Here is a review
Let’s play a little word association:
Gaming mouse? Logitech.
Gaming controller? Logitech.
Racing wheel? Logitech.
These responses are common amongst most gamers, but if Fanatec has their way in the near future, those answers will be changing. Created by the German company Endor AG, Fanatec is making a push into the North American market and branding itself as “Advanced German Gameware.” With a product lineup that includes gaming mice, controllers, and racing wheels, Fanatec appears ready to carve out their place in the market for gamers. Their latest release is the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel, which not-so-subtly displays its German pedigree by licensing the Porsche name. Thankfully a pretty logo isn’t the only thing that the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel has to offer, and it immediately becomes one of the best controllers on the market. Here’s a quick breakdown of the features:
• Original Porsche 911 Turbo steering wheel design
• Licensed by Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH
• Compatible with PC and Playstation 3
• 6+1 speed H-pattern gear stick
• Additional sequential gear stick included
• Wireless pedals
• Realistic clutch pedal with declining resistance
• Pressure sensitive brake emulation with soft-stop
• Turning angle can be adjusted in the wheel to 900°, 360° or 180° or in 1° steps
• Table clamps or lap wings to play in the living room
• Illuminated button symbols switch automatically between PC and Playstation
• Mabuchi RS 550 Motor as used in RC cars for force feedback
• Two additional force feedback motors for rumble effects
• Tuning ability with built-in LED display
At a quick glance, the feature set on the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel looks very similar to Logitech’s G25 (our review here), and no doubt that’s exactly what Fanatec hopes to compete with. Since these two products are so similar in their price point and offerings, I’m going to spend a lot of time comparing Fanatec’s offering to the G25. First up are the pedals, which immediately prove superior to the G25’s for several reasons. The fact that they’re wireless eliminates clutter and guarantees that your legs or feet won’t get tangled up while playing. The layout of the pedals is also much more realistic, resulting in a much more natural playing experience. Lastly, and probably the biggest benefit over the G25 to me, was the resistance on the pedals. Unlike the G25 with all three pedals feeling largely the same, the pedals on the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel are all unique. The gas pedal is light and quick to depress, while the brake pedal is firm and has a soft-stop at the end. Even the clutch pedal feels realistic with its declining resistance. With so much care and attention going into the pedals, it’s no surprise that the rest of the package is largely a success as well.
Turning our attention to the wheel itself, you’ll find a stylishly designed, leather-wrapped racing wheel with plenty of illuminated face buttons to go around. It's a bit bigger than the G25's wheel, and overall just has a better feel to it. To top it all off, the face buttons change their illuminated symbols to represent the wheel’s configuration, so if the wheel is in PS3 mode you’ll see X, O, Triangle, and Square in red on the front, and in PC mode you’ll get white 1, 2, 3, etc. Notch another victory over the G25, which has face buttons without any labels that leave you struggling to remember where the controls are mapped. The Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel’s integrated LED display also makes it easy to configure unique force feedback profiles for specific games, and store up to five of them. It will also give you a warning when the batteries in your pedals are getting low.
The wheel is comfortable to use and the perfect size for racing games. Many racing controllers come with wheels that look like they’re from a Fisher-Price toy, but the 911 Turbo Wheel is large enough to make subtle steering adjustments and won’t strain your arms even after hours of playing. If anything is going to make your arms tired, it’s the force with which the wheel will fight you on the default configuration. They weren’t kidding when they set out to make a great force feedback wheel, and the rumble and resistance in the 911 Turbo Wheel are some of the best I’ve ever found in a controller.
Getting the entire Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel set up is a surprisingly quick process. Two rods connect the shifter to the wheel base, allowing you to put it on whichever side you prefer. You can choose to secure the wheel to a desk with its integrated clamp, or install the included lap wings, which will let the wheel rest on your legs and allow for more convenient play in the living room. Either solution works well in my experience, but you’ll probably want to lessen the force feedback strength if you’re setting the wheel on your lap, otherwise there’s a good chance that the whole thing will go flying as you fight for control. The shifter's mounting solution is simple enough, but at times I found myself wanting a more sturdy solution when it was mounted on a desk. There's a little too much give when trying to shift between gears.
Whether it’s with a Playstation 3 or PC, getting the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel working with your racing game of choice is a breeze. On the PS3, I tried it out with both the arcade racer Burnout: Paradise, and the driving simulator Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. With Burnout the experience was less than ideal. Though the wheel worked perfectly, a game like Burnout just doesn’t feel suited to a wheel and requires the kind of dramatic and fast steering adjustments that a gamepad is generally better for. Gran Turismo on the other hand, was born to be played with a wheel. The subtle movements and precise steering translate perfectly to a racing sim, and the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel easily offered the best GT experience yet.
There are a few other miscellaneous details worth talking about before the urge to hit the track again pulls me away. The wireless USB receiver is an awesome touch that is like the cherry on top because it's molded to look like a Porsche key. Alright, so it won't fool anyone into thinking you own a $75,000 sports car, but it's fun the first time you want to start racing and you have to plug the Porsche key into your PC or PS3. The fact that the wheel and the pedals are wireless is a great advantage over the competition, and the only cord you'll have to run to the wheel is for power. The pedals communication wirelessly to the wheel, and then the wheel communicates wireless to the key. Fanatec does include an optional cable to run between the pedals and the wheel if you're not interested in draining batteries, but just about every gamer should have a set of rechargeable AAs by now.
In case you haven't figured it out by now: this wheel is awesome. Despite coming with a warning that being a first production run unit that could have some problems, the experience with the Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel was flawless. If you're a racing game enthusiast that has the cash to spend on a premium racing wheel, you really can't do much better than Fanatec's Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel. if you want to know where you can order one, head over to Fanatec's website and check out their store