------ My Force Feedback Wheel Review ------
-- Edit --
Ok a lot has changed since I wrote this, a new impressive wheel by Thrustmaster was released which is better than all these wheels (unless you want xbox support)
And then Fanatec has brought out 2 wheels one of which to go toe to toe if not exceed the Thrustmaster, exciting times indeed
-- Edit --
I have the fortunate problem of having a room crammed full of boxes and parts from a Logitech G27, Fanatec Porsche 911 Turbo S, 2 x Fanatec Porsche 911 GT3 RS v2, Microsoft Xbox 360 Wheel, 2 Sets of Plastic Fanatec Porsche Standard Pedals and a solid metal set of Fanatec Clubsport Pedals and all the associated gear sticks/shifters.
I own some of the products but most were sent to me by Fanatec for the purpose of comparison, they sent me a competitors product the Logitech G27 confident that side by side their product would stand to be the better choice.... so is it?
The Fanatec 911 GT3 R2 and Turbo S are joint Winners here.
The smoothness and strength of the belt drive in the Fanatec's versus the notchyness and clunkiness of the Logitech is the clincher for me personally. The bonus of the great aesthetic and very handy HUD to tweak controls make it a joy.
The Clubsport Shifter is proposed for release soon but no concrete dates I am aware of. To me it is the last missing puzzle piece in Fanatec's product line aside from perhaps a Clubsport Premium Wheel and the E-Motion Cockpit. It will likely be usable with any wheel on PC.
The Clubsport Pedals are mighty also, and you can use those with any Wheel on PC. At first I thought they were an over priced luxury, however after having used them I cannot possibly go back to using the plastic dainty pedals of any of the other wheels. I just can't!!! They really are worth the extra cost and the load cell/pressure driven braking (versus travel driven like the other pedals) should make braking more realistic and consistent.
The Fanatec Wheels Pros outweigh any of the Cons for me, but I can imagine for some people they may not, especially if you are price sensitive.
I shall outline the facts so you may make an evaluation for yourself if it is right for you and your priorities, it is no secret I am a huge fan of the Fanatec products personally and even more so having used the best Logitech has to offer in direct comparison.
I apologise in advanced for the length, I have tried my best to organise my thoughts on it in a simple manner but I always struggle with succinctness
See the Bottom of this for Photographs and Movies and a break down of prices and what products/bundles are on offer
------------- Quick Overview - What You Need to Know -------------
--- Helical Gears versus Belt Driven Force Feedback ---
One of the biggest mechanical/functional differences between the Logitech and the Fanatec is the Logitech uses helical gears (smoother than the G25 straight cut gears) where as the Fanatec is belt driven (smoothest by far), and what this means in real terms is the Fanatec wheel feels much more like you are driving a real car with smooth quiet changes in direction even when shaking rapidly such as going over uneven ground in a Rally car, but on the Logitech it jars, rattles and tugs like a computer peripheral, it feels and sounds clunkier overall with a notchiness at times. The Fanatec wheel I feel is more immersive, weighty and natural not just aesthetically but functionally too. This becomes even more evident the jerkier the car/game your are playing with, off road games are increasingly clunky feeling on the Logitech. Also the Logitech has a sizeable deadspot/deadzone around centre which the Fanatec's do not have (if the games drivers are set up correctly)
The mechanical gearing however may have one advantage for people interested in faster lap times, they are in a way, sharper, perhaps slightly more responsive at least in 'feel' now this may NOT be more realistic at all, but it may be faster in It's clunkiness, you may however be just as fast in the Fanatec if you tweak the FFB and dampening settings, so It's only slight and depends what you are driving typically. For me personally the immersion and feel is more important than a few ms here and there
--- The Fanatec Wheels ---
Fanatec's Belt Driven 911 Turbo S on left and GT3 RS 2 on the Right
The Fanatec Wheels are impressive. I went straight from using the Microsoft Wheel to the Fanatec and it blew me away (no surprise really). It's not as refined or as precise as a real Porsche's Steering Wheel but that would probably costs a few thousand dollars more, for the price and for a computer peripheral It's pretty gorgeous and easily the best you can get for under $1000. Though the build quality on the Turbo S is not as good as it could or should be, the GT3 RS is much tidier in the detailing if your really nit picking.
The FFB is nice, quiet, strong and smoooooth it just feels so much nicer than the Logitech
One awesome feature of the Fanatec wheel is the built in LED HUD display which you can navigate via a d-pad in the wheel and alter various key settings while in the middle of driving, It allows you to fiddle with settings without having to leave the game or race and I find it invaluable as a time and energy saver and is even more invaluable in consoles games like Forza on the xbox 360 and GT5 on the Playstation when it comes out.
I cannot over state enough how much the HUD and It's tweaks are a KILLER feature, and they keep adding to it with updates, now adding ability to tweak a plethora of features from linearity to dampening mid game, combined with user presets It's a joy and a power users (massive fiddlers) dream.
You can currently adjust
Wheel Lock 90-900 degrees
FFB - Force Feedback from 0-100
SHK - Shock/Effects/Rumble
DR - Drift Mode (A Really really nifty feature that lets you simulate something like power assisted steering I think, it make the wheel bounce around in your hands on high settings useful for drifting where you want to throw the wheel around)
ABS - where you get a vibration feedback based on braking strength, helpful to judge where a fixed percent of braking is occurring.
LIN - Linearity
DEA - Dead Zone
SPR - Spring - (strength wheels tries to return to centre, higher makes it stronger and twitchier)
DPR - Damper - not sure what this does effectively, it affects the dampening
:-)It feels like it makes it less springy and more sudden movement, I think. Apparently it greatly improves some games like F1 2010 especially on consoles.
