Flow Racers is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

The 5 Best Budget PCs For Sim Racing (Ultimate List)

Finding the perfect sim racing PC can be difficult. Finding it when on a budget is even harder. However, there are a few pre-built options on the market for under $1,000 that will do a great job in allowing you to have an enjoyable racing experience, so let’s look at the best budget sim racing PCs.

The 5 best budget PCs for sim racing are:

  1. ACER Nitro N50-640
  2. ASUS ROG Strix GA15
  3. PCSPECIALIST Vortex GR
  4. Stormforce Onyx
  5. HP Pavilion TG01-2170m

Purchasing a lower-end PC does unfortunately have its negatives, as well as a whole bunch of positives, as you won’t be fully able to achieve the same results as a high-end model. In this article we will discuss what to look for when buying a budget PC, as well as listing the best PCs under $1,000.

How Much Should You Spend On A PC For Sim Racing?

How much you should spend on a PC for sim racing depends on your needs. When buying a sim racing PC, it’s important to first consider the features that it has to offer rather than the price. Sim racing titles have varying minimum requirements in terms of CPUs, GPUs, RAM and other technical features.

The higher the quality of these features, the more you will be paying. It is possible to find PCs that match the requirements for most games for around $700-$1,000.

If you choose to spend a bit more, then you’ll have a better chance of finding a great quality, versatile gaming PC that will ensure you get the smoothest and most crisp gameplay. The truth is, there is no real limit to the amount you can spend on your PC, with some pre-built models costing upwards of $7,500. However, you don’t need to spend this much to have an enjoyable sim racing experience.

When thinking about how much to spend, you need to factor in other parts of your rig, like your wheels and pedals. For many racers, these will be more important than the PC itself, so consider where to prioritize your budget. In this article we will be listing PCs at a maximum price of $1,000 focusing on pre-built models without any added modifications or adjustments.

What To Look For In A Budget Sim Racing PC

There are plenty of features both internally and externally to look out for when buying a budget sim racing PC. When buying a cheaper PC, it is important to recognize that you’ll be looking out for the minimum required numbers for aspects such as CPU, RAM and GPU, rather than the ideal or recommended numbers, as they will likely take you over your budget.

It’s also important to look for dedicated gaming PCs rather than your average all-rounder PC, as they won’t offer you the right features for sim racing. There are four main internal features to focus on, as we will discuss further below, including the CPU, RAM, GPU and storage capabilities of the PC. You should also note the shape and size of the model and whether it will fit into your setup.

CPU

The processor, also known as the CPU (Central Processing Unit), is the beating heart of your PC, and it determines how well it will perform when running sim racing titles. The CPU has cores, ranging from 2 cores at the lowest end to 32 or more at the ultra-high end. Budget PCs will contain between 2-6 cores, with 6 cores likely to push the price up further.

It is recommended that you stay away from PCs with 2-core CPUs, unless you are working with an extremely tight budget. Many of the major sim racing titles like iRacing require an absolute minimum of 4 cores to run properly. AMD and Intel are the leading suppliers of CPUs, with AMD processors generally being slightly cheaper.

GPU

The GPU inside your PC is responsible for the graphics that reach your monitor. It’s a very important factor to look out for when buying a budget PC, as while we may not be looking for high-end numbers, you’ll need to make sure the PC you are looking at has a good enough GPU to run your games without framerate or image issues.

The GPU will work using a type of memory called VRAM which stores your monitor’s pixel data ready for the images to be displayed on screen. For budget PCs you’ll be looking at a GPU with around 3-4 GB of dedicated VRAM. This will work best for 1080p monitors but will struggle with 1440p monitors or higher. The recommended level of VRAM for sim racing would be 6 GB, but that will lift the price up.

The Issue Of Framerates

The GPU has a direct effect on framerate, which is one of the most important aspects of sim racing. Higher level GPUs will be able to display images faster onto your screen, meaning you won’t experience any jittery gameplay, which is vital due to the high-speed nature of sim racing. This will also work in accordance with your monitor and how much power it requires to run.

