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Product Reviews

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Brian Clancy, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. Reviews of products can be found here!:cool:
  2. SymProducts GI-Max Gear indicator Review

    The Sim Hardware Forum is very pleased to open the SymProjects Competition and the first product review today!

    The review (and competition) for the SymProjects GI-Max L.E.D. Gear indicator:


    First Impressions:

    The unit came VERY well packaged in a good sized cardboard box and had a generous covering of bubble wrap. Once I had discarded the packaging, I was pleasantly surprised by the size and quality of the unit. The L.E.D. measures a nice 33mm w x 47mm h, the board itself is only fractionally larger at 46mm w x 49mm h, with an overall depth of approximately 22mm. This is an ideal size compromise, allowing for a relatively compact installation, but having a display large enough to be easily seen if it is mounted near a monitor (allowing it to be viewed without having to take your eyes off the track!). The overall quality of the board itself is high, the finish of the PCB, layout, mounting holes and 'feel' of the unit all make to give an impression of a well made device.

    As well as the obvious gear indicator function, the GI-Max has another, rather neat use. The display can be programmed (quite easily with the 'SimDash' software) to blink on and off repeatedly at a pre-set RPM giving the device a very useable and quite clever 'shift light' function. The brightness of the display can also be altered in the software too and unit has another feature that many Hardware builders will also appreciate, as well as the mini USB socket to connect the device to the PC, it also has provision for a USB cable to be wired directly to the GI-Max, by way of soldering the wires to four clearly marked holes in the side of the board. This would make for a very neat and compact instillation.

    Back of the device

    Front of the device


    The 'Sim Dash' software is a quick and easy download from the SymProjects site. I was pleased to find it very quick to install and most intuitive in its use. Once you run the Sim Dash software you just click on the GI-Max banner. It then has a simple slider bar to adjust the brightness of the display, a 'tick' box to turn on or off the 'shift light' function and a box to assign the desired RPM for the shift light if desired. (See pic below)

    Sim Dash v1.2

    Using the GI-Max:

    Once you have plugged the device in with a suitable mini USB cable and run/configured the Sim dash software, its time to play! I have built a special housing to display all the SymProjects products (pics below) but you can simply rest the GI-Max near the monitor or anywhere you like. The display is VERY bright at its max setting and the latency (or delay) between the display and a gear shift is non existent! I have to say, this little device put a big grin on my face once I started to use it. There are some pictures on the next page of the unit being used in my 'display unit’.


    What can be achieved, with a little thought, some very basic D.I.Y. skills and tools, and of course, Symprojects excellent devices!


    Supported Titles:


    [FONT=&quot]Conclusions: [/FONT]

    At £24, this is a really great device. Very well made, great functionality and good, easy to use software too. It’s pretty hard to find fault with it to be honest. If there was one gripe (and I'm being very hard here saying this) there is currently no option to purchase a box or stand for the unit. But luckily, the Sim Hardware Forum here at RD can help with that!

    [FONT=&quot]Value: [/FONT]97 points - You’re going to be hard pressed to find something better for this money!

    [FONT=&quot]Quality: [/FONT]93 points Very well made device, can’t fault it

    [FONT=&quot]Functionality: [/FONT]99 points - With the built in shift light function, its top marks again!

    [FONT=&quot]Buy One???: [/FONT]Oh YES! I have already owned one for a few months now! If you even vaguely like techie stuff for sim racing, this is a great item!

    [FONT=&quot]RD Rating : 289/300 - [/FONT]That’s a pretty high score to be honest!

    Race Department and I would like to thank Cristiano for his kind donation of the devices for the competition and review and the generous 5% discount for all RD members (just use this code at the checkout ' RD-FIVE-OFF ')[FONT=&quot].[/FONT] The Symprojects Site can be found HERE
  3. [​IMG]
    Review of Fanatecs Clubsport Pedals

    This is the first part of the review of Fanatecs GT3RSv2 Wheel and the Clubsport pedals. In this part I am going to be looking at the peddles. Both these items can be purchased together or as single units, hence the decision to review them independently.

    [​IMG]Fanatec Clubsport Pedals (CSP’s)

    First Impressions:
    I have to say I was quite excited to test these out and there was an air of excitement as I took delivery of the wheel and pedals. Once I had removed the pedals from the very smart box they come in, the first thing to get my attention was the weight of them. This is one very sturdy set of pedals! The next thing is the finish! Made almost totally from aluminium, the finish is, well, frankly, superb. The hard anodising (the silver and black finish on the aluminium parts) is first class as is the machining of the individual components. Nice, clean radius to edges, high quality fasteners throughout and all bolts counter sunk. As a time served engineer, this is the sort of thing I appreciate and notice first, but then you start to take in just how damn good looking they are! Very much a functional design, but still a very attractive one, the aesthetics are simply ‘race track refugee’. I have fitted peddle boxes of a similar design and quality to some very expensive race cars and these look very much the ‘part’!

