599XX EVO Alcantara Edition Continued
The Thrustmaster mounting system is a bit of a mixed bag here. The design itself is ok and works as it is supposed to. It features a four lobed mounting system with a plastic ring that screws onto the wheel and tightens the connection. It takes a minute or two to swap out wheels and is a lightweight system that does not require metal parts to implement. Once everything is tightened it is a solid system. Those expecting a quick release system like those seen on racing cars or the higher end Fanatec wheels will be disappointed here. The metal collar mounting system on the Fanatec wheels are pretty amazing, but there is a price to pay in terms of money and weight with such a system.
We can see the four lobed mounting system socket and threaded rim that secures the wheel to the servo base.
This leads me to the next observation. Weight is a key factor with any racing wheel that a person will buy. Let us quickly touch upon physics here. The electric motor in any wheel base will exert a certain amount of force at maximum output. If the wheel is smaller and more lightweight, those forces are going to seem stronger. There is less weight to throw around and the smaller the diameter of the wheel, the less leverage a person has to push back against that force. So a smaller, lighter rim will increase the forces felt by the individual. A larger, heavier rim will decrease the forces experienced by the individual because there is more mass the motor has to act against, as well as the increased leverage the user has against the forces being applied to the rim.
The 599XX wheel is a very good combination of size and mass. It is slightly heavier and larger than the stock F458 rim that I had been using, but not significantly so. The F458 rim does transmit forces slightly better than the 599XX due to weight and size. It also does a slightly better job there as it is a harder plastic. It does not have the polyurethane construction as well as the Alcantara wrap. Those two materials will absorb some of the energy transmitted from the motor. The real-world differences though are still rather minimal. We could argue that the 599XX is a more realistic experience since few racers are going to use an inexpensive, light, and rigid wheel during competition for many reasons.
From the top down we can see the steering position indicator as well as the overall depth of the unit. Note the paddle shifter position.
The 599XX still does a fantastic job in transmitting the forces enacted on it by the dual pulley and motor system. Small dips and rumbles are easily perceived and helps the driver to react appropriately in many situations. The major forces are not dampened by the materials and slightly larger size of the rim. The area that this product really excels is that of comfort. The Alcantara material feels fantastic. It wicks away sweat all the while staying warm to the touch, but without getting hot or uncomfortable. In extended driving scenarios I found my older plastic rim would start to get a bit dirty from sweat. This wheel has never had this problem. Never once did my hands experience fatigue from gripping this wheel, or become uncomfortable. The stitching is a little rough on the inside of the rim, but that only added to the sensation of driving rather than becoming an annoyance.
Thrustmaster has a wide range of products that go from the sub-$100 market up to nearly $800 for a high end servo base, wheel, and pedal set. The TX and T300 servo bases are aimed at the midrange market and can be found in base configurations for as low as $290 on sale. The bases themselves can be found for around $250. Thrustmaster also offers a pair of $199 wheel sets that support the PC, PS4, and XBox One in the form of the T150 and TMX FFB wheels. The ability to upgrade the TX/T300 and above servos to a variety of accessories make them a strong contender for a consumer’s dollar.
The 599XX EVO wheel is priced at $179, which can be a tough pill for some to swallow. It is more expensive that their leather wrapped GT offerings as well as the F1 style wheel. There is a certain amount of money extra for using a licensed Ferrari/Alcantara product. I was unsure when ordering this part if it would really be worth it, but in the end I feel it is. The overall feel and construction of the rim is outstanding. A lot of care and quality control has been applied to each rim and it shows. The stitching is very even, the bonding of the pieces of Alcantara to make the appropriate curves is hardly noticeable, and the solidity combined with a lightweight design is really outstanding.
A quick visual comparison to a high end Fanatec unit to the Thrustmaster 599XX EVO Alcantara. The Fanatec part is larger and much heavier.
For myself, I feel the money I paid is well spent. It has only added to the overall experience. I did have to turn up the forces applied from the servo base to get the same feeling from the smaller, lighter F458 wheel. Those forces were sitting at around 70% of maximum and I took it to 80% with this rim. The only real downside to that is that after racing a while the internal cooling fan of the TX/T300 servo base kicks in sooner than with the smaller rim.
Overall I find that for any enthusiast with a TX or T300 wheel base, this is a must-have upgrade. It provides an enhanced experience over at least the F458 rim that comes stock with the TX servo base. It features the Alcantara material over the rubberized plastic rim that comes standard with the T300 setup. It is an upgrade in size, weight, and materials from anything else in its price category. I personally think it is money well spent if a user invests any significant amount of time racing.