Review: SimXperience AccuForce Pro DD Wheel. Arguably one of the most sought after and coveted pieces of sim-racing equipment right now, is a direct drive servo wheel. This time, I take SimXperience’s latest 13nm direct drive servo wheel, the Accuforce Pro for an extended spin! Grab a coffee and settle in to learn more about my time with this very slick looking and substantial piece of equipment.
Complete solution in a single box
SimXperience’s packaging is well thought out, the AccuForce Pro is shipped to you in a single box, which weighs in at thirty five pounds or nearly sixteen kilograms. All of the components are snuggly packaged for maximum protection during shipping. The box contains everything required to attach your new wheel to most of the off-the shelf sim-rigs available today. Hooking it up to your PC takes almost no time at all and after installing the Sim Commander 4 software, will have you quickly turning laps in your favourite titles!
Pictured above are the entire contents of the AccuForce Pro’s packaging. From top left to right you see the the AccuForce FFB controler, wheelbase, rim with factory mounted button-box, two USB cables, spiral phone cable, standard ‘’for your region’’ (PC) power cable and lastly an isolating cable with rocker switch to cut power to the control box.
Installing Sim Commander 4 Software
First order of business after receiving your AccuForce Pro, is to install SimXperience’s SimCommander 4 software. It pays to get well acquainted with this in-house designed and written software. After registering yourself and your purchase on the SimXperience web site, you will be able to download and install the required software for your new wheel. Once installed, Sim Commander 4 calibrates itself, creates profiles for your installed titles and automatically searches for firmware updates. With this all completed you can move on to exploring the UI.
The software basically functions as the nerve centre for your wheel. With the exception of iRacing (at least in my case), virtually all of your installed titles can be launched via this interface. There are a myriad of settings that can be tweaked for each title as well as the ability to create multiple profiles for individual cars. For instance, If you set-up a profile for a particular car you can save it (saving the profile means it is saved to the control box and not your PC), launch the title that has the relevant car via the previously saved profile, thus loading the cars’ settings saving you set -up time in game.
With ‘’Enable In Game On Screen Display’’ in the control centre engaged, the setting overlays the UI in the title itself. Hovering the cursor over the bottom of your screen, a red thin horizontal bar appears which indicates that the on screen display is active, it then brings up the Sim Commander 4 interface. which allows you to adjust settings on the fly without the need to quit out of the game.
Because of the sheer depth this software provides, I don’t have enough virtual ink to explain all facets of it here. It was recommended to me by an expert on the matter, whom also gave me some very good pointers in the use of the AccuForce Pro that I read MockRacer’s Accuforce Settings For Dummies Guide. It is an excellent comprehensive tutorial on all things Sim Commander 4 and helps you to explore every nook and cranny of the software. I have diligently done so and it is essential reading for all AccuForce owners, as there are up to four differing methods available for extracting FFB effects and telemetry from your titles. This guide also allows you to employ the full potential of your shinny new AccuForce Pro wheel.
Mounting The Wheelbase To the Playseat® Sensation Pro
The AccuForce’s wheelbase has multiple M6 mm pre-drilled and threaded holes on it’s underside. These holes correspond to Thrustmaster’s range of TS and TX wheels hard-mounting drill patterns. Fortunately, the Playseat® Sensation Pro’s wheel mounting plate came with these holes already pre-drilled! The only consideration for me in this case was inverting the wheel mounting plate to accommodate the taller wheelbase as well as taking into account the proximity of the horizontal connecting bar ahead of it.
The Playseat® has a row of threaded pre-drilled holes on the underside of the two tubes which have the wheel mounting plate attached to them. These holes enabled me to mount the wheelbase at just the right distance away from the aforementioned connecting bar. The reason that this is critical in this case, is that exiting the rear of the wheelbase there is a thick cable which connects to the control box and protrudes outwards. This rather thick cable is not really meant to be abruptly bent out of the way. In order to comfortably clear this bar I chose to mount the wheel mounting plate on the second set of holes from the front of the tubes and the wheelbase was then bolted through first set of holes in the mounting plate.
After bolting the wheelbase in place, I thought, hmmm, maybe two bolts are not enough to adequately anchor this quite heavy servo motor to the Sensation Pro’s wheel plate? As it turns out they are perfectly adequate, but me being an Aussie, well we are known for over engineering things. I had a couple of largish washers left over from another project and placed them between the underside of the wheel mounting plate and the bolts, once tightened down sufficiently I was happier with the connection.
SimXpereince suggest placing the FFB controller away from other devices which may cause electronic interference. I decided to place the unit under the Sensation Pros’ seat. This allowed me to route the two supplied USB A to USB type B cables as well as the thick cable exiting the rear of the AccuForce’s wheelbase collectively through the hollow down-tube on the right side of the rig. Thankfully, all the cables were long enough to make the trip from the FFB controller to the rear of my PC. In order for the wheel to function with your PC, there are four essential connections, the two USB cables mentioned earlier which go from the FFB controller to the PC plus two data plugs found at the end of the thick cable exiting the wheelbase.
