Asetek Forte & La Prima Button Box Review

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Asetek's second sim racing steering wheel comes in a modular design allowing for multiple combinations. The Asetek Forte and La Prima button boxes launch alongside six different wheel rims. Is this approach the best option for a modular sim racing platform? We find out in this review.

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Asetek Forte Button Box Review

Our Verdict

9.1 / 10

Product Design

87

87
Gameplay

96

96
Value For Money

90

90
Compatibility
PC

Pros

  • A large number of inputs
  • Good quality inputs
  • Great overall build quality
  • Fantastic ergonomics
  • Good value for money
  • One of the best quick releases around

Cons

  • Push buttons have a little bit of wobble
  • Encoders are plastic, could have been metal
  • La Prima has ugly cover where the thumb encoder should be
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Asetek already has a couple of great steering wheels with their Formula wheels. But for their second outing into the realm of sim racing wheels, they’ve opted for a slightly different approach. And I think that this is actually a very smart move from Asetek.

Rather than releasing multiple new steering wheels, and eating all of the costs that come with the development of that approach. They’ve created a modular platform that lets sim racers mix and match parts to create their perfect wheel.

In this review, I’m going to take a look at both the Forte and La Prima Button Boxes along with all of the wheel rim options that are available at launch. The kind chaps over at Asetek has sent me all of their options that will be available at launch, so let’s jump right in.


Watch our Asetek La Prima Button Box video review


What are the new Asetek Button Boxes?

If you already have an Asetek wheel, or if you’ve seen one out in the wild, you’ll immediately recognise the styling and design of these new button boxes. Essentially, Asetek has taken the main body of the Formula wheel, stripped away the handles and a couple of thumb encoders, and what is left are these new button boxes.

These serve as a hub with all the required electronics for the wheel to be recognised and function correctly, along with a range of inputs, including shifters and Asetek’s quick release on the rear. What’s missing is the wheel rim itself. And that is where you get a choice of how to build your ultimate racing wheel.

La Prima Button box Gameplay

These button boxes are launching alongside six different wheel rims. Each wheel rim combines a range of finishes, including leather and suede options and different overall shapes and styles. This ultimately lets you swap in different wheel rims to essentially change the look and ergonomics of your wheel.

Each wheel rim is attached at three points, making removing and attaching a different rim not too painful. With the button box containing all the electronics, you only need to purchase this once, saving a lot of money that would alternatively be spent on buying multiple steering wheels.


Price of the button boxes

Asetek is offering two versions of this button box, a La Prima version and Forte version. These follow the trend of their current product lineups with the La Prima being the entry-level model, and the Forte being the mid-range option. Both button boxes fundamentally look the same, but the Forte has more inputs and a slightly better finish.

Whichever button box you like the look of, you can pick it up on its own without a wheel rim, which would be a strange choice as you need a wheel rim to use this button box. Or you can choose a complete bundle that includes your button box of choice and a wheel rim.

Asetek La Prima Wheel Button Box Price
  • Without a wheel rim – €279.99 / $279.99
  • With a wheel rim – €399.99 / $399.99
Asetek Forte Wheel Button Box Price
  • Without a wheel rim – €379.99 / $379.99
  • With a wheel rim – €499.99 / $499.99

Price of the wheel rims

There are many wheel rim options available at launch, which gives sim racers a nice choice over how they want their complete Asetek wheel to look and feel. All of the wheel rims are the same price at €119.99/$119.99 other than the Round Comfort+ design which adds an extra €40/$40 onto the price.

  • Round leather wheel rim – €119.99 / $119.99
  • Round comfort+ wheel rim – €159.99 / $159.99
  • Open-D leather wheel rim – €119.99 / $119.99
  • Open-D suede wheel rim – €119.99 / $119.99
  • Closed-D leather wheel rim – €119.99 / $119.99

The design of the button boxes

If you examine the design and how these button boxes actually work, you’ll see that the Forte and La Prima designs are incredibly similar.

