What’s the Best Steering Wheel for the Price?

Competitive racing games have hit a new pinnacle in 2017. With the two biggest names to enter the racing market in October, there have already been a slew of serious racing games to come out this year. Codemasters released DiRT 4 and F1 2017 in the past few months, and they are the best each series has seen. Couple that with the recent releases of NASCAR Heat 2 and Project Cars 2, that is already more than enough to challenge fans to be the best in their respected games. Finally, Forza Motorsport 7 and Gran Turismo Sport are on deck, and e-sports has taken center stage in all these games. Want to prove you’re for real? You need a wheel and there are a few options.

Racing wheel setups are not simple. You may have enough to afford a wheel, then realize you lack a comfortable setup. There needs to be a way to mount your wheel as you cannot just keep these on your lap. This also includes pedals. While some companies have workarounds for laying the pedals on the carpet, force and weight distribution will clearly affect the pedals staying put on the floor. While a friend of mine recommended a yoga mat, the ideal setup is to have the pedals bolted to something. This doesn’t even include the shifter option that some wheels have. There are cheaper seat setups for around $150 online, so not only is there an increase in your budget, but also an increase in space requirement.

Thrustmaster T300RS is the mid-range option in its line.

Honestly, the ultimate setup would run about $1500. This would include a viable wheel, seat, and a virtual reality setup. The good thing is that most of the wheels will work specifically on your console and PC, so there’d be no need to buy multiple wheel setups (kind of helps that Forza 7 will be available on PC if you own a PS4, not so much for Gran Turismo Sport if you own an Xbox One). Wheels range from $100-$600 from the major manufacturers, Thrustmaster and Logitech.

I recently got my hands on two wheels at different price points. The first being the entry-level Thrustmaster T80, which retails for about $100 new. The physical steering wheel is comfortable and it features face buttons and paddle shifters. The overall build is pretty plastic and features a cable connection to a pedal and brake. The wheel uses a screw and clamp technique to attach to the table, and the pedal base includes two holes to attach to a platform. The wheel does lack force feedback, which should be an instant “no” for simulation racers. Instead, there is a belt system that simulates resistance. Racing games that have this specific wheel as a controller option are the best choices, as the software has been included to correctly implement it into the game. F1 2017 did include this, while Assetto Corsa did not. The T80 is a solid option if you’re looking to change it up, but ultimately you’re going to want more.

Logitech offers one series of wheel.

The second wheel is the Logitech G29/920 and it offers substantial upgrades for the price. Thrustmaster features a step up from the T80 with the T150, but the Logitech G29/920 features more options. Logitech was kind enough to supply one for review and there will be a review soon covering the in-and-outs of the wheel. This wheel retails for $399 and is available with a separate 6-speed short-shifter for $60. Best Buy currently has the wheel for $269, however, and it seems to be cheaper across the board than the suggested retail price. The G29 (PS4) and G920 (Xbox One) are more inviting for that price. The physical steering wheel features a leather grip, metallic paddle shifters and an excellent force feedback interface. The pedals are metallic and include a clutch. The brake pedal is pressure sensitive to simulate real braking.

While I don’t suggest shelling out a ridiculous amount of money for a wheel, you shouldn’t cheap out either. The T80 will leave you wanting more and while the T150 is an upgrade, it would be worth it to spend a little extra for Logitech’s setup. While Thrustmaster does have the T300 (with shifter option) and the insanely nice (and expensive) T-GT, the G29/920 just offer great options for the money. For a great experience, you will need to look to spend about $250-$300 and most importantly have the space and a desk/table to do so.