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SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2 Direct Drive Wheel Review

The sim racing world was a different place in late 2015 when SimXperience released the AccuForce Pro direct drive wheel.  Back then, the direct drive wheel fandom was primarily isolated to early adopters across sim racing forums who were not only willing to jump at the new technology, but could afford to.  With all direct drive wheels, including the AccuForce, sporting price tags north – and more often than not, well north – of $1,000, the direct drive movement was a luxury movement, isolated to those who could afford it.

But like any new technology, there’s a point where the initial, wild, pubescent rush to manufacturer matures.  Processes are streamlined and economy of scale are applied, rendering savings for not only the manufacturer, but the consumer as well.

Which brings us to 2017.  Direct drive is not only revered in sub-forums anymore, but in mainstream sim racing.  Time has allowed the cat out of the bag via forum conversations and reviews like this one.  The majority is sold on direct drive technology and are now just waiting for the prices to come down to a level that won’t require them to sign divorce papers first.

This brings us to the SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2.  Thanks to significant reductions in manufacturing costs, SimXperience has lopped $450 off of the price of the original AccuForce Pro, with the V2 coming in at $1,299.  But does it take away from the quality of the original AccuForce Pro?  Was the original AccuForce Pro even worth it, even at the new reduced price?  

Lets find out.


F1GT Simulator Provided by Next Level Racing


SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

PRO – BUILD QUALITY

The AccuForce Pro V1 had very good build quality.  The wheel + wheel button box, wheel base, and controller box all sported quality materials and design.  For the V2, the wheel and controller box carry over.  But the difference between the V1 and the V2 is the wheel base.

The heavy duty machined metal casing on the V1 base was very expensive to manufacturer.  For the V2, SimXperience went back to the drawing board and designed a less expensive, multi-piece, casing.

But does the new casing cheapen the V2?

Not at all.  While the V1 wheel base casing was very nice, the V2 solution is also nice.  It has good sidewall thickness and nicely designed cooling slots on top.  Plus some of the best design cues from the V1, including the carbon fiber front panel and 3-D chromed SimXperience logo on the side, carryover to the V2.

Possibly best of all, the V2 wheel base is shorter, which can only help when you’re trying to get all the elements of your rig in the exact right place.

As for the carry-overs, the wheel and control box, they have no changes but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The controller box is still enclosed in quality plastics and has four mounting holes designed for the SimXperience Stage series simulators but you can also get creative with the mounting.  I chose to wall mount the controller for a clean look.

The rigid wheel comes in at a healthy 32 cm in diameter and is wrapped in quality feeling Alcantara with soft, but supportive, padding underneath.  The wheel mounts to the wheel button box, which features four button clusters, a center horn that works as a button, paddle shifters, quick release and USB cord to power the buttons and USB port on the back of the wheel.

The button box is made out of thick side-walled plastic and the buttons have a good click but I wouldn’t say it’s as nice as the similarly designed and priced Fanatec Xbox One Universal Hub.  The bottom button clusters are locked into place but the top two can be rotated up for your preference or to fit other wheels between 28 and 35 cm in diameter.  

In total there are thirteen buttons between the four button boxes and a horn button in the middle of the wheel featuring the “AF” logo.  It isn’t the most satisfying button to press but it does come in handy for in-game functions like pausing the game.

The carbon fiber paddle shifters of the wheel button box look and feel very nice.  They can be adjusted in and out to fit the diameter of the wheel, plus have two bolts that adjust the shifter’s throw and engagement point.

The “automotive grade” quick release is as heavy duty as it sounds and locks into place with an assuring click.

The six hole bolt pattern of the AccuForce wheel button box means that you can mount other wheels to it, such as the Fanatec Forza Motorsport wheel, that uses the same 70mm hole pattern.  There are also plenty of aftermarket solutions, whether its a wheel designed for the AccuForce or an adapter that allows you to mount another wheel brand to it.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

PRO – TUNING

While the phrase “direct drive” is probably the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear AccuForce – and don’t worry, we’re getting there – there’s another feature that differentiates it from the Logitech’s, Thurstmaster’s and Fanatec’s of the world, and that’s tuning.

Unlike those wheels that have some tuning options – degrees of rotation, force feedback strength, centering spring, deadzone, dampening, etc – if you want to adjust these settings per game or even car, you have to do this every time you want to drive that game or car.

This is not the case with the AccuForce Pro V2.

This is because the AccuForce Pro V2 hardware is paired with SimXperience’s Sim Commander 4 software.  We’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of the Sim Commander 4 software later, but for now, we’ll give the 30,000 feet overview.