Even if you don't drift the drift mode is useful to remove stiffness in the wheel some games have while still keeping the force feedback intact
Also make sure to remove or lower any dampening in the driver settings, removing dampening on the Logitech is a recipe for disaster I feel but the Fanatec handles it fine
The Flappy Paddle Shifters on the wheel are annoyingly lacklustre but not a deal breaker, Check video at bottom to see what I mean
The Fanatec Clubsport Pedals while expensive are worth every penny, they are awesome and you can use them on PC with any wheel
The Fanatec Standard Pedals are not as good as the Logitech's but they are perfectly usable and functional
The Fanatec Turbo S is the only wheel apart from the rather sad Microsoft Wheel, that Supports the Xbox 360 and thus can play Forza Motorsport with proper support for rumble and clutch.
(I now hear Fanatec are making a NEW premium xbox supporting wheel!)
Also the Wheel has a couple of vibration/rumble motors in the wheel rim itself, this depends on driver support generally (aside from the ABS function) It's properly utilised on the xbox for example but not really used on the PC side as far as I can tell. The Logitech has no vibration motors.
Overall the GT3RS seems to have a better build quality/design and the Alcantara leather is really very very nice
Also of note you can get a Fanatec adapter to support other pedals with their wheels. The adapter is included with the 911 Turbo S 'PURE' edition for free as it comes with no Pedals as standard. Using the adapter the Fanatec wheels can be used with G25, G27 pedals or the Xbox 360 Wheel Pedals which is a move to help people transition from another wheel. This is something I took advantage of initially to use my existing Xbox pedals.
--- Fanatec Carrera Wheel ---
I haven't had the opportunity to try this wheel out, this wheel is aimed at the price conscious.
Replacing the Leather with Rubber, and the belt drive of the other Fanatec wheels with Gears (The Logitech is only ever gear driven)
If you just can't justify the price of the Fanatec wheels in any of the other configurations, then give this wheel a serious look over.
--- The Logitech G27 ---
Is deceptively ugly and vanilla, I mean you tell any regular person it costs $300 and show them it and they will laugh at you and your overpriced toy. They may quieten somewhat once they try it though, It's a good functioning bit of kit, It's plastic from top to bottom but It's good plastic in that It's quite solid and you won't be shy of throwing it in a bag and carting it about, but It's still plastic toy looking and feeling. To most racers this will matter little as It's lap times lap times lap times right?
The leather wheel has a nice soft comfortable feel in your hands though it feels small and dainty compared to the Fanatec, or light and nimble if you want to be glass half full kinda guy (the Fanatec has a bigger 30cm diameter). The Pedals and the Shifter that it comes with are functionality excellent however; the Logitech wheel and shifter have plenty of buttons (6 on wheel and 12 on Shifter) though the Fanatec isn't lacking in buttons either with 14 on the Wheel itself. Overall It's a complete package.
It does what you need and it does it well enough with no fanfare or excess and is readily available from hundreds of distributors and shops. I would personally recommend you shell out for the Fanatec GT3RS and some standard pedals or even look into the Fanatec Carrera wheel which is Fanatec's new budget offering with rubber instead of leather trim and gear driven instead of belt bringing the price down a sizeable chunk of change.
Perhaps the biggest down fall of the Logitech is how clanky, jerky and noisy it is when playing off road games, it feels notchy and mechanical, all the jerking and bumpiness of rally really lends itself to the belt driven smoothness of the Fanatec wheels and the increased strength of force it seems to have over the Logitech also. Playing Richard Burns Rally or even Colin McRae Dirt with some modifications really makes the Logitech beyond intolerable in terms of noise and judderyness while the Fanatec handles it beautifully over the uneven terrain.
--- The Microsoft Wheel ---
Isn't remotely in the same league as the other wheels, but It's a good entry level wheel if you only want to play on the xbox and is still a big step up from a controller. The design is quite nice, It's very computer peripheral controller styled, the wheel grip is nice even if it is just rubber it has a nice enough feel. The paddle shifters are well placed albeit my shifter's now makes a crunchy metal clicky noise and don't feel right. And It's actually very playable on your lap, I just attach the table clamp and squeeze that between my legs, it holds it quite firm and the wheel doesn't offer enough resistance to make that a problem, using the Logitech or Porsche wheel on your lap is not really an option at all.
--- Gran Turismo 5 ---
What wheel to pick for GT5? Is sure the question of the moment as the game is imminently being released after years and years and oh so many years of development.
Well I would go with the Fanatec, though I have not been able to test it with GT5 as of writing the game is not out, but I will surely give it a whirl ASAP.
Looking at the firmware updates and feature's in the Fanatec Wheel HUD you can adjust dampening, deadzone, linearity and all that fun stuff on the wheel itself, these things are essential to getting GT5 to operate properly as it as far as I am aware pays no mind to Fanatec and champions Logitech as the wheel of choice no doubt thru some marketing deal (Please Correct me if I am wrong)
Being able to adjust these kind of things is invaluable on consoles given you cannot guarantee being able to adjust such things in the game itself.
I know one example is as all the logitech wheels have a mechanical dead zone the game doesn't handle that area properly on the Fanatec wheel as it has no dead zone limitation; this causes a swaying back and forth when the wheel is centred which is shoddy of Polyphony to be honest; however by adjusting the Fanatec Wheel HUD Deadzone you can simulate the dead zone of the Logitech's; a yucky compromise.
- Edit - Ok the game is out, I'll be giving the Logitech and Fanatec a blast with it asap however I suspect that will be a long wait as I'm super busy
Simraceway have a small piece on setting up the Fanatec GT3 RS v2 with GT5:
Quick Overlook of new upcoming xbox wheel:
And a detailed review of the game coming soon also
Now that's probably enough information for most people, but if you want more detail, please keep reading as I disclose some of the few niggles and fault's
------------- In Detail -------------
------ Microsoft Wheel - Included Standard Pedals ------
If you play any driving games even some of the arcade ones will all benefit from having a Wheel. The jump from a controller to a wheel is a big improvement, games will turn off most if not all of the girly aids and assists they need to have to use a controller and instead hand over full control to you and your wheel. the MS Wheel is priced appropriately and is a great introduction wheel, though if you are anything like me you will instantly become hooked on racing games and soon find yourself willing and eager to upgrade to better technology.
