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The Best Racing Wheel

Racing Wheel Roundup
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Which racing wheel takes our top prize? Which one has proven itself to be the best there is? Our scores are based on strength, speed, force feedback, feel, and control.

For performance and design alone, picking today’s best racing wheel is a challenge. They each have likeable and regrettable qualities. The G27 has a mediocre mounting clamp and has a light pedal board. The S Wheel and GT3 RS both have poor accommodations for their shifters, while the Fanatec's shifter feels like a toy compared to Logitech’s. Finally, the GT3 RS is shaky and has poor paddleshifters.

The perks are also rare. The S Wheel plays on all consoles, so if you enjoy racing games like Dirt 2 or Forza Motorsport 3, you won’t be left out. It also connects wirelessly to your PC or PS3, so having cables spread across the floor won’t be a problem. The G27 is a complete package with everything, and because of Logitech’s support infrastructure, most racing games natively support it.

But let’s not forget about the pink elephant in the room: price. Once price is introduced, it becomes very clear who should buy which wheel. At $170, the GT3 RS is just as powerful as Logitech’s older Driving Force GT, which now retails for $110. Or for the Clubsport Edition, the retail price is $300, like the Logitech’s G27. Fanatec’s S Wheel retails for $350, or $250 for the Xbox 360-only model (which doesn’t include the shifters, pedals, or RF dongle for PS3 and PC gaming). The Clubsport Edition of the S Wheel retails for a whopping $500.

If the question were price, we’d easily say Logitech’s G27 is our clear winner. It offers the most bang-for-your-buck, even with its few faults. But we set out to find the best commercial racing wheel, and thus our problem. The Porsche 911 Turbo S Wheel Clubsport Edition is simply marvelous, with excellent steering, speed, strength, control, and the best pedals you’ll find anywhere, and it works on all consoles. But the shifters feel very cheap, especially compared to those that Logitech offers, which are excellent.

So while we are extremely impressed with the S Wheel and Clubsport pedal board, at $500, it’s a serious investment. With a questionable gearbox and the high price, and such a close comparison to the much less expensive G27, we have to award Logitech’s racing wheel with our top prize.

Logitech’s G27 racing offers users the most realistic driving experience. It has an excellent steering wheel and gearbox, is compatible with most PC and PlayStation 3 racing games, and is a well-built device all around. For those with unlimited budgets, the Clubsport pedal board can be plugged into your PC with a USB cable in the place of the G27’s wheel, or an additional cable can be purchased from Fanatec to plug it directly into the wheel. While we wish the G27 worked on all consoles, racing games have until recently appeared on all consoles or the PS3/PC, while the only recent exception is Forza Motorsport 3.  

Were it not for the price difference between the G27 and Porsche 911 Turbo S Wheel Clubsport Edition, we would crown Fanatec’s bundle as king. We can’t recommend both enough, as Logitech’s G27 and Fanatec’s Porsche 911 Turbo S Wheel Clubsport Edition are both excellent, top-notch racing wheels and we can’t get enough of either.

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  • 2 Hide
    adamkob32 , November 6, 2009 5:16 PM
    Hmmmm should of also included a part for service and customer support. Good luck getting a Fanatec #1, and #2 good luck getting it serviced or supported when you have a problem with it, which you will.

    My vote will always go to the Logitech G series wheels. The only shame is Microsoft won't support it on the 360. That would be a huge selling point for a lot of people.
  • 1 Hide
    invlem , November 6, 2009 6:46 PM
    I have the Logitech G25 and couldn't be happier.

    Its an amazing wheel, as mentioned in the article 360 support would be a very nice update, right now I have it running on the PS3 in my basement and it works wonders.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 6, 2009 6:51 PM
    I'd buy a 360 and the forza games if it was supported!
  • 1 Hide
    92Sileighty , November 6, 2009 7:28 PM
    You guys got the labels and pics for the Logitech G27 and Fanatec GT3 RS mixed up.
  • 1 Hide
    touchdowntexas13 , November 6, 2009 8:26 PM
    yep definitely need support for the 360 and forza 3. then you could actually feel like you were driving each of those 400 vehicles...
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , November 6, 2009 9:10 PM
    Wow, I've always used a joystick in racing games. Should I try a wheel?