Quick Release And Button-Box
The industrial quick release mechanism is very positive in its use. Once the quick release ring is fully depressed, removing the wheel from the base feels quite mechanical. Conversely, making sure the electrical connections are lined up when the wheel is reattached, the wheel almost pulls itself onto the base and snaps positively into place. The AccuForce Pros’ system employs hard gold spring loaded electrical connections, which SimXperience claims will ensure they have a long life.
As you can see in the photo above, the rear of the rim and button-box has several expansion ports provided for external displays, pedals etc. Incidentally there are also three USB ports on the rear of the wheelbase itself. Should you have one, the mounting of an SLI type display has also been taken into consideration. SimXperience does warn that some USB devices may not play nice with the slip-ring connection. Driving in VR almost exclusively, I wasn’t able to make use of these options, however they are a thoughtful and welcome inclusion. It is reassuring to know that these options are available should things change in the future.
The button-box has a total of thirteen mappable buttons, twelve of which are durable feeling push buttons plus a central horn button. The carbon fibre shifter paddles are of a good size and adjustable for width, the machined aluminium shifter units can also be calibrated for the moment of engagement as well as throw. All this adjustability comes in very handy if you want to swap the standard 32 cm rim out for anything from a 28 to 35 cm aftermarket rim.
Speaking of the standard 32 cm suede covered rim, it has good thickness and a very good feel to it, the red stitching is a nice touch as is the red leather centre marker. The rim has a little flex to it, but if you want something racier, Momo, Sparco or OMP have great rims that you can bolt straight to the AccuForce’s button box. Alternatively you can purchase another button-box plus QR module and swap your wheels on the fly, here the almost universal standard 70 mm drill pattern applies.
Realism and Immersion
If some of you may have read my previous reviews, you will know that I am a firm believer in immersion and anything to do with realism in sim racing. For so many years, my main wheel has been a G27 which has given me many hours of sim racing enjoyment and will do so again after this review wheel has left my possession.
With everything ready to go and fast approaching the moment that counts, I know this is certainly going to be a huge contrast. Especially with the AccuForce Pro in combination with the Playseat® Sensation Pro sim-rig and Heusinkveld Engineering’s pedals. Finally, I can say that this for me is something I have long aspired to, top class gear, not to make me quicker, not to show off to my mates, but to make sim-racing just as realistic and immersive as it can be for me!
13nm Does The Torquing
With 13nm and a peak of 16nm of torque at my disposal it is finally time to take my place in the Sensation Pro and do some serious driving! My first step is to fire up the AccuForce Pro, once the power is switched on by means of the supplied isolation switch, the wheel calibrates itself and is ready to go!
Next up, I open the Sim Commander 4 software wait for the interface to verify me, it pays to check auto connect here, so every time you start the software, it logs in automatically for you. I have ‘’High’’ selected in FFB settings. Then my side of the equation, I select screen resolution, the Oculus Rift as my main screen, finally via Sim Commander I select Assetto Corsa from the loaded profiles and wait some what impatiently for the title to load.
Bonus Video, Driving On The Nordschleife With The Accu Force Pro In The Mazda 787b
In a departure from most reviews, I will attempt to convey what it actually feels like to drive using the AccuForce Pro.
Car of choice, Mazda 787b, circuit, yep you guessed it The Nordschleife. Why this combination you may well ask? If any of you have seen a video of Johnny Herbert wrestling this car around LeMans a few years back, well lets just say it inspires me. This car is in my humble opinion one of the best and most realistic representations of an old school brutish, physically challenging race car to drive quickly in any title. So what better car to drive first than this one!
OK, with the Mazda idling at 2000rpm on the tarmac, Nords is beckoning, I turn the wheel left and right to feel the level of resistance at standstill. It is heavy mate, the huge slicks at the front of the Mazda scrub against the tracks surface like they are both as flat as pancakes.
Engage first gear, boot full of revs and straight away the wheel is giving me feedback at a rate almost to quickly to process! Every ripple and imperfection the road offers up to the tires is transmitted back to my hands. Second gear, the rear breaks loose at the start of the first downhill section. It happens so quickly no time to think, the wheel practically helps me to instinctively counter steer, catch the slide and select third gear then fourth, the first sweeping right hander has the left hand front wheel loading up heavily and I have to physically hold on to the wheel to keep the car pointed at the apex. Fifth gear briefly and then hard on the brakes, down three gears for the first ’S’ chicane, hit a curb and the AccuForce is bucking like someone hit the front wheel with a sledge hammer!
Driving along the long front straight at over three hundred kmh with the wheel letting me feel the smallest deviation in the tracks surface to almost being ripped out of my hands when I hit something more substantial. I can’t help but feel I am one with the car, the wheel has become an extension of myself.
I remind myself ‘’High’’ is only one notch above the default FFB setting, there are still three more settings after this, responsive, responsive with peaks and high with peaks, the last two settings are not recommended for use though.
