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SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheel E-mail
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Written by Steven Iglesias-Hearst   
Tuesday, 03 January 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheel
Closer Look: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1
Simraceway SRW-S1 Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Testing & Results

Testing Methodology

Testing a peripheral of this nature is pretty much self explanatory, and because this is a new product there is not wide support with all of the current games. Thankfully though, nearly all games have the ability to customise controls or configure a custom game controller. The only game that makes full use of the SRW-S1 steering wheel's functions is Ignites 'Simraceway' racing simulator. While Simraceway might not be on the top of the pile as racing sims go it certainly isn't all bad. It's just a shame that there are better racing sims out there and that this wheel won't realise its full potential unless there is wider support along the same lines as Logitech, Thrustmaster and Fanatec.

I don't currently own a force feedback wheel that I can directly compare the SRW-S1 to, although even if I did it wouldn't be a very fair comparison. SteelSeries are not trying to compete at that level with the SRW-S1, think of it more as a stepping stone or something for those that want a more authentic experience but can't afford a high end setup. I can however compare the SRW-S1 to using a Mad Catz 360 style PC controller and also to using the keyboard/mouse, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V Pro
  • System Memory: 8GB Corsair LP 1600MHz
  • Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.50GHz
  • Video: MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK
  • Disk Drive 1: OCZ Vertex 2 60GB
  • Disk Drive 2: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
  • Enclosure: Lancool PC-K63
  • PSU: Corsair HX750W 750 watt Modular
  • Monitor: HKC 22" Widescreen (1920x1080)
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (SP1)

Simraceway_Logo.jpgTest Software

  • Simraceway
  • pCars build 0106 Pre-Alpha
  • Race 07
  • rFactor Special Edition 2008
  • GTR: Evolution
  • GTR: 2
  • Race Room: The Game
  • Dirt 3

Results

When you talk about motion control and gaming in the same context your mind is instantly drawn to consoles, and if you have tried the various types of motion control options available then I'm sure you will agree that the experience is not all that impressive. The worst problem generally encountered is input lag and next is accuracy, but thankfully neither of these problems are present with the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel. The worst problem with the SRW-S1 is inherent to its portable design, and that is that you have to hold it in the air. Not only does that introduce extra fatigue during use but it also means that you are not likely to stay in one position for any period of time. You will also find yourself excessively leaning into corners and over dramatising every movement until you become accustomed to the wheel, these are all things that will obviously have an effect on your in game performance.

Don't give up on it yet though, because after only a short period of time you will become used to how the SRW-S1 wheel feels and handles (your mileage will vary) and you will be very grateful for how sensitive to movement it is. I had never really cared too much for sim racing games until now, instead I had preferred the more arcade style of driving. But since I have had the pleasure of testing the SRW-S1 wheel I have found an new level of control for simulated driving. It still can't ever compare to the real thing but it does mean I get to drive insanely fast without putting my life in danger. The gear shift paddles will at first interfere with accelerating and braking but their close proximity to the accelerator and brake pedals means that you won't have to contort your hands to reach the other controls. The Accelerator and brake paddles are spring loaded and pressure sensitive but don't have a great amount of travel, at first this meant I was constantly at max revs and losing control but as with all other aspects of sim racing the key is to make precise movements and once I was used to it I soon found that the limited travel was an advantage when it came to driving as fast I could.

SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheel

There are many control options for driving games/simulators on the PC and the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel has to factor somewhere, so to put it into context I have placed in order the levels of control and where I think the SRW-S1 fits in from best (1) to worst (5). Of course you might draw up that list a little differently but that is my personal opinion. The SRW-S1 wheel (without a fixed stand) cannot even begin to compare to a full wheel/pedal setup but absolutely dominates the rest of the field.

  1. Force feedback / fixed wheel (with or without pedals)
  2. SteelSeries SRW-S1 motion control wheel
  3. Console style game controller
  4. Mouse steering
  5. Keyboard control

Sure it takes some getting used to but when you have found a good racing simulator on which to use it the rest is just history. Which brings me on to my next point, not all racing sims are created equal. Many of thee racing sims I tested the SRW-S1 on were based on the SIMBIN engine, which uses laser scanned tracks for added authenticity but the movement of the vehicle is somewhat far from realistic. Other racing sims I tried may not have had laser scanned tracks but had a more realistic driving experience. The one common thing about all but one of the racing simulators I tried was poor graphics, ranging from outdated engine (DX9) to blocky models to poor shadows. It seemed as though the better looking games had a less realistic driving experience and vice versa. That was of course until I stumbled across Project C.A.R.S (Community Assisted Racing Simulator). Considering that this game is in its pre-Alpha stages and it literally wipes the floor on every other title I played with regards to dynamics, physics and graphics (DX11 vs. DX9) I thought it needed a special mention here. See below for Project CARS gameplay using the SteelSeries SRW-S1 Steering Wheel.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelDoug Dallam 2012-01-04 23:00
That was a cool review and the video hit the spot. After playing RAGE with it's speedway option, I was impressed with racing. It was quite fun, but of course I was using mouse / keyboard, which was not fun.

