While I have been toying with the idea of upgrading my Logitech Driving Force Pro wheel (the official Gran Turismo 4 wheel), the cost was simply too much for me and I couldn’t justify the expenditure – that was until I tried out the Thrustmaster T300RS and T3PA Pro Pedals.
The T300RS Wheel and Base
The base of the T300RS is much smaller than Thrustmaster’s T500RS which is a good thing because it’s not exactly a small base either, though they’ve added more heat exhaustion holes to keep the base cooler compared to its elder brother. Keeping with the Thrustmaster ECOSystem, the wheel and base have the same mounts and connectors to allow full interoperability between all of their hardware.
At the back of the wheel’s base there’s a giant clover-like plug that is similar to a Tetris “T” shape, and beside that is the USB cord. The other side on the back of the wheel’s base is the RJ11 slot for the pedals and a PS/2 port for connecting the TH8A Shifter.
At the bottom of the wheel’s base is a thick screw slot for holding the rather large clamp in place when used on a table. Those that have their own racing frames can also make use of the couple of screw holes that allow you to bolt it down to your frame.
The clamp itself is pretty big and does require that you have a decent gap underneath the table; tightening the clamp, thankfully, is a breeze and once done the wheel is secured tight enough that it won’t slip, even on a very slippery surface of which I’m using for this review.
The front of the base has the large wheel connector in the centre with two sets of buttons at the bottom left and bottom right. The right side houses the L3 and R3 buttons while the left side house a PS4 < > PS3/PC switch along with a mode button.
This mode button has many uses, from changing the rotation angle of the wheel to swapping the pedals around on the T3PA Pro pedals. This mode button is mainly used for the PS4 or PS3 where drivers don’t exist so the player needs to use combinations to change the wheel settings.
Changing the wheel settings is very simple: pressing D-pad left + mode button will decrease the rotation angle of the wheel. Pressing D-pad right + mode button will increase the angle of the wheel. There are a lot of rotation angles available for the player which means that everyone should have no issues with their preference. The angles are: 270º, 360º, 540º, 900º, and 1080º.
Holding the mode button down on its own for a couple seconds will swap the accelerator and clutch pedals around if you’re using the T3PA Pro pedals, which is very useful for those that prefer to use the pedals like a real car.
The wheel itself comprises of your standard PlayStation control buttons, the D-pad, face buttons, L2 and R2, the PS button, and a gigantic PlayStation logo for the centre. The other two buttons are share/select and option/start.
At the back of the wheel are two paddles that move independently of each other, L1 and R1 respectively. These two paddles, when pressed, give a very nice tactile feel much like in a real car with paddles. My car uses paddles for changing gear and paddles on the T300RS wheel feels much nicer, a very nice premium feel.
Around the circumference of the wheel is a soft rubber which is now used in most electronics that require frequent handling. It’s dimpled throughout to allow for better grip but has a cut in the very top centre. Instead of having a full wrap of soft rubber, Thrustmaster decided to put a small thin metallic band there to tell the player when the wheel is centred. Despite this blue metallic band being there it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it might have done.
The quality of the plastic on both the base and the wheel is very high and the durability of it looks to be solid with my only concern being the wheel connection ring. When you place the wheel in place and rotate the ring to hold the wheel in place it feels a little flimsy, but once it’s fully held in place then it is very solid. Once in place there is a small screw that is used to clamp the ring in place so that it doesn’t move.
This was the other concern I had — the screw pokes out a very long way. While you only need to unscrew or tighten the screw about 2 or 3 turns at most (never remove), the screw is simply far too long and they could have done with a screw about a centimetre in length at most. Thankfully the screw is positioned in the centre bottom so that you won’t catch your fingers on it, but if you have larger hands then you might want to keep this in mind as when doing multiple rotations your fingers might catch it (I have come close a few times but I do have long fingers). This shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
Unfortunately, at the time of this review, I was not supplied the TH8A Shifter so my review with the clutch will be in conjunction with the paddles on the wheel itself.
The T300RS Pedals and T3PA Pro Pedals
Next are the pedals. As I was provided with the T3PA Pro pedals I had a chance to compare them to the T300RS pedals. As you can see in the picture the T300RS pedals have no clutch and it only had a single RJ11 connector to be plugged into the base. There weren’t any carpet grippers but it did have a rubber bottom to help with slippery surfaces.
Compared to the T3PA Pro pedals these were very light but were still heavier than my Logitech Driving Driving Force Pro pedals. The weight was a good thing because it would allow you to use stronger springs for better feedback on the brake. The accelerator also had a fairly tough spring too which I thought was a little strange; most accelerators – even in cars – have soft springs for better control purposes.
Unlike the base and wheel, the plastic on the pedal’s base and the pedals themselves felt a little tacky and certainly does not give you that quality feel that you get from the rest of the product. The actual pedal feet was just a plain unpolished metal sheet with very little quality to it as well. If you were going to purchase the T300RS set then these pedals would be fine but I honestly would replace them.
The T3PA Pro pedals on the other hand were heavy; when I mean heavy I mean 6.9kg! These things weigh almost twice as much as the T300RS base, which sounds absolutely crazy but when you see them in person you’ll understand why immediately.
