Thrustmaster Releases New Ferrari 488 GT3 Steering Wheel
Thrustmaster has officially launched its newest sim racing steering wheel, the Ferrari 488 GT3 wheel add-on. …
Sim Racing Product Guides » The Best Racing Wheel Bundle Under €400
This detailed comparison guide looks at the very best sim racing wheel bundles you can buy for under €400. These bundles all include a steering wheel, wheel base and pedals, but each offers something unique.
Sim racing gear can be expensive, but there are some real bargains to be found under €400. This price range typically gets you a budget racing wheel and pedal set. But in 2023, some sim racing companies offer incredibly good, and sometimes direct drive wheels, within this price range. This means you can buy a very good sim racing wheel bundle within this budget.
With so many new racing wheels being released throughout 2022-2023, and many below a €400-€500 budget. It can be tricky knowing which one is the best within this budget.
Generally, sim racing wheels can stretch a budget and sometimes be pretty expensive. In the €400 price range, you’ll normally be looking at an entry-level racing wheel.
But the good news is that this price range can nab you a complete sim racing bundle including a racing wheel and pedals. And even better, you can even find a direct drive racing wheel bundle for under €400.
Direct drive is the term given to the technology that powers the force feedback. I’ll touch on this more later in this guide.
In this racing wheel comparison guide, I’m going to look at a few different racing wheel bundles from different companies. I’ll compare the value they offer along with the performance to ultimately try and help you decide which is best for you.
Below are the four racing wheel bundles I will be comparing. Each of these bundles includes a wheel base (the part that creates the force feedback), a steering wheel, and a pedal set.
Other than a way of mounting these wheels such as a desk clamp or wheel stand. Generally, buying one of these sim racing bundles will provide everything you need to start sim racing on Xbox, PS5 or PC.
Below, you’ll find bundles from some of the biggest names in sim racing, Fanatec, Logitech and Thrustmaster, along with a surprise entry from a much smaller sim racing company, Cammus.
We would have loved to include a MOZA Racing bundle in this comparison as they seem to be releasing exciting new sim racing products every week. However, their current cheapest bundle is the MOZA R5 bundle which comes in priced at €499, and that doesn’t include VAT or shipping, putting it outside of this price category.
CSL DD Bundle
Before I jump into looking at each f these racing wheels in more detail, I first want to run through the areas we are comparing. I also want to debunk a few terms so you can easily know the difference between each product.
The first area where each of these racing wheels differ is in their console compatibility. It is important to choose a racing wheel that is compatible with the platform you wish to race on.
Some racing wheels are only compatible with PC or one console and not the other. To make things a little more confusing, some racing wheels have two versions. One version for Xbox and one for PlayStation. So you’ll need to ensure you select the right version when buying.
Force feedback technology is where these wheel bases differ the most, and it is one of the most important parts of a racing wheel. The force feedback is the term given to the forces you feel while racing.
These forces will help you feel the surface of the track including bumps and different surfaces. They’ll also let you feel the weight of your car. These forces are designed to simulate real-world physics to make your racing wheel feel as close to real-world racing as possible.
There are different technologies that can produce force feedback, each with its own upsides and negatives. These are;
In almost every case, direct drive is seen as the best technology followed by belt drive and then gear drive. However, this isn’t always the case as some belt driven racing wheels for example can feel incredibly good.
For more of an in-depth look at direct drive vs other force feedback technology, check out our direct drive vs gear & belt wheels guide.
Next up, I will talk about the included pedal sets that come with each of these bundles. Sim racing pedals can vary wildly, from high-end pedals that use hydraulic systems through to mid-range pedals that use load cells and budget pedals that don’t utilise either.
With each of these sim racing bundles, you’ll receive a set of entry-level pedals, however, some include 2 pedals, while others include 3. And some, such as the Fanatec CSL pedals can be easily upgraded to provide much better performance.
I will also touch on the upgradability of each of these sim racing bundles. Over time, you may want to improve certain areas of your sim racing setup. Buying a bundle that lets you easily do this can save you a lot of money over time, and avoid you having to repurchase brand new products.
The final area I’ll touch on will be the overall cost of each bundle. Every one of these bundles comes in under €400, although some are easier to acquire than others. Depending on where in the world you are located, you may need to pay a bit extra for importing the product or delivery. But I’ll look at any additional costs as I go through each product.
The first sim racing bundle I want to look at is the Ready To Race bundle from Fanatec. This is a company that has been in the sim racing space for as long as any brand.
They spent years producing some of the best high-end racing wheels and partnering with different companies such as BMW, Porsche and Gran Turismo to bring a range of different steering wheels.
