Thrustmaster TMX Review: Great Value Xbox Wheel


The Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback racing wheel is an entry level product for burgeoning sim racing enthusiasts who game on PC and/or Xbox consoles. Thrustmaster is among the “old guard” of sim racing peripheral manufacturers, and chances are good that even gamers who have never taken an interest in racing have seen the company’s products on store shelves or in a friend’s home

What to Consider Before Buying the Thrustmaster TMX

First things first, let’s have a look at who the Thrustmaster TMX is made for – and for whom it is not worth considering:

Who should consider purchasing the Thrustmaster TMX?

As is perhaps obvious due to the entry-level pricing and wide compatibility, the Thrustmaster TMX is meant to be a mass-market product that appeals to a wide variety of gamers. While we do feel as if this product hits the bullseye on its intended target, it is especially great for those who fit some or all of the following descriptors:

  • Casual sim racing fans who don’t intend to play for competitively, for long sessions or on an everyday basis.
  • Core gamers who occasionally indulge in racing games and would like to have a more immersive experience when they hit the track.
  • VR gamers who would like to sample the future of sim racing without leaving their wallet empty.
  • Gamers who play on PC (Windows 10, 8, 7 & Vista), and/or Xbox One, Xbox Series X or Xbox Series X.

Who should not consider purchasing the Thrustmaster TMX?

While the Thrustmaster TMX is great wheel that is easy to recommend to a huge swathe of consumers, those who meet any of the following criteria should strongly consider looking elsewhere for their racing fix:

  • Core sim racing enthusiasts who spend a lot of time putting pedal to metal, and who therefore require extreme performance and advanced features.
  • Non-gamers who are building a sim rig or who are preparing to have their first virtual racing experiences.
  • Young children, or those who are otherwise unable to safely operate motorized equipment that is capable of exerting considerable force upon the users’ hands and arms.
  • Gamers who play on computers and consoles other than PC and Xbox consoles.

Thrustmaster TMX – What’s in the box?

With so many racing wheel products on the market at such wildly varying price points and with such a staggering selection of features and accoutrements, shopping can be a frustrating excercise. To help alleviate some of this pre-purchase anxiety, we have assembled this breakdown of the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback racing wheel box’s contents – along with some notes and disambiguation where necessary:

  • Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel – The wheel rim and force feedback base are pre-assembled and are not designed to be separated or used independently of one another.
  • Between the face of the wheel’s rim and the base itself, there are a total of 12 action buttons and a d-pad, most of which feature the styling of the buttons found on a standard Xbox controller (including the obligatory Guide Button).
  • Something Thrustmaster describes as a “large optimized pedal set” – we cannot rationalize an overt disagreement with their assertion, but we roll our eyes at their vacuous marketing speak here – as the two-pedal set included in this box is merely competent at best.
  • An “attachment system” and a “metal fastening screw”. These pieces comprise the wheel’s included mounting hardware – and its perfectly suitable for temporary installation on a sturdy table or desk.
  • Either a power cable or a power supply connector – depending on which region of the world/country you are in.
  • Racing wheel USB cable and connector for interfacing with your Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S.
  • Note that the force feedback base has a dedicated port for a gearbox/gear shifter, but said accessory is a separate purchase and therefore not included in the box.
  • A copy of the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel user manual.

Features & Benefits

By this point in our review, you’re probably beginning to develop a relatively clear understanding of what the Thrustmaster TMX is and isn’t. While this isn’t the most feature-rich force feedback wheel on the market by any stretch of the imagination, it is arguably the cheapest good wheel (or alternatively the best cheap wheel) currently available for Xbox One and Windows 10.

