Simucube SC2 Pro Review
by Laurence Dusoswa
Sim racing has gone through many evolutions since it emerged in the 80s. In the past few years we have seen another massive leap in the form of Direct Drive force feedback.
Simucube is a brand owned by Granite Devices. They basically took the DIY out of getting set up with Direct Drive and offered a more polished, plug and play product. The Simucube 2 range is the seconds iteration of that effort and today, I look at their Simucube 2 Pro, 25Nm torque wheel.
Ok so this isn’t my first time ever using a Simucube 2 Pro. However, there’s a big difference between using a product and owning a product. When I do reviews, I try to use them as if I own them. I use them for an extended period of time and even subject them to my official league races across various sim titles. Having this product to myself for a few weeks gave me the time I needed to explore settings and really gauge what, if anything, it gives me that my existing wheel doesn’t already provide. The first thing that struck me is the sheer size of it. It weighs 10.6KG but these electric motors are so compact that it feels like more. I was worried that my Simetik K2 rig wouldn’t be up for the task but luckily it did a great job. The whole experience was a little intimidating for me. From having 2 power supplies to having very industrial connectors for various cables, to having a flimsy looking antenna sticking out the back, it just felt like the thing needed to be handled with a lot of care.
This is high end equipment. You probably already got that impression but the price is not something most people will have lying around to spend on their hobby. The wheelbase alone costs around €1500 And that’s before you’ve bought a bracket to mount it to your rig with and before you even have a steering wheel rim. The costs add up quite quickly with devices like this. The particular setup I have been using has a €130 mount and a €669 wireless steering wheel. So even in fairly basic form you’re looking at an investment of about €2,300. For a setup like this. That’s a massive price tag, yet every person I know who has spent this money, still considers it excellent value. Regardless of what I say, that alone is a great indicator as to whether you should buy this product or not, if you’re in the market.
Setup – Hardware
You’re going to need a sturdy rig, and that’s before you even turn it on. This thing is heavy, especially for its size.
The SC2 casing has no base or side mounting threaded holes so it cannot simply be bolted to a standard sim rig’s universal mounting plate. You will need to buy a mount suited to your rig. I got to use this particular bracket which fits both the Simucube and my rig, very well. Having two power supplies was a little odd though. I’m guessing it’s to keep costs down but if like me you already have a shortage of sockets, this could be a small issue. The kill switch or emergency stop plunges into position and requires rotation to un-pop back to operating position. Given the sheer power of any direct drive wheel, I wouldn’t use one without a kill switch, just in case. It’s like a seat belt in a car. You wont be grateful for your kill switch until you need it. The quick release is effective and although it’s undoubtedly quick, it’s not as pleasant to use as some other quick release systems. For me, the lovely sleek look of the expensive wheel and wheelbase is somewhat tarnished by a giant pin sticking out of the top of the shaft. It just looks and feels a little bit agricultural. Slotting your wheel rim on from the side rather than clicking it on isn’t as satisfying as I’d like.
The wireless antenna protrudes a lot and is a real weak point as far as I can see. I’m not sure why it needs to be so big either, considering that your wireless wheel is usually only about 40cm away from it. That said, the antenna is detachable and just never rest this wheel’s weight on its rear.
Setup – Software
The Simucube software installation was great. Very straight forward and it even prompted me to upgrade my firmware, and the wizard to do so was quick and painless. Out of the box, the settings on sims were odd to say the least, and my initial impressions of the wheel were poor. Luckily I have access to some hardcore sim racers who own these devices and they shared settings with me that transformed my experience. I do find that I have to switch profiles for example when going from iRacing to Assetto Corsa for example. That’s a bit of a pain, but seeing as every sim translates their physics slightly differently, this is a reality with most wheels. Changing profiles is easy but I wonder how difficult it would be for the software to associate a particular profile with a sim title. Several times I drove in a sim on the wrong profile which seems a little needless in this day and age. Profiles are stored on the wheelbase itself, which is interesting. If you move to another PC you don’t need to re-import your profiles. The True Drive software offers lot of customisation and there are great videos explaining all the various settings. However, it can still be quite intimidating for people who aren’t extremely technical regarding force feedback. There’s no way around this though. If you’re not sure what they all mean, try someone else’s settings and see how it feels. It’s difficult to make the SC2 Pro force feedback bad, but worth spending time to make it perfect.