Fanatec were the first sim racing company to launch a small and affordable direct drive wheel base with the CSL DD. This wheel base brought direct drive technology into a much smaller form factor.
While this wheel base launched with a price tag of around €349.95, it has recently been dropped to just €199.95. Although to unlock that price, you do need to buy it as part of a bundle.
This is where Fanatec’s Ready To Race bundles come into play. These bundles include the CSL DD wheel base at the €199.95 price, and also net you a steering wheel and pedal set.
You can also create your own custom bundle including the Fanatec CSL DD wheel base along with any steering wheel and any pedal set and still receive the discount on the CSL DD wheel base. This is ideal if you fancied a bit more performance from your pedal set or your steering wheel, but still wanted to make use of the €199.95 CSL DD price promotion.
If you are looking for maximum value and still fancy a direct drive Fanatec sim racing setup, the P1 bundle is the one to look at. This is the cheapest bundle that Fanatec currently sell. It includes the CSL DD (with the €199.95 promo price), the P1 steering wheel and the CSL pedals.
The really special part of this bundle is the CSL DD wheel base itself. This wheel base produces 5Nm of peak torque in its base form, although this can be upgraded. And the forces are sent directly to your steering wheel due to the direct drive technology.
This produces some of the most detailed force feedback of any racing wheel in this price bracket, and it is easily the best-performing wheel base under €400. Although that doesn’t make it an auto-buy as the other racing wheels in this guide have their own perks!
As I mentioned just now, you can upgrade this wheel base to unlock even more power. The optional Boost Kit 180 allows this wheel base to produce 8Nm of peak torque.
This puts it firmly ahead of the other wheels in this comparison and right into a true mid-range category. When I purchased my Fanatec CSL DD, I opted for the 8Nm version, as this really opens up the force feedback detail, and gives a much wider playing field when fine-tuning your in-game settings.
However, opting for the additional Boost Kit 180 will put this bundle outside of the €400 price window. Normally, the Boost Kit alone costs €150. But you can upgrade this bundle to include the kit for just €99.95, saving you a little money compared to the individual cost.
As part of this Ready To Race bundle, you’ll receive the P1 steering wheel V2. This is a budget steering wheel that actually offers a lot of bang for your buck. It includes a range of push buttons, a directional stick and built in paddle shifters.
There is also an LED display on the top of the steering wheel which can act as a live telemetry readout in game. You can also use this display to adjust the tuning settings of your wheel base.
Compared to the other steering wheels in this guide, this is up there as one of the nicest. It is much larger than some others giving it a realistic feel to use, with the circular shape making it ideal for a wide range of racing styles.
In this Ready To Race bundle, you’ll receive a 2-pedal set. This will get you up and running right away. Both pedals utilise contactless hall-effect sensors to measure the pedal distance.
As I mentioned earlier this technology is commonplace in budget sim racing pedals. There is a stiffer spring and a foam damper on the brake pedal which makes the brake much stiffer and slightly more realistic.
Although over time, I’d highly recommend considering upgrading to a load cell pedal. You can purchase an individual load cell pedal add on for this set to make it a 3-pedal set. And that is definitely the way I would go.
So, I do want to talk about compatibility, although this is a slightly strange subject with Fanatec products. Their racing wheels do offer Xbox and PlayStation compatibility, but the way it’s implemented differs.
The CSL DD wheel base is only compatible with PC and Xbox. There is no PlayStation compatibility available in this bundle. If you do need a PlayStation 5 compatible racing wheel, I’d recommend looking at the GT DD Pro.
The GT DD Pro is almost identical to the CSL DD internally but offers expanded compatibility with Xbox and PlayStation. This does add a little to the price tag, which is why it isn’t included in this comparison guide.
Out of the box, there is also no Xbox compatibility, making this bundle only usable on PC. That is only because the steering wheel isn’t compatible with Xbox consoles. To make this bundle Xbox-compatible, you will need a different Xbox-compatible steering wheel.
If you are searching for Xbox compatibility, I would recommend looking at the CSL DD McLaren bundle or the CSL DD WRC bundle. Both of these cost a little more than €400, as they include more premium steering wheels. But both of these bundles are completely Xbox-compatible.
When it comes to upgrading this CSL DD bundle, you have a few options. You can upgrade both the wheel base to produce more power, and the pedals to improve performance.
For the CSL DD wheel base, you can add the Boost Kit that I mentioned earlier. When bought together, the Boost Kit costs just €99.95, and it unlocks an additional 3Nm of peak torque. That brings the CSL DD up to a peak torque figure of 8Nm.