    [​IMG] Back of pedals

    Nuts, Bolts and Techie Spec:
    Okay, there are a number of things about the club sports that will be new to many of you, not least the Load Cell on the brake and the ‘contactless’ hall effect sensors on the throttle and clutch. Without doubt the load cell is the big improvement, so I am going to start with the brakes. On a ‘normal’ set of pedals, the brake input is measured with a potentiometer and resistance is supplied by a spring. The end result is that if you wish to apply say 75% braking power, you would normally depress the brake pedal 75% of its range of movement to achieve this. Whilst a perfectly acceptable system, it is not realistic when compared to a ‘real’ cars brake pedal, the ‘real’ pedal will only move a small amount and will gradually become harder to depress. The simplistic way to explain this is it has more to do with force than movement. The load cell mimics this attribute superbly as it measures the FORCE applied to the pedal, NOT the range of movement. There are two big benefits of the load cell, one, the brake feels far more realistic when compared to the older ‘spring/pot’ system and two, more importantly, it is far easier to achieve repeatable, reliable and consistent braking with this setup. The biggest reason is it seems far easier to ‘remember’ a physical ‘pressure’ than an amount of travel, meaning you can brake right to the edge of ‘locking up’ without doing so, making trail braking easier and more consistent, allowing later braking and so on. This load cell system knocked my PB at my favourite track down by over a second in just a few laps and my speed is still improving now as I become more and more accustomed to it! There are not many products that can REALLY MAKE YOU FASTER!The hall effect sensors on the throttle/clutch are also a very positive step forward. With no contacting parts, they can’t wear out, have a very high ‘digital’ resolution, wont develop any ‘play’ or ‘slop’ like potentiometers and aside from possibly needing a simple clean with a cotton bud very occasionally, I can’t see any reason for them not to last years!Also, another clever feature is the 'ABS' function, if the pedals are connected to a Fanatec wheel, a small vibration motor can be set to create some vibrating FFB on the brake pedal.

    A great tutorial on pedal adjustment.

    Adjustability: It became apparent very early on that the CSP’s are designed with a great degree of adjustment built in to them. The pedal pads themselves on the brake and clutch are very adjustable, not only in position (by virtue of the holes drilled in them) but also by angle and height. This can be altered by either removing the spacer behind the pedal completely or just turning it upside down (altering the angle of the face of the pedal pad). The brake pedals travel can also be adjusted simply by moving its axle pin up one hole (this does require some simple disassembly, but reduces the travel noticeably) whilst the springs on the clutch and throttle pedal are both ‘tension’ adjustable by simply turning the nuts that hold them in place. Beyond this, Fanatec also supply a very comprehensive ‘tuning’ kit that comes with numerous springs for the clutch and gas pedal and PU foam inserts for the brake. It is also possible to adjust the throws on the gas and clutch pedals by either ‘packing out’ the pedals rod base to reduce the travel before the rod ‘bottoms out’ or if you are more daring you could also ‘trim’ the rod a little shorter to increase the throw. Finally, I should also mention that Fanatec have added another great feature to the load cell. At the back of the pedals is a small silver knob (a Potentiometer). Turning this allows you to adjust the amount of physical force needed to reach a given braking value, I.E. you can make the brakes very sensitive with a light pedal , a heavy pedal that really does require quite a bit of effort, or anything in between. For me this is a particularly useful addition as the adjustments are made outside the game/driver so can be made in real time with little fuss!
    This degree of adjustment means comfortable and reliable ‘Heel and toe’ setups are VERY easy to make, even for people with small or very large feet!

    Driving with the CSP’s:
    Again, like all reviews, this is based on very personal feelings, but driving with the CSP’s is a joy. Out of the box they feel wonderful, but once adjusted to your liking, they take on a whole new feeling! The pedal movement is soo smooth, silky even. The travel on the clutch and gas pedals is quite a bit longer than on the G25 and this translates to more accuracy in use, standing starts are more consistent and the increased throw on the gas pedal makes controlling an oversteering RWD car a pleasure! But most of all, it is the brakes that bring the most joy, you find yourself braking later with much more confidence and control.

    A truly superb set of pedals, they will make you faster if you don’t have a load cell currently, with really top notch quality of components/materials/construction and finish. All this at at a very competitive price!

    Value: 98 /100 At 199.95 Euro’s plus delivery, it’s top marks

    Functionality: 99 /100 With the load cell, hall effect sensors and this level of adjustability it nearly got 100!

    Quality: 98 /100 Superbly engineered and finished, top marks again

    RD Rating: 295/300 I very much doubt we will see any other product score this high again!

    Buy One???: I believe mine was ordered by the Mrs J but I doubt she will let me have them before Xmas!

