FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The wheel arrived very well packaged in a sturdy cardboard box. Once opened and removed, I found that the retail packaging inside was also high quality and really colorful, but its the wheel we want to discuss, so enough of that! After unpacking the GT3, the first thing to grab your attention is the overall finish, from the glossy and well applied orange paint on the units body, to the rather luxurious 'alcantara' leather covering on the rim itself. After this, the size of the rim becomes apparent, at 300 mm its 25mm larger than the G25/27. This may not sound alot, but in use it is quite noticeable! Overall, first impressions are very positive and just made me all the keener to get it fitted to my rig and start testing the wheel! Nuts, Bolts and Techie Spec: This is going to be a pretty big chapter, Fanatec have re-written the book as far as design and 'normal' construction methods go and it really does deserve some in depth explanation of the how's and whys! So, sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin! I'm going to start with FFB mechanics first. This system is quite different from others in that it uses a single motor to drive a belt rather than the 'normal' gear drive systems.The motor is made by a well know, high quality company, Mabuchi. The RS550 motor is very powerful for it's size/voltage and has ample 'grunt' for this task! It drives a 'Gates' belt (another very high quality item) that should easily last years of use, Fanatec have certainly not made any compromises on quality here! Okay, what are the benefits of using a single motor belt drive? The first, most obvious thing is that the wheel is VERY quiet, but the real benefits are in the use and 'feel' of the system. This FFB is SMOOTH, really smooth, so much so, it takes a while to get used to it. Whilst the motor is very powerful, the FFB can be quite subtle and very realistic, but has the 'punch' when needed, it makes a G25 feel rather harsh in comparison. Another big advantage is the total lack of a 'dead spot' or 'dwell' period caused by the backlash in geared systems (something that is made worse by twin motor systems). Overall, this type of FFB system has some real merit and advantages over the 'gear' type drives. Fanatec have also fitted a pair of additional FFB or 'rumble' motors to the wheel, that rather nicley add some engine vibrations also. Next, I want to cover the electronics of the wheel, for me, this area See's some really significant improvements over other makes of FFB wheels. Firstly, like most modern, high end wheels, the GT3 uses a high resolution wheel sensor, ultra accurate, 100% reliable centering and not one glitch in the tests performed. The FFB effects are delivered with no perceivable 'latency' and once the wheel is 'adjusted' to suit your tastes, it works very, very well, clear, crisp feedback and performs just as you would hope. It is this adjustable nature of the GT3 that brings me to one of its best and most notable features! A whole host of adjustments can be made in real time, outside of the game (and software driver) as you use the wheel! All the features below can be adjusted instantly, in game as you play! Adjust ForceFeedback strength during game play Adjust rotation angle independent from the game, 90° to 900° in steps of 10° Adjust damper strength (Driftmode) Add deadzone to the steering axis (great for GT5) Adjust linearity of the steering axis for high precision around the center but ability to make turns very quickly. Set brake force level which activates the ABS vibration motors on the Clubsport Pedals. All these modes of adjustment are quickly and easily set whilst in game play, using the wheels 'D' pad and the 3 digit L.E.D. display mounted on the top of the wheel hub. Now add to this, the GT3 has five memory presets so you can save you five favorite 'wheel' profiles and you have a very powerful tool, capable of running almost any type sim/mod at the simple press of a button and the ability to adjust these parameters on the fly, with ease. I also have to add that Fanatec are often updating the firmware and add new or improved features at pretty regular intervals too! The Driver for the PC is a download from the Fanatec site, its available in 32 and 64 bit versions. Its pretty simple and easy to install / use. To be honest, I doubt you will have much use for it after its installed as all the major adjustments can be made on the wheel itself. Features: I have covered the vast majority of the features above already, but I will just make a quick list, incorporating the all the basic features in one place Single Motor Belt Drive FFB Twin 'Rumble' Motors High level of 'real time' adjustment with L.E.D. Display 5 memory Presets Authentic metal Porsche logo on wheel Hand stitched leather wheel manufactured according to Porsche quality standards using original ALCANTARA® leather made in Italy. 