Review: Thrustmaster VG T300RS Racing Wheel for PS3/PS4

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Product: Thrustmaster VG T300RS Racing Wheel
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Manufacturer: Thrustmaster
Original MSRP: $399.99
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes and will be returned once the review is complete.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 425 of the podcast.

Many racing fans have been up in arms about the fact that the Logitech (or others as well) steering wheel they used for so long with the PS3 won’t work on the PS4. As has been revealed, Logitech is no longer making steering wheel peripherals and never supplied Sony with what they needed to get the wheels to work on PS4. So far though, only one player has offered any steering solutions for PS4, and that player is Thrustmaster.

I’ve already reviewed the cheapest option available ($99 at the time of the review), the Thrustmaster T80 Racing Wheel and it was less than impressive, mainly due to the way they handle force resistance (with bungee cords). The next step-up in the Thrustmaster family that’s PS4-compatible is this, the VG T300RS Racing Wheel, and at $399 it’s a hell of a leap.

The entire package is definitely a huge step forward from the T80 though, and luckily, the design lends itself to many possibilities to make the experience even more realistic if that’s what you desire. Included in the package are much heftier parts, with everything feeling as solid as anyone could possibly expect with a gaming peripheral.

… feels like a real steering wheel from a car …
The foot base comes in a two-pedal configuration that can be replaced with a three-pedal model for an additional price. You can either purchase the T3PA wide pedal set priced at $99, or if you already have the T500RS from the PS3, that three-pedal set will also work with the T300RS. Both of these includes a third pedal for the clutch. The pedal unit that’s included though is very sturdy, with pedals made from solid metal that also give you the opportunity to adjust the height of each pedal, and the ability to rotate each as well.

Anyone used to the pedals base from an older Logitech or similar system will be surprised at how much weightier these are, and man do they feel solid when used. Both pedals have a good distance of travel, and the resistance for each feels spot-on. The difference from what you’re used to is definitely noticeable, and very appreciated.

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Moving up, you’ll be surprised at how hefty the main drive unit is, but once again, everything is solid as can be. The modular design is once again present as not only can you add an external gear shifter, but you can also buy a different steering wheel too. The included wheel, to me, actually feels like a real steering wheel from a car as it’s pretty heavy in comparison to what I’m used to. Just plug the wheel into the center-mount, tighten the ring that holds it into place and you’re ready to go. They also offer wheels that simulate those from a Ferrari F1, Ferrari GTE, and the previous T500RS. It can be swapped-out in a minute or two and having these options is a pretty stellar design in my books.

… the entire rig is whisper-quiet …
The included wheel is laid-out very nicely, with even the inclusion of a Share button (since this is an officially licensed PS4 peripheral). Buttons are all easy to reach and surprisingly, nearly every button on the DualShock 4 is represented. The only thing not brought over is the Touchpad. You’ll also notice two buttons on the left of the wheel. One is a switch to go between PS3 and PS4 compatibility modes. Just make sure it’s in the correct position before you boot the console up. The other is a button to designate if you’re using two pedals or three which is indicated by a specific light color.

You’re also able to switch the wheel’s turning radius from the default 270 degrees, to a very appreciated full 1080 degrees for the hardcore sim fans out there. Out of the box, manual shifting is handled by the “flappy paddles” on the back on the wheel itself and I have to say, I really like them. They offer an appropriate level of resistance and again since they’re actually made of metal, the feel is what I would expect them to be in a real car.

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As mentioned before though, the entire design is modular so if the paddles aren’t enough, Thrustmaster offers a couple of options for full gear shifting in the form of the TH8A (new model) and TH8RS (PS3 model) gearboxes. Both offer seven gears and a reverse. The TH8A also comes with a replacement plate that adds simple shift up and down like the paddles act, and it even uses a standard thread so you can put a real shifter knob from an actual car on top. From the reviews I looked at so far, they’re apparently really impressive.

Unlike the Thrustmaster T80 though, this wheel offers full force feedback and it’s the best I’ve ever encountered. Depending on the game, you can actually set the amount of feedback, but even at the default, it feels again like you would expect it to in a real car. The most impressive thing of all though, and especially if you’ve used a Logitech wheel in the past, is that the entire rig is whisper-quiet.

 

One last item is the clamp used to secure this to your favorite table or countertop. If you’re more into the simulation side of things, the wheel has all of the “standard” mounting holes for rigs like the Playseat or Wheel Stand Pro. The clamp has a good amount of space to attach to even the thickest of tables, and has a single handle to tighten, making it a very secure connection (unlike my Logitech GT Force Pro, which I constantly had to re-tighten). It has two rubberized points of contact underneath that both supply enough pressure to hold it tightly in place.

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Now the biggest question, is it worth it? Well, that’s going to be a very subjective choice for a lot of us. First, at the time of this review, there are only a handful of games that work with steering wheels on the PS4, all with varying degrees of options. Need for Speed: Rivals doesn’t offer manual gear shifting at all, but driving works pretty well when the wheel is set to the default 270 degrees. The Crew also works pretty well in 270-degree mode but something just doesn’t feel right to me (I can’t put my finger on it though). DRIVECLUB works very well in both settings and shifting is responsive using the paddles. Obviously the big guns are the inevitable Gran Turismo entry for PS4 and in a much more immediate sense, the finally released Project CARS. These are going to be the standouts in terms of available features, with both expected to support anything you throw at them from this rig.

… it, just screams “premium” …
In the instance of Project CARS, I see a definite improvement in my driving performance when using the T300 over the T80 or the DualShock 4, with better lap times and the ability to stay on the track a lot more. The game recognizes which wheel you’ve actually connected and it knows directly if you have the external shifter or three-pedal configurations without having to set anything up. The only change I can suggest is switching the wheel dead zone to ‘10’ instead of the default. Other than that, the default settings work very well.

The other advantage is that this wheel is also fully compatible with the PlayStation 3 and PC. So far, using this with Gran Turismo 6 has been a genuine treat and now I don’t have the noise from the older wheel taking me out of the experience. Setup on PC was a no-brainer and the fact that the firmware can be updated (via a PC App, so you’ll still need that to perform the upgrade) definitely makes the higher price tag a bit easier to swallow.

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I like the modular design too, which allows a wide range of wants to be fulfilled. If you want to go hardcore simulation, it’ll cost roughly $650 for everything, but if you don’t care about a clutch pedal or a seven gear shifter, the $399 model is more than good enough.

Still, $399 is how much that shiny PS4 of yours cost, and right now, this only works with a handful of PS4 games. The fact that it also works with PC and PS3 definitely takes the sting away a bit, but it’s still a good amount of money. To me, the move is worth it since I really love how it works with Gran Turismo 6, and because it’s firmly mounted to my new Wheel Stand Pro.

Also, everything about this rig, from the options to the build quality, and that you won’t really ever hear it, just screams “premium”, and car enthusiasts just love that term. I know that some other wheels are on the horizon, and there’s the mysterious M4 USB device that supposedly lets you connect the older PS3-only wheels to your PS4 (which doesn’t work, we’ve tested it), but right now, you really can’t beat the VG T300RS, and since I couldn’t bring myself to send this unit back to Thrustmaster I bought it from them.

Score:
9.0

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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