    You can find the Fanatec website HERE

  4. Symprojects SPI-D Digital Speedo/Shift light Review

    The Sim Hardware Forum is very pleased to continue the SymProjects Competition and the second product review today!

    The review (and competition) for the SymProjects SPI-D digital speedo and shift light:

    First Impressions:

    The unit came VERY well packaged in a good sized cardboard box and had a generous covering of bubble wrap. Once I had discarded the packaging, I was pleasantly surprised by the size and quality of the unit. The L.E.D. measures a nice 60mm w x 28mm h, the board itself is only a little larger at 78mm w x 41mm h, with an overall depth of approximately 20mm. This is an ideal size compromise, allowing for a relatively compact installation, but having a display large enough to be easily seen if it is mounted near a monitor (allowing it to be viewed without having to take your eyes off the track!). The overall quality of the board itself is high, the finish of the PCB, layout, mounting holes and 'feel' of the unit all make to give an impression of a well made device.


    The three digit speed display works very well with no visible interplexing or lag. It is connected to the PC with a mini USB cable, unfortunatly, unlike the GI-Max reviewed last month, it does not have provision to solder the USB cables leads directly to the board, but Cristiano has told me he will try to implement this feature in the next board revision. The other great feature is the shift light. The SPI-D comes complete with a very nice LED shift light (with plug and approx 45cm of lead) all made up, just plug it on to the board and program the RPM point in the SimDash software. This is a nice high quality LED unit, complete with fixings and is quite bright!

    [​IMG]Shift light [​IMG]Back of Device


    The 'Sim Dash' software is a quick and easy download from the SymProjects site. I was pleased to find it very quick to install and most intuitive in its use. Once you run the Sim Dash software you just click on the SPI-D banner. It then has a simple slider bar to adjust the brightness of the display, a couple 'tick' boxs to set 2 or 3 three digit display, MPH or KPH and to turn on or off the 'shift light' function and a box to assign the desired RPM for the shift light if desired. (See pic below)

    Sim Dash v1.2

    Using the SPI-D:

    Once you have plugged the device in with a suitable mini USB cable and run/configured the Sim dash software, its time to play! I have built a special housing to display all the SymProjects products (pics below) but you can simply rest the SPI-D near the monitor or anywhere you like. The display is VERY bright at its max setting. Being able to check your speed, clearly, without taking your eyes completly off the screen is a big advantage, especially in testing when you are playing with downforce/gearing settings etc. This little unit really adds to the feeling of 'immersion', especially if you build it into a dash or a Dispaly unit.
    There are some pictures of the unit being used in my 'display unit’ below.


    What can be achieved, with a little thought, some very basic D.I.Y. skills and tools, and of course, Symprojects excellent devices!


    Supported Titles:


    At £28.50, this is a really great device. Very well made, great functionality and good, easy to use software too. It’s pretty hard to find fault with it to be honest. If there was one gripe (and I'm being very hard here saying this) there is currently no option to purchase a box or stand for the unit. But luckily, the Sim Hardware Forum here at RD can help with that!

    [FONT=&quot]Value: [/FONT]93 points - Really, another top value item at pocket money prices

    [FONT=&quot]Quality: [/FONT]93 points - Top notch construction and finish

    [FONT=&quot]Functionality: [/FONT]97 points - With the built in shift light, its top marks again!

    [FONT=&quot]Buy One???: [/FONT]Oh YES! I have already owned one for a few months now! If you even vaguely like techie stuff for sim racing, this is a great item!

    [FONT=&quot]RD Rating : 283/300 - [/FONT]That’s another VERY high score for a Symprojects Product!

    Race Department and I would like to thank Cristiano for his kind donation of the devices for the competition and review and the generous 5% discount for all RD members (just use this code at the checkout ' RD-FIVE-OFF ')[FONT=&quot].[/FONT] The Symprojects Site can be found HERE



    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.


    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.


    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!

    [​IMG]You can find the Fanatec website HERE

  6. Wheel Stand Pro Review by Robin Chung

    It has bugged virtual racers for ages. It has driven new markets like the playseat and caused for creative interpretations like the famous iron board solution. Because the truth is that console gamers have never really been able to use a steering wheel with their consoles, simply because the living room doesn’t allow for a proper setup of the wheel. But now there’s a company from Poland that claims to have the answer, and it’s called the Wheelstand Pro.


    Because the description above fits the bill, I decided to take a gamble on this solution. It had enjoyed raving reviews and with exciting new racing games coming out I really needed a stable solution that’s easily movable when not in use. 
So I placed my order on the wheelstandpro.com website. I paid (PayPal), left my address and within a couple of days my order had been paid for and accepted.

    The ordering process literally went painless. The nice people behind the website helped me whenever I had questions and they kept me posted on the entire process. 
I was even more surprised when my order arrived at my doorstep just 5 days after the order, a whopping 7,6kg package straight from the 9th biggest country in Europe, yes I used Wikipedia on that. The shipment included a weekend too, so technically the package could’ve arrived even sooner. The stand was neatly packed and, aside from some cupboard marks, didn’t leave food for thought. So the purchase went painless, as was the shipping, but how about the product?