I thought Forza Motorsport was a sadistic boring waste of time when I used it with a controller, as soon as I got the MS Wheel it made so much more sense, it came alive suddenly there was all this interaction and feedback as to what the cars weight and grip is doing that is completely absent with a controller.
You can even use the Wheel with a PC however you need a USb wireless adapter, and more frustratingly Microsoft despite claims have never bothered to update the drivers to support force feedback on the PC, so it will act merely as a loose limp rotary dial... unforgivable.
The pedals are decent enough, just 2 pedals no clutch, they stay in place and are practical and light for general use
You can use them with the Fanatec wheel also, however in my case they flickered a fair bit making them unusable.
The biggest problem with them is they offer the same resistance on both accelerator and brake pedal and that resistance is very very low, you won't be using these pedals with shoes on.
------ Logitech G27 Wheel ------
Not much to add over what I have already said, it does It's job, it does it with little flare.
One nice thing is you can swap out the standard wheel rim with one of your own choosing using some mod kits, such as using a full size Momo wheel for example, however the default wheel rim is smaller than the Fanatec's which is a shame.
The Flappy Paddle Shifters are more reliable than the Fanatec's, however they give no feeling when they have clicked even though the click happens fairly short in the overall travel of the paddle, in practice this has not been an issue as you can hear the click in most cases. It feels quite computer peripheral like again, not like a real car, but It's functional and reliable.
It has plenty of buttons on the Wheel though no where near as many as the Fanatec, and the buttons on the Logitech are trickier to hit where as the Fanatec's are big and well placed.
The built in table clamp is decent enough, it looks stupid though and is not as fast or simple to release and attach as the Fanatec
------ Logitech G27 - Included Standard Pedals ------
They are really good, plastic but solid and you can use them or the G25 pedals with the Fanatec wheel too via an adapter.
So if you wish so if you already own a G25 you can upgrade to a Fanatec wheel without needing to buy more pedals.
The Logitech Shifter has no such adapter though sadly.
I feel they are better than the standard Fanatec Porsche pedals but theres not much in it really.
The Fanatec Clubsport pedals though are in another league from these if you can afford them.
------ Fanatec - Porsche Standard Pedals ------
The Porsche Pedals while relatively cheap are fairly flimsy looking but functionally acceptable, nothing special, the Logitech G27 pedals look and feel superior but they cannot be purchased separately.
The Porsche Pedals have an odd pivot point in that when you put your foot down on the brake, if you are not careful the pedals will just tip backwards, they just won't stay put on the ground, they have velcro strips which seem bent on destroying my cheap carpet and in fact one of the rubber feet has been pulled off and one of the velcro strips has peeled off and is left stuck to the carpet. All it needs is a metal plate underneath to make them heavier and to stick a few inches out of the back to give it the proper leverage, and I think they sell such a plate as an extra in the Fanatec store... but it should be standard as It's a design flaw really.
------ Fanatec - Clubsport Pedals ------
The Clubsport Pedals are... magnificent, The first thing you will notice is the sheer weight, they are basically solid metal, nuts and bolts, it is by no means a typical consumer product, it has some exposed circuit boards and wiring and bare nuts and bolts, It's serious looking and stylish and while some of the exposed circuitry and wiring is a bit of a distraction it doesn't detract from the overall quality, these pedals will break you before you break them... I'm serious.
I'd feel safer if they hid some of the exposed circuitry and sensors as I worry they could get knocked about but It's a small niggle in a otherwise flawless product.
You can adjust the pedals throw and position of the pedals to make it easier to 'heel toe' downshift amongst other things, And if that's not enough you can purchase a variety of coloured aluminium pedal replacements to swap out AND an additional tuning kit which contains springs and parts for you to alter the resistance. I've seen people reverse the pedals and mount them upside down so they mimic a real car also, something you can also do with the Logitech's
You can also adjust the brake and how much pressure you need to apply, this is possible as the brake uses load cells which means they report the pressure/resistance not the travel. This makes them behave more like a real cars pedals, I believe it is only the brake pedal that acts this way and means you can more naturally and thus reliably hit the right braking pressure you intended without locking. It has little dial/potentiometer that adjust's the required braking force, this is a bit of a fiddle to adjust as you need to see your computer screen, press the pedal and adjust the little dial all at the same time really. I'd prefer those settings adjustable via the driver and the wheel HUD than on the pedals personally but really I'm thankful you can adjust it at all.
They really are a joy to use, it works perfectly in shoes or socks, something the flimsier pedals cannot handle as they offer too little resistance and are of smaller size to really use with shoes.
It also contains some haptic feedback via small vibrating motor, but I can barely notice it even when playing in socks, and only works if you connect the pedals to the wheel instead of using the direct USB connection (though a couple of games do support it via USB too). Yes the Pedals can be used standalone via USB on the PC, that means they will work with any wheel if the game supports input from separate input devices, it also can mean tidier wiring. It supplies a subtle effect which is all you really want so I think once you are trained to notice it it could be a slight help. It's a shame it can't really tie to the wheel lock up and vibrate based on that; as currently it just vibrates at a set percentage of braking.
The only real negative I can think of aside from the fact they will undoubtably out live me, is the size and weight, which is a negative if you want to transport them to a friends house, or move about a lot, but It's also a massive positive as it keeps them sturdy, secure and strong.
