While most of us here at Atomic F1 prefer paddle shifting in almost all our racing, there’s simply no denying that sometimes the satisfaction of really slamming a car into gear can only be fully appreciated with a proper gate shift device.
Now as most of us know gate shifters are nothing new on the sim landscape, the Logitech G2X series as long had them, Fanatic with their Porsche and CSR sets as well as many other manufacturers. So what can Thrustmaster bring to the table with their TH8RS that others haven’t been able to?
The first thing you notice as you take out the TH8RS is the solid weight and feel. It’s 90% metal with only a plastic shrouding on the base to let you know that this isn’t a real gear stick. It’s incredibly beautiful and well made, and putting it next to a G27 shifter for comparison leaves it to shame. Unlike the Fanatic or G27 shifter, the THR8S is a 7+1 shifter (the others are 6+1) giving you that extra gear that many games really now do require. If sequential gears are your thing however, the TH8RS also has you covered. Included is a sequential gate that simply interchanges with the H plate.
The biggest thing to note however is that the TH8RS is a standalone product. It’s designed to compliment your current wheel and pedal setup, something that current Fanatic and G25/27 shifters generally don’t do. A feature that I think has been missing from the market for sometime.
Another big plus is that it uses contactless magnetic sensors with no tact switches. That means no annoying ‘clicking’ noises when changing gear like you hear on the G27 or Fanatic shifters. Gear changes are incredible in feel, with each gear giving you a satisfying mechanical ‘clunk’ as they slot into place.
Installation & Configuration:
Installation is very straight forward, there are no drivers required to be installed as the device is designed to be plug and play out of the box. You can download a calibration utility that is handy if you plan on adjusting the position of the H gate to suit your desk or racing rig but other than that no other software is required. Compatibility wise it will work with just about any game you care to play. Some games will require a patch update from their respective developers, others it’s as simple as binding each gear individually in game.
Mounting the device is also straight forward. The TH8RS comes with a bracket that simply clamps to your desk or racing rig. Additionally for those that might want a more permanent solution you can hard mount it be removing the bracket and screw it directly to your rig via mounting points on the base. We found the clamp to be a very solid solution however, and the inclusion of a rubber contact point between the device and our rig meant that it’s very grippy and should leave the paint on your desk or rig if you need to remove the device at a later date. One thing we would note is that the gear stick itself is quite tall and mounting this to a desk on the same level as your wheel is not a good idea. Ideally this should be mounted at a lower level, so if you’re planning on mounting this to a desk make sure you take this into consideration.
Out of the box the THR8 comes with the default 8 gate metal plate pre-installed. For those that need or want sequential gears, it’s a simple matter of removing 4 hex bolts on top and replacing the plate with an included sequential plate. Because of the straight forward nature of the way the metal gate shift plate is mounted, a number of aftermarket plates have started to appear online allowing you almost any imaginable H gate configuration you could want.
The resistance of the gear changes can be adjusted with a simple turn of a screw that is mounted through a small opening in the side of the THR8. You can increase the stiffness for a heavier shift, or decrease it if you want a lighter feel. This feature alone is fairly unique in gaming shifters and allows you to completely adjust how the shifter feels in game to suit you, or even based purely on the car you’re driving.
The TH8RS also allows the whole position of the gate shift to be adjusted to suit almost any position that you may need to mount this in and can be rotated a complete 360 degrees.
The gear knob can be changed to any number of after market alternatives allowing you to give your THR8S some personalisation.
While the THR8S is also compatible with the PS3 we will be focusing on the PC platform. We tested the TH8RS together with our trusty G27 (with the G27 gate shift removed obviously) in a variety of games such as Dirt 2, Dirt 3, rFactor and NFS: Shift. The only game we had trouble with was Shift 2: Unleashed which at the time of testing was not compatible with the game.
It definitely took some adjustment to get used to as the distance from the first to last gear is a longer travel than the G27 shifter which had it’s gear clustering quite close to each other. Changing gear is a really enjoyable experience, it truly does feel like a proper gearbox and because of its solid build, and you can really give it a bit of abuse, something I would be too scared to do with my G27 shifter.
It’s hard to really find too many faults with the TH8RS. It’s very solid and well built. Has plenty of customisation options and is reasonably priced (for those in Australia, you can pick these up from www.pccasegear.com.au for a $175 inc). If your looking for a quality shifter at a reasonable price, you'd be hard pressed to find better than the TH8RS.
- Sturdy and solid, you’ll struggle to break this.
- Adjustable stiffness in the shift.
- Fully adjustable mount.
- No tact switches.
- Tall gear stick, you will almost definitely want to be able to mount this lower or have a dedicated spot for this on your rig.
- For those that are PS3 drivers, currently it only works if you have the Thrustmaster T500 as well. Currently the only game supported is Grand Turismo. In time more will be supported.