Best Sim Racing Setups For Any Budget

Best Sim Racing Setups For Any Budget

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With esports getting more popular by the day, it’s no wonder that racing simulation setups are becoming more in demand. Racing simulators are used by professional drivers (including Formula 1 drivers) to practice their driving and learn new circuits. With excellent sim racers getting conscripted into real-world racing, you may want to join in on the fun by investing in a racing wheel, pedals, and other accessories – the whole setup.

If you’ve been sim racing for a while, you’ve almost probably come across Fanatec, the sim racing behemoth. Sim racers like you and me have access to some of the greatest sim racing wheels and other peripherals on the market thanks to the German wheel maker.

With the high level of quality that Fanatec provides, comes a high price tag. This may be enough to turn off some sim racers. However, it is commonly known in the sim racing world that if you want the greatest racing wheels and other equipment for your setup, you should go for this brand. When you spend so much on your sim racing equipment, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the most out of it.

If you have ever wondered what the greatest sim racing setup for your sim racing gaming is, read on as we’ve put up this whole Fanatec sim racing set-up as well as other brands that might be worth considering. We provide a wealth of choices for every budget, so there is surely one for you.

The Best Fanatec Sim Racing Setups

An all-Fanatec sim racing setup sounds very enticing! I mean, who wouldn’t be excited? Fanatec is known to deliver quality sim racing equipment and accessories that can help you do well in competitive sim racing. Fanatec products are also used by many of the top sim racers for a reason.

To start, you may use the New ClubSport BMW GT2 wheel rim. Despite the fact that it has been around for a while, the BMW GT2 is still one of Fanatec’s most popular steering wheels. For a modest price, you may opt for the CSL DD wheelbase which provides direct-drive force feedback technology. It is presently the cheapest direct-drive wheelbase on the market at the time of writing and comes in 5 Nm and 8 Nm configurations (with the addition of a Boost Kit 180). It has immediately gained popularity among sim racers. The earlier ClubSport wheelbase was more costly than the CSL DD since it didn’t have direct-drive technology. Next, Fanatec’s ClubSport V3 pedals are the highest-quality pedals available. For a more realistic driving experience, you can go with the inverted ones, ClubSport V3 Inverted.

Finally, all of this equipment can then be mounted on the Fanatec RennSport cockpit. Fanatec isn’t exactly renowned for its sim rigs, although they have made a few throughout the years. While you may not need a whole Fanatec sim system, this sim rig setup is for individuals who like their sim gear to be branded with Fanatec.

Mind you, this whole Fanatec sim setup isn’t cheap at all. The whole set-up can cost you upwards of $2,200. Before you make that purchase, read on as we provide a more thorough review of each of these components.

The Steering Wheel
ClubSport Steering Wheel BMW GT2

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The BMW GT2 steering wheel is still one of Fanatec’s most popular items. That in itself is a testimonial to the quality of this steering wheel. This is a racing wheel that excels at all of the fundamentals.

It’s an exact reproduction of the steering wheel from a BMW M3 GT2 racing car, and it is beautifully proportioned. This replica race wheel is made of the same Alcantara as the original racing wheel and has the same dimensions.

The wheel is made entirely of metal, giving it a substantial feel. Despite this, this is a relatively light wheel. Because of its lightness, it can dance about in your hands and accurately depict force feedback.

The remainder of the wheel, including the size, is supposed to be an identical reproduction of its true counterpart. During a race, the buttons on the face of the wheel enable you to control several features. Your speed is shown on the LED screen.

A word of caution: if you stare directly at the LED rev lights, you will be blinded. This seems to be a Fanatec wheel characteristic.

The racing wheelbase
Fanatec CSL DD

Fanatec manufactures some of the greatest racing wheels and wheelbases available. One of the most notable instances is the CSL DD. When the CSL DD debuted in mid-2021, it was a game-changer in the realm of sim racing. It debuted as the most affordable direct-drive wheelbase ever, as well as one of the most affordable Fanatec wheelbases for Xbox consoles.

It delivers a punch despite its little size. The CSL DD can generate up to 5 Nm of torque. This increases to 8Nm with the addition of an optional Boost Kit 180. While this level of torque is minimal when compared to larger, more costly direct-drive wheels like the Fanatec Podium DD2, which can produce over 20Nm of torque, it is nonetheless impressive. Direct-drive wheels are famed for their realism and force feedback detail, and the CSL DD does not disappoint.

Should I get CSL DD or DD1?
When putting up a comprehensive Fanatec sim racing setup, consider what you want your sim equipment to be capable of. Then you should consider your financial situation.

