If you're seeking the absolute pinnacle of precision, immersion, and racing feedback, you're going to want to invest in the best direct drive wheel. However, direct drive's premium price tag may be off-putting for some who don't quite understand the technology. Fortunately, we've put together this guide to help out.
Direct drive offers a step up from force feedback as the wheel is directly mounted to the motor. This means you typically feel the full brunt of the vibrations in your fingertips in the most raw, unfiltered way possible. It's perhaps the most realistic feedback option as a result, hence why it's also one of the most expensive, and why it's usually reserved for the best racing wheels on the market exclusively.
Most of the biggest manufacturers in sim racing produce a direct drive wheel alongside force feedback models though, and luckily for you, we've sorted through them all to pick out the absolute best for this list. We've also separated our selection into categories based on their features and price, which should help you make a more informed choice on which wheel is best for you. Let's get into it...
Best direct drive wheel for racing games
- Logitech G PRO Racing Wheel - a great overall choice
- MOZA R5 Bundle - a relatively "budget-friendly" alternative
- Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro - midrange excellence
- Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000 - the premium of premium picks
1. Logitech G PRO Racing Wheel
Best direct drive wheel overall
Compatibility: PlayStation, Xbox, PC
The Logitech G PRO wheel is a versatile gem, catering seamlessly to racers across various platforms, including consoles and PCs, making it our overall top choice.
Fueled by direct drive technology, this wheel packs a punch with an impressive 11 Nm force and integrates Logitech's cutting-edge TRUEFORCE feedback technology. These combined features, as highlighted in our review, can transport you to a more hyper-realistic racing realm, all while you're sat on your sofa or at your desk at home. The reduced latency and heightened fidelity can amplify the immersion even further, elevating your experience to the next level.
Another standout feature is Logitech's pro button layout known as the 'thumbsweep'. Every button and dial is thoughtfully placed for convenient access, allowing players to stay laser-focused on the track while effortlessly engaging features like DRS.
The inclusion of magnetic gear-shift paddles, dual-clutch paddles, and an intuitive mounting system adds to the appeal as well, making it quick and easy to set up so you can dive right into racing.
- Read More: Best deals on sim racing equipment
2. MOZA R5 Bundle
Best budget direct drive wheel
Finding a truly great budget-friendly wheel with direct drive is nearly impossible seeing as the technology is one of the most expensive things you can invest in in sim racing. Your best bet, therefore, is to go for something like this MOZA R5 Bundle. Although it's not exactly cheap, it's far less expensive than some of its competitors, and yet still manages to pack quite a punch on the track.
As part of the bundle, you get a powerful direct drive wheel base capable of delivering 5.5 Nm of torque to help you feel everything the road in-game has to give. You also get a premium aluminium and steel wheel wrapped in leather that features a slew of additional buttons on the centre console to make accessing commonly used controls much easier.
There's a handy piece of software called MOZA Pit House you can download too, which allows you to adjust settings and create presets for you to quickly access when switching between games. Oh, you also get a set of pedals and a handy table clamp to boot. What more could you ask for?
- Read More: Best racing game deals
3. Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro
Best midrange direct drive wheel
Compatibility: PC, PlayStation
As highlighted in our review, the Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro stands out as an exceptional choice for next-gen racing that shouldn't completely rinse your bank account dry.
The wheel is impressively advanced, boasting an OLED head-up display and diffused RevLEDs that provide essential driving information. Moreover, it's equipped with four 5-way directional sticks mirroring the familiar PlayStation inputs, making it an excellent fit for the PS5 in particular, as well as a great choice for PS4.
However, its true highlight is its 100% custom direct drive motor, capable of delivering 5 Nm of torque as standard, or up to 8 Nm with the additional Boost Kit 180 kit (sold separately). It's not essential, of course, but it may be worth the additional investment if you want to unlock what this wheel and excellent wheel base truly have to offer.
Other notable details include the inclusion of paddle shifters and tactile rubber grips around the edges to enhance control and comfort. All of that added in makes it an excellent choice as it is, but the 8 Nm option is always there too if you want a little extra oomph.
- Read More: Best wheels for PS5
4. Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000
Best premium direct drive wheel
If you're willing to really push the boat out on a direct drive wheel, then we'd highly recommend checking out the Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000.
Ferrari-branding aside, this thing is an absolute monster as it's capable of producing up to 10 Nm of consistent torque, with next to no saturation spoiling your immersion, hence why Thrustmaster claims it's excellent for esports.
It's also a thing of beauty, with it being a 1:1 scale replica of the wheel from the Ferrari SF1000 single-seater race car. That has its perks, as the wheel itself features 21 LEDs and a 4.3-inch display to present you key in-game information.
There are 25 buttons on the console too, allowing you to control your vehicle's settings on the move, plus the entire central faceplate is made from carbon fibre to keep it lightweight and accurate to what you'd find in real-life race cars.
If you weren't sold on its price tag, we think those features and its power make it well worth considering.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Don't worry if you've been caught up with a few questions in your mind reading this guide. We've answered some of the most frequently asked queries below.
Is a direct drive wheel better for sim racing?
Direct drive wheels are often considered superior in sim racing due to their higher torque, quicker response times, and enhanced fidelity in force feedback seeing as fewer internal components getting in the way of the motor's raw power. As a result, they typically provide a more realistic and immersive experience by delivering stronger, more detailed feedback compared to belt or gear-driven wheels.
The trouble is, that direct drive wheels tend to be more expensive. So, while they offer superior performance, their suitability also depends on your budget, skill level, and how deeply you want to dive into the sim racing experience.
Are direct drive wheels compatible with all games and platforms?
This is a tricky one to answer because compatibility can vary based on the wheel's manufacturer and the gaming platform or game itself.
Typically, direct drive wheels are compatible with a wide range of racing games on PC, as they often come with drivers and software that allow customization and compatibility adjustments. However, when it comes to consoles like PlayStation or Xbox, compatibility might be more limited due to proprietary hardware and software restrictions.
Some direct drive wheels, like the Logitech G PRO Racing Wheel, are compatible with multiple platforms, offering interchangeable or adaptable features to work across PC, PlayStation, and Xbox, while others, like the MOZA R5, work on PC only.
As a result, it's incredibly important you verify the compatibility provided by the manufacturer before purchasing a direct drive wheel, especially if you have a specific game or platform in mind. Additionally, community forums and user experiences can offer valuable insights into compatibility issues or workarounds for specific games or platforms if you're unsure.
How much does a direct drive wheel cost?
The price of a direct drive wheel depends on the brand, model, features, and quality of the product. Generally speaking, direct drive wheels are more expensive than force feedback wheels like the Logitech G920. However, there are models, like the aforementioned MOZA R5, which are closer in price to the likes of the Logitech G920 than other direct drive peripherals.
It all comes down to research at the end of the day. If you find a direct drive wheel that's the same price or cheaper than comparable force feedback models, it's probably too good to be true. Make sure you read reviews to get a better understanding of the quality of the direct drive wheel you're looking to buy, regardless of its price tag.