As difficult as it may be to believe, take a look outside from your work-from-home space: it’s already November 2020. For much of the country, that means cold temperatures, and plenty of rainy, snow, and ice in the near future. Those conditions conspire with the pandemic to bring a big slow-down to the track-day and autocross events we enthusiasts love, at least until next spring. If you read our previous guide to sim-racing wheels, you’ll know there are some affordable options to get you started. Here, we take a closer look at the new Logitech G923 gaming wheel, and the GTR GTA Pro simulator rig, two potentially key components of an affordable sim-racing setup for home use. While they may not provide as complex an experience as the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar pro-grade setups used by professional racing teams, they’re still advanced enough to give plenty of thrills from the comfort of your living room. And be sure to check out our compilation of the best sim–racing games to decide which is a good option for you.
Logitech G923 ($399): A Gaming Wheel That Doesn’t Break the Bank
Take a look at gaming-wheel options in the affordable sim-racing category, and you get a couple of impressions. The cheapest, sub-$200 gaming-wheel setups on the market are simply not very realistic, while the highest-rated wheels often come with four-digit price tags, or close to it. What’s a budding, budget sim-racer to do? First, let’s recap the three primary wheel types on sale today.
Typically when you’re looking to purchase a sim-racing wheel, you’re looking at gear-driven wheels at the low end, belt-driven wheels in the middle ground, and direct-drive wheels at the high end. True to their name, direct-drive wheels operate directly off of a powerful electric motor, and they typically offer the fastest response time and most realistic (and strongest) force-feedback feel. Belt-driven wheels often use twin rubber belts driven by electric motors for smooth and powerful feel, but they also might deliver a miniscule amount of lag between inputs. The most affordable wheels are motor-driven through helical gears, like the new Logitech G923 ($399 retail).
Logitech is one of the most popular manufacturers of gaming accessories; it’s no surprise its longstanding series of Logitech G gaming wheels is widely chosen for sim racing. The Logitech G923 is the latest update of a product lineage that goes back to the Logitech G25 we tested way back in 2008.
Since then, the wheel has evolved through G27, G29, and G920 specifications, each adding small, evolutionary updates. The new G923 wheel is the best yet, with its key new feature being TrueForce technology which adds more realistic haptic sensations to games that support it. At the moment, such games include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Gran Turismo Sport, Grid, and iRacing.
The Logitech G923 is nicely constructed, and while the wheel base’s casing is made from high-strength plastic, the wheel itself is constructed of real metal and leather, just as you’d find in a premium sports car. Buttons on the spokes allow for easy navigation through menus and options inside most games without the need for an additional controller. These functions can also all be modified through free Logitech G Hub software, while settings like force feedback strength and degrees of wheel rotation can also be custom set.
For its $399 MSRP, the Logitech G923 also includes a set of steel-framed pedals with stainless-steel faces. A clutch pedal is included for the optional manual shifter available separately (around $60 retail). While these pedals don’t utilize a more expensive load-cell system that measures your braking inputs by force rather than pedal travel, the G923 pedals do have a non-linear brake input which gives a more realistic sensation. It’s important to mention that while all Logitech G923 wheels work with PC, there are two different models for either Xbox or PlayStation, so be sure to order the correct G923 for your console, if applicable.
GTR GTA Pro Simulator ($575.99): A Pro-Grade Gaming Cockpit at a Value Price
We elected to demo the Logitech G923 gaming wheel on GTR’s new GTA Pro Simulator racing cockpit, a value-packed sim-racing setup that offers several configurable options and a wide range of adjustment for a reasonable starting MSRP of $575.99.
In its most basic configuration, the GTA Pro Simulator features a powder-coated metal frame in either black, silver, or white, with an adjustable pedal platform and a high-quality, comfortable bucket seat with an adjustable back. The wheel platform is also adjustable up and down, as well as being able to tilt and telescope for a highly customized driving position. GTR says the GTA Pro Simulator can even be configured into an F1-style “laydown” driving position, but we’ve yet to try it. The diamond-pattern metal floor adds an extra touch of quality and strength; make no mistake, true to its name, this sim-racing cockpit feels like a professional-grade piece of equipment.
