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Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Review: A fun addition to your racing wheel setup

Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Review: A fun addition to your racing wheel setup

If you enjoy using manual gearboxes and the benefits it offers your favorite drivers, then the Thrustmaster TH8S is worth considering for your racing wheel setup. Its sturdy build quality and ease of installation are two notable highlights, and if you’re on a fairly tight budget, you’ll be happy to know that it won’t cost a fortune either.

The Thrustmaster TH8S’s seven forward gears, plus one reverse, make it a versatile gearbox, and it’s also compatible with many of the best racing games out there. If you like PC simulations, like Assetto Corsa Competizione OR iRacing, the tactility offered by the TH8S goes a long way towards immersing you even more in the simulation aspect. Sim-lite titles like Gran Turismo7 AND Forza Horizon 5 they are also supported on consoles, although you may find that this is not the most suitable F123, as the gearbox is one gear lower than the open wheel eight.

While overall it’s a very fun add-on to use, we can’t recommend the shifter for beginners who are just starting out with the best racing wheels. Moving it may seem a little tricky as the stick is quite heavy and without a dedicated stand to mount it on, it can cause your setup and monitors to shake if you’re using your PC. Overall, though, racing enthusiasts will get a lot out of the extra immersion it offers.

Price and availability

The Thrustmaster TH8S gearbox add-on can be purchased now for $69.99 / £59.99. You can purchase it from Thrustmaster’s official store page or at major big box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and Argos.

In comparison, the TH8S is slightly more expensive than the Logitech G Driving Force gearbox ($59.99 / £49.99). However, the trade-off here is that the TH8S features seven forward gears compared to the Logitech’s six, making the Thrustmaster’s gearing a little more versatile.

Design and features

Thrustmaster TH8S

(Image credit: Future)

The chassis of the Thrustmaster TH8S is largely made of sturdy plastic. And while it lacks a premium look, it certainly isn’t poorly built. There is a good amount of weight that helps lock the shifter securely in place when attached to your desk or setup. The gear lever itself features a metal shaft, ideal for resisting wear and tear from repeatedly shifting between gears. With high durability, therefore, the TH8S is perfect for long-term use.

The gear stick is automatically set to the neutral position, just left of center. It can then be moved upwards through seven forward gears (from one to seven), and there is a dedicated reverse gear, useful for games that require careful and calculated driving such as 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 a maximum distance of 4cm and is easily fixed in place by turning it clockwise. No additional tools like a screwdriver are needed to get the job done. For connectivity, the TH8S can be connected to your PC or console of choice via USB-C or DIN, and cables are included for both options.


Thrustmaster TH8S

(Image credit: Future)

The Thrustmaster TH8S works perfectly as expected, with a high degree of responsiveness meaning in-game gear changes register instantly. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that may hinder your overall experience.

For one thing, the act of shifting with the TH8S takes a lot of getting used to. Since you physically move the stick frequently between gear changes, it’s crucial to keep a mental map of where each gear is. During testing it was all too easy to engage in a less than optimal gear, especially when it was necessary to slow down to negotiate particularly tight bends. There may be a learning curve for you, especially if you are currently used to changing gears via paddles on a steering wheel.

Another aspect that took some getting used to was the weight of the gearbox. And that’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the fact that gear changes require a bit of weight makes for a very satisfying feel when shifting. On the other hand, it often felt difficult to perform what would otherwise be a fairly simple task on controllers and wheels. It certainly meant that, personally, I couldn’t use the gearbox for more than a few races without feeling slightly tired.

Additionally, the paddle makes a fair amount of noise when shifting, which isn’t a problem in itself. But it might be something you’ll want to consider if you have particularly skittish roommates or pets.

The overall simulated driving experience improved with a TH8S added to the setup, although I found it more efficient with slower-paced titles like Euro truck simulator 2. This is because the relatively low top speeds made managing the gears much easier and contributed to the overall enjoyment, as well as allowing corners to be taken with greater precision. By comparison, I fared less well with titles like Dirt Rally 2.0; its constant changes in terrain, grip and speed made managing the gears a high-octane endeavor that quickly wore me down. Still extremely fun, mind you, just a lot more strenuous.

Should I buy the Thrustmaster TH8S gearbox?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How we reviewed the Thrustmaster TH8S

I tested the Thrustmaster TH8S on PC in a configuration that also used the Thrustmaster T128 wheel and pedals. A wide range of games were tested using manual transmission, including Dirt Rally 2.0, Euro Truck Simulator 2, MudRunner and Assetto Corsa Competizione, to ensure the gearbox has been tested on titles with different paces.

Do you prefer racing on console? Be sure to check out our guide to the best steering wheels for PS5 for the best configurations tailor-made for the latest generation Sony system.


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