Platform: PS3/PC DVD
Our Score: 90%
- Realistic simulator with official Gran Tursimo 5 Licence
- Authentic Wheel 30cm or 12″ in diameter with brushed metal central spokes
- High precision, 1080 degrees rotation with super smooth and powerful FFB
- Authentic sequential gearshift levers crafted of brushed metal attached to the base – 17cm height
- Powerful and quick responsive FFB powered by industrial motors composed of two large dual belts
- Highly customisable pedals and wheel with up to 1080 degrees of adjustable rotation
- New H.E.A.R.T Hall Effect AccuRate Technology on the wheels steering
Thrustmaster have aimed to set the new benchmark for force feedback wheels with their new entrant the Thrustmaster T500RS and boy have they achieved it. If you are picking one of these bad boys up, be prepared for some high precision driving with violent feedback and a much lighter wallet.
With highly customisbale options, powerful FFB and a build that defines quality, the T500 RS really is the next best thing to actually going race car driving. Whilst the price is a barrier to entry, we wholeheartedly recommend it coming in at a standard way above anything else we have seen.
This is one serious piece of gaming kit and from the moment it arrives, you know you have made a good purchasing decision. Everything is packaged neatly with care and you can immediately see that Thrsutmaster has made very few compromises which is reassuring wehn you are spending this kind of money. It comes with full instructions (20 page manual) on how to set it up and the myriad of customisation options. Its hefty and bulky but everything you would expect from a top end gaming wheel.
The housing for the wheel is huge but necessary to pack the industrial motors that are used to power the thing. If you are placing it on a desk, be prepared to give up a fair bit of desk real estate. The U clamp beneath the wheel should be more than adequate for desks so don’t worry about having to drill holes but be sure that your desk is sturdy to withstand the force of the motors. If you have a racing seat set up or a wheel stand, then you will want to be bolting it on to your setup though be prepared to make some new holes in your housing plate if the holes do not align (most have a few holes so you may find that your setup supports it without the need for further holes).
The wheel itself is a nice 30cm/12″ in diameter (same as the Porsche Fanatec) and though it does not sport a leather finish like the Fanatec or the Logitech G25/G27, its rubber textured grip is nonetheless comfortable. You could quite legitimately question why, at this price, Thrustmaster did not supply a leather grip, but if it was to keep the price down, they could be forgiven.
The wheel is powered by a 65 watt industrial motor with dual belts that run up to 3000 rpm and is responsible for the fluid smooth yet powerful force feedback.
There are lots of settings that you can make to change the FFB on the wheel including progressively increasing the FFB rate but on the whole, you will feel powerful and responsive feedback.
Whenever you do increase the FFB power, it does not feel like it is simply increasing the output of raw power and instead there is something more intelligent at work that is giving you an increased level of immersion.
You genuinely get the feeling that you are racing and will scream for your life when you slide of track in to the barriers. Its something that’s really hard to put into words – it has to be experienced to be understood.
The wheel makes very little noise unlike the Logitech DriveForce GT’s awful grinding noise though the cooling fan which kicks in roughly after 45 minutes of use can be quite noisy. The wheel can be removed from the housing for future upgrades though we would not recommend trying this unless you are sure you know what you are doing.
The wheel is full of buttons and is unsurprisingly designed and optimized around the PS3’s layout. It would have been nice to have some onwheel adjustment settings so that you can make changes on the fly. Also some buttons are a little difficult to locate like behind the one behind the wheel rim and the two on the lower left behind the housing case.
One of the best features without a doubt is the paddle shifters. Its a shame they don’t turn with the wheel, but they are sufficiently long enough (7″ long) that you will rarely miss them when you need to flip gears. The gap between the wheel and the paddles is a little more than would be ideal however as you feel you are reaching for the paddles rather than they being there at your fingertips. But otherwise, these stand out from the competition and anything we have ever seen before. They look absolutely gorgeous.
The optional TH8 RS shifter is a highly customizable extra that will add to the immersion and comes separately for the PC and PS3. It is a standalone USB unit combining both a 7+1 manual gated shifter and sequential shifting unit. Everything about this is customizable including the shifting plate, the gear knob, the tension, stroke and dead zone through the in game settings and the hardware configuration tools that come with it.
The Pedals can be flipped either way to be used either as the “F1 style” setup or the “rally style” setup. Either way is a viable option but most tend to prefer the F1 setup. They are made 100% from metal and weigh around 7KG’s which all adds to the hefty feel and realism it boasts. The plate base itself is large but smooth on the underneath making it friendly on carpets and laminate flooring though this can lead to it sliding around a bit. They are best bolted to a Sim racing rig or wedged against a wall to prevent them from slipping.
The action of each pedal is smooth and again is all highly customizable. The instructions are detailed on how to set these up but be prepared to roll your sleeves up as there will be a fair bit to do for each differing gaming set up particularly as you will want to set up the realistic brake mod that comes with each unit. This is a handy little mod that improves the feel of the brakes though you can’t help but feel that for this price, a load sensing brake mechanism is needed.
This wheel is mind blowingly realistic the best racing wheel we have ever used and a must for every Sim racer. We experienced accurate and precision driving with intelligent FFB and little or no dead-zone. We appreciated the raft of customization options both in the game and manually on the hardware which really helps to put you in the drivers seat though acknowledge that this level of detail is a barrier to entry. Its a shame it only supports the PS3 and PC and that some games are not supported but overall, we love this piece of kit and highly recommend it for hardcore Sim racers.
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