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Cube Controls CSX-3 – The Ultimate Formula Wheel for Advanced Sim Racers

Cube Controls CSX3

The Cube Controls CSX-3 sim steering wheel represents the pinnacle of sim racing wheel technology, catering to the discerning needs of experienced sim racers. Crafted with that familiar glossy carbon fibre faceplate and a meticulously hand-painted logo, the CSX-3 exemplifies the brand’s commitment to exceptional design and craftsmanship. I’ve always been a fan but then again I do own several of these wheels. Read into that whatever you like!


CSX-3 Close up

In this review will delve into the key aspects that make the CSX-3 stand out, including its ergonomic features, software compatibility (SimHub!!), button tactility, ease of use, and that impressive Vocore screen.

Design and Ergonomics

The CSX-3’s design is not only visually striking but Cube Controls have clearly continued their mission to optimise for enhanced ergonomics. The carefully sculpted shape of the wheel grip ensures a natural and comfortable feel, making precise control inputs during intense racing sessions a doddle. The button layout is strategically positioned for easy access, enabling rapid inputs without compromising grip or stability. That’s of course once you’ve come to terms with the button position, layout and the sheer number of assignability options.

Looks good in black and white, too
Looks good in black and white, too

Sim racers will appreciate the thoughtfully designed CSX-3, which integrates well with their setup and, if you’re a Formula or GT driver you’ll notice it’s comfortable for extended periods of use.

Software and Customisation

Thanks to SimHub (which we’ll look at in a moment) getting started is easy. It’s best (in my opinion) to start with Cubeset – Cube Controls configuration and calibration software. When you download the package, no installation is necessary, simply open the Cubeset executable and get started.

Cubeset for CSX-3 - calibrate the lower clutch paddles from this page
Cubeset for CSX-3 – calibrate the lower clutch paddles from this page

Most of your time will be spend briefly calibrating and setting the RGB to your taste:

Cubeset configuring the RGB settings on the CSX-3
Cubeset configuring the RGB settings on the CSX-3

The area to really pay attention to, though, is the paddle calibration. Get this right now and you’ll have no problems in game – but the calibration process does have to run to enable all of the features of this wheel.

Paddle calibration for the CSX-3

Quoting from page 24 of the manual:

On the PADDLES page, you have the CLUTCHES section and the SHIFTERS section. In the
CLUTCHES section, you can enable/disable the clutches and the Bite Point. For the Bite Point, you will also be able to select the Slave Clutch to be the Left or the Right one and then limit the percentage for it. In the SHIFTERS section, you will be able to Calibrate automatically the shifters to ensure full compatibility!

Paddle close-up - beautifully anodised sections with a ball race bearing
Paddle close-up – beautifully anodised sections with a ball race bearing

It’s really quite easy but worth following the procedure set in the manual to avoid any potential concerns later on. One final point you ought to follow before going racing – use the firmware updater in Cubeset as (I understand it) the CSX-3 has had several firmware revisions – it best to make sure you’re running the latest one:

Firmware update: very easy with the CSX-3, Cubeset downloads the patch and installs for you
Firmware update: very easy with the CSX-3, Cubeset downloads the patch and installs it for you

Once you’ve got the wheel set properly in Cubeset, adding the CSX-3 as a device in SimHub is very, very easy. Open SimHub, click “Devices” and the CSX-3 is in the list. That’s it, you’re done and ready to race.

(just by the way – you can select whichever SimHub-compatible dashboard you prefer. I spent my testing time using my favourite TWF dash.

Mounted and running TWF dash
Mounted and running TWF dash

That’s the brilliant thing with this new generation of wheels – they’re all using Vocore screens which is what the vast majority of dashboard developers are happy using. It’s fully supported by SimHub – so everything just works!

Button Tactility and Functionality

The buttons on the CSX-3 have that lovely feel of tactility and responsiveness, certainly catering to the demands of seasoned sim racers. Each button press delivers a satisfying tactile feedback click, providing a heightened sense of control and precision. The placement and accessibility of the buttons are meticulously engineered to facilitate effortless inputs, even during high-pressure racing scenarios.

The rubber outer guides on the buttons aid in finger indexing, ensuring accurate and consistent inputs during intense gameplay. Beyond their exceptional tactility, the buttons boast additional functionalities such as rotary encoders, multi-directional encoders, backlit buttons, and RPM lights. These features broaden the wheel’s capabilities, allowing for a range of functions and customization possibilities tailored to individual racing preferences.

The Technical Stuff

The Cube Controls CSX-3 sim steering wheel provides technical specifications that clearly cater to the needs of demanding sim racing enthusiasts. With a wheel diameter of 282mm, the CSX-3 provides a substantial and immersive racing experience, especially for Formula drivers allowing for precise control and realistic handling.

The wheel features a 4-inch VoCore touch screen with an 800×400 resolution, providing a clear and vibrant display for crucial information during races. The Vocore screens are always very vibrant and colourful – something I really appreciate. The native SimHub support ensures seamless integration with popular racing software, so provided you’ve selected your dash in the CSX-3 config screen in SimHub, you’re good to go racing.

Details across the wheel are exquisite
Details across the wheel are exquisite

In terms of construction, the CSX-3 showcases that well-known Cube Controls craftsmanship. Its glossy carbon face plate, with a thickness of 5mm, not only adds to the wheel’s aesthetic appeal but also enhances its strength and durability. The die-cast aluminium body further reinforces its robustness, ensuring a solid and reliable performance during intense racing sessions. The inclusion of the QCONN magnetic connection system simplifies the setup process, allowing for quick and secure attachment to your PC without the worry of damaging a USB port in an extreme event. QCONN has really grown on me – it’s a great solution.