14 Programmable Buttons (excluding the two shifter buttons) Original Porsche 911 GT3 RS steering wheel design Compatible with PC and all PlayStation®3 games which support Force Feedback 3 x adjustable paddle shifter styles including Clubsport paddle shifters made of aluminum An on-off switch (a simple but usefull thing, omitted by many manufacturers!) Driving with the GT3RSv2: Ok, so this is the bit you have all been waiting for! The wheel is setup on the rig, cabled up and ready to go. The first thing is the Alcantara covered rim, it feels smooth, grippy, soft and quite 'chunky' and the finish and stitching quality is excellent! The larger rim size (300mm) has benefits also, apart from looking and feeling more realistic, it makes smaller and more subtle directional inputs easier and more accurate. Other nice touches are the enameled metal Porsche badge and the 'soft touch' center of the hub. All this adds to the quality feel of the wheel. On the subject of 'mounting' the wheel, the included clamping system is pretty good, but the GT3 comes with threaded inserts allowing you to bolt the wheel to a rig. Without doubt, this is the best method of securing the wheel. Its the FFB that make the biggest impact when driving though. The belt driven setup is far smoother and to be honest, feels quite different at first! If you have been using a G25 for years, this may at first put you off, DONT LET IT! It does take a while to get used to this new, smoother FFB, but once you have gotten the usual adjustments set right for your tastes it really is impressive. The more I use the GT3 and become familiar with its FFB, the more i appreciate its subtleties and feedback. Another thing I will miss once I return back to my G25 is the 'on the fly' adjustments, it has become very easy to get used to just casually adjusting rotation, FFB level or a whole host of other adjustments whilst still playing in the game. Do not underestimate this feature, it can give you a real edge and makes seting up the wheel to suit individual games/mods a pleasure! There are a couple of 'niggles' with the wheel, but they are just that, niggles. The first one is the paddle shifters. Fanatec give you 3 options for the shifter paddles on the GT3 (a really nice idea), either use the plain 'button' on the back of wheel or a choice of 2 larger paddles, one medium sized and one larger 'Clubsport' paddle with a spacer to move it a little further back. They themselves are very good, nice finish and quality and are placed perfectly. The niggle is the button they attach to, whilst it works flawlessly it lacks a tactile 'feel' that the shifters on a G25/27 have and do feel a little 'wobbley' with the Clubsport Paddles. This is however a small point and I haven't had a single 'missed' or double shift in the whole test period. The second 'niggle' is the button layout, or to be more specific, the position of the outer top buttons on the left and right wheel spokes. Its VERY easy to catch these two buttons with your thumbs and activate them accidentally. I think this simply because of Fanatecs wish to accurately copy the looks of Porsche's real GT3RS wheel. Fortunately, with another 12 buttons available, its simple enough to just not assign these two buttons to a use, so not really a huge issue. The next point is the Hubs rigidity. I know some people talk of an amount of flex in the wheel hub. For sure, there is some flex in this area of the wheel, especially if you compare it directly to a G25/27. But in actual use, its undetectable when you drive and I think it has actually been engineered this way to allow some 'give' to help take up the shocks from the powerful FFB and harsh use. I don't really see this as an issue at all. Conclusions: Overall, Fanatec have moved the bar, bringing a whole host of innovative design and functionality features not seen before on a wheel at this price point. Its pretty easy to point out the small niggles with it, but in my humble opinion, they are just that, small niggles and they don't take away any of the the real gains this wheel offers. The belt driven FFB is excellent, the 'on the fly' adjustability is a real improvement that is worth more than you may at first think. I believe this wheel has to be in your 'Top Wheel List' and is without doubt a valid choice, but allied with Fanatecs superb Clubsport Pedals it has the potential to give you a real edge! In the end, its all about personal judgement, impressions and taste, but I will be genuinely sad to see this wheel go....... Value: 92 / 100 points at 179.95 Euro's plus delivery it alot of wheel for the money! Functionality: 91 /100 it should have been 99, but the minor button niggles lower the final score Quality: 95 /100 Superbly engineered and finished, a well made product! RD Rating: 278 / 300 Buy One??? : I honestly think my next wheel may well be a Fanatec one! You can find the Fanatec website HERE I will be listing entry details for the Fanatec competion in the next few days! so look out for it!