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Thrustmaster T150 Force Feedback Wheel Review: The Gateway to Potential Insanity

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Thrustmaster

Fully Featured Wheel for $200 US

Gaming wheels are a pretty interesting subset of the hardware world.  It seems the vast majority of gamers out there are keyboard and mouse players, or skew towards console controllers which are relatively inexpensive as compared to joysticks or wheels.  For those that are serious about their racing games, a wheel is a must.  Sure, there are plenty of people that are good with a console controller, but that does not provide the same experience.  In fact, racing games do quite a bit of compensation when it comes to steering, acceleration, and braking when it detects a console controller.

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Thrustmaster echoes the Playstation blue with their PS3/PS4/PC based T150 wheel.

This makes quite a bit of sense when we consider how many degrees of travel a thumbstick has as compared to a wheel.  Or how much travel a button has as compared to a set of pedals.  I have talked to a developer about this and they admit to giving a hand to keyboard and console controller users, otherwise cars in these games are nigh uncontrollable.  A wheel and pedal set will give much more granular control over a car in a simulation, which is crazy to think about since we use a wheel and pedal set for our daily driving…

The very basic wheels are typically small units that have a bungie or spring system to center the wheel.  They also feature a pretty limited rotation, going about 270 degrees at max.  These products might reach to the $100 level at max, but they are pretty basic when it comes to the driving experience.  There is then a huge jump to the $300 MSRP level where users can purchase the older Logitech G27 or the still current Thrustmaster TX series.

This was not always the case.  Microsoft years back had offered their Sidewinder FFB Wheel around the $200 level.  Thrustmaster also addressed this market with their now discontinued Ferrari F430 FFB wheel which had an initial MSRP of around $200.  This particular wheel was popular with the entry level gamers, but it had a pretty big drawback; the wheel was limited to 270 degrees of rotation.  This may be fine for some arcade style racers, but for those looking to expand into more sim territory had to set their sights on higher priced products.

Click here to continue reading about the Thrustmaster T150 FFB Wheel!

The T150

There is obviously a market out there for an entry level, force feedback wheel that has the features of the higher end wheels but will not cost a small fortune to acquire.  Thrustmaster took this challenge to heart and developed the T150 Force Feedback Wheel.  The company laid out a solid wishlist for the wheel, and worked to develop a product that would not break the bank.  This of course has lead to design decisions that help to reduce the cost of the product, but know that the functionality matches that of higher end products.

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The contents are neatly shipped, but there is not a tremendous amout of packing material to ward off damage to the box.

The T150 is compatible with the PS3, PS4, and PC.  It features a full 1080 degrees of rotation that can be adjusted through the control panel to go down as low as 270 degrees.  The wheel is not removable from the base as compared to the TX, T300, and T500 series of products.  The setup comes with a two pedal unit.  The wheel does not ship with a shifter, but it is compatible with the 3 pedal units and shifters that Thrustmaster offers for higher end wheels.

Force feedback is handled by a hybrid geared/pulley system.  Higher end Thrustmaster units feature a brushless motor and multiple pulleys to give strong and smooth feedback.  Such a unit is beyond the cost structure of this particular product.  Instead Thrustmaster employs a less powerful motor, but utilizes a single pulley as well as a geared wheel to give a pretty good experience of strong feedback as well as smoother feel as compared to a 100% geared setup.  As a comparison the Logitech G27 features a dual motor, helical geared setup that provides good strength of forces but does suffer from some gear lash and grind.  This hybrid system is designed to minimize some of these negatives in a cost effective way.

The base is smaller and lighter than for example the TX unit, but it is still sturdy.  It features a metal axle and bearing system, so parts should not wear out anytime soon.  The firmware on the wheel can also be upgraded through a pretty simple procedure on the PC.  It of course has built-in support for the PS3 and PS4 consoles.  The base does not feature the usual screw/bolt holes that are used to mount the unit on wheel stands.  Instead it uses the traditional clamp system that Thrustmaster employs on all of its wheels.  This particular clamp system is very similar to those on the higher end variants, but it features less metal in some areas that could lead to some wear and tear on the plastic over the lifetime of the product.

The wheel itself is an 11” affair which is about normal for a higher end gaming wheel.  It is a combination of plastic and rubberized material that is pretty comfortable to the touch.  The rubberized part covers the 8 o’clock to 11 and 1 o’clock to 4 positions.  This blue material does not seem to rub off after extensive driving sessions where palms might get a bit sweaty.  The paddle shifters are made of a metal and are powder coated.  Wear and tear on those particular materials should be minimal over the lifetime of this product.  The buttons and d-pad are of course compatible with what is offered on the PS3 and PS4 controllers, though it lacks any touchpad.  The rest of the wheel is plastic, so do not expect any brushed aluminum.

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So what does their hybrid setup look like? Happily, they illustrated it on the box!