As we are focusing on budget PCs, the recommended monitor resolution is 1080p, as lower-end GPUs with less dedicated VRAM won’t be able to cope with providing images for the number of pixels in 2K and 4K monitors, which will lead to framerate issues. The ideal framerate for sim racing is around 60 fps and higher, which will certainly be achievable with a decent GPU in a budget PC.

Memory (RAM)

RAM, or Random-Access Memory, is a major component in a gaming PC, which can help with boosting framerates and overall responsiveness. It stores all the data received while you are racing, but will reset when you turn the PC off, acting as a short-term memory system. The minimum RAM required in a PC for sim racing is usually 4 GB, which will be common in most budget models, but 8 GB is preferable.

However, to play iRacing you will require at least 16 GB to experience the game’s maximum potential. This isn’t the case for all sim racing games, so if you don’t plan on venturing into iRacing, then you’ll likely be able to get away with having 8 GB of RAM. However, some cheap gaming PCs will come with up to 16 GB of RAM, so you may not have to compromise, depending on your choice.

Another leading sim racing title, Assetto Corsa requires a minimum of 2 GB RAM, although it recommends having at least 6 GB, which is still well short of iRacing’s requirements. Minimum isn’t really the buzzword in sim racing, as you always want to get the best possible experience that you can afford.

Storage

While RAM resets every time your PC’s power is switched off, storage is responsible for holding long-term data, such as game files and your progress within the games. A good amount of storage will allow you to have more games downloaded simultaneously, stopping you from having to delete a game every time you want to try out a new one.

The minimum amount of internal storage for cheaper PCs is usually 500 GB, which will hold anywhere from 5-10+ games, depending on how much space they take up. This is alright for getting started, and if you’re intending on using the PC solely for sim racing, you should be fine. However, with new titles and DLC updates being released all the time, you’ll be at risk of eventually running out.

SSD vs HDD Storage

When you’re looking at a PC’s storage capability, you’ll often find that the number is followed by either SSD or HDD. These are the two types of storage with which PCs operate, with SSD (solid-state drive) being the more modern, faster alternative to HDD (hard disk drive) storage.

SSDs are small devices that store data on a flash drive within the PC. They run silently, which reduces the noise output from the PC. HDDs aren’t so silent, as they store data on a spinning disk. Most mid to high-end PCs now run with SSDs, although budget PCs tend to still use HDDs as they are much cheaper to implement into the setup.

Ideally, a PC with an SSD would be preferrable, as it can also help to load up your games faster, but as we’re sticking to a somewhat tighter budget, a compromise may have to be made.

Shape And Size

Outside of the technical aspects of PCs, you’ll need to make sure that the model you are thinking of going for will fit nicely into your setup. If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, then you can find smaller, more compact PCs on the market. If space isn’t an issue, then there are larger options out there, with huge power capabilities, but not always coming in at a low price.

Cooling Systems

During long sim racing sessions, PCs can reach very high temperatures. This is due to the electricity required to power the PC turning itself into heat energy. You’ll need to look out for a PC with an adequate cooling system, whether it be fan operated or liquid cooled. Fan cooling is more common in cheaper PCs as it is a less complex mechanism.

There are entry-level versions of both systems, but the majority of pre-made PC setups, like the ones we look at below, will be fan operated. These will be louder, which will be more noticeable for those who use speakers than it will be for those who use headphones.

You can never underestimate the importance of cooling systems within a PC as they will reduce the risk of long-term damage to the components inside the PC, as well as reducing the risk of electrical faults and fire hazards.

Ports

It is important that the PC you are choosing has enough connectivity ports to allow you to use multiple pieces of sim hardware simultaneously. You’ll also need ports to plug in a mouse and keyboard. Most PCs will have at least 2 USB ports, but if you’re planning on connecting a full rig and hardware setup to the PC a minimum of 4 would be recommended.

