Review: Thrustmaster TMX Pro Wheel & TH8A Shifter
I take a look at my wheel, pedals and shifter after 5 months of ownership, and compare them to my G920, debating if the upgrade was worth it.
About 5 months ago, I made a post about how I'd upgraded my wheel and shifter. I previously had a Logitech G920 wheel and Driving Force H pattern Shifter. So, why did I upgrade, and do I think it was a good decision in retrospect?
I was loving my G920, it was a very premium feeling wheel considering it's price. The force feedback was strong and I liked how it looked and felt. Coming from a controller, it added so much more involvement and a sense of realism to my favourite games, even simcade style racers like FH4. The shifter wasn't bad either, with a satisfying and notchy short throw between shifts. Then the issues started. The wheel would sometimes lock slightly off centre, such that it would be turned slightly but the game would register no input. In other words, the wheel would need be turned slightly even when your car was driving straight. Others seemed to have experienced this issue, and the only resolution I found was the good old turn it off and on again. I only began having this issue a few months into ownership. Not a deal breaker, but an annoyance nevertheless, especially mid game.
My previous wheel, the Logitech G920
Then there's the brake pedal. Despite reviews complaining of an unrealistically firm brake pedal, I thought "it can't be that bad." But wow, it *was* that bad. Basically every game I played with the G920 required some brake settings fine tuning or adjustment to comfortably register 100% brake force. I found adjusting the deadzones to allow for full input just before the brake pedal got really hard to press worked best. Some people suggest removing the rubber insert which is the cause of the firm pedal feel, but I opted against doing so.
Another issue I had relates to the Driving Force Shifter. It would occasionally fail to register when I selected reverse gear, a few months into owning it. Not sure why, maybe I just got unlucky with a temperamental unit.
Getting fed up with these issues, I decided to upgrade my setup. After a little research on what was best for my budget and needs, I settled on the Thrustmaster TMX Pro, and TH8A Shifter.
Whilst not the most important thing, I feel packaging can influence your first impression of a product, and is often overlooked in reviews (except for unboxings). The wheel and pedals came in a large and sturdy box, very well protected should the courier have decided to dropkick it to my house (thankfully, they didn't). To my surprise, the shifter arrived in a box about half as big as the wheel. I was expecting a much smaller box. It's fair to say Thrustmaster surprised me with the quality of the packaging.
Setup was a doddle. Just mount the wheel and shifter, place the pedals and plug it all in. Downloading the Thrustmaster software from their site was quick, and installation was done pretty quickly. The software allows you to test the wheel, pedals and gearshift and update firmware.
The TMX Pro isn't an especially flashy looking thing. It's 11'' rim is mostly hard plastic, but does the job and feels solid. The hand stitched leather covering you find on the G920m is unquestionably more premium, though I find the rubber on the TMX sufficiently good. The rim is noticeably thinner than the chunky one of the G920, but is still comfortable in use.
The rim is finished with a set of rubberised grips. These are surprisingly comfortable and seem to be durable enough. I haven't noticed any major degradation of them since I got the wheel.
Behind these grips, you find a set of large metal paddle shifters. They give a reassuring click when you pull them, and feel very nice to use. I would go as far as saying they just as good, if not better than those you'd find on the Logitech.
Moving to the face of the wheel, we find a set of buttons which are laid out very well. The four top most buttons are the colour coded ABXY buttons as found on an Xbox controller. There are also two shoulder/trigger buttons either side. The menu and view buttons are smaller and located lower down so as not to accidentally press them. Letters telling you what each button does are printed next to the buttons rather than on the buttons themselves (except for menu/view), which I like as they are far less likely to fade away with use.
All the buttons feel clicky and solid, not loose in any way. So far so good. However, The D-pad on the left side of the wheel is without doubt the cheapest looking and feeling part of the wheel. It works perfectly, I just wish it was a little nicer to use and better quality.
The build quality and aesthetics are good, but how about the force feedback? I'd say its equally as good as the G920 for the most part. It uses a combination of a belt-pulley and gears, as opposed to the helical gearing setup you find on the G920. I have noticed that the TMX isn't always as responsive. Small details such as hitting a curb or bump are more noticeable on the G920. Also, the self centring is stronger (or at least feels like it to me) with the Logitech.
I paid almost £260 when I bought my TMX. This puts it further away from the entry level oriented G920, but not massively so.
Regardless, both wheels offer good FFB and a full 900 degrees of rotation. Also, they add another element of realism and immersion to your games, no matter which one you go for.
As mentioned, I opted for the TMX Pro instead of the standard TMX . The wheel itself is the same with regardless of which you go for, but the key difference is the included pedal set. The standard TMX gets a more basic 2 pedal set, with plastic pedals. They offer some adjustment, but the TMX Pro comes bundled with Thrustmaster's T3PA pedal set. It is a 3 pedal set which offers lots of adjustability, as well as more premium looking metal pedals. Compared to the pedals my G920 had, these are MUCH nicer. I like the configurability you get with them. Thrustmaster also gives you the option of a firmer brake pedal by including a conical rubber insert in the box. This is much better than the Logitech pedals which come with it whether you want it or not. I decided to leave the pedals as they were. I found the brake pedal offered ample resistance as it was without the rubber insert.
Please ignore the spaghetti junction of cables
Both the G920 and TMX Pro have textured pedal bases so your feet don't slip about. I personally prefer the TMX, with its clean looking but effective design.
Something to consider is what type of flooring you intend using these pedals on. Unlike those included with the G920, they do not have a pop out carpet gripper, and I have noticed they begin to move away from me a little after longer periods of use. It's worth noting that both pedal sets give options for mounting to a sim rig if you'd prefer to do that.
As a package, the pedals with the TMX Pro are much nicer than the G920's, and a big upgrade worth paying the extra for.
Moving on to the final part of the package, the TH8A gear shifter. I personally think this is the biggest area of improvement compared with my Logitech setup. It's a truly impressive bit of kit. It's about 4x the price of the Driving Force Shifter at about £170 currently (I paid £175 for mine) but I feel it's worth every penny. It feels really high end, being almost entirely constructed of metal. It uses magnets to know what gear you've selected. Thrustmaster claim this massively improves the lifespan of the product as it eliminates the need for tact switches or potentiometers. However, I do sometimes miss the mechanical notchy feel of the Logitech shifter.
As with the pedals, the shifter offers plenty of options for configuring and customising it your tastes. As well as it's standard H pattern, you can swap the shift plate out for the included sequential one.
Additionally, you can adjust the shift plate 360 degrees. This is useful if you want, or need, to mount it at an angle but still have the shifter layout facing you. Other options include adjusting the shift resistance. This is done using a screwdriver in a hole on the side of the unit.
The gear knob is removable and you can swap it out for a different one, including universal ones for actual cars. Pretty cool stuff. Thrustmaster did offer a different style knob (sold separately) intended to be used for the sequential style gearbox.
Overall, I'm glad I upgraded to this Thrustmaster wheel and shifter. It seems more durable than the Logitech, the shifter and pedals are much nicer and I am loving using them. It is a more expensive setup than my previous Logitech one though, and isn't without a few downsides. I would recommend it to those looking to upgrade from a cheaper wheel, or those looking for a first wheel who have more to spend.
TMX Pro wheel
t3pa pedal set