T500 RS Racing Wheel Review: The REAL Driving Simulator
- Posted March 19th, 2011 at 23:48 EDT by Eric Blattberg
- 9 Comments
“The goal that I set for the Thrustmaster team was to design for me the most precise wheel ever developed, without any latency – to accurately reproduce the sensations of [Gran Turismo 5], and let users truly feel the emotions experienced by drivers on real racing circuits,” explains Kazunori Yamauchi, CEO of Polyphony Digital.
So Thrustmaster’s engineers got to work. As per Yamauchi’s challenge, this wheel had to top all that came before it. After tinkering away in the workshop for countless months, the Thrustmaster team finally emerged with the official racing setup of Sony and Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5: the T500 RS wheel and pedal set. There’s no doubt that the T500 RS is incredible piece of hardware, but with a suggested retail price of $600 USD / £450 GPB / €500 EUR, is its monumental cost justified? I was initially unconvinced, as most people would be when greeted with a $600 video game accessory. After spending two weeks with the wheel, however, I shifted gears: for the dedicated Gran Turismo fan, the T500 RS is unequivocally worth its colossal asking price.
When the T500 RS arrived at PSU Towers, the first thing I noticed was its weight. The wheel itself weighs 10.1 pounds (4.6 kg), while the pedal set clocks in at 16.1 pounds (7.3 kg). It’s simple to set up: the pedals connect to the wheel, which connects directly to the PS3 as well as an outside power source. It’s best to clamp the wheel onto a sturdy surface like a hefty table. You’ll soon find out why: the wheel contains a 65-watt industrial motor, providing a hefty amount of force feedback and realistic resistance as you drive (150mNm at 3000 RPM, whatever that means). As you pilot your car of choice, you truly feel every bump and contour in the road. And if you venture off-road, every other driving surface — grass, snow, dirt, etc. — feels completely unique.
While the T500 RS will eventually maximize your driving potential, helping you shave those precious milliseconds off your lap times, it has a challenging learning curve. If you’re a Gran Turismo 5 master with the DualShock 3, be prepared to re-learn the game when you switch to the racing wheel — it’s a radically different driving experience. Rather than pushing the stick a half-inch to the left to right to control your car, you have all 1080 degrees (three full rotations, with 65536 values on its steering axis) of the driving wheel to master. It’s much more complex, but ultimately offers you much greater control of your automobile, coming closer to simulating real-world racing than anything before it.
At first, I was frightened of abusing the wheel. After all, it’s a $600 product, so the last thing I wanted to do was break it and have to foot the bill to Thrustmaster. I quickly overcame that trepidation. The setup is remarkably durable, boasting a bounty of shiny metal in its construction (contributing to its hefty weight, which I outlined above). At first, the wheel drove me, the car’s virtual tires causing the wheel to shift and turn against my wishes. Eventually I manned up, resisting the surprisingly powerful resistance when appropriate, learning the nuances of handling an automobile at blazingly fast speeds. If I was about to spin out while driving on highway in real life, for example, I’d be much better off for having dealt with this situation hundreds of times while using the T500 RS.
Speaking of real life, I’d gladly swap out the wheel and pedals of my 2002 Toyota Camry for the T500 RS wheel and pedals, if such an operation were ... (continued on next page)
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- 9:42pm EDT - March 19th, 2011
Not hating or anything but, You couldnt have used a different background song??? Im pretty sure most of the people that play GT5 are fed up with it.
Other than that, I think that wheel is awesome. I really see how this is much better than a DS3. Tho, I dont see it being used for NFS games.
- 10:48pm EDT - March 19th, 2011
- 10:57pm EDT - March 19th, 2011
This Accessory cost more than the ps3. Almost 2x the amount of a PS3. Thrustmasters, How about thrust this back up your A.S.S
- 12:03am EDT - March 20th, 2011
paid that much for my dang Plastation 3 back in '06. NO THANKS
SilentNoise | SilentNoise1780
- 12:20am EDT - March 20th, 2011
The construction, quality, and obviously the price tag are aimed at the hardcore fans who are REALLY going to use this thing - someone like a friend of mine who's part of a racing league, or someone who plays very regularly and knows how much frustration a lesser wheel can bring, greatly taking away from the enjoyment of a gaming experience.