Sim Commander 4 is the hub for the AccuForce.  It’s where you adjust all the wheel’s effects and even launch the games from it.  When you first start using Sim Commander 4, you can have it auto search your PC for all your games and it will come up with a default “profile” for each game on your PC.  These profiles can – pretty much – be endlessly tuned with many different effects to choose from.

The nice thing is not only can you tune each game profile differently but you can “Add” or “Duplicate” a profile you already have and tune it for a specific car or type of car.  Then anytime you want to drive that game or car, click on the profile and off you go racing with your custom tune.

It’s a really cool and important feature that differentiates the AccuForce from other wheels.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

PRO – DIRECT DRIVE

Now for that term that probably pops into your head when you hear “AccuForce”, direct drive.  What is direct drive?  Before we answer that, lets have a refresher other drive mechanics.

The vast majority of sim racers use gear and/or belt driven wheels.  Why do companies use a gear or belt system to deliver power instead of connecting the wheel directly to the motor?  Because the motors they use aren’t strong enough for that.  Gears and/or belts are needed to boost the strength of the motors.  Why don’t they use stronger motors?  Cost.  There’s a reason why direct drive wheels start at around $1,000 and go up, the industrial servo drive motors aren’t cheap.

What’s the drawbacks to using a gear and/or belt drive system?  Friction, slip and latency.  

When you turn a belt driven wheel – and especially a gear driven wheel – you can feel the gears and/or belt.  There’s friction and the smoothness of the wheel rotation is negatively impacted.

There’s also an opportunity for the belt to slip when things get hot and heavy inside the wheel, causing force feedback to be lost.

As for latency, when the motor’s movement has to be translated via gears and/or belt, it takes time.  The more you can reduce that latency between what the game is doing and what your hands are feeling, the more in control you can be.

These issues do not exist in a direct drive wheel.

So since the AccuForce Pro V2 has a 13Nm low inertia servo motor directly connected to the wheel, that means it has super strong force feedback and was really smooth right out of the box right?

Well, yes and no.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

Out of the box the wheel was strong, but it wasn’t as smooth as the AccuForce Pro V1 that I had driven many times.  It also had some oscillations down the straight away – which drive me nuts on any wheel – and excess vibrations that weren’t there on track.

So what gives?

Remember tuning?  Well there’s a little more to it then what we covered earlier, and it’s important.  Really important.

While there are endless ways to tune the wheel, you can divide it up into three overarching categories; Device Settings, Game Force Feedback and Steering Feedback Foundation.

I started my tuning with Device Settings.  Device Settings is essentially your backup settings if you forget to fire up the game via Sim Commander.  If you just use the Device Settings, then the AccuForce is like any other wheel, no custom profiles per game or car.  

To start, I turned all the sliders off, then went through and adjusted each slider one at a time to see what impact each effect had until I was happy with the feel of the car.  I primarily tuned for the iRacing Mercedes AMG GT3 at Mid Ohio but I also drove other cars and games with it afterwards to make sure they felt okay.

Once I was done, I was much happier with the wheel, in fact I thought it felt great with the Mercedes, but I knew it could be better with other cars, so I jumped into making custom profiles.  

As we noted earlier, the custom game profile or even car profiles, is where the magic happens.  After a lot of time flailing around trying to understand every little nook and cranny of Sim Commander 4 – more on that later – I eventually found a system that worked for me.

Go to default game profile.  Click “Enable In Game On Screen Display.”  More on that later.  Go to “Output Mixer, Device Settings” and change “Degrees of Rotation” to your usual preference.  Mine is 540 degrees.

Now I have a default profile that I’m ready to edit.  Now I press “Duplicate” and go to work.

By default there are ten “Effects” listed on the default “Output Mixer”.  You can even add more via the “Add” button.  But for me, I started simple.  I turned “Game Force Feedback, Game Force Feedback Smoothing, Stationary and Moving Dynamic Oscillation Control” on, and that’s it.  Then I drove.

After I drove for a bit and got an idea of what I had, I would stop on the track, move my mouse towards the bottom of the screen, pull up the SimCommander “In Game On Screen Display” that we enabled, and start adjusting the sliders.

Next I would exit the game and go to the “Output Tuning Wizard,” select my best lap, have it adjust my “Game Force Feedback and Steering Feedback Foundation” based off of the telemetry from the game. This feature is called “auto tuning” and it takes telemetry from the game and creates a profile that shouldn’t induce clipping.

