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Sim Racing Wheels: Everything You Need To Know + Best Wheels

In this sim racing guide, I run through everything you need to know about racing wheels. I'll look at the best racing wheels to buy across different budgets and what differentiates a good racing wheel from a bad one.

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Sim racing wheels are crucial for any sim racing setup. They sit at the heart of your sim rig and can really help you feel how your car is behaving on track to varying degrees. With that said, there is a huge amount of difference between sim racing wheels from price to strength and compatibility.

In this sim racing buyers guide, I’m going to run through everything you need to know about sim racing wheels. I’ll look at which wheels I’d recommend for different budgets as well as breaking down key terminology.

Sim racing wheels overview

Your sim racing wheel sits right at the heart of your sim racing setup and is the part of your setup that you’ll interact with the most whilst sim racing. It is responsible for providing force feedback from the game to you via the wheel base, and this is the force that you feel while racing.

Force feedback is designed to replicate real world forces as closely as possible and gives you key information about how your car is behaving in relation to the track surface. The intensity and fidelity of force feedback is different from wheel to wheel and improves greatly as you move up to more premium racing wheels


What makes up a racing wheel?

Your racing wheel itself is comprised of a few different products. Some sim racing wheels come as a single item, meaning the steering wheel is attached to your racing wheel and you cannot change it. This is commonplace on more budget-friendly racing wheels like the Logitech G923 or Thrustmaster T248.

Other racing wheels do allow you to switch out various parts. Your whole wheel consists of a wheel base, a quick release and a steering wheel. And in certain steering wheel products, you can delve a little deeper by using a wheel hub and switching out your wheel rim.


Wheel base explained

Your wheel base is the large part of your racing wheel that is mounted to your desk or sim rig. This box contains a motor and all technology required to produce force feedback. A wheel base can use different internal technology to generate force, with the most common technologies being belt driven, gear driven and direct drive.

La Prima Wheelbase & Quick Release Bundle

The motor inside the wheel base generates force which is then sent to your steering wheel via a series of gears or belts in gear and belt-driven wheels. In direct drive wheels, the motor is often much larger and mounted directly to your wheel shaft resulting in the most detailed and strongest force feedback available.


Quick release explained

The quick release is the part of a racing wheel that connects your steering wheel to your wheel base. Some budget racing wheels do not include a quick release, meaning that the steering wheel is not detachable and cannot be swapped.

Fanatec QR2 Quick Release
Quick Release

With racing wheels that do include a quick release, you can detach your steering wheel and reattach a different steering wheel as long as the quick release technology matches up. Quite often quick releases are brand-specific meaning that you cannot use steering wheels from say MOZA Racing on a Fanatec wheel base. Although, there can be ways around this such as quick release adapters that can be attached to third-party steering wheels and wheel rims.


Steering wheel and wheel hubs explained

Your steering wheel is the most interactive part of your racing wheel and is the part that you’ll hold and interact with whilst sim racing. Steering wheels come in a wide range of shapes, styles and sizes with different levels of interactivity.

Many budget-friendly steering wheels are designed with few inputs to make sim racing as simple and accessible as possible. Often, you’ll find console-specific buttons on a steering wheel which let you control your game directly from your wheel.

More premium steering wheels give you more control with more inputs included. These can include rotary encoders, thumb encoders, joysticks and more, all of which make the steering wheel more realistic and giving you more control over your car mid-race.

Wheel hubs are the term given to a steering wheel without a wheel rim. These often include the required technology for your racing wheel to function and become interactable. They then require you to attach a wheel rim, which can often be any wheel rim of your choice as long as the mounting pattern of your wheel rim and wheel hub match up.


Direct drive vs gear and belt driven wheels

I mentioned earlier that inside wheel bases, there is a range of different technology that different sim racing brands and manufacturers use. Some technology is more cost-effective to implement, meaning the racing wheel or wheel base can be more competitively priced. However, this approach can reduce the strength and fidelity of force feedback.

