Enthusiasts of motor racing games whether they be for the PC or a games console all know for the best play experience a steering wheel is an essential peripheral.
Over the 1990s there were attempts at making these gaming devices more realistic and accurate such as the Thrustmaster T2 wheel which used steel in its construction and the recent Momo Racing wheel from Logitech.
Quality steering wheels were quite expensive in the range of several hundred dollars (AUD) but with the onset of cheap gaming consoles peripheral vendors looked to simply their products to be more cost competitive and appeal to a wider audience by using more plastics and simplifying clamping mechanisms and pedals. The overall reduction in the number of racing titles being released also had an effect on this segment.
A very heavy, bulky and expensive racing wheel will not be very appealing to casual gamers or to those wishing to buy a wheel as a gift for family or friends.
Racing wheel features that have been lacking since the 1990s have typically been related to gearbox shifters and pedals. Vendors address the actual wheels by adding paddles and control buttons and even in some instances realistic textures and surfaces for the wheel coverings for the premium wheels such as the Logitech momo, but it has not been until recently that shifters and clutch pedals have become desirable features especially when they complement the number of quality racing titles that are currently available in the market.
US based review site BenchmarkReviews.com has published a review of Thrustmaster's Force Feedback Pro Clutch racing wheel which includes a clutch pedal
The clutch pedal gives a more realistic and enjoyable experience to the gamer.
The review makes an honest and worthwhile attempt at highlighting the features , advantages and disadvantages of the product as well as comparing and contrasting the wheel to other makes and models. The reviewer has also including a family member's opinion and experience with the wheel.
The introduction to the review makes note of the decrease in the number of vendors vendors offering gaming steering wheels which are now down to two companies. This is not entirely correct.
The number of choices even ten or fifteen years ago was never that many. Microsoft, Logitech, Dexxa, Saitek, Guillemot, Thrustmaster have all released various models of wheels over the years.
With consolidation in the industry, Thrustmaster became a Guillemot brand and now only offers gaming peripherals under the Thrustmaster brand, Dexxa is a Logitech brand and Saitek have somewhat lost their the market presence they once had.
The reviewer notes does note however that vendors have had to reinvent the wheel. Note is also made that the pedals lack weight, a common trait and that the wheel does not have a 6 speed shifter, but rather a sequential shift that is carried over from other Thrustmaster wheels
Mountings, and PC Interface are also covered as is a varied selection of PC games used to test the wheel.
Mention is made to the Logitech G25 but not the Fanatec Porsche 911 wheel which has both a clutch pedal and a 6 speed H pattern shifter, which addresses the concerns of the reviewer regarding a 6 speed shift and clutch in the one unit.
In all a comprehensive review of the product and a good insight into gaming steering wheels in general
Fanatec Porsche 911 Steering wheel: http://www.fanatec.de/html/index.php?id=210&lang=en