VPG Elemento Pro Review
Nothing says “I’ve made it” in sim racing like a steering wheel with a screen in it. At least, that’s how many of us feel. A large number of people race in VR nowadays so this product isn’t directly aimed at them. I actually feel like there are two distinct hobbies when it comes to sim racing. The first one is the actual racing. The second one, is upgrading our hardware. Today, we focus mainly on the latter. This is the VPG Elemento Pro steering wheel which I was lucky enough to be allowed to borrow from vpgsim.co.uk for the past couple of weeks. I’m Laurence, welcome to the channel.
Product link: https://vpgsim.co.uk/viewer.php?id=1
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For most of us, hardware like this is a dream. That makes it all the more special thought. You don’t really need to own one to appreciate what it is or what it means to our hobby. However, this is a review and I have the difficult task of assessing whether this product is worth £1250 GBP of your hard earned cash. That’s over €1800 after you convert to euros and pay customs or import duties. As such, it needs to be reviewed accordingly.
- First impressions
I love these presentation cases. Ever since I first reviewed a Rosso Sim Racing steering wheel back in 2020, I wished that every rim would be this nicely presented. However, those cases themselves are relatively cheap and at this price point, I expect details. So I absolutely love the VPG logo on the front of the case. It doesn’t necessarily need to be there, but I’m glad it is. It gave me a great first impression. Coupled with the crushed carbon and sleek integration of the screen, presentation couldn’t be much better.
I will analyze all the various aspects of this wheel in more detail but my first impressions of this rim were good. The grips were not as grippy as I expected. There was some play in the buttons but nothing of concern. To be honest, it’s difficult to receive a product like this and not be filled with excitement and anticipation. This wheel is significantly lighter than many of its competitors.
The stickers on this review sample don’t look very good. I’m speaking specifically about the white edge along the sticker which I’m told is due to the thickness that they used to use for their UV reflective stickers. When paying this much for a wheel, I’d be a little disappointed with this finish, to be honest. the UV does look great under a blacklight though. I raised this issue with them and they assured me that it’s not a cutting quality issue. However, as a consumer, I don’t really care what the cause is, I’d just prefer if it wasn’t there. The print beside the thumb rotaries is beautiful though and also fully customisable.
- Installation – Hardware
Installing a quick release was relatively simple. They allow for 50.8mm and 70mm QR fitments using a nice lightweight carbon construction. I installed a CAMMUS quick release as that’s the wheelbase I’m currently reviewing, but this QR is the same style of QR, albeit not identical to the NRG/D1 spec quick release. I got some really funky little carbon fibre spanners with this kit which were a nice little touch. It also came with plenty of spare stickers for further customisation but I didn’t install any of these as this isn’t my steering wheel.
The USB cable is great. It’s very high quality, nicely coiled and that connector would need serious convincing to come loose accidentally. My one gripe would be that they USB cable is a little bit short at just under 60cm. It does extend under tension but many people will not have a USB port within 60cm of their wheelbase. I had a USB extension cable lying around and it gave me the extra length I needed.
I run 3 powered USB hubs on my rig and 2 of them didn’t register the LEDs on the steering wheel properly. Luckily, the third has no issue and I’m still unsure as to why this issue presented itself. The LEDs are useful and ultra clear. The screen itself is vibrant and has really nice animations which are subtle but really do set it apart from many other dash setups.
Finally, the layout and colours of materials and backlights that you see here are very configurable when you order your steering wheel.
- Installation – Software
This was the weakest point of this steering wheel and didn’t give me a great impression at first. However, Manny from VPG is super helpful and offers every buyer a 20 minute 1 to 1 session to get set up, should they need it. And I needed it with the old software. The reason I’m speaking in the past tense here is because Manny instantly went to the drawing board to implement improvement suggestions that I had made. And as if that wasn’t enough, we spent quite some time brainstorming the user experience and he streamlined it significantly. This software is not yet complete so I don’t have the latest build, but I do have to send back this steering wheel. I did get an intermediate version of the software and it’s a HUGE improvement.
So I’ll concentrate on the things that will remain the same. Firstly, this steering wheel uses a Nextion screen. The major benefit of this is that it can leverage simhub to do all the funky things that simhub allows us to do for Vocore or USBD480 screens. However, one advantage of Nextion is that it exposes lots of extra functionality like being able to control the backlighting on the buttons or being able to adjust your paddle clutch bite point without other third party software. With the default setup from VPG you get lots of built in flag box style functionality and also flashing rows of lights representing ‘spotter’ like behaviour warning you or cars on your left or right.
Unfortunately, there are also some limitations. You do need a dedicated VPG piece of software, but only when changing your dashboard to a custom layout.
- Buttons & Rotaries
The buttons on this wheel are very functional. There’s a bit of play in them which is noticeable visually, but not really an issue. When you order your steering wheel you need to specify the colours that you want on your buttons as unfortunately, they’re not currently configurable via software. that’s why mine are bright blue here. You can easily adjust their brightness in simhub though. With 9 buttons, there’s plenty of functionality on this wheel. Do bear in mind that none of the rotary switches or encoders have click down buttonlike functionality.
