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Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On Review


How immersed do you want to get with your driving games?

Whether you race at speed in F1, go off-road in Forza Horizon, pound the dirt of DiRT or go slow and steady with the likes of Truck Driver or On The Road – Truck Simulator, ditching a standard controller and utilising a wheel helps build the immersion massively. It’s something we’ve enjoyed too, whether it be with the Thrustmaster T248 Wheel or the slightly cheaper, more entry-level Thrustmaster T128 Wheel. 

Complementing the wheel

But you can go further. And it’s with that in which Thrustmaster are continuing to kit us gamers out. This time they are looking to complement that T128 Wheel with the new entry-level manual shifter – the TH8S Shifter Add-On. 

Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-on review 1
The Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On

But is this a necessary piece of kit? No. Not at all, in fact. Is it nice to have, then? Of course. Yet even then, we’re not totally sold. 

Much of the reason behind that initial negativity is due to the brilliance of the standard wheel setups of the Thrustmaster. Whether it be the more premium T248 wheel, or the cheaper T128 Wheel, we’ve found them absolutely brilliant to use. Get some pedals in on the action too, and you’ll feel like you’re owning the racetrack. They allow the player the opportunity to get into their racing and driving games like never before, flipping the wheel this way and that with ease, pulling on the paddle shifters to drive it to the red line. And it’s those paddle shifters which, in our eyes, negate the need for further shifter add-ons. 

Remember, this is highly personal and we’re coming from a place in our lives where we’ve not used a manual box in the real world for a decade. That’s not to say we run auto boxes wherever we go though, and we’d not even consider to race in something like F1 23 or Forza Motorsport without manual shifting set to ‘on’. But it’s the shifters located behind the Thrustmaster wheels that help aid those gear movements. 

So is there a place in this world for taking your hands off the wheel and slamming through an H-pattern shift plate, ripping it up and letting things scream? Yes there is, and we’d suspect that there will be a whole community of virtual drivers out there shouting at the screen right this instance. For those people, the Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On feels perfect. 

Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-on review 2
Straight up shiftin’

Entry-level can still be good

An entry-level element to Thrustmaster’s burgeoning line of accessories, the TH8S works with Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation consoles and PC. And it fits in best – in our opinion – with the T128 Wheel. In fact, it complements it really very well. You know, entry-level plus entry-level, and all that. 

Aesthetically it runs very much in line with that T128. All black, plastic in creation, this will clip nicely to a desk, sitting alongside your wheel, above your pedal set. It’s got a little bit of red detailing around the top of the unit, with that in itself highlighting a carbon weave design. It looks pretty good when in place and, frankly, feels a bit of a steal at the £59.99 asking price. In fact, if you’d ask us to price-guess, taking into consideration that Thrustmaster’s more top-end shifter – the TH8A – sits with a £169.99 RRP, and we’d have been teased by a £100 tag. Half of that? It all feels very impressive. 

Sticking out of the top of that plastic base unit is a metal short shifter, topped by an ergonomically pleasing grip, further adorned by a Thrustmaster logo. This shifter feels pretty good in hand, easy to handle, simple to throw it through the H-pattern shifting slots. Running 1-through-7, with a reverse gear sitting bottom right, there’s some real heft to how Thrustmaster have put this together. Slamming through gears, shifting up can feel superb and we guess much of that is to do with the H.E.A.R.T technology behind it. Thrustmaster promise that this Hall Effect AccuRate Technology will ensure that the stick comes with an unlimited lifespan. Again, entry-level piece of kit? The TH8S feels better than that. 

Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-on review 3
A simple connection

A tad more luxury would have been great

At least it does for the most part. If we’re honest, we’d like a bit more luxury on the touch points and through use we’ve found ourselves wanting a slightly more premium gear knob. The one here is smooth, scratchy plastic at best, and whilst it’s okay there’s little to really write home about. We’re absolutely fine with the same plastic vibes kicking around elsewhere on the TH8S, but it would be nice for the grippy bit to be of slightly higher quality. 

But that said, it does the job and not once have we found ourselves slipping away from that stick when in the heat of the racing moment. We’ve mostly been using this with Forza Horizon 5, and it’s been decent enough to really power through the gears, slamming the stick into place, revving away. It’s not missed a beat either, happily connecting up and working each and every time. 

In terms of that connection, there are a couple of options for attaching the TH8S to either console or PC. Obviously it’s the Xbox Series X|S side of things that we’ve been most interested in, and with that comes a DIN connection. This runs between the rear of your steering wheel and the back of the TH8S Shifter Add-On, connecting in a cinch. If you’re a PC player though, a USB-C connection will be your port of call. A neat slider on the rear of the unit opens up the option you need to utilise. Whichever route you take, cables are found boxed within. 

Fitment is a cinch

From there, it’s all about connecting the Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On to your desk or unit of choice. Again, this is easily done with a screwed clamp ensuring fitment; anything up to a depth of 4cm and you are laughing. You’re looking at thirty seconds or less to get the shifter attached and in place so there’s no hassle there, with soft grippy pads helping aid attachment. In fact, the main frustration of our set-up was the need to remove our T128 Wheel from its position in order to attach another cable. When you have power, a console connection, DIN and another moving out to the pedals, it must be said that cable management becomes a little more tricky. 

Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-on review 4
A good looking piece of kit

The real question though is why you would need the Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On. As we opened this piece, we’ve found ourselves much preferring to use the built-in paddle shifters that are found fully attached to Thrustmaster’s wheels. Even in a slower paced game – like a Truck Driver for instance – we’d still be inclined to stick with those paddles. To us, it just all feels a bit more modern. Is it the height of replication? No, and so that’s where many will see value in the TH8S Shifter Add-On. For the most part though, it’s a tough recommendation. 

Purchase from Thrustmaster

Huge thanks go out to Thrustmaster for providing us with the TH8S Shifter Add-On for review. Pick one up for yourself from Thrustmaster direct. And let us know which games you use it with. 

The Thrustmaster TH8S Shifter Add-On is compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC. 

Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.
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