- Nice design
- Easy to plug and play
- Various settings
- Positive buttons and shifters
- No force feedback
- Cheap plastic in places
- Pedals are terrible
The Hori Apex is a unique racing wheel that sits towards the extremely budget end of sim racing. There is no force feedback in play with the Apex racing wheel, instead, you get a bungee system and a combination of settings to adjust to give the illusion of weight and feedback.
As someone who normally races with a wheel from Fanatec, Thrustmaster or Asetek, this approach is new for me. However, I want to spend this Hori Apex review giving this wheel a chance and see if it is worth its incredibly low price point.
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What is the Hori Apex racing wheel?
As I alluded to in the intro, this racing wheel is very much a stop-gap between racing with a controller and using a true-force feedback racing wheel. It is very much targeted towards casual racing fans or those that fancy trying out sim racing for the first time.
There is no internal motor that would typically be found in a sim racing wheel. There isn’t even a power cord. Instead, what you get is a USB cable that connects directly to your console. This transfers both data and just enough power to record your inputs.
There is resistance in the steering motion thanks to a bungee system. This increases the resistance as you rotate the steering wheel and forces it back to the center point if you release pressure. While this doesn’t provide any real feedback as to how your car is reacting, it does in a roundabout way provide a loose sensation of using a real steering wheel.
You do only get 270 degrees of rotation here though, meaning you won’t be able to match real-world cars such as Formula 1 cars that utilise 360 degrees of rotation. If you’re planning on drifting or rallying and need a full 900 or 1080 degrees of rotation, this is certainly not the wheel for you.
What price is the Hori Apex?
The price point reflects the lack of force feedback, coming in at just over £/$100. The version of the Hori Apex I’m reviewing is the updated PlayStation 5 version, and this iteration does increase the price from its original RRP of just £/$99.
- Hori Apex – £119.99/€129.99/$129.99 – Buy Hori Apex
At this price point, there aren’t too many competitors for the Hori Apex wheel. You can get some super cheap racing wheels from places like Amazon from brands you may never have heard of. Or you can increase your budget slightly and look at the cheapest force feedback racing wheels such as the Thrustmaster T128 and Logitech G29.
Hori Apex compatibility
It is worth noting at this point the Hori Apex is only compatible with PlayStation 4, PS5 and PC. There isn’t Xbox compatibility built in. There are two variants of the Hori Apex. The older version is listed as being officially compatible with PS3 and PS4. While the updated version that features a slightly redesigned appearance is officially PS5 compatible.
Hori Apex vs Hori Overdrive
For Xbox compatibility, you’ll need to look at the Hori Overdrive racing wheel. Essentially, these two wheels are identical, other than the button stickers which are tailored for either PlayStation or Xbox.
You will need to ensure that you pick up the right version of this racing wheel, as the Apex will not work on Xbox and vice versa. To confuse things a little more, there is an older version of the Hori Apex that was Xbox compatible. However, the revised design has been renamed as the Overdrive.
The design and aesthetics
When you first unbox this wheel, you get a reasonably good first impression. It’s packaged nicely and comes pre-assembled and ready to go right away. The only elements you have to connect are the pedals to the wheel and the USB cable from the rear of the racing wheel to your PS5 or PC.
It isn’t a surprise to see everything, and I mean everything constructed from plastic or rubber materials. There are no metal accents that you would typically get on a Logitech or Thrustmaster racing wheel. Despite this, the plastic quality feels good, and the hand grips are rubber with a nice amount of grip and texture.
Steering wheel design
The wheel is on the small side with a steering wheel diameter of just 280mm. This matches other budget racing wheels that often reduce the size of the steering wheel away from a more realistic diameter.
Mounting the wheel
Mounting the wheel is pretty easy. There is a table clamp system that the wheel slots on to. This then wraps around your table or desk and grips from both top and bottom. And this held up pretty well to punishment during a race.
It helps that the force the bungee creates isn’t overly strong, so you should never have too much worry that the wheel is going to fly off the table if you get a bit over-ambitious on your way into a corner.