Also likely coming into focus: Thrustmaster’s knack for superfluous, fluffy marketing that doesn’t do much aside raising concerns as to whether we have a modern-day snake oil salesman on our hands. Thankfully, Thrustmaster’s engineers and designers take their duties seriously; it is for these fine folks as well as our readers that we have assembled this selection of practical, straightforward explanations of the features and tech found in the Thrustmaster TMX:

  • The wheel has an adjustable rotation range of 270° to 900°. Most racing wheels in this price range feature a 900 degree or lower rotation angle that is similarly adjustable – so this is an expected feature that is well-delivered.
  • The Thrustmaster TMX has two wheel mounted paddle shifters. Though they are constructed of plastic, these sequential paddle shifters are relatively sturdy. This inclusion would constitute a nice bonus, but the included pedal set being deprived of a clutch pedal means that these paddles are more or less essential unless you opt for the TMX Pro (which replaces the “large pedal set” included in the base package with the dramatically improved Thrustmaster T3PA set) or see fit to purchase the three-pedal Thrustmaster T3PA or T3PA Pro sets separately at a later date.
  • The Thrustmaster TMX’s force feedback motor system is a mixed belt & pulley and gears affair. While we typically don’t get excited for gear drive racing wheels, the hybrid system here does a surprisingly respectable job of allowing drivers to feel every loss of tire grip, braking, bumps in the road or track.
  • The aforementioned belt & pulley and gears system features a good progressive resistance feel as well, which is especially great as it allows drivers to feel braking, bumps and impacts simultaneously as opposed to merely replicating one sensation at a time. This is an uncommon luxury feature that is rarely if ever implemented in entry-level racing wheels.
  • The Thrustmaster TMX is not merely Xbox One Compatible – it is Xbox One Certified! This racing wheel is compatible with all Xbox consoles that have released since the Xbox One, including the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Furthermore, embedded software assures that this racing wheel is automatically recognized by all Xbox One racing games.
  • Note that your Windows 10 PC will recognize this racing wheel as being an Xbox One peripheral and will therefore display Xbox-themed control icons in game menus and so forth. Although there do not seem to be any noteworthy or common issues with this wheel’s software, every gamer knows that you should always check for updated drivers when using a new peripheral for the first time!
  • The one true knock against the TMX – its “large pedal set” included in the package (and it’s touted “wide foot rest”). This becomes a non-issue if/when the TMX Pro package ever comes back in stock. As previously mentioned, there are a pair of sets of pedals available for those who are willing to drop a considerable stack of cash, but the cumulative cost of the TMX and those pedals is equal-to or greater than better wheels that are currently available – so this is not an approach we endorse. Instead, we recommend the TMX to gamers who simply don’t mind a two pedal set or don’t want to manually shift, anyways.

Alternatives

While we find the Thrustmaster TMX to be a great entry-level racing wheel, it has some stiff competition that we think you should also consider:

  • Logitech G920: Logitech rears their head in virtually every gaming peripheral-related conversation imaginable, and this is yet another case wherein Logitech has a great product that you should have a look at. Although this wheel is a bit more expensive than the TMX, its dual-motor feedback system is more powerful the wheel design is sleeker and more attractive. We can’t objectively say which of these two products is a better value, but if they were the same price – we’d opt for the G920 over the TMX.
  • Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider Racing Wheel for Xbox One: At roughly have the cost of the TMX, the Spider Racing Wheel’s value proposition is worth considering for some – but the lack of force feedback and 270 degree steering axis will be deal breakers for all but the most casual fans of racing video games.
  • HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel DLX: Hori has been making great, interesting console controllers for decades now, but their line of steering wheels has been hit or miss. Lucky for Xbox Series X and S owners, their newest wheel design is now available for the shiny new Microsoft machines and is receiving mostly great reviews. While this product is still too new and unproven to be casually recommend to our readers, we will state that the Hori DLX is worth keeping an eye on.

Conclusion

The Thrustmaster TMX isn’t the flashiest, most advanced or most interesting force feedback wheel out there, but it is a fantastic value at it’s asking price and we think that any PC or Xbox gamer in the market for a solid entry level racing wheel would be doing themselves a disservice by not paying it some consideration.

The Thrustmaster TMX earns a thumbs up from us for a number of reasons, most notably of which are it’s surprisingly powerful hybrid force feedback motor system, impressive compatibility and upgrade potential and most importantly, the fantastic bang-for-buck you get right out of the box.

The Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel is a welcome relief for Xbox and PC racing fans who just want to buckle-in and hit the track in these trying times.

Last Updated on January 8, 2021

Thomas Bush

Hi, I'm Thomas. I'm passionate about getting the best possible gaming experience. On this blog, I'll share my guides, tools, and accessories for getting the most out of your PC.

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