Haptic feedback is one of the toughest challenges for general-purpose VR input, but for the driving simulation genre, dedicated controllers have been addressing the problem for over two decades. Now that ‘cockpit view’ makes so much sense for VR racing, many newcomers feel the pull to ditch their gamepads and invest in more realistic input devices for driving. Here’s where to start.

Update (5/24/17): Article now covers the TS-PC Racer from Thrustmaster, and the CSL Elite range from Fanatec. The new hardware fills the gap between the Thrustmaster TX/T300RS and the Fanatec CSW V2.5. Latest prices update.

At the bare minimum for serious VR sim racing, you’ll need a steering wheel with an appropriate clamping surface (e.g. a desk) and a pedal unit that rests on the floor.

While there are basic sets priced similarly to gamepads, these typically have vibration motors instead of true force feedback (where the steering wheel actually pushes back against your grip), and lack the durability and quality necessary for a good experience. At the other end of the scale, professional-grade devices worth many thousands of dollars deliver astonishingly realistic performance, used by hardcore enthusiasts and motorsports teams for driver training.

For those drawn to the world of sim racing thanks to the immersive power of VR, we’ve put together the following recommendations which are sensible starting points for the newcomer.

SEE ALSO
Top 5 VR Racing Sims for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

The Basics

Want the quick and dirty? Here’s a glanceable list of great choices to match your budget. Following the list we’ll tell you what you need to know about mounting your new VR steering wheel. If you want more detail, read further for a deeper dive of each recommendation.

A quick note: most of these wheels are sold under two names (like T150 and TMX), that’s because there’s usually a version made for the PS4 and a version made for the Xbox One, however both models connect via USB and are compatible with Windows. So unless you specifically want the PS4 variant over the Xbox One (or vice versa), consider buying whichever is cheaper (if you find a price difference). You’ll see us refer and link to both variants with a slash (like T150/TMX) so that you can find the best deal.

Thrustmaster T150/TMX (~$170)

Thrustmaster T150
Thrustmaster T150

The Thrustmaster T150/TMX is a reasonable entry point for beginners, with a straightforward option to upgrade the pedals and add a shifter at a later date. But some might be disappointed by the materials and steering mechanism.

Logitech G29/G920 (~$300)

Logitech G29
Logitech G29

The Logitech G29/G920 steps up the build quality significantly; the force feedback information is clearer, and the pedals are excellent.

Thrustmaster T300RS/TX (~$300)

Thrustmaster T300RS
Thrustmaster T300RS

The Thrustmaster T300RS/TX (~$300) uses a more realistic force feedback solution, but you’ll need at least the T3PA (~$150) pedals and one of the optional rims in order to bring the full package above Logitech’s quality, which is why we recommend checking out the Alcantara Edition / TX Leather Edition (below).

Thrustmaster T300 Alcantara Edition / TX Leather Edition (~$470)

Thrustmaster TX Leather Edition
Thrustmaster TX Leather Edition

The Thrustmaster T300 Alcantara Edition & TX Leather Edition bundles combine the T300/TX base with some of Thrustmaster’s premium rims and the T3PA pedals.

FerrariF1
Ferrari F1 wheel add-on

If ‘hand presence’ is important to you in VR, the T300/TX has the clear advantage over the T150 and G29/G920 thanks to its easily-swappable rims. For example, you could use the 30cm Alcantara rim (~$180) for road cars and the Ferrari F1 wheel add-on (~$150) for race cars, depending on how best your hands align to the virtual avatar. 27-28cm rims tend to align better with ‘formula’ cars, and may seem rather small for road cars.

Fanatec CSL Elite range (~$500 and up)

Fanatec CSL Elite wheel

Fanatec’s new CSL Elite wheel base is another jump in quality, delivering much stronger and smoother feedback than the T300/TX. Fanatec also offers a wide range of optional compatible hardware, but these products are generally more expensive than Thrustmaster’s ecosystem. The CSL Elite pedals have a load cell brake option, which is highly recommended.

Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer (~$500 + pedals)

Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer

The new PC-only flagship wheel base from Thrustmaster finds itself in direct competition with the Fanatec CSL Elite. The TS-PC Racer is the latest evolution in Thrustmaster’s belt-driven force feedback technology, and performs like a much more powerful and higher quality T300/TX. You’ll need to add pedals, either from the T-Series or standalone USB.

– – — – –

Mounting Your VR Steering Wheel

There is nothing worse than your controls slipping in the middle of a race, particularly in VR. You’ll want to ensure the wheel and pedal units are secured in a comfortable driving position, to give yourself a reliable reference point that you can operate entirely by feel (while wearing your VR headset).

