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The 5 best sim racing steering wheels: Steering you to the right choice

What is the best sim racing steering wheel? The Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 is ZDNet's top choice. Though it comes at a high price, this wheel is the best on the market for virtual road racers around the globe.
josh-slate
Written by Josh Slate on

Sim racing is an expensive hobby. You need to purchase a PC, monitors, and most importantly, the steering wheel. As technology has advanced, the capabilities of gaming accessories have advanced as well. From a couple of buttons on the face of the wheel to a full screen and lights on the wheel, the realism associated with sim racing is unmatched by any other gaming industry.

Finding the right wheel to fit your needs is one of the toughest things to breaking into sim racing. With wheels ranging from $200 to $1,799, the possibilities for racers are close to endless. 

This list of sim racing wheels has a device for everyone, including some wheels to have pedals included in the bundle.

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Fanatec

Features or tech specs

  • Degrees of rotation: 2520°
  • Compatibility: PC, Playstation, and Xbox
  • On-Wheel Adjusters: 25 Buttons and Switches
  • Diameter: 27cm
  • Direct Drive: Yes

This officially licensed Formula 1 wheel is the most realistic sim racing wheel you will buy. With four paddles on the back of the wheel for shifting and adjustments, the experience you will get will be unmatched by their competitors.  

The direct-drive wheels give users an authentic experience with realistic force feedback. Additionally, the grips on the wheel are integrated with vibration motors which further enhances the experience.

Lastly, this wheel contains wireless QR technology meaning the detachable wheel doesn't need additional wires between the wheelbase and the steering wheel. If you're willing to fork up the extra money, this wheel is worth every penny. 

Pros

  • Perfect for road-racers
  • Officially licensed by F1 and PS4
  • Various accessories available

Cons

  • Most expensive steering wheel on the market
  • Pedals aren't included
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Logitech Blog

Features or tech specs

  • Degrees of rotation: 900°
  • Compatibility: Playstation or Xbox
  • On-Wheel Adjusters: 22 Buttons and Switches
  • Diameter: 28cm
  • Direct Drive: No

If you're just getting started in the sim-racing realm, you don't want to buy the most expensive wheel out there. The Logitech G923, essentially the more advanced version of the Logitech G29, is just under $400 and a great option for beginners.

Also included with the wheel is a three-pedal set with a progressive brake pedal. With most Fanatec and Thrustmaster wheels, pedals are not included. 

We get it, sim racing can be expensive, but with the durability and reliability Logitech has instilled in their products, this wheel will enjoy a long life. 

Pros

  • TRUEFORCE force feedback
  • Dual clutch launch assistance
  • Rugged look comprised of aluminum, steel, and leather

Cons

  • Almost exactly the same as both the Logitech G29 and G920 but more expensive
  • Loud
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Thrustmaster

Features or tech specs

  • Degrees of rotation: 1080°
  • Compatibility: PC, Playstation, and Xbox
  • On-Wheel Adjusters: 25 Buttons and Switches
  • Diameter: 28cm
  • Direct Drive: No

The next step up from Logitech is Thrustmaster. This wheel and pedal combo is nothing short of impressive. From magnetic paddle shifters to the futuristic design of the wheel, this product is fantastic for the price.

To start, there is a built-in dashboard display on the wheel which features over 20 displays including force feedback type, RPM, best lap, and much more. You're probably thinking, "There's an option to switch force feedback types?" -- yes. There are three force feedback presets on the wheel and adjustable based on user preference.

Lastly, the magnetic pedal set allows racers to adjust their brake pedal with four different brake pressure modes. 

Pros

  • Various different brake pressure and force feedback modes
  • Built-in, customizable display on the wheel
  • Has the new Hybrid Drive Force Feedback System

Cons

  • Fully plastic base
  • Paddle shifters are loud
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Thrustmaster

Features or tech specs

  • Degrees of rotation: 1080°
  • Compatibility: PC and Playstation
  • On-Wheel Adjusters: 13 Buttons and Switches
  • Diameter: 28cm
  • Direct Drive: No

Much like a real race car, you can change your wheel if you think a different one will benefit you with this product. While this face of this wheel is less busy than the other options, the force feedback and capabilities make up for the lack of buttons and adjustments.

