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Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Wheel

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Hardware
Developer: Thrustmaster
Release Date: May 8, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


Hardware Review - 'Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Wheel'

by Brian Dumlao on Sept. 22, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Equipped with a high-performance force feedback motor offering adjustable intensity and a rotation angle ranging from 270 to 900 degrees, the TMX Force Feedback delivers a realistic and versatile racing experience.

Buy Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Wheel

For racing game enthusiasts, a steering wheel is an essential piece of equipment. It requires one to re-learn controls, even for those who already know how to drive, and there is undoubtedly some tweaking to the controls to get things just right, but the level of immersion gained is unmatched. However, there are enough people who would be scared away by the price of the peripheral alone, with some of the best ones coming in at more than the cost of a console. With Thrustmaster already occupying both the low and high ends of the steering wheel market on the Xbox One, the company decided to go after the mid-range market with the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Wheel, a peripheral that feels rather good in some areas but feels cheap in others.

The main wheel has a pretty good build quality, even if there's lots of plastic being used. The base feels rather light but has enough weight to sit comfortably on a desk. Considering the strength of the force feedback system, the included clamp is necessary if you don't want it flying all over the place. The bottom of the base has a good amount of rubber to help it stay steady but lacks groover for those who want to place the wheel on their laps. The wheel is fairly large with an 11-inch diameter, and while most if it is still plastic, it features rubber grips that provide a good hold on the device. The buttons are color-coded to match what's seen on the Xbox One controller, and letter designations are above. There is a very solid d-pad on the left of the wheel and a few other buttons, and the horn doesn't have any buttons whatsoever. The back of the wheel features shifter paddles that provide a satisfying click when pulled and are made of metal, which is a nice touch.

In use, the wheel is pretty fantastic. There's enough resistance that you'll have to put some effort into turning it, but that also means it isn't so loose that errant shifts will occur. The force feedback is hefty, and it'll give you a good fight if you're on bad roads or your car is simply stubborn. The 900-degree field of movement is below its PS4 counterpart, but it still provides you a good range. For a $200 peripheral, this part works as expected if you have the right table to clamp it to.

While the wheel is good, the pedals seem to have received the least amount of attention. There's a basic setup with one throttle and one brake pedal. The throttle has some pretty light resistance and no real play before it detects any pressure. The brakes, on the other hand, exhibit much more resistance the further you push it in, so the chances of accidentally applying any braking pressure is pretty much nonexistent.

There are two areas where the pedals aren't up to snuff. The first is the weight. The pedal base is rather light, but the equally light resistance on the throttle means that everything balances out. Use the brakes, though, and you'll find the foot rests rising to hit your heel if you have the pedals on the floor. As such, you'll have to have both feet on the pedal base to keep things in place while you play.

The second has to do with the rubber feet. If you're playing on a carpet or a rug, you'll be fine. You'll also be fine if you mount the pedals to your racing rig. If you're on a wooden floor, though, the rubber feet don't have enough grip. As a result, the pedals have a tendency to slip when you're either braking or not using your other foot to pin down the base while hitting the throttle. Overall, the pedals end up being bothersome when compared to how little you have to worry about the steering wheel mechanism.

Although the controller is being sold as a mid-range product, it allows for some modularity. You can change out the two-pedal base for a three-pedal one, which not only adds a clutch to the base but also adds some stability, if the pictures of the alternate pro model are anything to go by. You can also add in a shifting stick if you aren't big on the metal paddles. You can't change the steering wheel, but if you're fine with that, then the add-ons make this a good starter for those who aren't too sure if they want to jump into the deep end of racing simulation equipment.

On the Xbox One side, the wheel performs as well as expected. The whole Forza lineup and Dirt Rally feel great with a wheel. The Crew had great use of force feedback, and F1 2016 performed well, even though the wheel made an already-difficult game even harder for those not used to wheels. We also tried out a few Xbox 360 games via backward compatibility, like Forza Horizon and Dirt Showdown. While the force feedback isn't as fine as the native Xbox One titles, it is still effective, and it's nice to see new hardware work with older titles.

One of the stranger omissions is latest version of Need for Speed. For some reason, this officially licensed controller isn't recognized at all on that game. We don't have Need for Speed: Rivals on hand to see if the issue occurs there as well, but with this wheel working fine on any other racing game on the platform, it's disappointing that NFS is ignored.

As far as PC goes, it takes some more work to get it running since game support is pretty specific. Assetto Corsa, for example, didn't have this in its immediate preset list, but configuring it was easy enough. Project Cars recognized this almost immediately, but Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a headache overall. These issues are what PC racing veterans have had to deal with for some time, so it's not that much of a drawback for the device. What is interesting, though, is that you really need to reboot your PC when you install the drivers for the wheel, and you have to unplug and replug the controller if you're recovering from a crash. Otherwise, you can't boot up any game on Steam — an interesting bug to be sure.

In the end, the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Wheel is both a hit and a miss. The actual steering wheel hits all of the right notes with a good button layout, great force feedback and resistance, and a wheel that physically feels nice despite the use of non-premium items. The pedals, however, feel cheap due to their lack of grip and weight, which cause it to move all over the place until you secure them. In the end, the modularity and overall performance make this a pretty good wheel for the mid-range crowd, so long as you're fine with its inherent flaws.

Score: 7.0/10

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