Simagic M10 review
In January, i released my eagerly anticipated Simagic M10 review, and with record numbers of views, it certainly hit the mark.
Transcript from video
Intro In this video I’m going to be reviewing the Simagic dynamic m10 direct drive wheel base along with the Simagic dynamic GT1 wheel rim. This is the first review in Europe and one of the first Reviews outside of China, where this product has been designed and manufactured. This is the same exact steering wheel that gamermuscle used in his recent first impressions video, where he was left with a good overall impression. At the time of this video, this is currently the only one in europe. But that’s all about to change. Let’s start the in depth review, and see how I feel about it after a month of use.
On the left you see all the sections in this video. If there’s a specific topic that you want to jump to or revisit, check out the description below. While you’re down there, be sure to to hit The thumbs up, and subscribe. If you enjoy this video, I’ve got plenty more like it lined up, so feel free to hit the little bell icon so that you get a notification when I release a new video.
DisclaimerI am simply a YouTube Sim Racer. The views expressed are mine, and I am by no means an expert on Direct Drive, the history of Simagic or the products of their competitors. I am not an employee of Simagic, and intend to review and compare similar competing products in the future, given the opportunity. However, for the purposes of this review, I am simply speaking from the position of a belt driven wheel owner who has never been able to justify the leap in costs to direct drive before.
About Simagic Simagic was Established in 2017They Started shipping the M10 in 2018And are currently gearing up for a Worldwide launch of the m10 in Q1 of 2020, which is only a couple of weeks away. You have never heard of them because Facebook and google and YouTube and the likes are all blocked in China, so social media hasn’t allowed this product to travel to the rest of the world. Simagic is very proud of what it has achieved over the past few years and feels that their products are now ready for the world stage. Their goal is not only to provide affordable direct drive, but also to create a clear upgrade path for users who are loyal to their thrustmaster and logitech devices.
HOW MUCH Note that the following prices exclude shipping and taxes.
The complete package is going to cost you less than $900, £800 gbp or €925. That’s for the base including the GT1 round rim.
If that’s still out of your price rance, the wheel base alone is going to retail for less than $599 USD. That’s less than 600 euro, or 550 gbp. You can get a quick release hub for €30 and usb convert your existing fanatec or thrustmaster rim.
Now that we know a bit more about the price, let’s see what we get for that.
WheelBase – the wheelbase is a 10Nm torque motor. it is a hybrid stepper servo motor with three phases, similar simexperience accuforce v2’s 2 phase hybrid stepper. While more phases provides better balance, the accuforce v2 does have a higher peak torque rating. The m10 has a true wireless connectivity plate and a more compact form factor than the fanatec offerings. The USB port on the barrel only supports power unfortunately, which isn’t much use unless you’re powering a wireless wheel. So your non wireless aftermarket wheel will need to be plugged into the PC rather than the wheelbase. It Comes with brackets and bolts for fitting to your rig, we’ll chat more about that in the setup section. You get a neat little adapter which allows you to plug in your logitech shifter and pedals, without needing your wheel base plugged in. That’s a nice little addition, as loyal Logitech owners are likely to be tempted by this high end package. I haven’t tested this adapter for the purposes of this review, but setting it up seems relatively straight forward.
There’s no noise! The Simagic m10 has no fan whatsoever, just simply a cooling vent at the rear and metal fins at the side of the housing. Even during prolonged use, it remained very cool to the touch. Simagic told me that they can get more power out of this motor if they add a fan unit, but that would increase the size and the number of moving parts in this device.
Force FeedbackThe force feedback is strong. Not as strong as some competitors, but more than strong enough to pull the steering wheel rim out of your hands, regardless of how good your grip is. Of course, strength isn’t everything. What people really care about is the fidelity. That’s where this wheelbase really surprised me, as I got very clear feedback from it even before i started tweaking the settings. At very very slow rotation speeds, while sitting in the pits, you can just about feel the steps of the stepper motor. I could only notice it when I wasn’t driving. Once I was on track, the wheel is as smooth as silk. They’ve really done a good job here. It would be very difficult for me to tell this apart from other DD rims that i’ve used, including all the well known offerings.
The wireless contact plate provides power to the wheel rim. The Simagic GT1 steering wheel buttons and switches work over a 2.4ghz wireless signal. There’s no pairing or connecting required. This is a very tidy, compact and neat solution. You can connect and disconnect the rim without needing to cut off the power, which makes for a really nice experience.
Which brings us nicely to our next section.