I had a little fiddle with the pedals, adjusting the nuts on the accelerator which I think changes the resistance, however because of how It's setup and perhaps my stupidity It was turning the bolt and the nut at the same time and it undid the whole thing and consequently sprang out! I then spend a good hour dicking about finding some tools to try and screw it back in whilst under a good deal of force from the spring! It was that or disassemble the whole thing which I felt would only dig myself a bigger hole. So as long as your are not a tw@! like me you can adjust them quite easily if you have the tools.
------ Logitech G27 - Standard Shifter Set ------
Lots of buttons, work well, Feels more mechanical than the Fanatec's and this is down to personal preference which you like more, Initially I greatly preferred the Logitech's shifter over the Fanatec's, however over time I'm appreciating the firmer feel of the Fanatec one even though It's very clicky. The Logitech's feels wobbly and loose in comparison. I'm holding out for the proposed Fanatec Clubsport Shifter in the hopes it trumps both by miles as the Clubsport Pedals do.
------ Fanatec - Standard Shifter Set ------
Fanatec's budget Shifter Set, contains a H Pattern Shifter 6 Gears and Reverse and a Sequential Stick which is really just an up and down lever/button.
These are disappointing but they are cheap, very toy like, clicky and clunky to use. The Sequential Shifter just twitches up and down like a button and yet somehow is still incredibly noisy.
Initially using the Fanatec Shifter after using the Logitech's I was horrified, however, after working them in they loosened significantly and became much more manageable. But they took a LOT of working in to soften up. Now after longer use I'm appreciating the haptic feel of the Fanatec ones, even though they are clunkier and almost unforgivably noisy; it feels better, the Logitech ones now feel a bit loose and wiggly. So for the price the Fanatec shifter actually, is not so bad at all really.
The Metal Rods for the Shifters to Sit on that thread thru the Wheel base are insane, I had to summon the strength of a thousand men to get them in the holes, and 1000 more to get them out again. They Hilariously have screws you can tighten to grip the rods firmly which are not even close to being needed as the holes themselves are too tight for the rods, yes I made sure the screws were not tightened. I have actually torn something trying to force them in and out, you should not here crunchy noises in your shoulder from simply fitting a Shifter. I actually am quite worried I will never get them out again now. --- Ok I managed to get the rod out and in the process damaged my table, however It's loosening up now and goes in much easier but it is a bit of a design flaw.
In closing, the Fanatec Shifter set is the only choice right now if you want a Fanatec Wheel, and they are affordable albeit not spectacular, all discerning eyes should be on the proposed Clubsport Shifters
------ Fanatec - Clubsport Shifter ------
It's been announced and a spec drafted, and should be coming 'soon'
Material: Full aluminium with some steel parts
Mounting options: There will be screw inserts on the bottom. They will make an adapter for the Clubsport table clamp and the RennSport Wheel Stand.
Sequential option: Will implement it but only if this is not a compromise. Hopefully a solution which could work very well in both modes
Haptic feeling: Very similar like in a real car, perhaps making the resistance adjustable.
Acoustic: A solid 'clonk' instead of a 'clack' but very silent.
Colour/design: Silver as CSP. The shifter will be gated like in a Ferrari or Lamborghini
Style of gear knob: It will be exchangeable so upgrades are possible (leather, carbon, etc). The standard version will be an polished aluminium ball.
Size: They will try to keep the size of the PW shifter but it will probably become a bit higher
Compatibility: It will be backwards compatible to the Porsche wheel shifter and therefore compatible to all platforms.
A USB adapter will be available to make it a stand alone shifter on the PC
------ Fanatec - Porsche Turbo S and GT3 RS v2 ------
Both Turbo S and GT3 RS wheels seem mechanically identical, here is how they differ:
GT3 Is bright frickin Orange, almost as gaudy as the real GT3 Porsche, but some people like that. In all honesty it doesn't look that bad, if you like Orange, which I do, and It's growing on me. The TurboS is Silver which is also nice if not as striking, and It's genuine Metallic Silver Paint, not some scratch off crap, It's real car paint on these things and it looks the business.
GT3 is Alcantara 'leather' just like the real Porsche, no really, It's kissable soft.
TurboS is real leather 'automative grade' and you'll need to clean it as such to keep it looking matte and soft instead of greasy and plasticy after long use.
Alcantara is a synthetic suede like fabric but It's more expensive than leather and very durable (I think) , It's very nice and soft and almost fuzzy feeling, It definitely makes it feel more posh, though It's really down to personal taste if you like a fury steering wheel versus a cold leather one, I can't decide between them I love them both, I think the Alcantara is starting to grow on me, not literally because that would be a serious side effect but it just feels like a really high end wheel, something special, I like stroking it... even the Orange is growing on me too.
The black leather is starting to look old hat next to the Alcantara, if it wasn't for the hard abrasive stitching I Could probably enjoy stroking the GT3 RS all day. Actually... *Cleans Leather Wheel* that's better!!, of course grease builds up on leather and make it shiny, shiny leather = nasty cheap fake looking, Matte leather = nice quality. Ok that's evened things up a bit again! I can't help but wonder how the Alcantara leather/fabric holds up with wear and grease, so far it looks good, however it has malted a fair bit, bits constantly come off the wheel and It's gradually getting less fuzzy which is a good thing really, as long as it doesn't go bald or anything which I\'m sure it won't.
GT3 has a big bright yellow metal strip to denote where the wheel is pointing and 2 large bumps at the top of the wheel for grip, the yellow strip has a screw round the back which you can feel as your thread it thru your hands, not great, but not a huge bother either as It's fairy recessed.
Turbo S has neither of those, It's down to personal taste over this, I like both!
GT3 has better aesthetic manufacturing quality/precision it seems. Buttons fit closer plastic edges have rounded bevels, generally looks neater.
