Thrustmaster creates some of the most revered high-end gaming peripherals. Offering some of the finest joysticks, gamepads, steering wheels and gaming headsets on the market, it’s hard not to get excited about the company’s new line of next-gen products. Their racing wheels have defined simulation racing for decades, and their newest entry, the Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel Ferrari 458 Italia Edition for PC and Xbox One, is no exception. With a powerful industrial motor, a 7/10 scale replica of the Ferrari 458 steering wheel and an authentic Ferrari-style pedal set, the Thrustmaster TX is a dream come true for car enthusiasts.
The Thrustmaster TX is designed for players who want to experience genuine driving controls when playing their favorite sim racers. The Xbox One gamepad’s subtle vibrations can’t compete with Thrustmaster TX’s impressive force feedback. The wheel transforms games like Forza 5, completely changing the track dynamic, making every turn and overtake a challenge. Even the most seasoned racers have to re-evaluate their technique when using the steering wheel for the first time. Much like the Ferrari 458 its been inspired by, the Thrustmaster TX racing wheel is a monstrous beauty that blends elegance and power, albeit at a hefty price tag.
"With a powerful industrial motor, a 7/10 scale replica of the Ferrari 458 steering wheel and an authentic Ferrari-style pedal set, the Thrustmaster TX is a dream come true for car enthusiasts."
A wheel-stand is a must when setting up the Thrustmaster TX. Attaching the steering wheel to a desk, no matter how stable or sturdy, doesn’t provide the same comfort and adjustability. A wheel-stand allows various height alterations, as well as pedal support. It may cost an extra hundred bucks, but gamers seeking realism should consider the entire setup. It’s certainly possible to assemble everything without investing in extra attachments, but then again, this is aimed at gamers who crave the definitive racing experience.
The asking price makes sense considering the build quality of each piece. The box weighs over twenty pounds, and the wheel itself feels like it actually came from a disassembled Ferrari. The wheel’s textured rubber surface ensures long lasting grip even after hours of playing, although the grey-painted plastic surrounding the buttons seems like an afterthought. The pedals are considerably weighty and feature progressive resistance that gives acceleration and braking unparalleled precision. The easily accessible gear shifts behind the steering wheel have a satisfying clickiness to them and are made of sturdy metal. This makes playing games that require rapid gear shifting, like Formula 1, more accurate.
"The pedals are considerably weighty and feature progressive resistance that gives acceleration and braking unparalleled precision."
This is no plug-and-play peripheral, and the assembly takes some time and patience. The steering wheel neck that connects to the body is somewhat unconventional. Instead of the connectors snapping into place, the Quick Release device’s ring needs to be rotated counterclockwise while both the base and steering wheel are held in position. It’s a two man job. Since the wheel is swappable, gamers are likely going to be able to attach upcoming Thrustmaster steering wheels to the same base.
The Thrustmaster TX is compatible with both PC and Xbox One, but must be connected to a computer first for firmware updates (otherwise it’s not recognized by the console). In order to correctly detect the wheel via Xbox One, the base contains a Binder ID on the upper section of the base, communicating with the KINECT sensor for the most accurate calibration. For gamers with a KINECTless system...no worries, the wheel works just fine without it. There are three cables coming out of the base: one connecting the pedal set, a USB cable that connects to either the console or PC and one that goes to the power outlet. For anyone who purchases a Gearbox, there’s a fourth cable going out the back. Things can get somewhat clustered if the wheel sits on a table...so yeah, a wheel-stand is once again a godsend for cable management. Once everything is in place, the wheel briefly self-calibrates and is ready for action.
"Playing Forza 5 with the Thrustmaster TX transforms it into an entirely different game, making it impossible to go back to the gamepad."
Cars have a greater sense of weight and taking turns at high speeds is only achievable with precise downshifting and careful breaking. The difference is immediately apparent. The learning curve is steep, especially for gamers unaccustomed to playing with simulation settings. Playing Forza 5 with the Thrustmaster TX transforms it into an entirely different game, making it impossible to go back to the gamepad. For anyone having trouble with the default setting, the steering deadzone, acceleration/deceleration and wheel rotation angle can be tweaked via Forza’s driver profile menu.
Playing arcade racers works equally well. Games like Forza Horizon and Need For Speed: Rivals handle like a dream. Since arcade driving emphasizes quick reflexes, the wheel turns easier and has significantly less force feedback. The wheel defaults rotation settings to 900 degrees each time it powers up, but can be easily changed by pressing the left D-pad and mode buttons at the same time. Each flash corresponds to a different wheel rotation angle (DOR), but the default seems the most fitting for Forza.
"The Thrustmaster TX is one of the most impressive steering wheels on the market. For anyone who’s ever dreamt of driving a real race car, the TX is as close as it gets."
Surprisingly, the base remains whisper quiet. Because of its hard-working motor, the base tends to get warm and releases a slight rubbery odor. It’s probably due to the fast spinning dual-belt mechanism inside (it’s also new and needs a break-in period). Considering the strong kickback when spinning out or hitting other cars, one would expect subtle grinding. Aside from the strong vibration, the entire set gives off little to no sound.
The Thrustmaster TX is one of the most impressive steering wheels on the market. For anyone who’s ever dreamt of driving a real race car, the TX is as close as it gets. It’s an extraordinary piece of technology that transforms racing games into completely new experiences. The wheel is a hefty investment (it costs nearly as much as a new console), but its build quality and performance justify the asking price. Thrustmaster continues its long lasting tradition of delivering incomparable gaming peripherals, and the TX racing wheel may be one of the their most remarkable products to date.
Review by: Tin Salamunic