Sim racing wheels can set you back hundreds of dollars, but the good news is that there are more and more affordable options on the market. Sure, they won’t have all the top-tier features that you may find in most other racing wheels, but you’ll still see a serious jump in immersion with these solid purchases.
Based on my extensive research and testing, the best cheap racing wheels are:
- Thrustmaster TMX Pro
- Logitech G29/920
- Thrustmaster T150
- Thrustmaster T80
- Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider
- Hori Apex
- Hori Overdrive
What to Look for in a Cheap Racing Wheel
When reccomending a cheap racing wheel, here is what I think you should be looking for.
Rotation range is the maximum angle you can turn a steering wheel. In a typical road car, you can usually turn the wheel anywhere between two and a half and three full turns, or between 900 and 1080 degrees. If you want a realistic driving experience, it’s important to find a wheel that has a rotation range something like this (900 is what I would shoot for). Some dirt cheap wheels only have a rotation range of a few hundred degrees, which can feel more like an arcade game than a true racing simulator!
The second thing I look at when choosing a racing wheel is force feedback. Arguably, this is even more important than the rotation range, but it can be a little trickier to gauge (especially without testing the wheel). In budget racing wheels, force feedback is delivered from the motor to the wheel rim via a set of either belts, gears, or a combination of the two. If you can find cheap racing wheels that are belt driven, that is your best bet, as gears can be noisy and notchy.
Some of the really cheap wheels don’t have true force feedback at all. Instead, they use a bungee cord system that pulls the steering wheel back to the zero position when you turn it. This is something, but it’s definitely not as good as belts or gears.
Last but not least, please do take into account the compatibility of the wheel you are buying. Typically wheels will provide support for PC and one of the two major console platforms (PlayStation or Xbox), but not both. If you’re on PC you have the luxury of choosing from most wheels; if you’re on console, make sure your console is supported by the specific wheel you are looking at. If not, there’s usually an equivalent wheel for your platform.
Best Cheap Sim Racing Wheels of 2021
Without further ado, here are my top picks for budget-friendly wheels:
Thrustmaster TMX Pro
The Thrustmaster TMX Pro is an excellent wheel, which is why I’ve done an in-depth review of it before. But if you’re looking for the Sparknotes of it all, here it is:
The TMX Pro, by utilizing a mix of both belt and gear systems, allows for a smooth feel when driving, which is supplemented by the force that the gear portion outputs. You’ll almost certainly avoid the “notchiness” that other wheels in this list will fall victim to, and it’s no small feat.
The build quality is also quite good, though nothing to write home about. It’s made of robust hard plastic, and it feels like it can take quite a bit of punishment. Its rotation range remains within the 900° needed for an authentic feel.
Now, the TMX Pro actually uses the same wheel as the TMX, which is slightly cheaper. However, the regular TMX model comes with a pair of pretty awful pedals. As a start there’s only two of them, meaning that you can forget about the clutch. The break doesn’t get stiffer as you press down on it, again detracting from the realistic feel, especially if you’re pairing with a stick shifter such as the TH8A or TSSH.
The TMX Pro, on the other hand, comes with the incredible T3PA pedals, which fix all of the faults of the normal set. What’s more interesting however is that, on occasion, you can find the TMX Pro bundled with the T3PA for a cheaper price than the basic model, which is a fantastic steal! If you happen upon one such deal, I highly recommend investing the money you saved (plus a bit extra) and going for a stick shifter such as the TH8A.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that this sim racing wheel is Xbox and PC exclusive. There is however a sister series of sim racing wheels for the PlayStation consoles – the Thrustmaster T300 RS – but I left it out due to other Thrustmaster models outcompeting it on PlayStation.
Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel F1 Esports V2
The Logitech G29 and Logitech G920 are mainstays in many racing sim households, and for good reason. At a reasonable price, you get a good looking and well-built steering wheel. It’s made of steel with an actual leather cover, which are features even higher-end sim racing wheels often don’t offer. Its rotation range is 900 degrees, which is just right to make you feel like you’re taking control of an actual sports vehicle. The force feedback is powerful, but more rugged than that of the Thrustmaster T150, meaning you’ll feel it being notchy in certain occasions.
It also comes with a set of decent pedals, much better than the TMX’s basic set. The Logitech ones offer up to 256 registerable positions, look pretty and grip both your foot and your floor admirably. If you’re looking for a more well-rounded package then perhaps the Logitech G29/920 is what you should go for. As a starter set, you’ll get a good wheel and good pedals for a very reasonable amount. Logitech has a few other peripherals available that will plug right into the wheel and pedals – I especially recommend grabbing the Logitech Driving Force stick shifter.
As a last note, the only difference between the Logitech G29 and the Logitech G920 is the console they operate one (The PS4 uses the Logitech G29, and the Xbox gets the Logitech G920).
