Review: Thrustmaster Racing Wheels

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Video games can take us to whole new worlds with increasing realism and now that VR has become a reality, the whole way we play games is going to change. With all this added realism, control in video games has never been so important. Thrustmaster, a well-established and well-respected brand that caters to the simulation crowd, already gives players amazing experiences when it comes to controlling video games. Be it with a steering wheel or flight stick Thrustmaster has been leading the pack for years now and it’s apparent, they really know their stuff.

Thrustmaster is no newcomer to the gaming world. Originally founded 1990, Thrustmaster really made headlines with gamers throughout that decade by releasing flight controllers for simulations on IBM compatible computers. They are widely recognized for their HOTAS flight sticks, which are modeled after actual aircraft controls. Currently they make joysticks, game controllers,headsets and steering wheels for PC, Xbox and PlayStation consoles. They even have third party licensing from brands like Ferrari and the U.S. Air Force, to name a few.

Some of the biggest games these days in the console world are racing simulators. Be it the ultra realistic take on the genre like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, or a more arcade oriented experience, like Forza Horizon and Need For Speed,  all these games can be vastly improved by using a steering wheel to play. Now there is something to be said about getting a whole simulator setup with a steering wheel, 3 screens, cockpit style chair and more, but not everyone has the room or cash to spare. Luckily Thrustmaster can not only help you create that ultimate experience but also can provide a much less costly way of experiencing that same simulator setup while taking up less space and money.

Well built and ready to race

thrustmaster-t150-proEnter the Thrustmaster TMX Pro Racing Wheel for Xbox One/PC and the Thrustmaster T150 Pro Racing Wheel for PS4/PS3. Both of these setups are a great way to get yourself started in the racing wheel world, especially considering they include the Thrustmaster T3PA 3-pedal set in the box. You can save a few bucks by buying the non pro versions since they include a lower end 2-pedal set but I found the 3-pedals had a much sturdier feel, as it features metal construction on the pedals and has progressive resistance with the brake pedal. This doesn’t sound like much but it makes a huge difference when it comes to feeling and response while playing your racing game of choice.

I spent most of my time with the TMX Racing Wheel playing Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One and Forza Motorsport 6 on PC. First off setup was super simple and took no time at all. The steering wheel connects to your Xbox or PC via a USB cable, the pedals connect to the steering wheel via a single cable, the wheel itself needs to be plugged into a two prong outlet and lastly the steering wheel connects to your desk or table of choice with and easy to use hand clamp. Tearing it all down or moving it was just as easy as setting it up. It’s also plug and play with Xbox One or an easy download of the drivers for PC.  

These wheels blew me away

thrustmaster-tmx-steering-wheelAfter getting the wheel setup, getting in game and using it was a breeze. Honestly though, I had very low expectations as I don’t really play racing games nor has my past experience with racing wheels been very good, mainly do to poor setups and low end products. With that being said, the TMX blew me away. Even though the wheel is mainly made of plastic, it still felt rather sturdy and the rubberized sections on the wheel provided ample grip, even while having super sweaty hands during my final laps fighting for first place. The force feedback is driven by a mixed-belt pulley and gears system, which means there was no dead space when the wheel is in the straight position and even though you can feel every bump, turn and more, I never felt I was fighting with the wheel as opposed to working with it. The shift paddles also felt really nice as they are made of metal and have a very satisfying click when using them to shift gears or navigate menus and so on. All the rest of the buttons were easy to reach and all felt good even though most are not really used during racing. Both wheels also include a d-pad and dedicated system button, which make is super easy to change system settings, answer messages and more, while having the wheel connected, that way you don’t need to switch to a regular controller.

Thrustmaster has even more to offer

thrustmaster-gear-shiftThese steering wheels combined with the 3-pedals is a great place to start but there is much more that Thrustmaster has to offer. Both the wheels mentioned above are compatible with the  Thrustmaster TH8A Gearbox Shifter, which can add a whole new level of authenticity for those who want that manual feeling. Like I mentioned before as well, you can also add these wheels to a legit racing cockpit set up by getting a compatible chair like the Playseat Evolution Forza Motorsport Gaming Chair. There are even licenced steering wheels you can swap out depending on your current model of steering wheel and prefered taste. Such as the Thrustmaster Ferrari F1 Racing Wheel, Thrustmaster 599XX EVO 30 Racing Wheel Add-On Alcantara Edition and the Thrustmaster Leather 28 GT Racing Wheel, if you just want a nice leather wheel without the fancy brand logos.

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Final Thoughts

thrustmaster-home-setupEven though most racing games these days look great and play great using a regular controller, your experience can be all the more engaging and realistic with one of Thrustmaster’s amazing steering wheels and add-ons. With easy setup and teardown, sturdy construction and lots of options, getting one of these steering wheels is a no brainer for racing game fans. I even recommend one of these wheels if you are newcomer to the racing game world, as they only improve the experience and possibly your in game skills too. With all the choice in steering wheels Thrustmaster has to offer you should definitely be able to find one that fits you budget (cash or space) and your personal style. I very much enjoyed my time with the Thrustmaster TMX Pro Racing Wheel for Xbox One/PC and could very much see myself getting an even better set up in the future.

Brad Pajuluoma
Being a child of the 80s Brad grew up playing any and all video games he could get his hands on from the 8 and 16 bit era. As he grew older, video games turned into a life passion. He now works as the QA Lead for one of Toronto’s leading mobile developers. Aside from playing any and all video games he can fit into his hectic schedule, Brad is also a DJ. He enjoys playing some of today’s latest and greatest electronic dance music at clubs here in the city.