The Simucube wireless wheel technology is very impressive. It was Simple to set up and there was no noticeable latency when compared to a wired wheel. Having a wireless wheel saves on USB ports and also just makes everything look neater. If you want a wheel either more than 28 functions, then the current Simucube wireless wheel protocol isn’t for you. There’s a limit as to how many functions your wheel can have. However, some wheels like the Ascher Racing F28-SC I recently reviewed manage to give you plenty of buttons and encoders whole also giving two fully functional directional hats. Wireless of course brings with it the limitation of battery life. If you want fancy lights, expect to see dramatically less battery life than a simpler wheel. However, Cube Controls Formula Sport gets about 40 hours on a single charge, which is impressive. Where the Ascher F28-SC gets a whopping 2-3 years due to its streamlined approach, focusing on functionality rather than just aesthetics.
Some day, we may see a version of Simucube Wireless which supports screen outputs as well as analog inputs. I’m actually not sure about analog inputs, but there must be a reason why none of the wireless wheel options have dual clutch functionality. Wireless is great, but a well routed coiled USB cable also works really well. I’d recommend not basing your decision about this wheelbase solely on the wireless technology’s limitations.
Many people will tell you that 25Nm of torque is overkill, and that may be the case in ways. You only end up running the force feedback at about 35-40%, so what’s the point in all that power? That’s a reasonable question, but the main thing of interest here is firstly the type of motor that’s used, but secondly, its ability to respond quickly and accurately. A motor on its own can only do so much, and that’s where Simucube’s True Drive software fills in the gaps. Although it’s quite cumbersome and daunting in ways, once you use the correct settings for your preferred sim title, True Drive has the ability to translate the information from your sim to your hands in a way that clinically accurate, lightning fast and delightfully precise. In summary, 25Nm is a lot but it’s noticeably more rewarding than other less powerful wheelbases. As force feedback is and essential part of proper emersion, those who are in the market for a long term upgrade will not be disappointed with this remarkable piece of engineering. In virtual reality, you get information about your surroundings through your hands, which you simply cannot see or hear. This is rewarding and gives great confidence while driving.
There is a ‘High Torque mode’ which is disabled by default. I kept forgetting to set it and it just made for a cumbersome experience. However, when i moaned about this on a livestream, a user pointed out that once you enable ‘High Torque mode’, you get an option to enable it by default. That option is a little bit hidden. I’m not sure why high torque mode can even be switched off. Other than some health and safety red tape, I can’t imagine someone buying one of these units and not knowing that the torque could snap a metal bar.
I went into this review with slight skepticism about the hype surrounding this product. The owners of these devices seem so happy with them, but the price tag is hefty. Are happy Simucube owners simply defending their decision to spend so much money? Maybe some are, but with the right settings, this wheelbase is completely worth the money. I’ll admit it, I get it now. Simucube has put years of experience and simplification of user experience into a beautifully presented, easy to set up package. Yes, I’m still intimidated by it, but rightly so. This thing has enough power to do serious damage. It needs to be used and treated with respect.
With their True Drive software, great wireless technology and beautiful form factor, I really loved owning this product for a few weeks. It looked and performed great. I couldn’t really find many flaws with it, other than some annoying chimes which seemed to go away with a firmware upgrade. Even the firmware upgrade was painless and True Drive held my hand through the process. It was surprisingly easy.
The wireless wheel eco-system is good, albeit slightly limited by the Simucube Wireless system’s 28 input upper limit. I prefer a wired wheel simply because of the analog inputs and potential for things like a screen. It would be amazing to see Simucube develop a range of entry level wheels. A formula wheel, GT style wheel and a round rim would sell like hot cakes and make the overall package far cleaner and more accessible to people who don’t want to have to mix and match different brands.
The quick release is effective but doesn’t leave me with any real feeling. It’s functional but not very nice. Wedging a triangle sideways into a steering column and then sticking a large ugly pin in it just doesn’t do it for me. There are other quick release systems out there like the Xero play system but they’re expensive. Those of you who know this channel will be familiar with how i feel about a good quick release system. This is my only real fault with this system.
If you are in the market for a wheelbase which will serve you well as a long term investment which doesn’t lose a lot of value over time, then I have absolutely no doubts about recommending this steering wheel base. It’s pretty incredible and has taught me a lot about force feedback, and the potential that force feedback simulation has.
I’d love to hear your own experience or impressions in the comments below. Thanks to the community and the companies I work with for allowing me to review such amazing products. I’m Laurence, thank you for your time, I’ll chat to you later.
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