The pedals are smaller than those offered with the older F430 as well as the newer TX wheels.  These units are plastic as compared to the metal units on the higher end parts.  These can be detached and rotated and swapped, according to the user’s needs and desires.  The base is pretty lightweight as compared to other units and can be troublesome on hardwood floors and carpet.  These pedals do have the necessary mounting holes on them for a stand.  Users should be ready to implement some kind of mounting strategy if they don’t want to keep constantly re-adjusting the pedals mid-game.

The sensor technology implemented on this wheel is a step down from the 16 bit Hall Effect based products.  It uses what seems to be an electro-optical system that has 12 bit resolution (4096 values on the steering wheel axis).  The 16 bit unit features over 65,000 values.  Most people will not notice the difference in precision, but there will likely be a few that may experience a more “mushy” feel if they are used to higher end products.  These differences are very, very minor.  It would again take a very perceptive individual with a lot of game time on a higher end wheel to notice a difference.

The entire package is pretty small altogether as compared to more expensive wheels.  The base and pedals are much more size constrained and the entire shipping box is an easy carry home.  Power is supplied from an average sized transformer.  It does not feature an internal power supply like the TX and above products.

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November 4, 2015 | 09:44 PM - Posted by mLocke

T300 RS is on sale as of writing this for $349.99

Thurstmaster MSRP list
--- | $129.99 | 28 cm | Ferrari GTE Wheel Add-On Ferrari 458 Challenge Edition
--- | $149.99 | 28 cm | TM Leather 28 GT Wheel
--- | $179.99 | 30 cm | 599XX EVO 30 Wheel Add-On Alcantara Edition
PS4 | $199.99 | 28 cm | T150 (12-bit sensor)
XBO | $259.99 | ----- | TX Servo Base
XBO | $299.99 | 28 cm | TX Racing Wheel Ferrari 458 Italia Edition
PS4 | $399.99 | 28 cm | T300 RS
XBO | $469.99 | 28 cm | TX Racing Wheel Leather Edition
PS4 | $469.99 | 30 cm | T300 Ferrari Integral Racing Wheel Alcantara Edition

November 4, 2015 | 10:08 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Nice rundown on prices! If I were a rich man... that Alcantara T300 setup looks sweet!

November 5, 2015 | 02:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"but it does not compare well to products that cost $100 and more."

Was it supposed to say "$100 more.", or is this correct?

November 5, 2015 | 09:59 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Poor wording on my part.  It should be "$100 more".

November 5, 2015 | 12:43 PM - Posted by Humanitarian

"In DiRT Rally it is not recognized and I had to remap the wheel every time I restarted the game."

I think that was a bug with Dirt Rally that they recently fixed in modern masters.

You can swap out the pedals for the t3pa set which has a much better progressive feel and comes with a decent brake mod.

November 5, 2015 | 12:54 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Hmm, I'll double check, but I thought that even after the Modern Masters update it was still losing its mind in configuration.  I will fire that up again this evening.

November 6, 2015 | 05:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Pro TIP - AMD Groupies not need to apply as all they run are asynchronous benchies

This PS4(Gamer Master Race) & PC wheel is at Jet and first time users can get 20% off. They have some other wheels too but max is $50 off.

December 19, 2015 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Kris (not verified)

Appreciate great review, well done Josh!
Seems some time and effort has been put in this article. I like that aside technical details/specs a lot of attention is given describing actual feeleing of wheel and emotions while using it in comparison with game pad. Because gaming is most about emotions it gives U. It would make people consider trying one of these steering wheels.
I can't wait for your review of new release T300 Ferrari Integral racing wheel Alcantara edition from Thrustmaster as well. I have seen some reviews on youtube but there are few good ones like yours of T150. Is there any chance to expect a review of T300 Alcantara integral or just an add on Alcantara wheel anywhere soon?
had a logitech force feedback steering wheel about 15 years ago I bought as a bundle with Vrally3 on PS 2. Remember having really great time as game was not easy and wheel seemed great then...
Want to get back for gaming on dark winter evenings and looking for one of good sim steering wheels now.

January 16, 2016 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I'm eventually expecting the Alcantara product, but I don't know when.  It may be the full T300 setup, or it could be just the wheel and the 3 pedal unit to match with my T300 base I already have.  Will poke back at Thrustmaster PR to see when I might be expecting these.

February 22, 2016 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Great wheel but I broke the flimsy grip handle at the bottom does anybody no where I can just buy the grip for the wheel from..?

June 20, 2016 | 05:45 PM - Posted by Fils (not verified)

Hello ,
I am new to the Racing Wheel world, Just brought a T150 for my kid.Surprised and furious that i am finding NO GAMES for T150 on my PC.The T150 site shows only ONE game "Farming Simulator" Does that mean there are absolutely NO games that i can play with this wheel on my PC.?
PLease advice, Thanks

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