Test of the Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel

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You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on the latest steering wheel and wheelbase to get a competitive racing sim setup, just look to the best companies in the business. Companies like Thrustmaster, which has put together a stellar package in the T248 for just under $400. Sure, other racing wheels are more visually appealing, but I found myself returning to the T248 more often than others for its excellent force feedback.

The Thrustmaster T248 includes both the T248 wheelbase and wheel and a set of T3PM magnetic pedals. It’s the kind of all-in-one package that seeks to rival the Logitech G923 or rival Thrustmaster’s own, slightly more expensive T300RS. In terms of the underlying force feedback technology, it’s also kind of in-between those two competing packages.

The best racing wheels will produce precise force feedback through what is known as direct drive. A motor translates in-game activity and in-game engine calls into shock, vibration, and rotational motion. However, this can be expensive to implement as it requires a large motor to power it.

Cheaper racing wheels circumvent this problem by augmenting the power of a smaller, cheaper motor through the use of other systems, such as gears or belts. Although with those extra parts powering the wheel you also lose the finer details of the engine and therefore the end result is less response and precision. When you need to cut costs, however, this is the way to go, and a belt-drive system is usually the preferred option for its ability to amp up engine power with minimal clutter.

Thrustmaster T248 Specifications

Thrustmaster T248 steering wheel with pedals

(Image credit: Thrustmaster)

Force feedback: Hybrid drive
Buttons: 25, including paddle shifters
Joysticks: Magnetic shift paddles (clamshell paddles)
Personalization: On board
Assembly: Table clamp included, screw compatibility
Pedals included: Yes
Pedal type: Adjustable magnetic spring brake
Price: $397 / £300

What Thrustmaster offers with the T248 is the Thrustmaster Hybrid Drive. It’s not exactly a gear or a belt, but there is a belt to maximize the potential of the internal motor in-game. The Hybrid Drive feels like a smart move on Thrustmaster’s part once you get that setup. wheel, also, compared to a purely geared motor, there is a lot of power and response delivered by the wheel during stroke.

It’s a heavy wheel, though. You really have to throw it with some force to make a tight turn at high speed. It’s both a blessing and a curse: if you haven’t set it up correctly for a game like F1 2021 or some Assetto Corsa: Competizione cars, where the wheel rotation is far from the 1080° maximum offered , this can be quite difficult. struggling to turn the T248 as needed. Although this is easily rectified by spending a little more time in the settings menu.

When it comes to rallying in WRC 10 or cheekily drifting in Forza Horizon 5, there’s no such simple solution. Instead, you have to lower the force feedback on the wheel, which loosens it up a bit, but it’s not the ideal option.

But like I said, it’s also a blessing in some games. Once you’re set up in F1 2021 with 360° rotation befitting an F1 car (the rotation can be adjusted via the on-board wheel settings), this high level of tire and track resistance and feedback left me really helped nail my precision in tricky turns. I would say more than the purely geared Logitech G923, which is less controlled and precise than the T248 while arguably being more fun to use and better suited to erratic drifts.

An image showing the cockpit of an Aston Martin F1 car.

(Image credit: Codemasters)

Some F1 tracks were more difficult than others to pass with the T248. The Netherlands’ own Zandvoort has recently returned to the F1 calendar and F1 games, and it’s a tight, tricky track to nail with lots of tight corners. I found I had to run a few laps just to balance the level of force feedback and response on the T248 to feel comfortable in the tightest corners of the track and high-speed banked corners leading to straight lines. More tweaks than I’ve ever done on a per track basis for other wheels I’ve used.

Although my reward for that extra work was really fast lap times. With a wheel like this offering a high level of resistance throughout its spin and smooth, responsive force feedback, it’s easy to develop your riding technique over the ride and slowly develop the way you grip. a bend.

Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel playing F1 2021

(Image credit: future)

It’s for this reason that I find myself looking for the T248 more than the G923 when diving into a driving game. I had more fun freestyling with the G923, but now that I want to take my riding a bit further and focus on lap times, it’s the Thrustmaster steering wheel that helps me get the best of both worlds. . In heavier simulation games like Assetto Corsa, this kind of feedback from your car’s tires and their connection to the track at any given moment is crucial to nailing faster lap times.

