Best Direct Drive Racing Wheel

The best direct drive wheel

When it comes to the pinnacle of sim racing wheels, direct drive has been king for a long time. Direct drive racing wheels utilise the most powerful, and advanced technology to produce the most immersive sim racing experience.

However, for years direct drive racing wheels haven’t been the most consumer friendly products. With some requiring rather high technical knowledge to setup correctly.

That all changed when manufacturers such as Fanatec and SimuCube released plug and play wheel bases. But which direct drive racing wheel is best for your sim rig setup?

In this guide I run through the best direct drive wheels that are on the market today. I’ll show you the best racing wheels for a variety of sim racing setups, such as console setups and DIY setups.

Hopefully by the end of this guide, you will know which direct wheel to spend your hard earned money on.

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Best Direct Drive Wheel for PS5 / PS4

During this guide there are a few brands that we’ll mention a lot. This is because these brands have done a fantastic job creating some of the best direct drive wheels available.

The first of these brands is Fanatec. This German manufacturer has become renowned in the sim racing community, producing some of the best sim racing products across a wide range of price points.

At the top of Fanatec’s product lineup are it’s direct drive offerings. These direct drive wheel bases come in a variety of forms. You can pick them up as a stand alone wheel base, or as part of a bundle.

And it’s one of these direct drive bundles that I’m recommending first.

The Podium Racing Wheel F1®

Typically, PlayStation gamers haven’t been overly spoilt when it comes to racing wheels. There are a lot of racing wheels for sale which simply aren’t compatible with PlayStation consoles, either the PS4 or PS5. And that trend continues with direct drive wheels.

At this time of writing, there is only one fully compatible, plug and play direct drive wheel for PS4 and PS5. And the Podium F1 is that wheel.

This isn’t such a big deal though, as the Podium F1 is a superb racing wheel.

Fanatec Podium F1 Pros

  • The only PS4 & PS5 compatible direct drive wheel available.
  • Some of the strongest force feedback on the market.
  • Extremely good aesthetics and design.
  • Fantastic build quality.

Fanatec Podium F1 Cons

  • Rather heavy to mount to a sim rig.

Best Direct Drive Wheel for Xbox

Being an Xbox gamer, opens up a couple of additional options when it comes to choosing a direct drive wheel. But not that many.

You will still be looking to stick within the Fanatec ecosystem. As no other wheel manufacturer offers a true console direct drive wheel yet. However, you now get the choice between either of Fanatec’s direct drive wheel bases.

DD1 or DD2

As mentioned above, Fanatec produce both a DD1 and DD2, which feature varying force feedback strength.

If you already own a selection of Fanatec wheel rims, then you can simply purchase either the DD1 or DD2, connect your wheel rim to the base and you’ll be ready to race.

However, there is a question of which wheel base should you pickup. On paper the DD2 performs better than its little brother. It produces 5Nm of torque more than the DD1, and comes equipped with a kill switch, which is normally a $100 / €100 add-on.

DD1 vs DD2

But, when you have a wheel base such as the DD1 already producing 20Nm of torque, do you really need to go any further than this?

In all honestly, the DD1 produces more than enough force feedback strength to give you a solid workout, and really test your strength.

Considering the substantial $300 / €300 upgrade price from the DD1 to the DD2, we wouldn’t really recommend making the jump.

We did hold a complete head to head DD1 vs DD2 comparison, which you can find out the results of here.

The Best Direct Drive Bundle For Xbox

If you aren’t in the camp of already owning a selection of Fanatec products or wheel rims, it may well work out better to look at purchasing a direct drive wheel bundle.

Fanatec do sell a complete Xbox direct drive bundle, which includes the wheel base, a wheel rim, and the advanced shifter module.

This bundle includes the DD1 wheel base, not the DD2, so bare that in mind when ordering. However, as mentioned I still believe that the DD1 is actually the smarter buy.

Fanatec Podium Pros

  • A superb bundle, including the best wheel rim.
  • Some of the strongest force feedback on the market.
  • Extremely good aesthetics and design.
  • Fantastic build quality.

Fanatec Podium Cons

  • Rather heavy to mount to a sim rig.

Best Direct Drive Wheel for PC

When it comes to buying a direct drive wheel for a PC setup, your options suddenly increase hugely.

You could still opt for a bundle such as the console bundles we mentioned above. Both of these bundles work with PC, and are both great options.

Instead, you could look at other brands such as SimuCube, who like Fanatec, also offer a range of direct drive wheels, each with varying degrees of strength.

Finally, you could look at buying into an Open Sim Wheel setup. This is where the technical barrier increases greatly.

Open Sim Wheel setups have you purchasing the different components individually, and then creating a custom wheel base setup. This process is very similar to building your own custom PC.

I wont touch too much on Open Sim Wheel’s right here, as I don’t think it is necessarily the best option when looking for a PC direct drive wheel. I’ve also included a section below for the best Open Sim Wheel setup. Skip forward to read more about it.

When it comes to actually recommending the best direct drive wheel for PC, it is between the Fanatec DD1, and the SimuCube 2.

