A quick Google search for sim racing accessories will tell you these products can sell for up to $1,000 or even higher. But you don’t want to break the bank while assembling your sim racing setup, do you? We feel you.
That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you create a cheap sim racing setup. Don’t take it the wrong way, though. Just because it’s budget-friendly doesn’t mean it’s not quality.
In fact, if you make smart decisions, you can get a fully functional and high-quality sim racing setup without overspending. Without further ado, let’s learn how to create a full sim racing setup on a budget.
1. Who Needs a Budget Sim Racing Setup?
Many people seem to think that budget-friendly options are only for people who are just getting into sim racing. However, that’s not necessarily true.
Anyone can benefit from a budget-friendly sim racing setup, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced racer. Not everyone has the financial means to splurge on expensive sim racing equipment, and that’s perfectly okay.
Plus, how often you race also impacts your decisions. If you’re only going to play games every once in a while, what’s the point of spending ten grand on your setup or $1,000 on a fancy cockpit? Instead, you can get your occasional thrill and enjoyment from a cheaper setup.
2. Components of a Budget Sim Racing Setup
To put together your budget sim racing setup, you’ll need the following components:
- Racing Wheel: The racing wheel is the backbone of your sim racing setup. It’s what you’ll use to guide your vehicle. Ideally, you want a Direct Drive wheel with force feedback. The good news is you can find such wheels under $300.
- Pedals: The next component is the pedals. You will use them to control the acceleration, braking, and clutch of your virtual car.
- Shifter: A shifter is an optional component for your sim racing setup. Standalone shifters are available for under $100, or you can opt for a combo with pedals included.
- Racing Seat: If you don’t have a designated space for your setup, you can get a comfy racing seat. Again, it’s not necessary. You can just use a study or work table for it. Mount the wheel on the table and the pedals under it.
- Cockpit: Sim racing cockpits tend to be pretty expensive. But there are a few budget options, too. These cockpits are usually made of metal and can be adjusted to fit different body types. We’d recommend getting a sim racing cockpit if you’re in that transition phase where you’re moving from intermediate racing to pro racing.
3. A Guide to Building the Best Sim Racing Setup on a Budget
We’ve covered the basics. Now, let’s give you some recommendations for creating a budget sim racing setup.
Budget-Friendly Sim Wheels
As we’ve already discussed, the wheel makes or breaks the game. So, it’s the first component we’ll talk about. Look for the following features in the wheel:
- Force Feedback: It’s the latest buzzword in sim racing and with good reason. Force feedback provides realistic resistance and vibrations that simulate the feeling of driving a real car.
- Direct Drive: Wheels with direct drive eliminate the need for a belt or gear system, creating a seamless connection between the input and output force.
- Buttons: How much do you want to customize your gaming experience? The more buttons you have, the more you can assign to different functions in the game.
- Pedals: Some wheels come with pedals, but others don’t. If you don’t want to spend extra money on pedals or worry about compatibility issues, get a wheel pedal bundle.
- Compatibility: Speaking of compatibility, make sure your wheel is compatible with the platform you’ll be using for sim racing. Most modern wheels work with PCs and consoles.
Keeping these features in mind, here are some budget sim wheels for your setup.
Moza Racing ES Wheel
The Moza Racing ES Wheel is the cheapest sim racing wheel we could find. It has an aluminum alloy frame with an RGB sequential shifter light indicator and 22 programmable buttons. Do note that this wheel is not compatible with the company’s R21, R16, and R9 V1 pedal sets. Check the compatibility with your existing gear before buying the ES wheel.
