At the end of the last year, Thrustmaster released a new wheel, T150, opening a new front on the low cost steering wheel market. It was another step on its strategy to offering something close to the higher model but at lower price, trying to catch that audience eager to buy a T300 steering wheel but scared by the difference in price.
I had the chance to test Thrustmaster TMX racing wheel these days and I think it is a very good alternative, maybe the only one, if you are starting now on simracing and taking your first steps. I’ll explain why after reviewing some technical features.
This steering wheel shares almost every features we’ve seen on T150 as:
- Rotation angle from 270º to 900º (was 1080º on T150)
- 12 bits resolution, a nice 4096 steps on the steering wheel axis
- A mixed belt-pulley and gears motor
- 100% metal paddles 13cm/5″ long
- 28cm/11″ diameter wheel
- Adjustable inclination pedals
- Brake pedal with progressive resistance
- Rubber-coated wheel grips
- 12 buttons
This is basically which a T300 racing wheel would offer but at lower level. The motor has change its technology going from brushless to a mixed belt-pulley and gears. The rim is attached to the base, so it is not interchangeable anymore. Pedals are totally in plastic. And that’s all. It is not a big deal or dramatic change and it doesn’t matter in terms of performance, not very much, I meant.
Pedals are usually the weakest point in the Thrustmaster wheels and this time it is not different. They have tried to make them up a little at least, which I appreciated a lot. Brake and throttle have adjustable inclination and the feeling is completely different as they should. Brake is stiffer and progressive. Anyway the wheel is compatible with the others pedals brand, like T3PA and its PRO version.
Let’s get into some details I’ve seen. The base has not “standard” holes to be compatible with the most used seats and chairs. It doesn’t matter because the clamp works wonderfully and it is very easy to mount. Pedals has two holes ready to be attached to one of the standard platforms. Steering wheel base also is quiet and didn’t go hot in any moment, so, no loud fans nor anything like that.
My test was in a Windows pc with three simracing titles like Assetto Corsa, Live for Speed and iRacing. Once in game, the wheel is easy to configure. Just install Thrustmaster drivers for the wheel and you’re ready to go. Right now with the V7 firmware. I didn’t played with the values on the profiler, racing by default.
Probably the best results with the ingame default values. One of my main claims to the Kunos developers is its extremely excessive FFB effects on many little things which works very good with these kind of commercial wheels but awful with DD wheels. Kerbs, bumps and traction lost are clearly visible, even some weight transfer effect should allow you to race your car comfortably feeling the track.
Live for speed
The simplest. 13 years has gone by since it was released and is still one of the genre references to test many peripherals. Not the brightest, but effective and clear. Only one parameter to configure, the strength: 100.
My main concern and where I’d expect more differences regarding to what I use. iRacing is not easy to configure because has to manage a very wide range of peripherals, from gamepads to 4000 euro wheels. Finding the configuration has been tough but incredibly rewarding for the value of the wheel. I’ve been practicing with the following values and I felt many of the things I needed to drive consistently during the laps, even with a very oversteery car like Formula Renault. Paddles worked flawlessly and I felt it better than I expected for this range of price. Below you have my app.ini values.
steeringBumpStop_Deg=10.000000 ; degrees into bump stop before max force
steeringDampingFactor=0.060000 ; Damping factor adjust down if damping becomes unstable, defautlt to 0.05
steeringDampingMaxPercent=0.100000 ; Maximum amount of damping to apply, adjust this to set damping level, values between 0.05 and 0.2 are best, overriden by damping slider
steeringDampingParkedMaxPercent=0.200000 ; Maximum amount of damping to apply when parked, adjust this to reduce wheel oscilation when parked, values between 0.05 and 0.30 are best
steeringFFBSmooth=1.000000 ; Percent of current FFB force to use vs average force, 1.0 = no average 0.001 = max average
steeringForceParkedPct=0.500000 ; Reduce FFB force by percent when parked, to help reduce oscilations
What other see like disadvantages on this product, I see some strengths. Gears motors has been more quiet and less prone to fail over the years, and attached rims feel like inseparable part of the base. Rubber on sides is a very good detail I’ve always miss in the included Thrustmaster rims. On the other hand, again, pedals are not enough to cover an advanced simracer needs, but they will work for an starter. Pedals are more important than the wheel when it comes to race, so Thrustmaster at least give you the opportunity to upgrade to the T3PA, or T3PA-PRO, pedals.
Looking at the market, there is no other remarkable choice in this range of price and with this quality. We are talking about a very right product under 200 dollars which will be a good starting point to test if simracing is a good hobby for you without exceeding your budget.
Some test laps in Nürburgring with FR 2.0