TurboS is gappy, my one is anyway, 2mm gaps in the top right buttons where they meet the wheel rim, I can see all the way thru and out the other side, D-pad button seems even more wonky and ill fitting than the GT3. Gaps along Top of buttons ad the plastic along the top is sharp edged. Odd gaps in the lower inner corner of the top buttons and so on, also the black metal grill with holes in it for ventilation on mine is upside down, the one is and the other one isn't, It's subtle difference but just slightly lacks in the quality control and seems slightly rushed compared to the GT3 (edit I got a second GT3 and It's metal grill is upside down too! hah not big deal).
The 'xbox' 360 button is pretty naff too in press photos it was composed to look like the actual xbox sphere used by Microsoft, sadly they probably cannot acquire those and used a little flat disc, which wouldn't have been so bad if my one hadnt also had a dent in it, no worry though as the button comes off with some careful prying, and leaves a subtle black plastic circle behind instead of a tacky xbox logo.
GT3 is USB only and only Support PC and PS3 (at least I can't figure out how to get it working with the wireless dongle)
TurboS is USB but also supports the wireless dongle, I hope a firmware update will come for the GT3 to allow it to support it too presuming it even has the wireless functionality, it oddly does have the wireless sync button on the dash, but it does absolutely nothing, for future use I suspect.
Also the main reason for the TurboS is the support for the Xbox 360
GT3's Fan seems to be on all the time albeit at a slow rate till it gets hot, this is actually down to a firmware update.
TurboS Fan is off until it gets hot, which admittedly happens almost immediately even in sunny England.
The Clamp built into both wheels works quite well in that It's easy to quickly detach it and fasten it to a desk. It took me a while to figure out at first but once you get how it works in combination with the levered toes underneath It's very secure and fast to remove and attach. You basically tighten the clamp with a giant dial once that is tight you can flip up 2 feet underneath that lever and apply additional grip, then to remove you flip the feet down and simply slide it out, no need to keep adjusting the dial. The Logitech's by comparison have no unlocking mechanics and require you to rotate 2 dials every time.
The Fanatec clamp like the Logitech doesn't quite lever/pivot far enough back so when under even a weak vertical force the wheel pivots forward off the desk. This will be a BIG problem for users new to computer wheels as they probably out of habit lean quite heavily on the wheel, over time you learn to turn the wheel instead of tug on it and it no longer bothers me at all. Actually I think this is a necessary feature to avoid strain on the wheel arm as I heard of people who fastened the wheel tight and secure and it dislodging the belt inside, in any case you can purchase a table clamp that fastens it securely or even a stand if you want to use it on your Sofa or hell a whole Rig and Seat if your fancy swanky like that.
---- Pros ----
They are highly sexual, no really, the Logitech wheel while being fairly high priced still looks like a plastic toy decorated with the gaudy Logitech logo.
Many in the market for such a wheel will care less about the looks than the features, but the Porsche wheel trumps the Logitech on all the important features too.
The most important feature of a wheel is surely the quality of the feedback, the Porsche wheels hands down feel more natural as they are belt driven not gear driven like all other wheels I know of. This produces smooth changes in direction, no clunking of jarring of gears, the Judder matters less in pure track racing games, but in rally games the clunking can be beyond distraction in the G27, and I hear the G25 is far far noisier bless it. It just feels more natural and smooth on the Fanatec wheels, and more like your interfacing with a computer peripheral on the Logitech. I have no doubt you can achieve the same if not better lap times on the Logitech as It's perhaps more pin sharp due to the gears, but It's unnatural and at the expense of immersion, and that's why I drive personally.
It's getting better, Fanatec keep releasing firmware and software updates that add new features. The LED HUD on the wheel is beyond a gimmicky read out, It's genuinely useful, and will become more useful as games make use of the HUD to display information such as RPM numerically. You can alter Force Feedback Strength on the fly without jumping out of a game, alter the Rotation Amount, all things I find myself messing with constantly as I move from car to car and game to game, It's a killer feature to have. The lights on the Logitech are cute, the HUD on the Fanatec is BRILLIANT.
The Porsche Logo Gets me Laid... ok not really, but some people appreciate branding, I don't care personally, as long as it doesn't look dopey like the Logitech logo.
The Wheel is actually fairly light, the G27 seems quite a bit heavier.
Table Clamp detaches and attaches with ease, it has 2 little flappy wedges you can flip up and down underneath to quickly fasten and unfasten it, no turn of a knob needed once It's calibrated, took me a while to figure it out though
---- Cons ----
It's highly sexual, no really this is a con, It makes me clean it unnecessarily and take loving care of it. The unbearable thought anything should come along and scratch It's paint work or nick the leather. This is actually a serious Con if you intend to carry the thing about and generally enjoy throwing your belongings about with reckless abandon. No the Logitech beats the wheel hands down here, I couldn't care if that thing had tipex/whiteout splashed all over it and it set on fire, it would probably be an aesthetic improvement. But I am superficial like that.
--- Stitching ---
The stitching on the Porsche wheels for is really stiff and thus rough to touch, the Logitech is miles nicer whether It's from different string or just the method of how It's woven so the leather protrudes above the stitching. Now most people don't seem remotely bothered by this, perhaps I use the wheel differently, or my soft girlish hands are more demanding
:-PBut it is the first thing I noticed when using the wheel and it upset me quite a bit as everything else was so polished and then the wheel itself felt rough as I like to grip inside the wheel with my thumbs always rubbing against the stitching. It's also down to me being used to holding the wheel with my thumbs wrapped around the inner corners where the stitching is especially rough.
--- Flappy D-Pad ---
The D-Pad button on my (and seemingly many others Porsche Turbo wheels) seems floppy and just mushy and out of place, There are small gaps where there shouldn't be and it just seems a bit flimsy, not a huge deal breaker or anything, but it nags. On the GT3 the flappyness is a real problem and I am often hitting the wrong button when trying to use the HUD which is infuriating.
