As a beginner, the vast number of options for sim racing setups can be a bit overwhelming. Some hardware can offer a virtually lifelike experience while others just about get you by. So, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the best beginner sim racing setups on the market.
The 7 best beginner sim racing setups are:
- Logitech G29 / G920 & Playseat Challenge
- Thrustmaster T248
- Fanatec GT DD Pro & F-GT Elite + ES1 Seat
- MOZA R5 Bundle
- Thrustmaster T300 RS & TH8A Shifter & F-GT Lite
- Thrustmaster T128
- PXN V9 Wheel With Pedals & Shifter
This list is fairly varied to give everyone an option that might suit them, no matter your budget or what you want from the sim racing experience. Read on below for a more in-depth look into each one, along with some must-know information that will help you make your first sim racing purchase.
Note: I’ve included a variety of different setups here. For some, I’ve mixed and matched wheels and cockpits, while for others I’ve just listed the wheel and pedal bundle itself. Clearly you can choose your own setup by adding and taking things away to suit your needs, but hopefully this list gives you some inspiration!
The 7 Best Beginner Sim Racing Setups
1. Logitech G29 / G920 & Playseat Challenge
It’s probably not a surprise to see this wheel on top as it’s the most popular beginner-friendly wheel on the market. It has a decent amount of torque at about 2.3 Nm, which is more than enough to provide an immersive experience in any racing game. The force feedback is delivered through a dual motor cog system, which is a little bit clunky at times, but you can hear it more than you can feel it.
It has a standard console button layout (the G29 is for PlayStation, while the G920 is for Xbox), which makes it a bit easier for beginners as it’s likely familiar territory. The wheel rim feels good to use, and it feels like a premium product considering the price. It mounts onto any desk or cockpit using a clamp system that you tighten by hand, or you can bolt it to a rig if you wish.
The pedals that come with the G29 are pretty decent for a beginner set, even featuring a clutch pedal, which is rare at this price point. The brake is stiff and requires a decent amount of force to compress all the way, although it is a potentiometer pedal. The pedal set attaches easily to any carpet using the retractable spiked carpet grips, or wooden floors using the rubber pads.
Proper Pedal Placement
I find that for it to be completely static, you need to either bolt them down or put them against a wall. However, the Playseat Challenge offers an ergonomic seating position with a stable platform for the pedals and wheel. This ensures that both the wheel base and pedal set will not move when you’re racing.
However, the pedal base plate isn’t really much to mount on, and it’s not going to be ideal for much more than the Logitech G29s without tying them down. But overall, it serves as a good starting point for any beginner sim racer.
Note: You can often get the G29 / G920 bundled with Logitech’s H-pattern shifter, but the Playseat Challenge doesn’t have a shifter mount – that’s why we haven’t included it here, and it’s not going to be a must for many players anyway.
- Best beginner setup overall
- Great wheel and pedals
- Playseat Challenge is a great starting point
- Gear-based force feedback is a bit clunky
2. Thrustmaster T248
Next up is Thrustmaster’s answer to the Logitech G29/G920, with the T248. This wheel boasts many similarities to the Logitech, and it’s clearly targeted at the beginner market. It’s overall a fairly affordable way to get into sim racing, and the wheel has plenty of functionality to offer.
The T248 wheel uses Thrustmaster’s hybrid (gear and belt) force feedback system, which means it is typically a little smoother than the gears of the Logitech wheel. I think it’s strong enough for beginners, but you will be looking to upgrade this later down the line if you start taking sim racing more seriously.
You get a wide selection of buttons on the wheel rim itself, largely following the typical console layout with a D-pad and your four standard buttons, along with R1, R2 etc. But you also get two up-down encoder switches, which adds a little extra functionality to the rim.
Screen & Shifters
There is also a nice LED screen at the top of the wheel, which can show your gear, RPM, lap times, and much more. It’s also where you can tweak the force feedback between three different levels.
On the back of the rim you get magnetic paddle shifters that are really impressive for a wheel at this price point. They feel really nice to use, offering a very tactile response. But I will say they are quite loud – bear that in mind if you plan to race near other people or are otherwise conscious of the noise levels.
As for the pedals, you get a set of T3PM pedals with the T248. These pedals work using Hall Effect sensors, which, while a step up from potentiometer mechanisms, still rely on pedal position rather than the force you’re applying. This means they take a hit on the realism front, and they’re not as accurate.
However, for an absolute beginner, they’re going to be enough to get you racing and they’ll likely last a long time as well. You can adjust the pedal face positions, and you get some plastic ramps you can add as well to tweak the positions even further. You can also swap out the default spring for a harder one which does offer extra resistance and it’s how I run it personally.
