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Hardware Review: Thrustmaster T128 – The perfect wheel for beginners

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It’s no secret that games like Gran Turismo 7 or Dirt 5 are best made with a compatible racing wheel. Moving your car in different directions with the DualSense controller, while fun, will never reach the heights of immersion and entertainment like spinning that wheel around to take a tight turn. However, if you’ve fancied dipping your toes into the peripheral waters of driving, you’ll find that it’s not the cheapest hobby out there. And where do you start?

Well, that’s where the Thrustmaster T128 steps in. This haptic-feedback racing wheel, officially licensed by Sony, is being marketed as the perfect entry point for racing enthusiasts. But does that mean a cheaper price point? And does the T128 still retain those high end features? We’ve spent the last few weeks driving around with the T128, so let’s answer those questions.

What is Thrustmaster T128?

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Thrustmaster T128 is a racing wheel compatible with PS4, PS5, and PC. It comes with full PlayStation integration so you’ll find the likes of a home button, square and triangle, and even a share button. It comes with an easily adjustable clamp for wheel desks and tables and a set of pedals for braking and accelerating.

Here in the UK In, the whole package will set you back around £170, or $200 in the US. It’s probably not the low-end price you’d expect in an entry-point racing peripheral, but the T128 comes with some great features for the price.

The T128’s biggest selling point is its haptic feedback in the wheel. PS5 users will be well used to the incredibly immersive capabilities of haptics via DualSense, and while we’re nowhere near that level of detail, we’re well beyond basic vibrations here – but more on that later.

What’s in the box?

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The Thrustmaster T128 comes with some no-frills packaging, consisting of wheels, clamps and screws, power, PS5, and pedal cables, and of course the pedals themselves. The three cables can be a little fiddly to attach to the wheel with some awkward port placement, but once attached, you’ll have your T128 synced to your PS5 in no time.

Build quality and hardware specifications

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Straight out of the box, our initial impressions of the T128’s build quality weren’t stellar. The all-plastic build looks pretty cheap at first glance. However, once you get everything set up, those initial impressions quickly go away.

The solid table clamp immediately shows how strong this piece of kit can be. Along with the aforementioned PlayStation buttons, you’ll also find a pair of magnetic gear paddles on the back of the wheel. These are in really good shape, although it was easy to lose when they turned with the wheel that was up and down especially when enduring twisty tracks. However, a lot of the confusion was down to the amazing 900 degree turning axle, meaning you can whip this wheel around for those super tight corners.

The real quality of the T128 comes out to play when you feel its haptics and wheel resistance. The haptics aren’t incredibly detailed, but you can immediately feel what kind of ground surface you’re on when you go from tarmac to dirt track. Wheel resistance is what really affected us, as it made certain turns more difficult, and even went against our will depending on what was happening in-game. This tied in particularly well with the car physics in DIRT 5, which would knock our steering to the side if another car crashed into us.

Disappointingly, paddles are the greatest hazard for drowning damage for two reasons. For one, if you’re playing on a carpeted floor like we were, you’ll find the pedals often slip, allowing you to pull them back with your feet. Second, with a really short connecting cable, we couldn’t pull the cable behind our set-up with the rest of the wires, leaving it hanging down in front, and often getting caught in our legs. It’s a shame, because the pedals themselves have a decent bounce, but they definitely stood out as the T128’s weakest element.

Racing experience

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It’s one thing to talk about the technical features of the T128, but quite another to experience them. On the road, we had an absolute blast with this setup, and couldn’t imagine going back to a controller after that. With experiences like Formula 1, WRC, Aceto Corsa, and even Farming Simulator 22, there are plenty of experiences to try on the PS5. We’d love more arcade racers like Hot Wheels Unleashed to make an appearance, but the T128 is definitely marketed for those more hardcore driving experiences.

We spent a lot of our time with the DIRT 5, and its various tight bumpy tracks were the perfect technical showcase for this wheel. Launching up a ramp through the air was nothing short of exhilarating, to feel the vibration of the wheels as we bounced back off the ground. And wheel resistance meant we were holding on tight as we did risky drifts, or spun out and lost control. The T128 makes the experience all-encompassing when you’re in a race, and frankly, we couldn’t get enough of it.

Should you buy the Thrustmaster T128?

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The Thrustmaster T128 is one of those products that you already know whether you want or not. £170 is a hefty price for something that is supposed to be the entry point, but the technical features packed into this wheel definitely feel premium. It has the odd problem here and there, and ultimately the build quality could have been a little better, but for those who really care, there are more expensive options available, such as the T-GT II.

For the racing enthusiasts out there who spend hours on end spinning, drifting and tailgating on digital tracks, you won’t be disappointed with the Thrustmaster T128 as your first wheel. Price aside, this thing will greatly enhance your driving experience, and leave you wondering why you ever played with a controller.

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What do you think of the Thrustmaster T128? Does this sound like it would be worth the price to you? Head to the comments to let us know.

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