Did you try pressing your elbows just forward of your ribcage, for stability, and using it like that?
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# RE: RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2012-01-04 23:33
I tried many things for stability, but to avoid rambling in the review I only wrote about what made a difference eg. using my chairs armrests and mounting the wheel on my tripod.

I for one hope there is a mount made as it will turn this fun wheel into a serious bit of kit. Thank you.
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# RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelSun Down 2012-01-05 05:58
Nice gear. I still find the button placements to be overly chaotic though. Frankly I'm more interested in the race sims mentioned here. I miss the GTR series. I hope one day all sims (IL-2 Sturmovik, GTR, etc...) adopt the graphical enhancements of DX11. One shouldn't ignore the effect that graphics give out to the 'driver'.
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# SRW-S1 Mount on G25Piero 2012-01-05 10:35
##youtube.com/watch?v=6KfEF0Pcz7g
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# MehMergatroid 2012-01-05 17:41
I bought a $60 non FFB wheel a few years ago. It was fun, but my scores actually went down compared to using a joystick. You just cannot move a wheel from one side to the other through it's full range as fast as you can a joystick.

So, I sold it and continued to use my joysticks. Just this year a buddy moved in and he owned a nice Logitech FFB wheel. He was enjoying himself so much I decided to purchase one. Again, my scores went down. I got the Logitech Force GT for about $160. I have to admit it's more fun to play with this steering wheel than with a joystick, and if both of us are using our wheels we have a great time. However, if one of us pulls out a stick so will the other. Sticks are just superior for racing because of the movement times involved.

This Steel Series controller is something I have considered but I passed it by. For that price you can still get a pretty good wheel, and I would prefer a wheel over that...controller...any day if I'm playing for fun. If we're competing against each other, out comes the joysticks.

Of course, a big advantage to the Force GT is that you can use it on the PS3 as well.

I think your score was very generous.
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# RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2012-01-06 07:40
I wouldn't say my score was very generous, in fact other review sites have actually given this wheel an award (which I felt it didn't deserve here). I too have played driving games using an XBOX 360 style pc controller and found it only works better in games that are designed for consoles.

Just out of curiosity, what games are you playing where you are better with analogue sticks than with a wheel? And how can you knock this wheel without at least giving it a go.
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# I just read the reviewMergatroid 2012-01-06 18:09
After reading the review, I can certainly agree with the problem of not having a shaft and having to hold the wheel up all the time thus creating fatigue (which was one of the reasons I passed it by in the first place), not to mention there's no pedals. That's enough for me.

As for which game I can play better with a joystick, name one. NFS, Dirt, Test Drive, Blur. It's in the reaction time, and that's better with a stick, (I'm not referring to the little stick on a console type controller, but a real PC joystick). It's simple enough just to time how long it takes to move a joystick from one side to the other and compare that to how long it takes to move a wheel from one side of its full turn radius all the way to the other side. Joystick wins every time.
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# RE: I just read the reviewSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2012-01-07 05:38
"NFS, Dirt, Test Drive, Blur"

My point exactly, they are the sort of driving games I have always loved to play, with a controller.

When it comes to racing sims though it's a different story bud. The SRW-S1 and your Joystick are at different ends of the spectrum to each other with regards to realistic and arcade style driving.
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# Sure, for funMergatroid 2012-01-07 17:11
Yeah. Controllers like steering wheels are more fun, but I'd bet on a joystick any day for scores.
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# spoongrammatonfeather 2012-02-22 00:26
The better scores with joystick simply illustrates that a wheel is not the most efficient controller for a vehicle (even a real vehicle). I guess if you fitted a real car with a sidestick and side throttle (HOTAS) then you'd have more responsive driving. I used my Saitek X52 pro recently on some driving games but it feels awkward and not enjoyable. I have this Simraceway controller since yesterday. Doing ok on simraceway and shift 2 but some of the arcade racers like dirt 2 or GRID I am finding much harder than with my fixed force feedback wheel. Maybe I just need to get used to having the throttle and brake on the unit.
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# RE: spoonDavid Ramsey 2012-02-22 07:25
They've tried real joysticks in cars many times over the years (starting in the 50s), and it just doesn't work. Having the front wheels go from full left to full right in a 90 degree tilt of a joystick makes for a car that's virtually impossible to drive in the real world.
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# That's odd...Mergatroid 2012-02-22 17:19
That's very strange because plenty of vehicles, especially electric vehicles, shop vehicles, golf carts etc. use joysticks. Even remote controlled cars with proportional steering use joysticks. I had a remote dune buggy with proportional steering that worked fine with a joystick. I would wonder if the cars you tried had modified steering made for a joystick of if someone just stuck a joystick in a car that had a classic car steering assembly made for a wheel? When you say "full left to full right" I also wonder if the stick was analogue or digital. A digital stick would be like using a d-pad and would really suck badly. An analogue stick with proportional steering would work on a real car, but it would likely take more skill to use. Come to think of it, doesn't Myth Busters use remote joysticks to control real cars? So even with stock steering it works.
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# RE: That's odd...David Ramsey 2012-02-22 17:59
Really? I have never seen a real-world vehicle that uses a joystick (other than some airplanes). Even the RC car controllers use a little steering wheel. Could you provide an example of a full-size vehicle that does? I have seen tillers, but those aren't joysticks...
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# Myth BustersMergatroid 2012-02-22 19:31
You haven't watched Myth Busters? They usually jury rig the steering wheel and use a remote control, I believe it has joysticks on it. Look in the toy section of any store that sells RC and you will see duel joystick controllers. The more expensive ones ($200 and up) use proportional steering and the remotes are available both with little wheels and joysticks. The cheaper ones usually don't have proportional steering, and if they use a wheel it's just left or right, no in between (like a d-pad).

