Racing wheels offer the most immersive way of experiencing racing games, but not only that – they are also the most precise way of controlling them, far better than keyboards or analog sticks.
As such, it is no wonder that many racing game enthusiasts are willing to invest a great amount of money in racing wheels so that they could experience their favorite sim the way it was meant to be experienced.
But of course, racing wheels are not meant just for hardcore fans of racing simulations, and there are multiple products in this category that might appeal to a casual gamer.
In this buying guide, we will be bringing you the very best racing wheels of 2021, including both simple budget ones to those designed for the more demanding racing fans out there.
Table of ContentsShow
- Excellent value for the money
- Fully programmable
- Powerful rumble
- Pedals feel too cheap
- No force feedback
About The Racing Wheel
The first entry on our list is dedicated to the Racing Wheel Apex which is made by Hori. This is a company generally known for their peripherals. Mainly, these are third-party controllers, and a number of them are officially licensed by Sony and Microsoft.
Now, the Apex is a relatively simple and highly affordable racing wheel that comes in two versions, one for the PlayStation and one for the Xbox consoles. Both of these are compatible with PC, and the buttons differ slightly between the PS and the Xbox versions of the product.
Most importantly, despite being a budget racing wheel, the Apex packs plenty of features that rival some of the more expensive products in this category.
- Compact and light – The Hori Apex is certainly smaller than most other racing wheels, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Sure, it’s much easier to fit on a desk and doesn’t take up too much space, but the plastic wheel might just feel too toy-like for enthusiasts.
- Rumble – Just because the Apex lacks force feedback doesn’t mean it completely foregoes all the elements that provide immersion. Most importantly, it has good rumble feedback comparable to that of the DualShock 4 and the Xbox One controllers, only stronger. Furthermore, as a substitute for force feedback, Hori has included a rubber band which adds some palpable resistance to the wheel.
- Customization – The racing wheel is quite customizable, considering that all the face buttons and the pedals are programmable. Apart from that, it can also be adjusted between 180 and 270-degree rotation based on user preference and the type of game that is played.
- Mediocre pedals – Whereas the wheel itself feels more than worth the price tag, the same can’t be said for the pedals. They are very basic and offer pretty much no resistance. Luckily, if you don’t like them, there’s always the option of using the “triggers” on the wheel to accelerate and brake, so the pedals are completely optional. Nonetheless, they can still get the job done.
- No force feedback – As mentioned above, the wheel is lacking the force feedback feature, but this is entirely understandable considering the price. However, it just might be a deal-breaker for those who are suckers for immersion.
If you’re looking for a good budget racing wheel, then there’s just isn’t a better choice than the Hori Racing Wheel Apex. It is well-built, from the quality of the plastic itself to the buttons. It is also extremely customizable and presents superb value overall.
The major downside is the lack of force feedback, but as before, it is understandable considering how affordable it is. Other than that, there are only the pedals that feel so much cheaper than the wheel itself, but they are still precise enough.
- Excellent force feedback
- Great value for the money
- Subpar pedals
About The Racing Wheel
Next up is the T150 racing wheel made by Thrustmaster. This particular racing wheel is regarded as one of the best budget products in this category, and it shares many similarities with the above Hori Apex. However, there is one important addition – force feedback.
The T150 is made primarily with PlayStation in mind, and there is sadly no Xbox variant. This model is, however, fully compatible with PC. Being a PlayStation-first product, it has a bit of the signature black-and-blue aesthetic of the PS4 manifesting through the blue rubber grip on the wheel.
So, is there anything else that makes the Thrustmaster T150 a worthwhile investment?
- Force feedback – First and foremost, it should be pointed out that this is the most affordable quality racing wheel that implements true force feedback. This feature, as the name suggests, imitates the force that you’d feel if you were driving a car by pulling at the wheel with the help of motors, making for the most immersive driving experience.
- 1080-degree rotation – The wheel can be set to rotate anywhere from 270 to 1080 degrees, allowing the user to easily switch between more arcade-friendly and the more serious, simulation-oriented profiles that allow maximum precision.
- Average pedals – Once again, the pedals bear the brunt of the manufacturer’s corner-cutting. The T150’s two pedals are quite similar to those seen in the much cheaper Hori racing wheel, although they do offer more realistic resistance.