The Thrustmaster T150 is a fantastic wheel. At first, it may not seem like that due to hard plastic and rubber build of the T150, but give it time and it will win you over. The T150 has an above-average rotation range of 1080 degrees, which is more than some higher-end wheels can say. It’s also slightly larger (11”/28cm) than most wheels, which most race sim drivers find nice. It’s also armed with apt force-feedback for its price. A mix of belt and gear systems deliver a powerful and usually quite smooth feeling when you drive, though it can get a bit more notchy when taking hard turns.
The Thrustmaster T150 also comes with a pedal set, but it’s a lot more disappointing than the one found in the G29/920. They are the same as the TMX set: they feel flimsy, don’t look good, and there’s no clutch. This isn’t the biggest deal in the world considering the wheel and pedals don’t includes stick shifter, but it’s worth noting.
The Thrustmaster T150 works on PlayStation and PC. Speaking of which, this accessible wheel made the title of budget pick in my guide to the best PS5 wheels.
A solid wheel that delivers on most of its promises, it’s high(er) price-tag and lack of force feedback relegate it to the bottom of my list
The Thrustmaster T80 is a good wheel for first time sim pilots. It’s made from hard plastic, it’s sturdy, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. Of course, this isn’t the most important factor to consider, but for an entry-level wheel, it’s still welcome. It also comes with the default (read low quality) Thrustmaster pedal set. It’s hard to criticize something that’s added on for free, but if you’ve read the previous reviews on this list you’ll know what I think about it.
The T80 does have glaring issues, however. It’s rotation-range is a measly 200°, well below the ideal minimum of 900°. It also doesn’t have force-feedback. It tries to make this up with a “bungee-cord resistance” system, but the two are apples and oranges: they can’t be compared seriously. The final issue with the T80 is the price tag. It’s about the same price as the T150 though offering substantially less.
It’s a good wheel, but the other options on this list are superior.
The T80 is PS4, PS3, and PC compatible but, as it’s older, make sure to go through the compatibles games list on the Thrustmaster website before purchasing it.
Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider
The Xbox-friendly equivalent to the Thrustmaster T80, this highly affordable wheel makes use of a bungee-cord system to return the wheel to center
The Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider sim racing wheel is another solid sim racing wheel controller that provides a good driving experience for the price. The star of the show here is the “bungee cord” mechanism that allows for passive return to resting position as well as increased tension near the ends of the wheel’s rotation range. While this is a far cry from the immersive qualities of a force feedback motor, it’s nice to see a big sim racing gear manufacturer striving to create better build quality for entry-level products.
Originally designed for use with Xbox One and Windows 10, this is one of few sim racing wheels that is compatible with Xbox Series X as well. Bonus items include a desk/table clamp and a Kinect detection LED for those who still have one of Microsoft’s motion camera setups. Overall. this is a good entry-level sim racing setup that’s worth a look; the only real knocks are the light weight and lack of a clutch pedal. Still, if you’re a Ferrari fan or just need a good sim racing wheel for your Xbox One on the cheap, this is a solid wheel and pedals set that you might want to get.
HORI Racing Wheel Apex
This wheel doesn’t have force feedback, but it executes everything else wonderfully and for a very cheap price. If you simply can’t afford any of the other wheels, then give this one a look.
The Hori Racing Wheel Apex is very accessible but doesn’t feel like it’s inexpensive. The build quality is excellent, utilizing only high-quality materials. It’s also very customizable, with multiple programmable buttons and functions. Finally, it comes with an included pedal set. It’s not excellent by any stretch of the imagination, but to include anything extra for such a low price is a great deal, especially if you want to round out a more complete, low-cost, set-up.
The main drawback of the Hori is that it doesn’t have force feedback. This is a major loss in authenticity and realism, which is why I can’t rank the wheel any higher. That being said, it does try to mitigate this loss with powerful vibrations, which will still feel a lot more authentic and engrossing than a controller.
As a final note, this wheel only works on Playstation and PCs. Sorry Xbox fans!
HORI Racing Wheel Overdrive
The Xbox counterpart to HORI's highly popular Racing Wheel Apex
The HORI Overdrive is another solid, if basic sim racing wheel from the venerable peripheral maker that may not look like much – but near-universally positive review score suggest that this is one that many readers might want to get their hands on. The build quality of this newly-updated model was dramatically improved to relaunch alongside the Xbox Series X, and Hori implemented customer feedback such as tightening the wheel rotation and making the pedals more resistant to assure that this is one of the best entry-level sim racing wheels available for any console.
While the Hori Overdrive sim racing wheel certainly deserves mention on this list, I opted to place it towards the bottom due to its lack of force feedback, lack of a clutch pedal, small wheel rim and low rotation range. That’s not to say that the Hori Overdrive isn’t an ideal entry-level set suitable for beginners – for whom this will be a great gateway into the world of sim racing.
Last Updated on June 15, 2021