Both measure in at about 190mm across by 150mm vertically. With one of the official Asetek wheel rims attached, all racing wheels measure 330mm across. This makes them wider in diameter than Asetek’s current Formula wheel which measures about 285mm at its widest point. However, with these being round wheel rims, the larger size does make sense.

Starting with the Forte wheel, it features the same injection moulded carbon composite as the Forte Formula wheel. This gives it an unusually soft feel but has all of the stability that a heavy-duty metal or carbon fibre wheel would have. This is finished off with a 2mm carbon-fibre face plate at the front.

On the La Prima wheel, you get the same carbon composite chassis which boasts the same level of performance and rigidity. However, instead of a carbon faceplate, you get an aluminium one. This is just one of the areas where costs are lowered for the La Prima which culminates in the €100/$100 price difference.

What are the differences between the La Prima and Forte button boxes

The main differences between the two button boxes include those different face plates that I mentioned and a difference in which inputs are included. Both hubs feature the same customisable rev lights across the top; however, the La Prima hub is missing the additional flag lights. These flash when there is a yellow flag on track or they flash green at the start of a race, for example.

Moving from the top down, you’ll notice that the Forte wheel has two toggle switches at the top whereas the La Prima is missing these. I like using these toggle switches for functions such as the starter and ignition as they free up a couple of push buttons.

Forte and La Prima Button box Comparison

The number of actual push buttons is the same across both wheels, but there is another difference. The La Prima wheel doesn’t have the RGB lights that sit just above these button inputs. These RGB lights can be customised in a variety of ways using RaceHub, and you can change their colour and behaviour. You can even make them flash when you engage a button, you know, just to remind you that you did press a button.

In the centre of button boxes, you’ll get the exact same rotary encoders which is really nice. Along with the same 7-way kinky switches, which has to be the best name for any sim racing input ever. Also, the two thumb encoders that sit off to each side are included on both wheels.

Moving down again, you’ll see the same push buttons and rotary encoder at the bottom of the two-wheel hubs, but on the Forte wheel, you get two additional thumb encoders. On the La Prima you get a couple of pretty ugly blanking plates where the thumb encoders should be.

Flipping both button boxes over, the La Prima and Forte options include a set of paddle shifters that are fundamentally the same. You also get slots to add additional paddle modules that can be used as a dual-clutch or various other inputs. Both also feature the Asetek quick release, which I still think is one of the very best in sim racing.

To remove the wheel from your wheel base simply pull the lever on the top and lift your wheel away. And to connect it, you simply do the reverse. Its so easy you can do it one handed and its by far the quickest quick release I’ve ever used.

The main omissions on the La Prima wheel are the removal of the toggle switches and the removal of the additional thumb encoders, as well as much less RGB lighting throughout. You’ve got to remember that there is a €100/$100 price difference between both of these sim racing wheels, so it’s up to you whether those extra options are worth it. Ultimately, you’ll have a very similar experience with both wheel hubs.


Steering wheel options

As mentioned, at launch there are six different wheel rim options available, ultimately giving you three different styles to choose from, plus the option of selecting your preferred wheel rim material.

The real beauty of this approach is that you can save a lot of money by limiting the number of steering wheels you buy. Some of us are guilty of owning too many steering wheels—you know who you are! But moving forward, if you’re in the Asetek ecosystem, you now only have to buy one button box, and you can customise it to whichever discipline you’re racing.

This also brings continuity across your sim racing experience. How annoying is it to change between different steering wheels whilst simultaneously completely forgetting which buttons are mapped in game.

The amount of times I’ve forgotten which button controls the pit limiter when heading out on track or that panic when it starts to rain, and I’m furiously pressing buttons on my wheel to try and find the wiper button. Don’t pretend something similar hasn’t happened to you!

With these button boxes following the design of the Formula wheel, you will immediately feel at home. Also, changing the wheel rim doesn’t affect your inputs, meaning you no longer have to reconfigure your wheel when swapping between different disciplines.

What different steering designs are there?

So, the options we have for the steering wheels include an open-top wheel rim, which is ideal for formula-style or LMP cars, and a flat-bottomed GT-style wheel rim.