    Set up

    I’m not a very practical person, and to be honest I wasn’t sure at first how to get the gear shifter metal plate together with the main plate. But after seeing a video and taking an extended look at the manual, things went smooth and easy. The only problem you might face is attaching the pedals to the stand, as it requires access to the back of the stand. I recommend doing this before you attach the wheel, because it’s easier to flip the stand that way. 

    The Wheelstand pro comes with almost all equipment you need to set it up. It comes with bolts, an Allen key, cable management wires, gear shifter plate and a premium looking manual. The only thing you need to find is a Philips screwdriver (cross). 
Here’s the video I used. Wish I had seen this video earlier, would’ve saved me some time. It took almost an hour to set up, but that’s with slow pace and two left hands.

    After everything was set and done the stand was looking neat and stable. There was no movement to discover from the pedals, the wheel or the gear shifter. In fact the only problem I had was cable management, because the Logitech G27 has a lot of cables and it’s hard to get them all neatly tucked. Ultimately managed to get it right though. 
Another issue was the height control. The stand’s height can be adjusted easily but at it’s highest it’s still just under 1 meter (3,2 feet). So make sure you have a low chair, bench or similar.
    Also needless to say the stand performs best when you give it the right ground to stand on. So make sure you have a good space in your room when in use.


    To test this I popped in F1 2010. This new Codemasters title has strong force feedback and was the perfect candidate to test the sturdiness of the design. Before I do this however I have to say that I’m generally a very smooth driver, so take that into account. 
The wheelstand Pro performed very well during my tests. In fact it was so good that I almost forgot all about its existence. I was pilling on the laps, consistent and improving, and I never ever felt anything from the stand that interfered with the racing. Although as joke I should mention that the stand vibrates a little during heavy FFB moments, causing the loose plastic bolts of the gear shifter console to make an annoying noise. Better take those off.

    Second console game I tried was Supercar challenge. This Eutechnyx racer is a proper simulator and transfers every element from the road into the steering wheel using the terrific force feedback system. I usually set the intensity to medium but for testing purposes I turned it up a notch.

    And again the stand did very well. It remained sturdy and I was competitive right from the start. It did shed light on a potential issue though, because the shifter console (G25/G27) is placed closely to the steering wheel. For me this wasn’t much of an issue but I can imagine some people would’ve liked a bit more freedom in this area.
And that was the testing part of the review, it’s just extremely sturdy and stable, perfect for even the most intense of races.

    You might consider this stand not only for its quality but for practical reasons too. In that case I can assure you that this stand does the job. Even with the wheel attached it’s not too heavy or big to move around. And the adjustability means that it can be folded easily, although the brake pedal prevents the stand from becoming completely flat. Unfortunately there’s a sweet spot with the bolts. They have to be tight enough to keep the pole from moving, but not too tight because otherwise it becomes hard to fold the stand. Until you’ve found this balance, on-the-fly adjustments may take longer than you bargained for.



    The Wheelstand Pro is an amazing product. It’s very sturdy and easy to set up. During the races you will forget all about your €130 purchase, and that’s a good thing. It’s however not small/adjustable enough to get it completely out of sight. And initially it’s hard to find the right balance between setting the bolts too tight or too loose. But the Wheelstand Pro is simply fantastic and recommended to anyone looking for a product to hold their wheel.

    Value: 80 / 100 Cheap compared to other solutions, still somewhat expensive at €130

    Functionality: 75 /100 folding is harder than it should be, stand's adjustable height could've been better.

    Quality: 90 /100 Really well made, sturdy and effective design.

    RD Rating: 245 / 300

    Buy One??? : Yes, the perfect solution for console gamers.

    Visit the Wheelstand Pro website for more information about the stand, and the available models.

  7. Gameracer Elite Rig Review


    First Impressions:
    The 'Elite' arrived in a suprisingly small box. Once opened, I found it to have been very well and carefully packaged, lots of protection and thought had gone into this, always a good start! The first thing to grab your attention though, without doubt is the Genuine Corbeau race seat. A very nice quality 'propper' deep bolstered unit, it most deffinatly looks the part! The next thing to become obvious is the quality and finish of the steelwork, top notch stuff!
    [​IMG] Well packaged!

    Nuts n Bolts!:

    This is a fairly simple, but well engineered single 'spine' rig. Construction is of steel box tubing of various sizes, but all of it is thick wall and of a high quality. The welding is of a good standard and finish as is the excellent powder coating and 'plated' finishes, no 'angle grinder' marks, paint runs or flaky plating here! All edges of the steel work have been given a generous radius and the components have been cut very accuratly (lazer or water cut I would imagine). The supplied fastners, knobs and fittings are top notch too and even include bolts to fit the G25/7 to hard fix both the Wheel and pedals to the rig (a nice touch)

    The Elite also comes with a very nice assembly tool kit, a very good quality double ended spanner and allen keys, plus various velcro pads and cable fixings. A really complete setup!