You can also upgrade the pedals with a load cell brake pedal as I mentioned earlier. This will turn the pedals into a full 3-pedal set, and will vastly improve the feeling of the brake pedal.
The next bundle I want to look at is a very quirky alternative to the Fanatec CSL DD. The Cammus C5 is another direct drive racing wheel, with a bit of a difference.
Cammus are relatively new to sim racing, and they are looking to break the norm when it comes to racing wheel design. The C5 is the first ever racing wheel to feature no wheel base, as far as I’m aware!
Instead, the C5 mounts the direct drive motor in the centre of the steering wheel. The motors and all internal electronics are integrated with the steering wheel rim.
This makes the footprint of the C5 incredibly small and helps to keep prices low due to the removal of a large wheel base. Now this approach is pretty unique, so how does it actually work?
Unlike traditional racing wheels which mount the motor and all crucial electronics inside a static wheel base, the C5 mounts them to the wheel rim directly.
While this does look incredibly odd and adds weight to the steering wheel which isn’t ideal. It’s actually quite clever. This makes the wheel base easy to mount and even easier to position in relation to your monitor.
Unlike many small direct drive wheel bases such as the Fanatec CSL DD which uses a heat sink to dissipate heat. The C5 uses a physical fan to keep heat down.
The cables are then connected to the rotating wheel and routed through the rear of the mount. This did make me rather uneasy when racing with it, constantly thinking a cable would fall out or move causing excess wear. But generally, everything in this department was OK throughout play testing.
Well, the build quality is generally pretty good. There is real carbon fibre across the front of the face plate, and the circular rim is finished in leather. So far so good.
On the front of the wheel there are a range of inputs from push buttons to rotary encoders. These all feel OK and are mainly constructed from plastic which isn’t a surprise at this price point.
There is also a rev bar which lights up and a digital display which can show your current speed. And these are both bright enough to be very helpful during a race.
The wheel itself measures at 280mm across, which is a little small for a circular steering wheel. This dimension is more commonly associated with formula-style wheels. Although it feels fine after racing with it for a while.
Also, it is worth noting the paddle shifters. They are incredibly small, and I’m not sure why. They almost look like two little ears on the side of the wheel.
They feel fine to use, but really don’t provide much resistance or much of a positive feedback in any way. This is disappointing for a direct drive racing wheel, but at this price point is in-line with other products.
Now for the interesting bit. The Cammus C5 is capable of peak torque around 5Nm.
During gameplay, this wheel does feel like its hitting this number which is really impressive given its size. The force feedback created is decent as well, with good levels of surface detail along with larger forces coming through nicely.
The wheel itself does feel a little heavy, which I feel restricts some potential for fast direction changes that you get from a lighter steering wheel.
And there are some moments when you’ll feel strange sensations. I think this comes from not being mounted to a sturdy and weighty wheel base. You are constantly rotating a motor and fan, so there will always be some sense of weight added.
You can also hear the fan, which is something I have gotten used to not hearing. Most direct drive wheel bases that have been released recently have removed internal fans making them deadly silent during use. The C5 certainly doesn’t fit into this category.
The pedals included are a 2-pedal set including a throttle and a brake. This is where this bundle really suffers. Both the throttle and brake utilise hall effect sensors similar to the Fanatec CSL pedals. That is where the similarities really end.
While the Fanatec CSL brake pedal features a relatively stiff and progressive design. The brake pedal on this Cammus CP5 set almost feels identical to the throttle pedal. There is very little resistance which makes braking feel very primitive and tricky to master.
The wheel itself feels relatively well put together with the weight, the carbon fibre and the leather. But the pedals feel like they were designed for an extremely low budget.
There isn’t currently any way to upgrade the CP5 pedals without opting for a completely different pedal set. This is a little disappointing and would lead me to recommend buying the C5 wheel without the pedals included. This gives you much more freedom to choose pedals from a different brand or a higher-performing pedal set.
Cammus have headquarters in China, meaning if you are living in Europe or the United States, purchasing directly from them can include rather large shipping or import costs. But they have done a good job partnering with distributors around the world to make shipping much more affordable.
Currently, Cammus list the C5 bundle at €299, reduced from €399 on their website. However, shipping to mainland Europe, the United States or the UK directly from Cammus adds over €100 to the cost. Then you will have to pay import tax or VAT on top of that when it arrives.
The cheapest way to purchase a Cammus C5 bundle is from a distributor. For example, Sim Motion in Germany sells the C5 bundle for €399 including VAT. Shipping to mainland Europe in this instance only costs around €9.95.