I find myself looking for the T248 more than the G923 when diving into a driving game.

There are also three force feedback modes accessible via the wheel’s easy-to-use onboard interface: FFB 1 is your standard answer to the game’s choice, FFB 2 is a bit more powerful than that, and FFB 3 adds even more sauce. to that. . I recommend FFB 3 where you can – the additional comments provided don’t detract from the accuracy of the answer, so why not?

Next to a direct drive unit like the Fanatec GT DD Pro, however, you have a much weaker response in the T248. It can feel a bit muted when you really throw it on rocky terrain. Still, at this price, there’s not much more that will appeal to both more casual gamers and more experienced racers than the T248. Perhaps the fan-favorite T300RS, with its hot-swappable wheel and belt-driven force feedback, but then you miss the modern comforts of the T248.

The wooden block to support the pedals isn’t pretty, but it does the job. (Image credit: future)

Cons such as an impressive bottom bracket. The T248 comes with Thrustmaster’s T3PM crankset, magnetically actuated and topped with a metal plate for long-term use without degradation. They also offer excellent braking that is set up pretty well right out of the box. You can adjust the brake with an included spring, and there’s a small washer inside that you can remove for a total of four adjustments to overall brake feel.

Adjustments can be made to the spring and washer to alter the brake pedal response. (Image credit: future)

Crack the firmest spring and washer on the pedal without a frame or support for your pedals and you may run into a problem though. With enough braking force, the pedals tilt up or move around, which can be quite frustrating when trying to hit a new record. I tested the pedals on carpet and smooth ground and both suffered the same kind of problem with unwanted travel, and you’ll want to back the pedals up against a wall (or use a block of wood to avoid slipping like I did) to avoid the worst.

The conclusion for me here is that a racing sim framework of some description is a bit of a necessity if you want to step up your sim racing experience. I have yet to find a crankset with decent brake pedals that can withstand the fast, aggressive braking demanded in most games without shifting around a bit. This is also true for the pedals included with the Fanatec GT DD Pro and the Logitech G923, although the latter’s grip system certainly helped keep some of that movement to a minimum.

But an overall impressive pedal set for the money, and there’s good form elsewhere to report.

Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel playing F1 2021

(Image credit: future)

The T248’s paddle shifters are the most responsive I’ve ever used. They are magnetic and I have yet to miss a piece of equipment while using them. That’s something I wish I could say about the Logitech G923’s paddle shifters, which feel great, but I often miss shifts in use. The T248’s thumbsticks are really, really responsive and you can hit them for sure, but before you sing too many praises, you need to know one thing about them.

The T248 paddles are noisy. As, really strong.

The T248’s paddle shifters are the most responsive I’ve ever used.

These are not only the best I’ve used, but by far the loudest. It’s strangely not the actuation of these that makes the most noise either, it’s when they’re released that they quickly snap back into place with a snap as plastic hits plastic.

The T248 is also constructed from fairly inexpensive plastic. While I don’t fear for its longevity, it doesn’t match the finish of the G923 in its look or feel in the hand. That’s a bit of a shame, because in terms of operation, built-in interface, and button layout of the T248, it’s the superior option of the two.

Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel playing F1 2021

(Image credit: future)

There’s a lot to love and a lot that’s right Okay with the Thrustmaster T248. Luckily, though, I think the fair stuff is the more minor features that matter less when you’re squarely focused on running your best. There is also very little harm in that.

The T248’s impressive force feedback is most important while you’re pushing for pole, and the T248 absolutely nails the competition here. Although I don’t think it’s necessarily a home-run from Thrustmaster to replace the T300RS – which is still a great, if slightly more expensive, option to form the basis of your racing sim setup (especially if you want the pedals to match the T248) – there’s a competitive wheel in the T248 that no one else can match right now at the price.

As with most PC hardware, you can invest a little more in your racing wheel budget and get a reasonable improvement in quality, but the Thrustmaster T248 is perfect for new racers and more avid racers who don’t want to spend too much. . .

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