Huge assignability
Huge assignability

The CSX-3 incorporates an array of programmable buttons and switches. There are a lot! With two 7-way “funky switches” (we’re supposed to say multi-directional rotary encoder), users can effortlessly navigate menus and execute various commands, adding versatility to their control options. The wheel also features 17 programmable RGB LED rev/flag lights, enabling racers to receive visual cues and feedback for RPM levels, flag notifications, and other vital racing indicators. Additionally, the CSX-3 includes 12 momentary buttons with programmable backlights, allowing for quick access to frequently used functions. Two toggle switches offer convenient control over various in-game features or car settings.

Top view and ready to mount with SQR hub
Top view and ready to mount with SQR hub

To further expand customization possibilities, the CSX-3 incorporates four front rotary encoders and four rotary thumb encoders. These encoders provide precise control over adjustable parameters such as brake bias, traction control, or fuel mixture, empowering users to fine-tune their racing setup to suit their preferences. The combination of these encoders ensures a comprehensive and intuitive control scheme, facilitating seamless adjustments during races. The version I had in for testing had 6 paddles on the rear (two analogue clutch, and 4 hall sensing/neodymium magnetic).

Ease of Use

Despite the advanced looks, the CSX-3 is user-friendly, from installation to operation. The setup process is streamlined thanks to Cubeset, allowing users to quickly get the wheel up and running without unnecessary complications. Calibration and configuration are reasonably intuitive, with user-friendly controls and menus that facilitate seamless navigation and customization. The only thing I’ll point out is avoid calibration at your peril! This seems to be the cause of most online user issues, just follow the steps outlined in the manual and you’ll be fine.

Driving with the CSX-3 is a joy
Driving with the CSX-3 is a joy

Once you’re comfortable with it, the CSX-3 eliminates unnecessary distractions, allowing racers to focus solely on their driving skills and strategy. I like it.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Exceptional Design and Craftsmanship: The wheel features a glossy carbon fibre faceplate and a meticulously hand-painted logo, showcasing Cube Controls’ commitment to high-quality design.
  • Ergonomic Features: The wheel grip is sculpted for a natural and comfortable feel, with a button layout that is strategically positioned for easy access during intense racing sessions.
  • Software Compatibility and Customization: Easy integration with SimHub and Cube Controls’ own Cubeset software for configuration and calibration, enhancing the user experience.
  • Impressive Vocore Screen: The 4-inch Vocore touch screen offers a clear and vibrant display, fully supported by SimHub for seamless integration.
  • Button Tactility and Functionality: Buttons provide satisfying tactile feedback with additional functionalities like rotary encoders, multi-directional encoders, backlit buttons, and RPM lights.
  • Technical Specifications: The wheel is designed with a 282mm diameter, a 4-inch Vocore touch screen, and a glossy carbon faceplate for durability and a realistic racing experience.
  • Ease of Use: User-friendly setup and calibration process with Cubeset, ensuring a straightforward experience for users.

Cons:

  • Complex Calibration Process: The calibration process is crucial and must be followed as per the manual to avoid potential issues, which might be challenging for some users.
  • Premium Price Tag: Reflects its high-end positioning, which might not be accessible to all sim racers.

Issues Other Reviewers Found to be a Problem:

  • Screen Design: Som reviewers preferred the screen design of the previous model (CSX2), noting that the CSX3’s screen bevel and recess could be potential issues. The recessed screen and prominent bezels housing the LEDs can obstruct the view of the top of the screen, especially in a GT seating position, making it slightly out of line of sight.
  • Grip Material: The grips on the CSX3, while almost identical in shape to the CSX2, are made of a harder wearing rubber, offering less grip and a minimal sponge effect. This could make them slightly more difficult to grip initially, although in my opinion, you soon forget the difference and the new elastomer formula used in the grip design is really nice.
  • Button Stickers: Previous models had issues with button stickers coming loose or moving over time. The CSX3 addresses this by reducing the space between the button and its raised surround, making it necessary to press the middle of the button and preventing the stickers from moving.
  • Rotary Encoders: The CSX3 replaced the 8-position rotary switches of the CSX2 with rotary encoders, which may disappoint users who relied on the specific functionality of the rotary switches for precise control inputs like engine map presets.
  • Thumb Rotaries and Scroll Wheels: The spacing in the grooves of the thumb rotaries and scroll wheels is considered too large, leading to an inconsistent scrolling experience. The reviewer preferred the shape of these components on the CSX2.
  • Toggle Switches: The two toggle switches are backlit in green, which the reviewer was not keen on, and they are not customizable in the software.
  • Clutch Bite Point Adjustment: The CSX3 no longer allows for on-the-fly hardware adjustments of the clutch bite point, a feature that was highly appreciated in the previous models.

The Cube Controls CSX-3 sim steering wheel represents another example of excellent execution in the world of sim racing. Its sleek design, impeccable ergonomics, and advanced features cater to the needs of experienced sim racers. The CSX-3’s extensive software compatibility, button tactility, ease of use, and Vocore screen display contribute to an immersive and user-friendly experience making this a very nice wheel to own indeed!

Rear view: Universal hub and paddles
Rear view: Universal hub and paddles

While its premium price tag reflects its high-end positioning, the CSX-3 delivers exceptional value to those who prioritize outstanding ergonomics and a truly customizable racing experience. For sim racers seeking the ultimate racing wheel, the Cube Controls CSX-3 is an investment worth considering, and it deserves pride of place on our steering wheel buyer’s guide.


Cube Controls CSX-3 – The Ultimate Formula Wheel for Advanced Sim Racers

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