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Thread: Racing Wheels

  1. #1
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    Racing Wheels

    For a little while now, each time I see some screen shots of games like Project Cars posted in these forums I keep getting a hankering to buy myself a nice wheel for gaming on.

    I've never really enjoyed racing games on keyboard and mouse, it just seems a terrible way to play a racing game. However I have enjoyed them on a pad, usually on consoles. But I would really like something that really connects me to the experience. Although joypads are quite servicable for racing games, there is that real sense of disconnect, a lack of feedback. Whilst the games can still get my heart pounding, twiddling sticks and tapping buttons on a pad still has a tendancy to bring me out of the zone as it were, it still makes me feel like I'm just playing a game, there's a definite loss of immersion.

    So I'm thinking of getting something force feedbacky. When done well I think FF devices are second to none for playing games on. Shame they seem to have on the whole fallen out of favour. When I bought my MS Sidewinder FF stick many years back, it came bundled with Mechwarrior 3, and man what an amazing experience that was through force feedback. Every heavy footstep of your mech sent judders through the stick, taking hits buffeted you about and when your mech over heated and went into lock down the stick jerked violently and then went all limp until it powered back up. It was pretty damn superb, and unfortunately a force feedback experience that has never been matched since. Not that I've come across anyway. Some of the shooters like Crimson Skies and Freespace also put on a good show through the force feedback though, but none really matched Mechwarrior 3 for sheer awesomeness.

    So it would be nice to experience something like those thrills whilst playing some driving games. I have in mind something like the Logitech G27 wheel. The prices of these on Amazon UK keeps fluctuating a bit, but have recently come down again from 250 and can be had for about 190-200. Now I know nothing about these things and whilst the reviews are mostly positive there are the occasional few where folks keep saying that they eventually develop a calibration fault and start to list to one side.

    So can anyone here vouch for the G27 through personal experience? Or any other recomendations? I don't really want to pay more than 250 though, that's like really the very top end of my budget and for that I'm expecting something pretty amazing. At the same time I don't want to get a cheap one if it's not really going to do much more for my experince of the game. Also can any G27 owners tell me how they clamp to the desk please, as my desk has a keyboard draw underneath it with about 1.5" clearance above the keyboard. Obviously I can move the keyboard but it would be nice to know how they clamp to the desk underneath, or are the clamps on top?

    If I did go ahead and buy one of these wheels, how do they actually stack up in games? For instance in games like Grid, NFS Shift and Project Cars, how much feedback is actually modelled? Do they actually provide enough effects to make use of the wheels? Are they fun, do you really feel like you're getting enough bang for your buck?

    Some thoughts and musings from wheel owners would be much appreciated please. I'm just thinking that if I'm going to spend 200+ on a wheel, then I want to be pretty bloody impressed with it, and importantly its got to make me want to keep playing on it. I don't want ot get bored of it after a week, not if I'm spending 200. Granted that will come down to personality, but if playing Grid for instance on a joypad already gets my pulse racing and makes my arms stiffen up, how much will playing on a good wheel enhance that experience?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    The G25 / G27 are the best 'budget' wheels you can get. If you want something better without stepping into pricey niche stuff territory there's Fanatec. Logitech tend to break (I had my G25 totally replaced because of the shifter which was lucky because the wheel itself broke shortly after warranty expiry. And after that you're on your own), Fanatec has other quirks.

    I'm gonna go a bit fundamentalist here and add Project CARS is basically a glorified Shift and hardly worthy of the sim moniker.

    The three best sims to experience good force feedback are LFS, iRacing and netKar Pro. LFS is the elder of the bunch and does not model surface bumps very well but for reactions at the wheel it's almost spot on. What I mean with "spot on" is if you can't catch oversteer in a real car, after some time in LFS you will be able to.

    netKar Pro is cheap, has surface modeling and one of the most lively FFBs around, definitely something to try. It will be replaced (dunno when) by its currently in development successor, Assetto Corse. iRacing is also very good IMO but the subscription model kills it for me.

