In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put Formula 1 on hold. Many racing enthusiasts turned to an alternative to fulfill their need for speed (pun intended) — Sim racing. Short for simulated racing, Sim racing has been around for a while. Titles like Street Racer and Indy 500 on the 1977 Atari are a good example. Does it ring a bell, Gen X?
However, modern-day Sim racing is much more sophisticated. It boasts advanced graphics and realistic physics engines. These features give players the feeling of being behind a real steering wheel. When simulated races of eNASCAR and Formula One were shown on TV in 2022, they drew 910,000 viewers. That’s much higher than the usual 400,000 viewers virtual races typically get.
As a beginner in Sim racing, it can be tricky to find the right equipment and simulators. Worry not; we’ve got you sorted. Here’s our list of the best brands for beginner Sim racing setup. Let’s explore.
Logitech has long been a fan-favorite due to its innovation and quality. The brand has been in the game for decades. It provides reliable peripherals for gamers across all platforms. Logitech recently made the waves by introducing its first Sim racing cockpit, priced at $599, in collaboration with Playset, a gaming chair maker.
Speaking of the brand’s Sim racing products, the Pro Racing Wheel is a bestseller on the company’s website. It features TRUEFORCE feedback technology and Direct Drive. Thus, it is compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. While the TRUEFORCE technology minimizes latency and enhances fidelity, Direct Drive offers 11 Nm of torque. The duo delivers the realism and no-delay response you need on the track.
Another popular product is the G923 racing wheel. Its notable features include a pressure-sensitive brake system and an aluminum paddle shifter. The Sim racing wheel also has hand-stitched leather for a comfortable grip. It is ideal for players who want to play titles like:
- Snow Runner
- Dirt Rally 2.0
Besides these products, Logitech makes Pro Racing Pedals with a customizable design and load cell brake. Plus, the Driving Force Shifter is an award-winning six-speed shifter for G920, G29, and G923 racing wheels.
Some unique features of the Logitech Sim racing setup include:
- Well-engineered materials
- Dual-motor force feedback for realistic racing
- Adjustable pedal positions
- Anti-backsplash in floor pedals and paddle shifters
- Helical-cut gears for smoother and quieter steering action
- Wide range of products
- High-quality build and design
- Easy to use and set up
- Excellent customer support
- Competitive Pricing
- Limited compatibility with consoles
- May not be budget-friendly for casual gamers
Fanatec claims to make ”enthusiast-grade” gear, and rightfully so. You can get your whole Sim racing setup from the company. Options include gaming seats, table clamps, pedals, racing hardware, cockpits, simulators, shifters, handbrakes, etc.
The CSL DD F1 ESports Premium bundle is the best option for beginners. It includes Fanatec’s ClubSport Steering Wheel, a pair of CSL pedals, a CSL pedal load cell kit, and a CSL DD with 8nm force feedback. The ClubSport Steering Wheel F1® Esports V2 has been designed in partnership with Formula 1. Thus, you can expect it to be highly authentic in terms of look and feel. It also has customizable RGB LEDs and magnetic shifters.
A recent Fanatec product that has gamers excited is the Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R. The full-scale replication of the widely loved Porsche 991 GT3 R wheel provides automotive-grade performance and quality. It also has Intelligent Telemetry Mode (ITM), unlocking extra features in compatible games.
Some unique features of Fanatec products include:
- Partnerships with top motorsports brands like BMW and Porsche
- Compatibility with several platforms, including PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4
- Modularity for customization and upgrade options
- Realistic shifting mechanisms with gear layouts
- Extensive range of sim racing equipment
- Officially licensed products for a more authentic experience
- Innovative features like ITM for an immersive gaming experience
- Highly customizable gaming experience
- Ease of profile switching
- Insufficient power in the base form in several products
- Clutch pedals lacking in cheaper bundles
- Compatibility mode needed for several games
Thrustmaster offers over 50 Sim racing products that cater to the needs of beginners and pros alike. What makes it ideal for beginners is its low price point compared to Logitech and Fanatec.
The T128 racing wheel is one of Thrustmaster’s popular products. It boasts Hybrid Drive Force Feedback for a fully immersive gaming experience. Couple it with the T2PM pedal set to get the most out of your racing simulator.
Some key features of the racing wheel are a rotation angle of up to 900 degrees and engine speed LEDs. The wheel also has accessible handbrake buttons and a quick attachment system.
If you want to take it up a notch, the T818 Ferrari SF1000 simulator is the right choice. Although pricier, the simulator offers a complete package for professional-level racing. Its force feedback is at the same caliber as eSports. Plus, you get a 1:1 scale replica of the Ferrari SF1000 wheel.
Thrustmaster’s unique features are:
- Simple wheel-changing systems
- Dynamic force feedback for accurate and responsive steering
- Internal memory to save your calibration settings
- Proprietary magnetic technology
- Affordable options for beginners
- Advanced features for professional-level racing
- Unprecedented wheel control
- Compatible with PS5 games
- Mounting issues with some products (T818 Direct Drive steering wheel)
- Complex installation in some cases
4. Moza Racing
Moza Racing has gained widespread acclaim recently due to its Sim racing rig and accessories. The company’s Sim racing ecosystem includes steering wheels, pedals, accessories, and wheelbases.
