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7 Tips for Buying Racing Wheel Controllers

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7 Tips for Buying Racing Wheel Controllers
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7 Tips for Buying Racing Wheel Controllers

The racing wheel controller is a critical accessory to people who enjoy games as diverse as Gran Turismo, Forza 4, Colin McRae Rally, and Mario Kart. The kinds of wheels chosen vary accordingly. Mario Kart controllers are often marketed in packs of two to allow for intrafamily competition. Wheel controllers for the grown-up races may be co-branded with real motocross race cars such as Ferrari and Porsche. They offer not just wheels to control turning motion but pedals to manage braking and acceleration, shifters, and on the most complex, clutch pedals. These latter involve a learning curve, gamers can expect to experience difficulty controlling their racing in the meantime.

Some wheels function across platforms but gamers may prefer to use wheels designed for the platforms where they are used. Any controller must be a PAL controller for use with U.K. games. If the game is to be played untethered, a wireless controller should be selected. Controllers with force feedback and vibration feedback allow the gamer to feel more like he or she is driving a real vehicle. A stand or full racing cockpit also help to create more complete immersion in the race. Thoroughly considering these possibilities allows a gamer to make a controller choice, whether at a local store or on eBay, that is thoroughly satisfying.

1. Make Sure It's a PAL Controller

If the controller is to be used playing racing games in Great Britain, it should be a PAL controller. The three major types of controller systems are, broadly speaking, compatible with electronics and electrical systems in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Gamers of all kinds attempt various tweaks and adaptations to use systems from other markets in different geographies, but the greatest success comes when using the controllers built for the systems where they are used.

2. Wired or Wireless?

How are racing games played? If they are always played within a few feet of the console, then a wired wheel could be reasonable. But these days, there is little need to be tethered. Most players choose wireless equipment. Wired wheels are, as a result, considerably less expensive due to the lower demand. If the cost savings make sense and a wired wheel can work with a particular player's style, then it can be a good choice. Otherwise, go wireless like everyone else.

3. Consider a Racing Wheel Controller with a Clutch

A racing wheel controller that includes a clutch and shifters adds to the fun of the game and increases the sense of immersion in the race. Some of the controllers with these features include the below:

* Fanatec Carrera

* Driving Force GT

* Driving Force G27

Different sets of pedals feel different underfoot and may need adjustment to a particular driver's comfort. The simplest suggestion from racing gamers is to stuff sponge under a 'light' pedal until the feel is as stiff as the driver prefers.

4. Look for a Controller with Force Feedback

Force feedback is the term for allowing the driver to experience the 'feeling' of the road. It maximises control of the front wheels and 'pushing' the vehicle to its max. Controllers offering this feature include:

* Driving Force GT

* Driving Force G27

* Used G25

* Thrustmaster T500

5. Get the Right Controller for the Game System

Controllers are designed to fit specific game systems. It is therefore important to select a controller that fits the game system in use. The tables below summarise some of the racing wheel controllers offered for various game systems and specific features a gamer may find desirable.

Multiplatform Racing Wheel Controllers

A small number of controllers are reputed to work well on multiple platforms. We summarise several of these with key features in the table below.

Controllers

Systems Supported

Features and Issues

Thrustmaster T500 RS Force

PS, PC

High priced; paddle shifters; accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals; force feedback

Thrustmaster Ferrari Universal Challenge 5 in 1 Racing Wheel

PS3, PlayStation2, PC, GameCube, Wii

Shifter on wheel, gas and brake pedals,

Thrustmaster Universal Challenge

PS2, Xbox, GameCube

Wired, comes with pedals

Fanatec Forza Motorsport CSR Wheel EU

PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Force feedback; wired; paddle shifter; pedals may be purchased separately

Fanatec Porsche 911 Turbo S

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Relatively high priced; vibration; force feedback; paddle shifter; pedals may be purchased separately

Logitech Driving Force GT

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift

Logitech Driving Force G25

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift with full shiftbox

The Microsoft Xbox has certain proprietary features that make non-Microsoft controllers less functional than one might hope. At the same time, controllers produced specifically for the xBox are not known for creating a great experience in racing games.

Xbox 360 Racing Wheels

There are a number of controllers licensed for the Xbox but many do not provide the experience that racing gamers desire. Here are a number of those controllers.

Controllers

Manufacturer

Features

Ferrari 458 Italia

Thrustmaster

Clutch and brake pedals

Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia

Thrustmaster

Vibration, clutch and brake pedals

MC2 Wireless Racing Wheel Xbox 360

Mad Catz

Clutch and brake pedals, shifter, wireless

Wireless Racing Wheel with Force Feedback

Mad Catz

Force feedback, clutch and brake pedals, shifter, wireless

Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel

Microsoft

Vibration, clutch and brake pedals

The use of an F-1 converter allows Xbox users to use Logitech racing wheels as well. The Logitech equipment offers force feedback on a wider selection of racing wheels.

Logitech Racing Wheel Controllers

Mouse manufacturer Logitech also makes racing wheel controllers that are similarly considered to be generic for many kinds of racing game equipment. They are most suitable for Nintendo's PlayStation games.

Controllers

Usable on

Features

Driving Force G27

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift

Driving Force G25

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift with full shiftbox

Driving Force GT

PS2, PS3, Xbox with reservations

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift

Gamers manage to fit the Logitech racing wheel to the Xbox with an adapter. Still, this can pose a challenge to some players depending on their technical expertise.

PlayStation Racing Wheel Controllers

Racing wheels for PlayStation systems are produced by a number of manufacturers. They include some of the best bargains in racing wheels, as well as some of the best rated wheels at the top end of the market.

