Is the VNM Shifter the Best USB PC Shifter for Your Sim Racing Rig?

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Solid, high quality Sim Racing Shifter
  • One software package to manage all VNM products
  • Authentic feeling of moving gears around in a gearbox
  • Interchangeable top plates for obscure or custom shift patters
  • Well thought out mounting solutions
  • Good range of tension adjustability front to back (Y-axis)

Cons:

  • No tension adjustment side to side (X-axis)
  • Gear knob has a tendency to spin on shaft
  • Firmware update process is tricky
  • Software is overwhelming for less tech savvy users
  • Switching from H Pattern to Sequential modes requires tools and a longer process than the Fanatec shifter

VNM PC Sim Racing Shifter

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VNM Shifter VS Fanatec Shifter

Should you buy the Fanatec, VNM or something else?

With a step in price from the Fanatec shifter, VNM have created what we believe is a superior driving experience.  But is it the best choice overall?

Fanatec VS VNM Shifters

Build quality

The VNM Shifter is a solid and compact unit with sensible design choices. It’s aluminium construction gives it a solid feel that will look right at home on a high end aluminium profile cockpit. Delrin plastic inserts are used to soften the bump stops within the top plates. This eliminates the harsh feeling of metal to metal contact between the shifter rod and top plate.  Internally the VNM appears very clean and well finished.  The CNC machined components have smooth edges and sealed metal ball-bearings throughout give a very good impression of quality and durability.

Mounting options

VNM have provided mounting holes on the bottom and rear of the shifter base. Mounting holes are directly compatible with the Trak Racer shifter mount and due to its small footprint, should not be too difficult to get the shifter placed appropriately. The Fanatec however utilises a T-Nut system and a number of shifter mounting brackets. This adds some complexity but also a little more flexibility in mounting the shifter to your sim rig.

VNM Shifter Internal Build Quality
VNM Shifter H Pattern internal

Adjustments

Both the VNM and Fanatec shifters have a hex key tension adjustment for forwards and backwards movements. Both have a good range of adjustability which should make it easy to get the stiffness desired.

Neither shifter has tension adjustment for side to side movement. In the case of the VNM shifter this leaves you with a very light side to side action. This can make it a little challenging to hit your mark in H Pattern mode. The Fanatec shifter has a slightly stiffer feeling for X axis movement making this less of an issue.

VNM have given us a very quick and easy way to raise or lower the shifter knob.  This is a nice touch to dial in the feel of the shifts to your liking.  For the Fanatec you’ll need to install a third party short shifter mod to change the length (and throw).

Mode Selection

The Fanatec Shifter is far superior when it comes to switching from sequential to H-Pattern and back. To do this on the VNM you need to get your allen key out and physically switch the top plate from the sequential module to the H Pattern top plate. This process takes around 2 minutes, so is by no means a troubling process. If you switch between shifter modes frequently, the ability to do so with the flick of a switch may be a decisive factor for you.

Fanatec Shifter Mode Selection
VNM Shifter Adjustment

Driving Experience

Subjectively we prefer the mechanical feeling of the VNM Shifter to the Fanatec Shifter. The forwards and backwards movement have an authentic feel which represents moving gears around in a gearbox very well.  As this is all that is needed in sequential mode, it makes for a significantly better experience to the Fanatec shifter if you are only going to be driving in sequential mode.

As an H Pattern shifter the Fanatec has a slightly stiffer sideways movement making it easier to hit the right gear.  While the VNM Shifters X Axis movements are quite loose, that is not necessarily an unrealistic or bad thing.  Having experienced a few gated shifters in real cars, it is a similar experience which takes time to get used to.

VNM Shifter Driving Experience

Which Shifter Should You Buy

The final decision of which Sim Racing shifter you should buy for your rig comes down to a few things:

  • Are you a PC or Console user?

    • VNM shifter is currently only compatible with PC via USB connection
    • Fanatec shifter can be used on console with a compatible wheel/wheelbase
  • Will you be switching from H Pattern to Sequential mode frequently?

    • VNM Shifter takes us just under 2 minutes to switch between modes
    • Fanatec is a simple flick of a switch
  • Is the overall sensation of shifting gears more important than the above considerations?

    • VNM have done a good job of creating a realistic sensation of moving gears.  In our opinion It has the edge over Fanatec in this department, particular in sequential mode

Where to buy your VNM or Fanatec Shifter

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