Now I go back into the game and play with the sliders more to fine tune it.  After I got the wheel feeling as good as I thought I could, I turn off “Game Force Feedback” and turn on “Steering Feedback Foundation” and go make laps and further adjust settings while in game.

What did this process yield?

First, more often than not, I preferred the Steering Feedback Foundation that only takes the pure telemetry from the game over the Game Force Feedback that adds effects on top of it to help make lesser wheels feel more believable.

Second, the AccuForce Pro V2 is very good.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

The 13Nm motor driving the force feedback is plenty strong.  Quit frankly, on most cars it doesn’t even get fully utilized, because power steering is a thing.  But if you insist on running a heavy wheel, you can knock yourself out.

But what is strength if it isn’t smooth?  The AccuForce is smooth.  Can it not be smooth?  Sure.  As I mentioned earlier, when I first got the wheel it wasn’t as smooth as I expected it to be.  But, if you tune it properly, it can be very smooth.  You really can’t beat the removal of a belt.  While belt driven wheels have gotten pretty smooth for their design recently, there’s just always going to be a point of friction and slipping.  This is not the case with the direct drive AccuForce.

Wheel oscillations drive me nuts.  I feel like realism is broken when the wheel is vibrating away on pitroad or going down the straights.  That’s where the AccuForce comes in.  Stationary Dynamic Oscillation Control made it so the wheel never moved on pit road.  Moving Dynamic Oscillation Control eliminated oscillations on the straights, or at the very least, significantly decreased them.

We talk a lot about force feedback strength, smoothness and sometimes oscillations on most wheels.  But there’s one more characteristic that I want to touch on with the AccuForce, and that’s fidelity.

Like I said earlier, some people lose their mind with direct drive wheels over the servo motor strength.  I don’t play that pissing match.  What impresses me possibly most of all with the direct drive AccuForce is the fidelity.  The wheel just picks up everything in the track so well, even when turning the smoothing up.  If the track has a bump or dip or ripple, the wheel picks it up.  It’s just a level of surface detail that traditional non-direct drive wheels do not possess.

Another characteristic that really impressed me is the feel over rumble strips.  In most wheels, a little vibration motor spins and it kind of feels like the wheel is rattling itself to pieces.  In the AccuForce, the vibration feels deep and realistic, not just a bolted on afterthought.

For testing I created multiple profiles for multiple games and the wheel always felt really good.  As stated earlier, I preferred Foundation over Game Force Feedback a majority of the time but there were exceptions, like DiRT 4 that felt similar with both, and F1 2017 where the profile wasn’t out yet from SimXperience so I adjusted the Device Settings and was still able to make it feel really good.

But out of all the titles we tested, two really stood out, Automobilista and RaceRoom.  Both felt utterly fantastic with Foundation Force Feedback.  Like, I’m never coming in the pits again fantastic!

SimXperience worked with Sector3 Studios on RaceRoom’s force feedback and it shows.  Automobilista just has good force feedback and it showed as well.

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t appreciate direct drive wheels before I received the AccuForce Pro V2, since I had spent a good amount of time driving Darin’s AccuForce V1, and other direct drive wheels briefly.  But being able to drive it off the backs of quality belt driven wheels like the Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer and Fanatec Clubsport Wheel Base V2.5 made me appreciate it even more.

There’s just a fidelity that the AccuForce V2 has that is impressive.  Driving with the AccuForce is like driving a car with traditional hydraulic power steering versus a car with electric power steering.  My old ‘95 BMW M3 had hydraulic assisted power steering and it felt great.  Every little detail in the road was translated to the steering wheel.  The car really spoke to you.  My current car, 2013 VW GTI – like most modern cars – has electric assisted power steering.  This means while it does its best to translate the road surface to the steering wheel, there’s details lost and it just feels less engaging and overall more numb.

This is the best way I can sum up the difference between the direct drive AccuForce Pro V2 and non-direct drive wheels, and it’s a significant one.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

PRO – PRICE

The AccuForce ‘Your Way’ kit gets you the AccuForce V2 wheel base and controller box for $899.  Just add wheel to race.  The “Your Way” model accepts any aftermarket steering wheel that has the 6 bolt 70mm hole pattern.

Or you could get the ‘Your Way’ package and add the AccuForce wheel for $988.  You would be hard pressed to drive a direct drive wheel for any less money.

As for the the AccuForce Pro V2 that we’ve been focusing on, $1,299 for the wheel base, quick release, wheel and wheel button box is pretty good too, especially considering how it cost $1,748 not long ago.