--- Shifter Set ---
The standard Fanatec Shifter Set are disappointing but they are cheap, and after long use they are not as bad as I first thought so they are growing on me, but hopefully this will be overshadowed by the upcoming Clubsport Shifters.
--- Clamping ---
Standard table clamping method struggles when you lean on the wheel. But so does the Logitech Wheel suffer here, and the Logitech's clamp screws are goofy as hell. I think it may be on purpose to reduce strain on the wheel arm actually.
--- Shifter Paddles/Buttons ---
The Paddle gear shift buttons on the the back of the wheel are disappointing, they work, they feel nice enough, but they are very small and essentially just a clicky button with little travel, this is fine for casual driving but when racing you need to change gear while turning which is made troublesome by how small they are, you are provided with a metal plate to attach to them which makes them a bit bigger, but the small metal plates are even more disappointing as they are sharp and still not big enough to solve the problem. But now you can get the 'Clubsport' named paddle shifters... read below and check video at bottom of page to see what I mean.
the Clubsport Shifter Paddles don't quite deserve the Clubsport moniker in my opinion, It's just a piece of flat metal with holes in it, the Carbon Fibre version which costs a deal more and is a piece of plastic with some carbon fibre 'style' criss cross weave on it; it looks a little more interesting than the flat black aluminium ones though, at first the carbon ones feels cheaper and rough to touch on the edges unlike the metal/aluminium ones. Wait a second, I just got some fine sand paper and ran it over the edges a few times and now they are quite a bit better; removing some of the excess plastic that was giving them a greyish dry appearance, they are still a bit rough feeling but nothing a real Mans hands would object too, I unfortunately do not have such hands. All this should really have always been standard not extra cost and should have came at the launch of the wheel really, but lets be thankfully they came along eventually, at least the black aluminium version IS now included free with the GT3 wh
Aside from minor cosmetic niggles, what makes the Clubsport Shifter Paddles actually disappointing is how wobbly they are, as they have so much lateral wiggle/give due to the increased leverage; the paddles just feel mushy and feel like It's going to twist and break the button off (And this is on the GT3 wheel v2 which supposedly has more rigid buttons than the other wheels, but I don't see it) ... wait a second, I just tried the same shifter paddles on the Turbo S and they work much better, the buttons wiggle less and are more evenly levered so it takes the same pressure and travel at the top of the paddle as it does the bottom (on the GT3 the clicking at the top of the paddle needed noticeably more travel and force).
The paddle buttons underneath are longer too so the metal blocks don't come close to scratching and digging into the wheel base like they do on the GT3... and these paddles CAME with the GT3!.. so maybe it differs from wheel to wheel, on the Turbo S it actually seems to be much better and actually an improvement over using just the small button or the small metal plate they usually come with, but on the GT3 it seems mushy and It's digging in a few mm into the wheel base plastic, not cool. on the GT3 the lil paddle buttons are separate buttons that have a fair click to them, on the TurboS they are moulded from the same plastic and attached to the wheel base and just flex; they don't travel as far and have hardly any click to them, but that seems to make them work better wiht the Clubsport Shifter Paddles. As the increased travel on the GT3 give it a big lateral wiggle room making them mushy when used with the longer paddles.
They have a deeper thud noise on the Turbo S, a light click on the GT3 and on the Logitech G27 they have a rather lame button click noise that sounds like a mouse button. So +1 to the Turbo S. Also I looked closely on the GT3 and the reason the Clubsport Paddle pulled completely out of the mount is because the metal screw thread in the button it attaches to is actually a few mm deeper in one hole than the other; just on the right side, and it means It's hard for the screw to get all the way in to the metal thread, so It's just holding onto the plastic thread above it which isn't strong enough to hold it under lateral movement and it pulls right out. I have now managed to get it to screw in a bit better than before and it is holding.
The Logitech G27's built in Shifter Paddles are more basic in implementation, they lack haptic feedback so yo can't feel when you have shifted, but it makes them seemingly more reliable and consistent. I know Shift paddles are often referred to as flappy paddles as in some cars they are possibly equally useless. This matters less to not at all if you intend on using a separate Gear Shifter but more on that later. Arguably the Shifters should even be on the Column and not the wheel, but that's personal preference and probably isn't even possible to do in such a small footprint, Maybe they will save something like that for a Clubsport Premium Wheel!
Fanatec have sent me another GT3 Wheel to test the paddles on and while it is improved on this new wheel It is still not perfect. Call me niggly but I am missing some shifts when the paddle makes the sound and feel as if it is shifting but it does not. Now I can adjust my driving style and how I hold the wheel, but I should'nt have to do that. They have told me the design will definitely be improved in future versions, I suspect It's a simple case of they were never designed to have these big paddle extensions on them, and the trade off over a button versus a paddle that missing clicks at the extreme ends of the paddle; is a good trade off. But a bit of an oversight on an otherwise well designed product.
I will attach a video so you can see it for yourself at the bottom of this page
--- Support and Returns ---
If anything goes wrong it has to go all the way back to Germany, with the Logitech you can probably just hand it back no questions asked to your local shop.
------ Fanatec Problems ------
--- Customer Support - Superb!! when you get it ---
The support from Fanatec while sometimes taking a long time to get a response, when you do get one for me It's always been very helpful and accommodating. I understand they don't have teams of people on the phones or to answer e-mails the responses. The email support I have had has literally come from either the head of the company Thomas or It's head engineer Armin. And they have both shown great patience and support with customers including myself. They listen to customers and involved in the community and I would like to personally thank them for their patience and openness, It's really refreshing.
--- Manufacturing Defects and Delays - Troubling ---
They have had some problems in manufacturing over the years, they have had set backs with schedules and while I'm sure the overall reliability and quality is absolutely superb for most customers there have been a few cases where things haven't gone so well, but that's to be expected. What matters then is how a company handles such issues, and I can say first hand Fanatec have handled the problems amicably and I respect them all the more for it.