Gear and belt-driven force feedback

Generally, budget-friendly racing wheels and wheel bases will use either gear-driven or belt-driven technology. This approach allows manufacturers to use a smaller motor and either enhance the strength or translate the force feedback to the wheel shaft using gears and/or belts and pulleys.

While this does result in a lower cost racing wheel, there are limits to how powerful the motor can be when using gears and belts. This will result in weaker force feedback limits.

For example, the Logitech G923 utilises gear-driven force feedback and has a maximum peak torque of around 2.3Nm. The Thrustmaster T300 RS wheel uses belt-driven force feedback resulting in peak torque of 4Nm.

In the realms of sim racing, these torque figures will allow you to feel what’s happening on the track, but the forces won’t feel overly strong. In comparison, direct drive racing wheels can stretch up to and over 20Nm of peak torque.

Below are a few examples of gear and belt-driven racing wheels.

Racing wheelTechnologyPeak torquePrice
Logitech G923Gear-driven2.3NmRRP: £350/$350
Thrustmaster T128Belt & gear hybrid2NmRRP: £169/$199
Thrustmaster T248Belt & gear hybrid3.5NmRRP: £299/$399
Thrustmaster TS-PCBelt-driven6NmRRP: £349/$399

Direct drive force feedback

Direct drive is much more of a premium technology compared to gear and belt drive. It generally requires a larger internal motor to power the wheel due to the lack of gears and belts that can intensify smaller motors. Essentially, the motor inside a direct drive wheel is doing all of the heavy lifting.

Mounting the internal motor directly to your wheel shaft is beneficial in multiple ways. For a start, gear and belt-driven racing wheels suffer from some of the force feedback detail being distorted by the gears and pulleys. This happens while the force feedback is being translated from the motor to the wheel shaft and can result in details being lost or the wheel feeling clunky.

By removing the internal gears and pulleys, the force feedback is much more detailed and smoother. This lets you feel more of what is happening on track such as fine track surface changes, tyre slip and more.

The second benefit is that direct drive wheels can be much more powerful than the alternative. The limitations of belts and gears are gone, and the real strength limit is due to the size of the internal motor. This means you can have peak torque exceeding 20-30Nm in some racing wheels.

Finally, response times with a direct drive racing wheel are generally quicker compared to belt and gear-driven wheels. The time taken to send forces through a series of gears or pulleys is gone, allowing for lightning-fast response from your wheel. This lets you feel what is happening on track a little bit quicker, giving you more chance to react and ultimately better control over your car.

Below are some of the most popular direct drive wheel bases and racing wheels.

Racing wheelTechnologyPeak torquePrice
MOZA R5Direct drive5NmRRP: £459/$459
Fanatec GT DD ProDirect drive8NmRRP: €599/$599
Fanatec ClubSport DD+Direct drive15NmRRP: €999/$999
Asetek InvictaDirect drive27NmRRP: €1300/$1550

Price ranges

Racing wheels and wheel bases vary hugely in price. From as little as £100/$100 for a low-powered racing wheel with little functionality, all the way up to multiple thousands for the most premium direct drive racing wheels.

The real downside of a direct drive racing wheel or wheel base comes down to its increased price point. The larger motor and stronger forces result in larger price tags compared to more budget-friendly gear and belt racing wheels.


Budget racing wheel recommended price range

Generally, for an entry-level racing wheel I would recommend spending around £250-£350, which would get you a complete sim racing bundle consisting of a racing wheel and pedal set. Products like the Logitech G923 and Thrustmaster T248 are great options as both are also console-compatible.

Within this price range, you’re likely to only find racing wheels with non-detachable steering wheels meaning the path to upgrading will be incredibly limited. However, they serve as a fantastic way of trying out sim racing without spending the earth!