Once again, we have to highlight force feedback as this racing wheel’s crown jewel. It is extremely good, easily rivaling that of the more expensive racing wheels out there. However, it is still a budget product, as evident from the utterly mediocre pedals.
With that said, if you’re a more serious racing fan and not just looking for the cheapest force feedback racing wheel that you can get, then best read on.
- Premium feel and build
- Good pedals
- Powerful force feedback
- Force feedback is not the smoothest
About The Racing Wheel
Of course, we can never go into peripheral territory without mentioning at least one product from Logitech. In this case, it’s the G920 racing wheel.
As opposed to the above two products, the G920 is a much more serious mid-range solution. This means that it is superior both feature-wise and when it comes to the general build quality. And much like the Hori racing wheel, the G920 also comes in separate PlayStation and Xbox versions, both of which are compatible with PC.
- Leather grip – An important part of the product’s overall premium feel is the leather covering the wheel itself. This also brings it one step closer to feeling like an actual steering wheel and not just like a controller.
- High-quality pedals – Another big step up from the two budget racing wheels described above is the quality of the pedals included with this racing wheel. The G920 also includes a clutch pedal, and all three pedals are made of metal. More importantly, the tension increases the further the pedal is pushed, giving it a much more realistic feel than what you’d get with cheaper products.
- 900-degree rotation – While it may not seem as good as 1080-degree rotation offered by some other models, there is no need to split hairs as both are as realistic and as accurate.
- Stagnating force feedback – Not to imply that the force feedback implemented here is bad, far from it. However, the gear-based system delivering the feedback has not proven to be as smooth as belt-based systems. What’s more, Logitech did not exactly update this technology over the past few generations of their racing wheels.
All things considered, the Logitech G920 is a truly excellent racing wheel, barring the slight nitpick regarding the force feedback technology being used. It is a top-quality product and it feels much closer to a real steering wheel than what most racing wheels can manage.
What’s more, unless you’re a long-term racing fan with very particular tastes, you probably won’t mind the “blockiness” of the wheel’s force feedback. After all, the premium build and the input precision are arguably worth this caveat.
- Superb force feedback
- Poor value pedals
- The rubber feels a bit cheap
About The Racing Wheel
Following up, we have another product by Thrustmaster, only this time, it is not a bare-bones budget solution. Indeed, the T300RS is one of the better racing wheels currently available.
It packs all the features and functionality that you could expect out of a racing wheel and crams it into one extremely well-built package. Much like the more affordable T150, this Thrustmaster racing wheel is also made exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Of course, it is still PC compatible, but unfortunately, there is no Xbox model.
- Excellent force feedback – We’ve already mentioned how important force feedback is for immersion, and you won’t find anything lacking in that department here. The T300RS uses powerful motors that bring the experience within an inch of absolute realism. It also feels far smoother than what you’d get with the Logitech G920.
- 1080–degree rotation – As with the much cheaper Thrustmaster racing wheel described above, the T300RS also has a full 1080-degree rotation.
- Underwhelming pedals – Yet again, pedals turn out to be Thrustmaster’s weakness. In truth, the pedals themselves are quite fine, but they do feel subpar considering the price tag. Again, unless you’re a hardcore racing sim fan, this is unlikely to bother you.
- Less than premium feel – While it is very well-built, one can’t help but feel that the rubber seen on the wheel is not doing it (or the price tag) any justice.
All in all, the Thrustmaster T300RS is an excellent racing wheel. If you’re the kind of gamer who appreciates precision and realistic force feedback in their racing wheel, then this is the right product for you.
The main shortcoming, in this case, would be that the wheel can simply feel somewhat cheap, but the more noticeable issue is that the pedals are not the best you can get at this price tag.
*Separate versions sold for PS and Xbox consoles
The Best Racing Wheel For 2021
Admittedly, racing wheels are niche products. Therefore, it is no wonder that the selection is relatively small. Out of the few standalone racing wheels, we’d have to give the above title to the Logitech G920.
It simply combines all the essential features that a racing wheel should have into a relatively affordable package. It looks and feels great and has all the functionality that the average user would need – good force feedback, a high-quality leather cover, and the best pedals out of all the products on this list.
As stated before, the only real drawback to the G920 is that the technology behind its force feedback system is not as smooth as what you’d get with some other models, but again, this is only likely to be an issue for more experienced racing fans.