When it comes to sim racing, the whole point is to get it to feel as close to real experience as possible. Often unnoticed as they sit below a desk or at your feet, it is amazing the difference a good, or even basic, set of pedals can make to the sim racing experience.
So, what are the benefits of using a sim racing pedal set? Here the main benefits of sim racing pedals:
- Much more realistic experience
- Increased competitiveness
- Better overall control of the car
What is it exactly that makes them so much better than your average controller and why should you go out and spend your hard-earned cash on the accessory? Well let’s have a look at these questions and try to see why the sim racing world would be in pedlam without them.
What Gives You More Control Using Sim Racing Pedals?
A lot of sim racing hardware is relatively new when it comes to the gaming world, and the technology available has developed very quickly in conjunction with the development of the games themselves.
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That being said, one of the biggest reasons for a greater increase in control is simply having a more natural feel to driving. It is almost impossible to adjust brake or acceleration pressure with buttons that have no in-built flexibility.
It is also very difficult to have 10 fingers try to control, acceleration, breaks, turning, boost, handbrake, gears as well as adjusting any settings. So, sharing the load is important.
But what is the technology that allows these pedals to do their job so well, and why are some better than others? Well, recent advances with from potentiometers to Hall effect sensors, and also load cells and hydraulic systems in the brake pedal mean that you can get the most realistic feel in your sim racing experience.
What are they though and how do they give you that realism we all crave so much?
The potentiometers are the cart horse of the pedal world. A simple linear motion converter that converts your push on the pedal into a percentage and sends it into the game. A simple way to turn your feet going down into an electrical signal that the game can read, which you tend to find in more budget models like the Logitech G27 pedals or Thrustmaster T3PA set.
Don’t think that because the technology is old it is obsolete. For the prices you pay they offer a good input to help you control the games, better than any game pad. The thing they do lack is any output, like resistance, so that you can get the sensation you feel in your feet like you would for any driving you do in real life.
Load cells are the standard that pedal systems use today. Instead of braking force being determined by the linear travel of the pedal, load cell pedals produce a gaming output that depends on the force that you input.
What does that mean? Simply the harder you press, the more you will decelerate or accelerate, so the pedals themselves give more resistance to make them feel like the real thing.
The only problem with these pedals is the stiffness right on the limit of the pedal, but technology is improving all the time, so expect this to be resolved, and for load cell pedals to continue to be a great cheap option.
Finally, the gold standard in pedals is the hydraulic systems. Pedal sets such as the HPP PHT Pedal Set use specially designed hydraulics that convert your pressure into electrical signals and offer the perfect resistance to get the most realistic feel available on the market today.
That being said, make sure that you buy from a reputable company that you can trust. These pieces of kit use high-pressure systems, and a failure in them can be dangerous.
The Features Of Sim Racing Pedals
The sim racing pedal market has grown and grown over the past few years, like all gaming accessory markets and so there are a few things to be looking out for when it comes to making your purchase.
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First, and probably most important, 2 pedals or 3? This is all down to the type of driver you want to be. Keep in mind though that if you do want to use a clutch pedal, you’ll have to get a separate gear stick shifter to go with it.
Next, is the materials that it is made from. A lot of the lower end pedals are made from cheaper plastics and can be a little small for some players. The lightness of the lower quality pedals can also be an issue if they aren’t attached to any racing rig.
Having pedals slip away from under you can be a very frustrating end to a race. The higher end models tend to be made from metal and some have a grippy coating on them to give the players optimum performance for their game.
Another thing to consider when you’re going to purchase these pedals in how cross-compatible they are. Do they work well with different wheels or gear stick shifters? Will they attach to any sim racing rig or will you have to get out the drill and make them fit?
These are worth taking into consideration if you are likely to upgrade parts of your rig over time, as you don’t want to find yourself limited by a piece of equipment, or having to change it because they aren’t compatible.
One final, and probably for some most important, point is the aesthetics. They look great, especially those at the premium end of the market. The brushed stainless steel, the hydraulic systems or even the simple plastic set up all look great sitting alongside any other accessories that you have.
There are a lot of great brands out there offering some great products. The big boys at ThrustMaster and Logitech are leading the charge when it comes to affordable, quality technology and Fanatec are also making some great mid-range products. For the high-end market look no further than Mark Hargett and Heusinkveld engineering for the best quality options available.
The main thing to take away here is that there are plenty of options around to suit every style of player. Make sure you know what is important to you and find a product that meets those criteria. The key things to look for are, number of pedals, compatibility and build quality. Get something good and you may not have to buy another set for the rest of your sim racing life.
The most endearing thing about sim racing is its inclusivity. It is available to one and all, and the range of products that are available mean that for any budget there is a set up to match it. Some want to race better while others want a more realistic experience, and there is no doubt that different pedals offer different results.
Although any pedal set is sure to make your lap times better than simply using a controller, what the expensive ones will not do is make you a faster driver.
They will however give you a much more realistic experience, and if that is something that you’re after, pluck for the more expensive option. Make sure, also, to go for the best build quality and the most flexible compatibility, and you will be able to enjoy limitless, quality racing for several years to come.