As someone who's been looking to build a racing pod in the basement just for GT5, I've been looking at the Logitech G27. It's roughly half the price as this Thustmaster wheel, and there are sites that show how (or sell parts) to upgrade the wheel, pedals and shifter to maker it even better. Up until now, as far as I understand, it's been the wheel of choice, but has anyone done a hands on to compare the two?
Editor (Eric): While I haven't gone hands-on with the G27, I know that it's a highly-regarded wheel; for one thing, it has an H-shifter, while the T500 does not yet have one. With that said, however, the T500 features GT5 button mapping -- the G27 does not. I hear the G27 has a decent set of pedals, but I know for a fact that the T500 pedals are absolutely top-of-the-line. I think the T500 RS also tops the G27 in the force feedback department (it's pretty much the best of the best in that category). And yeah, you're correct, the core G27 package is roughly half the price of the T500.
Edit #2: Here's a comment from someone who has used both:
"The T500 makes the Logitech G27 feel like a plastic toy. Trust me I have owned and tried them all. Currently I own 2 Fanatec 911 S, a Fanatec GT2 and the T500. I used to own the G27, G25 and Momo. My only gripe with the T500 is no shifter, no 360 support, no stand alone shifter (at this time) and it doesn't support older PS3 title. The force feedback on the T500 is in a league of it's own. It is the best wheel I have ever tried -$2k. IMHO this is how I would rate them T500 > GT2 > 911S > G27. The Thrustmaster T500 with GT5 almost feels like you are cheating..... You took part of my response to literally and another part not seriously enough. The Thrustmaster T500 makes the Logitech G27 or below feel like a plastic toy. IMO, and that of hundreds of others that have tried them all, its more than 3x better than a G27 and it doesn't cost nearly 3x as much. Currently it's 2x and once the shifter comes out it will be 2 and 1/3 more. Mine only costed $500 but I had a gift card for $50 and found it for $550 w/free shipping. Where did you purchase yours from? The GT2 is significantly better than the G27 but not as good as the T500 for response and FFB. You literally feel every bumped and imprfection in the road with the T500. The FFB is fierce! With that said. If I could only own one wheel it would clearly be the Fanatec GT2 over all others for the consoles. Compatability and variable adjustments on the fly makes it my wheel of choice. On the PC, -2k, the Thrustmaster T500 has no equal."
-Brutallyhonest on N4G
- 12:22pm EDT - March 20th, 2011
For $600 I can buy my friend's crappy corolla and drive it in real life.
- 1:03am EDT - March 21st, 2011
@2, my ps3 cost around $650 after taxes in december 2006
SilentNoise | SilentNoise1780
- 8:48pm EDT - March 21st, 2011
Good stuff. Thanks for doing that digging around for me, Eric. It sounds like that N4G reviewer has gotten his hands on a good range of wheels out there, but I still have reservations about the GT2/GT3 wheels because they're band-driven systems, not gear-driven like the G27 and T500. My past experiences with band and spring components almost always leave me pissed off not long after purchase because they wear out faster, and of course, the FFB isn't even comparable.
I guess I've got some thinking ahead of me because it's not that I'm afraid of spending the cash on a worthy product, but damn, $600 is pretty steep for a gaming accessory. Hopefully I can somehow get my hands on each of these wheels before making the plunge.
On a side note, if the T500 wheel is just waiting for a USB-plugged shifter that plugs into the wheel, I wonder if the G27-based Act-Labs shifter would work? Their stuff is incredibly solid: http://www.act-labs.com/products/race1.htm
- 6:28pm EDT - May 17th, 2011
would the wheel from the prologue work for the new gt5 real driving simulator
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