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Sim Racing Explained – Steering Wheel & Pedal Resolution

Welcome to Sim Racing Explained and today we are talking wheel and pedal resolution.  Anytime you look up a wheel or pedal, one of the specs you’ll see listed is resolution in “bit” and/or “steps/values”.  Resolution is the measurement for wheel and pedal accuracy.

For example, 2 bit would be 2^2 – the power is the bit – which equals 4 steps of resolution.  

This is what 2 bit / 4 steps look like.  In this – simplified – example, the game will only register the wheel at four different positions.  No matter if you move the wheel to the 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock position, the game will still think you’re at the 12 o’clock position.  That’s not very good.

wheel-resolution-graphics-06So let’s up it to 6-bit.  2^6 = 64 steps of resolution.  Now this looks much more accurate.  But while 6-bit looks much more accurate than 2 – and it is – 64 steps of resolution would still feel awkward to drive with a lot of wheel inputs not registering in game.

This is why manufacturers use 12 and 16-bits in their wheels.  At that bit, there are so many steps – too many to visually show you – that virtually none of the driver inputs are missed.  There’s always going to be some loss of input, but it’s such a small amount that we the drivers can’t recognize it.

Thankfully, all modern wheels use at least 12-bit resolution, which is plenty.  While 16-bit resolution is 4x the number of steps as 12-bit, it’s at the point where the difference isn’t noticeable.

The resolution of pedals is very similar.  2-bit of resolution only yields 4 steps through the entire distance that the pedal travels, which is highly inaccurate.  The game is missing a lot of data.  

4-and-7-bitAnd while 7-bit / 128 steps of resolution looks pretty accurate, it could be better.  From our testing, we find the threshold to be 10-bit  or 1024 steps.  At 10-bit or higher, you can’t notice any loss of information to the game.  But 8-bit is a different story.  8-bit or 256 steps – 4x less steps than 10-bit – is noticeable.

So there you go.  12-bits or higher on the wheel is good.  10-bits or higher on the pedals is good.