Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel

Reviewed by Admin | 27 August 2008
Genre: | Publisher: Fanatec | Developer: Fanatec
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good

Wireless

The Bad

Bad angle when attached to desk


Introduction





Late in 2006 Logitech released the G25 Racing Wheel into its own niche in the simracing market, originally priced at $499 AUD, it sat above the Logitech DFP in price and quality and well below the likes of the Thomas Super Wheel GT in price. So the G25 basically sat as king of the hill for the past 18 month unchallenged, until now that is. Fanatec (http://www.fanatec.com) a German gaming peripherals manufacturer have released their new Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel priced at US $350. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one to review. 





Specifications



  • Original Porsche 911 Turbo steering wheel design
  • Licensed by Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH
  • Authentic metal Porsche logo on wheel
  • Hand stitched leather wheel manufactured according to Porsche quality standards
  • Compatible with PC and Playstation 3 (all games which support ForceFeedback wheels)
  • 6+1 Speed H-pattern gear stick with realistic shifting feel
  • Additional exchangeable sequential gear stick included
  • Wireless pedals with + 100 hours battery life time (low battery warning on display and optional power supply cable for simulators)
  • Realistic clutch pedal with declining resistance
  • Pressure sensitive brake emulation with soft-stop
  • Diameter of wheel is 300 millimeters
  • Gear sticks are interchangeable and can be mounted on the left or right side
  • Turning angle can be adjusted in the wheel to 900�, 360� or 180� or in 1� steps by software
  • For PC: Strong table clamps with quick release, special non-slip rubber pads, and Velcro strips on the pedals keep everything in place. Integrated nuts allow the strong fixation on a gaming cockpit
  • For Playstation: Attachable lap wings and the attachment of the gear sticks to the wheel allow comfortable game play in the living room without the use of a table
  • Illuminated button symbols switch automatically between PC and Playstation
  • Powerful Mabuchi RS 550 Motor as used in RC cars delivers extra strong ForceFeedback effects
  • Additional 2 Force Feedback actuators in the wheel simulate motor vibrations
  • Extra smooth and silent belt drive without mechanical dead zone
  • High resolution wheel sensor
  • TUNING functions with LED display
  • Saves up to 5 wheel set-ups
  • Adjust ForceFeedback strength during game play
  • Adjust sensitivity independent from the game
Official pictures can be found here: 

http://www.fanatec.de/html/index.php?id=411&lang=%3C?=%20en%20?%3E





Packaging





The wheel came in a surprisingly small box, with a unique message on each flap, as seen in the photos, which gave me the feeling that I was opening something special. 





























Each part was individiually wrapped and neatly placed in the box. 





Setup





Rather than providing the user with a CD, Fanatec continued to pull out the stops by providing all drivers and manuals on a 1GB flash drive in the shape of a Porsche key. 











I simply inserted the key into an available USB port and away I went. 











The setup procedure was very straight forward and ran without incident. 

















The installer even has an update program that will check you have the latest version, download and install it for you. 

















The major selling point for this wheel is the fact that it is virtually wireless, requiring only a power cable connected to the wheel and a short lead connecting either shifter to the wheel housing. The wheel and pedals then connect to your pc via another Porsche usb wireless adapter. 











The adapter has 2 LED’s to indicate that the peripherals are connected, white for the wheel and shifter and red for the pedals. The pedals are powered by 4 AA batteries but can be connected to the wheel via a supplied cable. 











I ran into no issues while performing the install and both wheel and pedals connected instantly to my pc. The wheel also ships with a drilling template for those that want to permanently mount it to a desk or simulator. For those that want to use this with a PS3 the wheel attaches to a pair of wings to help keep the wheel from moving off your lap. I didn’t review these as I wanted to look at the wheel from a sim racers perspective. 





Software





The Fanatec Porsche software provides the user with a very simple interface to check that everything is working, calibrate and change basic wheel settings.

















It certainly isn’t as indepth as the Wingman software provided by Logitech however I haven’t found this to be a negative during my time with the product. Calibrating the wheel is a very simple affair, click a button on the wheel, hit enter, leave the wheel centred, hit enter and you are done. One thing I did discover however is that this needs to be done everytime to change the steering angle, not really a big deal as you are in the software anyway when you do this and it only takes 2 seconds. 





Wheel











The wheel is very nicely made, a lot thicker than the G25 and covered in hand stitched leather. There are a total of 10 usable buttons on the wheel and a dpad which comes in very handy for navigating the pit menu in most sims Each of the main thumb buttons are backlit with numbers from 1 to 8, the dpad and centre 2 buttons however are not. The wheel features 2 inconspicous paddle shifters that are mounted to and move with the wheel. Even though they are small they are easy to reach and give a satisfying click when you engage a new gear. 





The mounting system is curved clamp that extends from wheel and is secured by a single screw at the centre point. 











There are also 2 tensioners that are deployed once you have tightened the screw as much as possible to hold the wheel in place even more securely. 

















The wheel not only features force feedback but also has 2 rumble motors built into the wheel which come into use if a game supports it but also when you press the accelerator, unfoturnately this isn’t supported fully by many sims and kind of threw me at one point as I had stalled the car and the throttle was still delivering engine vibrations to the wheel. Luckily the wheel comes with a very cool feature in that you can adjust on the fly, even during a game, the levels for force feedback and rumble by use of the built in LCD and dpad. 





Shifter





When you purchase the 911 Turbo wheel you are provided with 2 seperate shifters, one for sequential shifts labelled the 2G and one for normal H pattern shifting labelled the 7G. 

















