Grid MPX Steering wheel & Grid DDU5 Digital Dash | Long Term Review
While it’s just a glorified game controller, the fact is that sim racing Steering Wheels are miles ahead of real race car wheels these days. They have higher quality components, better designs, they get tested more and their manufacturing processes are very sophisticated. That’s why we see so many collaborations between sim companies and race car manufacturers these days. It’s because of Steering Wheels like this, and consumers like you. This is the Grid MPX steering wheel and Grid DDU5 dash and they’re almost perfect… I’m Laurence, welcome to the channel.
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When Brandon, from Grid Engineering as they were known at the time, contacted me first day, he had a simple vision. He believed that he could make hardware to a higher quality standard and with better customer service than anyone else out there. Obviously I listened to him and supported his goals, but I’ve heard that story many many times before. Few companies make it out the other side. But I wasn’t the only one who believed his vision. Formerly known as Grid Engineering, Grid by Sim-Lab came about following a merger between the companies towards the end of 2022.
Sim-lab, founded in 2015 is a dominant high end rig manufacturer based in the Netherlands, while Grid was founded in Canada in 2020. The merger was a match made in heaven. Sim-lab had the manufacturing and distribution capabilities, while Grid had the vision and the product design capabilities in a niche that sim-lab wanted to explore. The merger was announced in September 2021.
I make no secret of the fact that given the choice, I’d have a wheel without a screen as my main steering wheel. As impressive as it is to have a screen in your wheel, it’s usually not that practical unless you’re in a formula style position. And most of us aren’t. We tend to drive in a GT position. Having a separate wheel and dash is not only more practical and cheaper, but it also gives FAR more immersion. Having a dash unit like this between your wheel and your monitor gives far greater depth of field than your standard on screen overlays can give.
All of the products in this review were sent to me free of charge for the purposes of this review and nobody other than me has had any say in the content of this video. The links to this product and its competitors in the description are affiliate links and if used will earn this channel some money at no extra cost to you.
2. First Impressions
Before receiving my MPX, I had only seen pictures of the wheel on social media and it definitely looked nice. I wasn’t expecting it to make such a visual impact in person though. The stealthy look of this wheel is almost impossible to capture through a lens. The deep carbon faceplate catches the light really nicely, but little did I know how awesome this wheel would look with its backlighting on.
It’s a 295mm steering wheel which is pretty much bang on perfect for a wheel of this type. It allows you to do almost all types of racing except for rally and drifting or anything that requires large amounts of rotation. The closed handles make it super comfortable for longer stints and everything it nicely within reach. It has 11 rotary encoders… That’s amazing and that’s the type of overkill and dedication that sim racers drool about.
The MPX doesn’t have rev lights. This suggests that it is made to be married to a dash like the DDU5. The DDU5 is a replica of the Bosch DDU10 dash that you can find in many real life GT3 and GTP race cars. The screen has beautiful LEDs all around it and is pretty much the perfect dash. It’s not too small and not too big. I’ll cover it in more detail in a later section.
This is the most expensive screenless steering wheel I’ve ever had in the studio. It comes in at just over €1,200 or $1,049. It’s also the best, and I’ve had some nice Steering Wheels here. I know it’s a lot of money, but there are plenty of unique things about this wheel that help to justify that price tag. Bear in mind that that price includes everything you see here. There are no hidden charges for clutch paddles, LEDs, grips or anything else. You will only need to supply a quick release that’s compatible with your wheelbase.
The DDU5 is slightly more affordable although it’s still far from cheap. It comes in at $303 or €326. There are cheaper dashes on the market, but few achieve this level of finish, crispness of LEDs or similarity to the real deal. Your preferred mount will be included in this price and made out of carbon fiber, which might be a little bit over the top, but it’s a nice luxury touch.
The total package comes in at around $1350 or €1550, which is the same territory as a high end wheel with a screen in it. That’s a little hard for some to process. I wouldn’t be entirely convinced either if I hadn’t used them for an extended period of time. I can definitely say I think it’s worth it.
4. Installation – Hardware
Installing a quick release on the MPX was quite easy thanks to the pre installed flange on the back. 3 bolts hold it in place just fine. The USB cable is high quality and features a rugged connector to ensure that it doesn’t wear poorly over time. This connects to a tiny control box which splits off the USB and power connections for this wheel. The control box has an on/off switch on it, which is quite handy. Unfortunately this wheel requires a dedicated power supply which is very unusual for a steering wheel without a screen. Even most wheels with a screen don’t need a dedicated power supply anymore. I’d really love to see them improve this, however, those LEDs do go nice and bright and there are lots and lots of them. It’s an incredible looking wheel.
The standard plug for the power supply is tall, and I replaced it with a smaller infinity cable. The power supply itself is small though and has plenty of length for most people’s needs.
I’d love if they allowed for native power to be drawn from the newer generations of wheelbases which provide power through the shaft.