Overall, this is a great bundle for beginner sim racers looking for a budget friendly force feedback racing wheel with a decent set of beginner pedals.
- Decent, adjustable force feedback
- Plenty of buttons
- Very nice paddle shifters for the price
- Pedals leave a lot to be desired
- Lots of plastic
3. Fanatec GT DD Pro & F-GT Elite & ES1 Seat
If you can see yourself sim racing for years to come and you want to jump headfirst into of the most comprehensive sim racing setups for seriously competitive racers, then this is a good choice. This is a more expensive option, and I wouldn’t recommend this to those who don’t already know that they are going to commit to the hobby.
An Incredible Beginner Setup
Fanatec’s GT DD Pro bundle, while quite expensive, offers a direct drive wheel base, a fantastic racing wheel, and a set of pedals with an excellent upgrade path. If purchased with the optional boost kit, the wheel base can pump out 8 Nm of torque, which is a considerable amount more than the G29.
The wheel base is also direct drive, meaning the wheel will be directly affected by the motor, reducing latency and providing a more responsive, smoother, and stronger delivery of force feedback. The wheel itself is packed with features, including an OLED display, RevLED strip, access to a tuning menu, and more than enough rotary encoders and buttons for most racing scenarios.
It feels like a premium product because it is a premium product, even if the price doesn’t suggest that. The pedals that come with the DD Pro are sold with just the brake and accelerator included. Optional upgrades are available, such as the addition of a clutch pedal, a load cell brake, and a tuning kit.
Note: It’s easy to hurt yourself with a direct drive wheel as a beginner due to the high amount of torque they can produce. Always take care when operating one of these wheels.
This is a great sim racing rig that will be able to handle the direct drive of the Fanatec DD Pro. It's very sturdy, and it's made from ultra-durable materials, so it's built to last.
The F-GT racing cockpit is a fantastic addition to the GT DD Pro, and it can be positioned so you can sit in an ergonomic Formula or GT racing position. There is plenty of lumbar support from the ES1 seat, and while the price point is a little high, we believe the build materials and overall quality justify the cost.
It’s a very sturdy cockpit, which is why it’s a great fit for the DD Pro, as it offers a very stable platform for the wheel base that can withstand the torque output from the direct drive motor. If you wanted to add a shifter of some sort you could, but for GT racing and Formula 1 racing, this wheel base and set of pedals are all you need to race competitively.
- Excellent force feedback at a relatively low cost
- Ergonomic racing chair
- Easily upgradable
- Quite expensive for a beginner setup
- Direct drive may be a bit powerful for newbies
4. MOZA R5 Bundle
For those looking for a beginner direct drive setup, the MOZA R5 bundle is the cheapest option on the market. You get MOZA’s entry-level 5.5 Nm R5 wheel base, the ES steering wheel, and a set of pedals, all for a very budget-conscious price. Plus, it’s all upgradable, so you can grow with MOZA’s ecosystem!
Value For Money Beginner Setup
The R5 wheel base is truly impressive, offering a nice level of direct drive torque for those who are venturing away from the gear and belt-driven options that most beginners start off with. But this bundle is actually ideal even for those who have never used a sim racing wheel before, thanks to the included clamp and pedals.
The pedals are MOZA’s SR-P Lite pedals (not available to buy separately), and these are potentiometer based pedals. This is absolutely fine for beginners, but after a few months you’ll likely start wanting more, and these should be the first thing you upgrade. We recommend moving on to MOZA’s (still budget friendly) load cell SR-P pedals (the CRP pedals are the next step up from these).
The Wheel Rim
The included wheel is excellent, and it’s a step above the pedals in terms of quality. You get a great looking, solid feeling wheel rim that’s packed with buttons. It’s MOZA’s entry-level wheel rim, so it’s not quite as kitted out as the other ones, but you still get a hand-stitched leather rim and aluminum body, combined with metal shifters and a nice RGB rev strip.
You get decent paddles on the back, and a good variety of buttons that you can map to various functions in-game. You can tune everything from MOZA’s Pit House app, and this makes for a highly customizable experience. Overall, for what you get in this bundle, it’s hard to find better value for money in the entry-level direct drive market.
- Great value for money
- Powerful direct drive wheel base
- Highly functional wheel rim included
- You may outgrow the pedals quite quickly
5. Thrustmaster T300 RS & TH8A Shifter & F-GT Lite
The T300 RS is a bigger wheel than competitors at a similar price point, and the wheel is also removable from the wheel base. This means that, depending on the motorsport discipline, you could swap out the wheel for any number of Thrustmaster wheels that you’d prefer, making this an upgradable choice.
