Thrustmaster is the world-leading manufacturer of racing wheels in the £300 to £700 price bracket, let's not shy away from that fact. The T300 RS, TX and T-GT (the fantastic Grand Turismo Sport peripheral from 2017) are some of our favourites when looking at peripherals more befitting smaller budgets than, for example, Accuforce or Fanatec, and with the TS-XW having joined the Thrustmaster gadget roster it's been confirmed that they can create racing magic for under £700 (and that price includes the pedals).
TS-XW is a PC/Xbox One wheel based on the TS-PC racing model but with a couple of notable differences. It has a beautiful, dark red paint job on the sides of the base of the wheel, the wheel itself looks sporty in a modern way with a flat-surfaced back and front, it's covered in real suede, and sports an Xbox menu button in the middle. Just like the manufacturer's other gaming wheels sitting at different price points, this one uses a belt-driven steering mechanism and even though the character is recognisable, it does feel more even and more powerful than any other racing peripheral we've tried from Thrustmaster. To set the wheel to its maximum force feedback isn't a particularly fun experience since it makes holding it incredibly difficult. Sure, a direct-drive wheel is both more precise and definitely more powerful, but we find it hard to believe that players who are on the hunt for better lap times will miss out on response or power when using the Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 considering it felt like we almost dislocated our wrists multiple times during our test sessions.
The Sparco wheel is, of course, the biggest difference when comparing the peripheral to the original TS wheel and even though we usually dislike the trend of flatter wheels for actual racing we'd say it works really well in this case. The wheel itself is of substantial size but not too big (31 centimetres) and is just right in terms of thickness. Nine face buttons that players can re-map to pretty much any racing game worth playing adorn the wheel and the gear paddles. Speaking of which, the paddles are made from a great, easy to grip material that feels good with a responsive mechanical "click" that, during our tests, made us avoid using the separate Sparco gear shift that Thrustmaster offers. The paddles can also be moved around since Thrustmaster had the great idea to drill multiple sets of holes for the insertion of the paddles in the base of the peripheral. The wheel is assembled with the help of the same plastic threads (with the paired lock-pins) you'd find on the T-GT, TS and T300 wheels which means that you can reuse your old wheels if you'd happen to have an earlier model from Thrustmaster lying around.
The wheel and the wheelbase on the TS-XW Racer Sparco P310 are both incredible and can most certainly compete with more costly options on the market. The one thing that we feel isn't on par with the rest of the peripheral would be the T3PA pedals simply because of the fact that they feel cheap and unworthy of being paired with such a powerful, high-quality wheel like the TS-XW Racer Sparco P310. Thrustmaster is not manufacturing any load cell pedals which is a shame, because they make a huge difference regarding how the brakes feel in simulations like Assetto Corsa and iRacing. Sure, the T3PA pedals work fine when playing games other than full on racing simulators but Thrustmaster should truly consider manufacturing high quality pedals with actual metal pedal plates and load cell technology for the breaks.
If you're looking for a wonderful wheel for PC or Xbox One to help you sharpen up your lap times in Forza Motorsport 7, we can highly recommend the TS-XW Racer Sparco P310. This is because even though the pedals feel a bit too cheap for our liking, this peripheral is still a phenomenal package and a powerful set of racing gear.
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