While the CSL DD lacks the power of the previous Fanatec DD1 and DD2 wheelbases, it delivers a smaller punch in a smaller package at a lesser cost. A much lesser cost. The Fanatec Podium DD1 and DD2 wheelbases are ideal for sim racers looking to get the most out of their setup and are willing to shell out upwards of a thousand dollars. The DD1 and DD2 are at the top of the sim racing wheelbase tree, producing some of the most powerful force feedback of any wheelbase. However, few sim racers would ever need the kind of power generated by these strong direct-drive wheelbases.

Some have been using Fanatec DD2 for years and seldom utilize more than 10Nm of torque. These kinds of pressures tire you out over time and aren’t viable for extended racing sessions. This puts the CSL DD, with its optional Boost Kit, squarely in the mix.

The CSL DD + Boost Kit 180 generates 8 Nm of torque, which is almost ideal for lengthy sim racing sessions. It also features updated interiors and costs less than a third of the price of the Podium wheelbase range.

The CSL DD is also one of the cheapest wheelbases that Fanatec offers at the time of writing. Models with longer wheelbases, like the CSL Elite and ClubSport, are no longer available. Therefore, this is the ideal opportunity to try out direct-drive technology right now!

The pedals
ClubSport Pedals V3

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The ClubSport V3 pedals are without a doubt one of the greatest pedal sets available today. This is true across all sim racing manufacturers; the V3s outperform everything else.

The load-cell brake kit is what sets these pedals apart from the competition, bringing the braking action as close to that of a genuine automobile as possible. You also have a lot of customizability and versatility.

Everything from the pedal plates to the location and angle of the pedals to the resistance in the pedals may be adjusted. This guarantees that you will discover the optimum fit for your driving style. If you want pedals that are more like those seen on a genuine road automobile, the inverted V3 pedals are an option. To simulate a road automobile, the pedals are mounted from the top rather than the bottom.

You may obtain the Fanatec CSL pedals with a load cell at a lower price. The CSL Pedals, on the other hand, don’t have nearly as much customization as the ClubSports V3s. We would always suggest the more expensive ClubSport V3s because of their increased versatility.

The sim rig
Fanatec RennSport Cockpit V2

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The RennSport Cockpit V2 is an attractive piece of equipment. It’s likely one of the most attractive sim racing setups available. Most sim racers, on the other hand, will have never heard of it. This is quite possibly due to two obvious reasons. It is rather pricey when compared to comparable sim systems, particularly if you’ve included a chair.

The fact that most people only identify Fanatec with sim racing wheels and accessories is another reason you may not have heard of this sim setup. It’s rare for a firm that makes sim racing wheels to also make a cockpit. Normally, this is only available to sim rig and chairmakers.

The RennSport may resemble a hybrid of an Ariel Atom and a batting cage. But it works, and we’ve grown to like the design. This cockpit has a strong presence thanks to the powder-coated, robust aluminum tube structure. It can also handle even the most powerful direct-drive wheels because of the noticeable aluminum structure. It was designed to operate with the Podium direct drive wheels, so you can be certain that it can handle them.

The RennSport also provides you, the end-user, with a staggering array of customization choices. After you’ve acquired the basic frame, you may customize it with TV mounts, racing seats, speaker mounting, and shifter mounts, to mention a few options. This racing cockpit will undoubtedly last a long time.

There are a pair of tubes on each side of the RennSport, with meshing in between. This gives you the sensation of being contained as if you were in a real automobile. Some racers will like this since it adds to the immersion.

The verdict? The cockpit holds up pretty nicely with both the CSL DD and DD2 direct drive wheel. There is little shaking and no rattling. Do we think it’s a good idea to get one? Yes, if you’re willing to pay the price.

The chair
Sparco R100 Black/Red Seat

Sparco R100 Black/Red Seat
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The RennSport cockpit’s price begins to rise dramatically at this point. Most sim racing machines that cost less than $1,000 will include a seat of some kind. RennSport isn’t one of them. Instead, you’ll have to pay extra for each additional seat, virtually purchasing an actual racing seat for that money. It has a fiberglass shell and is built in the same way as real-world racing seats. This is due to the fact that this is a genuine race seat.

The Sparco R100 is without a doubt one of the most comfortable racing seats available. It has a well-padded adjustable lumbar support that allows you to customize your sitting posture to your liking. The seat cushion and bolsters have more cushioning. It was made to hug your body and prevent you from moving about as you would in a genuine racing vehicle. As a result, it should be a perfect fit. The base of the seat is broad, enabling it to accommodate a bigger player. Even yet, for some, it will be a tight squeeze.

With a tubular steel frame and bottom mount capability, the Sparco R100 is a fantastic racing seat. Stepping inside this full sim racing cockpit will undoubtedly make you seem and feel the part.

How well does this sim racing setup perform?

When you put this whole Fanatec sim gear together, it functions flawlessly. What could you possibly expect from Fanatec? The whole setup is strong enough to support any racing wheel, even the most powerful direct-drive wheels included. It will also extend with you when your rig expands in the future. Whether you want a single wide monitor or a three-monitor arrangement. Extra mounts may be purchased as add-ons to support either.

