There are a lot of steering wheel peripherals to choose from these days, from the likes of the simulator-grade Logitech G25, which is costly but the sworn companion of many serious virtual drivers, through to cheap and cheerful, twenty quid budget wheels (which are generally a bit rubbish). Saitek’s effort sits squarely in the mid-range, although its performance rises above the average in many respects.
The R660′s build quality is impressive, particularly when it comes to the steering wheel itself. It’s well weighted and solid, with rubber grips that give a smooth feel to the handling. The clamp that attaches the wheel to the desk also boasts a secure hold, which is important.
The only let-down is the pedal unit, which is a little lightweight and plasticky, and can shift around a bit if you don’t keep one foot on the lengthened base. The pedals are also on the light side – resting your foot gently on the accelerator will floor it – but on the upside, they’re highly responsive once you get used to this.
Saitek has tried to innovate with the semi-automatic gear-stick. This can be slotted into a socket on the left- or right-hand side of the unit, a design that lets left-handers have their stick and shift it just as easily as the rest of us. It’s a great idea for southpaws, although we found the stick was set rather too far ahead of the wheel for our liking. Luckily there are gear-changing paddles as an alternative, and we much preferred these.
Taking the R660 for a test drive in two racing games, we ran into trouble immediately. It failed to configure properly in both, and it wasn’t until we unplugged our gaming keyboard that we realised this was causing some sort of issue. All was fine afterwards, and once the wheel was configured in-game we could plug our keyboard back in with no further trouble. If you run into problems with the R660, we’d suggest unplugging any other USB peripherals to see if conflicts are causing the gremlins.
The serious simulation Race 07 brought out the best in this wheel: the force feedback effects were measured and felt realistic, and it was a pleasure to bomb around Monza in a BMW. Cruising along in an arcade racer was a pleasant experience too, and the force feedback was a bit more jarring and over-the-top as you would expect.
Tweaking the wheel’s settings is easy enough, with sliders that can adjust the dead-zone of the steering and pedals and a menu that allows the user to alter the strength of the force feedback. On top of this, Saitek’s optional configuration software lets you program the wheel with macros and key combinations.
Contact: 01454 451900