GT1 Wheel Rim – there will be 2 models available: the one pictured which is a high quality leather round wheel, as well as a flat bottomed alcantara versions which I did not get to test. Both use the same impressive button plate which features true wireless communication with the wheel base, backlit buttons and a proper quick release. The rear of the hand grip features really nice dimpling which makes the wheel very easy to hold and catch. This is the type of detail that makes a steering wheel feel great to use. The button plate features a total of 12 functions, from toggles switches to rotary switches and of course, some very premium backlit push buttons. This section excludes the gear paddles, which i’ll cover in a minute.
The 4 push buttons are backlit RED. They have a nice amount of travel and an extremely satisfying click. Unfortunately, you can’t change the colour of the LEDs with the GT1 rim, but there are 4 different modes, on and off and Slow and fast flashing modes.
The rotary encoders register one input when you step to the left and another when you step to the right. There are 12 positions for the encoders but much like most competitors, there aren’t 12 different inputs per rotary knob. You do however have the ability to push the knob down, which I found especially handy for things like ignition or starting the engine.
The toggle at the top right is the only functional one of the two, featuring up and down inputs. The left one is simply to change the ‘mode’ of the wheel rim. Changing the mode allows you to make changes on the fly without needing to exit your game. Although I did try this functionality, I didn’t particularly feel like I needed it as the Race Manager software is so easy to use. More about that later.
I’m not sure how I feel about having the rotation degrees printed on the steering wheel rim. I think it would be cleaner without them. I know it’s for setup but it takes away from the looks a little bit.
There’s a handy USB port on the back Of the button plate m so that you can fit this rim to any wheelbase. It comes with the tools to take the whole thing apart. This gives a nice indication to the user that they are encouraged to make the most of the products by adjusting and modifying to suit their needs. If you get into trouble with the rim, there’s a reset sequence available. I won’t go into detail on that right now as I’m sure it will be released in future documentation. I’ve only needed to do that reset sequence once and it takes 20 seconds to do. One of the gear shifters got stuck on for a while. I wouldn’t like for this to happen in game but it’s not the end of the world by any means.
In future, there will be also an option to add paddle clutches to the button plate, which would be a lovely addition.
The gear shifters have a very Nice feel, made mainly from carbon fibre. There’s some Adjustability im the paddles for your personal preference. Overall, the unit gives confident magnetic gear changes. I’d like if they were less loud. I play on headphones while the kids are asleep and while my wife watches TV. I’m probably going to try to modify the paddles to be less loud during gear change. I think that there will be a range of different aftermarket and 3d printable paddle options in the near future, as Simagic have made their system very modular and seem to invite modification and customisation which is pretty exciting.
Quick release The quick release technology used is commonly found in road and track cars. As you can see I was actually able to attach my quick release wheels from my road cars, without any issues or modification. This is the first proper quick release system that I’ve used on a sim racing product. I’ve used many products which are advertised as ‘quick release’ but they require releasing locking collars and in some cases, unnatural force to release. And they’re definitely not anywhere near as quick or easy as the Simagic. Changing wheels on the Simagic is very satisfying. Watch, and listen for that CLUNK.
As mentioned before, aftermarket wheels can be fitted, provided the QR system fits the Simagic. The pattern is a fairly common standard and can be bought on eBay, wish, etc.
There’s no flex in this unit, or the rim. As you can see, i gave it some unnatural tests that it probably wasn’t designed for, but it was rock solid. The materials used are the exact materials that you might find in a real track prepared race car. Very heavy, very rewarding build quality. Again, having a truly wireless system with this ease of use, is a game changer in sim racing.
Hardware setupBrackets and various mounting bolts are provided with the wheel. Personally, I didn’t like the brackets. They take away from the look of the product. They also elevate the wheel base more than they need to. Despite having lots of mounting holes pre drilled in my Simetik k2 rig, none of them lined up with either the base mount holes or the brackets supplied. I also tried these on simlabs wheel base plates and couldn’t find a nice simple way to mount it. This is a major missed opportunity i think. However, if you like using slot nuts on an 80/20 rig, you’re going to love this thing as the slot nuts slide right into the profile at the side.
I wanted to use the bottom mount points so drilled my Simetik wheel plate and now the steering wheel looks the way it should, with no clutter. I’d like to see them improve these brackets over time and potentially make them line up with other popular fitting patterns to make installation easier.
