Controller vs Steering wheel: Which is better for sim racing?

If you're a keen sim racer, you may have wondered whether a controller or steering wheel is better for racing games.

Fortunately, we've put together this guide to compare the pros and cons of each so you can come to an informed decision on which is best for you.

Without further delay, we'll start with realism and performance...

Controller vs Steering wheel - Realism and performance

One of the biggest benefits of choosing a racing wheel, like this Thrustmaster TMX featured in our list of the best wheels for FH5, is that it is a more accurate representation of driving a racing car in real life.

thrustmaster tmx
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Image Credit: Thrustmaster

Moreover, if you select a device that comes with Force Feedback or Direct Drive, then you get a ton of extra information on how your car is performing so you can make minor adjustments to improve it.

This is because these simulation techniques add resistance in accordance with what's occurring on your screen. So, if you run wide, then you'll have to fight with your wheel to obtain a grip on the uneven surface.

The addition of Force Feedback or Direct Drive may, in turn, improve your overall racing skill once you become accustomed to using a wheel as you have more control over your vehicle compared to using a controller.

Controller vs Steering wheel - Price

It may come as no surprise that a mid-range racing wheel, like this Logitech G923, is considerably more expensive than a high-end pro controller like thisXbox Elite Series 2.

xbox elite
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Image Credit: Xbox

This is partly due to the fact a racing wheel is much larger and, therefore, requires more materials to manufacture.

Also, a racing wheel is typically made from more durable materials like metal and leather because as it is put through more stress and strain than a controller while racing.

However, that's not to say you can't pick up a relatively inexpensive wheel.

For example, this Hori Overdrive, featured in our best budget racing equipment list, will likely be similarly priced to some of the top pro controllers around.

Controller vs Steering wheel - Versatility

This is where a controller comes into its own as it is far more versatile away from the racing aspect of gaming.

While games like FH5 include a lot of racing, it is ultimately an objective-based game that includes cut scenes, menus, lottery wheel spins. This will likely be easier to navigate using a controller.

Moreover, FH5 is a controller-based game Four-time Forza Racing Championship Champion Aurelien Mallet has previously said:

“I mainly use the controller on Forza Motorsport because the game is made around this device... Difference is it’s a bit more difficult to recover from a mistake on the wheel, hence why people mainly use a controller."
Aurelien Mallet

Controller vs Steering wheel: Which is better for sim racing?

Choosing between the two will come down to personal preference and which you find easier to use for sim racing.

However, we feel that there is a lot more to gain from using a wheel than a controller once you're used to using the device.

This is due to the added control and realism you get from a wheel for racing, especially if you have a Force Feedback or Direct Drive device.

That is one of the reasons why a large majority of the professional eSports gamers use racing wheels on games like F1 2021 as they can usually make minor adjustments far easier compared to when using a controller.

Read More: Best controllers for Forza Horizon 5 available now

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