Every product that we’ll detail below, aside from the Thrustmaster T150/TMX, has hard mounts for bolting the wheel bases to a platform, and all include desk clamps for less permanent mounting. For pedals with more realistic brake resistance, such as the G29, T3PA and CSL sets, you may need to consider locking castors or some kind of floor brace (if you’re using a typical office chair) to avoid sliding backwards.

Wheel Stand Pro
Wheel Stand Pro

A popular mounting solution is the Wheel Stand Pro (~$180), as it is more convenient than repeatedly setting up hardware at a desk, and can be configured in a more realistic driving position. A dedicated sim rig is even better, but that discussion is for another time!

PC sims are very flexible when it comes to input devices; many racers opt to use higher-end standalone USB pedals for example. They have become much easier to configure too, with sims like iRacing, Project CARS, and Assetto Corsa using smart calibration wizards. Plus, there are many dedicated sim forums full of useful information if you want to fine-tune the hardware. Expect a learning curve, particularly for adjusting to pedal sensitivity, but you’ll soon wonder how you played VR racing games any other way.

Continued on Page 2: The Details »

1
2

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • Simon Wood

    Thanks for a great write up on the wheels.
    On a technical point the Logitech G920 is internally different from the G29 and can support more simultaneous effects (64 vs 4 IIRC). Don’t know whether any current games actually use this though. This might make it a better choice for PC wheel, if you don’t already have a console – although with PSVR support coming to GT…

  • Taun

    I’d note that i bought a G29 in December & it had HORRIBLE compatablility. Couldn’t get it to work right in most of my games because they didn’t include a g27 compatibility mode. I had to return it. If I wasn’t concerned about the Thrustmaster quality & warranty support, I’d buy one of those. But since I don’t want to risk it, I’m saving up for a Fanatec setup.

    • Simon Wood

      The hardware _does_ support emulation modes, odd that Logitech wouldn’t support them in the windows driver. Under Linux you can do the follow to temporary make the wheel change mode, wheel will reconnect with new identity.
      With a little effort I guess the same could be done under Windows using ‘libusb’ to send the magic command.

      root@retrobox:/sys/bus/hid/devices# cat 0003:046D:C24F.000A/alternate_modes
      native: G29 Racing Wheel *
      DF-EX: Driving Force / Formula EX
      DFP: Driving Force Pro
      G25: G25 Racing Wheel
      DFGT: Driving Force GT
      G27: G27 Racing Wheel
      G29: G29 Racing Wheel *
      root@retrobox:/sys/bus/hid/devices# echo G27 > 0003:046D:C24F.000A/alternate_modes
      root@retrobox:/sys/bus/hid/devices# cat 0003:046D:C29B.000C/alternate_modes
      native: G29 Racing Wheel
      DF-EX: Driving Force / Formula EX
      DFP: Driving Force Pro
      G25: G25 Racing Wheel
      DFGT: Driving Force GT
      G27: G27 Racing Wheel *
      G29: G29 Racing Wheel

  • George Vieira IV

    No love for Fanatec? I have one of their lower end wheels and am pretty happy with it, but the pedals are superb, using a load cell for the brake feels so right.

    • realtrisk

      They don’t make low end stuff anymore, just the Clubsport V2… and if you are interested in that, you aren’t new to sim racing anymore.

      • George Vieira IV

        Ah, didn’t realise they stopped selling the Porsche and CSR wheels.

  • MasterElwood

    BTW: Where are the racing games for the VIVE?

    • JAMF

      Live for Speed you can use now. The others still have to get their thumbs out. :D

      • MasterElwood

        Thanx dude! Didn’t know that.

  • kalqlate

    Editor, Editor! Thanks for the article, but never begin a sentence with a number, especially a title! Spell it out!

    • Just_PrimalSoup (aka Susan)

      Fyi, in case you missed it… :)

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wgSZA3NPpBs

      • kalqlate

        THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I always get excited when a new one of these comes around. I had missed it. Thanks for looking out for me. :)

        • Just_PrimalSoup (aka Susan)

          Welcome! Hey, I’ve always got your back, friend!

          • kalqlate

            Likewise! :)

  • Triscato

    Anyone have experience with both the G29 and T300? I just got the Logitech for $300, and I’m wondering whether it’s worth the extra $170 to upgrade to the T300 Alcantara edition (with the better wheels and pedals).

    • benz145

      @bettalines:disqus any thoughts on this?

    • Simon Liu

      The g29 is basically a reskinned g27 with better brake pedal feel and marginally improved ffb. The g27 used to go on sale for $200 so I’d definitely say the T300 is a better deal.

  • Thoemse

    I understand that this is only for the ones a bit more seriously involved but the Fanatec Clubsport really should be mentioned because it simply is ina class of its own.

