Putting together a sim racing setup is no easy feat. You have to consider everything from the right equipment to the best software settings. It’s not just about having a setup that looks good but one that truly works for you and gives you a competitive edge over your opponents.
Racers often make errors in finding the right components for their sim racing setups because they fall prey to the “one size fits all” mentality. They go over reviews and decide on the most popular or expensive option, thinking if it works for everyone else, it’ll work for them, too.
However, that’s rarely the case. Everyone has different driving styles, and a setup that works well for one person might not work for another. Don’t worry, though. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to put together a sim racing rig.
Tip 1: Hardware Considerations for Your Sim Racing Setup
The first tip is to get your hardware selection right. As a beginner, you don’t need a fancy setup. Start with the basics, such as a good wheel and pedals. Gradually build your sim racing cockpit by adding components like a shifter, handbrake, or button box.
Let’s divide this step into three parts.
Step 1: Choosing a Sim Racing Wheel
The sim racing steering wheel is to your setup what a paintbrush is to an artist. It’s the most crucial tool for sim racing. Look for the following features in your sim racing wheel:
- Force Feedback Technology: Sim racing has advanced quite a lot. So, you MUST get a wheel with force feedback technology. For example, the Thrustmaster TMX wheelis equipped with force feedback technology. It also has a realistic size, metal pedals for gear shifting, and a max degree rotation of 900 degrees. If you prefer an option from Logitech, go for the G29 or G920 wheel. Along with dual-motor force feedback, it also comes with a set of steel paddle shifters.
- Material: Since the wheel guides your driving, you’ll be touching it the most out of your sim racing gear. So, it’s no surprise that you’ll want a comfortable material to hold onto. Alcantara, leather, and rubber are the most common options.
- Customization Options: Many modern wheels come with a plethora of buttons for in-game customizations. For example, the Moza Racing FSR Formula wheelhas 10 luminous mechanical buttons. Other features include perforated leather grips and 5 rotary encoders to change settings like tire pressure, brake bias, etc.
Step 2: Choosing a Pedal Set
The pedal set is the second most important piece of equipment for your sim racing setup. Look for the following features:
- Adjustability: The more adjustable your pedals are, the more customizable your driving experience will be. You should be able to adjust the pedal height, angle, spacing, and resistance.
- Clutch Pedal: Some pedal sets come with a clutch pedal, which is essential for manual gear shifting in games like Assetto Corsa, Dirt Rally, etc.
Fanatec’s Clubsport Pedal V3 is one of our top picks. It features D-shaped pedal plates that let you adjust the pedal angle. The company claims you can adjust the pedals ergonomically in ”countless ways.” If that doesn’t convince you, the contactless hall sensors and adjustable brake stiffness should. Further, the 90 kg load cell sensor makes the brake pretty pressure-sensitive.
Step 3: Investing In a Sim Racing Cockpit
Ready for the big step? If all is going well in your sim racing journey so far, it’s time to invest in a dedicated cockpit. A good cockpit will provide you with a stable, comfortable racing position so that you don’t get tired during extended racing periods. It’s also more convenient as it eliminates the need to set up and take down your equipment every time you want to race.
When buying a sim racing cockpit, ensure that it:
- Is compatible with your wheel and pedal setup
- Is adjustable to accommodate different driving positions
- Has a sturdy frame and supports your weight comfortably
- Has easy storage options
For example, the Next Level Racing GT Racer is one of our recommendations for beginners. It’s budget-friendly and comes with the features you need for comfortable gameplay. Since it supports up to 13 Nm of torque (in Direct Drive wheels) and is compatible with peripherals from leading brands like Logitech and Thrustmaster, it’s a great option for beginners who want to upgrade their setup.
Tip 2: Optimize Physical Endurance and Training
Your sim racing rig alone won’t do it all. You’ll also have to put in some work. By that, we mean training your body to withstand long periods of driving.
Sim racing can be physically taxing, especially if you do it for long hours. On top of that, if you don’t have a sim racing cockpit and use a regular chair and desk, you might experience back and neck strain.
Proper posture is the key to avoiding these issues. The same goes for body positioning. Here’s what you have to do:
- Sit with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and head facing forward.
- Have a slight bend in your elbows and knees.
- Keep your wrists and forearms in a neutral position (not too high or low).
- Use your leg muscles to support your weight, not your arms and shoulders.
When you’re a part of longer races, take some measures to manage physical fatigue. For example, you can train your body using exercises that simulate the movements and positions you make during sim racing. Also, don’t forget to take breaks.
Tip 3: Make Compatibility a Priority
If there’s one thing you need to keep in mind when putting together a sim racing setup, it’s compatibility. You don’t want to choose peripherals that don’t go with each other. Why?
Firstly, doing so will make integration a nightmare. Your racing wheel won’t work with the pedal, or the shifter will be on its own tangent. Then, you’ll have to buy connectors and a whole lot of extra equipment to make everything work together.
Compatibility also ensures consistent feedback. If your setup supports force feedback, you can expect to receive tactile feedback throughout the gaming experience.
Another benefit of compatible gear is customization. You can adjust every last thing from the tire pressure to the spacing of your pedals.
Tip 4: Become a Better Sim Racer
Once your sim racing setup is up and running, next comes the fun part – racing! Use these tips to become a better sim racer:
- Set the FOV Correctly: The field of view or FOV is the amount of the track and surroundings that you can see on the screen. Make sure you set this correctly. You can use the simulator’s built-in FOV calculator to get the optimal setting for your setup.
- Take It Slow: Do you think Max Verstappen decided to get into a car one day and magically became an F1 champion? Nope. It takes time and practice. Be prepared to spend time on sim racing.
- Study Tracks: You won’t one day wake up and know all the racing tracks by heart. Instead, you’ll need to memorize them. Watch videos and use simulators like iRacing to get familiar with the track layout. Know where there’s an elevation or a turn so that you can adjust your driving accordingly.
- Analyze Replays: After you finish a race, go back to it. Replay your performance and see where you can improve. Maybe you spend too much time on the brakes or don’t take the best racing line. Use replays to identify weak points and work on them.
- Join Online Communities:There are plenty of online communities for sim racers, including forums and Discord servers. Join these to connect with other enthusiasts and learn from their experiences.
Tip 5: Fine Tune and Update
Fine-tuning your setup means adjusting its parameters according to your driving preference and style. Start by learning about car-related concepts, such as:
- Ride height
- Suspension stiffness
Learn how these settings impact your driving experience. Also, focus on setting the tire pressure. A low tire pressure will give you more grip, but it hinders responsiveness. On the other hand, a higher tire pressure comes with more responsiveness. But then you have to deal with a low overall grip. Set the pressure according to the track and racing style.
After you’ve made the adjustments, test them on the track. Notice how your car reacts differently in different adjustments. For instance, notice the acceleration pattern or the braking precision. Over time, you’ll learn how to perfect the adjustment for each race.
There you have it! Now, you can follow these tips to improve your sim racing setup and the overall gaming experience. We’ll end by saying that you won’t be a pro on the first day. Give yourself time to improve.
Also, practice, practice, and practice. That’s the formula for getting better and better at sim racing with every race. While you’re at it, don’t miss out on videos and tips from pro racers. You can always learn a thing or two from people who’ve been doing this for years. Happy racing!