EVALUATION

Thrustmaster T248 Review: New Hybrid Drive System Will Smash Your Lap Times

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Thrustmaster T248

8.50 / 10

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Thrustmaster's T248 brings an all-new hybrid drive system to racing wheels and is an excellent entry to mid-tier racing wheel that will suit beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Specifications

  • Brand: Thrustmaster
  • Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Programmable: Yes
  • Extra Buttons: Yes
Pros

  • Excellent, powerful force feedback
  • Precise hybrid drive system
  • High-quality build, both wheels and pedals
  • Customizable digital display
Cons

  • Magnetic gear paddles are loud
  • Some will find brake pedal too stiff
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With most games, practice is the only way to get better. But for racing games, you can upgrade your hardware to help push you to another level.

A steering wheel with excellent force-feedback and a set of spring-loaded pedals can shave seconds from your lap times, bringing you closer to glory.

The Thrustmaster T248, then, could be just what you're looking for, the perfect racing wheel for beginners and enthusiasts alike with multiple force-feedback configurations, customizable buttons, three premium pedals, and delightfully clicky magnetic gear paddles.

Feeling closer to the action makes all the difference, and the Thrustmaster T248 delivers in spades. So, is the Thrustmaster T248 worth the money? Will it turn you from console racer to the next Lewis Hamilton?

Find out in our hands-on Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel review.

Thrustmaster T248 Features

The T248 racing wheel is Thrustmaster's new flagship steering wheel and pedal combination, replacing the Thrustmaster T300S at the top of the pile and competing directly with Logitech's G923.

thrustmaster t248 wheel close

Of course, replacing the T300S is no easy feat, as it's a well-loved and popular entry-level racing wheel, and for the retail price of $400, calling it an "entry-level wheel" does feel like a stretch, but that is the way the sim-racing wheel market is moving.

The Thrustmaster T248 wheel is compatible with PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PCs, and you can switch between the two configuration types on the wheel itself.

Thrustmaster T248 Hybrid Drive Force Feedback System

The Thrustmaster T248 brings some decent upgrades to the table with a new hybrid drive force feedback system that delivers greater control over the wheel and your in-game movement.

thrustmaster t248 desktop configuration options

A hybrid drive system combines the best features of the two racing wheel systems that you'll find in other similarly priced wheels: gear and belt-driven feedback. Thrustmaster believes the hybrid drive force feedback system delivers up to 70 percent more power than previous models such as the Thrustmaster T150 or its competitors, which is a substantial leap in performance and precision.

Of course, you're never going to get the same precision as a direct drive wheel, but that's entirely expected, and the new hybrid drive system definitely gives you more control. Notably, your steering movements are reflected accurately, and in-game feedback such as oversteer, understeer, and racing surface changes quickly feed through into the wheel and your hands.

Thrustmaster T248 Digital Display

One significant new feature for the Thrustmaster T248 is the digital display found on the wheel itself. From here, you can change a bunch of settings on the fly, including wheel rotation, force feedback level, PC or PlayStation mode, and more. Furthermore, the digital display doubles up as an interactive race dashboard that you can set to display heaps of different bits of information. So, you can set the race display to show your previous lap time, best lap time, which gear you're in, the rev limiter, race position, and more.

thrustmaster t248 adjust roation on wheel

It's a great touch, and Thrustmaster has done a solid job integrating this digital display into the wheel and making it accessible, with numerous options.

The only issue you might have with the race information is viewing it while you're driving. Depending on your cockpit configuration, your eye-line might not be aligned with the digital display, meaning you don't really get the best of its features. But then again, this isn't Thrustmaster's fault, so the race display is there for you to use as you feel.

thrustmaster t248 digital display button

At the time of review, digital display compatibility is limited, though out of the box it supports:

  • Dirt 5 (PC and PlayStation)
  • F1 2021 (PC and PlayStation)
  • F1 2020 (PC and PlayStation)
  • Euro Truck Sim 2 (PC)
  • Automobilista 2 (PC)
  • iRacing (PC)
  • RaceRoom (PC)
  • WRC 10 (PC and PlayStation)

More games are expected to make the list very soon, with Assetto Corsa Competizione support almost ready during the review. So by the time Gran Turismo 7 rolls around in March 2022, the T248 will be ready and working.

New Thrustmaster T3PM Pedals and Pedal Configuration

The Thrustmaster T248 ships with new T3PM magnetic pedals, which Thrustmaster claims are 20 percent more stable than their predecessor, the T3PA. The 20 percent stability is reflected in a 20 percent weight increase on the T3PA, and it does feel like a high-quality build. Of course, how stable you find a set of pedals comes down to how you use them, and as mine is mounted on a stand, the additional 20 percent was neither here nor there. You do notice the larger 100 percent metal pedal heads, which really are nice and large and make for easy use, especially in rapid changes.

thrustmaster t248 pedals

You can also switch the T3PM brake pedal between four different pressure modes and angles, adjustable depending on which configuration you use the wheel in. Thrustmaster intends this for use for your gaming setup, as obviously, not everyone is rocking a proper cockpit or racing seat—or even a proper chair for that matter. In my case, I'm using a very solid oak chair that doesn't move when in use, but it definitely wasn't built with sim-racing in mind, so having the option to adjust the brake pedal angle is actually quite useful.

