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Thrustmaster TX leather edition racing wheel review: Smooth and powerful

Serious strength lurks inside this luxury peripheral.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition
(Image: © Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Our Verdict

Thrustmaster packaged its powerful TX servo base with this beautiful, hand-stitched leather wheel that feels comfortable to hold. Slipping cleanly through a relaxed grip as it fights back against drifting turns and crashes, the dual-belt system is far smoother than gear-driven racing wheels, providing realistic yet often intimidating feedback. The included T3PA pedals are functional, but you'll likely want to upgrade them in the future.

For

  • Incredibly smooth dual-belt system
  • Comfortable hand-stitched leather
  • Swappable Thrustmaster wheel

Against

  • Weak pedal springs
  • Heavy TX servo base
  • Unsightly screw attachment

Bringing racing simulation into your home isn't as straightforward as it could be, with different mechanics for force feedback and varying levels of build quality making it a little confusing. Some might be well versed in the scene, looking for a high-quality wheel to affix into an at-home cockpit, and others might want something more casual to play at a desk.

Thrustmaster offers plenty of racing wheels, pedals, and add-ons. This TX set is a complete package with everything you need to jump into practically any racing game, flaunting some premium touches like a hand-stitched leather wheel.

It's a beefy-looking unit, taking up more space than you might be used to, but this set promises to deliver a smooth driving experience with a high-quality dual-belt system. It's not the cheapest way to get started, so I spent the weekend determining whether the asking price is worth it for our Thrustmaster TX leather edition review.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition: Price and availability

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

(Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The Thrustmaster TX leather edition includes a TX servo base, TX leather 28 GT racing wheel with Xbox buttons, and a set of T3PA pedals. Compatible with Xbox and PC, it's on sale through major third-party retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, for a $500 MSRP.

The TX servo is $330, the TX leather 28 GT racing wheel is $200, and the T3PA pedals are $100 when all bought separately.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition: What you'll like

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition setup (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

I've always been a fan of racing games in the arcade, and bringing the experience home is a childhood dream come true. I only recently made enough space for a desk big enough to attach racing wheels and have been searching for the perfect set. Usually, the quality of the wheel doesn't affect my enjoyment of the simulation experience. Still, the TX leather edition felt different when unboxed, giving the impression that this would be somewhat more intense and serious.

More of a DIY setup than the pre-built models I'm used to, the Thrustmaster racing wheel is interchangeable with the servo base and feels like the genuine article, absolutely nothing like a toy. A rugged metal construction extends to the flappy-paddle gear shifters, which have fantastic tactile feedback without any obnoxiously loud noises.

Surrounding the wheel, as expected, is the hand-stitched leather cover, and it feels just like it should. It's comfortable to hold and slips smoothly through a loosened grip when fighting against a drifting turn or sudden crash. For something you'll likely be using for hours on end, it's hard to argue against a leather wheel, so it's a welcome feature here.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition wheel (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The included instruction manual clearly explains the setup, describing every step plainly, and demonstrating the potential hazards with a base as powerful as this. There is some serious strength behind this dual-belt mechanism, and a steel wheel is nothing to get your fingers tangled in when it fires up for calibration or reacts to an intense in-game crash. Moving through the steps, the TX seems to steer its appeal to enthusiasts more than a hesitant newcomer, but I'm optimistic that practically anyone could set it up without issue.

The TX (clamp) never shifted once during my testing, even on my cheap desk with its waxy wood finish.

A similar desk clamp to the Thrustmaster T248X holds the servo base, this time with a metal screw handle reminiscent of a workbench vise or microphone arm. Anticipating the force feedback, I ensured a tight grip on my thin wooden desk, at least as far as Thrustmaster suggests.

Having dealt with racing wheels slipping during intense racing sessions, I'm delighted to say that the TX never shifted once during my testing, even on my cheap desk with its waxy finish.

It's not a lightweight unit, sitting around 4.9kg with everything combined, so consider your options before buying. My desk isn't premium quality and manages to hold the TX firmly, but it does shake during gameplay. Anything weaker could raise concerns, given the mild earthquake-like rumblings coming out of the servo base.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition clamp (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The TX wheel calibrates faster than other wheels I've used, flying around left and right before settling back in the middle. I mentioned the need for caution earlier, but it's a reminder that it probably isn't best around curious youngsters unless they're well supervised. It's not a dangerous peripheral, but you'll want to play with care if you have any hypermobility or joint pain issues because the TX force feedback is mighty powerful when set to maximum.

The overall experience is powerful and unbelievably smooth, justifying its asking price.

Jumping straight into gameplay without any customization is a great way to experience what a beginner or anyone less inclined to make slight adjustments to the settings might feel.

Connecting to my Xbox Series S and firing up DiRT 5 feels appropriate, considering the Thrustmaster 28 GT wheel strongly resembles those in the motorsport.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition gameplay (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

If you were wondering whether all the jargon about the servo means holds any weight, I could tell you that after one race, I was a total convert to the dual-belt system. It's the smoothest racing wheel I've used, with zero notches felt in subtle turns, as with some gear-driven models. It's the most substantial resistance I've felt, too.

Drifting around corners feels realistic as I let the wheel slip through my hands when the car regains its grip. The experience is powerful and unbelievably smooth, justifying its asking price and immediately selling me on the belt mechanic. Considering the size of the servo, it sounds relatively quiet during gameplay, except for some built-in cooling fans powering up during intense moments.

