Looking to take your racing to the next level? Joe Barron gets to grips with some of the best wheels from Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec.
Budget Racing Wheels
Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel (Xbox 360)
The first step up from a standard controller.
USA $30/ UK £30
The Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel is great if you're looking to enhance your racing experience on a tight budget. Motion controls allow you to steer with your arms, instead of your thumbs, and you can continue to use triggers on the wheel for your gas and brake. It's also ideal if you don't have the space for a larger racing setup with pedals, and it's the least expensive steering option on any console.
However, if you're already quite serious about your racing, you might want to skip this first step. Using the Speed Wheel for extended periods of time can be tiring because you're holding the gyroscopic controller straight out in front of you with no natural way to relax your arms. Using the triggers also means that, compared to a standard controller, you don't get any extra control of your gas and brakes.
Sony PlayStation Move Racing Wheel (PlayStation 3)
Best for arcade racing and motorcycle games.
USA $40/ UK £30
The PlayStation equivalent of the Xbox 360 Speed Wheel is slightly more expensive, particularly as you have to factor in a Move controller into the price if you don't already own one, but also a little more comfortable to use. However, while the Speed Wheel was designed with a simulation game in mind (Forza Motorsport 4), the Move Racing Wheel feels like more of a toy. That's thanks to its cheap-feeling plastic construction, and the gimmicky way in which you slot the Move controller into the middle of the wheel where it lights up light a Christmas tree during races.
Sony describes the Speed Wheel as offering a "true arcade feel," in games like LittleBigPlanet Karting, but don't expect a realistic experience in Gran Turismo 5. On the other hand, you can configure the handles of the Move Racing Wheel to resemble the handlebars of a motorcycle. There's no dedicated motorcycle controller widely available for any of the consoles right now, so fans of the MotoGP or World Superbike games might want to give it a try.
Gioteck FR-1 (PlayStation 3)
Ideal if you don't have or want a PlayStation Move
USA $50/ UK £30
If you're not keen on the look of Sony's official racing wheel, or you don't own a Move controller, Gioteck's FR-1 is ideal. Similar to the Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel, the FR-1 is a motion controlled wheel that you hold out in front of you, turning it in midair to steer. There are triggers on each handle (configurable to X and square buttons if required) for accelerate and brake, while a handy dial in the middle lets you adjust the sensitivity of the FR-1 on the fly.
The FR-1 works surprisingly well, but it has similar issues to the Microsoft wheel. It can be tiring holding the controller straight out in front of you for long periods of time, while the triggers don't offer the same level of control as a set of pedals do. That said, the FR-1 is a great budget choice if you're after a compact racing setup, or just looking to make your first foray into the world of racing wheels.