The top 5 steering wheels for gaming: 2018 edition
Let's be honest, the dream would be to drive all the cars you have ever wanted to in real life. But unless you are enviably rich or strike gold in your garden, you will just have to make do with the digital equivalents.
Luckily, then, 3D graphics have come a long way since the days of Super Hang On on Mega Drive and even the original Gran Turismo on PlayStation. The immersion potential is better than ever. It helps, too, that there are numerous accessories to enhance the experience such as a gaming steering wheel.
The thing is, it can be difficult choosing the right one because there are quite a few to choose between, each claiming to be the racing game peripheral equivalent of sliced bread. Which ones are preferable and why? Allow us to elaborate.
Before we get to that though, bear in mind prices change all the time and that compatability is important, so it is worth checking if, for example, the outdated Xbox rally game you just can't let go of is actually supported by the steering wheel you want.
We have also avoided suggesting wheels at the really budget end as these rarely live up to expectations, mainly because of a lack of force feedback but also reliability and quality. Not that every steering wheel offers racing game perfection (yes, even the Fanatec stuff).
Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer Sparco P310
You have to be serious about racing games to spend this much, but then the Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 (and breathe) takes being a steering wheel very seriously. How many use an exact replica of an actual racing wheel?
Designed for PC and Xbox only, the TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 features a 40-watt motor that provides strong force feedback (6.4Nm, in fact, beating the Fanatec Clubsport Elite) to the point where you would be wise to invest in a proper mount or frame.
Thrustmaster's wheel feels comfortable to hold thanks to the soft suede leather, features large paddle shifters and has all the usual Xbox controller buttons you need for navigating the menus and selecting your preferred racing game view (front of bonnet for the win).
The pedals you get in the box work nicely, too, particularly with the little conical fitting shoved under the brake that improves modulation, yet looks relatively unappealing. The same can be said of the bulky turbo-shaped power supply, but neither diminishes what is a really effective gaming wheel.
£599.99 | Zavvi.com
Another PC and Xbox steering wheel, except this one is a lot cheaper yet also offers force feedback as well as 900-degree lock-to-lock rotation. You also get a three-pedal set and hand-stitched leather on the wheel for added realism and comfort.
For a more hands-on experience, the Logitech G920 can be supplemented with the six-speed Force Shifter Attachment, but you will have to pay more for it (about £35). The provided clamp and mount screw holes, meanwhile, let you lock it in place.
Complaints include a slightly stiff brake pedal, issues setting it up on PC and the overall quality is less impressive than what you see with the far pricier TS-XW, but the Logitech G920 is still worth a look for those on a budget, especially at the currently reduced price.
£199.99 | Currys
The Logitech G29 is the G27's successor and is designed for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC. It features the same 900-degree rotation as the G920 and force feedback, but includes buttons relevant to Sony consoles.
It does, however, have an RPM display that can help you know when to change gear, although whether this works depends on the game itself and you could argue it is more easily done by engine noise or the on-screen speedometer.
The rotation of the wheel could be a little smoother, an issue that stems from being geared instead of belt driven, and it is anything but silent during operation. But for PS4 gaming it is one of the better options, not to mention sensibly priced.
£199.99 | Currys
Thrustmaster T300 RS GT
If Gran Turismo Sport is your main racing game, the Thrustmaster T300RS GT is going to make particular sense as it was designed specifically for the game ─ hence the addition of 'GT' in the name.
Building on the T300 RS, the GT version provides three pedals (accelerator, brake, clutch) instead of two (no clutch), which are now of the adjustable metal variety. A combination of brushless motors and a dual-belt system, meanwhile, provides strong twisty torque.
Overall quality is decent and the strength of the motor is known to settle down somewhat after prolonged use, making it easier to wrestle with. You can also swap out the wheel itself, thanks to being detachable. A solid mid-range option, indeed.
£329 | Game.co.uk
Fanatec CSL Elite Kit
Though not quite as lauded as the CSL Sport stuff, the CSL Elite is well-respected ─ and it should be given the price. Just one of the various steering wheel variants alone costs hundreds, which makes it overkill for all but the most ardent racing game fans.
Even so, a few worthy Thrustmaster bits and bobs aren't that far off the price of a CSL Elite. Besides, its smooth performance over 1,080 degrees of travel certainly makes grappling with your digital steed as enjoyable as it gets.
The metal pedals are decent, too, particularly if you stump up yet more money for the CSL Elite Pedals Loadcell, which shortens braking travel. This addition makes it a case of remembering how hard you press for optimum braking, as opposed to how far the pedal travels.
PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are catered for, meaning it will be your finances that are the limiting factor. But for quality and performance, Fanatec equipment is usually hard to beat and the Elite Kit is the cheapest in the range.
£539.95 | Amazon.co.uk