Optional upgrades to the GTR GTA Pro Simulator cockpit include a triple-monitor stand that slides into the front of the cockpit (two sizes available for different size monitors), a swiveling keyboard and mouse tray, and an extra seat-slider mechanism.
While the pedal and wheel platforms are pre-drilled for many of the most common racing wheels from Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec, we elected to simply clamp the G923 wheel to the platform, and it worked well for us. Assembly of the GTR GTA Pro Simulator was straightforward, using instructions from the company’s website, and the tools and hardware included in the several boxes GTR shipped to us. It took us about two easy hours of careful, non-hurried assembly to get the GTA Pro Simulator ready to go. One tip: While the GTA Pro Simulator’s footprint isn’t huge and will fit in many spaces, once assembled it will take two people to move its roughly 100-pound weight around, and getting it through halls and doors as a complete unit can be tough. Try to assemble it where you’ll think it will be used the most.
A Winning Combo: Logitech G923 and GTR GTA Pro Simulator in Action
After getting things all put together, it’s time to start driving! We tested using both a PC running Assetto Corsa Competizione and an Xbox running Forza Motorsport 7. Switching between the two systems was as simple as moving the Logitech G923’s USB plug from one to the other.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is known as one of the more advanced and realistic driving simulators on the market. It’s also one of four simulator games that officially supports Logitech’s TrueForce technology. This means that even sitting in the pit lane, waiting to go out for a handful of laps in a virtual Ferrari 488 GT3, you can feel the rumble of the idling engine through the leather-wrapped rim, helping to build anticipation and creating a more realistic experience. Similarly, run over the curbing chasing tenths on a hot lap, and the wheel vibrates in sync.
In Forza Motorsport 7, the Logitech G923’s Xbox-style control buttons worked perfectly to get through the game’s various menus and out on the track. While TrueForce’s extra features aren’t compatible with this game, the wheel and pedals still provided a great experience, especially for more casual gamers. The biggest difference you’ll notice in a gear-driven wheel versus the more expensive options is noise and a somewhat gravelly feel as feedback is fed through the wheel’s rim. Gear-drive is simply not as smooth (or as strong) as belt-driven or direct-drive wheels, but it’s more than enough for some serious sim-racing sessions, especially at the entry- or even mid-level. The fact countless competitive sim racers have gotten their start with Logitech G products says it all.
Through our testing, the GTR GTA Pro Simulator cockpit proved to be more than up to the task, giving us a solid, sturdy platform for our Logitech wheel/pedal combo. Even with full force feedback dialed up, the GTA Pro Simulator didn’t flex, squeak, or shake, and we feel confident it will even hold up to the far stronger direct-drive wheels, when they are bolted directly to the platform with the pre-drilled holes. We were also impressed with the unit’s adjustability, making it easy to get into a comfortable driving position quickly.
Compared with the Playseat Evolution we tested years ago, we prefer the GTA Pro Simulator for its adjustable seatback and generally greater customization options, stronger build quality, and ease of getting into and out of the seat. The Playseat Evolution has a structural bar that runs between the driver’s legs, making it a little tricky to jump into or out of quickly; the GTA Pro Simulator is a more open, less confining design.
Affordable Sim-Racing Setup: The Verdict
For roughly $1,000 combined, the Logitech G923 and GTR GTA Pro Simulator are a compelling package to get started with sim racing this winter. While those who end up pursuing sim racing on a very competitive level will likely ultimately upgrade to a more advanced wheel and pedal combo, the Logitech G923 will make a casual racer happy for years, especially on less-advanced console games. The GTR GTA Pro Simulator, on the other hand, is a modestly priced sim-racing cockpit that can grow with the budding sim racer and stand up to stronger belt- and direct-driven wheels when it’s time to upgrade.
For more information, visit the manufacturers’ websites:
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