Racing Wheel – Cammus C5 Bundle
Compatibility – PC
Price – From €/$399.00
Where to buy – Buy from Sim Motion EU
Next up, I’ve chosen the Logitech G923 as it falls nicely into this price range of a sim racing wheel under €400. Logitech does sell a direct drive racing wheel, the Logitech Pro Wheel, although that costs around €999 without a set of pedals.
The G923 is Logitech’s entry-level racing wheel, and has been one of the very best budget-friendly racing wheels of the past few years. Logitech has always has a good track record of producing some of the best entry-level racing wheels.
The G923 is an evolution of the older G29, and features improvements such as a better pedal set and the introduction of TrueForce.
TrueForce is the name given to the vibration technology that is housed inside the steering wheel of the G923. These vibration motors triggle rumbling effects during specific scenarios.
If you lock a wheel, if you’re losing grip or if you rev your engine. All of these sensations can be felt through the steering wheel as vibrations. It is pretty neat technology and gives the G923 a unique feel.
Logitech’s G923 is the first racing wheel in this guide that isn’t direct drive. Instead, this wheel uses gear-driven technology. As I mentioned earlier in this guide, gear-driven force feedback has some limitations compared to direct drive.
There are moving internal gears which you can sometimes feel through the steering wheel. These gears also lose a little bit of the crispness from the force feedback, and they can be a little noisy.
Finally, using gear or belt drive technology also restricts the maximum forces that can be sent from the motor to the wheel. In the G923, the forces peak at around 2.3Nm of torque.
This is substantially less than the Fanatec CSL DD or the Cammus C5. And you can certainly feel this reduction when sim racing. There is much less oomph about some of the weight transfer, and you can struggle to pick out fine details in the track surface.
It’s also worth noting that the steering wheel rim is smaller than the Fanatec or Cammus wheel. It comes in at around 270mm. And at this size, it feels a little less realistic. The smaller the steering wheel, the more like a toy it can feel, and that is the case with the G923.
Unlike both the CSL DD and Cammus C5, you do get a full 3-pedal set with the G923. This includes a clutch as well as a brake and throttle. These all use sensors to measure the pedal distance, much like the other pedals in this guide.
The brake pedal is much stiffer than the throttle which is an improvement compared to the Cammus pedals. Although, Logitech may have overdone it, as the brake pedal barely moves.
Some may like this stiffness, while others may prefer things a little softer. Either way, the brake does give a good amount of sensation during braking due to the resistance.
Unfortunately, the G923 comes as a completely sealed unit. You cannot detach the steering wheel (unless you like to take things apart) from the wheel base, meaning you can’t swap it out for another wheel rim.
You also cannot upgrade the pedals. Instead, if you fancy something with a load cell or something that performs a bit better, you’ll need an all-new pedal set.
The good news though, is that the Logitech G923 is the first wheel in this guide to offer Xbox and PS5 compatibility as well as PC. Logitech has had to sell two products to achieve this though.
You can either buy the PlayStation-compatible version or the Xbox version. And this means you unfortunately cannot have a single racing wheel that works on both consoles.
The final racing wheel bundle in this comparison of the best complete sim racing bundles under €400 is the Thrustmaster T248. This racing wheel was released to be a direct competitor for the Logitech G923.
It is priced identically, also includes a 3-pedal set and uses similar internal technology. The T248 utilise hybrid force feedback technology which is a combination of gears and belts to translate the force feedback from the motor.
This ideally gives the best of both worlds, including more detail in the force feedback and less clunking from the gears.
The first thing you’ll notice with the Thrustmaster T248 is the modern design. Unlike Logitech or Fanatec who have opted for relatively traditional-looking steering wheels, Thrustmaster has introduced a very angled design.
This does set it a part from the other products in this comparison, and I have to say I rather like it. The angles add a little to the premium look of the wheel, and every button is well placed for easy access.
There is a digital display across the top much like the Fanatec wheel, although it’s much more centralised in the T248. The one thing I’m not so keen on is the choice of material for the hand grips which feel a little cheaper than on other wheels.
Much like the Logitech G923, there are 3 pedals here. Although, unlike the G923, the pedals utilise magnets to aid with the inputs. There is also a lot of customisation on offer from the pedals which is unusual at this price range.
There are four individual pressure modes which allow you to change how the pedals feel. While the pedals may perform a little better than the G923 pedals, they do look a lot cheaper.
There is a lot of plastic around the entire T248 which isn’t a good thing. This combined with the 280mm diameter doesn’t offer a whole lot of realism from an ergonomic perspective.