    I haven't had the chance to try rFactor 2 so I can't comment on that. The original rF needed an external, fan-made plugin to get realistic (i.e. calculated from physics) FFB (!!!).

    As for games, I only used the G25 in the original TDU and IMO it's a bit of wasted money. I wouldn't buy a wheel just to add to the sense of immersion simply because it's a bit of a commitment, not just in terms of initial investment, but also because the darn thing takes up a significant amount of desk space and time also if you need to install it/remove it every time, that can also kill your enjoyment if you're in for a more occasional experience.

    Oh and another thing, Logitech pedal sets are hardly ideally set up so if you drive for some time you're gonna start looking for a better positioning, usually building a wooden frame to suppor them and some sort of better fitting seat (office chairs don't work very well for obvious reasons)
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  3. #3
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    I know there are much more expensive wheels out there, but to be honest I'm unlikely to be playing the pro sims as it were and stick to the more arcade like thrills of say Grid and Shift etc. I wouldn't have a clue what to do with these sims that allow you to adjust the spoilers and suspension etc. Thanks for the input though, given me a few things to think about.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    I hope I haven't scared you off! Also don't be intimidated by setups, it's very easy to find fast sets on the internet, and iRacing has spec series where the tunables are very restricted (by regulations), so what's left is pretty easy to grasp, and you can focus on the driving alone.

    Regarding the clamps, on the G25 the clamps extend about 4 cm under the desk, the other option is to make holes in your desk and screw it down.

    If you want to try a wheel without the expense of a G27, the Driving Force GT is pretty good and affordable. The motors are slower than the G27 but that shouldn't make too much difference in a arcade sim (because basically how fast the wheel reacts doesn't really matter). And it lacks the clutch and shifter which are only useful if you like to drive stick, and also, you need a sim with a proper transmission model for that to make sense, i.e. the last time I checked, only LFS fitted the bill.
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  5. #5
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    No, you haven't put me off. That Driving Force GT one looks good too, but they're still over 100, even as high as 150 from some places. I notice that PC World are doing the G27 for 185 though, inc delivery. Cheapest I've seen it so far. Plus there's a PC World just around the corner from me. Handy if I need to return it. Although they probably have some bullshit policy about not accepting returns of online purchases in store. Still, might just have to lash down a bit of cash and go for that while they're that cheap.

    Hmmm decisions decisions.

    Also been reading through this old RPS article that I've kept a short cut for. Covers all the driving game basics plus wheels etc. The G27 comes recommended.

    Part 1: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...-1/#more-94546

    Part 2: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...-games-part-2/

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Good :) afterwards I had a feeling that I might've sounded too negative or dismissive.

    I have been out of the wheels' market for some time now, but I remember the GT could be had for less than 100 € (less than 90 IIRC?) on a regular basis. Of course the G27 is better and probably the best wheel at that price level.

    As for the warranty, I bought it at the local GameStop and I don't remember exactly why, but they had me go through their european office (which is in Holland if memory doesn't fail me). Pretty much everyone I talked to with a similar problem did the same, so I wouldn't be too worried about getting it online either.

    That isn't without pros because they didn't make me send back the whole (big) package, just the power brick in an envelope. So I just plugged in the new shifter and kept using my original wheel until it broke down as well. And I still have a brand new pedal set in the box.
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  7. #7
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    Cool, so you more or less have had 2 wheels for your money. Although not without problems of course.

    I shall go for one then and see how it goes. I always feel a slight guilt trip when spending over 100 on anything. Well anything non essentiual to my well being as it were. Electric bill, car service and MOT, new boiler etc, they're par the course. No guilt trip for that kind of spending, just sighs of glum resignation.

  8. #8
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    Logitech tend to break (I had my G25 totally replaced because of the shifter which was lucky because the wheel itself broke shortly after warranty expiry
    Last edited by adist1002; 06-07-2012 at 08:32 AM.

