Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel Review

by - 8 years ago

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Introduction


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Gaming is a hobby and like most other hobbies, you can choose your own level of participation; do you just want to casually play games from time to time with a regular controller, or do you want to invest time and money in creating a really cool and more involving setup? Of course this can be an endless obsession; new computers, screens, seats, peripherals and more and while I’d love to go into creating a full setup, today I’ll be taking a look at the new Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel, which promises a minimal fuss solution to improving the racing/driving sim aspects of your gaming setup.

There are lots of great racing wheels on the market and it can be hard to define which one would be best suited to your needs and budget. The new model I have here today isn’t cheap at £169.99, but it’s still actually rather affordable for a premium wheel; I think it’s safe to say that this is a mid-budget product. At this level of investment, you’re going to be expecting something of quality, and the first part of that comes from the official Ferrari licence that Thrustmaster currently hold. The 458 Italia Edition steering wheel is modelled on, you guessed it, the real Ferrari 458 Italia steering wheel.

The wheel is very well equipped and features all of the basics you need to get you started for use on both PC and Xbox 360. One of the more unique and interesting aspects of this wheel is that it features an adjustable steering column which is fixed to the pedals, making this a one-piece unit with a heavy-duty carry handle; it can even be folded flat and stored out of the way, such as under a bed or in a cupboard.

  • Metal structure is fully adjustable in length and height, to adapt to all gamers (adults/children) and any type of seating (sofa/chair/armchair)
  • Foldable with carrying handle for quick and easy storage
  • Wide, weighted base (total weight of more than 10 kg) for optimal stability
  • Streamlined “Musetto” body in the style of the Ferrari 458 Scuderia Black
  • WHEEL: 7/10 exact replica of the wheel on the Ferrari F458
  • Ultra-precise wheel, featuring 16-bit precision (more than 65,000 values on the wheel’s steering)
  • Sequential Up & Down paddle shifters crafted of metal, for Ferrari GT-style driving
  • Manettino® dial: lets you change settings directly while driving in the game
  • XXL realistic wheel: 28 cm in diameter!
  • Grips with rubber texture for optimal comfort
  • Headset connector lets you chat online (headset not included)
  • 2 metal pedals built directly into the cockpit, for total stability
  • Metal pedals with long range of travel, inspired by the shape of the pedals on the Ferrari car
  • Brake pedal with progressive resistance
  • G.V.S. technology– High-precision
  • Exclusive “G.V.S. (Global Vibration System)” technology: allows for vibrations in games to be felt throughout the entire cockpit – including the wheel, steering column and pedal set

The packaging is huge, but this is a pretty big unit overall so that was to be expected. The carry handle hangs through the side of the box, allowing you to move it around a little easier; although it’s still not easy to carry around due to its overall weight.

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Everything is nicely packaged in the interior, with protective foam, boxes and plastic around the important components to help keep them safe and scratch free during transit.

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In the box you’ll find a couple of setup guides and a small collection of high quality screws and an Allen Key; these are needed to attach the wheel to the steering column.

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A Closer Look


The base unit is pretty big, its size offers extra stability that you’ll be grateful for when you want to get a little heavy-handed through the corners on your favourite racer; the extra size and weight of the base also means that you’re less likely to kick the unit away from you when slamming on the pedals.

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The adjustable wheel column is heavily reinforced with a durable metal mount that requires five thick screws to hold the wheel in place. On the interior of the column is a screw-fix hook up cable that should ensure you never get a loose wire after mounting the wheel.

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The back of the column is covered with a plastic shell that is styled on the steering column of a real Ferrari; not that this will improve its performance, but it certainly looks cool.

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Around the back you’ll find two big dials that are used to lock the angle of the steering column, perfect for folding the column down so you can easily store the wheel away after gameplay, but also handy for increasing the height and angle of the wheel.

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The pedals are cast metal and feel incredibly durable, each mounted on a reinforced mount with a progressive force spring on the interior.

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There are ten thick rubber pads on the base of the pedals that help keep it locked firmly in place on carpet and hard surfaces.

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A Closer Look Continued


The wheel is very nicely designed, with all of the major controls located in easily reachable areas.

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The Ferrari design looks superb, with the lovely logo shining out from the centre.

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There is a super grippy rubber coating on each side of the wheel, and a harder but lightly textured plastic which makes up the rest of the wheel.

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On the left side you have the back button, Home button and an Engine Start button; which is actually a cleverly disguised D-Pad.

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Above those buttons you’ll find the X and the Y buttons. Each feature a unique ergonomic shape that make them very easy to find and press using your thumb without needing to look at the wheel.

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B and A buttons are on the right side of the wheel; which are the same style as the X and Y on the left.

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Also on the right side of the wheel is the start button and what looks like a race mode toggle; though it always returns to “race” as its on a spring, but it can be turned a little to the left or right, giving you two extra configurable switches for your game; perfect for camera adjustments, brake bias, etc…

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Around the back you’ll find two thick metal pedals with heavy-duty switches that have a satisfying tactile click.

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Tucked away below each paddle you’ll find another button, which are basically RB and LB; these complete the set and give you all the major buttons you would typically find on a Xbox 360 controller.

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Installation and Performance


The wheel is very easy to set up; just attached the screw-in cable that is located in the back of the wheel and steering column to each other, then screw in the five fixing screws that were included in the box. This only took me a couple of minutes to complete and once it’s done the whole unit looks incredible.

