Archive article written by Junior Torque editor Richard, from 2012
It’s many years since I unboxed a brand spanking Thrustmaster Grand Prix 1 (see opposite page) and my parents had to quite literally drag me away from the computer just so I didn’t keep playing PowerF1 (That’s right, I said POWERF1) till i died of starvation.
Racing simulations have thankfully got more realistic since the days of PowerF1, and the peripherals have possibly come on in even larger leaps and bounds.
The long time king of racing wheels has been the Logitech G25. The G25 appealed to hardcore sim racers, and finally brought a level of realism that had always been lacking from previous attempts. With every gearbox under the sun, weighted pedals and top notch force feedback, Logitech had struck gold.
When the news filtered through that Logitech were releasing a sequel to the G25, our initial thoughts were simply, why? Is the G27 a simple money making exercise, preying on the ingrained need for sim racers to have the latest equipment, or have Logitech once again struck gold and achieved the unthinkable in making the G25 even better.
Well what better way to test out Logitechs latest creation, than to pitch it against another challenger to the ‘Best Sim Wheel’ crown, the eye catching Fanatec Porsche GT3 RS wheel. The GT3 RS wheel is Fanatecs flagship model, and as you might have guessed, is modelled on an actual Porsche GT3 wheel. With an Alcantara covered wheel and beautiful brushed steel pedals, could the Fanatec beast usurp the G27 at the top of the rankings?
Well as both the G27 and GT3 wheels were delivered to the Torque offices, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a G25 had mistakenly been delivered. The G27’s box is almost identical to the G25 packaging; in fact we did even wonder that if we scratched away at the 7 on the box whether a 5 would appear underneath.
You can’t fail to miss the Porsche box however, with it’s bright Orange packaging, and you also need muscles from Brussels just to carry the thing inside, it really does weigh a tonne!
Both wheels are equally well packed and G25 owners will feel right at home when lifting the G27 from its box. The familiar sight of brushed metal paddles and leather stitched wheel emerge from the box, and you have to have a good look before the small changes Logitech have made become apparent. A small set of shift lights now adorn the top of the centre of the wheel, and the welcome addition of 4 more buttons reachable by your thumbs are the two main differences.
The pedals still look fantastic, and are now adjustable for the true hardcore racers who like to customise all their peripherals.
The biggest surprise however is that Logitech have got rid of the sequential gearbox option from the shifter. Where the old G25 shifter had a selector which you could use to switch between H Pattern and Sequential gearbox, the G27 now just has a simple H Pattern gearbox, with no other discernable differences or upgrades. Disappointing.
The Porsche wheel emerges from it’s box to mixed initial impressions, with the much chunkier wheel wrapped in an authentic Alcantara. The plastics used for the centre of the wheel are unfortunately rather tacky when compared to the steel G27’s, but we were instantly impressed with the chunkier wheel which is both larger in diameter and also thicker than the G27’s wheel.
Having removed the pedals from the box, we were all instantly in awe of the fantastic solid aluminium pedals. They really are stunning to look at, and feel so much more solid than the all of a sudden rather flimsy Logitech pedals.
One slight grumble is that the GT3 RS wheel does not come with a gearbox, instead forcing users to change gear using the two plastic paddles behind the wheel. I have been informed that an external gearbox can be purchased form Fanatec, but for now we had to deal with the dreaded paddle shift system. In any case, Fanatec have done a great job of replicating the actual Porsche GT3 wheel.
And so to our first test, how will each wheel fair to 3 laps of Silverstone on our first game, RFactor.
Both wheels were strapped to our desk, and both calibrated the same once turned on; rotating 900 degrees through their axis, before centering once more. It must be said at this point that the G27 makes a better effort at tidying the multiple wires protruding from the wheel, whilst we had to wrap the wires from the Porsche wheel around the back of the unit and down to our PC… not ideal.
Rolling out of the Silverstone pits with the G27, you can immediately notice the new helical gears inside the wheel unit have made it much much quieter and smoother. Not a massive upgrade, but noticeable all the same, and a welcome change. Having completed a lap we were pleasantly surprised that not once did we accidently press one of the new buttons on the wheel, laying to rest our initial fear that the buttons would be in the way of our thumbs whilst playing. The pedals also felt more natural, with heel and toe shifting a breeze with the new pedal setup. Where we had to remove a spacer from the throttle on the G25 so that we could achieve this, Logitech have now changed the pedals accordingly.
The resistance of the pedals is similar to the G25, although we’d still prefer some more resistance on the brake pedal. We can’t complain however, as with more resistance, we’d end up flying across the room on our wheelie chairs in every braking zone!
The G27’s paddle shifts now have a much more positive feel to them as Logitech have introduced much improved external switches to give you the positive feeling you’d get from a paddle shift system in real life.
Overall the 3 laps at Silverstone were completed with ease, and once we tried the G25 after our G27 test, we really did appreciate the newer wheels smoothness which enabled us to position our imaginary F1 car with much more precision than with the older wheel.