The construction of the T3PA Pro pedals are made from a decently thick metal with a very nice black lacquered finish, underneath the pedals is a black matte finished metal plate with the Thrustmaster logo on it and covering this plate is a shiny metallic grated plate that gives the whole set a wonderful finish.
The back of the pedals sports a frame with nothing in the middle; this is because the metal grated plate can be removed and placed in this position if you were to switch the pedals around. This is perhaps the best feature about these pedals, the fact that they can be rotated to fit not only your preference but also to fit the frame you’re using if you happen to be using one.
Each of the pedal feet are situated into the base plate of the pedals, the accelerator and clutch use the same spring tension while the brake spring is double the strength. Because the pedals can be flipped, this made the most sense. Supplied with the T3PA Pro pedals is a spring that is slightly more stiffer than the accelerator and clutch spring so that if you are set on the rotation of your pedal feet then you can replace either the accelerator or clutch pedal spring and have them stiffer – I changed the clutch spring as the cars I have driven in had a stiffer spring than the accelerator.
Two screws hold each of the pedals foot plates to the pedal foot bars, between them is an angle bar which can be removed or rotated to change the angle of the pedal feet. This also means that if you did rotate the pedal set around then you can swap the feet around too.
The thought put into these pedals is amazing and fits the quality of the T300RS perfectly.
A few issues to note
There are a few issues though with not only the T3PA Pro pedals but also the standard T300RS pedals.
As I’m playing on a carpet the pedals for both pedals sets kept sliding forward every time I used the brake, the accelerator wasn’t too bad as the spring was softer, however the pedals still slipped. This was even worse with the T3PA Pro pedals as the springs are that much tougher for the brake. The pedals can be bolted into a frame if you have one but if you don’t then you will have issues.
To get around this problem on the T3PA Pro pedals I rotated the pedals so that it was a push down rather than a push forward setup. In this configuration it felt more natural due to driving a real car but despite this change they still slipped a little. In the end I positioned the pedals against the wall; it meant that I was a little closer to the wheel than what is comfortable but it wasn’t too bad.
For the T300RS pedals I had to place a small tough box between the wall and its base otherwise the pedal feet would touch the wall and not fully press down – not a good situation. This is where the Logitech Driving Force Pro pedals excelled as not only did they have rubber feet, they also had a large carpet grip that stopped the pedals from slipping. I can understand this option being missing from the T3PA Pro pedals but it should have been standard for the T300RS pedals.
Another issue for the T3PA Pro pedals is that you really require shoes to have any real feel for the pedals – the brake in particular as with a bare foot it hurts after several minutes of playing. While this isn’t a bad thing and feels more natural, some people prefer not to wear shoes in the house but if you’re going to only use it for these pedals then you might want to use a clean pair of shoes.
A wheel setup could look fabulous but without knowing the real performance of the wheel then you could be purchasing a product you didn’t wish for. To test the wheel in its extremes is to put it through its paces on three categories of racing genres: racing simulation, simcade, and rallying.
Many wheels I have tried have been difficult to twist from left to right due to friction; this means that it takes a long time to change direction, something that’s essential in Formula 1 cars. The T300RS uses a dual belt friction free system using contactless magnetic sensors (Thrustmaster call this H.E.A.R.T HallEffect AccuRate Technology™), this should allow for fast direction change.
To test the wheel to its extremes I used Project CARS, DriveClub, and DiRT 3.
With the Nordschleife being such an enormous track with many extreme bumps, jumps, and high speeds, this would be the perfect track to test out the force feedback of the wheel on Project CARS.
The first vehicle I tested was the Formula A (F1). From the moment the lights went out to till the chequered flag 5 laps later I was already in awe as the wheel’s feedback was sublime. Not only that but you need very high precision to drive around the Nordschleife, and this wheel was just perfect in every way.
During the first sector I was able to feel the rumble strips on either side of the track depending on which side of the car was touching them. It gave that satisfying buzz like you get in a real car, once your tyres go slightly over the kerb then the rumble changes to something lighter and your wheel becomes lighter.
Going around each corner felt very different. At lower speeds the wheel responded instantly allowing me to change direction in an instant and very smoothly too with no feeling of friction within the wheel’s base. At full throttle, going from Great Oaks to Swedish Cross, the steering started getting heavier and heavier for each corner I was taking at an ever increasing speed, this allowed for some easier precision driving, something I haven’t felt since the T500RS.
Section 2 of the track was also very high speed but with multiple vertical G-Forces, and once approaching a steep incline (similar to Eau Rouge at Spa) the wheel became very difficult to turn once hitting the change in inclination. A sudden thud in the wheel’s base let me know that I hit a very harsh bump in the road and that the car was scrapping too.
Section 3 is where the infamous Carousel is located. Staying on the inside of the corner was very difficult as the wheel wanted to throw me out of the corner, the extremely bumpy surface was emphasised throughout the bend and once leaving the corner you could feel the traction returning to your tyres through the wheel itself.
