Thrustmaster T818


  • Relatively affordable direct drive option
  • Strong 10Nm of torque
  • Smooth, detailed and nuanced force feedback
  • Compatible with Thrustmaster ecosystem and wheels
  • Quiet operation even at high forces


  • Lack of fine tuning options in software
  • Plastic construction doesn’t feel truly premium
  • Can oscillate and lack damping on certain cars
  • Minimal mounting options out of the box
  • No console compatibility

Thrustmaster T818 Direct Drive Wheelbase - In-Depth Review and Comparison

The Thrustmaster T818 is the company’s first foray into the direct drive wheelbase market, bringing this high-end simulation racing technology to a more affordable price point. I’ve had the chance to extensively test and review the T818 over several weeks, comparing it to other premium options from Logitech, Fanatec and others.


As a sim racing enthusiast, a high fidelity direct drive wheelbase is the ultimate accessory, providing unmatched levels of detail and immersion. The technology has been reserved for only the most hardcore and wealthiest virtual racers until now.

Thrustmaster aims to open up direct drive to a wider audience with the T818, offered at $650 or £600 just for the wheelbase itself. This is certainly not cheap, but does represent a massive price drop compared to competing direct drive bases.

In this detailed review, I’ll cover everything from unboxing the T818 to extensive driving impressions and how it stacks up against the competition. Here are the key pros and cons I found:

Now let’s dive into the full review and see how the T818 performs where it really counts – providing an immersive and realistic driving experience.

Unboxing and Setup

Getting started with the T818 is quite straightforward, although the included accessories are on the lighter side.

What’s Included

Inside the box you’ll find the wheelbase itself, an external power brick, a USB-C cable for connection to your PC, and a Quick Release adapter. No wheel rim or pedals are included. A basic desk clamp is available separately for around $50.


An advantage of the T818 is compatibility with Thrustmaster’s ecosystem of wheels, pedals and other accessories. On PC it works with all Thrustmaster pedals, shifters, and handbrakes connected over USB. The wheelbase also has an RJ45 port for potential future accessories.

Console compatibility is a glaring omission though – the T818 only works on PC.

Mounting Options

Mounting the T818 securely is made more difficult than it should be. The wheelbase has a new mounting hole pattern that doesn’t align with any common patterns. Specific mounting plates are available from Thrustmaster but cost extra.

I was able to mount the T818 on my cockpit using the basic desk clamp, but the wheelbase sits at a slight angle. Those with DIY and entry-level rigs may need to get creative or break out the drill for custom mounting. Not ideal at this price point.

Design and Build Quality

The T818 is a mix of premium performance with some cheaper design elements.

Quick Release System

Thrustmaster designed a new quick release system for the T818 focused on reducing weight. A lever on the wheel base locks into place a protruding plate on the wheel side.

It works well enough but introduces potential flexibility compared to sturdier metal systems. Adapters are needed to fit non-native wheels, adding another connection point.

Buttons and Controls

Conveniently located on the left side are buttons for changing settings and modes on the fly without any software. There is also an emergency stop button and status LEDs that make adjustments clear.

Materials and Construction

This is where the T818 falls short of the premium competition. There is liberal use of plastic across the wheelbase, quick release, and mounting points. This is likely a cost saving measure, but it detracts from the high-end experience at this price.

Operation is quiet and smooth, so functionality isn’t impaired. But the lightweight plastic construction is disappointing for what should feel like a robust force feedback system.

Software and Features

The included control software leaves a lot to be desired and needs improvement to unlock the T818’s full potential.

Control Panel and Modes

The control panel software looks dated and offers only limited adjustments. There are just four force feedback modes with vague names like “Comfort” and “Extreme”.

An overall strength setting and basic damping adjustment are the only other options. This lack of tuning parameters limits the ability to perfectly dial in force feedback on a per car basis.

Adjustability Options

No sensitivity, dynamic damping, or other advanced settings are provided. The inability to adjust or disable wheel oscillation dampening was noticeable in certain cars.

LED Lighting Effects

Around the front are RGB LEDs that can be customized to your taste. But they currently serve only a cosmetic purpose and don’t integrate with games.

Force Feedback Performance

This is where the T818 shines. It provides powerful, detailed force feedback perfect for feeling every car and track surface.

Power and Torque

The direct drive motor produces a strong 10Nm of torque. This allows strong road effects and wheel weight to come through. Quick wheel rotations and corrections are precisely replicated.

It feels on par with top consumer bases like the Logitech G Pro Racing Wheel in terms of peak force.

Smoothness and Detail

Even very subtle road imperfections and wheel movements translate into nuanced feedback effects. The T818 never exhibits any notchy behavior, cogging or dead spots across its rotation.

Noise Level

Remarkably, the T818 remains whisper quiet even when churning out high levels of torque. There is no distracting motor or gear noise during driving. This adds to the realism and immersion.

Driving Experience

Overall the T818 provides an excellent driving experience with powerful, smooth and detailed feedback. But it falls short of perfection.

FFB Feel and Immersion

The forces felt through the wheel when driving are highly realistic. You can feel the weight and shifting of the car perfectly. Every bump and rumble strip transmits vibrations that make you feel connected to the car.

The plastic wheelbase construction detracts slightly from immersion, but performance is unaffected.

Pedal Inputs

My Thrustmaster T3PA pedals felt great with the added precision of the T818 wheelbase. The brake has a nice progressive resistance andThrottle inputs translate directly into acceleration forces.

Wheel Inputs

Direct 1:1 steering feel makes placing the car precisely very intuitive. Road textures are clearly felt without being over exaggerated. The excellent dynamic range highlights subtleties you may miss with gear driven bases.


The Thrustmaster T818 direct drive wheelbase offers exceptionally realistic and detailed force feedback at a relatively low price. It’s a great option for Thrustmaster fans looking to upgrade to direct drive on a budget.

However, the cost-cutting plastic construction and limitations of the software hold it back from competing with the very best consumer direct drive bases.

If you already own Thrustmaster wheels and pedals, the T818 is an easy recommendation and massive upgrade over belt driven bases. But for someone entering the direct drive market, more versatility and refinement may be found elsewhere.

With some firmware updates to expand features and tuning options, the T818 could firmly cement itself as the new enthusiast standard under $1000. Even as-is, it delivers excellent performance that will satisfy most virtual racers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wheels work with the T818?

All recent Thrustmaster wheels work, either natively or with a $35 adapter. Many third party wheels also work via adapter.

Is the T818 loud?

Remarkably it is one of the quietest direct drive bases even at high forces. You mostly just hear the wheel motors which add realism.

Can I mount the T818 to my rig?

You may need to drill new mounting holes or buy a mounting plate as the pattern is new. It is not compatible out of the box with common pit patterns.

How difficult is setup?

Physically mounting aside, setup only takes a few minutes. Just place, plug in the power and USB, and install drivers. The software is limited but it’s ready to race.

Does the T818 work on Xbox or PlayStation?

Unfortunately there is no console compatibility at all currently, PC only.

Thrustmaster T818