At any moment around this circuit I know exactly what the car is doing, the AccuForce feels as if it is actually helping me to drive more consistently, the steering inputs feel more precise and translate into me being more in control of the car. It almost forces me to be much more deliberate with my inputs and finesse the car through the corners.
The whole 20.8 kilometre circuit is like this, the smile on my face is as big as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the amount of detail in the profile created by the Sim Commander 4 software for this car and circuit is incredible.
Coming from the G27 I knew that there would be a huge difference in latency and resolution, but I wasn’t prepared for the unadulterated liveliness of the FFB and what feels like unlimited power. The advantage of being able to really just go driving in any car on any circuit at length and not be limited to two or three laps at an expo is that you really get to know the wheel and its idiosyncrasies. How it behaves when tweaked, how it feels in different cars and on different circuits and even in different titles, is as varied as the car and circuit combos in all the current titles.
Top of my list for titles, no surprise here is Assetto Corsa, then rFactor2, iRacing, GSCE and RaceRoom. In all titles there was a definite difference in feel and feedback with one or two titles not really conveying what I had first experienced with the Mazda.
- Powerful and quiet 13nm motor
- Extremely comprehensive Sim Commander 4 software
- Quality materials used throughout
- Button-box with thirteen mappable positive feeling push buttons
- Great FFB and latency
- Ease of installation (Pro version)
- Available in three differing configurations
- Positive feeling and highly adjustable paddle shifters
- One box ready to use solution
- Robust construction
- Automotive quality quick release mechanism
- Slip-Ring connection
- Several expansion ports on button box and wheelbase
- Standard suede covered 32 cm rim
- Large community and website based support network
- Built in safety settings for less experienced sim racers
- Good customer service
- Possibly daunting Sim Commander 4 software
- Price points if shipped to Europe or outside the US
- Availability ( due to high demand )
- Delivery time ( SimXperience quotes more than four months)
- Music in the UI (thankfully mutable)
Two free USB 2.0 ports (not on a hub!) One free USB 2.0 port if AccuForce USB hub functionality is not utilized
Quad Core PC or better with at least 8gb RAM (Intel Core i5 or i7 suggested)
110V – 240V power (surge strip not shared with PC or other devices is suggested)
At the business end of this review, what does this very sought after wheel cost? I will list the price of the reviewed Pro model here below.
The stated price was correct at the time of publication, May 2016. All prices were taken from the official SimXperience website for sales tax, duties and worldwide shipping costs, please check the SimXperience website. If you would like more information on SimXperience and their products, please visit SimXperience.com
Review model AccuForce Pro, regular price in the US / US$1748.00
For a price indication in the UK and EU please add local VAT to the regular US price after conversion.
Additionally, there are two other models available, an AccuForce without the button-box, QR, slip-rings and bypass cable or a DIY kit which has all the main components but is not a ready to run product.
What can I add to the chorus of reviews that have preceded my own? Comparing it to a G27 is not realistic and hardly a fair comparison. Comparing it to the other direct drive wheels I have been lucky enough to try at expos and alike, is a little easier but not really accurate. The wheel that brings me the closest to this prolonged experience would be the Bodnar wheel I tried at Heusinkveld Engineering for an afternoon. I would say that they are quite comparable in feel and use. I wont say one is better than the other, as that would not be fair to either product.
The Sim Commander 4 software is not to be underestimated and takes a lot of the guess work out of getting the best out of your wheel. It also has the ability to learn from your driving style and the lines you take to provide you with an auto optimised personalised experience. Credit to the guys at SimXperience for such a thorough if not slightly daunting UI, one which enhances the experience greatly. One thing I didn’t care too much for though was the music that accompanies the UI. I am not a big fan of music in games and user-interfaces are no exception, gladly the music can be muted if that’s not your thing.
I realise now, after having lived with this direct drive servo wheel, that this is the way forward, the raw power and resolution is incomparable to any other type of sim racing wheel. Spending a decent amount of time with the Accuforce Pro has impressed upon me just how far sim racing has come, even in say the last five years. Previously this type of steering system was reserved for professional grade training simulators and alike and was only dreamt of in the sim racing community.
Nowadays there are more and more direct drive wheels popping up all around the world from Australia to the UK, although only a handful of companies provide sim racers with ready to use options, SimXperience being one of them. In the not too distant future I hope to review a Bodnar wheel as well as an OSW wheel which should give me a better insight into where the AccuForce Pro sits in the scheme of things. But for right now, the AccuForce Pro is simply the best direct drive experience I have had in my years of sim racing.
My time with the AccuForce Pro has been extremely positive, sadly though it has come to an end, I will be sorry to see it go. A big thanks to Don and Bernie from SimXperience for organising a review unit and to Wim for his patience during the time I have taken to produce this review.
I certainly thoroughly enjoyed myself reviewing the Accu Force Pro. I really hope you all have enjoyed this review, Stay tuned for more to come, from AussieStig!