This isn’t a guarantee with cheaper PCs, and you may find yourself having to use external adapters in order to get all your hardware up and running. HDMI ports are also useful, and if you want to run a triple-monitor setup you’ll have to make sure there are enough HDMI compatible ports on the back of the PC, and that the PC can keep up with powering three screens!

KEY POINTS

• Your chosen sim racing PC needs to fit in your rig and be able to support it all

• This means you need to consider shape, size, and the ports on offer

• The CPU and GPU are two of the most important components

• RAM and storage are also key, with minimums of 8 GB and 500 GB recommended respectively

The 5 Best Budget PCs For Sim Racing

1. ACER Nitro N50-640

CPU: Intel Core i5-12400F, 6 cores | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 4 GB | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 1 TB HDD, 256 GB SSD | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: USB-C x1, USB 3.1 x 3, USB 2.0 x 4

* Check Price Here *

The N50-640 is ACER’s cheaper Nitro model, falling just into the budget PC category at a price of around $930. It’s sleek and sinister looking, with its black metal casing and blaze-red chevron design, and will fit nicely into any sim racing setup. In terms of technical features, its performance aligns with its price, with a solid CPU and GPU setup, alongside an alright amount of RAM.

Storage is a huge bonus for this PC with 1.25 TB of storage overall, spread across both HDD and SSD. This means that you’ll have no shortage of space to download all your favorite sim racing games. It also has 8 USB ports of varying types, which is ideal for building up your sim racing rig without the need for adapters.

Overall, this PC provides you with decent performance, with some added bonuses that outperform the price that you’ll have to pay.

PROS:

  • Excellent storage
  • Lots of USB ports
  • Looks great

CONS:

  • Only 8 GB RAM

2. ASUS ROG Strix GA15

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5, 6 cores | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 4 GB | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: USB 3.2 x 7, USB-C 3.2 x 1

* Check Price Here *

The ROG Strix is another nice-looking PC, complete with a strip of LED lights across the front of the casing. For about $950, it’s towards the higher end of the budget category. It has a good quality GPU, so you’ll be able to race with strong resolutions and decent framerates. It also has a 6 core CPU which is above what you might expect from a PC in this price range.

The GA15 is let down by its unfortunate lack of storage. With only 512 GB available, the likelihood is that you will need to purchase an external hard drive in the future. The PC is fully equipped for sim racing, with a wealth of USB ports on offer, so you can plug all your hardware in without adapters.

PROS:

  • 6-core processor
  • Plenty of USB ports
  • Good GPU

CONS:

  • Small amount of storage

3. PCSPECIALIST Vortex GR

CPU: Intel Core i3-10100F, 4 cores | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 4 GB | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 2 TB HDD, 256 GB SSD | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: USB 3.0 x 4, USB 2.0 x 2

* Check Price Here *

For around $835, the Vortex GR by PCSPECIALIST is a well performing PC. It looks every bit the part, with a predominantly clear casing, as well as being fronted by luminous blue lights. It also offers a lot of storage compared to most PCs at a similar price, making it the perfect PC for those who want to use it for other purposes as well as sim racing.

It has a good number of USB ports, which is also a bonus. The Vortex GR is slightly let down by its CPU, as it is only a 4-core Intel processor, meaning it lacks some of the power that you’d usually want from a gaming PC. This, alongside a 4 GB GPU, will make it difficult to run a triple-monitor setup, or a 4K monitor setup, without experiencing framerate and resolution issues.

PROS:

  • Lots of storage
  • Good number of USB ports
  • Looks great

CONS:

  • Only a 4-core CPU

4. Stormforce Onyx

CPU: Intel Core i3-10100, 4 cores | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 4 GB | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 1 TB, 250 GB | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: USB 2.0 x 2, USB 3.2 x 2

* Check Price Here *

The Stormforce Onyx is a PC that performs to the level of its roughly $775 price tag. It doesn’t have any major frills in terms of its performance, with a steady GPU and RAM to go with its 4-core processor. It makes up for this with its large amount of storage, which is on par, if not beyond the level of most of its direct competitors.