The DDU5 comes with your wheelbase mount of choice. It’s a breeze to install. The cable does stick out at the rear meaning that you can’t get it fully flush with your monitors, should you wish to do so. This design approach does ensure though that there are no ugly cables on show. However, if you have a fixed rig, it can be difficult to access the bolts at the back which allow you to raise or lower the screen. This was an issue for me as the height requirements of a standalone dash are different whether yours using a steering wheel like the MPX, or a round steering wheel rim.
I would love for the dash to be easily adjustable and even removable without the need for undoing bolts. I don’t ALWAYS want a dash in front of me and I want to be able to change the height easily, but that’s yet another first world problem that is unique to high end sim racers. I kind of solved it but leaving the bolts just loose enough to allow adjustments, but tight enough to stay put even during spirited driving. Thumb screws might help this situation and are an easy upgrade to make yourself.
Finally about the mount, I found that it didn’t go low enough for my liking. I know it’s always going to be tough to make a dash of this size work with a round steering wheel, but if the dash is partly hidden by the rim of my round steering wheel, it makes it far less usefull and it becomes more of a hinderance than a help.
The shifters and clutch paddles can be extended. I didn’t like them in their default form so I extended them about 60% of their maximum range. I also changed the angles of the shifters to suit my preferences. This is a very nice feature and it’s very easy to do with just one bolt. I’d love to see this feature on more wheels.
5. Installation – Software
For the MPX, If you’re already using Simhub, I’d recommend sticking with it. However, if you want a nice easy setup option, Grid’s own RaceDirector software has you covered. It’s a very simple and intuitive software that allows you to configure the dash and wheel with ease. It’s not as powerful as Simhub, but it’s a great option for those who don’t want to spend hours configuring their hardware. It’s a very nice piece of software and it’s very easy to use.
I choose to use simhub, but the interface isn’t beautiful. It’s fine, if you’re used to simhub, but little things like having a separate area for the rotary encoder LED colours vs the button colours is pretty annoying. You can’t see how they would all look together until you are actually in game. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a bit annoying. I’d love to see a more intuitive interface in the future. I also had some issues importing Grid’s profiles for both the MPX and the DDU5. This could be due to the fact that I hook up a lot of Steering Wheels and screens to my PC, but I’m curious if others also experienced this issue.
The manual is clear and intuitive and shows how to do things like calibration and clutch bite point manipulation. It’s pretty straight forward although I’d love to just be able to assign one of the 11 Rotary encoders as a dedicated clutch bite point adjuster.
For the DDU5, simhub is also my software of choice. There are loads of free dashes out there but I highly recommend trying Grid’s own dash layout as it’s quite good.
6. Buttons, rotaries and 7-way hats
The buttons on the MPX were a major surprise to me. They looked a bit large and childish without stickers, but once stickers are added, they’re incredible and the way the light shines to illuminate the sticker is very satisfying. The stickers are made of a hard plastic and calling them a sticker doesn’t do them justice. They have a nice feel and they fit the buttons well. I’d love if there was a clever way to center and align the stickers but I like that there are no ridges or awkward textures on the buttons. I haven’t even mentioned their click. They’re incredibly satisfying. You’ll never be in any doubt as to whether you have pressed a button and you’ll also never accidentally push one either.
The rounded buttons on the back are fully customisable. I use them the same way I use additional flappy paddles on other high end Steering Wheels. The left one is for the pit limiter and the right one is for flashing my lights at drivers with inferior Steering Wheels.
There are 2 types of rotary encoders on this wheel. Firstly, the most visible ones on the front. A whopping FIVE rotary encoders with push down functionality. These are the best feeling rotaries I’ve ever used. They’re not too stiff and they’re not too loose. They’re just right. The push down functionality is also very satisfying. I use these for things like brake bias, traction control, ABS, fuel mix and so on. The illumination on this wheel is next level. It’s so beautifully diffused and the colour is so rich. It’s a joy to look at.
The second type of rotary encoder is the large thumb style encoders in at the sides of the main button plate. These also pack a punch and are very easy to use and access even when wearing gloves.I generally use these for quick access to certain menus and pit strategy options. There are so many on this rim that I can even assign some to control the volume of my music or the brightness of my dash.
This wheel is also equipped with two large 7 way joysticks. It’s also called a 7 way hat and it has 7 functions. It rotates left and right just like a rotary encoder, and it also allows for up, down, left and right movements. It also has a push down function. If I was to find one criticism here, it would be that during very tight corners where you rotate the wheel 180 degrees or more, your opposing wrist might accidentally trigger the joystick. This is just something to be aware of and you can learn to drive around it, but other than that, I have no issues with the placement of these 7 way hats. The rotary movement is not as crisp as the other rotaries on this wheel, but it’s still very good. These hats are a nice size and easy to feel and use even when wearing gloves.
7. Grips & LEDs
The LEDs on this wheel are incredible. They’re bright, they’re vibrant and they’re very easy to see. I love the diffused look and they have plenty of brightness. As mentioned in the software section, setup of the colours can be a bit of a pain but it’s great once set. It has 87 RGB LEDs. I don’t think there’s another sim racing product with enough LEDs to warrant a dedicated power supply. I’d love to see a more intuitive interface for customising the LEDs. Little things like colour changes during button presses would be really nice.
