Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter Review

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Shifters are sometimes forgotten in the sim racing hardware market today. Unlike the Logitech G25 and G27, which dominated the landscape in years’ past, few wheel sets include an independent shifter accessory nowadays, relying on paddles instead.

Paddle shifters are great, of course – they’re generally considered to be faster and easier use – but when it comes to creating that sense of immersion and fun you feel when driving an actual car, a stick shift is an absolutely essential piece of hardware for any serious sim racing rig. Unfortunately, there are few standalone shifters being sold today; fortunately, the ones that are available are very, very good, and Thrustmaster’s TH8A is one of the most versatile and widely supported shifters on the market.

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I received my TH8A as part of a larger package from Thrustmaster, when they asked me if I’d like to review the Thrustmaster T300RS wheel (they’ve also purchased banner advertising on GTPlanet in the past). The T300RS doesn’t include a shifter out of the box, so the TH8A is the only option from the Thrustmaster brand – it’s also the only shifter compatible with the PlayStation 4.

Fortunately, the TH8A lives up to the price tag in terms of build quality. It’s a sharp looking piece of equipment that looks like it could have been pulled straight from a Lamborghini Gallardo or Audi R8, with bright silver gates and a sturdy stick and shift knob. The interior parts are made entirely out of metal, and you can feel the weight and significance of the components inside; you won’t be embarrassed to show this off to your gear-head friends.

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Despite the slick appearance, it hasn’t sacrificed practicality: by changing the shift plates, you can convert the TH8A from a gated to sequential configuration in just a few minutes. Each plate can be swapped by removing the screws and shift knob, then rotating the internal mechanism by 90 degrees and installing the new plate. The shifter detects when you’re using the sequential plate and automatically re-configures itself.

thrustmaster-th8a-3If you’re like me and enjoy driving virtual cars with whatever type of shifting configuration they use in real life, you’ll appreciate this functionality. Although it does take a few minutes to change thanks to the screws (it’s not as quick as the old Logitech G25 shifter), this versatility sets the TH8A apart from other shifters on the market.

Having said that, I find the gated shifter offers the most satisfying experience in terms of tactile feedback. There is a nice “clunk” when throwing the gears between the gates; it feels solid and steady. The feeling isn’t quite the same as you’ll feel in a real car, but it is adjustable: by turning a screw on the side of the shifter’s housing, you can add more resistance to the stick’s movement.

One frequent criticism leveled against the gated shifter is its relatively long throw (the distance between the resting place of the shifter in each gear position). As with the variation you find in every real-world gearbox, you do get used to it. There are some aftermarket plates by third-parties which provide a shorter throw, but it would be nice if Thrustmaster provided one in the box.

I was less satisfied by the movement of the stick in sequential mode; you typically want a nice “clickity-clack”, ratcheting sensation when shifting a sequential gearbox, but the TH8A feels more “springy” as you move the stick forwards and back. It is not necessarily bad, but if you are particularly demanding about the “feel” of sequential shifts, you might be disappointed.

th8a-clampFor most users, though, the flexibility in the TH8A’s design will make up for this. You can, for example, rotate the shift stick housing by 360 degrees, in either sequential or gated configuration. This should prove especially useful for those of you with custom-built driving rigs who may need to mount the shifter at an unusual angle. It’s all made possible by Thrustmaster’s magnetic “H.E.A.R.T.” technology, which detects the shifter’s position without requiring any physical or mechanical switches that could break or wear out.

The TH8A can be attached to just about anything with a sturdy clamp that’s into position – there’s texturized rubber on the top and bottom so it won’t harm your furniture if you’re attaching this to a table. The clamping mechanism can also be rotated by a full 360 degrees.

I quickly mounted it onto the shifter attachment of my Obutto rig with the clamp and it has held steady so far, but there are two M6-sized bolt holes on the bottom of the shifter housing if you need more permanent placement.

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TH8RS_CPLLast but certainly not least: the TH8A features special firmware which can be reprogrammed using free PC software available from Thrustmaster’s website. This allows you to fully customize the threshold location for each gear or change its location altogether. The gated shift plate has eight different gates, all of which can be programmed to your liking. Your changes will be saved to the TH8A’s internal memory, and will be applied to any game on any platform you use it with, including consoles.

That’s important, because the TH8A is probably one of the most widely compatible sim racing hardware accessories on the market: it can be used with the PS3, PS4, Xbox One (when paired with a compatible Thrustmaster wheel), or the PC, thanks to a set of included DIN/USB adapter cables. Most of the time, you’ll want to plug the shifter directly into your PC or console via USB, so make sure you have an additional port open; check the manual for a complete overview of when it’s best to plug the shifter into the wheel unit with the DIN/DIN cable.

Ultimately, wide compatibility, a handsome appearance, advanced custom control configurations, durable construction, and gated/sequential versatility make the TH8A an excellent choice, despite a few shortcomings. For Gran Turismo players, it’s an especially practical option, with PS3 compatibility available for today and PS4 compatibility for tomorrow.

