Tuesday, September 26, 2023

What we bought: Thrustmaster’s T300RS GT Edition has made my digital driving experience a pleasure

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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Looking back, many of my favorite games convey a distinct sense of motion, a sort of reworked physics that links my hands directly to the physicality of the thing I’m controlling on screen. This sensation is the main reason why I especially enjoy racing games. In a good racing game like Gran TurismoFor example, every car tells a different story at every track, whether I’m driving a luxury sports car through the bends of the Nurburgring or driving a Samba bus along the Tokyo Expressway.

That said, just how much detail the digital cars in these games can convey can feel limited by a standard gamepad. But with a good racing wheel and pedals, those finer sensations – bumping over a curb, going from concrete to dirt, fighting through a tight corner as your car resists – are more intimate. The way a wheel forces me to put my whole body into driving the car only makes me more connected and involved. And in competitive games, the granularity can be a big advantage. Recently, after picking up, I was reminded of these pleasures Thrustmaster’s T300RS GT Edition.

This is not my first wheel. I used to use Logitech’s G29, a popular entry-level model. It helped my lap times for years, and I’d still consider it a good buy if you can find it, or its slightly improved successor, the G923, with a big discount. But as I kept putting more time into different types of simulators and racing games, I felt I could do better. Logitech’s brake pedal could feel stiff and inconsistent, preventing me from braking even 100 percent in a sim-like Gain for Corsa unless I effectively insisted – and it is gear driven force feedback can come across as a bit clunky and imprecise.

After spending several hours scouring reviews and game forums, I stumbled upon the belt driven T300RS GT as my upgrade. It is a clear step behind the direct drive wheels that exist at the high end of this market, but I’m more of an enthusiast than a high-level sim racer. And at $450, it’s about as much as I can consciously invest in a game controller, especially a niche controller. However, after about six months of use, I can confidently recommend it to others upgrading from an entry-level wheel, or those looking to buy their first wheel knowing they’ll use the extra investment.

Jeff Dunn/cafe-madrid

The T300RS makes a favorable impression right out of the box. Although the wheel is covered in rubber (instead of the G29’s leather), it is grippy, firm and pleasantly smooth. The three metal pedals feel cool and solid, and their base stays in place no matter how much force I apply. The full set of gamepad buttons built into the wheel are easy enough to reach, and the metal shift paddles on the back of the wheel have a solid click when shifting. The wheel is also completely detachable from the base, just in case I ever want to hop on another instead.

This is a Gran Turismo branded wheel and since Gran Turismo is a PlayStation franchise, all buttons follow the iconography of PlayStation. thrust master launched this wheel back in 2016, so it’s plug and play with the PS5, PS4 and PS3 (which I appreciate as someone who likes to revisit older games). The device also works on PC, but unsurprisingly Xbox and Nintendo consoles are not supported.

The wheel’s multi-piece mounting setup requires more work to secure to a desk than the Logitech wheel’s built-in clamps, but it’s not heavy enough to be a serious hindrance. However, the wheelbase is on the heavy side and, as with any wheel, you want to have enough room to hook everything up.

Once locked up I have little to complain about the T300RS GT Edition. The purpose of a racing wheel is to effectively communicate what your virtual car is doing. This does that. If I start to lose traction after taking too sharp a turn, I can feel it and see what subtle corrections I need to make to regain control. It’s not as lifelike as a direct drive wheel, but the belt-driven force feedback is powerful and remarkably smooth, unlike the stepped feel I’d get with the G29. It’s also noticeably less noisy than the Logitech wheel, which is great if I want to get in on a few races later in the evening.

Likewise, it didn’t take me long to get used to the pedals, and within a few races I had a good idea of ​​how much force it took to properly depress the throttle or brake fully. In general, the pedals don’t require a lot of pressure, which I like. Still, you can adjust the pedal sensitivity via the wheel settings on a PC.

One consequence of this motorized setup is that it needs internal fans and heat sinks to keep itself cool. When you push it, a fan at the top of the wheelbase blows out hot air. It’s quiet, but sometimes you can smell it. Also, cranking up the feedback effects isn’t the wisest idea for the long-term durability of these types of wheels, so it’s worth keeping the force feedback at moderate levels more generally.

The GT Edition here is a variant of Thrustmaster’s standard T300RSwhich is usually $50 or so cheaper. (At the time of writing, both wheels appear to have stock issues.) The main difference, besides the GT branding, is that the former has a nicer-feeling three-pedal kit with a built-in clutch pedal. The latter only has gas and brake pedals. The GT Edition also includes a spongy “conical brake mod” that you can slip behind the brake to give a more realistic drag feel, though I prefer the looser feel of riding without. The GT Edition’s pedal upgrade was worth the extra change for me, but to be clear, the two wheels are otherwise the same, and it’s always possible to upgrade the pedals of both models along the line.

You should see all my praise here on a curve. Hardcore racers that only play sims like iRacing or r factor 2 could be better, and they already know that. A racing wheel isn’t a magic cheat code either: a gamepad user will be faster than a wheel user if they’ve spent more time perfecting their lines and braking points on a given track. If anything, using a wheel for the first time can feel like learning to drive a car again.

Still, the T300RS GT Edition should be an ideal performer for new converts and moderate enthusiasts looking to upgrade. Even if it’s been around for a while, there still aren’t that many belt-driven alternatives that really compete with it in its price range.

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