Video game driving has come a long way from the days of Sega’s 1993 classic, Daytona USA. Graphics have gotten better and gameplay has become more intuitive. And the humble digital steering wheel is more advanced than ever.
But what should you be looking for in a gaming wheel? Join us today as we break down five of the most important factors so you can get the drive you want the next time you get “out on the road”.
With a racing steering wheel, you’re attempting to reproduce the look and feel of a real steering wheel. A cheaper, smaller wheel, may have a smaller range of rotation than a standard road car, while more expensive wheels will be closer to the real deal.
A full 1080 degrees of rotation is important to a realistic drive but, as rotation increases, the input sensitivity tends to decrease, as well. Full turning may be better for truck simulators, but for an F1 car game, a lower rotation should result in a more agile response.
In the quest to reproduce a real driving experience, a manual gearbox with a clutch is important to simulate.
You may still be able to shift from the wheel, but the experience is lacking. Be warned, though: it does make driving more challenging and may not be suitable for every game.
Force feedback is a feature that resists against your steering in parts of the game where a car would do that. Cheaper wheels may advertise vibration as “force vibration”, but the wheel only vibrates, with no resistance at all.
In a real vehicle, you’ll feel various bumps and shocks via the steering column. This feedback goes unnoticed but makes the experience real.
Inexpensive wheels will use a single motor to achieve this, while advanced units will use two motors for more complex feedback. For someone looking for a “good” controller, such as the Fanatec wheel, force feedback is very important.
Racing wheels are all fine and well, but they’re usually useless without a set of pedals to drive with, so one will usually come bundled with the other. A less expensive wheel, expect less complex plastic pedals with small springs, which are okay but less durable.
Mid-range pedals will be more powerful, with more robust springs for better resistance. They’re also more likely to be adjustable. Premium pedals, with the Fanatec racing wheel, for instance, push these standards even further. This measures pressure rather than pedal position, for braking that changes depending on how hard you tap the pedal.
The last factor you’ll want to consider is compatibility. Not all wheels work on all systems. PCs, PlayStations, Xboxes, and Nintendos all have their own specific devices.
Some are available across the board, but many are not. The Fanatec CSL, for instance, is available for XboxOne and PC, but not PS4, meaning Fanatec fans will have to look elsewhere if they use this console.
Get The Right Steering Wheel For You
We’re all here to do two things: drive virtual cars and drive them in a realistic manner. With the right steering wheel in your corner, you’ll be on your way to the best driving experience ever in no time.
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