Controllers

Manufacturer

Features

Driving Force GT

Logitech

Gas and brake pedals, gear stick; paddle buttons on wheel; force feedback. The official wheel of the Gran Turismo game.

Driving Force

Logitech

Accelerator, brake pedals; gear stick; paddle buttons on wheel; force feedback.

Driving Force G27

Logitech

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift

Driving Force G25

Logitech

Force feedback, gas and brake pedals, stick shift with full shiftbox

Ferrari F430 Force Feedback

Thrustmaster

Accelerator, brake pedals, paddle shifters; force feedback.

Compact Vibration Feedback Steering Wheel GM 3200

Trust

Accelerator, brake pedals, paddle shifters; vibration feedback

T500 RS Force

Thrustmaster

High priced; paddle shifters; accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals; force feedback

Ferrari Universal Challenge 5 in 1 Racing Wheel

Thrustmaster

Shifter on wheel, gas and brake pedals,

Universal Challenge

Thrustmaster

Wired, comes with pedals

Forza Motorsport CSR Wheel EU

Fanatec

Force feedback; wired; paddle shifter; pedals may be purchased separately

Porsche 911 Turbo S

Fanatec

Relatively high priced; vibration; force feedback; paddle shifter; pedals may be purchased separately

When selecting a wheel for a PlayStation system, given the large number of wheels available in the market, it is important to confirm that the wheel under consideration is appropriate to the specific PlayStation system in use. Most wheels may be used with both PS2 and PS3 systems but this is not universally true.

Racing wheel controllers are also offered for other systems, including:

* Wii racing wheel

* PC racing wheel

Sellers may not always specify what systems their racing wheels are designed for, so it is useful to become familiar with the wheels on the market.

6. A Full Racing Cockpit Adds to the Experience

Some wheels arrive built into a full racing cockpit; others may be placed in a mount that simulates a cockpit. Either way, if the stability of pedals that remain in place and a steering column always at the correct angle are preferred, this may be desirable.

Among the wheels that come as a full cockpit or mounts that simulate a cockpit are these.

Controllers

Fits These Wheels

Features

Thrustmaster cockpit Ferrari GT F430 wireless

Thrustmaster Ferrari GT

Folds for storage; gas and brake pedals; paddle shifters; 0.7 scale replica of Ferrari wheel

GT Omega Pro

Logitech G25, G27; Thrustmaster T500 RS; all Fanatec; Thrustmaster Ferrari F430; Microsoft Xbox 360

Adjustable wheel mount; adjustable angled pedal plate; reclinable racing seat with sliders; monitor stand; drink holder; predrilled to mount most compatible electronics

GamePod GT2

Compatible with all wheels, PC, PS, and Xbox systems

Seat and wheel mounting shelf fully adjustable; may be used by all ages; seat is FIA approved racing bucket seat; adjustable pedal plate

When selecting a cockpit, desirable features include a wheel mount that is adjustable to seat the wheel at the driver's preferred height and angle; adjustable pedal platform; a shifter mount that may be adjusted and may be mounted on either the right or left of the wheel; VESA standard monitor mount; front and rear speaker mounts; and a racing seat that reclines and is adjustable forward and back. A drink holder is a 'goes without saying' desirable feature.

If a full cockpit is not in the budget, a stand for the wheel can still improve the gaming experience. Unless a gamer is in the habit of holding a steering wheel in the lap, a steering wheel stand provides a more realistic experience, placing the wheel and pedals in proper relationship to the driver and helping to ensure that the pedals remain in place. A quality stand may also have wheels for easy removal to a corner of the room at the end of the session.

7. Decide How Noisy the 'Racetrack' Should Be

Professional racetracks require noise cancelling devices to protect the drivers' hearing. The race game player can choose to increase the game volume, of course, but some controllers are also louder than others. In particular, gamers cite the Driving Force GT as a relatively loud controller. If a gamer wants the controller itself to become part of the racetrack noise experience, this is a good choice.

Buying Racing Wheel Controllers on eBay

A great many racing wheel controllers suitable for every game, from Mario Kart to Gran Turismo, are always on offer from the many sellers on eBay. The search window on each page is a good starting place for locating all of the current offerings suited to the immediate need.

Comparing the Offers

When more than one seller is offering the same or very similar racing wheel controller, it can be helpful to sort the offers using the Sort by and Advanced search features to organise and limit the selections viewed. Using the Sort by feature makes it possible to organise the selections according to price or condition, whether new or used.

Then the Advanced Search feature is helpful in making sure the controller selected is in fact a PAL system. Although one might expect that offerings would be compatible with UK gaming systems, so many gamers like to 'game' the system that NTSC and SECAM controllers are on offer. If you wish to avoid these in your search, use the Advanced Search feature. Note "NTSC, SECAM" in the "Exclude words from your search" section. They should be keyed with no quotation marks but with a comma between.

Conclusion

Finding the right racing wheel controller begins with deciding whether a single wheel is to be used for all racing games that are played. Several kinds of wheels function across multiple platforms but many gamers prefer to use wheels that are designed for the specific platforms where they are used.

Whatever decision is made, the controller must be a PAL controller for use with U.K. games. If the game is to be played untethered, a wireless controller should be selected. Many controllers offer pedals, including brake, accelerator, and sometimes a clutch, as well as shifters on the wheel. These all add to the realism of the racing experience. Controllers with force feedback and vibration feedback also allow the gamer to feel more like he or she is driving a real vehicle with proper tyre resistance.

The controller may be placed in a stand or a full racing cockpit. Some of the most elaborate include a genuine race car seat. All of these options add up to a more complete immersion in the race and more fun. The gamer who has thoroughly considered these possibilities can make a controller choice that results in satisfaction at the end of the track.

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