Fanatec DD1 vs SimuCube 2 Sport

By having two manufacturers to choose from, your design becomes a lot harder.

Fanatec produces some of the best licensed wheel rims on the market, yet they come at a price. While SimuCube boasts much more customisability, and a larger community following.

In all honesty, both direct drive wheel bases, both the DD1 and SimuCube 2 Sport are very comparable, offering similar levels of performance.

The Fanatec DD1 does beat the SimuCube 2 Sport in force feedback strength, by putting out 20Nm compared to 17Nm of the SimuCube 2 Sport. However the SimuCube 2 Sport does feature slightly better software, as well as better customer support.

SimuCube 2 Pros

  • Extreme performance available.
  • Good customisation.

SimuCube 2 Cons

  • Not compatible with consoles.
  • Trickier to setup and configure.

Fanatec DD2 vs SimuCube 2 Pro

If you are looking to step up to the Fanatec DD2 levels of performance, SimuCube also has you covered there. Their SimuCube 2 Pro model creates the same peak torque as the DD2, at 25Nm.

Again, both models are similar in terms of performance and price, so your buying decision comes down to the wheel rims you plan on using. Or whether you have a preference to either brand.

SimuCube does allow for more wheel rims to be used with their wheel bases, including Fanatec wheel bases as long as you have an adaptor. So SimuCube certainly wins out there.

However Fanatec DD1 and DD2 wheel bases both let you race with Xbox consoles, so they are a little more compatible cross platform.

SimuCube All components

SimuCube 2 Ultimate

If you are looking for ultimate power from your sim rig, there is only one option. The SimuCube 2 Ultimate.

This direct drive racing wheel sits at the top of SimuCube’s lineup, and produces an eye watering 32Nm of torque!

If you’re a power junkie, and simply want the strongest wheel possible, go for this wheel base. It boasts the same great software and customer support as all other SimuCube products, meaning you can’t really go wrong.

So Which Direct Drive Wheel Should I Buy For PC?

In all honesty, I think that the smart choice lies really with the entry level direct drive wheels, as these offer the best trade off between performance and cost.

We have tested both the DD2 and the SimuCube lineup, and although the high end wheels are supremely impress. The price jump over the base models often outways the performance gain.

And for that reason, I’d recommend you look to pickup a Fanatec DD1.

For me the cross console compatibility is a huge selling point. Even if purchasing for a PC sim rig, the fact you can move straight over to your Xbox console is a huge benefit.


Best Open Sim Wheel Setup

What exactly is Open Sim Wheel? Well, Open Sim Wheel is the term given to creating your own wheel base by assembling individual parts.

Think of it like you are building a custom PC tower. You purchase a GPU, a CPU, a motherboard etc all separately. And piece by piece you configure your own personalised PC. OSW isn’t too disimilar to this.

Creating your own wheel base can sometimes give you the absolute best performance for your investment. And it can be an extremely satisfying endeavour.

Once you close up the case, step back and marvel at what you have just created, you’ll get a huge sense of achievement.

But that feeling comes after a lot of hard work, and a fair bit of technical knowledge.

Jumping in to an Open Sim Wheel isn’t for the feint of heart, that’s for sure.

You can find kits available to purchase online for complete Open Sim Wheel setups, with just the final construction left to you.

For example Sim Racing Bay sell some custom OSW kits which utilise the old SimuCube as a base.

These can be had for around $899 upwards, meaning they can be cost effective compared to wheel bases from Fanatec and SimuCube directly.


Cheapest Direct Drive Wheel

If you are looking for the outright cheapest direct drive racing wheel, then you will be looking at an OSW kit. As mentioned, these offer the ultimate bang for your buck.

However if you don’t fancy building your own wheel base, then both the Fanatec DD1 and the SimuCube 2 Sport come in at roughly the same price.

In fact, if you are purchasing from the UK, the DD1 just undercuts the SimuCube 2 Sport by £20. And if you are state-side, the DD1 comes in $100 cheaper.

So going off of those prices, the Fanatec DD1 is the cheapest direct drive wheel you can buy currently.


Grab Your Sim Racing Gear Here

Shop for Fanatec Racing Wheel products
Buy from Fanatec US
Buy from Fanatac Europe
Buy from Fanatac Australia

Shop for Logitech Wheels
Buy from Logitech USA
Buy from Logitech Europe

Shop for Thrustmaster Wheels
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon UK

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest direct drive wheel?

In both the USA and Europe, the Fanatec DD1 is the cheapest direct drive wheel base you can buy.

Should I get a DD1 or DD2?

Both the Fanatec DD1 and DD2 offer insane performance. However the increased cost of the DD2 doesn't match the increase in performance. Therefor I would recommend buying the Fanatec DD1.

Which direct drive wheel base is best?

Depending on your requirements, both the Fanatec DD2 and SimuCube 2 Ultimate are fantastic wheel bases. The SimuCube 2 Ultimate offers the best overall performance but the Fanatec DD2 offers a much better performance to cost ratio.

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