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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

Steering Wheel Final Thoughts

The SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel has filled a gap that existed in the current marketplace, whether that gap needed filling or not is down to you the consumer. Are you happy enough playing on the keyboard or with a controller? Do you think that $119.99 is a reasonable price for this steering wheel? Or do you think this is just a gimmick? I have an advantage here, I get to test the wheel without committing any cash but in return I must write this review. I am in no way inclined to make out this is a good product when it isn't, and I wouldn't do that anyway.

With that being said, at first I wasn't convinced that the SRW-S1 was going to be able to cut it but after extended use on some good racing sims I became accustomed to it and was able to do really well. Sure it won't ever compare to a fully fledged wheel and pedal set but it isn't aimed at that sector. It is quite difficult to think who might actually want the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel because without a stand you won't be able to use it for a real extended period of time, and I can't see many people laying down $120 for a 'casual' wheel. I really hope that SteelSeries will work on an optional desk stand or even an adapter to attach this wheel to currently available wheel bases on the market (Logitech, Fanatec, Thrustmaster)

SteelSeries_Simraceway_SRW-S1_Steering_Wheel_Angle_Left.jpg

SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Conclusion

In this section I am going to write a brief five point summary on the following categories; Performance, Appearance, Construction, Functionality and Value. These views are my own and help me to give the SteelSeries SRW-S1 Steering Wheel a rating out of 10. A high score does not necessarily mean that it is better than a similar steering wheel set, which has been reviewed by another writer here at Benchmark Reviews that may have got a lower score. It is however a good indicator of whether the SRW-S1 steering wheel is good or not. I would strongly urge you to read the entire review, if you have not already, so that you can make an educated decision for yourself.

The SteelSeries SRW-S1 Steering wheel performs really well considering it a brand new concept unlike anything else currently available. The one thing that would possibly make it better is a fixed stand. I often find myself resting my arms on my computer chairs' arm rests while driving which restricts movement somewhat.

Appearance is usually a tough one to call because there are so many different tastes to cater for. But I'm pretty sure there will be a unanimous feeling towards the SteelSeries SRW-S1, and that is that it looks extremely professional and authentic indeed. It is styled on and F1 steering wheel and does the job really well, it is really clean looking too. The buttons initially look like a random rainbow assortment but the colors actually correlate to the functions to make them easier to remember.

Construction is second to none, and so it should be for $120. The entire unit is constructed form really lightweight but extremely strong and rigid plastic which is then coated with a rubber like soft feel urethane finish. The hand grips are perfectly sculpted for a really comfortable hold, the material used on these grips feels really dry and powdery after extended use but that is good in a way because that means your hands stay dry under the pressure.

Functionality is very good in Simraceway but in other games it is somewhat limited, the assist dials and shift LED's will not work in any unsupported games (which is everything but Simraceway). This just means that these options can't be adjusted on the fly in other racing sims but that doesn't stop you adjusting these settings in the in-game menus. For a motion sensitive controller I was initially sceptical, but after a period of use I was really quite impressed by the accuracy that the SRW-S1 has. The gear shift paddles have a nice audible and tactile click to let you know you have actuated the controls. The brake and accelerator paddles are spring loaded and pressure sensitive and allow for very precise control in trained hands. The close proximity of the rear paddles means you won't find yourself contorting your hands or searching for the various controls.

The SteelSeries SRW-S1 Steering Wheel is available right now for $119.99 (Amazon) or directly from the SteelSeries web store. At this price point there are some contenders but nothing with this level of customization. I personally think the price is just a little too high and $100 might be a better price point.

Pros:

+ Very sensitive to movement
+ Good tactile response from buttons and gear shift paddles
+ Brake and accelerator are pressure sensitive
+ Very authentic looking
+ Very comfortable to hold
+ Excellent build quality and finish
+ Adequately weighted (not to heavy or light)

Cons:

- Only fully functional in Simraceway
- Free floating design increases fatigue
- Steep learning curve
- Shift LED's are extremely bright
- Not something you could really use for an extended period of time

Ratings:

  • Performance: 8.50
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 8.00
  • Value: 7.00

Final Score: 8.40 out of 10.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.


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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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