With this wheel's dual-belt system, you won't hear the loud noises coming from the Logitech wheels and you will receive smoother feedback when racing around the virtual track. 

Pros

  • Easy to change wheels depending on what form of racing you are doing
  • Compatible with PS5 games
  • Adjustable pedals included in the bundle

Cons

  • Wheel included isn't the greatest, but other options are available to replace it on this base
  • Heavy wheel and base
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Logitech

Features or tech specs

  • Degrees of rotation: 900°
  • Compatibility: PC and Playstation
  • On-Wheel Adjusters: 20 Buttons and Switches
  • Diameter: 27cm
  • Direct Drive: No

As someone who bought this wheel due to its popularity, I can vouch that this wheel and pedal set is perfect for sim racers of any budget.  

Much like the Thrustmaster T248, this steering wheel has a digital display as well, just less complex. With ten lights atop the face of the wheel, drivers can tell their RPM and learn where to shift.

The pedals for this set are practically identical to those of the Logitech G923. They feature full aluminum pedals with a stainless steel frame. The brake pedal on this set is non-linear, meaning the brake is harder to push as you apply more pressure to the pedal. Look out for ZDNet's full coverage of this wheel shortly.

Read our review on the Logitech G29.

Pros

  • Pedals included in the bundle
  • Clamps on the underside of the base work great
  • Durable and made with leather, steel, and aluminum 

Cons

  • Obnoxiously loud when force feedback gets violent
  • Not good for dirt racing

What is the best sim racing steering wheel?

The best sim racing wheel is the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 due to its incredible capabilities and on-wheel adjustments. But, don't think because you don't have the most expensive wheel you can't win. It ultimately comes down to how good you are behind the wheel-- but, having a good wheel definitely helps.

Product

Price

Compatibility

Degrees of Rotation

Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1

$1,799.95

PC, Playstation and Xbox

2520°

Logitech G923

$399.99

PC, Playstation and Xbox

900°

Thrustmaster T248

$399.99

PC, Playstation and Xbox

1080°

Thrustmaster T300 RS GT Edition

$449.99

PC and Playstation

1080°

Logitech G29

$299.99

PC and Playstation

900°

Which is the right sim racing steering wheel for you?

At the end of the day, the steering wheel is just the device you use to make the car turn. As I mentioned, it all comes down to what kind of racer you are. To help you decide which sim-racing steering wheel could be best for you, consider these suggestions.

Choose this…

If you…

Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1

Want the most realistic experience on the sim

Logitech G923

Are serious about getting into sim racing

Thrustmaster T248

Want a wheel that is perfect for any form of racing

Thrustmaster T300 RS GT Edition

Want a base that has the ability to use various wheels

Logitech G29

Want a cheap wheel that many people use

How did we choose these 5 sim racing steering wheels?

There are so many factors that go into the decision of which wheel is the best. That being said, we looked at the experience suggested, force feedback, and on-wheel adjustments.

Having a wheel like the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 can be incredibly overwhelming for new sim racers. Additionally, the price tag attached to that wheel can also be overwhelming. We sorted these in a way that there is a wheel for everyone regardless of experience level.

Second, the create a great experience on the sim, you need a wheel with good force feedback. These wheels were selected by their realistic capabilities on the virtual racetrack.

Lastly, in both asphalt road and oval racing, in-car adjustments are so important. So, having a wheel that has buttons available for adjustments is crucial depending on what type of racing you plan on doing. 

What is a direct-drive sim racing steering wheel?

A direct-drive wheel means there are no belts controlling the feedback the wheel base generates. That means the wheel attaches straight to the shaft which receives feedback transmitted directly from the direct-drive motor.

Why does it matter what sim racing steering wheel I buy?

The steering wheel for your sim racing journey is quite important but it all depends on what type of racing you plan on doing. If you plan on doing a lot of dirt racing, either on ovals or off-road, having a big wheel will benefit you because you have to fight the wheel harder. For racing on asphalt tracks, small wheels with a lot of adjustments are perfect.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your preference and needs while sim racing.

Are there alternative sim-racing steering wheels worth considering?

There are so many great sim racing wheels, making it hard to pick out the best five. While these wheels weren't included in the top five, these wheels are great choices if the ones included don't match your needs.

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