Asetek Forte Direct Drive Wheelbase – Review
Originally expected for Christmas 2022, Asetek’s range is now complete for the first time: with the three new wheelbases of 12 Nm (La Prima, only in a bundle), 17 Nm (Forte) and 27 Nm (Invicta), and the Forte Formula Wheel, the ecosystem now offers the possibility of doing laps on the world’s virtual racetracks without any external products for the first time. In this review we will first take a closer look at the Forte Wheelbase.
Ordering and shipping
The Wheelbase could initially only be pre-ordered from Asetek and the delivery date was planned for early Christmas 2022. After some delays (which Asetek could have communicated much better), the first products were delivered at the beginning of February 2023.
Currently, the base can be pre-ordered from Asetek itself as well as from various resellers. Deliveries of products ordered now will most likely take until the end of Q1 2023.
- Forte® Direct Drive Wheelbase 18Nm: 1.049,99€
Scope of delivery
The following components are included in the scope of delivery:
- Forte® Direct Drive Wheelbase
- US Power Cord 1.5m
- EU Power Cord 1.5m
- UK Power Cord 1.5m
- ON/OFF button box
- Torque OFF button box
- Power Supply 400W
- USB-C to USB-A cable
While the cables are standard, the solution with two separate buttons in their own housings is rather unusual and is therefore dealt with in a separate chapter within this review. As a goodie, Asetek also packs some stickers in the very sturdy packaging.
Technical data (manufacturer’s specifications)
- Exquisite, radical, and minimalistic Danish industrial design
- Made in Denmark
- Anodized extruded aluminum housing
- Direct Drive Force Feedback
- Peak Torque of 18Nm (Max 40 seconds continuosly)
- Peak Slew rate: 6.7 Nm/ms
- Encoder resolution: 22bit / 0,000085 degrees / 4.000.000 steps
- 4×21 Programmable RGB LEDs that can be adjusted, dimmed or completely turned off in Asetek SimSports® RaceHub™
- Asetek SimSports® Quick Release
- 400w power supply
- Slipring designed and tested to +200.000.000 rotations
With 18 Newton metres, the base ranks between SC2 Sport (17 Nm) and VRS DD (20 Nm) or Fanatec DD1 (20 Nm). Asetek uses an already proven combination: the motor is provided by Mige, while the expertise of Granite Devices (known for the Simucube wheelbases) also flows into the final product, having been acquired by Asetek through an IP agreement for 6.8 million dollars. The maximum slew rate of 6.7 Nm/ms is between SC2 Sport (4.8 Nm/ms) and SC2 Pro (8.0 Nm/ms).
Like the pedals from Asetek, the base is very well made and the aluminium housing makes a very high-quality impression.
- Height: 133mm
- Width: 132mm
- Length (Incl. Quick Release): 293mm
- Weight: 8.5kg
Due to the very compact dimensions, especially compared to the T818 and Fanatec DD1/2, the placement of the base can be done very flexible.
The base has two rails on the underside with four pre-mounted T-nuts (M6) spaced 87 mm apart. This makes it easy to move the base on rigs with solid plates, but may require drilling new holes. In our test rig, this was the case, but the base could be installed without any problems afterwards. Then the 400 watt power supply is connected and the connection to the PC is established. In addition, the two buttons have to be connected to the base.
Alternatively, Asetek offers various adapters for mounting on virtually any popular rig:
- Asetek SimSports® Bottom Mount with Tilt: 79,99€
- Asetek SimSports® Side Mount with Tilt: 89,99€
- Asetek SimSports® Bottom Mount: 69,99€
- Asetek SimSports® Front Mount: 149,99
In terms of hardware compatibility, the base is currently still constrained by the very manageable ecosystem: At the beginning, only two very similar steering wheels are available: the Forte Formula Wheel and the La Prima Formula Wheel.
The adapter for other steering wheels, which was already presented as a prototype at the Simracing Expo, is not yet available on the market. In the future, this adapter will ensure a power supply via the integrated USB port in addition to the standard bolt pattern and is therefore urgently expected and also needed.
On the software side, the base can currently only be used in conjunction with a PC, but Asetek promises to offer an upgrade (presumably not free of charge) via mainboard exchange if a corresponding agreement is reached.
