Long known as a game peripheral company that mixes one part style and one part performance, Saitek has resurfaced on the fast track with their latest iteration of their force feedback racing wheel, the R440. As big fans of their Cyborg Evo joystick, we were brimming with anticipation to see if Saitek could live up to the same exemplary standard that this joystick set for them. After spending a few weeks with the R440 Force Feedback Racing Wheel, we were not disappointed, as this hot rod controller proved to be a sharp looking responsive wheel that would make an excellent hardware addition for racing novices and veterans alike.
The Saitek R440 Force Feedback Racing Wheel certainly combines style with a great deal of real-world functionality. Out of the box, you can instantly tell that there's some expert craftsmanship put into the design of the R440. Made out of high quality plastic and accented with rubber grips, the wheel was made to last for years. Simply twisting the wheel without plugging it in, you can feel a good amount of resistance; not too loose to lose control and not to tight to require force.
The R440 also includes four buttons and two gearshift paddles, each well situated on the steering wheel unit. The wheel features the standard desk-clamp mechanism, which works quite well and doesn't take up needless desktop space. There are also the requisite floor-mounted gas and brake pedals, and these have a long-lasting feel to them, which is good because they will take the majority of the abuse during all-night racing marathons. With that in mind, slamming the pedals with shoes on might be a little more abuse than they were designed to handle.
The initial set-up of the Saitek R440 is standard fare with only six pieces to assemble and position in your gaming area: the steering wheel, a hook and clamp to attach to your desk or table, the foot pedals and foot rest, and the AC adapter. The installation is straight-forward, and really amounts to plugging in the USB data cable, attaching a secondary cord to the floor pedals, getting some juice through the AC adaptor, and then positioning the wheel and pedals. Thankfully, all pieces include rubber feet to prevent slipping during the rugged twisting and turning of intense gaming sessions.
Unlike some other steering gear, the R440 doesn't take up a lot of desktop real estate, so you can easily fit a keyboard and mouse behind it if necessary. The actual cabling can get a little messy with the power adapter and the pedals both plugging into the base of the wheel (which already has a USB cord snaking out) which may drive a few organization freaks crazy with the wires hanging under your desk. But with a bit of elbow grease and some duct tape or velcro straps, these wires can easily be brought under control. The software side is a piece of cake, as the R440 uses Saitek's Smart Technology drivers and the initial load and initialization is a snap. If you currently run, or have ever installed, any of Saitek's recent joysticks or gamepads, then the R440 Force Feedback Racing Wheel can be plugged in and will be recognized instantly.