It does look every bit like a gaming PC, with bright red lighting at the front, as well as a clear side panel so you can see the internal components working their magic. It is well ventilated, with a mesh style pattern on the back of the PC alongside a fan-based cooling system. Overall, this PC is very middle of the road, but it will do a fine job if you’re just starting out.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Great storage
  • Good cooling and ventilation

CONS:

  • Only 4 cores
  • Relatively weak CPU

5. HP Pavilion TG01-2170m

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 5300G, 4 cores | GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5500, 4 GB | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: 4 USB Type-A

* Check Price Here *

The HP Pavilion is the cheapest PC on our list, with the basic model retailing for around $700. The low price does reflect its features, with only a very small amount of storage on offer, meaning you will likely need to purchase an external hard drive to go with it. It runs on a 4-core AMD Ryzen processor, which isn’t too powerful, but expected.

It has an adequate number of USB ports, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble running an intermediate level sim racing rig through this PC. The Pavilion will work best with a 1080p single monitor, rather than a triple-monitor setup or anything else that requires a lot of power. It may lack in high-end features, but it’s hard to be too disappointed with this PC considering its price.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Decent RAM for the price

CONS:

  • Very small amount of storage
  • 4-core processor

What Is The Best Budget PC For iRacing?

In order to find a PC that matches iRacing’s list of minimum requirements, you’ll have to raise your budget a little. iRacing features a lengthy list of minimum requirements, recommended requirements and high-end requirements. As we’re focusing on the cheaper end of the price scale, we’ll be focusing more on the minimum requirements, which are:

  • 4-core CPU
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 2 GB VRAM GPU
  • 25 GB HDD space

16 GB RAM is the hardest of these requirements to fulfill on a budget, with most PCs under $1,000 offering just 8 GB.

MSI MPG Trident 3

CPU: Intel Core i5-11400F, 4 cores | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660, 6 GB | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Cooling: Fan | USB Ports: USB 3.2 x 3, USB-C x 1, USB 2.0 x 2

* Check Price Here *

The MPG Trident 3 by MSI is very much iRacing ready, with 16 GB RAM. It also has a 6 GB GPU, as well as a 4-core processor. You’ll notice the benefits of having a 6 GB GPU when using iRacing, as it’s quite graphically intensive. It is also a visually pleasing game, and with this good of a GPU you’ll be able to experience its full graphic potential.

It’s priced at just over $1,000 which is understandably pushing the boundaries of what can be deemed a budget PC, but it aligns perfectly with iRacing’s list of requirements, for what is, in the grand scheme of things, a decent price.

iRacing is also at its best when you’re using a wheel and pedal set, among other peripherals, and this PC has enough USB ports to support this. The storage on this PC is fairly low, albeit high enough to accommodate iRacing as well as some other games without the need for external storage. If your sole aim is to find a PC well suited to iRacing, then this is the one for you.

PROS:

  • Great GPU
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • Good number of USB ports

CONS:

  • Low storage
  • Slightly over budget

Do You Need A PC For Sim Racing?

You don’t need a PC for sim racing, but it is preferable to a console. Sim racing on PC has long been preferred over sim racing on console by many in the community, with its framerate benefits, hardware compatibility and exclusive titles such as iRacing and rFactor 2 being major factors behind this.

The pros of using a PC for sim racing are:

  • Higher framerates
  • Hardware compatibility
  • More dedicated sim racing titles
  • Has a more serious online community

The cons of using a PC for sim racing are:

  • More expensive than console
  • They can be more complex

Higher Framerates

Components within a PC, such as the CPU and GPU, are designed to give the user the highest possible framerate levels. Higher-end PCs are now capable of delivering framerates of up to 240 fps, which would have been unimaginable a few years ago. Budget PCs can often operate at around 120 fps, which will also allow for silky-smooth gameplay, which is vital for high-speed sim racing.

