If you want to possess the best value for money, these features below can help you decide one that is fit for your needs and your budget you are investing in:
1. The Budget Option: $300 Or Less
Buying a budget sim-racing rig is easily done; there are several options on the market for less than $300. The advantages of not spending a ton of money are, well, not spending a ton of money. New hobbies can get expensive in a hurry and if you don't know if sim racing is something you'll enjoy, it's probably best not to go all-out in the beginning.
If you have any experience with sim rigs at all, you know that driving a real car and driving a virtual one requires many of the same skills, but also some different ones—the experiences end up feeling quite different. That's a big reason we like providing a sim-racing buyers' guide, and there are three primary types of gaming wheels: gear-drive, belt-drive, and direct-drive.
The least expensive wheels are gear-driven, with a compact and fairly lightweight electric motor that acts on a set of gears to simulate steering effort. The best gear-driven wheels offer at least 900 degrees of rotation, with plenty of easily accessible buttons to make on-the-fly changes to car setup or to just navigate your gaming platform's options menu.
While gear-driven wheels aren't as quick to react or as smooth in their action as more expensive belt- or direct-drive options, they do come at a price point that most everyone can afford and are often bundled with paddle shifters and a set of pedals to get you started immediately. They also come with built-in clamps, so you can get driving right away by pulling up a standard chair and clamping the wheel to any table or desk.
2. The Middle Ground: $800 Or Less
Stepping up a rung brings you smack dab into the arena of more serious, belt-drive gaming rigs. These wheels typically use larger, more powerful motors that drive a belt which actuates on the steering shaft. Advantages over gear-drive setups are the ability to handle more forceful feedback with less noise, and with smoother, quicker action.
While these types of wheels can also be mounted on a desk or table, they step into a serious enough realm that you'll probably want to pair them with a race-style seat and mounts for the wheel, pedals, and shifter. You may start to find pedals with load-cells at this price point as well. Load-cells transmit braking force by how hard the driver pushes on the pedal, which is more like how an actual car's hydraulic braking system feels. Push harder to stop sooner, instead of pushing further.
You'll have to add a different, PC- and Xbox-compatible wheel to use this setup with either of those platforms, which brings up an interesting point about Fanatec products: they can be mixed and matched across the lineup with different steering-wheel drive bases, pedals, wheels themselves, and shifter mechanisms.
This product approach means you can get the exact compatibility and system you want. For example, the basic CSL Elite bundle includes a basic two-pedal setup that can be upgraded to a three-pedal unit with load cells for extra cost. Other options here include options by Thrustmaster: the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel
3. Playing With The Pros: $1,000 Plus
If you're sure sim racing is going to eat up a healthy chunk of your free time, or you're just one to buy the best gear available as a matter of principle, be aware that the best home racing setups will push you beyond the $1,000 price point—and some well in excess of that amount.
Here, we're looking at direct-drive steering wheels with large, heavy motors (up to 30 pounds, in some cases) that act directly on the steering shaft and can produce enough torque to cause injury. No, really. Ever spun out or crashed in a real car? Then you know the forces put on the steering wheel in such events can literally rip the wheel right out of your hands.
That's the case with the most powerful direct-drive systems on the market; while the force they put out is adjustable, they have been known to cause everything from sprained wrists to broken fingers with the uninitiated. At this price level, you'll also want a dedicated area to assemble a fairly significant rig that will withstand these types of forces.
Options here include a la carte choices like the Fanatec DD2 direct-drive wheel base, which you can pair with your choice of Fanatec wheel, pedals, and shifter. Add in a gaming platform at another $400-$1,000, and it's pretty easy to add the equivalent of a month or two's mortgage or rent payment to your credit card.
Other companies like Simexperience, Simucube, and Simagic also play in this space with top-shelf, direct-drive systems. These are what most of the pro racers you see gaming on YouTube are using in their homes (and you can bet most of them had sponsors willing to buy the gear for them).
Below is the list of top 3 best racing wheels for PCs that can meet all requirements:
TOP 3 best PC racing wheels for 2020
1. Logitech G920 steering wheel & pedals
It’s said that the Logitech G920 is one of the best racing wheels for pcs. Logitech has been in the steering wheel industry for around two decades now and as gaming technology has improved, so has the quality of their wheels. The G920 is a direct successor to both the Xbox-focused of the Loitech, and the PS version, the G29 - both of which were compatible with PC.
Now we've just got one device sold in two variants - again both of which are compatible with PC - and boy oh boy is it a corker. Steering wheels are typically aimed at either entry-level players looking to dip their toes in the water of sim racing, or hardcore racers who have been doing this for some time now and the G920 caters for both brilliantly.
The Logitech G920 steering wheel & pedals also offers perhaps the most immersion you'll get from any wheel on the market thanks to the new TrueForce technology, while still keeping the price point below the upmarket costs. A price of £350/$400 is still steep if you're new to the scene, but it's less than its direct competitors and is one of the best when it comes to performance.
It's well-built with premium stitching around the leather, looks sleek with your set-up, and is the closest you can get to experience what it's like to actually be behind the wheel of a supercar/F1 car/rally car without leaving the comfort of your desk - or forking out some serious money for a full sim-rig set-up. If you've got the cash, the G920 is a beautiful bit of kit, and a must-have if you don't already own a similar product.
2. Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel
There’s absolutely no question that force feedback makes a huge difference to how fun a racing game is. Having the wheel push against your hands with varying degrees of resistance when you crash or steer gives you a realistic feel, and even evokes memories of arcade coin-op racers like Daytona USA. But the technology is expensive, meaning you need to be serious before buying… or at least you did.
Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel has produced a cut-down, but still impressive force feedback wheel as an entry level purchase and it’s very desirable indeed. The pedals included are plasticky, and offer little resistance, and don’t include a clutch pedal either. However they can be swapped out for a better compatible set if you decide to upgrade later on. The steering wheel is similarly low-cost, and nowhere near as deluxe-feeling as the high-end units’ interchangeable wheels.
And that forces feedback? It’s not as strong as the other bases, but it does work. If you’re on a tight budget, this product provides a true force feedback wheel with 900 degrees of rotation and a set of pedals for your money, which is pretty darn awesome.
3. Thrustmaster T300 RS
This is one of the best racing wheels for the serious racing game enthusiast. Thrustmaster T300 RS incorporates high-quality force feedback so powerful, hitting a wall at the wrong angle could potentially hurt your thumbs. There is a downside to all this motorised resistance, and that’s the fan that ejects hot air from the top of the unit, right out the top of the unit, so after a while you may smell the hot air which is a bit off-putting.
In track racers like GT Sport, F1 2018 or Project CARS 2, as you can really feel the sensation of grip via the superb motorised feedback, and the speed of response to your inputs is superb. It’s precise, weighty and really shakes when the game demands it, making a rally game like WRC 6 feel so much more involved. The only real problem the wheel has is that the handbrake is inevitably mapped to a button you access with your thumb, making rally games fiddly.
You can buy a separate stick shift and use that as the handbrake with the paddles for changing gear, but that isn’t ideal. The wheel is often upside-down during rally stages, so you’ll have to compromise between handbrake and stick shifting somewhere. Still, handbrake aside, this is arguably the perfect when for the serious gamer, and gets my recommendation.