The pedals that come bundled with the T300 RS lack a clutch pedal, but you can definitely get by without one in most games. The included pedal face plates are metal and feel durable, but the pedal base itself feels rather cheap and flimsy. I would highly recommend upgrading the pedals once you feel you’re outgrowing them, to something like the T-LCM pedals.
Great Accuracy And Sturdy Materials
The TH8A shifter from Thrustmaster is one of the most popular H-pattern shifters on the market. It is made from very durable materials and feels realistic with a good amount of resistance with each gear change, just like in a real car.
This is an excellent H-pattern shifter that can also be configured into a sequential shifter if that's your preferred style. Its versatility and overall build quality make this a fantastic choice for an immersion boost.
It features a Hall Effect sensor for great accuracy and a contactless magnetic sensor, which means it’ll last a long time without showing any sign of wear. The clamping mechanism of the TH8A shifter is really easy to use and mounts securely to any desk or cockpit. It’s quite expensive, but there aren’t many other shifters that come as close to the performance of the TH8A shifter at this price point.
The GTLite racing cockpit offers a GT-style racing position. The frame isn’t too thick, meaning that it’s quite portable and easy to fold up and store when not in use. But this also means that if you upgrade to a direct drive wheel, the frame will likely be too weak to support the high torque output. Nonetheless, this combination makes for a brilliant beginner sim racing setup.
- Great force feedback wheel
- Decent racing chair
- Room to upgrade in future
- Pedals aren’t the best
- Seat wouldn’t be ideal for a direct drive upgrade
6. Thrustmaster T128
Next we have the T128 from Thrustmaster, which you can think of as a basic version of the (somewhat already basic) T248 I discussed earlier. It’s a very beginner-focused wheel, as you can probably tell from the way it looks and the pedals it comes with. But that means we just had to include it on our list!
The Wheel Rim
The T128 wheel rim looks quite similar to the T248 as well, and it offers some of the same functionality. You get the usual buttons, which will vary depending on the console version you choose (it will work with PC as well of course). There’s no screen like on the more expensive option, but there are some rev lights.
The force feedback comes from a hybrid gear and belt system, and it feels great to be honest when you consider the price. It’s not going to blow you away, but for a total beginner sim racer, it’s going to be enough to let you enjoy the game at a much higher level than your controller can offer.
The construction is mainly plastic, and the wheel itself does feel quite cheap. But that’s because it is! With wheels at this price point metal is a luxury, and really function over form is the theme here. In that respect, it’s a great choice for those that just want to elevate their racing experience for the lowest possible cost.
I think the pedals are a bit of a let-down here, only offering a 2-pedal set that’s similar to the T3PM pedals. This means they’re not all that realistic, but they’re also just very basic. I think you’ll outgrow these much faster than the wheel, but I guess at this price point that’s to be expected.
While this setup feels a bit more like a toy than the other options on this list, it would make a great gift for a child or someone that’s not sure if they want to get serious about sim racing yet.
- Very affordable setup
- Beginner friendly wheel and pedals
- Nice tactile shifters
- Feels very cheap
- Pedals are pretty poor
7. PXN V9 Wheel With Pedals & Shifter
The PXN V9 bundle is the ultimate beginner setup for those with no prior exposure to the world of sim racing. This wheel lacks any force feedback, but it still delivers a complete racing experience for those that are less concerned with realism to begin with. The racing experience will certainly be less immersive than other force feedback options, but it’s perfectly fine for absolute beginners.
This is a great setup for absolute beginners that aren't too fussed about force feedback. With a wheel, pedals, and a shifter included, it's a budget friendly way to break into the world of sim racing.
The astonishing price of the bundle, which includes a 3-pedal set and even an H-pattern shifter, makes this the best bundle on the market for those who don’t care about force feedback. The wheel features a standard PlayStation button layout, and it has fairly responsive paddle shifters behind the wheel rim too (although they do feel cheap).
It has various degrees of resistance and a dual motor vibration system, but again, no force feedback. The wheel mounting system uses suction cups instead of the standard clamping system we see on force feedback wheels. As there is no force feedback, the suction cups do a good job of keeping it securely mounted to a desk.
The Pedals And Shifter
The pedals are passable, but the travel is very shallow. The brake pedal offers poor resistance and there’s just not much room for brake modulation. The H-pattern shifter can be used as a handbrake and is a decent addition. It doesn’t feel as reliable as the Logitech driving force shifter, or as durable as the TH8A, but it gets the job done, if not just a little clunkier.
