Thrustmaster T128 Review

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The Thrustmaster T128 is the most entry-level racing wheel that Thrustmaster sell. It can be a great way to try sim racing for the first time. Our Thrustmaster T128 review looks at whether this is the best budget racing wheel.

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Thrustmaster T128 Racing Wheel

Our Verdict

7.9 / 10

Product Design

69

69
Gameplay

75

75
Value For Money

94

94
Compatibility
Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, PC

Pros

  • Fantastic value
  • Includes wheel and pedals
  • Nice design
  • Rev lights included
  • Easy to mount

Cons

  • Cheap build quality
  • Cheap-feeling paddle shifters
  • Terrible pedals
  • Slippery wheel rim
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The Thrustmaster T128 is the lowest-cost racing wheel that Thrustmaster currently offer. It brings their entry-level racing wheel up to date with a design style that matches the slightly more powerful T248.

This racing wheel is ideal for those looking to try sim racing for the first time, but is it the very best budget racing wheel you can buy? I take a deep dive look at the T128 in this review to find out the answer to that question.


What is the Thrustmaster T128 racing wheel?

The Thrustmaster T128 takes the older TMX and T150 racing wheels and refreshes them. The new design language used brings this budget racing wheel into line with more recent Thrustmaster wheels such as the T248 and T818. Both of those racing wheels lean heavily on an angular design, and there are flashes of that with the T128.

This racing wheel utilises a hybrid force feedback system similar to that in the T248, which is essentially the bigger brother of this racing wheel. This hybrid system uses both internal belts and gears to transfer the force feedback from the motor to the steering wheel.


How much does the Thrustmaster T128 cost?

Being the lowest-cost Thrustmaster racing wheel, the T128 is a very affordable racing wheel. It comes in at just £169.99 / $199.99 which makes it cheaper than its direct rival, the Logitech G923. If you are looking for the cheapest possible racing wheel with force feedback, the T128 looks like a great option.


The design of the Thrustmaster T128

As mentioned, the newer T128 follows a very similar design language that has been established with the modern crop of Thrustmaster racing wheels. The T248 marked the new era of Thrustmaster wheels with a very aggressive, sharp and angular design.

The more recent release of Thrustmaster’s direct drive wheel base, the T818, followed suit with the hexagonal shape. This design also kept the sharp lines and angles from the T248.

The T128 fits in nicely with these two racing wheels and actually looks quite similar to the T248. It borrows a lot in terms of design, from the steering wheel shape to an almost identical-looking wheel base.

Build quality

The materials and finishes are also very similar to the T248. There’s a lot of plastic throughout which is to be expected at this price point. However, it is a little bit of a shame as the slightly more premium Logitech G923 uses metal nicely in its design which elevates the overall quality.

Another part of the wheel that has suffered due to the lower price is the hand grip material. On the T248 there is a layer of leather on the hand grip that feels soft to the touch. The T128 does away with this and the outer rim is entirely plastic. This makes it feel cheap while racing and removes any real grip.

The plastic theme continues with the paddle shifters and all inputs on the steering wheel being constructed from plastic. It isn’t a shock at this price point, but it does make this racing wheel feel very much like a toy compared to a realistic steering wheel.

Pedal design and quality

The steering wheel is a mixed bag due to its nice design but lack of overall quality. The same cannot be said about the pedals that are included in this sim racing bundle. The pedals look cheap and feel even worse.

The included pedals are the Thrustmaster T2PM and these include both a brake and throttle pedal but no clutch. Much like the steering wheel, these are constructed completely from plastic, and this can be a problem with sim racing pedals.

While you don’t put too much pressure or force through a steering wheel, the pedals are different. With more powerful load cell pedals, you become used to stomping quite hard, especially on a brake pedal. This can be true when driving a road car as well.

With these plastic pedals, there is a real risk of something braking should you push too hard. The resistance behind both pedals is lacking, meaning there is no real reason to push hard while braking or accelerating. And this just isn’t overly realistic.


How well does it perform?

While I’m talking about performance, I want to look at the overall force feedback and driving experience you get with the Thrustmaster T128. What this racing wheel does incredibly well is offer a sense of immersion that just isn’t possible from racing with a controller.

The hybrid force feedback produced from the internal motor lets you feel how your car is reacting to the track surface or road. You will feel the wheel pull as you hit bumps, and there is a sense of weight in the wheel as you throw your car into a corner.

