What Are The Benefits Of Using Sim Gear Stick Shifters?

If you’re new to sim racing, you may wonder if it’s worth buying a gear stick shifter. They’re a common piece of equipment, and you often find rigs with mounts for them. But before you consider buying one, it’s worth learning more about the benefits of sim racing gear stick shifters.

The 3 main benefits of a sim racing gear stick shifter are:

  1. Higher level of immersion
  2. Greater car control
  3. Ideal for rally games

Below, we go into more detail on the benefits of driving with a stick shifter, plus some added bonuses and other essential things to consider before deciding whether or not it’s the right purchase for you. We’ll also suggest a few of our favorite options.

Logitech Driving Force sim racing H-pattern gear stick shifter attached to a wooden table, The Benefits Of Using Sim Racing Gear Shifters

Do You Need A Sim Racing Shifter?

You don’t need a sim racing shifter, especially if you primarily race cars that make use of paddle shifters, such as an F1 car, or automatic transmissions. However, they can add a new layer of immersion, especially if you do a lot of rally racing or drive classic cars that have manual gearboxes.

Sim racing as an industry has truly flourished in recent years, with so many new brands emerging offering a wide range of products. Because of this, you have far more options to choose from when looking at gear stick shifters than racers would have had a few years back!

You can transform your sim racing rig into the cockpit of a real racing car for an authentic, intuitive, and exciting experience for starting prices of $50 when you look at the likes of Logitech as an option. However, it’s important to understand which type of sim racing shifter is right for you: H-pattern or sequential?

H-Pattern Shifters For Sim Racing

Increased Level Of Immersion

A large part of sim racing is to recreate conditions for races and driving in reality, and because of that, these types of gear stick shifters really help create that immersive aspect that so many racers are looking for in their rigs.

If you’re driving cars that have a manual gearbox in real life, such as classic cars, you’ll find an H-pattern shifter to be the most immersive option. Obviously if you’re normally driving automatic or semi-automatic cars (such as F1 and GT cars), you won’t want to use a stick shifter.

A Slow Way To Shift

Perhaps the most common complaint of this shifter type is the slowness and very noticeable lag when compared to paddle shifting, and even sequential shifting. This is because you have to physically select the gear as opposed to hitting up or down when you need to.

Quite Expensive

The biggest potential downside of this shifter type is the simple fact that they often cost considerably more than sequential shifters (see the next section). Thrustmaster is the most affordable brand in this arena, with their TH8A 7-Speed shifter that still costs close to $200. However, you can change the H-pattern shifter to a sequential one. You essentially get two styles of stick shifter for that price!

The window of price scaling is huge, with brands like RT-Spec asking for near $2,000 for a professional H-pattern shifter. If you spend some time shopping around, this type of shifter can definitely be affordable, and you can enjoy a truly immersive sim racing experience.

The Best H-Pattern Shifters For Sim Racing

The Best Overall
Value For Money
The Budget Choice
The Best Overall
  • • Solid build quality
  • • Excellent feel
  • • H-pattern & sequential modes
Value For Money
  • • Versatile shifter
  • • Superb build quality
  • • H-pattern & sequential modes
The Budget Choice
  • • Great for beginners
  • • Simple setup
  • • Reasonably priced

Sequential Shifters For Sim Racing

Fast Shifting

In a lot of ways, a sequential shifter is the best of both worlds when looking for a balance between realism and performance. It provides a nice dose of realism due to the separate gear column that can be mounted to your rig, and the overall shifting experience is faster when compared to a H-pattern shifter.

Only needing to select up or down in gears might seem strange if you’re used to driving a manual, but many race cars use this type of shifter. NASCAR cars use a sequential shifter, as do many rally cars too.

Best Of Both Worlds

Using a sequential shifter will definitely result in lag when compared to paddle shifting, but the lag is greatly reduced compared to H-pattern shifters. This means you can compete in races in which you are required to have a manual drive without losing time due to gear selections!

The quick, snappy gear changing is a favorite within the sim racing community, and even those who would swear by their paddle shifting can be converted when trying out a sequential rig. It’s the perfect blend of realism and stream-lined racing for sim setups, so what isn’t to like about that combination?

The price of this gear stick shifter is far more pocket-friendly too, when compared to a lot of high-end H-pattern ones. However, you can often find options that bundle the two together. These are good choices for beginners, as you can try both kinds of shifter with one product.

Best Sequential Shifters For Sim Racing

The Best Overall
A Close Second
Value For Money
The Best Overall
  • • Super realistic feel
  • • Incredible build quality
  • • Ideal size
A Close Second
  • • Versatile option
  • • Immersive short throw shifter
  • • Durable build materials
Value For Money
  • • Sequential & H-pattern modes
  • • Reasonably priced
  • • Ideal for beginners

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits of using sim racing shifters. The H-pattern shifter is fantastic for an exciting, realistic experience in the right kind of car. On the flip side, a sequential shifter will give you that competitive edge right off the bat, coupled with the appeal of enhanced realism.