offer for sim racers of all experience levels.
Fanatec are the ideal choice for both console and PC gamers, and their focus is really on the intermediate to advanced sim racer. However, their entry level wheels are definitely still usable for beginners, and they will serve as a great introduction to what can be accomplished with a sim racing wheel.
Notable Fanatec Wheels
- The Motorsport Wheel Bundle comes with the Clubsport V2.5 Wheel Base. The base comes in a variety of styles, with Fanatec never being shy to work with specific brands. It uses a high-tech belt-drive system to provide excellent, smooth force feedback for both PC and Xbox One racers.
- The CSL Elite Racing Wheel is compatible with PS4. Utilizing a lot of the technology from the V2.5, such as the brushless servo motor, this wheel is ideal for beginner to intermediate sim racers.
- The Podium series is Fanatec’s line of direct drive wheelbases and wheels. These are the most advanced options from Fanatec and there are several varieties, with the F1 model being the first direct drive wheel for PS4. These are definitely for the more advanced sim racer.
Ascher Racing is another German sim racing company, which specializes in producing steering wheels and various other accessories. Although they are a smaller and less well-known brand than Fanatec, they are partnered with some of the big names in wheel manufacturing, like SimuCube, as well as pedal manufacturers like SimTag.
For The Advanced Sim Racer
They don’t make the bases for the wheels, and instead put all of their focus into the wheel itself. This means they can concentrate on packing as much advanced technology into a well-manufactured casing. Their wheels are definitely geared more towards the advanced sim racer, as their pricing tends to put off beginners with smaller budgets.
The focus on the wheel itself means they can also make their rims compatible with lots of different wheelbases and even different gaming platforms as well. They use a standard USB connection on their wheels, which means you can plug it straight in to most setups. You will of course have to make sure it is compatible with your wheelbase before you buy one.
Notable Ascher Racing Wheels
- The B16L-USB is one of Ascher Racing’s cheaper options, and it is a truly multifunctional wheel. With 8 buttons and 2 encoders, you can make use of this wheel’s extensive versatility.
- The F28-SC is the next step up, with sleek Alcantara grips, and this time there are 12 programmable buttons. The encoders are swapped out for 7-way multifunctional joysticks, and the magnetic paddle shifters offer a tactile feel.
- The F64-USB is arguably their best wheel, but also their most expensive. This wheel has 12 buttons, 2 joysticks, 4 encoders and 2 rotary switches for the ultimate in customization.
ThrustMaster is headquartered in France and was founded in 1990 with a primary focus on flight simulators. In the late 90s through the early 2000s, ThrustMaster switched its focus to driving simulators, and over the years has produced sim racing equipment for PC, Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
A Good Option For Every Experience Level
ThrustMaster prides itself on producing sim racing wheels for all levels of experience, with no narrow focus on any particular type of wheel. They also produce other sim racing equipment as well, such as pedals and gear shifters. The versatility of ThrustMaster’s selection of products means you can create almost an entire rig with just their products.
Like Fanatec, ThrustMaster have also teamed up with many brands over the years to produce branded steering wheels. They have an extensive range of Ferrari wheels, which come in varieties for every budget and experience level. This makes ThrustMaster the ideal brand to go to if you are a Ferrari fan, but even if you aren’t there are plenty of other options.
No Direct Drive Option
One of the main differences between ThrustMaster and some of the other options on this list is their lack of a direct drive option. This means you are limited to gear/belt-driven options, with most of the lower priced wheels containing a mix of the two. The upside to this is that it limits prices, making ThrustMaster a good option for those on a budget.
Regardless of the price, ThrustMaster still produces some very good quality wheels. As we have mentioned, their lower priced models come with a mixed motor system, meaning you can get the benefits of both gear and belt-driven motors for relatively low prices. This makes ThrustMaster a great choice for both intermediate and beginner sim racers.
Notable ThrustMaster Wheels
- Perhaps the best entry level wheel, the T150 is one of ThrustMaster’s PlayStation-compatible wheels. It uses the mixed belt and gear mechanism for smooth yet realistic force feedback. This is a great choice for beginners.
- The T-GT is ThrustMaster’s Gran Turismo Sport branded wheel, which features four 12-position rotary selectors, 2 mini-sticks and 2 metal gear levers. With ThrustMaster’s HEART technology built-in, this wheel offers some excellent force feedback.
