Most of the products recently tested are in the high-end category and are an excellent choice for absolute enthusiasts. But what if you want to get a taste of the world of simracing for the first time or only have a limited budget? The T128 Bundle is intended to solve this problem and is available as a new entry-level set from Thrustmaster starting at about 170€. Is this enough to drive your first laps on the racetracks of this world without any accidents or are the sacrifices in favour of the low price too great?
Ordering and shipping
Usually, current simracing products are available from the manufacturer itself and at most a handful of online distributors. The T128 from Thrustmaster is a welcome change here and is available from various online shops (25+ at the time of testing) as well as from stationary retailers and – also unusual in this time – in stock.
The set is available in a version for PC and Xbox as well as a version for PC and PlayStation. Prices are currently between €160 and €190.
Below is a link to the T128 for PC and Xbox tested here.
Scope of delivery
Thrustmaster has limited the scope of delivery to the bare essentials, but includes all the hardware you need for direct commissioning. The USB-C connection used on the Wheelbase is surprising.
- Base with non-removable steering wheel
- 2-pedal set
- Table clamp
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Power supply unit
In addition to use on a PC, the set can also be used on the PlayStation or Xbox, depending on the version, and thus has a clear advantage over most high-end wheel bases.
The base also has connections for higher-quality pedals and the shifter or handbrake from Thrustmaster. The steering wheel, on the other hand, is permanently installed and cannot be replaced.
Games are usually fully compatible, with very few exceptions.
The chapter on mounting is quickly dealt with. The set was designed to be used on a desk and should be. The built-in desk clamp can be tightened in a few seconds via a screw with a practical lever handle and then provides a solid hold. The most annoying thing here are the cables protruding from the back of the base to the pedals, computer and power supply unit, which are often in the way during frequent assembly and disassembly.
The wheelbase is made almost entirely of plastic and therefore does not make an overly high-quality haptic impression. The appearance, on the other hand, is somewhat enhanced by the slightly textured surface.
The steering wheel leaves a mixed impression. The magnetic shift paddles with a clear pressure point are very positive. These require only a relatively low release force, but are fun to use.
The function keys are divided into various buttons and a directional pad as well as two red buttons for various settings in the driver. They are functional, but seem more like toys than serious simracing equipment.
The steering wheel rim is made entirely of plastic and unfortunately not rubberised. Because of this and the rather small diameter of 25 centimetres, it doesn’t really sit well in the hand. Especially people with large hands might have problems with this during longer sessions.
On the other hand, the switch display is a positive feature. It consists of four LEDs and is very unusual in this price range.
The pedals are probably the biggest weak point of the set. Weighing well under a kilo, you almost have to glue them to the floor to ensure safe operation. If you don’t do that, you have to get creative. So during the test, various cardboard boxes were used to fix the pedals.
The release force of the all-plastic pedals is correspondingly low, making precise braking difficult.
Still listed as a point of criticism with the T818 Direct Drive Base, the driver from Thrustmaster for the T128 entry-level set is adequate. Here, various settings regarding FFB and, for example, steering wheel angle can be made via the USB Game Controller Setup tab under Windows.
However, it is still incomprehensible why, as with the T818, the pedal mode and switching between PC and Xbox mode can only be switched via complicated key combinations instead of via the driver.
Note: The driver must be downloaded from the Thrustmaster website: https://support.thrustmaster.com/en/product/t128x-en/
Driving impression / Force Feedback
The driving impression must actually be divided into two categories. For beginners and occasional drivers, the set offers a successful introduction to the world of simracing. The fun factor increases enormously, the set is quickly assembled and disassembled and the lap times should quickly tumble in comparison to the controller. In contrast to cheap bundles without force feedback, you can often still catch the car in more difficult situations.
However, the steering wheel then reaches its limits relatively quickly. Here, despite the combined belt and gear mechanism, there is simply a lack of power and speed. Especially at the absolute limit, it is often difficult to keep the car under control in simulations with a high degree of realism. In addition, the very simple pedals make braking on the road in particular a challenge.
Despite the points of criticism, the T128 is a good entry-level model into the world of simracing. The low price makes it possible to get over some shortcomings and the set is predestined for games like Forza Horizon 5. Real racing simulations are also fun, but there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to higher demands.
So if you just want to try out a steering wheel and do some laps at your desk, you can buy this without hesitation. If you have a larger budget, you should opt for a T248 or T300.
- (Force Feedback…)
- Shift paddles
- Table clamp
- …until the limit is reached quickly
- Steering wheel rim