  9. #9
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    Don't get the driving force GT.
    I have one and while the wheel itself is surprisingly nice (for logitech's crappy standards) , the pedals are so bad that I rarely ever use mine.

    I'd go with a fanatec one, logitech has poor build quality in all their hardware.

    The driving force gt would be a good purchase for a little newphew as first racing wheel though.
    You speak of feeling like you waste money, but getting something that works and will last for 300 euros seems like less of a waste than spending 100-200 on something that never works to satisfaction and/or breaks down within 2 years.

    That being said, if you really only had 100 euros to spend then even a driving force gt with crappy pedals is a huge step up from a controller.
    Last edited by Finicky; 07-07-2012 at 05:46 PM.

  10. #10
    I have a Driving Force GT and while I think its OK I regret not getting a G27 instead. The wheel does have Force Feedback issues with quite a few games and it requires a lot of tweaking to get it acceptable. I can't tell you if a G25 or G27 is good enough or whether fanatec is the way to go, but I know I can't really recommend the DFGT.

  11. #11
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    Well I went for the G27 in the end as it was at a good price. Only really got it properly set up last night. So far I'm really liking it. Yeah it does require a bit of tweaking to get the best out of it, but then I think that's pretty much the same story for all the wheels; you adjust to taste. Grid for instance had the default steering deadzone set to 20%, which was kind of ridiculous.

    Just getting used the wheel wizzing round on casual difficulties with the gears on auto at the moment, but yeah it's miles better than using a pad. Just needs a handbrake attachment now.

    Bought one of those cheap non slip rubber car dashboard mats to put under the wheel and the gear stick unit, as the very first night I gave it a go it kept slipping off the desk. Cut the mat up into a couple of pieces to put under the wheel and two smaller pieces for the shifter. Putting it on top of the rubber matting and then clamping it down keeps it solidly rooted to the desk with no need to go drilling holes or anything else like that.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    I got a G27 in March. After using it clamped to my usual desk for about a week and realising that there's absolutely no point buying a relatively expensive wheel set for the shifter and clutch pedal if you're sitting an entirely unrealistic position, I set about making a cockpit for it. Here's how it looks at the moment:

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/407/imageedn.jpg/

    Believe it or not, it has come a long way, but I haven't worked on it at all since May because I 'had' to buy a replacement monitor for my desk and a GTX 680 to drive all three of these, so my budget has been dry for a long time. It's far from finished though, in the end it'll be usable as a general gaming/work seat but as it is it's far from ideal (though I don't use my PC anywhere else now).

  13. #13
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    The positioning doesn't bother me too much. I can just lower my seat and tilt it back a bit. Besides I don't have the space for a proper racing seat and all that jazz, even if I wanted one.

    Nice setup you have there. Presumably it's working out cheaper building it yourself than buying a setup? With a bit more work you'll soon have it looking like this:


  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    Thanks, it was working out cheaper and that's why I made my own, but it has since gotten more expensive... That guy does seem to be enjoying himself but I think I'd just throw up everywhere, it does demonstrate the huge gulf between a cheap wheel like a DFGT clamped to a home-made stand and a proper motion rig. Even in this example he's just using a G25, the other week I saw a wheel that used a $3,000 CNC milling machine motor. That's $3,000 for the motor alone, not including the electronics to control it, equipment to cool it and all the rest of it. $3,000. Frex make a sim wheel which is also ludicrously expensive but oh so very sexy. The sky really is the limit when it comes to sim gear... Some people also used proper FIA-approved racing seats in their rigs too which are just eye-wateringly expensive, and some guy even had something like 50 LFEs (like subwoofers that you can't hear, only feel) on his rig, they cost nearly 100 each, maybe more even!