Looking at these options, three different purchasing scenarios become apparent to me.

Scenario one.  You’re a NASCAR fan and that’s all you race.  The ‘Your Way’ wheel + AccuForce Steering Wheel is perfect since you don’t need paddle shifters and the AccuForce wheel is very NASCAR like.

Scenario two.  You aren’t interested in the AccuForce wheel but want a different wheel, like a formula rim.  In this case, you can buy the ‘Your Way’ and purchase a formula rim from one of the many companies that have popped up making custom wheels, particularly for direct drive wheels.  Or you can even buy an adapter and put other mainstream sim racing wheels on.

Scenario three.  You road race and want a fullsize wheel.  Then the AccuForce Pro V2 is right for you.

If money is real tight and you want to go the DIY route, then there’s the AccuForce DIY which gets you the ‘Your Way’ sans the V2 wheel base casing and 6 bolt 70mm hole pattern adapter.  But if you don’t mind the naked motor, securing your own wheel and coming up with a mounting solution for the base, the DIY – which includes the Sim Commander 4 software – retails for $704.  Again, pretty well priced.

As for other purchasing options, you can buy the AccuForce Button Box for $400, the AccuForce Quick Release for $89, and AccuForce Pro Angled Mounting Brackets for $45.  The first two don’t make much sense since you would save money just buying the complete Pro wheel versus piecemealing it together, but I do want to touch on the mounting bracket.

I did need the angled mounting bracket and I would imagine that most of you will need it too, unless your wheel deck is up pretty high or has the ability to tilt adjust.  $45 for a bracket kind of sucks but it’s at or below the industry standard for direct drive wheel mounts so it is what it is.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

NEUTRAL – WHEEL SHAPE

This point is highly preferential but I wanted to make it anyway.  While the round 32 cm wheel on the AccuForce Pro V2 is nice, zero complaints when it comes to materials or build quality, I would prefer a 28 or 30 cm formula rim.  Most of the cars I drive these days use a formula rim and I like how they don’t block the dashboard telemetry like the round wheel does.

With that said, the round 32 cm wheel is the safer choice because it can be used with all cars.  Plus, there are going to be people out there who prefer it to a smaller formula rim.  It’s all personal preference.

As we already noted, there are plenty of aftermarket options out there.  But with that said, it would be nice to see a formula style option from SimXperience in the future.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

NEUTRAL – FORCE FEEDBACK CONTROLLER

I have two issues with the Force Feedback Controller that aren’t big enough for the CONS category but I do want to note them.

First, the fan on the controller is loud.  My speakers are too loud to hear it while driving, but before and after driving, it is the noisiest fan I have around my rig by a fair amount.

My other annoyance are the two USB slots that the controller takes.  While this may sound like splitting hairs, by the time I hook up the wheel, pedals, shifter, hand brake, button box, Oculus Rift, webcam and keyboard, USB’s become a scarce resource.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

NEUTRAL – SIM COMMANDER 4

Besides noting annoyances that aren’t CON level worthy, the NEUTRAL category exists as the overlap between the PROS and CONS category.  This is why Sim Commander 4 is noted as a NEUTRAL aspect of the AccuForce Pro V2.  While it has many, many, pros, there are enough cons to knock it down.

Here are the pros for Sim Commander 4, including some that we have covered and some that we haven’t.

Tuning – Nearly endless customization.

Steering Feedback Foundation – Taking pure telemetry from the game and adjusting effects based off of this telemetry.

In Game On Screen Display – Don’t have to leave the game to make a number of changes (tune profiles, change profiles, load and edit dashboard).

Output Tuning Wizard – Auto-tunes profiles with proper steering rack force per car (iRacing only).

Visual Lap Analyzer – Gives you nearly all the information you need to know about the lap.  Really helpful in tuning profiles to ensure that you aren’t clipping.

Launch Tasks – Instead of making sure you start up each third party software before you race, you can have them all automatically open when you click on the profile.

Profiles from Owners Club – Struggling to tune a good profile?  Take someone else’s or share your own.

That is a lot of pros.  Unfortunately, there are cons.  And while there aren’t nearly as many cons, they are note worthy.

Sim Commnader is a maze of tabs and dropdowns on top of tabs and dropdowns.  You do pick up navigating it quicker than you would expect upon first look, but it still could be laid out so much better.

Next, some settings are explained, but most aren’t.  Considering the level of detail that Sim Commander gets into, explanations are a must.