There are no extra buttons on either of the shifters, and I must say I was a little dissapointed that the level of build quality wasn’t carried across from the wheel itself. The shifters feel like they are made of very cheap plastic and its a shame that Fanatec couldn’t have provided leather shifter knobs to the same quality as the covering on the wheel. The internal mechanism of both shifters however feels very robust which came as a surprise. The H pattern is sprung towards the centre so shifting in that direction ie 2nd to 3rd is very easy as the gear stick actually pulls you in that direction, shifting out from centre ie 4th to 5th requires a bit more conscious effort as you are shifting against the spring. That being said in 6 1 hour races I only made a couple of misshifts and each gear slots beautifully into place with a satisfying clunk. The 2G shifter is feels equally as robust internally as the 7G shifter. Unfortunately its not all good news, the mounting mechanism for the shifter is probably the worst I have seen and in my opinion highlights that this wheel was designed primarily for use with the PS3 rather than a PC desktop or cockpit user. There are 2 Aluminium rods, which look totally out of place, that slide through the body of the wheel housing, they are then secured by 2 plastic tightening screws. 











The shifter then slides onto the aluminium rails, this means that you are now relying on the wheel mounting system to hold the wheel, the force feedback effects, the shifter and the forces applied by your constant gear changes. Mounting the shifter in a cockpit would take a serious amount of modding due to the short length of the PS/2 cable that connects it to the wheel housing and the fact that the cable plugs into the underside of the shifter unit. 





Pedals





Unfortunately, for me, this is the deal breaker. The pedals simply don’t stack up quality wise with the rest of the package. 











Yes you get clutch, brake and accelerator pedals unfortunately the pedal box itself is far to light and not deep enough to support vigorous braking as can be seen in the comparison videos between the this pedal box and the G25 pedal box. 





911 Pedals

















Three velco strips run front to back, however they are set below the height of the rubber stops, so if you have a short pile carpet, then the strips simply can’t get any purchase and the pedal box simply slips away from you when you push any of the pedals. 











I will say that the wireless pedals are responsive, I certainly couldn’t sense any delay, and they each have different resistances as you would expect, although the brake pedal travel is far to shallow before it hits the soft stop.They also automatically power down when not in use to conserve battery and reconnect automatically with a blip of the throttle. These positives unfortunately aren’t enough to pull it across especially when you consider the pedals themselves are plastic and not metal as is the case with the G25. 





In Use and FFB





Surprisingly over 6 hours of use across rFactor, GTR2 and Race07 the wheel mounting system held up nicely, coping with some fairly enthusiastic H pattern and sequential shifting. My one concern during usage was how long the the shifters would maintain their firm hold on the supporting rails being continually removed and replaced depending on the shifting style I required. The other thing that worried me about this mounting system was the plastic tightening screws that hold the rails in place are very soft, even tightening them with a similarly soft piece of plastic tears the screw heads up and I would hate to see what using an actual screwdriver would do. 





Being able to adjust the FFB strength in game and stop the rumble motors was a god send and I highly commend Fanatec for adding this feature. Force feedback is where this wheel shines though, the effects were as good if not better than the G25 and the single motor that provides the feedback is almost silent. 





The below video features the wheel running in rFactor through the cobblestone streets of Lienz Altstadt. Driving through the pits I demonstrate the braking feedback and during the 2 laps I let go of the wheel so you can see the feedback on the cobblestones. 












Unfortunately the package is let down by an unusable set of pedals and a wheel that sits physically too high and at too high an angle from the desk, one more thing that brings me to think this wheel was primarily designed to sit on a users lap infront of a TV. I tried to both kart brake and heel toe thoughout the test and the pedal box would either lift or move away from me as the velcro strips simply wouldn’t grip the carpet. To make this pedal box useable it needs to be centrally mounted on a long piece of wood, again something that shouldn’t be necessary. 





Conclusion





The Fanatec 911 Porsche Turbo Wheel could have been a great package if a few simple quality and design changes were made, instead it will become the wheel that most sim racers pass up in favour of the much better Logitech G25. It is unfortunate that this is the case and in my opinion it seems that all of the design flaws that will stop this being a sim racers wheel of choice correlate directly with it being targetted foremost at the PS3 racer sitting on his/her couch playing Gran Turismo 5. I hope that Fanatec take note of comments that have been provided by testers and fix the issues with this package and deliver a V2.0 because the wheel by itself is a brilliantly engineered piece of kit that is let down by the mounting system, the pedals and the cheap looking shifters.

 

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What do you think of Porsche 911 Turbo Wheel?
Post a review below!

Member reviews

Oh no no - AHM_Gotti |
| 10 April 2009

ok first things first, Its a Porsche steering wheel, Porsche car's are on alot of people's if i won the lotto list etc, regardless of the specs, this is firstly and foremost a GAMING accessory!! the only people who are going to be vaguely interested in this, are going to be Geeky car/porsche enthusiasts, I half kept expecting to see Jeremy Clarkson spring out of my monitor giving it a harsh review then handing it over to there tame racing driver (you know who). Maybe im being to critical, maybe this product will fly off the shelves and spawn a whole car based range of gadgets, lockheed martin joystick anyone? What im getting at here is the cross pollenation of consumer products today is a joke, David Beckham is famous for his football skills not the razor he shaves with or his selfnamed aftershave "A whiff of Beckham"etc, all in all lets leave the Gaming gear to the people who know, you wont see Logitech etc jumping into the car design field now would you!? remember, slapping a porsche label on something doesnt make it a porsche, just as having a 12 inch penis doesnt make you a porn star, just popular with the ladies. (cant believe I said that)

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