The RennSport rig and Sparco seat are an excellent match. When used together, they provide one of the most realistic simulations of an actual racing car cockpit available to a sim racer. The cockpit, however, may not be suitable for everyone, since it can feel a touch cramped.

The key issue is whether or not this Fanatec sim equipment is worthwhile. Certainly, you can get a comparable cockpit and sim setup for less money. However, it is unlikely to have the same level of fit and finish as this Fanatec cockpit. As is customary with Fanatec, you get what you paid for, and you get the best with Fanatec.

Sim Racing Set-ups for Every Level

There are a plethora of other sim setups that work just as well. Below, we propose other configurations of different price ranges that might just work for you and your unique needs.

Simulator racing setups may cost anything from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The price of a sim racing setup is determined by a variety of factors. We will show you sim racing configurations for each level and go through approximately how much each sim racing setup will cost, whether you’re looking for your first basic wheel and pedal set for a novice setup or you’re ready to plunge headlong into a full-blown professional setup.

Beginner Player

When you first begin sim racing, you will only need two items: a wheel and a pair of pedals. Shifters, button boxes, and handbrakes are all optional features that aren’t necessary to get started in sim racing.

If you’re new to sim racing or want to keep your costs down, the Logitech G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel and pedal combo is a great place to start. This is one of the most affordable wheels that provide excellent force feedback, enabling you to feel what the automobile is doing via the wheel’s movement. It’s a solid piece of equipment that many sim-racers began with. The wheel may be clamped to any table, and the pedals can be placed on the floor.

The most significant enhancement you can make to this wheel is to purchase a wheel support. You can obtain a durable metal frame to attach the wheel and pedals to instead of utilizing a table, giving you a better driving posture and a more stable configuration. One, such as the Next Level Racing Wheel & Pedal Stand, may also be folded away to save room.

Intermediate Player

Looking to advance a level or have some extra cash to spend? Belt-driven wheels are a good place to start. Although the Logitech G29 is a geared wheel, belt-powered wheels utilize a rubber belt to connect the wheel to the motor. This allows for higher torque and quicker and smoother force feedback.

The Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel with magnetic pedals is among the cheapest wheels in this category, while the Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 is on the pricier end. Interchangeable steering wheels and load cell pedals which imitate the hydraulic sensation of genuine automobile pedals are common at this level.

A more durable wheel support is necessary as the wheel’s power output increases. Many individuals at this level will acquire one with a racing seat, such as the Next Level Racing GT Cockpit. The seat, wheel deck, and pedalboard are all included in one package. Although it isn’t as mobile as a smaller wheel stand, it provides unrivaled stiffness and comfort for lengthy stints in the chair.

Advanced Player

This is when things start to get a little crazy, as you obtain gear that rivals that of real-life racing vehicles. A direct drive wheel is the king of the castle when it comes to wheels. This is a huge electric motor that is directly mounted to the wheel. The force feedback is lightning quick since there is no middleman, and the quality of the force feedback is remarkable because the power output is so great. Through your fingers, you’d be able to feel the painted lines of a track.

There are many independent direct drive wheel alternatives, all of which take some tweaking to get functioning and all of which require a PC. Fanatec’s Podium series, including the Podium Steering Wheel R300, is the first major manufacturer to provide a plug-and-play direct drive wheel that will also function on various consoles. It’s a lot of fun to go to their website’s ‘create your own bundle’ function and enjoy piling up the price.

Now it’s time for the pedals. Fanatec has a good all-in-one bundle, but other firms produce custom sim pedals with resistances up to 110kg on the brake pedal, much like an F1 vehicle…

You’ll need to beef up the cockpit/rig to match all of this power and resistance. At this level, most individuals build their own rigs to meet their unique demands. Aluminum extrusion (also known as 80/20) is often used to create highly customizable, lightweight, and durable cockpits. Sparco chairs are often installed into these cockpits to create the ultimate real-world experience.

The core notion is that there is a way into sim racing no matter what your budget is. It’s much more exciting and enjoyable than racing with a joystick, and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never go back.

FAQs

What are the types of racing wheels on the market?

At the heart of every good sim racing simulator setup is the racing wheel. There is a wide range of wheels available at various price ranges, so no matter how much money you have to spend, you’ll be able to find something that matches your needs.

Most racing wheels employ a belt drive mechanism to create “force feedback,” which is the resistance the wheel provides to your steering inputs. Higher-end wheels feature greater force feedback and are thus thought to provide a more realistic driving experience, while entry-level wheels have less torque and don’t feel as engaging. The cost of wheels like this ranges from $150 to $600.

What are the best simulator wheels available?

