If you enjoy using manual transmission and the benefits it brings to your favorite racers, then the Thrustmaster TH8S is worth considering for your racing wheel setup. Its sturdy build quality and ease of setup are two notable highlights, and if you’re on a fairly strict budget, you’ll be glad to know that it won’t cost the earth, either.
The Thrustmaster TH8S’s seven forward gears - and one for reverse - make it a versatile shifter, and it’s also compatible with many of the best racing games out there. If you’re into PC sims like Assetto Corsa Competizione or iRacing, the tactility offered by the TH8S goes a long way to immerse you in the simulation aspect even more. Sim-lite titles like Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Horizon 5 are also supported on console, though you may find it isn’t best suited to F1 23, as the shifter is a gear short of the open-wheelers’ eight.
While overall a very fun add-on to use, we can’t quite recommend the shifter for beginners just starting out with the best racing wheels. Shifting can feel a little cumbersome as the stick is fairly weighty and without a dedicated stand to mount it on, it can cause your setup and monitors to shake if you’re on PC. Overall, though, racing wheel aficionados will get much out of the extra immersion it provides.
Price and availability
The Thrustmaster TH8S shifter add-on can be bought right now for $69.99 / £59.99. You can buy it from Thrustmaster’s official store page, or at notable big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and Argos.
Comparatively, the TH8S is slightly pricier than the Logitech G Driving Force shifter ($59.99 / £49.99). However, the trade-off here is that the TH8S features seven forward gears as opposed to Logitech’s six, making Thrustmaster’s shifter a bit more versatile.
Design and features
The Thrustmaster TH8S’s chassis is largely built from sturdy plastic. And while it does lack a premium feel, it certainly isn’t poorly built. There’s a nice amount of weight that helps lock the shifter firmly in place when clamped to your desk or setup, too. The shifting stick itself features a metal shaft, which is ideal for resisting wear and tear that’ll come from shifting it between gears repeatedly. With high durability, then, the TH8S is perfect for long-term use.
The shifting stick defaults to neutral position, just to the left of center. It can then be moved upwards through seven forward gears (one through seven), and there’s a dedicated reverse gear, useful for games that require careful, calculated driving like Euro Truck Simulator 2 and MudRunner.
One of the best aspects of the Thrustmaster TH8S is its overall ease of setup and use. The clamp can reach as far as 1.6 inches (4cm) and is easily secured into place by rotating clockwise. No need for extra tools like a screwdriver to get the job done. For connectivity, the TH8S can be plugged into your PC or console of choice via USB-C or DIN, and cables are included for both options.
The Thrustmaster TH8S works perfectly as intended, with a high degree of responsiveness meaning in-game gear shifts are registered instantaneously. However, there are a few things to keep in mind here that may hinder the overall experience for you.
For one, the act of shifting with the TH8S takes a lot of getting used to. As you are physically shunting the stick between gear changes frequently, keeping a mental map of where each gear is located is vital. During testing, it was all too easy to shift into a suboptimal gear, especially when needing to slow down to take on particularly tight corners. There may be a learning curve involved for you, especially if you’re currently used to swapping gears via paddles on a racing wheel.
Another aspect that took some getting used to was just how weighty the shifter feels. And this is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the fact that stick shifts require a bit of heft lends a very satisfying feeling to changing gears. On the other it often felt like a struggle to perform what is otherwise a fairly simple task on controllers and racing wheels. It certainly meant that I, personally, couldn’t use the shifter for more than a few races without feeling slightly worn out.
Additionally, the stick generates a fair degree of noise when shifting, which isn’t a deal breaker in and of itself. But it may be something you wish to take into consideration if you have roommates or particularly skittish pets.
The overall sim driving experience is enhanced with a TH8S added to your setup, though I found it to be most efficient with slower-paced titles like Euro Truck Simulator 2. That’s because the relatively lower top speeds made gear management much easier, and helped with the overall enjoyment factor, as well as being able to take corners more accurately. In comparison, I fared less well in titles like Dirt Rally 2.0; its constant changes to terrain, grip and speeds made managing gears a high-octane effort that quickly wore me down. Still extremely fun, mind, just a good deal more taxing.
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How we reviewed the Thrustmaster TH8S
I tested the Thrustmaster TH8S on PC in a setup that also made use of the Thrustmaster T128 racing wheel and pedals. A wide range of games were tried out using manual transmission, including Dirt Rally 2.0, Euro Truck Simulator 2, MudRunner, and Assetto Corsa Competizione, to ensure the shifter was tested across titles of varying paces.
Prefer to race on console? Be sure to have a look at our guide to the best PS5 racing wheels for top setups tailor-made for Sony’s current-gen system.