Thrustmaster Reveals $650 T818 Direct Drive Wheel Base

After more than a year of waiting, Thrustmaster has finally revealed its new Direct Drive wheel: the T818.

It’s the third of the three core sim-racing peripheral manufacturers to launch a Direct Drive wheel in the last 12 months, following Fanatec’s new GT DD Pro, and the Logitech G Pro. However the T818 has one key difference: it’s a PC only wheel base.

That means that, for the time being at least, console gamers will be missing out on the Thrustmaster Direct Drive offering — but Thrustmaster has “a plan for console as well”.

If you’re not familiar with Direct Drive technology, the principle is pretty simple. Like other DD wheels, the T818 has a motor inside the body, with the wheel shaft connecting directly to the rotor.

That means that, unlike lower-end wheels where the motor is connected to the wheel shaft by belts, gears, or a mixture of both, all of your inputs are converted directly to electric outputs, and signals from the game are converted directly to wheel feedback.

As a result there’s no granularity of input or output. Thrustmaster also states that the T818 has no filters to the force feedback, so effects are an “accurate reflection of the game developer’s true intentions”.

For the T818, the motor outputs 10Nm (newton-meters) of torque, sitting between the 8Nm (with boost kit) GT DD Pro and the 11Nm Logitech G Pro. However it’s significantly more torque than gear/belt/hybrid-drive wheels, and more than the 6Nm of the T-GT, Thrustmaster’s previous top offering.

The in-house motor also accounts for the weight of the wheel rim you attach to it, to keep that 10Nm figure no matter what rim you prefer.

Thrustmaster is also using the T818 to debut the “Fast Release” wheel attachment system, a tool-free way of quickly swapping out wheel rims. This will be compatible with all “next-gen” Thrustmaster rims, and any existing rim which uses the Quick Release Adapter — so you can use anything from your collection of the brand’s wheels. Thrustmaster is set to reveal four new rims in 2023, all of which will be bundled with the T818.

Naturally it’s also compatible with existing pedal sets, shifters, and handbrakes through USB connectivity on PC, and the base features an RJ45 ethernet port to support future items in the range. Along with the mounting points on the base, the T818 is compatible with existing cockpit and desk mounting kits in the Thrustmaster range.

The front face of the wheel features a hexagonal RGB LED ring, which you can adjust to suit your own preferences and which will respond to in-game telemetry from compatible titles — for things like engine speed, shift warning, and flag information.

You can further customize the T818 to your own esthetic with swappable metal plates. While the reveal stream showed ten colors — none of which were purple, so points deducted there — there’ll be five available at launch: blue, orange, which, black, and gray. Blue appears to be the standard color, with others available for additional cost.

As for the price of the base itself, that comes in at $/€649.99 (£599.99), and it’s available to pre-order now in Europe with first deliveries due in December. Players in the USA will have to wait until March 2023 for the T818 to become available.

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