The pedals are a part of this racing wheel that does let the whole bundle down. It is so often that I repeat those words when reviewing budget sim racing products. It seems to be the trend to make sure the steering wheel looks and feels nice, and almost forget about the pedals.
With the Hori Apex, you get a two-pedal set which again is constructed entirely from plastic. This is a bit more of a problem with a pedal set than a racing wheel for one reason. You tend to put a lot more force into a set of pedals than you do a steering wheel. This can cause breakages over time.
With that said, the plastic used on these pedals feels pretty solid, so I wouldn’t necessarily think they’d have any issues.
How well does it perform?
So let’s jump into the performance of the Hori Apex and see how well it handles on-track action. I’m going to start by lowering expectations right away. This racing wheel isn’t really a sim racing wheel. Instead, it is very much an arcade-style wheel and that is important to note.
My first on-track action in Gran Turismo 7 was marred with a few issues. I couldn’t get the steering to feel right in the game, the sensitivity felt strange and getting used to not feeling the car was strange.
There are a range of adjustable settings that can be changed either on the wheel itself or by connecting it to a PC and downloading the Hori software. Playing about with these really helped the wheel feel a little more connected to the road.
You can change the linearity of the steering as well as the sensitivity. And just to confuse things a bit more, there are two modes to select between, normal and steering. These are two compatibility modes with some games only working on normal and others being supported with steering. What these two modes do is change how the button mapping works, with the steering mode being the superior option.
With some playing about and setting changes, the deadzone was minimised and I felt like I had more precise control over the car. Of course, it is very hard to drive compared to a Thrustmaster or Logitech wheel due to no feedback from in-game. You have to lean on muscle memory and anticipation for how your car will behave.
After some time, I got more accustomed to this lack of sensation and things did start to click into place. The racing was enjoyable at times, but was very restrictive, especially when I jumped into a more realistic racing sim like Assetto Corsa Competizione. If you are striving for accuracy and fast lap times, this is not the racing wheel for you.
Moving away from the driving experience, the rest of the wheel felt rather nice to race with. All button clicks felt really good and of pretty high quality and the button layout on the steering wheel was pretty intuitive. You can map all the buttons in game to control elements such as DRS in the F1 games, or your wipers and ignition.
There are two paddle shifters included on this wheel, and they follow the trend of being plastic. They felt pretty nice to operate with an audible click with every gear change. However, my big issue with the shifters is that like the MOZA Racing KS steering wheel, they feel too close to the back of the steering wheel.
How do the included pedals perform?
Moving onto the pedals, and things take a definite turn for the worse. These pedals are just about acceptable. You only get two pedals meaning no clutch, and both pedals offer very little resistance.
Much like the steering sensation, you really have to rely on muscle memory to figure out how far to depress the pedals., This is pretty crucial on corner exit as I found myself over-applying throttle pressure and spinning the rear wheels all too often. And the same happened while braking causing wheel lockups.
If you are driving an arcade racing game and using driving assists this would be much less of a problem, as you can simply apply maximum brake and throttle inputs.
Another issue is that there is no real grip on the underside of the pedals. Many sim racing pedals include grip tape or a tacky surface to stop them from sliding on the floor. That’s not the case with the Apex racing wheel. The only real way to prevent this is to butt them up against a wall or use a box to keep them in place.
Conclusion – Should you buy a Hori Apex?
And that brings me to the conclusion of this Hori Apex review, and whether I’d recommend buying them. My answer differs depending on your preference.
If you have never used a racing wheel and fancy trying it out, or if you primarily race arcade games and aren’t too worried about realism. Then the Hori Apex achieves the goals it set out to. This wheel is capable for that user case, but when you start pushing the limits, that is when this racing wheel starts to become unviable.
If you are looking to really try out sim racing or if you like to race without driver assists, and you want to put in the fastest possible lap times. Then do not buy the Hori Apex racing wheel. You cannot feel how the car is behaving like you could with a Logitech G29 or Thrustmaster T128 racing wheel. And this alone is a huge disadvantage.
There is a relatively small price jump from the Hori Apex up to an older Thrustmaster or Logitech racing wheel. The performance increase from a racing wheel from either of those brands will far outweigh the performance you get from the Hori Apex.