One thing to note about the brake pedal is that, wow, is it stiff. It takes a bit of getting up to speed and compared to other wheels I've used, it's surprisingly resistant. Thrustmaster advises that the new brake pedal's maximum resistance is 200kg, which is twice as much as the T3PA, and does make it feel more like the brakes in a real racing car, be that GT3 or F1.

thrustmaster t248 pedals close

In the Thrustmaster T248 box, you'll find a replacement black brake spring that you can swap out for the default silver one, delivering even stiffer breaking resistance, but you're best off playing around with the two springs and brake pedal cushioning positions to find the best configuration for your setup.

The pedal base has a nice pattern to help your feet stay put during racing, while you'll also find some handy wiring channels down either side to keep cables out of the way while racing. There's nothing worse than yanking a cable free after it gets tangled without you realizing!

thrustmaster t248 pedals pressure applied

On the underside of the base, there are five mounting points that allow you to mount to various rigs. During testing, I had the T248 in a GT Omega Classic stand, and it fits perfectly, not budging an inch once in use.

Thrustmaster T248 Magnetic Gear Paddles and Buttons

Another nice new feature for the T248 is the magnetic gear paddles. While they are an upgrade on the microswitches found in other wheels, some may not enjoy the new magnetic paddle actuation. Changing gear requires more force than with other racing wheels, that's for certain, and the noise accompanying your gear shifts is, well, loud.

thrustmaster t248 digital display info

Playing alone with headphones on, you won't notice. But if you live in a regular-sized house and don't have a dedicated racing rig room, or even if you do, those around you are going to hear those paddles, click-clacking each time you shift up and down. For a wheel that hits perfectly in so many areas, the gear paddles almost feel like an oversight.

Thrustmaster T248 Style and Comfort

Comfort is a big thing when it comes to your racing wheel, and Thrustmaster has opted for a cushioned, foam-filled leather lining rather than the customary rubber, closer to how a real steering wheel feels.

How that works with heat is interesting. Most sim-racers and casual racing wheel users know and understand the issue of hot hands, especially during long gaming sessions. With a rubber wheel, the heat tends to build up and cause discomfort, sweaty grainy, and in extreme cases, you can even blister your hands. Switching to a leather lining definitely reduces these issues and is very comfortable to use for long periods. I mean, your hands will still get hot, and there's not much you can do about that, but the new lining doesn't make the heat worse.

But aside from the leather rim, the rest of the wheel is predominantly black, sculpted plastic. That's not to say it looks cheap, because it doesn't. The overall visual design and presentation of the T248 racing wheel are good, but it doesn't scream "premium" like you would want it to after paying out for what's priced as a premium product. On the other hand, the T248's direct competitor, Logitech's G293 is an all-leather and steel affair, and you have to say, it takes the prize as the better-looking wheel.

Handbrake placement is another issue, as without a dedicated attachment, you'll be using a button. Turning the wheel and holding the handbrake can prove a very tricky affair. You could map the handbrake to the clutch in games where you don't require the third-pedal or allow you to use an automatic gearbox, but obviously, this won't suit everyone.

Is the Thrustmaster T248 Racing Wheel Worth the Money?

Coming in at $400, it's fair to say the T248 isn't your typical entry-level wheel. Because actually, it isn't an entry-level wheel; it's a tier above. If you're looking for an entry-level racing wheel, the Thrustmaster T150 retails for around $230 but isn't nearly as polished as the T248.

In that, you are getting what you pay for. The new T3PM pedals are a solid upgrade on previous wheels, and even if you don't get as much use from the digital display as you would like, it's a premium racing wheel feature you won't find elsewhere. Furthermore, the powerful force feedback is brilliant, and one of the best options available to racing would-be's before you start looking at the next tier of racing wheels.

And when you do that, you're looking at the wonderful Fanatec CSL Elite, albeit as a second-hand purchase as it is now discontinued. Then, of course, there's also the new Fanatec CSL direct drive option, but again, you're definitely looking at a much, much bigger outlay than for the Thrustmaster T248, and once you enter the world of direct drive, you're playing a different game.

The Thrustmaster T248 at $400 is a great racing wheel option for enthusiasts that want to start racing but cannot afford to drop thousands on a rig or don't have the space for a permanent frame. Remember, the vast majority of professional esports drivers started out with basic racing wheels, working up to the big leagues. The T248 could be the perfect start for you.

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