Thrustmaster makes some of the leading sim racing wheels for PC and console. In many cases, the wheel can be used across a combination of PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but while consoles are usually a simple plug and play, there's a little work to do to get going on the PC.
Products used in this guide
- Amazing wheel: Thrustmaster TS-XW (opens in new tab) ($700 at Dell)
- Budget option: Thrustmaster T150 (opens in new tab) ($200 at Dell)
How to install drivers and firmware to your Thrustmaster wheel
When you hook up your Thrustmaster wheel to your Xbox One or PS4, it's pretty much plug and play. You can adjust some of the settings in the game to have your setup feel better, but that's not usually the case on the PC.
Like many external input devices, your PC will need to see some drivers, and it's also a good idea to make sure that the firmware of the wheel is up to date, too.
- To download both, head over to the Thrustmaster support page.
- Choose your wheel.
- Scroll down to the drivers section where you'll find a .exe file download for drivers and firmware combined.
- Download this and install it to your Windows PC.
Once the application downloaded above has been installed, open it up and then connect your wheel when prompted. Without the drivers installed there's a strong chance your racing games won't see the wheel at all.
It's also important you make sure your wheel is in the correct mode. Xbox One wheels on Windows 10 should be fine, but if you're using a PS4 and PC-compatible wheel, consult the manual to ensure the correct mode is selected for PC. On some, for example, you need to select the PS3 compatible mode for use on PC.
When you open the control panel application, ensure your wheel is highlighted and click on properties to open up the settings window.
The application will display the current firmware your wheel is on as pictured. To check for and install any updates, simply click the check for update button in the lower righthand corner.
How to check the wheel before racing
The majority of your wheel setup process will take place in each of the different games you want to play, but there are some things to check before you get started.
The Thrustmaster application allows you to check the input of each part of the wheel and pedals, ensuring they're working correctly and testing the force. It's also useful to get familiar with the buttons on the wheel and what each of them is numbered as, because you'll need to know that in the games.
One particularly useful feature you can handle here is the rotation lock. If you have a wheel with a 1,080-degree rotation on it, such as the TS-XW and the T150, you can limit how much of this you want to use. 1,080 degrees is a lot, and unless you're playing something like Euro Truck Simulator 2 or Farming Simulator 19, you're not going to use all of it.
Racing games don't really need a lot of rotation, so you can knock it down in here to something less and it will translate to all your games.
Our top Thrustmaster wheel
Thustmaster makes a number of great wheels, and you can set all of the PC compatible ones up in this way ready to hit the virtual tarmac. It's hard to single out just one wheel to check out, but these are two of our current favorites.
A professional quality racing wheel for Xbox and PC
It's pricey, but it's also modeled on an actual racing wheel from Sparco. Trimmed in alcantara, packing a 1,080-degree rotation, and a huge power supply that looks like a turbo, this is a serious piece of equipment.
Whether you're racing on console or PC, the TS-XW is a worthwhile investment for the more serious sim racer. Not only does it look like the real thing, but its sophisticated force feedback system feels like the real thing. And if you don't like the Sparco wheel, you can swap it out for a number of other designs.
An affordable alternative
The TS-XW is pricey and sim racing is already an expensive business. If you're looking for something a little less expensive, the T150 Pro is a solid alternative.
Lots of features at an attractive price
The T150 lacks the ultimate build quality you get on its more expensive siblings, but maintains a 1,080-degree rotation, solid force feedback, and compatibility with both PC and PS4.
The Pro version is also worth the extra spend over the regular T150 if you can stretch to it since you get Thrustmaster's T3PA three-pedal set included over the two-pedal in the standard edition. The T3PA is an adjustable set of pedals, and is the same as you get with the TS-XW.
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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