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Test Drive: SIMAGIC GT NEO Review

SIMAGIC GT NEO

SIMAGIC’s GT NEO is, judged by price alone, a game changer for sim racing wheels. Priced at $269/£245.83, this wheel is 5 times less expensive than premium-priced units. Surely, there’s a compromise? What’s the catch? That I can find, there isn’t a catch.

Today, I’m closely examining the GT NEO, from SIMAGIC.


I’ve had my eye on the GT Neo for several months now, so, when I finally got the opportunity to lay my hands on one, I couldn’t say no. Fast forward to today and I’ve just jumped out of the sim after another session with the GT Neo attached to my Simucube 2 Pro – convinced that this is the best budget sim racing wheel on offer by far.

SIMAGIC are a relative newcomer to the sim racing stage, but they’ve approached establishing themselves in the right way. Through partnerships, accreditations, community outreach and sim racing series sponsorship.

They’re a startup masterclass, that appears to be targeting the mid to higher end of sim racing with surprisingly budget pricing. Their direct drive wheels are servo motor based direct drive units that are eerily comparable to Simucube’s 2 series units.

SIMAGIC GT NEO boxed

What’s in the Box?



  • Simagic GT Neo steering wheel
  • Simagic QR50 quick release (pre-installed on the wheel)
  • USB Cable
  • Allen key and Tweezers
  • User manual
  • Sticker sheet for customizing button labels

The wheel is manufactured with a composite shell and a plate mounted hub adapter. After taking some initial photography, I set about removing the plate ready to install the supplied MAGLINK adapter, and of course an SQR hub for my Simucube.

GT NEO (rear) with QR50 hub pre-installed
GT NEO (rear) with QR50 hub pre-installed

Installation

I have the MAGLINK adapter, which replaces the standard USB-C mount plate with a magnetic adapter, similar in concept to the QCONN from Cube Controls.



maglink box and cables with replacement hub adapter plate
Maglink box and cables with replacement hub adapter plate

Installation is reasonably simple, firstly remove the existing plate with the QR50 hub attached:

QR50 hub removed

Whatever hub you’re using, it’s mounted from the inside of the place using countersunk M5 bolts. My SQR hub mounted perfectly to the plate, although I had to find some nuts as my hub extension isn’t threaded:



SQR hub to MAGLINK plate mounting in progress
SQR hub to MAGLINK plate mounting in progress

Be sure to attach the USB connector to the wheel’s internal PCD before screwing the plate in place:

SQR hub fitted to SIMAGIC GT NEO
SQR hub fitted to SIMAGIC GT NEO

Once the hub is mounted to the wheel, you’re ready for software setup.

The GT NEO is SimHub compatible and it’s supported by SIMAGIC’s SimPro Manager. There’s less functionality to manage the wheel available in SimHib, with the key difference being clutch calibration. This is only available in SimPro Manager:

SimPro Manager
SimPro Manager

As you might see in the screenshot above, SimPro manager immediately detects the GT NEO once installed. Here’s the device setup screen:

device manager in simpro manager

By default, the clutch is calibrated. Each paddle offers a 50% clutch activation, so depressing both gives you 100%. As the two paddles are calibrated to exactly 50%, it doesn’t matter which one you release at launch. Naturally, if you adjust the balance between the two you’ll need to plan for which paddle you release first.

Remembering the price of the wheel, this is a lot of software support for the money!

Simhub is very familiar to all of us, and I was pleased when I discovered SimHub supports the GT NEO:

SimHub supported device

While the clutch calibration feature is missing in SimHub, I’d argue that the scope to customise the RGB effects is more powerful in SimHub. As you don’t need SimPro manager running to support the GT NEO there’s no reason not to use both pieces of software to take advantage of a broader range of customisation features.

SimHub setup: GT NEO
SimHub setup: GT NEO

Materials

The composite manufacturing is very nice. When composites in wheel body manufacture entered the scene, the initial response from sim racers was not a positive one. However, the unavoidable truth of composites is that they can be created to be stiffer than aluminium.

As I’ve covered in depth in the Cube Controls GTX-2 review, composite wheel bodies have a higher Modulus than aluminium. The result is a more communicative FFB experience. In the case of the GT NEO, this is true – it does an excellent job of communicating the FFB from my Simucube. Unlike the GTX-2, it doesn’t handle the higher frequencies quite so well but the performance is very impressive nonetheless.

I’ve tested sim racing wheels that are 3 times the price of the GT NEO that wouldn’t stack up in comparison.

The build quality and materials then, are very impressive. The composite has a nice, carbon look to it:

GT NEO closeup - carbon look is very nice

All of the buttons and rotaries feel perfectly acceptable at this price point, they’re within easy reach during use and the RGB illumination looks good throughout. Nothing about interacting with the push buttons, joysticks and rotaries feels “cheap”. Quite the opposite in fact.

The overall sturdiness of the wheel is astonishing. It feels very stiff in the hand and as I said earlier, communicates FFB very well. The PU used in the rubber grips is also quite stiff, which I didn’t like quite so much. There’s a point where the stiffness starts to feel tiring to hold on to; I think SIMAGIC could improve the grip material and design to reduce fatigue.

Paddles

The paddles on the rear feature aluminium bodies and paddles. While they’re a little stiffer than I’m used to they feel really good to use. They’re not too noisy either – a problem that composite bodied wheels normally suffer greatly from.

Conclusion

I’m not in the least bit surprised this wheel is sold out (almost everywhere I look!). For the money, it’s a huge amount of wheel. For formula racers, in particular, the 300mm diameter and high stiffness screams out for a spirited IndyCar or F3 drive.

Simagic GT NEO
SIMAGIC GT NEO: Buy here

I’m not sure it’s possible to create a better wheel at this price point. In a blind test if you told me this wheel was closer to $750 I’d probably believe you.


Test Drive: SIMAGIC GT NEO Review

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