Next – and this could have easily fit into the two previous cons – multiple versions of the same effect show up, and it’s super confusing.  If you go to the “Effects” tab in the “Output Mixer” tab – again, tabs on top of tabs – you have “AccuForce Steering Wheel Smoothing,” then, “Game Force Feedback Smoothing” then if you click on the “Device Settings” tab you have “Overall Smoothing.”

What does it all mean?  Are they the same?  Are they different?  How are they different?  I’m not sure because none of them are explained.

And that’s not even taking into account the “Smoothing Filter” you can add to the Foundation Force Feedback.

All of this adds up to our last con and that’s the learning curve.  Sim Commander 4 takes time to learn.  Is it a crazy amount of time?  Not necessarily.  The primary points don’t take too long to pick up.  But if you really want to uncover every nook and cranny, the time begins adding up.  As I mentioned earlier, I eventually had to stop trying to learn every inch of Sim Commander like the back of my hand, and focus on a handful of effects.  Then if I felt good about those settings, I would branch out from there.

For these reasons, Sim Commander 4 – despite being a very powerful and impressive piece of software – ends up in the NEUTRAL category.  It needs changes to make unleashing all of its abilities easier.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

CON – CORD

The cord that runs to from the wheel base to the steering wheel is a frustration on two counts.  First, the fact that there has to be a cord.  Second, the connection point on the front of the wheel base makes no sense.  Besides it being an eyesore, it makes it so you have to run the cord from the wheel, to the back of the wheel base, and to the front of the wheel base again instead of just running it to the back of the wheel base like you did with the AccuForce V1.

In the grand scheme of things does the cord ruin the experience?  No.  It doesn’t bother me while driving, even if it is bumping up against my leg.  But considering the AccuForce is a high end product, the fact that you have to fuss with a cord kind of stinks.  Add on top of that, with the poorly situated attachment point, it becomes a con.

Also want to note, It is best to disconnect the wheel via the quick release when booting up the wheel for the first time of the day. That way the cord doesn’t wrap around the hub during calibration and get stretched out…like mine already is.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

CON – MOUNTING

There are a couple issues when it comes to the mounting the AccuForce Pro V2.  First, there should be more clearance given to mount the wheel base to your simulator or to the optional angle mounts.  Fitting even a low profile 90 degree allen wrench into the tabbed in area of the wheel base is very difficult and makes it easy to scratch up your new baby.

Second, while attaching the wheel base directly to my simulator with two bolts was no problem, that wasn’t the case when I got a hold of the optional angle bracket.  When I first used the angle bracket I used the front holes on each side, but due to their location, this resulted in the back of the wheel popping up while driving.

Here’s where the real rub happens.

To pick up the back two mounting locations, I had to drill two holes into the wheel deck of my Next Level Racing F1GT simulator.  The F1GT is pre-drilled to accept Logitech, Thrustmaster and Fanatec wheels.  The AccuForce angle bracket should be designed to utilize one of those hole patterns.  If the angle bracket was about ¾ inch wider on each side, there are four holes it could have utilized.  Instead, owners of non-SimXperience or non-adjustable profile simulators will most likely be forced to drill into their wheel decks.

Is it the end of the world?  No.  But is it an avoidable extra step for the consumer?  Yes.

SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2

FINAL THOUGHTS

The SimXperience AccuForce Pro V2 wheel is the best wheel I’ve ever owned.  The ability to deliver really strong, but ultra smooth, force feedback is impressive.  Not only that, but the fidelity at which it translates the on-screen road surfaces to your hands is just as impressive.

While the idea of skipping the developer’s force feedback settings to create your own based off of the telemetry that the developer allows third party applications to have is bold, I’ve become a full-fledged believer in Foundation Force Feedback.  Stripping away all the unnecessary effects, that more times than not I turn off in-game anyway, feels great.

I really was blown away by how good titles like Automobilista and RaceRoom feel with Foundation Force Feedback.  You just don’t realize what you’ve been missing until you have a wheel of this quality.

The cons of the AccuForce Pro V2 do not outweigh the pros.  I would like to see some – or a lot – of editing done to Sim Commander.  Would like if there was one less spiral cord and USB cable included in the AccuForce box.  Would like to see common mounting hole patterns used and a larger, lower RPM, fan used on the controller.  Lastly, an option for a different style wheel would be lovely.

Maybe for V3…or even V2.5.

But for now, the AccuForce Pro V2 more than services as one of the best wheels you can buy in sim racing today, and now you might even be able to afford it.