    Design and build up:
    This single spine design makes for a very compact yet rigid setup. Assembly is a breeze with the included instructions. Its a pretty simple case of bolting the seat to the base unit (with or without the seat riser plates) inserting the 'spine' tube, sliding on the 'upright' for the wheel and then bolting on the pedal plate and its support feet! My unit came with the optional G25/7 shifter mounting, again a simple bolt on affair that is mountable on either side of the rig and places the shifter perfectly!

    This is where the Elite excells! The range of adjustment is huge, from seat height (using or removing the seat riser plates) to wheel/pedal positions. The 'upright' for the wheel has a cranked neck (see pics) and this can be reversed, add to this the sliding extension and adjustable rake on the wheel plate along with the fact that the upright can be slid forward and back the length of the spine and this rig can accomodate anyone from kids to 6'4" tall monsters like myself and bigger! The main spine itself can also be slid backward and forwards, moving the pedal distance from almost at the base of the seat to a distance that will cover even the longest of legs!


    Adjustments Neck forward on upright and backward

    Driving with the Elite:
    Due to the adjustable nature of the Elite, it really doesnt take long to find a comfy and suitable position to drive from. If your used to driving with your wheel 'clamped' to a desk and using a house hold chair, this will be a revelation! Not only is it far more comfortable for driving, but it feels correct, the immersion factor is massive and brings you much closer to 'the real thing'. Whilst I cant really say it will make you faster, it will be much more comfortable, especially on longer races and I think that alone my have an impact on times!


    There are quite a few options for the Elite including Monitor stands, shifter mounts, buttkicker gamer 2 and fittings, console mounts and more

    Check out the Gameracer website for more info HERE

    A really high quality rig. It offers a great package on a small footprint and can be stored fairly easily considering the fixed back seat. There are a great number of optional extras too, all in all a very viable option if your looking for a solid, well made and compact rig!

    Value: 89/100 At £325 plus shipping for the basic model, its not the cheapest rig, but its quality of construction offsets this to some degree
    Functionality: 93/100 Great stability and driving position adjustment ensures a high score here!

    Quality: 93/100 Top notch design, construction and finish.

    RD Rating: 275/300 Solid contender

    Buy One?: I think this rig has to be considered, if you looking for a high quality unit, with a small foot print that quickly adjusts to suit multiple users of differing sizes, this may well be your answer!

    Finally: Ted (Gameracers C.E.O.) is one of the nicest guys in the industry, rest assured he is very helpful and has excellent after sales care! Ted has very generously given all RD'ers a 10% discount on his rigs too! Just e-mail him and quote Racedepartment and he will send you an adjusted invoice! (this offer is for rigs only and not combo units)

    I would like to thank Ted for his kindness in helping me with this review and the discount for our members!


  8. Fanatec CSP Tuning Kit Review


    Here is the next xmas hardware review! This time we are going to look at Fanatecs very comprehensive 'tuning kit' for the already massivley adjustable and impressive Clubsport pedal set from Fanatec. Can this kit really improve upon what I think is near perfection (in my view) already???

    Lets see!

    Okay, first off, the format for this review will be slightly different due to the type of product, but I will still go into a fair degree detail........

    Presentation and contents:

    First of all, the kit comes really well packaged and presented, as you can see in the picture above, the parts are held in nice foam trays inside the box. Not just nice presentation, it makes the packaging ideal to continue storing the parts inside that you are not currently using, a good start!

    Inside the box you will find:
    • Brake/Clutch pedal plate (to replace the gas pedal for increased adjustability or inverted pedals)
    • Spring for gas pedal (regular)
    • Spring for gas pedal (30% weaker)
    • Spring for gas pedal (30% stronger)
    • Spring for clutch pedal (regular)
    • Spring for clutch pedal (30% weaker)
    • Spring for clutch pedal (30% stronger)
    • PU Foam for brake (regular)
    • PU Foam for brake – smaller diameter (for reduced friction)
    • Metal bar short for brake (Good for placing the pedal in the second hole position for higher stiffness at same throw)
    • Metal bar long for brake (reduce throw at same stiffness)
    • 6 pedal axis bearings made of brass
    • Lubricant for PU foam
    • Lubricant for metal bars
    This really is a comprehensive kit! On the adjustment front, the spring selection for the gas and clutch pedals really increase the range of adjustment as do the PU foams and alternate metal bars for the brake. You can now, with this kit, make really quite substantial changes to the 'feel' of the pedals. But it doesnt end here, the kit also includes six replacement 'brass' bearings for the pedals. The bearings make an already well fitting set of pedal axis even better and smoother over the original plastic types. They come reamed and ready to fit and is a fairly simple process.
    Next up, you may have noticed a replacment pedal plate, might seem an odd thing to include at first, but actualy, its a great idea if you wish to invert your pedals and shows that Fanatec really listen to customer feedback by including this item. Lastly, you will find two bottles of lubricant, one for the metal surfaces and one specifically for the PU Foam in the brake block (a very handy inclusion).