With the wheel producing a maximum torque of around 2Nm, you won’t get too much weight or force, which makes this a great racing wheel for those who are younger. Compared to direct drive racing wheels that produce upwards of 20Nm, you won’t be able to hurt yourself using this racing wheel.

Despite its lack of power compared to much more powerful racing wheels, the budget-friendly T128 does have a surprising amount of punch. You will definitely be able to feel the in-game forces as you navigate your car around a track. And that is exactly what you want from an entry-level wheel.

If you enjoy your experience with the T128, over time you could confidently say that you would enjoy a more premium racing wheel. This lets you make a much more informed buying decision compared to jumping in at the deep end with a more powerful and expensive direct drive wheel before ever trying a racing wheel.

In comparison to other racing wheels, the T128 lacks behind both the T248 and Logitech G923 racing wheels. However, it is miles ahead of non-force feedback racing wheels such as the Hori Apex.

How do the included pedals perform?

While my experience with the T128 racing wheel was generally positive in terms of performance, that cannot be said with the included pedals. The included two-pedal set feels very much like an afterthought or a part of the overall bundle that has suffered in order to keep the price low.

The pedals are completely plastic but worse than that, they offer pretty much zero feedback or resistance. Neither pedal moves very far, and neither offers any real resistance due to a weak spring on the reverse of both pedals.

It can be hard to judge just how hard you’re pressing the pedals or how far you’ve depressed them. This makes it incredibly hard to judge your braking into a corner, especially if you’re racing without ABS enabled. I found myself constantly locking a wheel while braking, and it took a good number of laps to adapt to the extremely light pressure.

If you opt to buy the T128 racing wheel and do enjoy sim racing, I’d highly recommend upgrading the pedals first. You can pair the T128 racing wheel with more premium Thrustmaster pedals such as the T-LCM, and these are leagues better than the cheap pedals included in this bundle.


Thrustmaster T128 compatibility

Being a budget racing wheel, console compatibility is important. Many casual gamers and sim racers start out racing games like Gran Turismo and Forza on consoles. This is the path I took before jumping into the daunting world of iRacing.

The T128 is compatible with both PlayStation and Xbox consoles as well as PC. It’s important to note that there are two different versions of the T128. One for the PS4 and PS5, and a second for Xbox consoles. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single version that is compatible with all consoles.

You do get a lot of compatibility with other Thrustmaster products though. You cannot change the steering wheel, but you can change the pedals. This lets you upgrade to better Thrustmaster pedals if, like me, you find the included pedals horrible to race with. You can also add a Thrustmaster shifter like the TH8A to expand your sim racing setup.


Conclusion – Should you buy a Thrustmaster T128?

With everything said, would I recommend buying the T128 racing wheel? Well, as an extremely affordable entry-level racing wheel, the T128 really cannot be matched at this price range.

There are a fair few negatives when it comes to a T128, most to do with its build quality. The steering wheel often gets slippery during long use if your hands sweat. All of the buttons and elements that you touch feel rather cheap due to the plastic construction. And the pedals are quite possibly the worst I’ve ever used, but they can be upgraded.

Despite these negatives, the sub £/$200 price tag is very appealing. You can often find the T128 for a lower price at various retailers making it incredible value. You will struggle to find any other budget racing wheel at this price, even the older Logitech G29 are normally more expensive than this much newer wheel.

I would recommend this racing wheel to those who are looking to try out sim racing for the first time. If you have been sim racing for a while, however, you may be disappointed with the overall build quality, and I’d recommend looking at this wheel’s bigger brother, the T248.

Technical Specifications

  • Immersive Force Feedback to really feel the sensations of racing: speed, surfaces, bumps and impacts, loss of tire grip
  • Engine speed LEDs for optimized gear shifting
  • Magnetic paddle shifters (patented H.E.A.R.T technology) for instant responsiveness, and a clear gear-shifting feel
  • Modern design including 13 buttons, suited to all styles of vehicles and games
  • Quick attachment system suitable for desks and tables up to 2.2 inches / 5.5 cm thick
  • Magnetic 2-pedal pedal set (patented H.E.A.R.T technology) featuring 12-bit precision that won’t decrease over time
  • Next-generation HYBRID DRIVE technology delivering 20% more power than other Thrustmaster hybrid racing wheels (T150 series)
  • Officially licensed for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, and compatible with PC (Windows 10/11)
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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.