You may acquire a direct drive wheel if you genuinely have a large sum of money to spend in a simulator setup. These wheels have a powerful electronic servo motor and a detachable steering wheel with a fast release that is compatible with a genuine racecar, enabling the user to switch between wheels of various shapes and sizes. These wheels provide the highest level of realism and force input, but they normally cost $1,000 or more.

What are good shifters and pedals for sim racing?

Many consumer wheels are sold as a “bundle,” which contains both the wheel and the pedals. Plastic pedals with merely a gas and a brake are common on lower-end wheels (around $150).

However, as you progress up the price scale, the pedals may be made wholly of metal or a combination of metal and plastic for a higher-quality feel. A third clutch pedal, which may be combined with a manual shifter for further immersion, may be included in these pedal combos. A manual shifter, on the other hand, isn’t usually included in a package and must be ordered individually.

Similarly, an electronic handbrake may be combined with various steering wheel/pedal/shifter combos. A handbrake isn’t necessary if you want to use your simulator for drifting, but it is a must-have if you want to undertake circuit racing. A handbrake is recommended for those who want to utilize your simulator for rally racing.

Should I play sim racing on a PC or a console?

Whether you play on a PC or a console is a matter of how serious you are about your sim racing pastime. Sim racers that choose to play on PC do so for two reasons: greater wheel/pedal support and a larger selection of suitable titles. Some of the more expensive wheels, such as the force feedback wheels discussed above, are exclusively available for PC. These wheels may also have buttons that may be programmed to execute certain functions, something that isn’t always achievable on consoles.

Many famous sim racing games, such as Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2, are available for both PC and consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. However, several of the highest-rated sim racing games, like iRacing and rFactor, are exclusively available for PC.

Which game you want to play and if you want to compete with other sim racers on a regular basis will determine whether you should play on PC or console. Because of the realistic feel it delivers and the big community of active users, many sim racers, including professional racers like Lando Norris, come to iRacing. If you want to race against other people often, the PC-only game is the way to go.

Professional racers use PC games like rFactor to develop their talents because of the realistic driving feel and precise 3D track representations, which might be another incentive to choose a PC.

A console should do for less serious sim racers. Racing games, such as Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Motorsport, are available on both the PS4 and Xbox. In conclusion, individuals that want to take their hobby seriously should acquire a PC, whilst the common enthusiast will be quite content with their current console.

Which racing cockpits and wheel stands are the best?

You’re undoubtedly wondering where you’ll put your steering wheel and pedals, and there are many possibilities available. We’ll begin with low-cost choices such as wheel stands. A wheel stand is simply a portable, fixed platform on which you can install your steering wheel and pedals and then pull up to a chair in front of your television. These are often less costly (about $150) than custom-built seats and cockpits, but they may not be as durable as some of the more expensive options.

Then there are the more expensive cockpits from companies like Playseat and Rseat. Frequently, a wheel stand and a racecar-style seat are integrated into one equipment, which you must generally build yourself. The key differences are sturdiness, construction quality, and the quality or style of the seat itself. These vary in price from roughly $300 to $1,000. Some will additionally have mounting points for a television or monitor, guaranteeing a precise field of view.

Last but not least, motion simulators are available. By employing hydraulics to tilt and turn while cornering, accelerating, or stopping, they try to replicate the g-forces of driving. The majority of them are only compatible with PCs and may cost upwards of $100,000. Motion simulators are sold in whole bundles by companies like CXC Simulations, which range in price from $49,000 to $87,000. To purchase one of them, you have to be a big fan of virtual racing.

What’s the best sim racing setup for a beginner?

What you purchase ultimately depends on what game(s) you want to play and how much money you want to spend, but there are a few must-have sim racing equipment for novices. For most novices who want to race on PC or console, we recommend the following sim racing setup.

Of course, our ideal beginner’s setup begins with a wheel/pedal pair. The Logitech G29/G920 is a good choice since it’s compatible with PS4 (G29), PC (G29 and G920), and Xbox One (G920) and has a good build quality. Metal pedals are included in the wheel’s pedal set, as opposed to the plastic pedals seen on some less expensive wheels. A dual-motor force feedback wheel is included in this arrangement, enabling you to feel almost everything that happens while racing.

What are the best sim racing cockpits?

There are many companies that provide sim racing cockpits, but Playseat is a respectable one with quick delivery and reasonable rates that we feel confident recommending. The Playseat Challenge, the company’s entry-level product, does an excellent job of keeping the wheels and pedals in place and can fold up to save room. It is also less expensive than many other cockpits, costing roughly $250. This is ideal if you are just starting out on sim racing.

The Playseat Evolution, the company’s mid-tier product, has a seat that is more comparable to that of a genuine racing vehicle. It has somewhat more of an upright driving posture. It’s simple to put together and should set you back roughly $350. We’d recommend either, although the Playseat Evolution will be more suitable for more dedicated sim racers.

Jesse Parker

Sim Racing Enthusiast