    Driving with the 'tuned' CSP's :

    I opted to fit the 30% stiffer springs to both the clutch and gas pedals first. WOW! big difference, plus you still have the built in 'spring tension' adjustment to play with too. For me this was an improvment, but again, its all personal taste as to your preference!

    The smaller PU Foam insert makes a noticable change and reduces the pedal pressure. Add to this the shorter or longer brake bar and the adjustable 'pivot hight' the available adjustment is simply amazing now!



    Did it make a real difference? Oh yes, in fairness the standard CSP's are in my honest opinion nearing perfection as they are! But the quality and thought that has gone into this kit and the further adjustments really add to the pedals and just push them closer to perfection for me! I think some of you may wonder that I always write 'rave' reviews of Fanatecs products, but I honestly rate them as I see them and also only review what I think will be top notch products also (I'm guessing you dont want to see poor quality items reviewed!)

    If you already own a set of CSP's, dont mess about, order this kit now, you will love it!


    Now this part is, errr, well, a little bit embarasing for me....... I made a small mistake when I dissasembled the CSP's to fit some of the components from the kit. I neglected to unhook the small plug that connects the load cell to the PCB. This small error meant I pulled the cable slightly as I released the pedals whilst under the tension from the springs. No visable damage (infact I never even noticed the cable get pulled as I was thinking I was being carefull!!). A quick and very embarrasing e-mail to Thomas and he kindly sent me out a new load cell............

    You have been warned, unplug the load cell BEFORE you undo anything else!!!

    Value : 97/100 At 49.95 Euro's, you get an awful lot for your money

    Functionality : 99/100 Couldnt work much better to be honest!

    Quality : 97/100 Once again, top stuff, beautifully made, finnished and packaged!

    RD Rating: 293/300 Only the CSP's themselves scored higher, enough said....

    Buy One?? : Its on my xmas prezzie list along with the CSP's thanks Santa :)


  9. SteelSeries 7H USB Headset Review


    For this 'Xmas review special' I am going to be looking at the SteelSeries 7H USB Pro Gaming headset. This USB edition comes complete with a virtual 7.1 surround sound usb sound card! Alot of sim racers use headsets for many reasions, keeping the Mrs calm (she may not want to listen to a V8 growling of F1 car screaming all evening!), comms (Teamspeak/skype etc) and the fact that a headset hides all the background distractions that most households have (Screaming kids / Mrs / phone / doorbell lol!), but most of us use pretty cheap, basic headsets.

    Well today I am going to be putting a top of the line bit of kit through its paces and see if it is really worth the 'extra money!'

    First Impressions :

    First off, the 7H oozes quality, even the display packaging looks impressive! Once out of the box, the headset feels light, but sturdy and well made. The finish is excellent and right away your eyes are drawn to little details such as the braided cables, gold plated connectors and dark chrome finishes. The next thing is just how small the USB sound card is (8x3x2 cm approx), again, nicley made and finished with a high quality cable. Overall, it bought a smile to my face as I unpacked it and started to examine it!


    Specs / Techie Bits :

    Here's the techie blurb

    Frequency response: 18 – 28.000 Hz
    Impedance: 32 Ohm
    SPL@ 1kHz, 1 Vrms: 112 dB
    Cable length: 1 + 2 = 3 m (9,8 ft.)
    Jacks: 3,5 mm
    Frequency response: 50 – 16.000 Hz
    Pick up pattern: Uni-directional
    Sensitivity: -38 dB
    USB: 2.0
    Surround sound: Virtual 7.1
    Equalizer: 12 channels
    Jacks: 2 x 3,5 mm (USB cable included)
    Operating systems: Win XP/Vista/Win 2000/Win 98/Win ME

    (I should add that the headsets work fine on Win 7 32/64 bit also)


    Features :

    This litle rig is PACKED with features! I'm going to cover the headset first, then the sound card.

    Headset :

    The first thing to mention is the 50mm drivers, thats pretty big for a headset and assures great bass and solid acoustics. The next thing is the fact that this headset can be flat packed!! (see the pics above) this is quite a handy feature, making the set very easy to pack for trips etc! The rig also comes with a second pair of inter-changable ear cushions offering either a closed cup (Making outside sounds almost completely inaudable) or a pair of open cups alowing for easier 'outside' listening. On the headset lead is a little control box that allows you to adjust the volume and/or turn on/off the mic. Now the mic is excellent, instead of the usual, cumbersome 'boom' the 7H uses a cleverly designed 'flexable' pull out mic. When its not in use, simply push it back into the ear cup and its right out of the way! A really nice touch that shows just how much thought has gone into the ergernomics of the design.


