If you´re one of those sim racers using both the PC and gaming consoles to race, you´ll probably know the problem – No steering wheel fits all.
This changes now as Fanatec’s Porsche 911 Turbo S Wheel is the first simulation-grade steering wheel to be compatible to both the PC, the Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
Can Fanatec’s new universal weapon live up to what the Porsche name and the compatibility list promises? Read the review to find out.
When looking for a wheel that works both on the PC and gaming consoles, sim racers aren’t really presented with many options. While several wheels including Logitech’s market-leading G25 & G27 models work on the Playstation 3, none of the usual suspects work on Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
Just as Forza Motorsport 3 hit the shelves, Fanatec fills the void by introducing the Porsche 911 Turbo S wheel, bringing a true simulation-grade wheel to Microsoft’s console.
The feature list includes 900-degree steering, super-smooth belt-driven Force Feedback and a built-in display, all wrapped in Fantec’s Porsche design.
The wheel is compatible to Fanatec’s line of shifters and pedals, if you´re among the lucky few who already own a Fanatec wheel you can go ahead and use existing hardware together with the Turbo S.
Like the other Fanatec wheels, the Turbo S comes with 16 buttons and a D-pad. To ensure perfect compatibility for all platforms, the buttons are backlit and will display the console’s button layout for easier navigation once plugged into a console.
The Turbos S is sold both with pedals and without, the wheel is compatible to a wide range of pedals for those who already own another steering wheel. That includes all Fanatec pedal sets as well as sets from Logitech and Mircosoft’s Xbox 360 wheel
Design & Build Quality
Like all Fanatec Porsche wheels, the Turbo S is modeled after the wheel of a particular Porsche street model, in this case the Porsche 911 Turbo S.
This means you won’t get the GT3-RS’s fantastic Alcantara-leather rim with this model, simply because the street model doesn’t have it either. Still, the wheel feels extremely durable and well made as Fanatec once again managed to deliver a product that feels like it has been taken out of an actual car and not like a cheap toy.
The nicely stitched leather on the 30cm rim might not feel quite as nice as the GT3-RS, it’s still blows away the competition in terms of look, feel and haptics though.
The wheel shares the same base unit and button layout of all other Fanatec models, it’s not all the same though as Fanatec has fixed one of my major complaints with the GT3-RS: The paddle shifters.
Fanatec certainly learned their lesson here, giving the shifters a much more solid base, making them finally feel durable instead of wobbly and weak.
In terms of build quality, the Turbo S leaves nothing to be desired as the wheel looks, feels and even smells like a high-quality product.
Rennsport Wheel Stand
Since most console users won’t be sitting in front of a desk while driving, the question where to mount the wheel comes to mind quickly. Fanatec offers the perfect solution with their Rennsport Wheel Stand.
Made of rock-solid Aluminum & steel, the Wheel Stand is the best bid for all console gamers and everybody else tired of mounting their wheels to the table. The stand is made to accommodate wheels from all common brands including Fanatec’s Porsche line, Logitech and Microsoft.
Since the wheel is screwed directly to the steel base, it sits extremely tight on the Wheel Stand and won’t move an inch even with the strongest Force Feedback involved. If you ever had problems with pedal sets sliding on the floor, the Wheel Stand will solve this problem too thanks to extremely effective rubber stops that keep the whole unit in place.
The stand is fully adjustable in terms of height, wheel angle and pedal positions, accommodating any seating position and body length. The stand can be collapsed, allowing easy storage for those who don’t have room for a permanent setup.
Installation & Configuration
Unless it’s mounted to a wheel stand or cockpit, the Turbo S uses Fanatec’s usual table-clamp mechanism to fix the wheel to the table.
While I wasn’t too fond of their solution when I first used it, several months with the GT3 RS have changed my mind a lot. Even though the built-in screw and quick release mechanism won’t allow an extremely tight fit of the wheel like other solutions, the wheel can be put on and off very quickly just by using the two clamps.