Note: There is a V10 version of this setup that does have force feedback, but it’s much pricier, and we’d recommend going with a brand like Fanatec, Thrustmaster, or Logitech if you need a wheel with this capability
The mobile app that is featured with the PXN V9 allows you to configure the pedals, wheel, and shifter through the mobile app. This is also where you’ll be configuring the wheel and remapping controls if needs be. Overall, it’s a fun starting point for absolute beginners, but if you think you’re likely to get into sim racing more seriously in future, we recommend choosing one of the previous options.
- Lots of features
- Reasonable value for money
- Good starting point for absolute beginners
- Feels quite cheap
- No force feedback
- No upgrade path
Summary Of The Best Beginner Sim Racing Setups
|Logitech G29 / G920 & Playseat Challenge||One of the best budget sim racing wheels|
Excellent all-in-one cockpit
|Gear-driven force feedback is a bit clunky|
No shifter mount on the Playseat
|Thrustmaster T248||Decent force feedback at a low price|
Very beginner friendly pedals included
|You’ll outgrow the pedals quickly|
No seat included at this price
|Fanatec GT DD Pro & F-GT Elite & ES1 Seat||One of the cheapest direct drive wheels on the market|
Durable rig and comfortable seat
|Not the cheapest setup for beginners|
Direct drive wheel not a must for beginners
|MOZA R5 Bundle||Excellent value for money|
Direct drive wheel is one of the cheapest around
|The pedals aren’t great|
It’s not compatible with console
|Thrustmaster T300 RS & TH8A Shifter & F-GT Lite||Smooth belt-driven force feedback|
Excellent shifter that you can mount on the rig
|Included pedals aren’t the best|
The rig won’t suit a direct drive upgrade in the future
|Thrustmaster T128||Very beginner friendly option|
Force feedback at a low price
|You’ll probably outgrow it quite quickly|
The pedals aren’t great
|PXN V9 Wheel With Pedals & Shifter||Ideal for absolute beginners or kids|
|Not very immersive|
No upgrade path
What Do You Need For Your Beginner Sim Racing Setup?
PC Or Console
It should be a given that you’ll already have one of these, but nonetheless, a decent gaming PC or console, whether that’s a PlayStation or Xbox, is a must-have. Make sure your hardware meets the minimum requirements to run the sim racing game of your choice. For the sake of this list, we’ve assumed you either have one already or are getting one separately.
A dedicated sim racing space will make your setup far tidier looking, but it’s not essential. Large cockpits or sim racing chassis that you may upgrade to in the future will benefit from having their own space as they take up a lot of room and often aren’t multifunctional, meaning the only practical use for them is sim racing.
Most beginner setups will usually require at least a desk to mount the wheel and shifter to. Due to the lower torque on beginner sim racing wheels, desk clamps can usually withstand the power of the wheel base, but it won’t be the most ergonomic of setups, and nor will it be future proof. It also won’t be suitable for wheels like the T300 RS or any direct drive options.
A small frame cockpit such as the Playseat Challenge is a great option for those with limited space but that still want an ergonomic seating position. They are an added expense, but they’re relatively cheap when compared to other full racing chassis options on the market.
This is one of the most important purchases you will make as a beginner and will probably be your main driver for years to come until you decide to upgrade. A common misconception is that you have to start big to have a good experience while sim racing, but that’s far from the truth.
Even with a non-force feedback wheel, while not recommended, you can have a far superior experience in racing games than with a controller. Based on purely a competitive advantage, the difference between a wheel and a controller is huge.
Note: All of the wheels on our list have force feedback of some kind, with the final wheel on the list being the only exception (the PXN V9 is designed for absolute beginners on a tight budget)
Apexes are easier to hit, steering is smooth and responsive, and even for arcade racers, traffic will be easier to dodge with quick reflex actions in games like Need For Speed or Forza Horizon 5. Generally, all you need to race competitively is a few Nm of torque. Anything higher than this will provide a much more immersive and realistic experience, but at a much higher price point.
It should also be noted that if you are playing on a console, you will normally be locked to one manufacturer’s ecosystem due to hardware limitations, meaning if you get a Thrustmaster wheel, you will have to get Thrustmaster pedals, and so on.
Most beginner sim racing wheels come bundled with a set of pedals and possibly even a shifter. Load cell pedals will provide the most accurate and realistic experience, but they shouldn’t be a priority until you know you want to commit to sim racing as a hobby.
If you plan on using an H-pattern shifter with your wheel, make sure that your pedals include a clutch, as without a clutch pedal the manual experience is fairly watered down and unrealistic. If you plan on only doing Formula 1 or GT racing, then the lack of a clutch pedal won’t be too much of an issue as you’ll be using the paddle shifters on your racing wheel.
