Button boxes for sim racing are one of the more interesting and often overlooked additions to any setup. They are exactly what the name suggests, as they essentially allow you to map in-game functions to certain buttons in order to give you even more control over your sim racing experience.
So, what are the benefits of a sim racing button box? There are plenty of benefits to using button boxes for sim racing, but there are 4 key benefits to bear in mind:
- Ease of use
- Gaming efficiency
- Racing aesthetics
These benefits combine to enhance your sim racing experience, and they can bring a new level of fun and functionality to your existing rig. However, there are plenty of options out there, and knowing which one is right for your playstyle and setup is essential.
What To Look For In A Sim Racing Button Box
There are lots of button boxes on the market, and they come in many different shapes and sizes. There are button boxes for every playstyle and setup that you can imagine, but if you don’t know what you need for your own setup, you will struggle to find one that fits it well.
Prices vary, and so it is important to find one that ticks all of the boxes from comfort to functionality, as you don’t want to spend your money on something that isn’t optimized for your particular setup. You also have to pay attention to the compatibility of the button box, as most models will only work with specific consoles and even certain games.
There are several brands to choose from, and each will have their own aesthetic and feel. There are carbon fiber button boxes and plain plastic ones, and you will have to choose the one that you think will look best when combined with the rest of your existing sim racing gear.
There is a button box suited to every sim racing rig, but do you really need one? There are plenty of reasons to get one, and some reasons not to as well. There is also the option to create your own button box, but first you need to know what a button box can do for your sim racing experience.
The Benefits Of Using A Button Box
There are lots of reasons to get your hands on a button box, but the first and most obvious one is the amount of customization it can bring to your sim racing experience. Normally you would have to map in-game options to the buttons on your steering wheel or controller, and then cycle through the options menu to select ones that you don’t have room for on your wheel.
This takes time, and sometimes it just isn’t possible in the middle of a race. Button boxes allow you to map controls and options, and even things like pit strategies, to the toggles on the box. This puts them in easy reach while you are racing, giving you the ability to rapidly switch cameras, change fuel ratios and do just about anything else you want without having to pause the game.
With this customization you can really tune your button box to your specific playstyle, and this can lead to much more efficient racing as you will have easy access to the controls that you need the most. This could make the difference between a win and a loss in tight racing situations where every millisecond counts.
The final benefit of using a sim racing button box is that they can add a really cool racing aesthetic to your setup. There are some excellent choices out there that will make your sim racing rig look and feel like a high-performance car interior, with buttons and switches that would be present in a real racecar. Some even come with key switches for an even further enhanced racing experience.
However, you have to consider whether or not a button box is suited to your playstyle and your budget. If you are less experienced, and you don’t make use of many of the extra in-game options anyway, a button box might not be essential. However, even if you are a beginner, a cheap button box can be a great way to introduce some of those extra functionalities.
The Average Cost Of A Sim Racing Button Box
With all of the benefits, the average sim racing button box is not necessarily cheap, but you don’t have to break the bank either. There are several brands to choose from, with the main ones being BBJ, SimRacing4U and Apex Sim Racing. Each has their own selection of button boxes to choose from with their own pricing and styling too.
Prices for button boxes for sim racing vary from $50 to $250, and each price point comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. In short, the cheaper ones tend to be smaller and have fewer features and functions, while the more expensive ones are larger with more buttons and customization.
At the lower end of the scale, you can expect to benefit from around 5-10 buttons or functions, and this is usually enough for those that want to enhance their sim racing experience without spending too much money. They tend to be smaller, and so are ideal for those with temporary or semi-permanent racing rigs.
The middle of the scale, from around $100 to $200, is where you will find more functionality and usually a lot more buttons. Typically, there might be 10-20 button states, with key switches and other toggles becoming more common as well. They are usually a bit larger, and they are great for those that want to further enhance their sim racing experience.
Then, on the higher end of the scale, you can expect 32 or more button states, giving you maximum control over your racing experience. There is usually a spot for every option you need, and they tend to be made out of a high-quality material such as carbon fiber. This can make them look really cool within your racing setup, and they are definitely geared towards the more experienced sim racer.
Usually the main different between price points is the number of buttons or switches, but price will also determine some other factors about the button box as well. Some will be compatible with specific setups and consoles, and others will even have the option of being fitted directly to your steering wheel or stand.
There is a button box for every setup. If you want one with just a few buttons, but a key switch is an absolute must for the authentic feel of a race car, you will be able to find one for a reasonable price. Conversely if you require lots of functionality but are less focused on the looks, you will also be able to find something that gives you everything you need without costing a fortune.
Is It Worth Making Your Own Button Box?
The pricing may seem intimidating, and so you may be wondering if you should make your own button box instead. There are lots of guides and tips out there for those that do want to take on the challenge and build their own button box, but be aware that it is not always a cheaper option.
The main advantage of building your own button box is the near unlimited level of customization. You can make it as big or as small as you want, and you can add as many buttons and switches as you like. You can also choose what materials you want to use, and you can decide on the shape of each component as well.
This obviously requires time to build, but you also have to consider the mounting cost as you add new materials and components into the mix. If price is your main reason for opting to build your own button box, you may quickly find yourself with a limited choice of materials and functionality.
If you are not too concerned about the price and you just want to take on a fun and practical project of your own, a homemade button box can be a great addition to any racing setup. It will require some basic electronics and DIY know-how, but it can be a great way to get exactly what you need from a sim racing button box.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to choosing a sim racing button box, including the price, the aesthetics, and the level of customization. If you need to get more from your sim racing experience and you aren’t afraid to spend some money, a medium to high-end button box is definitely something to consider. You could even build your own button box from scratch for maximum customizability.
However, even if you don’t have a big budget, you can still take advantage of all of the benefits that a sim racing button box has to offer. There are lots of cheaper models on the market, and most of the low-end options come with more than enough features for those that just want to add something unique to their setup.