- The T300 RS is arguably ThrustMaster’s best wheel. With a dual-belt force feedback system and their HEART technology, the T300 RS provides some of the best force feedback that you will find within its price range.
Ricmotech is a relatively small sim racing company, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t produce some of the highest-quality sim racing products on the market. With a focus on direct drive steering wheels, Ricmotech is one of the top brands to go for if you are a more advanced sim racer and are not restricted in terms of your budget.
A Lot To Offer
Ricmotech doesn’t just offer sim racing wheels, however. They have a massive selection of other products available, ranging from pedals to handbrakes, and almost everything in between. They even produce racing gloves and other racewear, along with the increasingly popular extras known as shakers and tactile transducers. Button boxes are also one of their specialties.
The selection of wheels offered by Ricmotech is more than extensive. Although they sell some third-party wheels and other equipment, such as that of ThrustMaster and Logitech, they do also offer their own brand of RealGear wheels. These range from just the rims to the actual bases themselves, and there are options for most budgets.
Focused On Direct Drive
As we have already said, Ricmotech has put a strong focus on direct drive mechanisms. This drives the price up quite substantially, but it also enhances the realism in terms of the force feedback and overall feel of their wheels. If you are a serious sim racer with a decent amount of experience under your belt already, Ricmotech could be an ideal choice for your next wheel.
Notable Ricmotech Wheels
- The Mini Mite direct drive system from Ricmotech is a real powerhouse. It has a lot of customizability, with buttons, dials and switches that can be programmed for up to 32 in-game functions.
- If you go for the Mini Mite direct drive base, the RealGear WheelPro Cubic carbon fiber edition is the ideal rim to go with it. With 6 buttons, 2 toggles and 2 dials, as well as two metal paddle shifters, the WheelPro is a multifunctional wheel that will suit any racing rig.
- If you want a cheaper option to go onto your direct drive base then the RealGear MP1 GT11C is an ideal choice. With a lightweight design and plenty of buttons for customization, this wheel is a good first choice for those new to the world of direct drive.
Precision Sim Engineering
Founded in 2012, Precision Sim Engineering is one of the newer brands to emerge onto the sim racing market. The entire company was founded on the desire to create a truly immersive and good-looking steering wheel, so this brand is one to go for if you want your next steering wheel to be built with sheer passion for sim racing.
Trusted By Professionals
The company has worked with professional racing drivers, and they even boast the fact that they have received custom orders from F1 drivers. This is because they design and create all of their products in-house, starting from scratch. This means they can provide truly bespoke sim racing wheels. If you want to create your own custom wheel, that is also an option.
The steering wheels that are produced by Precision Sim Engineering are more expensive than the likes of ThrustMaster and even Fanatec, but this is down to their sheer quality. They are crafted out of the top materials, and so they look absolutely fantastic.
A Bespoke Service
They don’t have the widest selection of wheels available, but that is where the ability to customize your own comes in. This means that they are less focused on the entry level sim racer, but if you are an intermediate or more advanced racer you will be able to benefit from a personalized sim racing wheel that can do wonders for your overall experience and level of immersion.
Notable Precision Sim Engineering Wheels
- The GPX wheel from Precision Sim Engineering is an expensive option, but it is used by professional racers across the world. It features a beautiful LCD display, along with plenty of buttons and dials for the ultimate customization.
- The LM-Pro wheel is a Le Mans styled wheel that also comes with plenty of customization options. The magnetic paddle shifters feel great, and the carbon fiber finish makes the entire wheel look stunning.
- The GT3 Wireless is one of Precision Sim Engineering’s most innovative products, offering the ability to instantly connect your wheel to the rest of your setup via USB receivers.
SimXperience was founded in 2006, and they are another brand whose customers include professional racing drivers from across the world. The quality of their products is up there with the very best manufacturers, and they specialize in producing complete simulators along with various other accessories and, of course, steering wheels.
Their wheels come in the form of the well-known AccuForce variety. These wheels are some of the best direct drive options on the market, and for this reason they are aimed at the intermediate to advanced level sim racer. Aside from the technology within their wheels, they also go for a nice aesthetic with a lot of Alcantara being used across their wheels.
