While the top of the sim racing market gets a lot of attention, entry-level hardware is just as important.
So enter the T128. A brand-new wheel from Thrustmaster aimed at the newest and youngest sim racers.
This wheel, which retails for £169.99 in the UK and $199.99 in the US, has just hit the market but is the Thrustmaster T128 worth buying? We have been able to get our hands on the new wheel, so let's take a look!
Review unit provided by the manufacturer. Reviewed across multiple games on PC.
Facts and figures
Let's start with the basics. What exactly do you get when you buy the Thrustmaster T128?
Inside the compact box comes the wheel itself along with a table clamp and a two-pedal set.
The wheel features Thrustmaster's Hybrid Drive technology which uses a combination of belt & gears to provide force feedback to the driver. The wheel features paddle shifters to allow you to change gears and 12 buttons plus a directional pad to allow you to navigate menus and settings without the need for a controller, keyboard, or mouse.
Of course, the T128 also comes with all the necessary cabling to link the pedals to the wheel and the wheel to your console or PC.
One issue we had was that the pedal cable is not particularly long. It was too short to loop behind my desk in a clean manner. Instead, it had to come up from the front which was less than ideal.
Outside of that the setup is simple. Plugging the cables into the back of the wheel is easy, and they have clips and a velcro wrap to keep everything in place.
The table clamp is simple to use and very secure. It's the same system as the old Thrustmaster TMX/T150 model and while it doesn't have great clearance for any support bars, it has a strong grip that will keep the wheel in place while racing.
There is no carpet grip or anything on the base of the pedals so they will move under your feet unless you can brace them against something.
Feel and build quality
As an entry-level wheel there are obviously going to be some cost-saving measures when it comes to the overall feel and quality. This is no direct-drive, mega-powerful wheelbase with switches, dials, and hall effect paddles.
The T128 is plastic through and through, and small as well. The 10-inch diameter wheel is smaller than Thrustmaster's previous entry-level wheel the TMX/T150. The buttons are less impactful, and the gear paddles less satisfying to pull.
That doesn't mean the wheel is bad though. You still get a good feel through the wheel thanks to the hybrid force feedback system and there are enough buttons to map for all but the most complicated racing titles.
Like the wheel, the pedals are smaller than their predecessor too.
As someone with large feet it did make them awkward to use, but not impossible. Again though, this is an entry-level wheel and one that is designed more for casual use than multiple hours every day.
The Thrustmaster T128 will be a perfect entry into the sim racing world for players everywhere, but due to its small size we recommend it especially for younger racers.
If you have a son, daughter, niece, or nephew that loves racing and is still using a controller then the T128 is perfect for them. The wheel is comfortable to use and a doddle to setup. You won't find anything better at this price point either.
My first racing wheel was the Thrustmaster TMX, which the T128 is set to replace in the Thrustmaster range. The T128 does not quite match the quality and feel of that wheel, but given Thrustmaster has been able to keep the price super-low, the T128 is remarkable. The force feedback is reliable if unspectacular but delivers the kind of racing experience you expect with a wheel at this price.
It is a perfect entry into sim racing for those making the transition from controller, and with the time of year it is the perfect Christmas present too!