Imagine driving the sports car of your dreams. The soft leather of the steering wheel and the power under your feet as you rev up the engine are essential to that experience. Racing games and gaming steering wheels can give you that powerful feeling in the comfort of your own home. Granted, you may not receive any jealous looks, and the only wind in your hair will be from a fan, but you can simulate the experience of driving the car you have always wanted.
The racing game market has dozens of games trying to get your attention, and none of them need an actual wheel. However, plenty of devices give you the complete racing game experience, complete with accurate steering and acceleration. The best PC steering wheels give you the most realistic simulation possible and make you feel like you're actually experiencing the different road conditions.
The best racing wheels enhance the gaming experience in several ways. First, your reflexes are front and center as you realistically control the wheel and pedals. The second benefit is the force feedback. The peripheral lets you feel over-correction through vibration and wheel resistance, whether it's from a bumpy off-road course or the feel of your car sliding in the rain. For the best gaming steering wheels, look at the Logitech G27 Racing Wheel, Porsche 911 GT3 RS V2 Value Pack and Forza Motorsport CSR Wheel Value Pack. For information on gaming accessories, check out our articles on gaming steering wheels.
While comparing gaming steering wheels, we looked for attributes that put you behind the wheel and provide the best experience. It is most important to look for features that improve the racing simulation. The more impressive features a wheel has, the closer it will feel to actually being behind the wheel. Design is also crucial. The wheel and pedals need to look and feel right. Customization is also key on an accessory where settings can be changed with the click of a button. Lastly, a good manufacturer should have a system of help and support.
It's important that the wheel be easy to set up, use and store. The quality of the product is determined by how accurate the control is and how much wheel rotation is allowed. Wheels range anywhere from 180 to 1,080 degrees of rotation, with the best PC steering wheels giving you the most range. One necessity is a pedal attachment. Higher-quality products come with a clutch and stick shift. Not all wheels are compatible with all gaming consoles, but most work on PCs.
Putting your hands on a leather or high-quality, rubber-cased wheel changes your outlook and makes you expect high standards. We evaluated the comfort level of each wheel and checked whether it is mountable and has a floor grip for the pedals. The diameter of the wheel plays a major role in how it feels, with larger usually being better. You want your wheel set to be heavy so that there's less chance of it sliding around.
This category covers everything that you can adjust to your preference. We evaluate whether buttons on the device can reprogrammed. This is common for PC steering wheels but less common on consoles. The best racing wheels allow you to adjust the steering sensitivity, ABS and the feedback strength the virtual raceway provides.
Help & Support
As a failsafe, it's important to have a decent warranty. You'll want to be aware of how each developer responds to consumers if there is a defect. The best manufacturers offer user guides and FAQs online to answer quick product questions. It's also important that manufacturers respond quickly to phone or email requests for help.
These are the main points to look at before purchasing your own gaming steering wheel. These devices are similar in appearance, but there are significant differences in function. Our reviews break down the differences to help you find the most realistic racing experience. And we won't even ask to see your driver's license.