Needless to say, pedal sets that include a clutch pedal or load cell technology will often be more expensive than their clutch-less or potentiometer-based alternatives. These are systems you can upgrade to in the future.
Depending on what type of racing you plan on doing, these may not be accessories to you but necessities. Those who plan on racing in games like Dirt Rally 2.0 may see a handbrake and sequential shifter as must-have additions to a sim racing setup.
A manual sequential shifter isn’t something usually sold with beginner wheels, and neither is a handbrake, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for a compatible set. Similar to wheels and pedals, there are plenty of budget options as well as options costing thousands of dollars.
Most manufacturers sell handbrakes and sequential shifters separately, but if you plan on racing primarily on console, double-check whether the accessory is compatible with your other hardware before buying.
Sim Racing Seat
If you are limited on space or you don’t have the budget for it, you might not have a cockpit to go with your wheel, meaning you’ve probably clamped the wheel to your desk. But if you stick with your normal desk chair, you will find that it will slide backward as you push against the brake pedal.
It’s nice to have a multifunctional setup for other types of games and not just sim racing, but the average office chair has wheels that will generally have you rolling backward as you use the pedals. This is why it’s best to invest in a cheap sim racing chair if you can, or at least make it one of the first things you upgrade to once you’re sure the hobby is for you.
KEY POINTS• We recommend you have enough space for a dedicated sim racing setup
• It’s also best to get a dedicated rig or seat if you can afford it
• Force feedback is a must for most serious racers too
How To Choose The Best Sim Racing Setup As A Beginner
When choosing the racing wheel that’s best for you, you need to first know what force feedback is and why it’s important. Force feedback is the way that the sim conveys information through your steering wheel. It’s essentially the way you get more connected to the car and how you feel what the wheels of the car are doing.
For example, force feedback will provide the sensation of understeer when you’ve pushed beyond the car’s traction limits. Without force feedback, these effects are particularly hard to gauge quickly enough to correct for them. Budget wheels that feature force feedback offer an excellent balance between cost and performance.
Thrustmaster’s wheels will generally have a smoother delivery of force feedback, as they use a belt pulley system. Logitech’s G29 is a little clunkier as it uses a gear system, but the overall feedback feels consistent and responsive. Direct drive wheels provide the strongest and most realistic force feedback.
Sadly, they are often very expensive, and while it isn’t usually recommended that you get a direct drive wheel as a beginner, if you have the budget and you know you are going to stick with the hobby, it might not be a terrible idea to get a cheap direct drive wheel.
Load Cell vs Potentiometer Pedals
Most beginner pedals, particularly those that are bundled with beginner wheels, will have a potentiometer-based brake pedal. A potentiometer-based pedal means the brake pressure is measured in-game by the distance that the pedal has traveled. This is still a fairly accurate method of measurement, but it can make brake modulation a little twitchy and makes techniques like trail braking difficult.
Load cell brakes are much stiffer and far more realistic, as instead of measuring distance traveled, they measure the pressure you put on the pedal. This means that it’s far more accurate, brake modulation is easier, and it’s more consistent.
Buyer’s Tip: As long as you have a decent force feedback wheel, we recommend upgrading your pedals before anything else, as they can really boost your performance and the overall level of immersion
Cockpit vs No Cockpit
A sim racing cockpit will offer a better experience than any desk chair alternative, but depending on your available space and your budget, it may not be an option. Luckily, for most beginner sim racing wheels that aren’t direct drive, a cockpit isn’t a necessary addition. Beginner wheels like the Logitech G29 will mount onto your desk with no problem.
However, you simply can’t do the same with a direct drive wheel, or even something like the T300 RS from Thrustmaster. The torque generated by these wheels is just too much for desks or even some weaker cockpits to handle. Ergonomically, a cockpit of any sort will be far more comfortable than using your desk and an office chair, but you can live without one depending on your choice of wheel.
A Note On Our List
Note that while we have bundled some products together for these setups, clearly you could mix and match or throw in some other products to make the ideal setup for you specifically. These are just suggestions for places to start, so you can definitely build on them with your own ideas!
KEY POINTS• We recommend going for a wheel with force feedback
• Direct drive is an option, but it’s usually too much for beginners
• Load cell pedals are ideal, but not essential for your first setup
• A dedicated cockpit is far more favorable than using a desk
The Logitech G29 wheel and pedals alongside the Playseat Challenge provides the most complete racing experience that doesn’t break the bank. Those who are committing to the hobby may have more to gain from the Fanatec DD Pro if it’s in your budget, but the T300 RS provides a good middle ground.
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