    In short, count yourself lucky that you're not pedantic.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    I'm gonna be pedantic here and say what you just described has nothing to do with pedanticism.
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  16. #16
    Network Hub Chaz's Avatar
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    When you're spending that much money you may as well book a few track days in a real high performace sports car.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    I'm gonna be pedantic here and say what you just described has nothing to do with pedanticism.
    I mean people get pedantic (you're right, it's not the right word) about realism to the point that they spend more on the seat they use than most people do on their real car in a year because they want the exact same seat that would be used in real life racing of whatever kind they enjoy. Someone on one of the forums I frequent recently bought a carbon fibre F1-style tub and is having a seat professionally fitted (i.e. someone is making a cast of his arse, more or less) for it. Now, I suppose it's not pedanticism (did you make that word up by the way?) per se, but it's something kind of like it and I can't think of the right word. However when you see the arguments about whether a motion sim rig should have the displays mounted on the moving part or not, or the debates about LFEs being used to vibrate the shifter as well as pedals and seat, then you'd probably call it pedanticism too!

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Nope found it in a dictionary as my first attempt at coming up with a word didn't sound quite right :P

    I've been dwelling in racing forums as well and seen plenty of this. I'm not cutting any judgment here, but pay attentiont to what the people using overblown rigs are racing. I suspect for many of those it's more about blowing tons of cash on their newly found obsession and less with anything else.

    I certainly fail to see what a FIA approved bucket seat adds to the experience more than a regular bucket seat, except the bragging rights.
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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    Nope found it in a dictionary as my first attempt at coming up with a word didn't sound quite right :P

    I've been dwelling in racing forums as well and seen plenty of this. I'm not cutting any judgment here, but pay attentiont to what the people using overblown rigs are racing. I suspect for many of those it's more about blowing tons of cash on their newly found obsession and less with anything else.

    I certainly fail to see what a FIA approved bucket seat adds to the experience more than a regular bucket seat, except the bragging rights.
    Yeah, I think you're right. My personal objectives when building a sim cockpit were to have the various components placed relatively realistically, to provide a stable platform for it all so that it didn't wobble all over the place and also to avoid having to use a centre post design because I've never seen a real car designed that way. I have no doubt all that could be done on a budget a half the size of mine but I just really wanted to use aluminium profile because of the delicious modularity aspect, and I really think anyone willing to spend 250 on a wheel might find they'd gain a lot more enjoyment out of it if they spent a bit on a cockpit to mount it to. But, as I said before, that's just the most slippery of slippery slopes because you might find you get carried away and end up with the dashboard and centre console of a real car screwed to an MDF box in your living room, your wife and kids at the door on their way out of your life forever, yet all you're thinking about is when Leo Bodnar will have the SLI-Pro back in stock. Well, maybe not THAT bad, but still.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    I definitely stand by your point that you need a proper environment to make the most out of even a Logitech wheel. In fact my pedal set is modded and I made a support to get it as stable as possible and in a decent position. Truly, I'd been lying if I said I never considered buying a motion rig myself, and I've been inches from buying a proper seat and frame.

    Like most hobbies (maybe most things) however there's a point where you start getting minimal returns (or massive buttpain) for the investment and that's where I pause and think. In general if I can't explain in unequivocally rational terms to myself why I should get something, I don't.

    Even then, things are not always clear cut. I had a clear example of this at hand but it has to do with bikes which I guess would exceedingly boring for anyone who isn't into them.

    Quote Originally Posted by neema_t View Post
    that's just the most slippery of slippery slopes because you might find you get carried away and end up with the dashboard and centre console of a real car screwed to an MDF box in your living room, your wife and kids at the door on their way out of your life forever, yet all you're thinking about is when Leo Bodnar will have the SLI-Pro back in stock. Well, maybe not THAT bad, but still.
    LOL I think everyone who's even a bit serious sim racer has been in a situation like that before. Unless you're like some of the lucky guys on this board who seem to have overly understanding partners anyway.

    Maybe I should ask where they did find them in the first place, because short of mail ordering a bride, my being pretty obsessive compulsive about things seems to drive most people crazy at an alarmingly fast rate. Girlfriends especially #foreveralone
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