Through the entire lap there were many times where I could feel the individual bumps in the road – thanks primarily to the laser scanned track Slightly Mad Studios created for the Nordschleife. At times, when the car left the track surface, the wheel went so light that it was difficult to hold the wheel in place when landing. The transfer weight of car was also felt allowing me to catch oversteers before I started to skid.
If the wheel is able to perform this well with a simulation game then surely it must have some weaknesses with rally games and hybrids right? Wrong!
DiRT 3 is a game that requires very quick reactions, changes in direction, and has the most diverse range of surface types that should give the force feedback a good test.
Each of the races were very different. The track-based races were frantic and had a lot of collisions with the AI and the barriers, which was emphasized with the wheel by not only having it rotate differently to where you want to it go, but also rumble depending on the position of where you got hit.
On the different track surfaces you could instantly feel the difference in handling through the wheel. On gravel, for example, the steering was still much lighter than on tarmac at higher speeds and you were able to rotate the wheel quickly for power slides around corners.
Gymkhana is where the wheel really shines. Here you’re able to hold the power slides and drifting with ease while controlling the throttle to prevent spinning out; this is also thanks to being able to use the clutch along with the accelerator to find that much needed “bite” point. The sensitivity on the T3PA Pro pedals really made the difference here, the T300RS pedals however made it much more difficult due to a stiff accelerator and no clutch.
Of course the wheel and pedals won’t make you a Gymkhana God, and it will take many hours of practice over other wheels and a gamepad, but persevere and you will be amazed at the difference it makes.
DiRT 3 is more arcadey than Project CARS so there was little to no feedback on weight transfer through the wheel and catching slides is already easy enough due to the nature of the game. The general feel through the wheel throughout the game was better than most wheels at least.
Lastly there’s DriveClub, one of only a few racing games on the PlayStation 4 currently. It uses a unique handling model where you can play it by throwing your car around the corner (such as an arcade game) or play it like a simulation game and be steady around the corners.
The T300RS performed just as well as it did in Project CARS. Previously I had only played DriveClub on a gamepad and the game was difficult at times, especially with the Ariel Atom! You had to fight that car and constantly dabble the accelerator to keep it going in a straight line, but now with the T300RS I am able to almost floor the accelerator and keep the beast pointing in one direction: the difference was remarkable.
During any form of wheelspin I could instantly feel the tyres slip away from under me and the wheel rumbled to reflect that. It wasn’t a harsh rumble but enough to let you know that you were slipping, at the same time the steering went light.
Throughout races I was given the same impression as DiRT 3 when in any form of collision, you would instantly know exactly where you were being hit and you are able to compensate rather than spin out or go off the track like with a gamepad.
It was quite amazing different driving styles just didn’t seem to work with this wheel. Generally I’m a simulation racer so I tend to stick to the racing lines and try not to drift, but with the gamepad I was able to change my driving style where needed and if it was required, but with the wheel it just didn’t work.
The precision and accuracy of this wheel forces you into a simulation style of driving. While it’s certainly not anywhere close to being a simulation as Project CARS is, I found myself to drift far less than otherwise I normally do. If I wanted to throw the car around the corner then it was quite difficult.
With the controller you can simply push the stick in one direction, hit the brake, and watch your vehicle start to power slide around the corner, but doing that with the T300RS is difficult because not only can’t you get full lock faster than a gamepad, but the brake pedal is also stiff meaning that you get progressive braking. Inevitably, this forces you to brake and turn in on the apex.
Using the clutch does help to power slide around the corner but with no TH8A Shifter it made changing gears almost an impossibility. I would imagine that if you owned the shifter then you would be able to throw the cars around that much more.
The Logitech G27 is a formidable wheel and with not being able to work on the PlayStation 4 it has let owners of the PlayStation 4 with many questions on what to purchase. Your only option was essentially the T500RS which was bigger and cost a hefty £500, that’s £230 more than the G27 and comes without the TH8A Shifter! The G27 comes with a shifter and a clutch on the pedals.
Thrustmaster thus have created the T300RS which houses a smaller, smoother, and better base than the T500RS but at the expense of very cheap feeling pedals and no clutch pedal. The cost being placed at £300 sits it slightly more than the Logitech G27 and the overall experience is without question better than the G27 on the wheel and paddles alone. It is definitely worth the extra cost due to a more premium feel and better motor used in the base of the T300RS.
It is a shame that Thrustmaster did not supply the TH8A Shifter as that would have allowed me to use the clutch properly on the T3PA Pro pedals, which I have to say is well worth the stiffer price and enhances the gameplay to no end.
Logitech is currently looking into the G27 to work for the PlayStation 4 and if they manage to get the wheel to work on it then I would say, for features and cost, get Logitech G27. Having said that the Thrustmaster T300RS is in another league and even if you just want to get it with the basic pedals and aren’t bothered about the clutch/shifter, then for £300 I would get it in an instant over the Logitech G27.
For those that can afford the top tier of all gaming peripherals then it’s a no brainer. The T300RS + T3PA Pro combination is without doubt the best experience I have ever had outside of a £2000+ custom set. If you can afford the TH8A Shifter then get it for the ultimate racing wheel experience on PS4.