7.1 C
Munich
Monday, February 19, 2024

Best PC racing wheels in 2023

Must read

I’ve burned rubber with all the best PC racing wheels to see which one earns first place on the podium. All the wheels included in this guide have been put through their paces in a range of racing games, and from that time in-game I’ve decided on the best to buy of the lot across a wide range of budgets—from mighty direct drive bases to affordable wheel and pedal combos.

Quite simply, the absolute best PC racing wheel is the Fanatec GT DD Pro. It’s an affordable direct drive setup that easily enables me to indulge in my F1 fantasies. It’s not all about channeling your inner Lewis Hamilton or Dale Earnhardt Jr, though having heaps of raw talent sure does help win races. The best racing wheels for PC offer more feedback from the car and racetrack than lesser kit, and that means you can respond to changes in drive and traction with faster and with greater accuracy. With the best racing wheel strapped to your desk, you’ll have that extra level of immersion in your favorite racing games, like Forza Motorsport or F1 22

A racing wheel is one of the best PC gaming buys, and I’ve tried out tons of racing wheels to get a handle on which ones that are worth your hard-earned cash. Racing wheels aren’t cheap; the options are daunting. Hitting the digital road with a dozen or so wheels helped me narrow some of those down so you can make the most of your racing cockpit.

The best PC racing wheels come in a wide range of prices. But don’t worry; I’ve chosen several affordable options to go with it, all of which deliver force feedback and an all-around great driving experience.

Best PC racing wheel

PC Gamer’s got your back
Our experienced team dedicates many hours to every review, to really get to the heart of what matters most to you. Find out more about how we evaluate games and hardware.

Image 1 of 6

1. Fanatec GT DD Pro

The best racing wheel

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 10.1kgForce Feedback: YesDrive: DirectMaximum rotation angle: 2520 degreesPedals included: YesClutch pedal: NoExpandable: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Accurate, powerful force feedback+Excellent build quality+Relatively affordable direct-drive

Reasons to avoid

You have to spend more to get the complete package

The Fanatec GT DD Pro sets a high standard for all racing wheels. A direct-drive motor can throw the wheel around with so much force you’re holding on for dear life. Trust me; you want that. You feel every bump or loss of traction with the GT DD. I noticed my lap times started improving once I could hone in on where I was losing grip and speed during a lap. Granted, I had a few meetings with the barriers along the way, but I felt like I was able to develop my race as a result.

The GT DD’s construction is pretty much immaculate. The wheelbase is this solid metal, passively-cooled monster, and into that slots a sturdy and straightforward clamp. The wheel itself is one of my favorite of all those I’ve tested, delivering a glutton of buttons that are easy to get familiar with. The included CSL Pedals don’t come with a clutch or a load-cell brake. However, you can upgrade to a load-cell kit sold by Fanatec, which replaces the brake and leaves the spare brake to become a clutch pedal.

This wheelbase’s feedback ensures you’re painfully aware when you take a little too much curb and helps inform you of your traction throughout a corner. A fast rotation back to the center also means you can throw the wheel around and never feel like losing control over your steering in tight chicanes.

When you set it up just right, the GT DD Pro sings. The finely-tuned vibration and rotation through the wheel transmit so much information from the game’s engine into your hands—with the right racing game, one that has simulation-grade feedback, it’s an absolute joy to throw the GT DD around the track. While technically built for Gran Turismo 7, it’s no worse off on the PC across a range of sim racing and sim-light games, such as Assetto Corsa and F1 22.  

What I enjoy about this kit is its versatility. I jumped into Forza Horizon and felt no less comfortable throwing this wheel around than in F1 2021 with tighter force feedback settings. That’s not something I’ve necessarily felt with cheaper models. While that’s partially down to the direct-drive technology at the heart of the GT DD Pro, it’s also how simple this wheel is to set up for each game, even those it doesn’t necessarily play nicely with.

With or without extras, this is truly one of the best ways to get into sim racing today and the best racing wheel we’ve tested.

Read our full Fanatec GT DD Pro review.

Image 1 of 3

2. Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback

The best cheap racing wheel

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 5.4kgForce Feedback: YesDrive: Belt-pulleyMaximum rotation angle: 900 degreesPedals included: YesClutch pedal: NoExpandable: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Decent value+Genuine force feedback+Great way into sim racing…+… without spending too much money

Reasons to avoid

Not the best pedalsCheap construction

Cheap racing wheels are easy to come by; cheap racing wheels worth your money are not. Thankfully, we once again can turn to Thrustmaster for an option here. The TMX isn’t as flashy as most—you’re really trimming back to basics. The pedal set is pretty slim with just two unexciting levers on a plastic base, and the wheel itself features only the absolute basic buttons you’ll need to operate it in-game and nothing more. It’s slimmed to the bare essentials, but really that’s what we want at this price.

