Thrustmaster is a company that has been present in the gaming scene for various years with various wheels on the market. However these wheels never really took a liking in my mind so much so that when looking around for a new wheel i never even considered them.
However in the past few years Thrustmaster stepped up their game and entered the big market with the T500 RS competing against other company’s such as Logitech and Fanatec creators of some amazing Force Feedback wheels. With this came another exciting wheel this time in partnership with Ferrari.
The Thrustmaster T500 Ferrari F1 Integral wheel with its official license from Ferrari was set to join the sim racing market as an expensive but amazing wheel with various features all discussed below in our extensive review on the product.
T500 Wheel Base
The T500 RS wheel base features an industrial strength 65 watt Force Feedback motor: using a unique double belt driven system to give the player the best feel possible through the wheel. As like any new wheel, product or experience it can take some getting used to so you can expect to be adjusting your force feedback settings often when you first start just to find the right feedback strength you like.
The T500 base uses a unique system developed by Thrustmaster, the H.E.A.R.T HallEffect AccuRate Technology bringing an ultra-precise racing wheel with 65,536 values on the steering axis. The Force Feedback motor is what can only be described as Super-powerful and quick responding as you feel the effects of your in-game actions almost instantly with virtually no deadzone.
The large dual belt system brings a fluid and smooth action to the steering motion and most importantly is one of the quietest wheels i have tested. While the wheel is turned on as you move it through its adjustable rotation angle of 50 to 1080 degrees you will virtually hear nothing coming from the belt system. During the many hours of testing i put the wheel through not once did i encounter any problems with the Force Feedback such as the belts slipping or any problems with the wheels calibration.
When first turning on the wheel you will be faced with the wheel doing its calibration. This involves the wheel running through its entire 1080 degrees of rotation. For an insight into the extreme feedback given off by the wheel you can launch the wheels drivers(PC Users) and visit the test forces tab. This generates various options for you to test the Force Feedback including Turbo Boost, Explosion and Blown Tire.
With modern simulation games such as iRacing on the PC the T500 Integral Wheel really stands out from the rest of the wheels offered on today’s market. With the highest feedback settings possible your mind will be blown at the strength and rumble the wheel produces even with the slightest bump on the road.
The T500 wheel base also has various buttons within easy reach of the driver. The most striking of those are the large paddle shifters on the front of the wheel base. The paddles are firmly attached to the wheel base for when decide to upgrade and buy the GT Wheel rim which doesn’t feature any paddle shifter unlike the F1 wheel rim. This brings us to the next point, the steering column features an almost quick release system for switching between the F1 rim and GT rim.
This is performed by simply removing one screw on the steering column then proceeding to loosen off the quick release system before pulling the wheel away from the wheel base. This is an extremely useful feature as it allows for you to change between the different wheel rims available if you have a preferred wheel rim for a certain game.
There is also now need to worry if you may be using a rig such as the GT Omega racing Simulator Pro or maybe those who are simply using a desk setup as the wheel accommodates both groups of people with an included clamp system in the box. The clamp is simply fixed to the wheel base using one large screw allowing you to clamp it down safely to the surface. Also mounting holes are standard on the wheel base with most modern rig’s opting supporting the T500 wheel. If however your rig doesn’t you should simply let the manufacturer know and they will supply you with a drill template.
T500 Pedal Set
The pedal unit of the T500 wheel is extremely sturdy with the complete design consisting of a metal structure. Not only does the fully metal pedals bring you the sense of how well-built they are and what kinds of pressure they can with stand but also brings a substantial increase in weight over the other pedal sets on today’s market such as the G27 pedals which are relatively light compared with the T500 pedals.
One nice touch to the pedals i personally like is the option to completely inverted the pedals in just a few small steps. This allows you to flip the pedals from what Thrustmaster describe as being the F1 style pedals to the modern GT inverted pedals found in road and race cars today. Don’t worry to invert the pedals you need no DIY skills or experience and even the required tools are kindly supplied in the box. Once the pedals are inverted on the left hand side of your T500 wheel base there is a small switch titled “mode” which will change your wheels settings to recognise that your pedals are inverted.
All 3 pedals feel extremely realistic with the brake feeling extremely strong. However the brake pedal’s tension can be adjusted by tweaking the spring or using the real-brake mod spring kit supplied as standard with the wheel and pedal set. With the real-brake mod you can add that extra tension to your pedals by simply following the instructions supplied on how to fit it under the certain pedal you require that extra tension.