Mid-range racing wheel recommended price range

If you are looking for a racing wheel with a bit more headroom for customisation and a little more power, I’d recommend shopping for a small direct drive wheel. There are options from a variety of brands including MOZA Racing and Fanatec.

These smaller direct drive wheels typically have peak strength figures of between 5-10Nm. At this strength output, you’ll get a really good feeling about how your car is reacting in your game. And with the wheels being direct drive you also get the added benefits of quicker response times and much more strength than budget racing wheels.

I’d highly recommend looking at products like the Fanatec CSL DD or MOZA R9. These can be purchased individually letting you customise the steering wheel that you use, or as part of a complete bundle. Generally, you’ll be spending between £400-£600 depending on whether you opt for a bundle or individual wheel base.


Premium direct drive racing wheel recommended price range

Moving into the high-end and premium racing wheel category, the price can ramp up considerably. The sim racing products in this category will generally be sold as individual wheel bases giving you the option to attach various steering wheels and use whichever pedals you fancy.

One of the main negatives about purchasing a premium racing wheel, other than the cost, is that most are only PC-compatible. There are some Xbox and PlayStation compatible direct drive racing wheels but this requirement will limit your choices.

Good options in this category include the Fanatec DD1, the Asetek Forte or Invicta wheel bases and the Simucube 2 Sport. The prices vary greatly, but you will generally be looking at spending £800 upwards for any of these premium wheel bases. And that cost is normally just for the wheel base, not including a steering wheel.


Compatibility

Compatibility is a big item to consider when buying any gaming peripheral, especially a racing wheel. Not every racing wheel is compatible with every console platform, and generally, most racing wheels are only compatible with products from the same brand. However, there are ways around this and it’s not always the case.

Different ecosystems

Most sim racing brands and manufactures ensure that their racing wheels are compatible with as many of their other products as possible. Of course this isn’t always possible. The Logitech G923 isn’t compatible with any of the Logitech Pro racing products. I’d always recommend checking on the manufacturers website to confirm the compatibility you are after is supported.

Cross compatibility between brands

I did speak about quick releases and wheel hubs earlier. This is one way that you can make some steering wheels compatible with other branded racing wheels. Some quick releases let you mount steering wheels from a variety of brands to the QR. This can in some cases then make the steering wheel fully compatible with the wheel base.

A good example of this is Asetek who released their quick release adapter in 2023. This adapter can be mounted to steering wheels from a wide range of brands and it includes all the electronics to ensure the wheel base still functions correctly.

Console and PC compatibility

When it comes to using other peripherals like pedals, shifters and handbrakes with your racing wheel, if you’re racing on a PC this isn’t an issue. On PC, you can simply connect any peripherals directly to your PC and they will all work independently. When sim racing on an Xbox or PS5 console though, things are a little more limited.

On these consoles, you can only connect one USB to your console, meaning that all pedals and peripherals need to be connected to your racing wheel which is then connected directly to your Xbox or PlayStation. This means that you will need to use products from the same brand as your racing wheel to ensure everything works.


Best budget racing wheels

Now we’ve run through the anatomy of a sim racing wheel as well as covered budgets and technology, I think a great way of shopping for your first or a new racing wheel is to present some recommendations.

First, I want to touch on the best budget racing wheels you can buy. This category of racing wheel will generally net you a complete sim racing bundle that includes a set of pedals as well as a racing wheel at a relatively low price point. Budget racing wheels are ideal for those looking to try sim racing for the first time.


Logitech G923 Racing wheel

Racing Wheel – Logitech G923
Compatibility – PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series X|S
Price – £349/$399
Where to buy – Buy Logitech G923

My first recommendation would be the widely praised Logitech G923 racing wheel. This is in the same product lineup as the G29 that I first used when starting sim racing, and it’s quite honestly a great racing wheel for the price. It is a touch more expensive than some other budget racing wheel options, however, the build quality and nice materials used in its construction make it a great choice.