    I'll tell you what James: You send me the racing wheel of your choice, and I'll send you a high-end motherboard of my choice, you name the socket :p 
  • 1 Hide
    superhighperf , November 6, 2009 10:33 PM
    wheels are good for sim games but for arcade style games they are a joke. the problem is the amount of time it takes you to turn from full left turn to full right turn. if you race rc cars you know what i am talking about, we pay hundreds of dollars for the fastest servo and controller. i wish there was a compromise between the game controller and the wheel.

    i have an old (win 95) controller that is just that. a hand held wheel just like a rc car controller it has force feedback but needs a game port and only works on win 95. i wish a new version of this was made. it was made by interact and is called the fx racing wheel.
  • 1 Hide
    Aerobernardo , November 7, 2009 9:38 PM
    Is the G27's manual shift as flimsy as the G25's? I have a G25 and all I can say about it is that they sould have made the shifter stronger with metal all over it. Also Tom's doesn't mention it but in GT5 Prologue, as in all games that I played, you can switch gears without using the clutch. Now thats also a huuuge blast on the feel of it, since using your not using some of your driving skills with the clutch...
  • 1 Hide
    NewJohnny , November 8, 2009 3:05 AM
    I've heard people who ordered the Fanatec are still waiting, up to one year after paying for it. If that company can't create the manufacturing infrastructure to support volume orders, I believe they may go out of business.
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , November 8, 2009 4:54 AM
    Lots of excellent comments! A few responses:

    Adamkob32: While Fanatec is based in Germany and does sell in many regions, US included, I would guess that yes, repairs and support would be more difficult through them through Logitech. But for the purposes of this article, we couldn't test that.

    92Sileighty: Yes, the fixes have been submitted and will be updated shortly.

    Crashman: We'll see!

    Superhighperf: Agreed, though arcade racers aren't necessarily bad with a wheel as well. We played with mostly racing sims, which is to say games made with the wheel in mind. However, you can play games like GTAIV with a G25/27, and it can make the experience more fun. Just depends on the game.

    Aerobernardo: The G27's gearbox is excellent, the best we tested here, and much better than the G25's. As for GT5 Prologue, its not that you can switch gears without a clutch, but the game doesn't support a clutch (to my knowledge). I've used the game for testing in the past, but its not the racing sim of choice because its not a full game, nor does it support everything I'd look for in a racing game.

    NewJohnny: To my knowledge, Fanatec's wheels are put out in small amounts. They make 5,000 or 10,000 wheels of one kind, and another set for others, etc. Why, I couldn't say...might be part of the deal they have with Porsche for branding rights. I haven't heard any stories of people waiting for years though. I can only imagine that being some sort of perpetual order/shipping snafu.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 8, 2009 7:07 PM
    What's your option of the 911 turbo wheel (without the S). Fanatec is pricing them at $200, which is tempting price point with shifter and paddles. Is it basically the the RS wheel with turbo S shifter and paddles. Also is possible to mount the fanatec shift on something without use the metal rods?)
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , November 8, 2009 7:33 PM
    Wonnaawheel, the 911 turbo wheel, which came out last year, is nearly identical in design and form to the S Wheel. The main difference is that the S Wheel works with the 360, and the pedals built for the Turbo are not as sensitive. My testing with that set had the gas pedal go at 0/100% power, with little room inbetween, though the pedals can be purchased separately and may have been updated along with the wheel itself.

    As for mounting the shifter, you cannot. It only attaches via metal poles to the steering wheel, not to a surface. The only options you're given are which side they sit on the wheel, the left or right.
  • 0 Hide
    jwl3 , November 9, 2009 5:17 PM
    $300 for a racing wheel is outrageous.

    Hate that the cheaper $50 versions don't turn the full 450 or 600 degrees. They turn less than 180.
  • 0 Hide
    d_kuhn , November 10, 2009 4:51 PM
    Have not read the whole article yet... but I HAD to comment about this:

    "Normal racing makes drivers slow down at turns, while drifting requires that drivers time their turns and maneuver their vehicles to slide through turns without losing speed"

    ahem... that's because drifing cars are going so pathetically slow that they don't NEED to slow down.