If you found this review helpful, you can purchase the TH8A on Amazon for $149.99 via this affiliate link. As always, leave any questions in the comments below, or stop by our Sim Racing Hardware forum for more in-depth discussions with other TH8A owners.

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Comments (35)

  1. NikkoDesu

    Can anyone tell me if this shifter is fully compatible with the logitech g27? The shifter on my g27 has been acting funny and I wanna get a replacement for it.

    1. Jordan

      I haven’t tested this, but it should be compatible. The shifter can plug directly into your console or PC, which bypasses the wheel unit entirely.

  2. Schmiggz

    This thrustmaster exclusivity BS with Sony PS4 is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had the nausea to observe. Basically they’re telling us that if you want to keep using Logitech or Fanatec equipment you better go **** yourself and go buy a computer. Thanks sony, that’s exactly what I will do. You can keep my Playstation 4 unit in your shipping dock.

  3. skazz

    I’ve had my TH8A for a month now. As Jordan says the H mode feels the most impressive with a lovely meaty clunk as you change gear. The sequential mode is acceptable (you know you’ve changed gear fine as the stick hits the end stop) but not as tactile.

    I’be been running mine on the PC (T300, TH8A, Fanatec Clubsport pedals) and unlike my old G25 or Fanatec Porsche H-shifters it didn’t take long to really get used to it and I was running 10 lap races without mis-shifts within the first week.

    Every single sim I have tried copes perfectly with the 3 devices as separate USB connections, and you can map the T300 shifters to sequential while the TH8A is H-shift. This lets you comfortably switch between paddles and H without revising your controller profile, something which is not so easy on the G25 since sequential and gears 1+2 share button config.

    The biggest challenge is clutch simulation in PC sims: some of them are lovely, others have the biting point pretty much at full pedal movement so that takes a little getting used to. But I don’t think any of them are quite as bad as Gran Turismo in that, although even GT6 is fine once you adjust and get used to pushing the pedal down fully.

  4. Tvensky

    Sadly many of my friends got playing pc now.. Since we all have g27… I will not play gt7 without a steering wheel.. and will not buy a new one.. Satisfied with g27.. So this far it seems that I will skip gt7 sadly.. Sony made a bad move, by doing that they Made angry many people..

    1. Schmiggz

      Totally agree with you. Granturismo will lose a ton of costumers because of this Sony’s idiotic idea of giving thrustmaster exclusivity to the PS4 platform because not only no one is ready to throw they’re amazing G27 wheels in the garbage yet as the G27 is undoubtedly a better wheel than any thrustmaster.

  5. Coquico

    Having playing gt 5 and 6 with the driving force gt, I begin to think that this is the next level. Time to begin to save money.
    Racing is life. Everything before or after is just wait.

    1. Johnnypenso

      Without a proper clutch model nor any transmission damage model, shifting in GT isn’t really like shifting a real car or even like other sims. Hopefully this is improved in GT7.

  6. gigio79

    I do not understand the reasons why Sony did not wanted Fanatec and Logitech anymore and I don’t care, but I just want to say something. Actually to play PS4 and wheels you have to spend as folllows: 370 Eur for T300RS, 100 Eur for T3PA and 150 eur for TH8A, plus 400 Eur for PS4, in total you spend over 1000 Euros. Many friends of mine kept logitech and fanatec wheels and bought a pc. Now they are playing also Assetto corsa and R factor. I do not think Sony had a good idea.

    1. 0ldman279

      Exactly.

      Take your existing wheel, get a $150 video card upgrade and a good racing sim, come out cheaper with an impressive gaming experience.

      I hope that they get something sorted out. I’d hate to miss a GT game, but it isn’t looking good at the moment. I’m not dropping a cool grand to play GT7. I’ll keep playing the old GT games and whatever PC sim is good enough to keep my attention.

  7. 0ldman279

    Hopefully PD will support the older wheels, otherwise myself and quite a few others will effectively be removed from the Sony racing target audience.

    I’ve got a Logitech wheel, decent little mount and every GT game so far. I’ve also got a family that doesn’t mind a grown man playing a racing game. What I don’t have is the budget for two gaming computers just so I can play GT7 with a wheel, pedals and shifter like I already have for the current generation of games.

    Would I love to have a Thrustmaster set up? Absolutely.

    As a married man and a father, would I spend that kind of money on a toy wheel and a gaming system?
    Not looking good.

    Further, if I don’t play with a wheel I don’t play racing games. There seems to be quite a bit Sony and PD need to work out, otherwise GT7 and the PS4 may not have the success it would otherwise.