Logitech G923

The Logitech G923 is a gear-driven racing wheel, one of the only racing wheels still using this technology. This does make the force feedback feel occasionally clunky as you can feel the gears interacting with each other, however, this doesn’t detract too much from sim racing.

One of the main perks of the Logitech G923 is that there are both Xbox and PlayStation-compatible versions available, and Logitech also sell an additional shifter to complete your sim racing setup. The force feedback strength tops out at around 2.3Nm of peak torque, which is a respectable starting point for a new sim racer.


Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel

Racing Wheel – Thrustmaster T248
Compatibility – PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series X|S
Price – £299/$399
Where to buy – Buy Thrustmaster T248

If you fancy a complete beginner’s sim racing bundle but don’t like the look of the Logitech G923, another great option is the Thrustmaster T248. Both Thrustmaster and Logitech have been battling each other in the budget sim racing wheel space for years, and the T248 is Thrustmaster’s most recent answer to Logitech’s racing wheel.

The Thrustmaster T248 differs itself from the G923 right away with its internal technology. The T248 utilises hybrid force feedback that consists of both gears and belts. This results in a bit of both worlds. There is much less notchiness from the gears compared to the Logitech racing wheel. The limited use of pulleys and belts means not too much force feedback detail is lost in translation.

Thrustmaster T248 Racing Wheel

This Thrustmaster racing wheel also produces stronger peak forces at around 3.5Nm. It does all of this in a remarkably more edgy package than the G923. The design of the T248 utilises sharper lines and less curves resulting in a rather modern-looking racing wheel.

With the Thrustmaster T248, you also get a set of Thrustmaster pedals. These are fine to get started, and can be upgraded at a later date, which I’d highly recommend you do. The pedals in the T248 racing bundle aren’t as good as those found with the Logitech G923 wheel.


Best mid-range racing wheels

Moving into the best mid-range racing wheel category, a lot more choice is suddenly available. Within a price range over £300/$300, you start to find racing wheels and wheel bases that use direct drive technology which is a big improvement over the Logitech and Thrustmaster wheels that sit in the budget racing wheel category.

You also get more access to racing wheels and wheel bases that come with quick release systems. These allow you to have more customisation and choice over which steering wheel you use in your sim racing setup.

MOZA Racing R9

Racing Wheel – MOZA Racing R9
Compatibility – PC
Price – £399/$399
Where to buy – Buy MOZA R9

I’m going to start by recommending the MOZA Racing R9 wheel base. This is PC only sim racing wheel base that comes without any additional peripherals or a steering wheel. It’s reasonably priced and widely available, and it does come in a bundle with a steering wheel which would save you a little money.

MOZA R9 V2 and GS GT V2 Wheel Bundle

The MOZA R9 produces 9Nm of peak torque and has a relatively small form factor. This makes it easy to mount to your sim rig or cockpit and has a table clamp if you want to mount to a desk or table. The design of the body itself acts as a heatsink to dissipate internal heat meaning there is no internal fan resulting in whisper-quiet operation.

The force feedback that all MOZA Racing wheel bases produce is silky smooth and very impressive. This R9 has been around for a couple of years, but still remains a great option at this price point. MOZA have a selection of steering wheels to choose from, all of which are very good. And they also sell a quick release adapter that lets you mount other branded steering wheels and use them with this wheel base.


Fanatec GT DD Pro

Racing Wheel – Fanatec GT DD Pro
Compatibility – PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series X|S
Price – £599/$599
Where to buy – Buy Fanatec GT DD Pro

Next up, I can’t recommend the Fanatec GT DD Pro highly enough. It is very similar to the MOZA R9 in many ways, from its form factor being pretty small and tightly packed, to its peak strength output of 8Nm, just 1Nm less than the MOZA R9. This Fanatec GT DD Pro is Fanatec’s answer to the MOZA R9, and it has one big advantage.