The Thrustmaster T128 is one of the most budget-friendly steering wheels on the market. It is compatible with PC and Xbox platforms. Plus, it features Hybrid Drive force feedback to give you an immersive experience. Other key features include:
- Engine speed LEDs to optimize gear shifting
- Angle of rotation of up to 900 degrees
- Metallic pedal shifters
- Quick attachment system (can be attached to desks and tables)
- Easily accessible handbrake buttons
The Logitech G920 (Xbox/PC) and G29 (PlayStation/PC) are popular choices for budget sim racers. Part of the reason they’re bestsellers is that they come with adjustable floor pedals. The notable features of the wheel include:
- 900 degrees of maximum rotation
- Hall-effect steering sensor
- Overheat safeguard to let you play for long hours
- Dual-motor force feedback
The pedals feature a patented carpet grip system and a textured heel grip. They’re also self-calibrating, which means you won’t have to worry about recalibrating them often.
Budget-Friendly Sim Pedals
If you’re buying a sim wheel that doesn’t come with pedals, you’ll need to buy them separately. Look for pedals that are compatible with your wheel and platform. Here are some budget-friendly options to consider.
Moza Racing SR-P Pedal
The MOZA SR-P Pedal is among the cheapest options. It has a pressure sensor that can detect weights of up to 100 kg. As for the construction, the pedal set has a high-strength steel build. Users report that the pedal set is also quite comfortable to use since it is adjustable according to the pedal spacing you need. It also connects right to your PC with a USB connection.
Thrustmaster T3PM Pedals
Thrustmaster’s T3PM pedal setThrustmaster’s T3PM pedal set is another great option, as it’s compatible with PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Besides providing utmost precision and smoothness, the pedals also have four pressing modes to accommodate different types of racing.
The pedal heads are 100% metal, so you can expect them to last a long time. Unlike the Moza Racing pedals, they can detect weights of up to 200 kg. They are also ecosystem-ready for Thrustmaster’s gear.
Budget-Friendly Sim Shifters
Again, if you buy a bundle, you might find a shifter in it. Otherwise, you’d have to buy one separately. You use a shifter to change gears in a car, and sim shifters mimic that feeling for players. Here are some shifter options that won’t hurt your pocket too much.
Logitech Driving Force Shifter
As an award-winning shifter, the Logitech Driving Force Shifter comes well under $100 and does the job perfectly well. It has a solid steel gear shaft with a leather knob for high durability. Plus, the 6-speed gearbox caters to both your racing simulation needs. As for compatibility, the shifter is designed for Logitech’s G920, G29, and G923 wheels.
Thrustmaster TH86 Shifter
The Thrustmaster TH86 shifter is in the same price range as the Logitech shifter but features a 7-gear H-pattern shift plate. You can use it with all kinds of racing, such as GT, NASCAR, trucks, and rallies. It is fully compatible with dual connectors (DIN and USB) for consoles and PCs.
4. Budget-Friendly Sim Racing Cockpits
Sim racing cockpits generally cost a lot. But not all of them have to. Next Level Racing makes them decent options for a beginner sim racing setup.
Next Level Racing GLite Pro
The GLite Pro sim racing cockpit costs less than some of the high-end wheels. That’s a steal! It’s a GT-style racing cockpit with padded seats and a foldable/rollaway design.
You can quickly assemble this cockpit using the detailed instructions it comes with. It’s compatible with entry-level Direct Drive wheelbases with a torque of up to 13Nm.
Next Level Racing GT Racer
If you don’t mind spending a little more, the GT Racer will be a good pick. It’s also designed for GT-style racing and can support Direct Drive wheels with up to 13Nm torque.
The main difference between this cockpit and the GLite Pro is the premium reclining seat that comes with a slider for easy adjustments. Compatibility is also quite impressive; you can use shifters, pedals, and wheels from most leading brands with this cockpit.
If you pick the products from our recommendations above, you will be able to put together a full sim racing setup in just $1,000 or less. Even if you throw in a Next Level Racing cockpit, you won’t go over budget.
Although yours will be a cheap sim racing setup, it will still be equipped with the right tech and advanced features you need to have a stellar gaming experience. Use our guide as your shopping list, and put together the best sim racing setup for your needs.