So then we fired up GTR2, another popular title with race sim fans and with our FIA GT3 racer Chris Dymond trying out the wheel, we would soon find out just how good the new G27 is.
Immediately we were struck with a problem with the missing sequential gearbox. In real life, most GT cars will still run with a sequential shifter, and so it was a real shame that we couldn’t use one for GTR2. When we approached Logitech about the missing sequential box, they told us the following – “The spring force in the shifter being too light. In the case of the shifter spring force, it was necessary to remove the sequential mode from the G27 in order to improve the feeling of 6-speed mode”
In all honesty we couldn’t detect a noticeable improvement in the H Pattern shifter, and we’d much prefer to have the old sequential box back than have the ‘improved’ H Pattern.
Anyway, I digress, back to the review and despite the gearbox issues we are still impressed with the new wheel on GTR2. The cars in GTR2 always feel well weighted and heavier than cars on RFactor, much more lifelike. The G27 conveyed this really well, and gave good feedback when the inevitable bouts of understeer and oversteer occurred.
Unfortunately the new shift lights on the wheel are fairly useless, with few games currently supporting them. OK so as a novelty factor they are quite a cool addition, but they don’t add to the gameplay, and racers would do better to concentrate on the screen in front of them than look down at shift lights.
OK so onwards onto the GT3 RS wheel and it’s first test on RFactor. Immediately as you leave the pits you appreciate how quiet and how smooth the Porsche wheel is. Couple that with some really strong force feedback effects and a pair of great paddles for changing gear and your onto a winner.
Whilst we’re on the subject of the paddles, as nice as the G27’s brushed metal paddles are, they do still feel somewhat over engineered and more aesthetically pleasing than practical.
Personally I found the brake pedal much more realistic with the Porsche wheel, but both pedal boxes stood up well when faced with the pounding they received. The Logitech pedals are probably more carpet friendly than the sharp aluminium ones from Fanatec, and neither have problems with grip on any surface.
One neat feature of the GT3 wheel is the onboard tuning functions, giving the ability to fine tune force feedback strength, rotation and sensitivity whilst driving in game. This particular feature is well implemented and we managed to adjust force feedback through the 4 options (0%, 33%, 66%, 100%) with no problems.
Our lap times on RFactor with the Porsche wheel were on par with the times achieved with the G27, and we were impressed with the responsiveness and feedback from the GT3 wheel. Shifting with the paddles is satisfying, and positive, although with any car but the F1 car we would still like the option of a Sequential gearbox.
A small issue with the Porsche wheel comes with how it fixes to your desk. The clamps used underneath the unit are somewhat complicated, and whilst the unit stood up to full force feedback admirably, it did suffer from lack of stability towards the front of the unit, with vertical movement at the point furthest away from the fixings. This problem does give the illusion that the unit is not fixed firmly to the desk, even though it appears to be fairly solid.
The fixings on the G27 are the same sturdy twist and tighten screws, and the unit is as sturdy as ever; not even an earthquake could budge the Logitech hardware from your desk.
Whilst driving, we did experience flicking the far right button on the wheel by mistake when out on track. This incident only occurred the once but with that button assigned as the speed limiter, it’s fair to say it ruined our lap! Other than these minor ergonomic issues, the wheel is so much more comfortable to use than the Logitech wheels, thanks to the Alcantara covered wheel.
As we move onto GTR2 you can tell the GT3 wheel has done well as we are already arguing over which wheel we prefer. Opinion is firmly divided across the office, and it would seem the verdict would be much more contentious than we first thought.
Both wheels needed little setup tinkering to achieve optimum settings, with both coming out of the box and working well from the off. GTR2 is a game that should suit the GT3 wheel down to the ground, and we decided to choose a Porsche in game to suit.
Indeed the wheel performed well, nicely weighted and with impressive feedback once again informing us well in advance of any nasty under/oversteer moments on track. Once again the brakes were impressive, although we did start to detect a difficulty in modulating brake pressure once the wheels are locked up in game. Whether this was down to pure driving style or not, only time will tell.
We exit GTR2 and sit and deliberate the two wheels, with opinions still firmly split. On one hand is the G27 with its subtle improvements over our beloved G25, and on the other hand we have the beautifully made GT3 wheel.
In the end we had to plump with the G27 as the winner of our product test. It was run to a photo finish by the Porsche wheel; however we could not forgive the lack of gearbox options with the GT3 RS package. Chaotic wiring and instability were the final nails in the Porsche’s coffin. What was clear however was that we all felt with some small improvements, Fanatec could quite easily usurp Logitech at the top of the Wheel Peripheral charts.
Logitech beware, the competitors are catching up, you’ll need to upgrade more than aesthetics with the G29 to stave off the advances of Fanatec!
WINNER: LOGTIECH G27
Author: Clerk of the Course
The Clerk of Junior Torque. Administrator, Editor and Dictator!