The GT DD Pro is completely compatible with both Xbox and PlayStation consoles as well as PC. This big advantage over the R9 does, however, increase its price point right to the top end of what I’d consider a mid-range racing wheel.

Much like MOZA Racing, Fanatec has a large ecosystem of sim racing products that can be used with this GT DD Pro. In fact, Fanatec has a lot more choices when it comes to choosing a steering wheel. They also have a few pedal options as well as shifters and handbrakes that can all be used with the GT DD Pro on Xbox or PlayStation consoles.

If the price tag of the Fanatec GT DD Pro is a bit high, or you only intend to sim race on PC or Xbox, you could opt for the Fanatec CSL DD. The CSL DD is pretty much identical internally and produces extremely similar force feedback to the GT DD Pro. The only real difference other than the way it looks is that it isn’t PlayStation-compatible. However, it is considerably cheaper.


Best premium racing wheels

Our final category is for premium and high-end racing wheels and wheel bases. This category is one where prices can scale pretty quickly. However, there are some fantastic racing wheels that don’t carry too much of a price increase. All of the wheel bases in this premium price range utilise large motors to produce powerful force feedback.

Fanatec ClubSport DD+

Racing Wheel – Fanatec ClubSport DD+
Compatibility – PS4, PS5, PC
Price – €999/$999
Where to buy – Buy Fanatec ClubSport DD+

The first wheel base I want to recommend is a brand-new wheel base from Fanatec. This wheel base has been a long time coming and sits at the lower range of a premium racing wheel.

Fanatec Clubsport DD wheel base
Wheel Base

The Fanatec ClubSport DD+ is a €999/$999 wheel base that features class-leading technology and some of the very best force feedback around. It peaks at 15Nm of sustained torque which is within my ideal force feedback range of between 10-15Nm.

The ClubSport DD+ really pushes the limits of what sim racing wheels can achieve. It has incredible thermal stability ensuring it doesn’t overheat even after hours of sim racing, and has what Fanatec are calling FullForce. This new technology provides instant response times and incredible high-frequency vibrations that let you feel the track in a new immersive way.

If you already in the Fanatec ecosystem, this wheel base is a great option. You can use it in combination with a wide range of other Fanatec products, and this wheel base is compatible with PlayStation consoles as well as on PC.


Asetek Forte wheel base

Racing Wheel – Asetek Forte wheel base
Compatibility – PC
Price – €880/$880
Where to buy – Buy Asetek Forte

My second recommendation for the best premium racing wheel is the Asetek Forte wheel base. This wheel sits in the middle of Asetek’s product lineup, with an even stronger wheel base available. The Invicta wheel base is capable of up to 27Nm of peak torque, while this Forte wheel base produces up to 18Nm of peak torque.

La Prima Wheelbase and Forte Formula Steering Wheel Bundle

At 18Nm of peak torque, I think this Forte wheel base is the better choice as it will save you a large sum of money that can be spent better on other products. The main downside that this Asetek wheel base has compared to the Fanatec ClubSport DD+ is its limited console compatibility.

The Asetek Forte, much like all of Asetek’s current product lineup, is only PC-compatible. This isn’t too much of an issue, as most racing wheels and wheel bases at this price point are also only PC compatible, with some exceptions like the Clubsport DD+.

The force feedback that this Asetek Forte produces is incredibly smooth and detailed. And in my opinion, Asetek has one of the best steering wheel choices in the Asetek Forte Formula Wheel. This is the product that I race with on a daily basis, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Article written by Rich

Rich co-founded SimRacingDeal.com after years of sim racing and experimentation with various sim racing gear. He has been a writer and motorsport journalist for over 5 years and has over a decade of sim racing experience. Rich has experience with a range of different sim racing hardware including racing wheels and sim racing pedals from Logitech, Fanatec, Thrustmaster, Asetek and more, and he believes that upgrading and changing sim racing gear shouldn't be as expensive as it currently can be.

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