Moza Racing’s KS Steering Wheel is among the most coveted products. The 300mm butterfly-style wheel has carbon fiber composites for a lightweight build. It is also compatible with a third-party wheelbase. You can connect them via the MOZA Universal Hub Kit PC adapter.
If you prefer a more sporty design, the ES Steering Wheel should be your pick. Its features include:
- Hand-made stitch leather.
- RGB shifter light indicator.
- An aluminum alloy frame.
- 22 programmable buttons.
Some accessories you can buy from the company are its 12-inch wheel mod for ES and the HGP shifter. Other options are extension rods, shifter table clamps, and HBP handbrakes.
Here are the unique features of Moza Racing’s Sim racing ecosystem:
- Compatibility with third-party wheelbase
- House control software for adjusting settings
- Durable carbon fiber and aluminum build
- Rotary encoders and precision hall sensors
- Durable builds
- Emergency stop switches
- Highly customizable
- Matching accessories available
- More flex compared to other wheels
- Assembly may be confusing for beginners
5. Next Level Racing
As the name suggests, Next Level Racing’s products are geared towards taking racing simulation to the next level. The company aims to bring professional-grade simulators and accessories to you.
As a beginner, the GTLITE Pro Sim racing cockpit suits you. It’s a budget-friendly cockpit with padded seats.
Moreover, it has a foldable design, easy assembly, and tool-free adjustments. The cockpit is also compatible with hand brakes and shifters.
If you don’t mind spending over a grand, the F-GT Elite 160 Scuderia Ferrari Edition could be your pick. Its universal compatibility and unmatched adjustability make it a premium choice for pro racers.
Next Level Racing also makes racing stands. One example is the Wheel Stand 2.0. It has a foldable design for easy storage. Plus, it’s compatible with the company’s GTSEAT to make a complete Sim racing cockpit. The height adjustment feature makes it suitable for people of different heights.
Some interesting features of Next Level Racing’s products are:
- Global user base, including eSports teams and professional drivers.
- Robot-welded carbon steel for premium finishes
- Dual-position cockpits for GT/Formula seating positions
- Adjustable pedal plates for wheelbase compatibility
- Excellent product quality
- Long-lasting and durable
- Compatibility with other accessories
- Adjustability options for users
- On the pricier side
- Stands could be sturdier
6. Track Racer
Whether you need your first Sim racing wheel or the whole Sim racing setup, Track Racer meets the bill. The company proudly partners with Airbus Aircraft and the BWT Alpine F1 team.
Their TR8 Pro Racing Simulator comes with seven seats and six monitor stand options. Plus, the add-ons include a pedal mount and a gear shifter mount. You can also add oversized seat brackets and seat slider rails.
The Alpine Racing TRX is another top product from Track Racer. Engineers from Alpine F1 collaborated with Track Racer to create this product. The simulator lets you switch between GT and Formula seating positions in minutes. It is also compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.
Track Racer’s unique features are:
- Integrated audio options in simulators
- Compatibility with both GT and Formula seating positions
- Collaboration with top racing teams for cutting-edge technology
- Wide range of customizable options for a personalized experience
- High-quality materials and construction for durability
- Heightened realism
- Multiple adjustment options
- Seamless integration with popular racing titles
- Pricey compared to other sim racing options
- Limited availability in certain regions
Comparison Table of Sim Racing Brands
|Next Level Racing
|Full rig setup
|Full racing setup, especially bundles
|Wheels, simulators, and accessories
|Steering wheels, accessories, wheelbases, and pedals
|Cockpits, stands, and accessories
|Full racing setup
Tips for Choosing the Best Sim Racing Brand
So, you want to buy your Sim racing rig. Where do you get it from? Your individual needs and budget will ultimately determine which brand is the best fit for you. Here are some factors to consider.
Being a beginner, you may not need a high-end setup with all the fancy features. You can opt for a simpler, more affordable option. The Fanatec bundles are a good starting point for most beginner Sim racers.
How much can you spend? If you have the funds for it, you can get the Thrustmaster T818 Ferrari SF1000 simulator. But it’s not necessary.
Many other brands, like Moza Racing and Next Level Racing, offer affordable options. You can scale your setup as your skills improve.
Make sure the brand you choose is compatible with your preferred gaming platform. Not all brands offer support for consoles and PC platforms. Logitech is a good brand to consider if you want cross-platform compatibility.
What happens if your setup malfunctions? Or if you need some assistance? Get your Sim racing setup from a brand with 24/7 customer support. The options we list above have excellent support teams.
Final Thoughts: Which Sim Racing Brand is the Best for You?
Did you go through our selection criteria? You’re now ready to make a decision. If performance is your top priority, go for Thrustmaster, Logitech, or Fanatec. But if you’re low on budget, Moza Racing has good options.
For a beginner-friendly option, pick something from Track Racer or Moza Racing. Looking for cockpits? Next Level Racing and Logitech are your picks.
Some popular brands for Sim racing include Thrustmaster, Logitech, Fanatec, Next Level Racing, Moza Racing, and Track Racer.
There are many affordable options available in the market, such as Moza Racing and Track Racer. It ultimately depends on your budget.
iRacing and Assetto Corsa take the top spots for realism in Sim racing. Other popular titles include Project Cars 2, Dirt Rally 2.0, and rFactor2. The realism also depends on the quality of your setup and peripherals.