Overall i found no real problem or things i would change about the pedal set, the pedals are fully adjustable in 3 different way; Height, width and slope. The full pedal unit feels strong with the weight reassuring you that the pedals structural integrity is good and can with stand a fair amount of pressure. The Inverted pedals sure do add a nice touch, dependent on your style you may be constantly adjusting the pedals from F1 to GT style others may simply never change back once they have tried out both pedal setups.
Ferrari Wheel Rim
Designed with realism and looks in mind, the authentic Ferrari wheel rim is closely based on the real world steering wheel of the Ferrari F150, the flagship car for their 2011 Formula One World championship attempts. Overall the wheel face features 8 buttons uniquely labeled to match those on the real wheel, two rotary encoders, three radio buttons and two D-pads.
The replica wheel rim also has a large rotary encoder in the center featuring the legendary prancing horse, also around this center rotary encoder is various others, all non-functional to add style to the wheel giving it a more realistic look bringing it closer to its real world counterpart.
Located on the rear of the wheel you can find the Genuine F1-style shifters made of scratched-brushed metal. The shifter paddles use a unique system know as Push & Pull, the Push & Pull system allows you to do all the gear shifting from one side of the paddle if needed. For example you can use only the left side of the paddle to shift up by pushing and then when needed pull towards you to downshift. Thus proving to be an extremely useful feature allowing you to have one free hand to control the dials and crucial button presses while the other hand takes over the shifting for a moment.
Looking at both the shifter paddles and the buttons in terms of build quality they both have a great feel to them when pressed. The metal shifter paddle have a strong feel to it when clicked and also give a positive clicking sound as an indication to the user that they have pressed the button. All other buttons, rotary encoders and switches on the wheel rim also feel very sturdy when pressed so there is no real chance they will break if you press them to hard when racing.
However there are also some aspects of the wheel rim that could be improved to not only make the wheel rim feel more realistic and authentic but also to improve the overall looks of the wheel face. One thing that is unfortunately not available on the wheel face compared to the real world Ferrari F150 steering wheel is the missing LED display giving information on gear, rev indicator and other missing dials including the hand held clutch located on the back of the wheel
The rotary dials in the wheels center somewhat let down the appearance of the wheel in terms of realism and compared to the real world counterpart Ferrari F150 wheel as the wheel rim simply offers fake non functional versions.
Overall the build quality of the Ferrari Wheel rim feels very promising as the main base of the rim is made of plastic with the main front plate being made of some nice brushed metal. The handle grips are composed of a rubber material providing some nice grip to your hands during use. With this comes the rather surprising weight of the wheel rim as out of the box the wheel rim feels rather heavy, this however proving to be a good thing as it just shows how well the rim is actually made despite the main rim base being made of plastic.
Overall the Thrustnaster t500 Ferrari F1 Integral wheel certainly is worth its large price tag of $699, with an extremely long list of features and the build strength and quality this wheel proves it certainly is worth that rather large price tag some may find off putting.
The Ferrari wheel rim is a great feature of the wheel with a large variety of buttons and features you can be sure that there is almost a button for every feature you require for a race. Such as the main title i tested the wheel with, iRacing which when racing can require a large amount of buttons to be close by such as for pit stop adjustments, lap times etc i was able to use up every button on the wheels face for every function i needed.
The Force Feedback of the wheel is outstanding and like everything takes some getting used to at first but once you are over the small learning curve then the wheels movements and feedback feels so fluent giving precise feedback on the tracks surface and ultimately what your car is doing.
The pedals also have an overall great feel with the all metal construction adding that extra weight and reassurance of how sturdy they are. However some may say that with a load-cell brake fitted these pedals would be even better, and its true. Too compete with other big name company’s such as Fanatec a load-cell brake would be a good edition but for what the pedals currently are and feel like especially with the upgrade available you don’t really “need” it.
However one thing i never included in my review of the T500 base is the fan noise. On the test version i had for completing the review it had what i can only describe as being an extremely loud fan. However since then we have been notified that this was a faulty fan in the wheel and production wheels now have a new fan to stop the loud noise. If you ever encounter this problem with the fan then you can simply contact Thrustmaster and they will have it sorted in no time for you.
*Please note this wheel was only tested using PC based titles.