Here's some remotes (both types):
hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__82__190__Tx_Rx_Systems_Pa rts-Complete_systems.html

Here's a cheap toy with just sticks:
toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=11361547

When I was a kid all our remote controlled cars were using joysticks. I remember being surprised the first time I saw a wheel. Besides, in this type of control system, wheel or joystick really doesn't matter. They're both just variable resistors or coils anyway, what difference does the shape make?
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# You tube videoMergatroid 2012-02-22 19:38
youtube.com/watch?v=vfvX7jKqoqU

Here is a real car being controlled by a joystick
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# RE: You tube videoDavid Ramsey 2012-02-22 19:44
Interesting, but it's a one-off prototype or concept of some sort. I maintain that you can't buy a joystick-controlled human-drivable car/golf cart/etc. today.

The problem is that the range of steering which even in Ferraris will require more than 720 degrees of rotation is compressed to a very small arc in the joystick. This, combined with the lack of feedback you get with a wheel mechanically connected to the wheels, makes fine control very difficult for most people.
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# OKMergatroid 2012-02-22 20:39
Never really said you could purchase a car that was controlled by joystick. But I have seen a fair number of joystick controlled vehicles.

And, personally, I don't think compressing an arc of movement to the size of a joystick is a problem. As I said, there are lots of RC vehicles out there that use joysticks. I had no trouble at all controlling the digital proportional steering on my RC toys when I was a kid, and I highly doubt their arc for steering is any different than that of a real vehicle.

Here's another one:
#ntho.posterous.com/future-mercedes-concept-car-wi-1

Here's one using an xbox controller:
youtube.com/watch?v=7-39URz4vL8

You can get vehicles today that use a joystick:
vti.se/en/publications/pdf/joystick-controlled-cars-for-drivers-with-severe-disabilities.pdf

Although it is likely custom modified by a speciality shop.
I guess if a disabled guy can drive a car with a joystick, you and I could too.

Here's a wiki article on it:
#en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_by_wire

I think all this proves you can control a real car with a joystick.
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# RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheelgrammatonfeather 2012-02-23 01:03
Well my SRW-S1 is DEAD after 2 days! Switched PC on this morning and the SRW-S1 lights were on (usually they are off unless you are in Simracing). The device is no longer detected in windows. The lights stay on, the device is screwed! It worked very well in simracing and surprisingly F1 2011 was very easy to drive with it, however, the wheel has now died after 2 days so it is being sent back and I will purchase a Logi G27.
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# RE: RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2012-02-23 11:02
Surely it would be better to contact SteelSeries support and try to resolve this issue rather than going on a web rampage trying to give this wheel a bad name. I'm sure that if it is a known issue SteelSeries will resolve your problem. Good luck with the G27, choose a different USB port, you may have a faulty hub.
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# That's too badMergatroid 2012-02-23 18:14
I don't think leaving a message saying he had problems with his controller amounts to a "web rampage". However, I always exchange once before considering a different product. Nothing's perfect and all electronics are bound to have a few defective units here and there. Oh well, I hope you enjoy your Logitech. I have no complaints with mine.
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# RE: That's too badSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2012-02-24 11:04
This isn't the only place he has left that message.
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# Complaints of Fatigue are FrivolousCyberdactyl 2012-04-10 05:51
I've now had the SRW-S1 for several months. I've read many reviews one of the perceived drawbacks is its main positive attribute, and that being you have to hold it up since it is unmounted. The argument is, your arms will fatigue over time. True... IF that is the way you hold it the entire time driving. Add to that, many gamers are 'no-exercise couch potatoes', I can understand the comments. But you will quickly find you can rest it on your lap, and even better yet, lay back in a recliner, get comfortable, rest it on your lap and race for literally hours.

However there is an advantage that NO mounted wheel can hope to achieve, and something that no one has addressed. Since the wheel relies on an artificial horizon for its orientation, you can move the wheel laterally in small sweeps or jerks as you rotate to add an extra layer of control.

So to me, being unmounted, is now the way to go.

Yes there are drawbacks, no force feedback, must have control if it at all times during a race, but if you can live with these small quibbles, I highly recommend it.
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# RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelDavis 2013-12-26 19:22
What was the size and thread of the bolt/screw that used to mount it on a tripod? I was going to do the same thing, but I couldn't find a bolt that I owned that fit.
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# RE: RE: SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 WheelSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2013-12-27 00:24
It was the screw already on the tripod. Standard size is 1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch. Hope this helps.
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