    USB Sound Card :

    Physicaly, the sound card is small as I said earlier, its a pretty simple thing, plug n play USB with two 3.5mm jack sockets to connect the headset to. But its what goes on inside this little gem that makes it magic! Boasting a 'virtual' 7.1 surround sound proccessor, the sound card promises much. The first hint of the power of this little unit becomes more obvious once you have installed the drivers. This software suite is really quite powerful, there are numerous input options, you can move individual 'virtual' speakers about to enhance the surround effect, a ten channel equaliser, a mass of 'special effects' and even a Karaoke option!


    Comfort :

    This is one area the 7H really proves its worth. If I'm honest, I usually find wearing headsets tiring and they can become uncomfortable after a while, but the 7H is suprisingly comfortable. With a good range of adjustment, very soft leather ear and headband cushions and swiveling ear cups this set fits really well and its light wieght makes it easy to wear for long periods.


    Sound Quality :

    Okay, this is were it all counts, you can have every fancy feature imaginable, but if the sound quality isnt there its all for nothing!

    Well, before I even started to get to grips with the multitude of adjustments that the software allows I just had to play some bassy 'tunes' to test the rig out. Oh boy, frankly, I was stunned! My Itunes collection NEVER sounded this good before on ANY setup, yet alone a pair headphones! The bass is deep, clear and PUNCHES, midrange is upfront and crystal clear offering superb vocals and the high end does not dissapoint either, offering up crisp and suprisingly well deffined trebble high's.

    Now I started to play with the softs, Dizzee Rascal's bonkers seriously LEAPED out of soundstage when I was emulating 7.1 surround! Again the clarity and punch of the bass along with the surround effect made old tunes sound, well, new! So much so infact, I failed to recognise the intro's to some of the songs on my favorite play list!!!!!!!

    Right, I think I have covered the fact that the H7's are rather good for music! So it was time to fire up rFactor and get in the 'simpit' and see what its like in game. As far as I'm aware, rF and most current sims only support 2 channel sound, but once again the soundcard worked its magic delivering superlative sound quality and giving that 'surround effect' flawlessly. Its worth using the powerful features of the drivers, with a little bit of time you can create the ideal sound setup to suit your prefference. Its very intutative and easy to use.

    Its been proven many times over that in simracing one of the most important, if not THE most important thing for 'immersion' is sound! The 7H's have made my cockpit feel a bit more real and deliver astounding accustics

    Nuff Said...................

    You can find the SteelSeries website HERE its well worth a look

    Value : 91/100 At 129.99 Euro's, cheap they are not! But my god you get some serious sounds in a very high quality rig! and remember there not just for sim racing, you will love them for all multimedia options, film, music etc!

    Functionality : 99/100 Outstanding audio and surround effects

    Quality : 97/100 Top of the line stuff, wonderful design, superbly executed

    RD Rating: 287/300 Top end price, but top end performance, stunning sound!

    Buy One?? : Its a big investment, but if you have the spare cash its worth every penny

    I would like to thank Casper Mejlholm from SteelSeries for his kind assistance in making this review. More items from SteelSeries to be reviewed very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

  10. GT Omega Rig Review!

    The review this time in our 'Xmas Present' series is for the GT Omega rig. It promises to be a very fully featured setup for budget money, a shade under 300 euros for the base model and 360 for the Pro model with all the options included, but can you really get this much rig for that amount of money? Lets see...........


    First Impressions :

    The rig comes in two boxes, one with the seat in it and the other with all the frame work. Leo from GT Omega kindly sent me the Pro version to evaluate, the pro comes with a few extra's including a monitor stand, shifter mount and a keyboard holder. The first box was opened and inside was the seat. once removed, I was very impresses right away with the seat, beautifully covered in letherette in a really nice red/black scheme. Deep bolstering, solid metal framework and very good foam. It was obvious that this was a REAL GT car seat and not a cheap mockup that alot of rig manufacturers use. The next box contained alot of carefully bubble wrapped frame work, a bag with all the fastners and a spanner allen key etc. I have to say that the powder coating on the rig wasnt the best I have seen, a few runs and one spot was flaking a little! but overall a good start!


    Nuts and Bolts :

    Okay, this is a full frame, tubular steel rig. This arrangement has a number of real positives if you can have a rig permamently assembled in the house. Its VERY stable, there is no center spine (a huge bonus for serious racers who heel n toe) and this kind of rig can accomodate far more in the way of attachments and extra's. This is very much a simulator rather than a race 'seat' and has the potential to be added to in many ways.

