With last generation wheel heroes like the Logitech G27 and Driving Force GT not compatible with the current consoles, the Thrustmaster T300 RS is the ultimate racing wheel for PS4 owners.
There are issues: the pedals feel a little cheap and the fan kicks in noisily after a while. But otherwise we have no hesitation in recommending this wheel.
Thrustmaster T300 RS: Intro and Design
If you’re a racing fan who has never experienced a force feedback wheel, you need to try one. Wheels like the Thrustmaster T300 RS use powerful motors to let them fight against your turns, simulating the sorts of forces you’d experience in the real world.
It enables things like letting you feel when the back end of your car is about to lose grip around a turn, rather than leaving you waiting to see those tire marks screech out of the car’s backside. This is a level of realism no amount of graphical gloss can provide.
Of course, all these effects are actually created by game developers, with Thrustmaster merely providing the tools with which to relay them. This is an important point, because as yet the PS4 — the lead platform for the Thrustmaster T300 RS — does not have a particularly serious racing game in its library. As such, you’ll need patience or another platform (PS3/PC) to get the most from the wheel. It won't work with an Xbox One or Xbox 360.
On the plus side, force feedback wheels hold their value even better than iPhones, so there's little-to-no early adopter tax.
See also: Best PS4 games 2014
We’ll be testing the Thrustmaster T300 RS primarily with DriveClub on PS4, Gran Turismo 5/6 on PS3, and a few other racing titles on PC. For those in doubt: DriveClub is not a particularly realistic game, nor is it meant to be.
But back to the hardware.
The Thrustmaster T300 RS comes in three main parts. There’s the two-pedal board, the wheel base that houses the feedback motors and the wheel itself: it is not fixed.
While this is a new model, it actually slots neatly into the same modular system used by the Thrustmaster T500 RS, which was released in the PS3 era but offers some compatibility with PS4. That means the R300 RS can use the gearbox and advanced pedal board Thrustmaster already sells. What you get in the box here need only be a starting point.
See also: Upcoming PS4 games 2015
The setup here seems to be deliberately accessible, and enough for 95 per cent of people. It is not out to immediately fulfil the needs of racing nerds with bucket seats installed in their basements. For example, there’s no separate gearbox included, with clicky racing-style shifters built into the wheel instead.
The pedal board also lacks a clutch, which the most hardcore among you may be after. As we’ve already detailed, though, there’s currently nothing on PS4 that really demands this extra mile, and the Thrustmaster T300 RS’s style helps keep cost and sheer size demands at bay.
See also: PS4 vs PS3
Look front-on at the wheel and we see to what extent the wheel is made for PS4. All the buttons mirror those of a DualShock 4 controller, only leaving out the touch panel and analogue sticks.
The benefit is obvious — you can use the Thrustmaster T300 RS to control your system rather than having to juggle between the wheel and a pad. It’s handy, and very welcome because, let’s be honest, no racing wheel is remotely convenient.
Force feedback wheels are also a good deal heavier and bulkier than the basic plastic kind you may have played with to date. The metal Thrustmaster T300 RS wheel is topped with rubber to offer a high-friction, rugged surface that’ll take as much punishment and you can give. It feels extremely well-made.
See also: PS4 vs Xbox One
The wheel also supports full 1080-degree rotation, which can be stopped down to 270 degrees in the software, using the force feedback motors to block off movement.
It doesn’t feel altogether luxurious, though. The Logitech G27 uses a leather-topped wheel that gives a more serious feel than the Thrustmaster T300 RS's rubber. Of course, much of that is forgotten once you’ve bedded into using it.
What is likely to remain more of an issue for enthusiasts is the pedal board quality. It’s plastic and fairly light, lacking the high-end feel of the metal base pedals used in the older T500 RS — a set that costs around £50-100 more. This only need bother those who think they’ll really get serious about sim racing, though. We’re pretty happy with the actual action of the pedals, which offer the variable tension between the accelerate/brake we’re after.
See also: Best racing games 2014
Here's a look at the securing mechanism underneath:
While there are some niggles about the way the hardware is put together, the force feedback is quite impressive. It’s very strong and fast, providing the extra immersion that we think is the main draw of a force feedback wheel.
Most games well-suited to force feedback let you alter the level of the effect, if you’re not up for really fighting with your wheel 24/7. We enjoy that extra power though, and this is certainly among the most powerful force feedback wheels to date in the £200-350 range.
We found the best results came from the Gran Turismo PS3 games, where the interplay with your input and the feedback feels like a subtle conversation you could never get from playing the game with a pad.
The Thrustmaster T300 RS also marks a change in the way Thrustmaster makes its wheels. Where the T500 model uses brushed motors for its force feedack, the T300 RS is brushless — where the motors use Hall sensors in place of brushes. This change isn’t something we as buyers need to worry about too much, but does make the T300 RS more efficient and potentially much less prone to long-term wear.
Brushless motors are generally quieter too, but we found the T300 RS still makes a bit of noise in use. While the turning of the wheel is very quiet — especially compared with the Logitech G-series models — there is a fan that kicks in when the wheel’s force feedback motor gets warmed-up. We found this could be as soon as 15-20 minutes' play with a title that offers quite intense feedback effects.
The fan gets about as loud as an Xbox 360's, which shouldn’t be too distracting if you use headphones or are able to turn the TV’s volume up a little. However it’s not good news if you want to race a few laps late at night without disturbing anyone, where the fan's close proximity may make its hum quite obvious.
However, for the most part we’re looking for reasons you might be dissatisfied because at £250 (that’s with the usual online price erosion in place) it costs almost as much as a console. It is not cheap.
We can’t imagine many people being unhappy with the Thrustmaster T300 RS, though, especially as it’s one of the first wheels to offer full PS4 support. It features a little slider on the wheelbase that switches compatibility between PC/PS3 and PS4, because it's not simply a case of developing a PS4 driver.
Most existing wheels don’t work properly with the PS4 because the console requires an extra authentication security chip to be present in any accessories used with it, according to spokespeople from MadCatz and Logitech.
A proper force feedback wheel can transform racing games, radically increasing how involved you feel in the workings of the virtual car you’re driving. If you’re a racing fan, it’s something you should experience, and we can confirm that the Thrustmaster T300 RS is the real deal.
If you own a force feedback model from the last generation of consoles and want to get on-board with the current crop, this is the best wheel to buy at present. That’s not to say it is perfect, though. Given the price, the pedal board feels a little low-rent.
If you already have a very high-end setup you might want to consider a MaxRace F-1 adapter, a little box that acts as a middle-man between Logitech wheels and a console. However, it costs around £70, the PS4 version hasn’t even been released yet (as of December 2014) and we can't vouch for its effectiveness.
Force feedback wheels can be a pain in the backside. They’re big, expensive, need a stand, pose compatibility issues and rarely work across all platforms. But they aren’t half fun.
Great force feedback and no-fuss PS4 support make this the perfect choice for PS4 owners after a high-end racing wheel.
Next, check out our best racing games round-up