If you enjoy realistic racing games such as Gran Turismo, Project Cars or iRacing, then in order to get the full experience of these titles, they're best played with a proper racing wheel. That's not to mention some of the amazing racers which are set to arrive in 2017, including Dirt 4, Project Cars 2 and (fingers crossed) Forza Motorsport 7.
In this guide we'll run you through our favourite five and what to look out for in a racing wheel. Let's get started.
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What separates a “proper” wheel from toys is "force feedback" technology. Powerful motors inside the wheels simulate what you’d feel if driving a real car.
You’ll have to fight the wheel as you take a corner, and feel the split-second that your tires lose grip. The increase in immersion is immense. Not only that, every time you take a kerb, touch another car or nail a corner better than you've ever done before: you'll know all about it.
It’s important to think about which games are actually suited to a racing wheel, however. True arcade racers often feel better with a gamepad with their drifty, larger-than-life handling at odds with a racing wheel. Whereas games with exacting handling models that respond to minute movements benefit from a wheel. On PS4 this means titles such as Project Cars, Dirt Rally and DriveClub. On Xbox One, Forza Motorsport 6, Assetto Corsa and F1 2016 are worth checking out.
PC gamers have some of the above titles to try, plus some even nerdier racing sims from which they can choose – including iRacing and rFactor 2.
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Thrustmaster and Logitech wheels make up the majority of this roundup, although hardcore race fans may want to check out Fanatec, which produces some terrific wheels, but can easily cost over £1,000. We've not ventured that far; our most expensive recommendation comes in at £586.
You have further options, too, if your budget will stretch. SimXperience makes wheels that use a “Direct Drive” force feedback system, where the wheel is connected to the motor without any belts or gears in-between. However, this costs $1,748 without any pedals – out of reach for most of us, then. If you win the lottery, look it up.
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First, be sure to check compatibility. While all featured wheels work on PC, you have to choose between Xbox One and PS4 support.
With standard bundles there’s also often a trade-off between the quality of the force feedback and the pedals. Would you rather have stuttery force feedback, or pedals which last a good year or two?