    (base unit with extra's)

    (pro version)

    Build up :

    Once I had unpacked everything, it was time to assemble it. To be honest it was pretty easy to put together, nothing fiddlly, just very basic nuts n bolts stuff. The included and online instructions were quite detailed and easy to understand so I wont say much more than this about the assembly other than pretty easy! I should also add the inclusion of some frame extenders that simply fit on the bottom frame rails and wheel rails to give even more room for very long legged drivers (I'm 6'4" and I didnt need them!)

    Seat :

    This is a real plus point for the GTO, the seat is great quality. Very, very comfortable, reclines and slides forwards/back, offering great adjustability even as you drive! The finish of the seat is top notch, tidy and accurate stichwork, the panels have been well tensioned and even the embrioded logo's look good too. It bolts firmly to the frame and judging by the overall quality should last years, top marks here!


    Fitting out :

    The wheel plate on the GTO comes pre-drilled for both logitechs G25/7 and Fanatec's wheels. It's adjustable for both reach and hight by a simple bolted hole arrangment (See pic below) Pluses for this system are rigidity and it sure as hell wont budge once set up! Downsides are no fine adjustment (negated to some degree by seat adjustment) and the fact its a pain to adjust for other drivers (although again, the seat does take care of 75% of this). I actually preffer this setup, for me, I'm the only driver so once set, its done and it cant slip or move in a race!


    The pedal plate is excellent! It is very rigid, wide enough to fit Fanatecs clubsports or almost any other pedal set with ease. I took me a few minutes to drill the plate for the clubsports, but comes pre-drilled for the G25/7 pedals. It is has by far the best angle of any rig I have yet tested and works perfectly.


    Another nice feature of the rig is the included rear speaker stands. The stand can be removed if not needed by simply unscrewing two plastic knobs and lifting it off, but to be honest, its an ideal location and was designed with logitechs 2.1 and 5.1 speaker systems in mind, but would almost all makes. The front speakers sit nicely on the tray that comes with the monitor stand and the subwoofer will easily go under the seat, making for a very tidy instalation.

    Next up is the shifter stand. It fixes to the frame with 3 bolts and once tight is pretty solid, unusually, the G25/7 shifter BOLTS to the stand rather than using the original desk clamps. This is a great improvment and once bolted up, the shifter isnt going to move or slip mid race, another nice design touch!


    We now move on to the monitor stand, its pretty impressive that it even comes with a stand at this price, but once again, its another very solidly engineered item, usual VESA compatability and comes with a handy tray or shelf too. The mount can handle up to a 37" tv/monitor and is pretty robust. It does have a small amount of movment or wobble, but I have never noticed it in game at all. The guys at GT Omega will be releasing a triple screen stand soon for the rig also.


    Last up is the keyboard tray. Now mine was a pre-production unit and had a fair degree of wobble in it. The tray is actually placed by a roller bearing, so I decided to fit a second bearing to reduce the wobble. This worked a treat and really improved the tray, when I told Leo about this, he immediatly took this mod on board and all trays will now have 2 bearings. The tray is a real godsend on a rig like this and the huge adjustability by being swiveled on its base and at the tray makes it very easy to use. The only other thing I did was make a small stand out of some simple threaded studding to tilt the keyboard a little.


    Driving with the GT Omega :

    Okay, now were at the important bit that everyone will skip to first lol! Well, I can say very confidently that driving with this rig is an absolute pleasure! The seat as I said before is excellent and once you have the rig adjusted to suit it really is superb! The lack of a central wheel support spine gives you so much extra room to move about in, the shifter and keyboard are ideally placed (again, both are adjustable) and the monitor stand places the monitor in an ideal position. The biggest thing with this rig though, is it feels like you sit IN it, not on TOP of it, this adds to the 'immersion' factor greatly and lends itself well to modding and building the rig up further into a realistic simulator!


    Conclusions :

    If your looking for a fully featured rig without breaking the bank balance, this is 100% the rig for you! I have to admit to falling in love with this unit. It packs a mighty punch for very little money compared to its competitors. Okay, the powdercoat isnt great, but everything that matters is spot on, top quality seat, SOLID construction and a superb design brilliantly executed! This IS the best value rig I have come across by miles!

    You can find the GT Omega Website HERE

    Value: 100/100 At 360 Euro's for the full Pro version with all the extra's mentioned above, it had to be a TOP SCORE and the only review to ever score a full 100! (The base model is just under 300 Euro's but I would recommend the pro for the small increase in cost)

    Functionality: 97/100 Great stability and driving position and all the extras means a top score!

    Quality: 93/100 Superb design, very solid construction, only lost a few points to cosmetic issues with the powder coat

    RD Rating: 290/300 one of the highest scores ever, Recomended!

    Buy One?: Simply YES!

    Finally : The above prices are Pre order ones, the units will be ready to ship on the 19th Dec, after this date there will be a small price increase (see website). I would like to thank Leo from GT Omega for his assistance in this review.