Further Impressions and Conclusion
The Force Feedback Effects on this unit are much, much better represented than the previous F430. The response seems quicker, smoother, and just more accurate as to what is going on with the road and the car. The belt and pulley system, which takes up more space and requires a larger base unit, just seem to handle FFB a lot better than the previous geared design that I was used to. The wheel is easy to calibrate through the software and the FFB properties can be finely adjusted from there. If a title supports it, like DiRT Rally, then finer tuning the wheel via that calibration will lead to a much better experience. For users that currently have this wheel and drive in DiRT Rally, it would behoove them to watch some videos on the calibration and settings for that title. A lot of very subtle fine tuning to get the feeling as close to a real rally car as possible.
The TX base is a solid unit with the quick release mechanism to attach different wheels to depending on user preferences (and budget).
The base unit can get warm after extended use. It does feature a fan to help cool the motor down. When this fan spins up it does vibrate the wheel and base unit a bit. It is very subtle and the noise is often drowned out by the motor racing sounds. It took me more than a few hours to begin to notice that the fan was working in the first place.
The Thrustmaster TX F458 Ferrari Italia Edition is a few years old now and there are newer models coming out that will provide some competition for them. This particular model can be found online for around $295 US. It is still being sold as new even though other options have been made available in the Thrustmaster lineup.
A better wheel makes a huge difference in racing games that support good FFB effects. Project Cars and DiRT Rally are two of the better titles out there with really well done support. Other titles such as GRID Autosport are not as finely tuned and feel very basic when driving around a track. F1 2015 apparently also suffers from this same lack of fine tuning with force feedback.
It is hard to express how different a good wheel makes racing feel. It also can have a very positive effect on the user’s racing performance due to a greater variety of inputs that lets the person know how their vehicle is handling. Grip, understeer, and oversteer are all unique inputs from the wheel and help to instantly convey that information to the driver.
The back of the wheel has the equipment necessary to insert into the TX base unit. It is not pretty, but it is functional.
The Thrustmaster TX F458 Italia Edition is overall an outstanding wheel that takes the racing experience up a couple of notches from my previous wheel, not to mention a totally different experience from a keyboard, joystick, or a non-FFB wheel. Some of the fit and finish could be improved, but I can understand the choices that were made to achieve the price point that Thrustmaster was aiming for.
The one really nice thing about this product is the ability to mix and match components, as long as the user is willing to pay for them. After a while I would be sorely tempted to purchase that leather wrapped replacement wheel. The 599XX EVO 30 Alcantara Edition sounds like a serious piece of kit that may well be worth the $175 they are asking for it.
I have no problems recommending this particular product, even in light of updated Logitech and Thrustmaster lineups. The G29 is over $100 more expensive and still uses the dual helical gearing as opposed to the smoother belt and pulley system. The new T150 is $199 and does not feature the same flexibility or build quality as the TX F458. The new T300 Alcantara Edition looks to debut at $475. That’s a pretty significant price difference.
The wheel has improved my gaming performance as well as my enjoyment of these racers. If a user is more than a casual racer, they owe it to themselves to pick up something more basic than a bungee based wheel, joystick, or (ack!) keyboard. Thrustmaster makes a pretty good product in the midrange. $300 US is not a lot to spend, especially considering that the most basic Fanatec setup will at least cost $1000 for base, wheel, and pedals. These are impressive parts from Fanatec, but overkill for the vast majority of users.
All that a user needs to get up and racing!
Finally I must mention again the mounting capabilities of this setup. It features the standard bolting pattern for the base and pedals so it can be mounted on racing platforms. The included desk mounting device is probably one of the better ones of its kind at that price range. It takes a lot of force to dislodge it when racing. If there was one annoyance it is that of the pedals when on any surface. It simply does not have enough grip to stay in place for any period of time. It needs to be adjusted constantly after and during races to stay in the optimal position. Users will have to use some inventive solutions to solve this for their particular situation.