By Thomas Harrison-Lord and Justin Melillo
Thrustmaster is officially in the Direct Drive game after unveiling the T818 Direct Drive wheel base on Thursday (17th November) during a live stream on Twitch.
A hexagonal shaped base with the LED lighting that’s been teased for nearly a year is on display on the front face, and the good news is that for some buyers, they may get it in time for Christmas.
THRUSTMASTER T818 FEATURES
The Thrustmaster T818 Direct Drive wheel base is shipped with 10Nm of constant torque force built in. One area that was heavily notated is that this particular system does not have any sort of filter, giving users an unfiltered experience in their hands.
The in-house motor inside of the system, as well as the entirety of the base have been produced in France.
On the base itself, there are buttons to calibrate the settings on the base, plus an instant force feedback stop button on the side, just in case.
CUSTOMIZABLE LED STRIP
The front of the T818 features a modifiable LED Strip. By default, you will be able to cycle through the available colours and also adjust its intensity.
In the future, however, Thrustmaster hopes game developers will programme it to support engine rpm or marshal flags – which we predicted back in March.
This is similar in philosophy to the telemetry display on the company’s Formula Wheel Add-On Ferrari SF1000 Edition, where it was up to game creators to support the feature.
SWAP-ABLE BODY PLATES
The exterior of the T818 wheel bases will feature two removeable metal plates. Out of the box, these will be in a dark blue colour.
But, optional extra coloured plates will be available for €29.99. Five different shades will make up the initial line-up.
NEXT GEN QUICK RELEASE
The T818 is the first Thrustmaster system to include the new Next Gen Quick Release. With the aid of an adaptor, all previous Thrustmaster rims can be compatible with the new system.
A wheel rim swap can be completed in under five seconds, where the latch built on to the base is lifted, the wheels easily pull out and fit in, and then the latch is easily clasped.
“Developing the new quick release adaptor was a very large amount of work,” said Pierre-Yves Savary, racing peripheral team leader at parent company Guillemot Corporation.
“We work hard to make sure you enjoy the best feedback without breaking your existing wheel, so we really tested everything. We made sure everything you are using works at 10Nm of force.”
The new Quick Release adaptor is available separately for €34.99. There will also be a cockpit mounting kit and a desk mounting kit sold separately for €39.99 and €49.99 respectively.
If you’re already in the Thrustmaster ecosystem and have an existing rim, thankfully one adaptor is included in the Thrustmaster T818 box.
Four new rims on the way down the line as well, but we don’t know what they are at this time. These will feature a native version of the new quick release, so a second quick release adaptor will be available for compatibility with older Thrustmaster wheel bases too.
THRUSTMASTER T818 DEVICE COMPATIBILITY
The Thrustmaster T818 will be a PC-only device. However, there is a plan for consoles down the line.
“Don’t worry, we have a plan for console as well,” said Xavier Pieuchot, Product Marketing Manager for Thrustmaster.
For rims and previous Thrustmaster equipment, the T818 features backwards compatibility with the proper adaptors. Thrustmaster also stated that the wheel will have future compatibility.
WHICH PORTS ARE INCLUDED?
Good question! There’s a USB C port to connect to a computer for future firmware upgrades, a hub for existing Thrustmaster pedals and a brand new RJ45 port for unannounced future peripherals.
HOW MUCH DOES THE THRUSTMASTER T818 COST?
The base model of the Thrustmaster T818 will include the wheel base, the metallic blue plates, 1 quick release adaptor and the proper UK, US or European plugs based on the region in the box.
This bundle will cost £599.99 for those in the United Kingdom, €649.99 for buyers in Europe, and $649.99 in the United States.
It’s worth noting that the price excludes a steering wheel or pedals.
WHEN IS THE THRUSTMASTER T818 AVAILABLE?
Pre-orders for European customers are live today, 17th November 2022. This first wave has a limited production run and will ship before Christmas 2022.
A second European wave of pre-orders will be on 26th December for January 2023 delivery.
US customers must wait until March 2023, and availability for other regions is yet to be determined.
A Ferrari special edition with the existing SF100 formula-style wheel bundled is on the way too, but pricing and availability are yet to be announced.