    • Szymon

      If we’re talking about the Clubsport, then they should also include direct drive wheels :).

  • RTZR

    For beginners the driving force gt is always the way to go. Maximum compatibility for different Systems and a wide variety of games, too

    • Craig Winston

      I agree.. I’ve had the Driving Force GT for several years now. Bought it used cheap and it still works great with my PS3 and my PC. I upgraded to a G29 and find it heavier and more of a pain to setup etc.. if you can live without the external shifter I’d even recommend the DFGT over the G27 especially for entry level. Can’t comment on the G29 as I haven’t tried it.

    • barney klingenberg

      It doesn’t support the Ps4 though and the T150 does.
      So i can no longer recommend the DFGT over the thrustmaster.

      That while it was a no brainer over the T100 for sure

      • Buddydudeguy

        As if I pc user gives a crap if it supports the PS4.

        • Pil1010

          As a pc user, no one give a crap about your opinion. More compatibility is always better.

          • Buddydudeguy

            You’re not making sense. Why would a PC player use it on PS4?

          • Pil1010

            Because I’m not a self absorbed prick who thinks no one else can use decent hardware?

            Because there are some games that are on PS4 that can use it?

            Because I have friends that have PS4 and not PC?

            Because a good thing is a good thing regardless of if it affects how you use it?

          • Buddydudeguy

            Friends don’t let friends game on a potato.

          • Pil1010

            Humans don’t let humans be potatoes.

          • Buddydudeguy

            ????????????? try again.

          • Pil1010

            Your mindset = Potato brain.

          • Buddydudeguy

            Says the console player.

          • Pil1010

            Right, my console runs my 295×2, you caught me (team) red handed. My bad.

            But yeah, consoles still outperform your mindset. The master race is about enlightening those who are less fortunate, not about making fun of them. You aren’t any better than a “console player” when you attack other people like that.

            You simply become a potato. You become one of them.

          • Buddydudeguy

            Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo enlightening. Enjoy your crossfire issues btw.

          • Pil1010

            Nah, I’ll just enjoy my products from the “I’m not a huge dick like my competitor” company.

            I’ll also enjoy using my Vive with no lag.

          • Buddydudeguy

            “With no lag”??? A 290 is the bare min for VR ( 295 x2 is basically one 290 when Crossfire isn’t supported)

            But…K!

          • Pil1010

            Hey, if it works I don’t question it… but K! I’ll also enjoy my 4k too.

          • Raphael

            Humans are potatoes. Couch potatoes.

          • Bibelo

            Well that escalated quickly.

          • NooYawker

            Apple is for sissies!!! wait.. where am I?

        • Raphael

          Of course. I also don’t care if my wheel supports PS4. I do get that maximum cross-platform support is a good idea but I also find it off-putting to see ugly PS4 icons/symbols over a wheel I bought exclusively for PC.

          • Buddydudeguy

            Yes, you nailed it.

          • 14M4N0NYM0U5

            Exactly. Not only PS4 buttons, but also XBONE buttons ruin the wheel in my opinion. Colorful buttons make it look like a toy.

  • And make sure you use a pressure based brake of some sort!

    • 14M4N0NYM0U5

      a.k.a put a slightly hard sponge/plastic piece behind the brake pedal.

  • Ricky

    Wich one is better for the Htc vr ?

    • ummm…

      any pc wheel. i have the thrustmaster tmx pro.

  • mariano

    i want to play project cars with oculus rift. do i need a pc, ps4, or xbox one racing wheel?

    • ummm…

      ive got a thrustmaster tmx pro for my vive.

      • Peter Williams

        Any good I need to get something for my vive..gone totally wireless with tpcast but want to get a good steering wheel setup and also need to know the best driving game plz mate..

  • stoned78

    wheel stand pro…what a 180dollar ripoff. go to secondhand store and find some old tvshop 5 $ workout trainer thing, buy a 5dollar metal saw… pull out the drilling tool.

  • NooYawker

    I don’t like driving games that much to spend this kind of money on a steering wheel. The only driving game I truly loved was Burn Out before they tried to turn it into Need for Speed. Bring back the original.

    • billy

      So you don’t like real driving?

  • ummm…

    im new to sim racing and went with the thrustmaster tmx pro. id recommend it highly.

  • Wererat

    Hey, it’s the same as the list of wheels/pedals for non-VR racing. Nonetheless, nice writeup. All the ‘big’ PC sims now support Rift and Vive (that’s a non-partisan comment hehe); not sure what options are present for console drivers.

  • Michael Opp

    Looks like a real piece of s*** to me to why are they always so interested in ripping off people

  • rist

    Check Early Access for Critical Gravity