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Sim Racing Product Guides » Best High-End Sim Racing Wheel: Buyers Guide 2023
In this guide I run through the best high end racing wheels you can buy if you're looking to maximise your sim racing wheels performance.
A racing wheel such as the mighty powerful SimuCube 2 Ultimate would be one of the best high-end racing wheels you can buy. It creates up to 32Nm of torque making it one of the strongest racing wheels available.
If money is no object, and you are looking to buy a super high-end racing wheel, which would you buy? It’s a fun proposition to look at. Surprisingly you don’t always need to spend the earth to get a high-end racing wheel.
In this guide, I’ll run through the best racing wheels money can buy. This list includes a surprisingly cheap direct drive option, along with the best high-end racing wheels available.
Direct drive racing wheels really are the pinnacle of sim racing wheels. However, when you step into the direct drive realm, compatibility can sometimes become an issue. The majority of direct drive racing wheels are only supported on PC, and many have a high technical barrier to entry.
But what if you want a very good direct drive racing wheel. One which works on console platforms and doesn’t require a PhD in Electrical engineering to get working.
Well, Fanatec have you covered. Enter the Fanatec Podium direct drive series of racing wheels.
Fanatec released their Podium range of wheels in 2018, with the goal of offering direct drive wheel bases, with super easy compatibility.
In fact, to this day, Fanatec remains the only manufacturer to offer plug and play console compatible direct drive wheels.
Fanatec’s direct drive offering includes two wheel bases, the DD1 and DD2. I’ll let you guess what the DD initials stand for…
The DD1 is the entry-level direct drive wheel base, and is priced a few hundred less than its bigger brother, the DD2. Both wheel bases offer direct drive technology, with forces in excess of 20Nm.
Read my full comparison of the DD1 vs DD2 wheel bases here.
Of course, the DD2 offers a jump in strength and performance, increasing the torque output to a mighty 25Nm.
This puts the Fanatec DD2 up there in terms of one of the most powerful racing wheel bases available. Only being beaten by the SimuCube wheel base, which I’ll look at later in this guide.
To go along with this supreme force feedback performance, the Podium series of wheel bases boast unlimited wheel rotation due to its wireless data transfer. There’s also a full OLED display on the wheel base itself, capable of displaying a huge amount of telemetry and other data.
Both of Fanatec’s DD wheels, the DD1 and DD2 are compatible with Xbox consoles and PC’s straight out of the box. Simply connect your wheel base up to your Xbox or PC, connect a compatible wheel rim, and away you go.
But Fanatec has also released a version of the DD1 wheel base which is PS4 and PS5 compatible. And that is huge.
The Fanatec Podium F1, which is also fully licensed by Formula 1, is the only direct drive racing wheel compatible with PlayStation consoles. Check out our full review on the superb Fanatec Podium F1 racing wheel.
If you don’t mind about compatibility with consoles and aren’t afraid of a bit of a technical project. Then you can start looking at the best direct drive wheels money can buy.
These wheels typically only work on PC and require a bit of technical know-how to set up correctly. But once they’re set up, boy are they good!
If we had to recommend only one direct drive wheel for PC, it’d have to be the supreme SimuCube 2.
SimuCube is renowned for producing some amazing direct drive wheels. They boast the strongest direct drive wheel available, along with some of the lowest latency across any racing wheel.
However, buying a SimuCube wheel base isn’t an overly simple affair. There are three variants of SimuCube, offering a range of performance options. Generally, the more expensive you go, the better and stronger the force feedback will be.
The range starts with the SimuCube 2 Sport, which retails at €1,270, and offers 17Nm of torque. This is followed by the SimuCube 2 Pro which will cost you €1,470 and produces 25Nm of torque. This is comparable to the Fanatec DD2.
Finally, there is the range-topping beast of a wheel, the SimuCube 2 Ultimate. This costs €3,170 and gives you a whopping 32Nm of torque!
SimuCube were a pioneer in the Open Sim Wheel movement. This is where you as a sim racer take on the challenge of building your own racing wheel from individual parts. The beauty of Open Sim Racing is that you have complete control over your wheel, and you can build and customise it exactly to your own requirements.
However this can be very daunting, and things can often not go to plan. This is where a SimuCube wheel can come into play.
SimuCube racing wheels use very similar parts to many Open Sim Wheels, bridging that gap between an Open Sim Wheel and ease of setup.
That’s not to say that SimuCube has gone to the extent that Fanatec has, in creating a complete plug and play wheel. You still require a fair bit of technical knowledge to correctly set up and configure a SimuCube wheel.
The main areas you’ll need to configure yourself are the drivers and firmware, just ensuring that these all match and are set up correctly.
But once you get over this initial barrier of entry. A SimuCube wheel, especially the SimuCube 2 Ultimate is a mighty piece of sim racing equipment.
There is a wide selection of high-end sim racing steering wheels available. However, your choice of steering wheel rim will be heavily dependent on which wheel base you buy.
If you pick up one of the console compatible Fanatec Podium wheel bases, you will be in the Fanatec ecosystem which is excellent.
Fanatec offers a huge range of wheel rims, from rally and drift wheels to Formula 1 licensed wheel rims.
If you decide to go with a SimuCube wheel base instead, you won’t be able to use any Fanatec wheel rim. Instead, you will have the pick of the bunch from a wide range of manufacturers.
Two of the most prolific wheel rim manufacturers include Ascher Racing and Cube Controls. Both of these companies have designed outstanding high-end steering wheels.
Let’s start by having a look at our favourite high-end Fanatec wheel rim, The Formula V2.5.
The Formula V2.5 comes in a couple of formats. You can buy it on its own in a lovely carbon design. Or it comes packaged with the Formula 1 licensed Podium F1 wheel, where it is sporting a nice blue colourway. Essentially, both of these wheel rims are identical.
The Formula V2.5 is a GT / Formula style wheel rim that sports a huge amount of on wheel controls. These allow you to fully adjust your car while driving, and without taking your hand off the wheel.
Out of all Fanatec wheel rims, this is by far and away my favourite.
If you opt for an Open Sim Wheel, such as the SimuCube 2, then you won’t be able to use the Fanatec steering wheel above. Instead, you should look in the direction of Cube Controls.
Cube Controls design some absolutely stunning steering wheels, and my favourite of the bunch is the magnificent Formula CSX 2.
If you are looking for a steering wheel that gets as close to real Formula 1 wheel as possible, then this is the one for you. It features a stunning 4.3″ colour display, which can display a wide range of telemetry.
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