That’s because what really matters is the force feedback within, and the TMX shares its belt-pulley system with the popular T150. It’s definitely a less powerful system than the other Thrustmaster and non-Thrustmaster systems on this list, but it’s present enough that you’ll be thankful it’s there.

With the TMX you can be sure you’re making a good start in your sim racing career, and if it ends up in a cupboard most of the year, you won’t feel too much regret thanks to its bank-friendly price tag.

Image 1 of 5

3. Thrustmaster T248

The best mid-range racing wheel

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 2.7kgForce Feedback: YesDrive: Belt + gear hybridMaximum rotation angle: 900 degreesPedals included: YesClutch pedal: YesExpandable: No

Reasons to buy

+Technically impressive+Surprisingly powerful force feedback+Hybrid design feels great to use+Good on-wheel interface+Magnetic T3PM pedal set+Best paddle shifters going on an affordable wheel

Reasons to avoid

Feels and sounds cheapT300RS remains a solid option for a little more cashShifters are hella loud

The Thrustmaster T248 is a far more budget-friendly option than the Fanatec GT DD, but it doesn’t let up where it counts. The force feedback it delivers is a lot more impressive than you might expect, and it’s exceptionally accurate. Inside the T248, you’ll find a hybrid force feedback system that utilizes a gear alongside a belt. That covers the downsides of the geared system, which has been known to feel clunky at times but still has all the benefits of a belt system. Plus, that keeps it cheap.

However, the T248’s hybrid system has appeared to come at the expense of some of the finer touches. The build looks and feels cheap. Similarly, it’s awfully loud, especially the shifter paddles. These are, however, incredibly responsive, like nothing I’ve used before. A worthy trade-off? So long as you don’t need to keep the noise down too much.

What Thrustmaster is delivering with the T248 is the Thrustmaster Hybrid Drive. It’s not precisely gear- or belt-driven, but there is a belt to maximize the internal motor’s potential in-game. The Hybrid Drive feels like a smart move on Thrustmaster’s behalf once you get this wheel setup, too; as compared to a purely gear-driven motor, there’s a lot of power and response delivered through the wheel while racing.

It is a heavy-feeling wheel, though. You have to throw it around with some force to make a sharp corner at speed. That’s both a blessing and a curse: If you don’t have it set up right for a game like F1 2021 or some cars in Assetto Corsa: Competizione—where the wheel rotation is far from the maximum 1080° offered—it can be quite a struggle to turn the T248 as needed. Though that’s mostly easily rectified by spending a little more time in the settings menu.

Next to a direct-drive unit like the Fanatec GT DD Pro, you’re looking at a much weaker response in the T248, however. It can come across a little muted when you’re throwing it around rocky terrain. Yet, there’s not much more out there at this price that will appeal to more casual gamers and more experienced racers than the T248. Perhaps the fan-favorite T300RS—with its hot-swappable wheel and belt-driven force feedback—but then you’re missing out on the mod cons of the T248.

The T248 gets a lot technically correct, and when it comes down to it, I’d take technical precision over aesthetics any day. This is the best wheel to do on a tighter budget if you want to develop your racing ability and learn to corner consistently.

Read our full Thrustmaster T248 review.

Best controller for PC gaming | Best PC joystick | Best gaming monitor Best mechanical keyboard | Best gaming routers | Best gaming headset 

Image 1 of 10

4. Logitech G Pro Racing Wheel

The most powerful wheel in testing

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 1.5kg (wheel only)Force Feedback: YesDrive: DirectMaximum rotation angle: 1080 degreesPedals included: No (sold separately)Clutch pedal: YesExpandable: Yes

Reasons to buy

+11Nm of torque+Highly customisable+Simple interface and button layout+Reprogrammable rear clutch paddles+Fantastic pedal set (sold separately to wheel)

Reasons to avoid

Compatibility mode loses a few great featuresPricey for both wheel and pedals togetherLarge wheelbase footprint

The Logitech Pro Racing Wheel and Pro Racing Pedals are a frightfully powerful combination for sim racing. The gear-driven motor system so often found in Logitech’s racing wheels is gone. In its stead, the Pro Racing Wheel comes with a direct drive motor that will shake you all the way down to your little racing booties.