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Loosen the dials in the base unit and you can adjust the angle of the steering column up and down, loosen the dial on the column and you can extend the wheel up or down; allowing quick and easy adjustment to suit your seating position and the length of your legs/arms.

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Gaming Performance

Tweaking the setup on this wheel is very straight forward, it’s easy enough that I can quickly adjust the reach for my 8-year-old son to play and to make sure he can reach the pedals, then adjust it back again for my go. Installing drivers wasn’t an issue either, given that the wheel operates off of the standard Xbox 360 Windows Driver, which has been installed on my computer for ages already, so it really was as simple as plug and play.

The wheel does feature a limited feedback feature, which gives you a moderate vibration about on par with the stock Xbox 360 controller, what is unique about it is that it can be felt in the wheel, steering column and the pedal base. While playing games like Race Room you could feel the buzz of the curb on the apex through the pedals; pretty cool. One thing the wheel does lack is full force feedback, the resistance on the wheel is provided by a strong spring, which sounds rubbish, but it actually feels very well-balanced and the force increases the further you turn the wheel. The upside of this is the wheel operates virtually silent, I often find motor driver wheels are quite noisy and can be tiring over longer races.

The floor standing setup means you don’t have to clamp anything to your desk or a table, this means the wheel can free stand, perfect for desk use, in front of the TV from the couch or even as part of a more serious race setup if you want to use a custom seat. Not once did I have issues with the floor pedals moving, no doubt thanks to the extra weight of this being a one piece unit.

Need for Speed Shift 2, Dirt 3, Grid 2, Live for Speed, Assetto Corsa and Euro Truck Simulator 2 all worked perfectly with the wheel; although some took more configuration than others, especially ETS2 and LFS. The wheel feels accurate with no dead zones, the pedals are responsive and offer a nice level of resistance, the spring return on the wheel is strong, but not invasive and the overall build quality of the setup feels rock solid, the unit hasn’t moved around once when in use.

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Final Thoughts


Price

The price of the Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel isn’t exactly cheap, as it will set you back £164.99 from Overclockers.co.uk, so it’s not exactly an impulse buy for most people, but it’s still very affordable compared to some of the enthusiast models on the market, which often cost between £200 – £500. There are budget models on the market for under £100, but they don’t really compare in terms of quality and features.

Overview

I’m very happy with the Thrustmaster Ferrari GT wheel, it’s unlike any other racing wheel I’ve used and the unique all-in-one design adds a level of convenience that you don’t often get with most racing wheels. Clamping a wheel to your desk can be a good way of doing things, but for me, it comes with several draw backs. The wheel being clamped means that it blocks access to my keyboard and any force feedback causes things to rattle around on my desk, which is never a good thing. My desk is glass and the clamps could damage the finish, it takes a while to clamp and unclamp it and the cables often attach at the back, meaning they need to trail across my desk. Having the wheel on my desk also means I have to sit closer to my screen and this leaves me with limited leg room as my desk is against a wall and that means space for using the pedals would be limited; with the Thrustmaster wheel I can move my chair back, get a perfect angle, I don’t have to clamp anything and I can adjust the wheel height and distance from the pedals; this is a win win situation for me. The all-in-one design also allows me to use this wheel while sitting on the couch, something that can’t be done with clamp-on wheels; unless you add a table or some other mounting solution.

The fold away design is great for storing the wheel and while it is quite large and heavy, it folds flat enough to fit under a bed, on top of a wardrobe or tucked away in a cupboard without too much trouble. The fact that it runs from a single USB cable also makes it super easy to set up, just plug and play without the worry of external power adaptors. It also works on PC and Xbox 360, which is great for fans of games like Live for Speed, but who also love the occasional game of Forza.

Build quality is superb, the only issue being that the plastic chassis on the back of the wheel housing developed a squeak, but a minor adjustment to some of the screws and that problem was quickly resolved. The pedals feel durable and you can put a heavy foot down with confidence.

Not having powerful force feedback that fights you through the corners may be a deal breaker for some, I personally love racing on full force wheels such as the Thrustmaster T500, but they’re often quite impractical for casual gameplay. Full force feedback leaves my arms tired after a few races and the sound of the wheel motors can be quite distracting and noisy, especially when I like to play my games on an evening when the kids are in bed; so the virtually silent performance of the GT 458 is far more appealing to me.

Pros

  • Durable build quality
  • Adjustable angle and height
  • Fold-away design
  • Competitive price
  • Ferrari inspired wheel
  • Compatible with PC and Xbox 360
  • Accurate wheel and pedals

Cons

  • No full force feedback may put some users off

Neutral

  • Fold away design is convenient, but keep in mind this is still a big and heavy unit

“Hardcore racing fanatics will still likely want to invest in a £200+ professional wheel setup such as the GT 500 and if you can afford it, please do, because they’re awesome! The GT 458 is a nice middle ground, as it offers great performance, a convenient all-in-one design and very good build quality for around half the price of most high-end racing setups.”

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Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel Review

Thank you Overclockers UK for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look
  3. A Closer Look Continued
  4. Installation and Performance
  5. Final Thoughts
  6. View All

Author Bio

1 Comment on Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Cockpit 458 Steeling Wheel Review

  • Avatar conservative61 says:

    Looks like an interesting piece of hardware. If it sells well, perhaps ThrustMaster my come out with an aircraft variation for flight simulator. Now THAT I would buy in a heartbeat. How ’bout it, ThrustMaster?

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