What is the Thrustmaster T150?
The Thrustmaster T150 is one of the most affordable force feedback race wheels for PS4. If you want to try out a ‘proper’ gaming wheel but don’t want to spend upwards of £300 on the Thrustmaster T300RS and a decent pair of pedals, you’re in the right place.
Those who have already owned a few force feedback wheels will likely find the pedals cheap-feeling and may not like the residual notchiness of the force feeback. However, when the Thrustmaster T150 costs half the price of its big brother at £110, it’s one of the best choices if you have a feeling it may end up gathering dust in-between two-week-long obsessions with racing game X.
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Thrustmaster T150: Design and Features
New to force feedback wheels? They give you realistic physical feedback about what’s going on with the car you’re driving. Almost any bargain basement wheel lets you turn, accelerate and brake with greater fidelity than a gamepad or keyboard, but force feedback wheels use motors to pull against you as you drive.
They mimic the sort of forces you might feel in the real world as you slide a mini Cooper around a corner, and then lose control only to crash into the barrier because the real world doesn’t actually work like Mario Kart. Force feedback lets you feel the moment your tires lose grip.
There are two main versions of the Thrustmaster T150 on sale. The normal one and the Ferrari edition. Both work with the PS4, PS3 and PC.
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Thrustmaster sent us the Ferrari version, and it’s the sort of accessory design that might make you groan. Slap on some red trim and an ultra-plasticky yellow Ferrari logo, and a £130 wheel suddenly looks like something you might pick up at Toys ‘R’ Us in a sale for £30.
It looks a bit like a toy, doesn’t it? The ‘normal’ version comes across better, ditching the Ferrari logo and switching red for PS4-staple blue. But neither version looks like as moody or serious as the T300RS.
Still, buying a racing wheel is to admit you’ve far dug far enough into the hobby you could be buried by ridicule. Might as well lean into it.
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Get your hands on the Thrustmaster and it feels good, mind. Even though there’s little of the metal or flashy fabrics you get in the Logitech G29 or, to a lesser extent, the Thrustmaster T300RS.
The wheel? Plastic. The base? Plastic. However, we’re talking about tough plastic, not the stuff of a £30 toy.
Parts of the grip use rubber too. That’s what the coloured bits are. These give you excellent grip, although the texturing on the rest of the wheel’s plastic makes it feel perfectly decent too. For the specs fans out there, it’s a 1080-degree rotation wheel, just like the top models.
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Rubber on hard plastic keeps the price down
That’s the great thing about the Thrustmaster T150. It has all of the basics you get in the most expensive wheels, just without some of the flashier extras.
Where this shows most prominently is the pedal set. You get a two-pedal board, and it both looks and feels basic. We’re back in toy town.
Unlike the Logitech G29, there’s no progressive break action and no clutch. And while the brake has a bit more tension than the accelerator, you can put the pedal to the plastic without any of the effort of the real thing.
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Thrustmaster knows this is a weak point. It’s even a weak point in the much more expensive Thrustmaster T300RS package. That’s why they also sent us the extra pedal set, the T3PA Pro, to try. This is an excellent 3-pedal set that costs an extra £150 and has ultra-sturdy metal pedals that really show you what sort of plasticky trash the T150 comes with.
You get variable resistance, a much sturdier feel and far greater realism with the T3PA Pro. However, I can’t imagine many people looking to save on the wheel spending big on pedals, particularly when they cost more than the entire T150 package. And does a cheap-feeling pedal really matter that much?
The plastic pedals are even flimsier than the R300RS’s
As someone who has used racing wheels on and off for about 15 years now, with the things being used 10 per cent of the time, gathering dust the other 90 per cent, I think even these ropey pedals are probably ‘good enough’ for many. It’s the wheel that fights against you. It’s the wheel that really sucks you into a race more than a gamepad could.
The wheel also features just about all the buttons you’d find on a regular PS4 pad (bar the sticks and the touchpad) so there’s no need to keep a DualShock 4 beside you as you play.
There’s no separate gear stick included with the T150 either. Instead it uses racing style shifters that sit behind the wheel. They’re high-quality metal paddles that show none of the cut-price tactics you get with the main wheel construction.
Thrustmaster T150: Force Feedback and Performance
So how good is the force feedback? In most respects it’s great. It’s as fast and powerful as either the T300RS or Logitech G29. Make a turn at speed in something like DriveClub or Project Cars and you can feel the motors pulling against you like a pitbull that won’t give up its toy.
The fidelity is largely just as good too. I had assumed there’d be a hit either in the strength or the ‘fidelity’ of the feedback compared with the top force feedback wheels, but there really isn’t.
It’s this that means, despite the naff pedals and the just-ok design, the Thrustmaster T150 is still a great force feedback wheel. The most likely reason to become dissatisfied with it is, as is so often the case, discovering there’s something better out there.
So why is this a cheaper model than the R300RS? The more expensive model uses some more expensive-feeling materials: some metal and a full rubber-coated wheel rather than just a plastic one with rubbery bits on it. The most important change is how it works internally, though.
Wheels like this use either belts or gears to transfer force from the motor to the wheel. Belt-driven systems are preferred style because they give you a smooth feel, while you can feel the granular effect of the ‘teeth’ of a geared system.
The Thrustmaster T150 is odd because it uses both a belt and a geared part to link motor to wheel. Its gear part feels like it uses pretty wide teeth, getting you much less fine granularity than the Logitech G29. Turn it and you can feel the ‘notches’, even when it’s not plugged in. However, the wide, soft clicks of the gear are smoothed-over a bit by the belt. The resulting feel is, well, pretty good.
If you’re not used a force feedback wheel before, this may sound like navel-gazing nonsense, but it is really what separates these wheels beyond how they feel between your fingers. In summary, the Logitech G29 has a fine granularity to it, the belts of the Thrustmaster T300RS make it pretty smooth to turn, and while the cheaper Thrustmaster T150’s notches are wider than the G29’s they are ultimately a bit smoother or less pronounced too.
It’s quite remarkable that for as little as £109 you can get something roughly comparable with the T300RS.
Like that higher-end wheel, the Thrustmaster T150 has a fan that kicks in after you’ve been using it for 20 minutes or so, and if you play with the volume down low, it can be a little distracting. It sounds a bit like the fan of a small desktop PC. However, this comes with using a belt system: those things generate heat.
Should you buy the Thrustmaster T150?
The Thrustmaster T150 is what you get if you take the T300RS, strip off the fancier bits and regress the force feedback system just a little. Aggressive online price cuts to the Logitech G29 have already seen the cost of this wheel drop to £109. And at that price it’s hard not to recommend.
Yes, the Thrustmaster T300RS is smoother, and the feel/pedals of the Logitech G29 are a lot nicer. However, rival force feedback wheels cost 50-100 per cent more. And, crucially, this wheel gets you a similar quality of force feedback.
We wouldn’t recommend this wheel if you’re going to spend 20 hours a week for the foreseeable future using the thing. Spend the extra and get a T300RS and the T3PA pedals in that case. However, if you have a suspicion your relationship with a racing wheel might end being an on/off love affair, it’s easy to recommend when it’s £50 cheaper than the Logitech G29.
A great force feedback wheel for those on a sensible budget.