Need proof of that? Logitech’s Pro Racing Wheel delivers a staggering 11Nm (Newton metres) of torque. That’s a massive amount of power to throw behind a racing wheel for a PC. If I hadn’t already rigorously stress tested my largely cardboard Ikea desk by standing on it multiple times to reach for something dangerously high up, I’d have suspected it would’ve ripped it in two by the sheer strength of the wheelbase motor. At the very least, it’s more than enough power to ignite that feeling of being behind the wheel of a race car as you throw it nose-first into a corner at high-speed (or perhaps into a barrier).

While there are direct drive wheelbases that can deliver torque in excess of 25Nm, the Logitech Pro Racing Wheel is comparatively powerful in its price bracket. Compared to the Fanatec CSL DD, the Logitech’s 11Nm appears practically immense next to the Fanatec’s baseline 5Nm. However, the Fanatec wheelbase is capable of delivering up to 8Nm torque with a secondary adapter for extra dosh.

Though the Logitech also asks for extra cash if you want the pedals with it. That additional cost makes the whole Logitech kit comparatively pricey versus everything else on this list, even the more modular Fanatec.

The Pro Racing Pedal set is absolutely superb, however. Yes, it is sold separately, and no it’s not exactly cheap. But it’s actually quite a good offer for the price. This is a three-pedal set, including two metal plated brake and clutch pedals and a large gas pedal. That’s not the best bit, though the inclusion of a clutch pedal as standard is much appreciated. The best bit is that the brake is a load-cell brake, which is something of a must-have feature for a racing sim fan that wants to really mimic the feeling of a race car’s brake system.

The other feature worth talking about on the G Pro is the dual clutch paddles beneath the shifters. These work for both games where a racing-style clutch are required for launching from the start line, and you can customise them to do other functions where required. Best use I’ve found is to swap in the handbrake for the clutch pedals, that way you aren’t reaching for the face buttons every time you want to pull a handbrake turn.

You wouldn’t come away disappointed had you spent that money on this racing wheel, but admittedly it is a lot. That’s why it’s not quite our top pick instead of the more modular Fanatec—with the Fanatec you can buy the basics and upgrade as you go, whereas Logitech has decided to throw most of the parts into one expensive box. The Logitech Pro Racing kit feels as much a high-end offering in power and performance as it should for the price, however, and it’ll come as no surprise that every detail and every material screams premium, long-lasting quality as we’ve come to expect from Logitech over the years.

Read our full Logitech G Pro Racing Wheel and G Pro Pedals review.

Image 1 of 3

5. Thrustmaster T300 RS GT Edition

An affordable and upgradeable racing wheel

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 3kgForce Feedback: YesDrive: BeltMaximum rotation angle: 1080 degreesPedals included: YesClutch pedal: YesExpandable: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Wonderfully responsive+Powerful force feedback+Belt-drive is impressive+Removeable wheel

Reasons to avoid

The GT Edition is a little pricier than the T300 RSSlightly old-school designT3PA pedal set isn’t as good as T3PM pedal set on T248

The Thrustmaster T300 RS sat as our #1 pick for the best racing wheel for a few years. It’s a little older now, having originally been released in 2014, but it’s still plenty deserving of consideration in 2023. The T300 RS has aged better than a lot of modern tech, with mods and support aplenty.

Though with the arrival of the T248, we felt it hit a cheaper price point that would appeal to a wider audience than the standard T300 RS. The T248 also comes with a a far superior pedal set in the T3PM. That’s why we’ve updated our recommendation to the T300 RS GT Edition, which has all the best bits of the T300 RS plus an improved 3-pedal set (T3PA) that makes it sing. 

You will have to drop a little more cash on the T300 RS GT Edition, but we felt the T3PA pedals make that leap more worthwhile. They’re still not quite up to the T3PM set on the T248, but they’re a much improved set than on the T300 RS as standard, which also lacks a clutch pedal.

You’d also be buying a dual belt-driven design for highly responsive force feedback on the T300 RS that remains impressive to this day. It delivers smooth response from the track with the benefits of the extra power that only a belt-drive system can deliver in lieu of a bigger motor. The wheel on the T300RS can also be removed and replaced, which isn’t something you can do on the T248.

It’s a pretty close call between this and the newer Thrustmaster T248. There’s a good case to be made either way, but we recommend you splash out for the T300RS GT Edition if you want something akin to the best of both.