As SimXperience really puts a focus on the realism of the sim racing experience, they have some of the most expensive options on the market. Their fully-built simulators can cost upwards of $20,000, but this makes them a great brand for professional racers looking to enhance their racing abilities without setting foot on the track.
Notable SimXperience Wheels
- The AccuForce Pro V2 is SimXperience’s flagship steering wheel. It is a direct drive wheelbase capable of producing up to 13 Nm of torque. Aside from that the wheel comes with plenty of buttons to customize your sim racing experience.
- The AccuForce DuraMold is a rim that boasts durability and functionality. Ergonomically designed, and compatible with the V2 direct drive system, this is the ideal choice for those that want a long-lasting wheel rim.
- The AccuForce button box is the ideal companion for the AccuForce V2 and it works well with the DuraMold wheel rim too. Featuring 13 buttons in total, it has plenty to offer in the way of customization.
Leo Bodnar (SimSteering)
SimSteering is based at the home of British motorsport at Silverstone and has been in operation since around 2009 when Leo Bodnar created the first version of the steering system. The direct drive system offered by SimSteering is the base for their entire line of products, and although they have several wheels to choose from, this is what makes them so great.
The products designed by SimSteering are intended to be highly compatible, and that is another reason they are one of the most popular options. The system is made with precision engineering, and high-quality materials are used throughout to make this one of the toughest direct drive systems on the market, and the wheels are made in the same manner.
A High Level Option
The nature of the direct drive system itself means that the SimSteering options are really intended for high level sim racers. They are used by professional racers for training purposes, and they are definitely not designed to be used by beginner sim racers.
Notable SimSteering Wheels
- The GT1 is made with a lightweight Sparco rim, and it features two stunning carbon fiber paddle shifters. It features several alert LEDs that can be programed for individual functions, alongside plenty of buttons and toggles.
- The GT-AM is another option from SimSteering, this time coming with 10 buttons and several optional extras, such as the aluminum paddle shifters and a nice quick release system.
- The GP2/3 & Renault World Series Simulator Steering Wheel features two replica screen layouts from GP2/GP3. This wheel is compatible with over 30 games and can also be fitted with an optional quick release.
How To Pick The Right Brand For You
Only Quality will Do
All of the steering wheel manufacturers on our list have one thing in common, and that is the fact that they only produce high-quality sim racing equipment. This does mean that they can be quite expensive, and so you really want to make sure that you make the right choice. So, there are a few things that you might want to consider before you click the buy button.
Firstly, and most importantly, you need to consider your own experience level. If you are just starting out with sim racing, you will really be best served by a cheaper, belt-driven ThrustMaster wheel, or one of the lower-end Fanatec options. These will suit beginner playstyles a lot better than the rest, and they won’t be too expensive for your first setup.
If you are an intermediate to advanced sim racer, the choice is yours. Fanatec are the ones to go for if you want high end belt-driven wheels, while any of the other brands on our list that offer direct drive wheels are ideal for more experienced racers as well. They will be more expensive, but the quality of the experience they can provide is well worth it.
How Much Realism Do You Want?
You also might want to consider what you want to get out of the wheel. If realism is your ultimate goal, having a good steering wheel is absolutely essential. One of the SimSteering options, or the AccuForce wheel by SimXperience will give you plenty of realism. If you are more focused on functionality, the F64-USB from Ascher Racing might be a better choice.
Stick To Quality
There are some other options out there for total beginners, but you will usually still be best served by one of the entry levels options from the brands on our list as they put a focus on quality for every experience level. Logitech may be a notable mention, with their G29 and G920 wheels being a very affordable way to get into sim racing, albeit with a relatively basic sim racing wheel.
The top brands in sim racing are constantly creating new products that utilize the most advanced technology on the market. The wheels offered by these brands far exceed the rest of the options available to sim racers in all aspects, from their build quality to the amount of torque they can provide and their overall realism factor.
The best brands for beginners and intermediate sim racers tend to be ThrustMaster and Fanatec, while more advanced sim racers might want to choose a brand such as SimSteering or SimXperience. No matter which option you go for, you will be getting a quality, functional wheel that will help to provide you with a truly immersive sim racing experience.