The wheel base only needs a USB B connection to your PC, as well as plugging into the compact power transformer. I was surprised that this power adapter was actually lighter and more practical than Thrustmaster’s quirky power supply. I received a chinese plug with my unit, I do hope that they’ll provide native plug adapters with the product when they start shipping worldwide in February. Although this is a simple kettle lead, there’s a handy inline switch which allows me to power down the wheel when I don’t need it. the LED lights probably don’t use a lot of power, so it’s probably ok to leave it powered on 24/7. For now, i like the novelty of turning on my steering wheel using a switch. Should you have issues with the wheel base, there’s a reset button on the rear of the unit which is worth trying as a first port of call.
When I plugged it all in, it immediately recognised ‘Simagic’ and I was able to press buttons on the wheel and have them recognised in game, without even installing the race control software.
Software setupThe Simagic M10 needs a software package called Race manager. I’ve linked to that software package in the description below.
I drove many sims, cars and tracks and wasn’t met with any major issues with setup, game support, etc. This was very much a plug and play experience. As I say, It even worked without the race manager software, but obviously allowed me to fine tune the behaviour with the software, which is very user friendly. I’ve watched installation videos and heard stories about setting up direct drive, and some people have lost countless hours just trying to get set up. I was up and running in minutes, even before i understood the broad range of settings. I was able to race straight away and it didn’t even feel bad without any setup. Obviously I’ve been tweaking these settings over time, and if there’s enough interest, I’ll do a video sharing these settings with you all.
Documentation: simple, well laid out pdf file. It would be nice if it mentioned the troubleshooting sequences, should you need them.
Overall qualityThe wheel base is powder coated in a matte grey finish. This is relatively durable but I did manage to scratch the unit with the brackets when I installed we installed it on a rig when we took it to Autosport International. I would recommend being super careful during installation as any scratches will probably be very difficult to hide.
There’s Carbon fibre everywhere. The wheel rim, the wheel base, even in places that you won’t be looking at. This gives a real premium feel and it is not at all what I expected from a product like this, which I assumed would have spent its whole budget on the wheelbase. Despite the carbon fibre, the steering wheel rim weighs over 2kg, which is remarkably heavy for a sim racing rim.
I have this wheel about a month now. I’ve used it a lot, both online and offline, and ok various sim titles. That includes 4 intense days of abuse from the public at a tradeshow where it was running 10 hours a day. During this time, I did need to reset the steering wheel rim once, as one of the gear shifter paddles was registering a press when in its default position. I have never needed to do this reset sequence at home, but when I contacted Simagic, they sent me video instruction on how to fix the issue. This gives a good insight to their support, and also the quality of the product. We cannot forget that although this is a new product to us, they’ve been selling and supporting and evolving them in China since the middle of 2018. Don’t be surprised if you see a whole Simagic ecosystem in the coming years.
Final thought The steering wheel rim impressed me a lot. They could have skimped in quality here to make a better profit margin but they didn’t. And although this rim isn’t quite as luxurious as a cube controls GT rim, it gets very close. It eclipses what you get as standard with Logitech, thrustmaster or even fanatec offerings. It has great weight and doesn’t feel plasticky at all.
It was only when I put my dished nardi on the wheel base that I really noticed how much power this unit has, and how much control it has over that power. I’m Extremely impressed with the performance even with oversized rims and extended drift and grip sessions.
This means that I can also mount the Simagic wheel in my real life road car! That might make for an interesting video!!!
Although I like the grey, it wouldn’t be my first choice. I think it might have looked better in black. When I asked Simagic about the colours they determined from user research that the black was very somber and made it look like all of its competitors. I was apprehensive but when I fitted it to my rig, the grey still looked good with my black/red colour scheme. There’s no denying that the design is very attractive from front to back, where they’ve even used carbon fibre to house the rear ports.
There’s no console support unfortunately, which may be a missed opportunity. I do know that console licensing fees are huge and might just be too much for a smaller company to absorb at this time.
The official Simagic website isn’t up and running yet, which is causing lots of issues. Even if their website just had a list of authorised resellers, it would be a good start. I’ve seen lots of people ask about warranty. Symagic assures me that their Warranty is exactly what you have come to expect from all the other major brands like logitech, fanatec, thrustmaster, simexperience, etc.
It’s obvious that Simagic is positioning themselves to take on the simexperience accuforce v2, with their true wireless technology, higher quality steering wheel rim, 3 phase hybrid stepper servo motor and aggressive price point. The accuforce does have higher torque figures. I have no Long term experience with the accuforce v2 yet, but I think the only true comparison is to try them side by side. One thing is certain though, and that’s that it is with open arms that the sim racing community welcomes another Direct Drive player into the market. More competition will only benefit us all in the long run…
I’m Laurence, thanks so much for watching and I’ll chat to you later.