- Two shifting patterns
- Good aftermarket support
- Compatible with a wide range of products
- Competitively priced
- Some cheap construction materials
- Very long throws as standard
- Awkward to switch between shift modes
Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter Design Review
So, to give a little back story, we have owned the TH8A shifter for well over four years now. We’ve tested it with various Thrustmaster wheels as well as Fanatec wheels on PC.
And to be honest, we really like it. It is a fantastic sim racing shifter add-on, and performs well. But we’ll delve in to the performance later on in this review.
To start this review, we will look at the design of this Thrustmaster shifter, and see what it has to offer. The TH8A is actually a dual mode shifter, meaning that it can perform as both a H-pattern manual stick, or a sequential shifter.
This is a great design choice as many sim racers, including ourselves race a wide variety of cars. We race primarily GT cars, so have used this shifter in its sequential mode primarily. But we’ve also dabbled with road cars, to give the H-pattern a good workout too.
The H-pattern gate itself has seven gears, which is perfect for those looking for some truck simulator! And a reverse gear to the bottom right. You can buy or 3D print aftermarket gates allowing you to change where the reverse gear actually is.
This is especially great if you’re driving a car which has a bottom left, or top left reverse position, and you want to match the real world car.
TH8A construction quality
As with most Thrustmaster products, the whole unit is constructed using a mixture of mid quality metal and plastic. The TH8A in particular rocks a very shiny metal to the base, with only minimal plastic in the middle, which is good. The more metal the better, as it looks more premium.
This combination of plastic and metal is a step away from more premium sim racing manufacturers such as Fanatec. Who prefer to go with an all metal, uber premium buil on their products.
However, as mentioned, this TH8A does a good job of using enough high end materials to feel good quality.
How does the TH8A perform?
Overall, the TH8A performs admirably. It has withstood much abuse over the years and is still going strong. In terms of the shifting action, like many stock sim racing shifters, the throw is rather long.
It can at times feel like you are shifting a much older car. When racing GT cars, which typically have a short throw sequential shift, this does feel a little clunky.
There are plenty of shortshift aftermarket mods out there if you really don’t like the long throws. We have tried a few over time, and would recommend the Ricmotech short throw kit.
This mod does a decent job of shortening the throw and is pretty easy to install. All you have to do to install it is, remove the top plate, drop this mod over top of the shifter, and bolt it back on. You can even attach your original shifter gate.
One area of potential issue is the noise of this product. The shifts themselves engage with quite a little noise. There is an audible click every time you shift, meaning you probably couldn’t use this with someone asleep in the next room!
H-pattern and sequential shift modes
Switching from H-pattern to full sequential mode is a little bit of a faff. Unlike some shifters, which change mode on the press of a button, you have to put a little effort in to changing your shift mode on the TH8A.
You start by unscrewing the four bolts which hold the top metal cap in place. Then you spin it 90 degrees, and bolt it back down. Then you have your sequential shifter.
This design is OK for those who like to run long play sessions with a certain style of car. However if you are playing a game such as Forza where you change cars often. It can become a pain to constantly have to unscrew your shifter to accommodate the new car you’ve just jumped in to.
The sequential shifting itself is also not the most positive feeling shifter we’ve used. When in sequential mode, the shifts activate via a spring system, but this lacks any really positivity when you pull a shift.
A true sequential shifter should release with a little pressure, and then give nice feedback when you hit the apex of the shift. Instead the linearity of the sequential shifts with the TH8A, is overly smooth with no real progression.
There is no real resistance on the initial pull or push, and then no confirmation of hitting the shift at the peak. Overall, the sequential shifting is just a little lackluster, and not to the same quality as the H-pattern shifting.
Long term review and durability
We all know the durability issues that some Thrustmaster products have had in the past. If you visit any Thrustmaster or sim racing forum, you will see a host of threads discussing issues.
However, after a very long term using the TH8A, we’re happy to report zero issues. The shifting action hasn’t changed or loosened, and we haven’t had anything go wrong.
This seems to be the case across the board, with many owners not reporting any reliability issues. So you should be pretty assured that this shifter will be able to take some punishment.
This shifter, like most Thrustmaster products, is compatible with a wide range of sim racing gear, even non Thrustmaster peripherals. You can attach this shifter either to your wheel base, or directly to your PC.
If you go directly to your PC via a USB cable, it can be used with Fanatec racing wheels. If you are a console gamer, this shifter can only be used with a Thrustmaster wheel. But it will work across every console platform.
Is this shifter worth buying?
Overall, the TH8A is a good shifter add-on, offering two shift modes, and accommodating for a wide range of driving styles. As with most Thrustmaster products, the product design and build quality is OK, and does the job to a decent level.
The H-pattern performance is solid, even though the throws are particularly long. The sequential shifting is a little less positive, but the fact that it has the ability to perform as a sequential shifter is great in itself.
If you are a Thrustmaster racer on console, then picking this up for the relatively impressive price of around $170 is recommended.
If you’re a PC gamer with any wheel, there probably are better options, such as the pricey Fanatec ClubSport shifter. But as a stand alone, reasonably priced shifter offering two shifting modes, this Thrustmaster is a good purchase.