    1. Leggacy

      I can’t believe that people are finding this so hard to understand; Logitech do not make wheels anymore! So there will be no support for the old tech. It’s like being upset that your ps3 doesn’t support NegCon controller.
      Having owned a t500 for about a year I have to say the g25 feels like a cheep toy in comparison.
      But if you still want to use your g25 its time to build a badass PC Rig for RFactor2!
      Which will cost sooo much more that a T500 or T300.

    2. Johnnypenso

      Logitech does make wheels anymore. I can go online and buy a brand new G27 from dozens of retailers or walk into my local Best Buy or Future Shop and pick one up off the shelf. The wheel still works as brilliantly as it did years ago. What you don’t have is console support because they wheel is still used on all current games on PC. Same with Fanatec who is also not supported on PS4 at this point and has only announced support on XBone, but yet to deliver.

    3. 0ldman279

      Leggacy, Sony chose to add the security chip to remove the Logitech wheel’s compatibility.

      PD can still support the wheels in GT7 themselves.

      I have a badass PC rig. Computers are my line of work, and given my situation, I’ve got a lot less tied up in a machine that will play Project Cars or RFactor 2 than your average Joe.

      The T300 + the shifter goes for around $550, plus a PS4, plus GT7, vs my Driving Force Pro and any of a dozen PC sims…

      Sony is losing sales.

      I’d love a new wheel. $550 to have a wheel and shifter is a bit much. From what I’ve read the $100 Thrustmaster wheels are not as good as the DFP or DFGT.

    4. Johnnypenso

      Can you please show me a link that shows the security chip in the compatible T500RS? It’s not fully compatible meaning you can’t negotiate menus with it, you still need a controller for that, but it’s still fully functional as a force feedback racing wheel on the PS4. So about that security chip…

    5. 0ldman279

      Johnnypenso, this is why I rarely post here.

      It isn’t a discussion forum, it is an argument without a point.

      See my previous post, “There seems to be quite a bit Sony and PD need to work out, otherwise GT7 and the PS4 may not have the success it would otherwise.”

      PD has the option to support the wheel in spite of Sony dropping it. I would rather voice my concerns about it (as well as anyone else) BEFORE they release the game without support for the wheel.

      Personally, I think Polyphony Digital will likely take the high road and support as many wheels as they can, however, all current news and rumors point to “Buy a new wheel you cheap bastards” being the official stance by Sony.

  8. VetteZR1

    If my TH8RS along with my T500RS is not compatible with a PS4 and GT-7 I’m on to P.C. gaming. You can buy a darn good gaming computer for what it would cost for a PS4, wheel, and shifter. I think the GT community will drop the series like a hot rock if this is the case.

    1. JohnScoonsBeard

      Both work with the PS4 and work in The Crew and will work in Project Cars. I’m sure GT7 will support those Thrustmaster models too.

  9. Cocomoto

    I just bought this shiffter and I have to say… amazing! played GT6 and in the beginning was so hard to shift(i’m still learning) but the shiffter it self the only bad thing i have to say is the “H”-sequential change. I change it something around 4 times. But I’ll leave it in the H mode.

    I don’t know, it looks it if i change it everytime i want, the srew holes will be wasted…

    Maybe someone who has the TH8A for a longer time could say something about this?

    1. JohnScoonsBeard

      Unfortunately GT6 has dreadful clutch implementation for all clutches making use of the shifter hit or miss (it’s PD not the shifter or pedals. I use the shifter on PC sims and on my PS4 for The Crew and will do so on Project Cars. All have good clutch models but GT games unfortunately don’t. Incidentally on the PS4 the shifter can be plugged directly into the T300RS for anyone who has one without using up a USB port.

    2. Cocomoto

      es John, i do miss a lot of shifts in GT6, in order to get it right, i have to change the gears slowly… but in LFS i change then without any probem.

      If The Crew had some kind of sale in the PS Store, i would buy it… but i won’t pay 59,99 USD for it.

  10. DSUjoeDirte9

    so expensive… Is there like, a ps4 DFGT around somewere with sequential that comes with it for a price of $100 like the DFGT?

    1. GTAndy36

      The only wheel I would recommend at this price range for the PS4 is the Thrustmaster T100.

      Don’t bother looking at the T80 as that doesn’t have a proper feedback motor.

      Other than that, it’s saving up for the T300 I’m afraid.

    2. Johnnypenso

      And the T100 is a 270 degree wheel and as cheaply made as possible. It’ll make your DFGT look like a Ferrari by comparison.

  11. ParkerMO125

    Hard to tell from the photos, but I was wondering about the details of mounting it? Is it just a screw down clamp so to speak? And if so, is it possible (without severe modification) to bolt it down to a mounting plate?

    1. euclid58

      It’s threaded for two M6 bolts underneath, so it can be hard mounted to a shifter plate.
      The clamp that comes with it is pretty good quality too for those who cant hard mount.

  12. TeamCZRRacing

    Sucks that every time I want to drive a sequential car I have to remove the plate and turn the mechanism, when with my G25 all I have to do is press down on the knob and turn a dial. :(

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