    Drifting is what you get when you think to yourself "how can I take a car that goes like stink and corners like it's on rails and make it slow?". You shave the tires so they don't have any traction, you adjust the suspension so the car's so loose it can hardly go in a straight line, and then you drive on pavement while pretending you're on dirt.

  • 0 Hide
    d_kuhn , November 10, 2009 5:26 PM
    I've got the G25... It's a solid wheel and for some time has been the only real "High End" wheel on the market. The Fanatec seems like a solid design and for that extra investement you get XBox 360 compatability (something by all reports you'll never see for the G25/27). If I were buying today I'd consider the Fanatec... even though it's a LOT more money.

    The other thing that I really like about the G25 is the paddle shifters... the stick IMO is too floppy but the paddels are nice aluminium parts, big with a nice positive click. It's hard to tell but it looks like the Fanatec either doesn't have them ore their buttons (buttons stink for paddle shifters).
  • 0 Hide
    d_kuhn , November 10, 2009 5:32 PM
    Also (wish I could edit my posts)... one plus for the Fanatec is that it has an extra motor for vibration, ideally it should allow the wheel to convey more information to the driver about traction - though I'm not sure if it makes a difference in real life (some reviews think it does). I'd really like to try one to see, you guys get all the cool toys!
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , November 10, 2009 5:37 PM
    D_Kuhn, the gearbox is greatly improved in the G27, so much so that I rarely used the paddle shifters. Which, by the way, are improved over the G25's as well.

    As for the motor, the G27 also has an extra motor for force feedback. It does make a difference, unless you drive in game like you do in real life.

    One of these days, we'll fix that.
  • 0 Hide
    john boy , November 20, 2009 1:43 PM
    Well, I can't comment on the G-27 yet, for I don't have one, but I have a G-25 for almost two years now, and I must attest the G-25 is a solid and reliable wheel, for just about any kind of racing you prefer.

    If you really like racing as much as I do, and you want to race online in various Sims Racing Series like Nascar Sim Racing, ARCA ReMax, R Factor, on different organizations that have the Nascar Cup, Nationwide,or lower series right down to Modifieds, or even Formula 1, and there are Hundreds of the organizations online that require a membership, you better have a good, decent wheel (NO JOYSTICKS). Most won't let you race or become a member if you don't have a wheel. Even the real life NASCAR drivers race in these online series, for practice or prior to their upcoming weekly event.

    I'm considering one of the G-27's, but right now I couldn't be happier with my G-25. While racing online, I prefer the paddle shifters to the stick shifter, whether it be on a oval or road course, to where it lets me keep my hands on the wheel than worry about distracting me to shift, plus not worrying about a shifter when you have to downshift say from fourth gear to third gear and accidently throw it into first gear resulting into a blown transmission or blown motor.

    And the cost of these units, the G-25, G-27, or others listed here in the forum are not that bad in price or outrageous on price as stated. There are others that manufacture wheels for true diehard online racers like me who like this, like the Thomas Super Wheel(www.thomas-superwheel.com) and ECCI (ECCI6000.com), and I'm seriously looking at a TSW right now. But get ready to spend some bucks if your serious and like this as I do.

    Logitech makes a good wheel, so if you really want to see how good you are as well as the wheel, get online and race with about 30-40 others and that will tell you how good these wheels are.

  • 0 Hide
    smolen64 , November 22, 2009 11:20 PM
    In GT5 Prologue III, once you activate the clutch by pressing the triangle button on the Fanatec's Porsche 911 Turbo S Wheel, you have to press the clutch in order to shift gears. I must say that I love this wheel. By the way, the 6 speed shifter works very well for me. I like the look and the feel of it. I don't like the clicking sound the shifter makes while changing gears and wish more metal and less plastic would be used. If Fanatec will come up with an improved shifter, I hope it will be faster, more accurate and the reverse will be placed to the right from the 6th gear. But the current Fanatec's 6 speed shifter is still 10 X better than the G25 shifter.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 16, 2009 8:10 PM
    I have used the ACT Labs Force RS wheel/shifter/pedals package since the late 1990's and was very impressed with its's quality. i am now looking for a new game console and racing wheel. Can anyone comment on the comparisons to this wheel setup? The discontinued this wheel a few years ago but I believe there is a new one being designed.
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