The grips are lovely. They have a great rubber texture to them although that does attract dust and lints. I’d love if they were just a touch chunkier but that’s just personal preference. The grips are very comfortable and they’re very grippy. I have no issues with them and there’s space for my fingers even when I’m wearing gloves or using different grip styles. With gloves, the grips feel like they’re stuck to your hand which is very comfy for those longer stints. The shape of the grips is great for GT, LMP and formula style driving, as well as most road car variants. I’d love to see Grid doing a 320mm round version of this wheel in the future.
8. DDU5 dash
This dash is almost exactly like what you would find in a real GT3 race car. In fact, if you look in your GT3 sim of choice, you’re likely to see an identical unit sitting on the dash. They actually even use very similar components. It has a motorsports grade enclosure and the screen is a 5” TFT display with a resolution of 854×480. This for me is the perfect dash screen size and resolution. This doens’t sound like a huge resolution but for a 5″ screen, it’s plenty. It’s a very nice display and it’s very easy to read even the smallest of fonts. The screen is very bright and the colours are very vibrant. Surrounding the screen, it has 20 fully adjustable LEDs. These allow for everything from rev lights to low fuel indicators to flags and even on track spotting, where one side will flash when there’s a car to the left of right of you.
Software compatibility is huge. It works with SimHub, JRT, Z1 and probably some others that I’m not familiar with. Getting it set up is easy, but customising it does require some more in depth knowledge of the software you’re running. I recommend simhub as GRID also provides comprehensive instructions on how to set it up by simply importing their pre-configured profile.
The mounts are effective, made from carbon fiber sheet. If you don’t plan on removing the dash, its a great mount. However, I found raising and lowering the dash a little difficult. In the end I just left the bolts slightly loose so that there’s just enough play to be able to change the height. I’d love to see a more adjustable mount in the future. I need to change the height when I change steering wheel rims. For a round rim, you want to see the dash through the wheel. and for a wheel like the MPX, you want to see the dash above the wheel. This is a first world problem though but I hope GRID will come up with a solution in the future.
9. Build quality
The build quality of this hardware is absolutely unquestionable. It’s among the best I’ve ever seen. The carbon fiber is beautiful and the buttons are incredible. The wheel has some weight to it but nothing crazy. The reason I highlight the weight is because you really need to have a wheelbase with at least 12Nm of torque to retain high quality force feedback.
The stickers are premium quality but once you remove them, you’ll damage them. I did that with my ABS sticker and the kit doesn’t come with duplicates. I’d recommend practicing sticker application with a sticker that you’re definitely not going to use. It might be possible to safely remove a sticker with a hair dryer and some tweezers, but I only thought of that after I made a mess of it.
The cable for the DDU5 sits a little bit loosely into the housing. I’d love to see a neater and more elegant USB cable solution in the future.
10. Final Thought
I try to highlight issues or negatives with products, as well as the positives, so that you can make the most informed decision possible. The list of negatives is short here though. For the wheel, there’s the external power supply and control box which makes for a lot of cables and no true way to quick release this wheel. Then there’s the 7-way hats that I accidentally trigger in sharp corners. But that’s it… honestly this is just the pinnacle of screenless Steering Wheels for me. I love that it’s unique. I love that it has excessive functionality. I love the styling and ergonomics. The LEDs are glorious. This is a perfect VR wheel too. There’s so much functionality on this wheel that you don’t even need an additional button box. I didn’t expect a wheel to blow me away like this but it has. I’m honoured to be in a position to review this and I’m sure happy MPX owners will be quick to share their experiences in the comments.
The DDU5 is a simpler product, but it also stands out in a sea of sim racing dashes. It looks authentic and performs great. It’s not a touch screen but has a sea of stunning LEDs that can be tweaked to your every telemetry requirement. The USB cable connection is a little awkward. It makes it a little difficult to get the dash close to your monitors. I’d love if there was a way to raise and lower the dash easily and even a way to completely remove it when I don’t need it. It does cover part of your screen which is great while racing, but can be intrusive while trying to minimise an application. These problems are not unique to this dash and out of all the dashes I’ve ever used and reviewed, this is the cream of the crop. It’s absolutely glorious and even better when mated to the MPX.
Finally, While Grid is a relatively new brand to some of you, Sim-Lab is a worldwide household name. That gives me a lot of long term consumer confidence.
I hope that this review has been informative and if it has provided you value in your decision making process, I have included links in the description which when used earn some money for this channel. There’s no obligation to do so but your support is appreciated immensely. Details about other companies with similar benefits are also listed. I’m Laurence, I stream every Tuesday and Thursday at 9pm UK/Irish time. Thanks again to Grid by Sim-Lab for making this review possible and to you for taking the time to watch, hit the thumbs up or comment with your experiences or opinions. I’m Laurence, and I’ll chat to ye later