The buttons are beautifully within reach on this steering wheel which makes them very easy to find without looking. They’re spaced out very naturally and I had a lot of confidence that I wasn’t accidentally going to turn on my pit limiter while flashing blue flag drivers.
You can decide when ordering if you want rotary encoders or rotary switches. A rotary encoder is ideal for things like brake bias where you just want to increase or decrease the value by 1 click. A rotary switch allows you to specify exact values like traction control level 3 or precise engine maps/modes without needing to look for visual feedback in your sim.
Anyways, that’s a tangent. These Rotary dials are incredible. I’m told that they’re proper automotive grade components and it does show. There was no expense spared here as the detent is clinical and rewarding. Other than not having click down functionality, I can’t fault them at all. There are 7 rotary encoders on this device which was more than I needed, to be honest. They’re very nice to use.
- 5 way hat
These directional hats are the main thing that you’ll never find on a real race car but they have become pretty essential on a simulation setup. This one in particular is very nice. It’s easy to feel even when wearing gloves and it’s pretty clear in its inputs largely due to the extra height that they have added to the little joystick. The wheel would look prettier if this was lower, but I’m delighted that they prioritised the functionality here as I didn’t really realise that I was missing this clarity from other steering wheels. As well as 4 directional inputs, there’s a click down function but no rotary functionality. I must say, this is a great design and very easy to use.
- Shifters and Clutch paddles
The shifters and clutch paddles feature more beautiful high quality crushed carbon fiber. For some, the shifters may be a little bit small but I didn’t have any issues while using them. I never suffered any mis-shifts and one thing that really stood out was that these shifters are significantly quieter than many of its competitors. Some people love loud shifters but these shifters still give great feeling as well as being nicely audibly dampened.
The clutch paddles are pretty small too but have a nice weight to them. One thing that I really like is that the throw can be easily adjusted even without the need for tools. When I got them in their default configuration the travel was huge. I was easily able to set up the right clutch paddle throw for my preference. Once set up, launches were very enjoyable and the ability to adjust them on the fly was very useful, albeit quite unintuitive and a bit bulky. To adjust the clutch bite point or calibrate them, you must turn off simhub first. This can be very confusing to a new user.
The grips on this steering wheel help to give it such a unique look. Where many steering wheels are replicas of real life wheels, this is a product made specifically for sim racing. However, I did find the grips a little bit small for my liking, and I have pretty small hands. I don’t necessarily mean that the grips should be taller, but I prefer thicker grips than this. Grips are very subjective though, so please don’t let this be a deal breaker. I just didn’t really feel like my hands were making as much connection with the grip as I would like them to. They weren’t as ergonomically shaped as some of the competitors. This, coupled with the ultra hard and slippy material of the grips, it made them quite difficult to hang on to at times, especially in very high downforce cars and high force feedback levels. So much so that sometimes I found myself adjusting my grip mid corner. I did get more used to it over time but when switching back to other rims, I did notice that thicker grips suited me a lot better.
Again, this is just my opinion and I have been told that usually customers absolutely love them, so feel free to discard my thoughts about these grips.
This screen is vibrant and features really nice animations when switching between dashes. The data seemed to be very consistent with the on screen data across all the sims that I use. I like the way the screen is somewhat hidden underneath a larger transparent area. This gives a sense of space and a really nice futuristic design. I really have no complaints about the screen or screen quality. However, the number of dashes and the difficulty in installing third party dashes is a bit of a barrier for some. As mentioned, the software has improved greatly but it’s still not an intuitive experience. Once it’s all working though, it’s beautiful and useful. One thing that I would say though is that having a screen on the center of your steering wheel may be less practical than some may think. I have my rig set up in a GT style seating position and in certain sims I found it easier to look at my in game HUD rather than looking down at the screen on the Elemento Pro. I would recommend a product like this mainly to those with a very low seating position.
- Final thought
Having spent several weeks with this steering wheel, I’ve been able to change my opinions several times on some key issues. The biggest one being the price. This item is bespoke and comes with a level of 1 to 1 service that most companies simply cannot offer. You are buying hand built quality here, made by the very people who designed and brought these products to market. The hardware is as good as, if not better build quality than any other comparable product that I have used. Ultimately, although I have disposable income, I’m not sure I could ever justify spending €1800 on a steering wheel rim. That said, a few years ago I would have said that about most of the hardware that I now own, so it’s all relative. This product is for the dreamers and those who are achieving their dreams. It’s for the people who would rather spend this money on a steering wheel for their sim setup than a holiday or a track day in a race car. It’s not for everyone and it’s not supposed to be. Much like your favourite supercar, you don’t necessarily need to own one to enjoy it.
The software and configuration is a bit clunky and unintuitive, but this is offset by exceptional customer service which includes 1 to 1 sessions with the owners to help you to get the most out of your hardware.
I’d love to have had time to try the additional upcoming software improvements but I trust that they take a lot of the churn out of the setup of this device. I’m delighted to have been able to contribute to the progression and evolution of this product and to make it a nicer experience to own one. Unfortunately, I need to send this product back now so this is not as long term as most of my long term reviews. However, in that time I think I’ve unlocked all the secrets that it has to offer and I’ve been able to enjoy using it on my Tuesday and Thursday streams.
I’m Laurence, thank you very much for watching this review, and I’ll chat to ye later.