For instanced when I pre-ordered the Turbo S, and waited many impatient months for the release date, it kept shifting due to manufacturing issues, people who pre-ordered really early were offered a reward of Forza Motorsport for free, however as the issues pushed the release even past the release date of Forza it ended up becoming a similar value coupon to use on any product in the Fanatec shop, which I think was fair and a nice gesture and apology.
The whole time they interacted with customers thru their website
letting people know what was going on and responding to comments.
--- My Story of Woe ---
When my wheel finally arrived, a glorious day, I found I was missing the pedal adapter, a rather crucial element so I could use my xbox pedals with it. They promptly sent me an adapter in the post. But if I remember correctly it was the wrong one
:-Dit was an adapter for logitech pedals, so they sent me another adapter and this time it was a Fanatec branded combo adapter for Xbox pedals and Logitech in one, my guess is they had difficulties getting those made in time for the Wheels initial release and it got a bit messed up... never mind, then I find my xbox Pedals flickered quite wildly when braking mostly!!! So I feared the adapter may have been defective, so they send me another one!!! that one gave me the same flickering problem so safe to assume it was not the adapter at fault. So maybe the Wheel? I talked with Armin and figured it might be the cheapness of the xbox pedals not being tolerated by the Porsche Wheel and suggested them send me some free Porsche Pedals which would work out cheaper than me
To summarise I had a missing adapter, It won't tolerate defects in my cheap xbox pedals, the replacement pedals they sent me also happened to be defective!
Now I'm a glass half empty kind of guy most of the time, the little mistakes and niggles with Fanatec should never have happened, some of it was perhaps rushed; the launch didn't go to schedule from the manufacturing issues to being held up at customs they were surely in a rush. It's not Fanatec themselves making these Wheels but some factory in China, I don't envy how difficult it must be to organise and manage that at all for example using the wrong plastics, wrong lubrication on and on. But at the end of the day they make products no one else wants to make as It's such a niche of a niche So I can appreciate why some of the problems have happened and I definitely whole heartedly appreciate how they have handled them. So on the whole I think they are doing a good job and not only do they have room to improve but I get the distinct impression that they are improving and learning and LISTENING to customers. I respect that kind of thing a great deal.
------ Driver / Game Support ------
A common issue with all of these wheels is driver/game support. Most games support the lowest common denominator when it coms to force feedback, they pick a middle line a so so configuration, and even when some games have Fanatec specific setup they seem to be a tad on the weak side. this is nothing against Fanatec, but I often find myself going into game ini's and hacking the force feedback values and rumble settings and so on, as what data and feel is transmitted thru the wheel is unto personal preference, some what it to ONLY be the forces the steering wheel would really have, some choose to have some feedback from the rear tyres and chassis as you are sensory deprived while driving sat in your office chair at your PC and that somewhat makes up for it in theory.
The worst though is when it comes to consoles as you can't even hack them then, thankfully the Fanatec wheel has a myriad of options you can adjust from the wheel but it can only go so far, It's down to the developers to bother to solve this problem and allow people to adjust it to personal preference and based on setup.
For example Richard Burns Rally is pretty good on the wheels by default, however if you open the Physics/Physics.lsp file and Edit the MaxFFTorque to be something like 90, it changes the feel dramatically for the better imo. but theres a whole host of places you can screw up settings and linearity and dampening across all games, it really is a nightmare (for me anyway)
------ Conclusion ------
So to conclude, you can't just pop into PC World and pick up a Fanatec wheel; even sadder if something goes wrong you can't just pop back in and have it swapped or fixed; but at the same time If you have a problem or a suggestion you won't get handed off to a call centre with someone reading from a list of how many ways they can' help you. You will have to wait a while to get a response but when you do it will be from someone who can actually help and actually knows a great deal about what they are talking about as it will most likely either be the head of the company Thomas, or Armin. I have seen some people get extremely annoyed at the length they have had to wait for a response, people are used to instant response ticketing systems and I agree Fanatec does need some work on the response time when handling problems, repairs, replacements, but as I said when they do get in touch they are genuinely able to help and do not just pass you around in a circle. If you are impatient above all other things then you
I love the Porsche Wheel hands down. As The most important part of the Wheel... the Wheel itself, is hands down has the best feel, best feedback and the best quality you can buy without going over a $1000, and even the vastly more expensive specialist products can't match the driver support and niceties like the built in HUD and xbox/PS3 support. The Clubsport pedals again are the best I have ever seen in that price range and definitely the best I have ever used. And they are talking about making a Clubsport Shifter, which surely will be what I am waiting for, then I will not care about the lack of large Paddle Shifter buttons, or the junky Plastic Shifter they currently offer. Then it will be almost perfect.
Even after all my technical trouble, the niggles and some of the quite surprisingly basic errors in design and manufacturing I still hold Fanatec in the highest regard. Not just because they loaned me over a $1000 of equipment to play with and test. Not because Armin and Thomas have both personally been involved in helping customers including myself. Not even because the competition is bland. But because they are the ONLY company making this calibre of product at an affordable price, they absolutely listen and respond to feedback, they are for fanatics as they are fanatics themselves I'm sure
------ Summary of Wheels and Prices ------
I have attached Prices which were correct as of writing but may have changed and don't really consider second hand prices on ebay or anything.
$180 Fanatec 911 GT3 R1 and R2
Comes with nothing but the Wheel
This is Fanatec's Premium Wheel, and is for PC and PS3 only.
The R1 has been replaced by the R2 and you can buy an upgrade to either install yourself or ship the wheel to Fanatec to upgrade it for you
Oddly it cannot use the Fanatec Wireless Dongle It's wired only afaik
With the adapter you can use the Xbox 360 Pedals and Logitech G25 or G27 Pedals
Sadly I see no Way of using the Logitech Shifter
No Shifter buy separately or just use built in paddles shifter on wheel.