Finally, you have a couple of fully circular rims, which are the most adaptable and can be used across a range of disciplines, such as rallying, drifting, and racing road cars.

Different materials

Each steering wheel design also comes in a couple of different materials to choose from. The finishes range across each wheel but generally include a genuine leather option and a suede option. Although, for some reason, the closed-D wheel rim only comes in leather, it has two colour options.

Leather

There is a leather option across each different style, and this is a real genuine leather that feels nice and high quality. On both the open and closed-D design, the leather has perforation across the hand grips, whilst on the circular wheel rim there isn’t any perforation.

I do like the leather materials as they feel great in your hand, and the durability will almost certainly outshine the suede options.

Suede

Talking of suede, both the circular and the open-D wheel rims have a suede option, although strangely, both materials are actually different. The open-D wheel rim features a regular suede material. This feels plush and rather soft to the touch, but I’d almost certainly recommend wearing racing wheel gloves if you’re using this option.

Comfort+

The circular wheel uses a more premium material that Asetek is calling Comfort+. This is a sustainably made Alcantara-like material. It’s not quite as plush-feeling as the suede on the open-D wheel, but it has been designed to perform much better, handle liquids such as water and sweat better, and be more durable over time.

I’ve been told that this comfort+ material outperforms Alcantara in the durability area by a pretty big margin. Alcantara has a Martindale-scale value of 25,000. While Comfort+ has a value of 150,000. That’s certainly a bigger number and means you can realistically race without gloves without worrying as much about wear and tear.

Which wheel rim option is best?

So with all of these different wheel rim options, you may be wondering which is best and which wheel rim I’d recommend. Well, my personal favourite is easily the open-D leather rim.

I race many GT and LMP cars, so this wheel, to me, feels the most fitting in terms of its design and shape. The top being open also gives me a much better sight line for my in-game dash. And the leather material feels incredibly premium.

Forte Button box Open-D Wheel Rim Leather

My favourite material, though, has to be Comfort+. I love an Alcantara racing wheel, and the Comfort+ round wheel feels just as good as real Alcantara but has better durability. I would have loved to see this material on the open-D wheel instead of the suede, as there really is no comparison between the two in terms of overall quality.

So, out of all six wheel rims, the open-D leather rim and the circular Comfort+ are easily my two favourites. Having both of these wheel rims allows you to cover the widest range of racing disciplines, from rally to drifting, road cars to GT and LMP cars.

Are all the wheel rims compatible with both Forte and La Prima button boxes?

With both button boxes having the same overall form factor, the great thing is that compatibility across the range of wheel rims is perfect whichever hub you opt for. All of the wheel rim attachments work on both button boxes. And the button box works perfectly with all current Asetek wheel bases.


How easy is it to change wheel rims?

Changing the wheel rim involves a minor operation involving six screws. Simply choose the wheel rim you want to race with, line up the button box and attach it with the supplied screws. The only annoyance when changing the wheel rim is that you do need to remove the shifters, as there are some pesky screws that are hiding beneath the shifters on both sides.

La PRima Button Box Rear

Realistically, it takes less than 5 minutes to fully remove and reattach a different wheel rim. This isn’t as quick as swapping two wheels using a quick-release system. But as sim racers, we all deserve a short break in between race sessions to move about and rest our eyes. And this is the perfect time to perform a quick pit stop on your racing wheel.


How do the Asetek Button Boxes perform?

My time spent with each of these wheels was pretty universally positive. I’ve tried out all of the different wheel rims, and as mentioned, I stumbled upon my favourite, the Open-D leather rim.

Wheel rim performance

Each of the wheel rims features a very similar moulding shape on the hand grips to the form found on the Forte Formula wheel which I’ve become so used to using. This shaping lets your thumb slot right into where it naturally wants to go. There are also a couple of extra indentations just above to rest your thumb as well.

La Prima Button box Gameplay

This ergonomic design is something I really praised when reviewing the Asetek Forte Formula wheel, and I can carry that praise through to these wheel rims. They quite feel really nice in the hand and comfortable to hold.