Image 1 of 7

6. Logitech G923 Trueforce

The easiest racing wheel for beginners

Our expert review:

Specifications

Connection type: USBWeight: 3.1kgForce Feedback: YesDrive: GearMaximum rotation angle: 900 degreesPedals included: YesClutch pedal: YesExpandable: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Detailed and driven force feedback+Quality pedal set+High quality construction

Reasons to avoid

G29 and G920 very similar and often cheaperGear-drive can feel clunky

We’ve extensively tested the Logitech G923 Trueforce racing wheel and found it to offer a desirable mixture of control, feedback, and response. For that reason, it is decently suited to most racing games out there—it’s the racing wheel we’d recommend to rookie drivers and those looking for thrills and find themselves often hopping between different and varied sims.

We’ve spent most of our time using the G923 with F1 2021 and F1 2019, and it works excellently with only a few tweaks to steering saturation and throttle linearity (72, 20—if you’re wondering). Similarly, it’s as simple as booting Assetto Corsa Competizione to switch to GT Series racing. Or any other driving game for that matter, even SnowRunner.

The G923 relies on a gear-driven motor to feed the force feedback, which is enjoyable in use but a little less powerful and accurate-feeling than those belt-driven or direct-driven designs above.

The best bit about the G923 package is that it’s more than a racing wheel and wheelbase. It’s a set of three pedals, too, and excellent ones at that. I was pretty taken aback at the quality of these pedals the first time I used them; they have all the makings of higher-end pedals where it counts.

The accelerator delivers a decent linear press with a quick return to keep it glued to your foot, while the clutch brings a similarly swift response with increasing tension as you depress the pedal—enough to create a faux bite point. The brake pedal, however, is the highlight of the three. 

Slightly tweaked from the G920 and G29 design, a progressive spring design requires serious stomp power. So much so that the unit’s carpet grip system is something of a necessity for serious racing, and you’ll want to consider a chair with lockable castors to keep you firmly in place and gunning for position in-game.

The G923 enjoys wide support and high-quality construction, and it certainly trumps the Thrustmaster kit for how premium it feels. The G920 is a similar wheel and available for a lot less money nowadays, so that’s also worth checking out if it’s available for less in your area.

Read our full Logitech G923 Trueforce review

Best racing wheel FAQ

What type of force feedback is best for sim racing?

There are a few different types of force feedback commonly found in racing wheels: gear-driven, belt-driven, and direct drive. By far the most accurate and powerful is direct drive, but these also come with a high associated cost.

Direct drive is the best for because it’s relatively simple. Every force feedback racing wheel uses a motor to generate resistance and feedback through the wheel, and in a direct drive system the wheel is directly mounted to this motor for maximum response.

Don’t rule out gear-driven or belt-driven designs, though. Belt-driven is an exceptional force feedback system that uses a belt to connect the motor to the wheel. That setup offers excellent response with little compromise.

Gear-driven systems are the most popular for cheaper racing wheels, and there’s a lot of variance in how these can perform depending on their design. A wheel such as the Logitech G923 uses a dual-motor gear-driven system, and we’ve found that to be really impressive and quite powerful under hand. That said, some less well designed gear-driven PC steering wheels may leave you wanting more power and response from your drive.

What parts do I need for a sim racing setup?

If you really want to go all out with your sim racing setup, a simple wheel might not suffice. That’s when you’ll want to look to more discrete parts and building up a sim racing rig in your own style and to your preference.

For that, you’ll want to start with the base. This is essentially an axis that translates your movements on the wheel into a digital signal for your game, all the while being the driving factor of the feedback you’ll feel from the game. It’s important to make the right choice for your base, and that means deciding between a direct drive or belt-driven design.

For the most part, you’ll find compatibility for bases varies between Xbox/PC and PlayStation/PC. You’ll rarely find support for both consoles in one, but almost always PC either way.

Then you’ll need a steering wheel to mount onto your base, usually through some sort of wheel to base hub or adapter. This can be a more bespoke wheel for a specific motorsport, such as F1, or something more general for GT racing or a bit of everything.

You may need to look for separate button and shifter add-ons alongside your wheel or they may be included in one package.

Moving on to the pedals and we generally recommend picking up a set with accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals all-in-one. You might not be much of a manual driver now, or even need the clutch at your feet for an F1 setup, but it’s useful to have for the full range of racing games. We’ve even set the clutch pedal to apply the handbrake in lieu of a formal handbrake accessory.

You will also want to consider how you mount this sim racing setup to your desk or sim racing frame (if you’re really serious). Most of the time that’s a fairly easy process of simply buying the clamp that goes with your base from the same manufacturer, but perhaps you’ll want to consider a more exciting setup before hitting the checkout.

More articles

Latest article