By default, the TX is set to 75% overall strength, and if you want to make any changes, you'll have to either learn how to use the mode button or connect the wheel and base to a PC or laptop. A FAQ section on the Thrustmaster website explains the button shortcuts for quickly changing rotation angle, clutch pedal swap, and other customizations. Still, the desktop firmware makes fine tuning much more straightforward.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition software (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Switching to a PC certainly allows for deeper personalization, as expected. My favorite sim game, Euro Truck Simulator 2, might not make as much use of the intense belt-driven crash feedback, depending on my driving. Still, the experience is enhanced by the belt-fed engine, keeping things smooth while driving on highways and making subtle turns feels like a real-world steering wheel.

The leather edition wheel looks like the genuine article (and) is supremely comfortable.

A 900-degree rotation is ideal for trucking, but you can go as low as 270-degree for taking supercars for a spin in racing games. Once you're happy with your settings, moving the TX is pretty simple, thanks to the desk clamp, and when the wheel is attached, you can store the whole unit away neatly.

Overall the experience with this servo base is fantastic. It's a large, heavy unit and might be a little intense for an absolute beginner, but if you've done your research and are confident with what you're getting into, it doesn't get much better for this price. The leather edition wheel looks like the genuine article, and though the center section is plain steel with a basic D-pad, the hand-stitched covering is supremely comfortable.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition: What you won't like

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition screw mount (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The TX set impresses in practically every category with how it feels to use and customize, losing only a small amount of favor in a few areas. The servo and wheel can be purchased separately, which matches the apparent advertisement for experiencing the Thrustmaster ecosystem. Still, the wheel attachment relies on an ugly cross-head screw protruding from the strut, which neither sits flush nor complements the rest of the design.

A screw might confirm a tight fit, but the sheer size of it looks ridiculous.

There's a tricky balance between offering an interchangeable wheel system and such a powerful servo that you can't risk a loose connection. It has to be secure, and while a screw might confirm a tight fit, the sheer size of it looks ridiculous and appears hazardous when protruding from a spinning wheel.

For the most part, the wheel remains firmly attached to the base with a sizeable screw-cap-style sleeve, but I would have preferred a more elegant design to finish it off. Perhaps a metal clasp or even a short thumbscrew would suffice, given that you don't get a screwdriver in the box, just a hex key for adjusting the lackluster pedal set.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition T3PA pedals (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

While the T3PA pedals are perfectly functional, they are the weakest I've used. The spring resistance on the gas is particularly flimsy, finding it difficult to hold a half-press during careful driving, too quickly pushing from zero to maximum acceleration. The base also slips during play unless secured against a solid object or suitable surface, and though this is relatively common, the pedal base's lightweight build worsens the movement.

Considering the saving when buying the TX leather edition, you at least get a full set with functional pedals instead of purchasing each part separately, so it's not too upsetting that the pedals are the weakest feature. Still, I'd recommend swapping for a dedicated set like the Thrustmaster T-LCM magnetic pedals that suit the high-quality TX servo.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition

Thrustmaster TX leather edition conical stop (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The brake pedal comes with a rubber conical stop attachment, which improves the feedback by providing a more gradual response but leaves the gas and clutch feeling disjointed with the weak springs. I recommend installing this add-on, as the minor change helps with subtle braking.

You'll likely need to adjust in-game settings to match the reduced travel distance of the modified pedal, but it's worth the extra effort versus the default pedal setup.

Overall, the downsides to the TX leather edition are mostly related to the wheel-changing system and T3PA pedals, which are pretty minor and solved with a few changes, albeit at a cost. The steep price will likely intimidate a beginner, but anyone with the confidence to handle a strong servo base will look past the gripes and enjoy using this racing wheel.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition: The competition

Logitech G923

Logitech G923 Trueforce (Image credit: Logitech)

A standard comparison for Thrustmaster racing wheels around this price is Logitech's G923 Trueforce wheel. An appropriate alternative, based on the hand-stitched leather wheel with the same 900-degree rotation and metal shifters. The force feedback can't stand up to the realism the belt-driven TX leather edition provides, and Logitech currently doesn't offer any sets with the same technology.

Still, it's more affordable and provides a very similar outward construction. It's tricky to convey precisely how each wheel feels, so beginners must decide whether the extra cost is worth the improved feedback of a dual-belt system.

Thrustmaster TX servo base

Thrustmaster TX servo base (Image credit: Thrustmaster)

If you're discouraged by the limited-edition wheel or T3PA pedals, you can buy the Thrustmaster TX servo base separately for $330, providing your own peripherals. Depending on what you're looking for, there's a potential for saving a bit of cash, but newcomers might struggle to decide on individual parts and pick up the complete leather edition package.

Thrustmaster TX leather edition: Should you buy?

You should buy this if ...

  • You have experience with racing wheels
  • You're looking for a robust feedback system
  • You want a smoother response than gear-driven wheels

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You play exclusively on Xbox with no available PC or laptop
  • You don't have much desk space
  • You have mobility or joint issues

The Thrustmaster TX leather edition is an impressive yet intimidating choice for enthusiasts looking for a realistic simulated driving experience. The dual-belt system inside the TX servo is incredibly powerful and buttery smooth, providing intense racing feedback and comfortable cruising in more relaxing sim titles. It's not a wheel for unsupervised youngsters or nervous beginners since the power inside is no joke.

It will effortlessly stand alongside the best racing wheels, comfortable for use on Xbox or PC, with more flexible customization options available on the latter. The T3PA pedals don't quite match the high-quality servo base and wheel, but if you're looking for something above a beginner's wheel, this is it. Make sure you're ready for fierce reactions because the TX leather edition can take you on a rough ride.

Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson is a freelance writer working for Windows Central with technical expertise and a background in electronics retail. Fueling a technology and video game obsession with coffee, you can usually find him behind one screen or another.