The Thrustmaster T248 is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to performance. It is easy to say that it offers a little more performance than the G923 with 3.5Nm of torque. And there is much less noise and clunking from the internal gears.
However, after switching from a Logitech G923, I do miss TrueForce, making the overall experience a little lacking. Also, the T248 doesn’t offer the same detail and power that the two direct drive racing wheels offer. And this puts it in a sort of middle ground.
There are some nice touches such as the digital display and the magnetic paddle shifters which do feel good to activate. The pedals also feel good with the brake in particular offering a good amount of resistance.
Much like the Logitech G923, the T248 is compatible with Xbox and PlayStation consoles. But also like the G923, there are two different versions of the T248, meaning you cannot have dual compatibility.
You also cannot detach the steering wheel and swap it with another wheel rim which is a big shame here. Much like Fanatec, Thrustmaster offers a lot of different wheel rims, so it would be nice to be able to use them on the T248.
This means there are very few upgrade options available for the T248. You can’t swap anything out really without buying an all-new product.
Now we’ve looked at all four of these racing wheels in the under €400 category. It is time to compare performance across the range and start recommending the best products.
We have quite a spread when it comes to performance and force feedback technology. Both the Fanatec and Cammus wheels use direct drive but in very different ways. And the Logitech and Thrustmaster wheels use more budget-friendly technology.
Right away, it is easy to say that the two direct drive wheels are in a league of their own when it comes to performance. The G923 and T248 simply cannot compete due to the technology route they have chosen.
This means we’re looking at the Fanatec CSL DD and the Cammus C5 as potential winners of this category. And the decision is quite easy.
The Fanatec CSL DD produces both a stronger feeling and much more detailed force feedback than the Cammus wheel. This is partly due to Cammus choosing to mount the motor to the steering wheel.
This adds weight and compromises the performance to some degree. Although it is a neat choice to limit the overall footprint of the wheel. The Thrustmaster wheel also edged out the Logitech by the slightest of margins thanks to the increased strength on offer.
|1 (Best)||Fanatec CSL DD|
The value-for-money comparison is an interesting category. All of these racing wheels offer complete bundles including pedals for under €400. But you do get different products at different price points within this budget.
Both the Thrustmaster and Logitech wheels are slightly cheaper than the Fanatec and Cammus wheels. But this doesn’t mean they offer better value for money. And this is due to the Fanatec wheel having a higher build quality than both Logitech and Thrustmaster.
It is also the only wheel that offers true upgradability. You can upgrade the pedals which no other product allows, and you can swap out the steering wheel for almost any other Fanatec wheel rim. Again, no other bundle offers this.
Below is our ranking for the best value for money. And you may be surprised to see the Cammus wheel underneath both Thrustmaster and Logitech wheels. The reason for this is three-fold.
Firstly, you get no customisation with the Cammus C5, which is a huge downside for a more expensive direct drive wheel. Also, it is the hardest wheel to actually purchase. The other three brands sell their wheels directly with cheap and easy shipping globally. Cammus suffer a little bit from their location, with shipping costing more.
The final deciding factor was that the Cammus C5 is the least compatible wheel in this comparison. The Fanatec wheel has options for Xbox compatibility along with PC. And both the Thrustmaster and Logitech wheels offer compatibility with both Xbox and PS5. The Cammus C5 is only compatible with PC currently.
|1 (Best)||Fanatec CSL DD||€399.85|
So, coming to the conclusion of this comparison guide. Which complete sim racing bundle would I recommend out of these four?
The reason I would choose the CSL DD P1 Bundle is because it offers truly impressive performance and build quality at this price point. The CSL DD remains one of the very best small direct drive wheel bases on the market.
And with their current offer of the CSL DD only costing €199.95 when bought with a pedal set and steering wheel, it offers incredible value for money. The CSL DD outperforms the other wheel bases in almost all categories.
It has a better build quality, higher levels of performance and the upgradability and compatibility with other Fanatec products is a great bonus. It is a wheel base that you could keep for many years, while upgrading your sim racing setup around it.
It is important to note, that this reduced price of the CSL DD is a promotional price, and I’m not sure how long it will last. Before this promo, it used to cost around €500 to be able to buy a complete bundle.
You can use the links below to shop for your favourite sim racing products, or for any products that we may have recommended. These links are affiliate links, and will earn us a small commission, with no additional cost for you.
Thrustmaster has officially launched its newest sim racing steering wheel, the Ferrari 488 GT3 wheel add-on. …
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