To the extent possible, if/when we are able to natively support consoles, we will offer a motherboard upgrade to the wheelbase.https://www.asetek.com/simsports/product/forte-direct-drive-wheelbase-18nm/
Asetek also promises general compatibility with any game that supports direct input devices. The following titles are also explicitly listed:
- Assetto Corsa
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- DiRT Rally
- DiRT Rally 2.0
- F1 Series
- Project Cars 2
- rFactor 2
- And many more (all games that accept direct input devices)
The software additionally lists well-known titles such as Automobilista and Raceroom. During the review, Assetto Corsa, ACC, iRacing and Automobilista 2 worked without problems.
The Quick-Release combines the technology of the Simucube-QR with an integrated power and data transmission via pogo pins. It can be mounted with a flick of the wrist and removed just as quickly. It remains to be seen how the new system will prove itself in the long term. However, the first experiences are promising.
André, CEO of Asetek, explains the QR in the following video:
The existing Racehub becomes much more comprehensive with the new Wheelbases. There are a total of five different tabs for the settings:
- Centre Calibration: The central position of the base can be set here in an unspectacular way. Unusual: Out of the box, this was already set correctly.
- Torque: Probably the most important tab for settings: Here you can define the force feedback settings, save and load profiles and activate the high-torque mode (temporarily and permanently).
- LED: As the name suggests, the colour and intensity of the LED bars can be set here.
- Safety: Here you can set the automatic centreing strength and hands-off detection.
- Notifications: Activation/deactivation of sounds when Base is switched on, activation of high-torque mode, etc.
Note: In case of a firmware update, the profiles created by the user may be lost. In case of doubt, a backup should be made.
ON/OFF button box / Torque OFF button box
Instead of placing the on/off switch on the back, where it is often difficult to reach and to judge the current state, Asetek has developed its own small plastic housing, which is directly connected to the base via a cable. Like the (mirror-inverted) Torque-OFF, this is equipped with an illuminated button and can be attached to the simrig via two mounting holes or, if desired, can be hidden quite well.
Both boxes are a successful realisation of these components and not to be taken for granted, especially in this price range.
Matching the pedals from Asetek, the wheelbases are also equipped with LED strips. Currently still purely cosmetic, the ARGB LEDs could possibly be used for more in the future. Displaying flags, shift lights and/or spotters would give them a little more value.
Matching the pedals from Asetek, the wheelbases are also equipped with LED strips. Currently still purely cosmetic, the ARGB LEDs could possibly be used for more in the future. Displaying flags, shift lights and/or spotters would give them added value.
The most important part of the review is, of course, the force feedback. After the first few metres on the track, it is clear that Asetek, although new to the market, knows what it is doing. The included profiles for GT3 and Formula cars immediately provide an excellent driving experience that doesn’t have to hide from Fanatec, Simucube and Co. The main question here is why the other manufacturers have not managed to supply suitable profiles. Another very useful feature is the anti-oscillation setting, which can be very helpful depending on the simulation and the car.
As a result, there was no need for any real adjustment time during the test and the settings were only minimally tweaked. Constant lap times were the norm after the first few laps.
Even after two hours of continuous use with the McLaren 570S GT4 set at 15Nm and 75% gain in ACC, the base provided constant force feedback without any failures or glitches. The low-noise Forte Base heats up considerably, but Asetek says this is no cause for concern.
All in all, the base leaves nothing to be desired in terms of FFB and the maximum 18 Nm should be sufficient for almost any application.
All in all, Asetek’s Forte Wheelbase is an excellent introduction to the world of direct drives. At 18 Newton metres for €1050, it is fairly priced and offers additional features with real added value: the external buttons in their own housings and the USB hub on the back, the integrated LED strips are an additional nice-to-have.
The base’s force feedback is impressive across the board, starting with the good profiles supplied, which can be further customised in the uncluttered but very good software.
The only downer at the moment is the still very limited ecosystem, which Asetek says will be expanded in the future. Also, until the announced QR is sold, it will not be possible to use your own wheels or those from other manufacturers.
All in all, the Base is a clear recommendation to buy.
- Force Feedback
- Price/performance ratio
- Software + Preset FFB profiles
- External buttons
- LED strips
- Scope of delivery
- Only one type of steering wheel available
- QRs not yet available separately