Consoles, however, tend to operate at around 30-60 fps, with next gen consoles sometimes being able to reach 120 fps, although this isn’t guaranteed for every game. The standards for both console and PC framerates are constantly improving, with PC seeming to have one foot constantly in front of consoles.

Hardware Compatibility

If you want to fully kit out your sim racing rig, then you’ll be more inclined to go down the PC route. Most sim racing hardware options, from pedals and wheels to handbrakes and other peripherals, are designed with PC sim racing in mind, with console compatibility not a guarantee. There are very few hardware options available solely for console use.

The added number of USB ports on PCs also allows you to use more hardware simultaneously, as well as being able to mix and match different brands. For example, you’ll be able to use Fanatec pedals with a Thrustmaster wheel. This isn’t an option for console users unless they have access to special adapters. These adapters aren’t always reliable either.

More Dedicated Sim Racing Titles

PC is home to some of the most immersive, physically accurate sim racing titles that aren’t currently available on console. iRacing and rFactor 2 are the most notable PC-only titles, offering true, authentic sim racing experiences. They’ve also made their names without mass marketing campaigns, letting their gameplay do the talking.

Mass-appeal games, while they boost the profile of sim racing as a genre, tend to detract from the realism of driving in favor of an approachable, easy-going feel, as seen in games such as Forza Motorsport on Xbox. Don’t get me wrong, Forza is a whole load of fun to play, but if you’re looking for a truly realistic sim racing experience, it isn’t what the serious sim racers play.

Online Communities On PC

With serious sim racing games come serious sim racing communities. Nowhere is this more true than on PC’s premier title, iRacing, which has a strictly monitored, clean racing, online community. It’s this online community that sets iRacing apart from other titles, as you’re guaranteed to be a part of exciting online races without having that one person who thinks they’re driving a bumper car. 

More Expensive Than Console

When buying a PC, you essentially pay extra for better features. If you want the best framerates and graphics, you’ll have to fork out substantially more money, whereas consoles have a set product at a set fee. This fee is usually within the $300-$450 range, which is incredibly cheap compared to the amounts you can pay for a good quality PC.

Even budget PCs tend to cost you more than consoles, although you can add new parts to them further down the line, which is something that you can’t usually do for consoles. The prices that you can pay for gaming PCs are almost limitless, which can make getting into PC gaming inaccessible for many.

One bonus to PC gaming is that the PCs themselves are inter-generational, so you can perform system updates to play the newest generation of games, unlike with consoles where you’ll have to physically buy the next-generation system, which adds to the cost in the long-term.

Less Easy-Going

Consoles are most definitely ahead in terms of simplicity. You get two cables with a console: one to plug it into a power source, and the other to plug it into the TV. Once you’ve done this, you are good to go, with wireless controllers giving you the option to sit anywhere you like when playing. This becomes less of a bonus when you start thinking about wheels and pedals though.

The Outcome

The truth is, you don’t need a PC for sim racing, as you can have a perfectly enjoyable experience on console. But if you want the smoothest, most authentic experience, then you will be more likely to find it on PC. The performance benefits of sim racing on PC are clear to see, with improved framerates and graphics, as well as having committed online communities to immerse yourself in.

KEY POINTS

• You don’t need a PC for sim racing, but they’re often preferable to consoles

• PCs offer lots of upgradeability, so they can grow with your needs

• PCs are usually more expensive for the same specs as high end consoles

Final Thoughts

Although you may have to look a little harder and make one or two compromises along the way, finding a good quality sim racing PC for under $1,000 is very much possible. The best low-cost option for sim racing in general is the ACER Nitro N50-640, but if you want the best option for iRacing, the MPG Trident 3 from MSI is your best bet on a budget.