The downside is that the wheel may move if the action on track really hits off, requiring a readjustment of the wheel sooner or later.
Once the wheel is installed to the table, starting to use it is very simple on two of the three supported platforms. For Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 use, all you need to do is connect the wheel and turn it on – That’s it, no fiddling with drivers or anything else.
While the Xbox 360 mode uses the wheel’s built-in wireless mode, PC and Playstation 3 owners have the choice to either use a wired connection or the Fanatec wireless dongle (sold separately).
Once the wheel is plugged into a console, the backlit buttons will display the right button layout. All other settings are made using the built-in display, allowing you to change Force-Feedback strength, rotation degree, shifter mode and more.
On the PC, things are a little less simple as the Turbo S requires Fanatec’s drivers to be installed. While working with earlier Fanatec drivers hasn’t always been a pleasure, the company has steadily improved their driver support in the past months as stable drivers for both 32bit and 64bit Windows operating systems are available.
Once the drivers are installed, the wheel’s settings can be tweaked in the driver menu, allowing the usual settings you’d expect from other wheels. Just like during console use, the built-in display can be used any time while driving, allowing to change the most important settings.
Driving & Force Feedback
Once everything’s set up, it’s time to hit the track. I´ve been testing the wheel with various PC simulations such as rFactor and iRacing as well as Forza Motorsport 3 on the Xbox 360.
It will only take you a few corners to fall for the Turbo S as it wil make you forget about other wheels quickly. Regardless if you´ve been using a cheap console wheel or a better PC wheel before, the Turbo S manages to impress with great, smooth Force-Feedback and exceptional build quality with no mechanical play or center deadzone to spoil the fun.
The wheel works very well with Forza Motorsport 3 out of the box which is good as the game does not offer much controller settings to be changed. Force Feedback is decent even though Forza’s relatively light effects won’t please most PC sim racers.
It’s a different matter on the PC as the Turbo S follows other Fanatec wheels in terms of Force-Feedback, offering both strong and detailed effects. Dialing the strength up to 100% in rFactor or iRacing can’t really be advised unless you´re planning to put up some serious biceps muscle.
While the first shipment of GT3-RS wheels has suffered from a fan vibration problem that produced rather loud noises after a while, the Turbo S stays almost silent even after hours of continued driving. When turning off all other noise sources, you´ll hear the fans work but it won’t be noticeable with sound on at all.
Another thing the wheel does well is helping you to get through the console’s menu system. With no other controller connected, you need to rely on the pad’s buttons to get through the game menus, a task the Turbo S handles very well using the built-in D-Pad button.
If you´re looking to find a wheel that works on the PC and both the Playstation 3 & Xbox 360, Fanatec’s Turbo S is not just your only option but a very pleasing one too.
Fanatec once more delivers a fine piece of engineering that outshines everything else on the market in terms of design and build quality, paired up with flawless mechanics that offer a great driving experience. Paired up with the Rennsport Wheel Stand, the Turbo S leaves no excuse to use cheaper console wheels, giving avid console racers a simulation-grade wheel to race with.
Aside form the unprecedented cross compatibility, the Turbo S also shows that Fanatec have learned from past experiences, fixing the few problems of earlier models such as the paddle shifters, noise and driver issues.
Nothing’s perfect of course but the two biggest complaints are not related to the hardware itself. The first thing to mention is the price, 229€ for a single wheel without pedals or other accessories such as stick shifters is definitely pretty steep.
Of course, you´re paying for both the Porsche and Microsoft licensing, making the wheel a rather expensive option compared to the other products.
The flawless built quality and the attractive design make up for it though as you´ll be reminded to have bought a quality piece of hardware every day you use it.
But the second and biggest problem with all Fanatec hardware is availability. That you can’t buy these wheels in any regular electronics store is only a small inconvenience, the fact that they can be back-ordered for months is less pleasing though.
Even though Fanatec promises December delivery for those who order now, you shouldn’t exactly hold your breath when ordering one of their wheels. But like they say, good things comes to those who wait…..