Each of the closed-wheel designs includes a centre point at the top, and every wheel rim has really nice contrasting stitching throughout. I prefer the look of the round Comfort+ rim and the Closed-D leather rim the most. The orange leather rim feels a little garish, but this is my preference, and I’m sure some will love the bold colour choice.

Button box performance

The button boxes feel just as well made and put together as the Formula wheels. They feel relatively heavy with a wheel rim attached which oozes a sense of solidity and robustness.

The inputs themselves behave as expected and pretty well. The buttons have a positive engagement with just a little bit of looseness, which can be felt when resting your thumb on one. I’d put them up there in the mid-to-high-quality region.

The thumb encoders are relatively easy to activate and turn, but the engagement between rotations is pretty stiff. This is a good thing as you won’t be accidentally making too many adjustments in a single turn. This feeling extends to the rotary encoders, which are a bit stiffer than the thumb encoders, although I have a couple of minor issues with them.

La Prima Button Box Solo

The first is that the encoders on both the Forte and La Prima wheels are all plastic. I would have liked to see nicer materials on these, as they’re a part of your wheel that gets handled a lot. Even if the nicer material was reserved solely for the Forte wheel, I think this would fit better with the more premium model.

My second issue is that they are just a little bit too close together. I race primarily with gloves on, and I noticed that I do have to adjust my angle of attack when adjusting using one of the rotary encoders.

They protrude quite a way from the face plate meaning you kind of need to approach them straight on. When making adjustments I often bashed my thumb on one of the other encoders simply due to their positioning.

This is a very minor complaint, and after a while I simply got used to it, but it is an observation that is made apparent when racing with other similar wheels.


Competition

Speaking of other wheels, it’s worth noting that a few other companies have very similar products to this button box. The obvious comparison is with Fanatec, which has the Universal Hub V2 and a range of button boxes.

Their button box is a bit more universal in that you can attach any wheel rim to it, including real-world wheel rims. However, it does lack a lot of the functionality that these Asetek hubs offer, such as rotary encoders and rev lights. Their hub costs around €/$300, so it is similar to the Asetek La Prima, albeit for less functionality.

On the higher end of the market, Ascher Racing offers its own button box, which is much more premium than the Fanatec version but with a much higher price tag. Their hub costs around €/$600, and again, it has much less functionality than the Asetek versions.

These quick comparisons do paint these two Asetek products in a pretty good light. Despite costing €/$300-400, these Asetek hubs represent a good value package.


Should you buy the Asetek Forte or La Prima Button Box?

The two new button boxes from Asetek bring new options to those with an Asetek wheel base which have been slightly overdue. Previously, if you wanted to stay within Asetek’s ecosystem, you had to opt for the formula wheel. With the quick release adapters, you can attach any other wheel to your Asetek base, but these new button boxes really bring all the Asetek goodness to other forms of sim racing.

Picking up either of the Forte or La Prima button boxes allows you to switch between different racing disciplines with relative ease and represents great value for money. I’m probably going to be using this Forte button box as my primary wheel for games such as WRC and Forza.

Technical Specifications

  • 330mm Diameter with wheel rim
  • 15 Rev LEDs
  • 6 Flag LEDs (Forte)
  • 12 Push buttons
  • LED button lights (Forte)
  • 2 Two-way Toggle switches (Forte)
  • 2 7-way Kinky switches
  • 3 12-Position rotary encoders
  • 2-4 Thumb encoders
  • 2 Contactless Magnetic shifter Paddles
  • Injection moulded Carbon fiber reinforced composite chassis
  • 2 mm woven carbon fiber front face (Forte)
  • Exchangeable wheel rims

Review written by Felix König

About Felix König

Felix König is a professional Esports sim racer from Seattle, WA, and is the founder and editor of Sim Race Reviews. In addition to over 10 years of professional sim racing and competing in both iRacing and Assetto Corsa Competizione competitions, Felix has been sharing his sim racing knowledge and expertise with other sim racers. His passion lies in sim racing, and in particular in the plethora of sim racing hardware from racing wheels to pedals and more.