Looking to take your racing to the next level? Joe Barron gets to grips with some of the best wheels from Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec.
Midrange Racing Wheels
Logitech Driving Force GT (PlayStation 3, PC)
The best value wheel and pedals set.
USA $120 to $150/ UK £80 to £130
Officially licensed by the Gran Turismo series, the Driving Force GT is one of the most popular wheels available and it's easy to see why: it's the least expensive force feedback wheel for any platform. The pedals are basic compared to high-end wheels, but they still offer finer control than the triggers of a pad. After a little a bit of practice, this package will make you faster. The superb adjustment dial, which works with Gran Turismo 5, allows you to adjust many car settings on the fly, such as traction control and brake bias. The dial can also be programmed for similar functions in many PC racing titles.
On the PS3, the wheel works right out of the box with almost every racing game. The majority of games automatically detect your wheel and adjust various control settings accordingly. On the PC, you need to use the provided software to fine tune your wheel settings and save individual controller profiles for different games.
The force feedback of the wheel is strong and gives you good information about the behaviour of your car, but it's not delivered as smoothly as the more expensive wheels on the market, while the gear change inputs on the wheel leave something to be desired.The small buttons on the back of the rim, which stand in for shifter paddles, don't provide a very realistic feel and the sequential stick shift is prone to clicking and rattling, which makes it feel cheap.
That said, this is by far the best value-for-money racing wheel currently on sale and its clamp system makes it easy to attach to a desk or table for quick racing.
Logitech G27 (PlayStation 3, PC)
The popular choice for simulation racing.
USA $210 to $300/ UK £230
Logitech's G series has long been the wheel of choice for hardcore simulation fans, especially on the PC. Like the DFGT, it works immediately with the majority of PS3 racing games, but requires some profile setup on the PC. Instead of the rubberised grips of the DFGT, the G27 is finished in leather, making it much more comfortable for long periods of play. The force feedback has been stepped up too. It is much smoother, and you don't feel the occasional "grinding" sensation that has plagued cheaper peripherals in the past.
The shifting inputs are significantly better than those on the less expensive Logitech wheel too. The G27 features proper metal paddle shifters and a fantastic stick shift which can be set in 6-speed H-pattern mode, or sequential like a race car. The shifter also has several buttons on the base that control menu navigation and other basic options, in order to compensate for the fact that the rim features fewer buttons than the standard Dual Shock 3 controller.
The wheel rim has rev lights on the top edge, helping you to judge the perfect moment to change gear; it's the only off-the-shelf wheel that has this feature. The pedals also provide much more resistance than those of the Driving Force GT, though they don't meet the high standards of Fanatec's modular systems, compared to other wheels in this Guide. The clamp system is the same as the Driving Force GT, but the G27's separate shifter can make it difficult to find a comfortable position to play in. You might want to consider a wheel stand, such as the WheelStandPro, if you buy one of these wheels. Stands vary in price, but most are around $100.