$320 - Fanatec 911 GT3 R1 and R2 Clubsport Edition
Same as above but comes with Clubsport Pedals, no shifter buy separately.
$200 - Fanatec Turbo
Comes with decent Wireless Porsche Pedals and Standard H Shifter and Sequential Shifter and a Wireless Dongle to use it wirelessly with PS3 or PC
PC and PS3 only, Pedals comes with Steel plate I think
$350 - Fanatec Turbo S (Was limited Edition now sold out, Fanatec have announced a new replacement but no details yet)
Comes with decent Wired Porsche Pedals and Standard H Shifter and Sequential Shifter and a Wireless Dongle to use it wirelessly with PS3 or PC
This is Fanatec's Wheel for the Xbox and can be used wirelessly as standard, and it supports the PC and the PS3 too.
$250 - Fanatec Turbo S Pure (Was limited Edition now sold out, Fanatec have announced a new replacement but no details yet)
Comes with nothing but the wheel, connection to Xbox is wireless, PC and PS3 needs Wire or you can buy dongle
The Turbo S comes with an adapter to use other pedals from the Logitech G25, G27 and the Microsoft Pedals, or even the premium Fanatec Clubsport Pedals, and naturally you can buy the Porsche Pedals separately for it too.
$400 - $450 - Fanatec Turbo S Ultimate Ed (Was limited Edition now sold out, Fanatec have announced a new replacement but no details yet)
Comes with Clubsport Pedals and nothing else, Essentially Turbo S Pure packaged with Clubsport Pedals
$160 - Fanatec Carrera - Comes with budget standard Porsche pedals
Fanatec's Budget Wheel which with cheaper aesthetics, rubber instead of leather for example and gear driven instead of belt driven like the GT3RS and TurboS
That's cheaper than even a second hand Logitech G27 by the looks of it, I wish I could try it and compare for you but I have not got one!
$200 - Fanatec Clubsport Pedals
These Are the premium pedals, best I have ever seen or used, they weigh a ton as they are solid metal.
They can be used standalone via USB for PC or connected directly to Fanatec wheels.
You can get additional tuning kits and a variety of colours.
$50 - Fanatec Porsche Pedals
These are Fanatics budget standard pedals, they are decent but not as good as the Logitech's, and if you don't have the metal plate they tend to move about and pivot.
$50 - Fanatec Shifters Set - H Shifter and Sequential Shifter
Fanatec's budget standard Shifter set, you get 2 separate units for H Shifting and Sequential, but they are quite clunky.
Fanatec promise they are working on a Clubsport Shifter Set so I'd wait for that, but they are cheap enough to buy on a whim and they will do the job once they are worn in a bit.
$?? - Fanatec New Xbox Wheel Announced (no details yet, will replace the sold out Turbo S)
$99? - Fanatec Clubsport 8 Gates Metal Shifter - Announced but no real details yet
If these share more than just a name with the Clubsport Pedals then they should be amazing. I have high hopes for them!
$70? - Fanatec Clubsport Handbrake (CSHB) - Announced but no real details yet
$?? - Fanatec E-Motion Rennsport Cockpit - Announced but no real details yet
Motion Platform for Shaking your bones loose while driving baby, no release data yet afaik
$200 - $300 - Logitech G25
I have not used it personally, It's now replaced by the G27, main difference being that it went from straight cut clunky gears to smoother helical gears so I suspect the G25 is unfathomably noisy.
$222 - $300 - Logitech G27
Comes with nice Pedals and nice Shifter.
The G27 is pretty much the same as the G25 but it has better mechanics resulting in less noise and smoother FFB, yet It's still very very clanky.
Toy like compared to the Fanatec GT3 or Turbo S.
$70 - $150 - Microsoft Wheel - Comes with weak MS Pedals, Connection to xbox is wireless
The Official Wheel by Microsoft only for Microsoft Xbox 360, It's what I started with and it was good for me at the time, but compared to the other wheels here It's a cheap toy.
But it is cheap so you get what you pay for, and it is pretty well made and designed actually, but It's quite weak and rattly but a good step up from a analog stick controller!
Porsche Standard Pedals:
------ Videos ------
Click the Links to watch the videos, The Images are not clickable.
Dirt 2 + Fanatec Turbo S
Fanatec GT3 RS + Richard Burns Rally
Fanatec GT3 RS + Dirt 2
Need for Speed Shift + Turbo S
Video Showing Fanatec GT3 Paddle Shifter Problem/Defect:
It fails to register clicks on one end of the paddle along with some crunchiness.
Nit picking for sure but It has caused me to miss shifts and given the care everything else has been given seems like a surprising oversight or compromise.
Fanatec Clubsport Pedals In Use:
Fanatec Turbo S + Forza 2 Xbox 360
In Game - Need for Speed Shift - Was Using Fanatec Wheel
With a painful ending reminding me of why I do this with a PC and not in real life :-S
In Game - Need for Speed Shift using Turbo S
Totally edited out my bad driving set to music (Celldweller)
------ Photographs ------
Clubsport Paddle Shifter Set - Carbon Fibre look:
And this wasn't all of them
Fanatec Clubsport Pedals:
Fanatec GT3 RS v2:
Fanatec Turbo S:
Close up the the Fanatec Turbo S Wheel Stitching:
Fanatec Press Photographs:
Oooh Would I like a Setup like That
RennSport Cockpit with Fanatec Wheel
Turbo S and Table Clamp Accessory, and Shifter
Close Up Turbo S:
Fanatec Standard Sequential Shifter:
Fanatec Standard H Pattern Shifter:
Fanatec Carrera Wheel ( I Have not tested)
The Rather Awesome Rennsport Wheel Stand with a Fanatec Wheel attached: