As I’m sure you all know, buying cheap can oftentimes be disastrous if you don’t know about brands and build quality. That doesn’t mean that having a budget excludes you from some great deals! It just means you’ll be shopping around a lot. Without any further delay, let’s jump right into it!
So, what is the best cheap sim racing gear stick shifter? The best cheap sim racing gear stick shifter is the ThrustMaster TH8A because of its quality construction, immersive feel, and the ability to switch between h-pattern and sequential shifter modes.
The 4 best cheap sim racing gear stick shifters are:
- ThrustMaster TH8A
- Logitech G Gaming Driving Force
- Fanatec ClubSport SQ V 1.5
- ThrustMaster TSSH Shifter and Handbrake
The four shifters I’ve chosen to focus on will be balanced in terms of their price, first and foremost, because I really want to pick out the best shifters that will be good value for money. Now, let’s look at the four best affordable gear stick shifters!
What to Look For In A Good Sim Racing Gear Stick Shifter
Above all else, you need to look at something which balances price with overall immersion and enjoyment. You can find all manner of bargain products on Amazon and eBay, but there’s never any real guarantee as to quality or reliability based on price alone.
Branding isn’t paramount, but it does help if you have familiarity with a company who makes good products overall.
For example, the first rig I bought for sim racing was Logitech-made, primarily because I’ve used their headphones and gaming mouse products for years with a lot of satisfaction. If you don’t know a brand when browsing for cheap stick shifters, always check out the reviews! eBay isn’t the best in this regard because you can’t see product reviews, only the seller rating.
Unless you specifically want to buy second-hand, I’d personally always use Amazon or the company website just so you can have the added assurance of knowing what people say about a product in particular.
I would always recommend spending a little bit of extra cash if it can guarantee you a product that’ll last longer. While personally I think that metal shifters offer the best immersion and realism on the market, they’re simply not for everybody.
And even the cheapest of these shifters can be too much for the more casual racing fans out there. So, above all else, make sure that the product has a lot of reviews and the feedback is good.
The 4 Best Cheap Sim Racing Gear Stick Shifters
1. ThrustMaster TH8A
Compatible with: PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 1 | Weight: 2.2kg | Connection type: USB or DIN |
As one of the most prominent sim racing manufacturers in the world, of course ThrustMaster was going to make an appearance on this list! The TH8A is certainly more of an investment when compared to the cheap n’ cheerful Logitech Driving Force shifter, but if you can’t tell from the above rating, it’s totally worth it.
If you go for the all-metal shifter, you’ll be getting a lot of long-lasting drivability for that price tag.
Because ThrustMaster make racing wheels and products across every platform available in sim racing, you’ll easily be able to attach this gear shifter to whatever rig you’re using. For the PC gamer, you’ll be thrilled to know that this bit of kit can be used with every wheel on the market, not just ThrustMaster ones!
If you’re a PlayStation gamer, you can attach it to either T500RS, Ferrari F1 Wheel Integral T500, T300RS or T300 Ferrari GTE wheels. For Xbox gamers, there’s only one wheel which this shifter works alongside on your platform, but it’s easily the biggest and most accessible one that ThrustMaster makes; the TX racing wheel.
This versatility in compatible consoles and wheels makes it a favorite of the sim racing community at large, and the shifter’s bonuses don’t end there, either. Unlike the Logitech Driving Force, the ThrustMaster TH8A can be switched between H-pattern and sequential shifting, allowing for a highly personalized driving experience.
Racers who want absolute realism can have a highly satisfying H-pattern shifter while those more competitive souls can utilize a sequential one which changes gear dependent on where you move the stick back and forth – also perfect for rally games.
Another huge boon of this gear stick shifter is the fact that everything is made of metal, making for a satisfyingly weighty shift and a very reliable, long-lasting product overall due to a magnetic sensor. If you’re looking for the best immersive drive on a variety of games, the TH8A allows you to program different shifting resistances as standard.
When you consider other products on the market that boast realistic and reliable shifters, the TH8A really stands out in terms of its affordability. You’re essentially buying two shifters in one neat package, after all, and it’s far simpler to handle than a lot of the other complicated products out there.
You can even detach the shifter knob and buy a personalized one to screw onto it; the shifter is automotive grade and sized, so even road or race-car gear knobs can be used with it.
The biggest downside of this shifter specifically is the lack of compatibility with Xbox wheels that aren’t the TX racing variety. And for casual sim racers, the investment might not be achievable if they’re only beginning to get into the sport.
Trust me when I say that you won’t find a better shifter in this price range, even if it might seem a bit steep! I know sim racers who bought this as soon as it was released by ThrustMaster and they still use it to this day.
- Highly immersive, realistic feeling shifter
- 2 different shifter modes allow for great versatility
- The price may be off-putting to casual drivers
- Only works with one Thrustmaster racing wheel on Xbox
2. Logitech G Gaming Driving Force
Compatible with: PS4, PC, Xbox 1 | Weight: 0.76kg | Connection type: Shifter connection DB9 |
Let’s start at the beginning with my recommended cheap gear stick shifter! As I mentioned previously, Logitech is a reputable brand with good products that last. Sure, they aren’t specifically a sim racing company and instead offer a wide range of tech, but they’ve made a good transition to offering racing wheels, pedals and a fun little stick shifter all the same.
You’ll be picking up a great bit of kit for if you’re just starting out in sim racing, or if you’re looking for something simple to enjoy shifting with.
If you own a Logitech G29 or G920 wheel, this shifter will be an absolute breeze to set up. It comes with its own personal mount, and all the items required for set-up, like the cable to connect it to the wheel, as standard when you purchase it.
Don’t let the lightweight composition fool you either, because this shifter is deceptively strong and long-lasting. It’s referred to as a H-pattern shifter, which simply means that you need to select specific positions as you would on a stick shift car to choose gears.
Because of how neatly the shifter fits beside your steering wheel, your hand won’t be away changing gear for long before you can get right back to driving. It adds some great immersion without feeling too overwhelming; sim racing is a game, first and foremost, and should be fun!
You will need a pedal set that has a clutch pedal, however, to use this shifter. Provided you bought your wheel in a bundle which is a standard purchasing option, you should have a clutch pedal available in the pedal set that came with the wheel. If not, upgrading to a three-pedal set will be an extra expense, but it’s definitely worth it to be able to use a stick shifter in general.
Shifter paddles are fun and easy to use, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing quite like that stick shifting power!
Another great aspect of this powerful little shifter is the wide array of mediums you can use it with. Logitech is better used with PlayStation and PCs overall, simply because that’s how they’re primarily made and they often come with Sony branding and primary compatibility. However, with some tweaking and patience, you can easily program your Logitech rig for Xbox gaming, too.
And unlike some products that are specifically made for certain types of sim racing games, the Driving Force shifter is compatible with every current game on the market. Sure, it probably isn’t the best choice for F1 games where paddle shifting is king, but you can rely on this stick shifter for everything from Project Cars to WRC.
If I could, I’d give this product 5-stars simply on its absolute affordability. There are a few aspects to this piece of kit that holds it back from a perfect review, however, and the biggest issue with the Logitech shifter is specifically the fact that it only works with the Logitech G29/G920 wheel.
Another issue is its compact size. Although you can adjust its mount to have the shifter not practically sitting on top of your wheel, it can feel a bit claustrophobic if you rig it to its standard set-up. Compared to other, more expensive shifters, the distance between gears can feel a little small and poky. If you’re focusing on racing, you can run the risk of accidentally switching to the wrong gear and ruining your lap times.
The base itself is a nice solid metal, but the shifter knob being plastic doesn’t feel particularly high-end to the touch and can draw you out of the immersion of racing. And unlike the other stick shifters on this list, it doesn’t possess the ability to have its knob switched out for personal preference, as you’d expect of something so affordable.
In spite of the above issues I pointed out, I’d always recommend this gear stick shifter to new sim racing enthusiasts and even those who’ve had more experience. For the same price as a brand-new sim racing game for the PS4, you can have a fun and enjoyable bit of kit for bursts of realism that will actually last.
Sure, the transmissions aren’t very heavy and it can feel pretty poky when you start getting competitive, but you can’t deny its value for money which truly makes it the best, cheapest gear stick shifter.
- Very affordable
- Easy to operate and set-up with Logitech wheels
- Only works with Logitech G29/G920 wheel
- Small size can make gear changes tricky/ fiddly
- Plastic gearstick isn’t very immersive
3. Fanatec ClubSport SQ V 1.5
Compatible with: PS4, PC, Xbox 1 | Weight: 3kg | Connection type: USB (with proper adapter) or RJ12 |
On a more ‘elite’ level, Fanatec produces sim racing parts and rigs that are recognized as being some of the most competitive the world over. A lot of Esports racers utilize Fanatec products in their own rigs with huge success, and the manufacturer has developed a great reputation for its reliable, innovative and competitive approach to sim racing.
The SQ V 1.5, fetches a reasonable price brand-new and, provided you have a Fanatec wheelbase and wheel, you can connect this shifter with absolute ease. If you’re a PC gamer who doesn’t have these required products, don’t worry! You can invest in Fanatec’s pretty affordable ClubSport USB adapter so that you can connect this shifter to whatever wheel you’re using.
Not only does this shifter look sleek and sophisticated (as if the aesthetics alone are worth the money), but also it hosts a collection of nice features, too. The whole shifter is made of metal, very much like the TH8A mentioned above, which assures a reliable and long-lasting product.
Also like the TH8A gear stick shifter, the SQ V 1.5 comes with the necessary pieces to switch between H-pattern and sequential shifting on a whim. It possesses 7 gears in its H-pattern mode, with the reverse gear that has an inhibitor to prevent accidental shifts; much like a real road or race car.
And while in sequential mode, the shifter offers realistic and strong haptic feedback, making it all the more immersive as if you’re driving a race car in reality.
If you want to change the sleek shifter knob, that’s also an option! The whole shifter is made to be compatible size-wise with all popular automotive brands, so you can pick out any decorative or aesthetically-purposed knob that you want.
It’s also possible to fully adjust shift feedback, feeling and resistance, whether it be in the in-game settings or using programming on a PC to set different profiles for a variety of sim racing games.
The biggest thing that sets this shifter apart from ThrustMaster, however, is the fully customizable mounting options. You can use all four sides of the box or the bottom in order to achieve the set-up feel that you want, which is a nice added touch.
And although Fanatec is definitely a leader when it comes to technology in sim racing, setting up their products can become quite the frustrating chore. It’s a very complex process compared to the similarly priced TH8A shifter, which is a big turn-off for those of us who aren’t completely tech savvy.
- Sleek, distinctive look
- Outstanding realism and immersion
- Fanatec products are notoriously difficult to set-up
4. ThrustMaster TSSH Shifter And Handbrake
Compatible with: PS4, PC, Xbox 1 | Weight: 4kg | Connection type: USB |
This bit of kit – officially licensed by Sparco – offers state-of-the-art sim racing technology and versatility, allowing it to function as either a sequential shifter or a handbrake.
The latter is pretty essential if you’re looking to become a World Rally sim racer, but otherwise it’s just a nice bonus to be able to choose the set-up. Because it’s made by ThrustMaster, you know that it’s a reliable bit of kit and has all of the latest innovations, so don’t be put off by the price.
As with all ThrustMaster products, they offer a wide range of compatibility with consoles and PC. You can connect the TSSH to the latter medium with the simple USB connector and program it to work with any wheel/rig, making it an attractive option for PC gamers out there.
Otherwise, it will work seamlessly with the Xbox TX and TS-XW wheels or the PS4 T300 and T-GT wheels, all made by ThrustMaster, of course.
You can tell by simply looking at this piece of equipment that no expense was spared while making it, between the sleek brushed steel exterior and the Sparco endorsement. Every part of the lever, which is specifically designed to fully replicate real automotive proportions, is adjustable to whatever height the driver wishes.
And although the interior workings of this shifter are metal to provide that satisfying ‘clunk’ when shifting up or down the gears, it also features top-quality electronics. Contactless Hall Effect magnetic sensors will ensure that the gear shifting or handbrake power of this equipment won’t degrade over time; essential for this level of investment.
You will also have full control over the resistance you feel when changing gears, and feel the full benefits of a sequential shifter allowing for rapid gear shifts when compared to H-patterns.
Due to this equipment being made to automotive proportions, you’re able to switch out the standard black handle for whatever gear knob you wish. A Sparco one to match the box branding would make the whole thing that much cooler!
The biggest downfall of this bit of kit, in spite of its excellent build-quality and German technology as standard, is the simple fact that sim racers who use it always program it to be a handbrake.
The stick shifters I mentioned previously are most commonly chosen for the rigs of sim racers because, first and foremost, they’re solid value-for-money and offer the choice between H-pattern and sequential. This piece of Sparco equipment is a handbrake first, and a sequential shifter second.
If you’re specifically looking to spend all of your time on WRC, this shifter will be right up your alley. Otherwise, I’d really recommend looking elsewhere.
- Endorsed by Sparco
- Magnetic sensors don’t degrade over time
- Primarily used in its handbrake functionality, not as a shifter
- Doesn’t offer revolutionary features for its price
I hope that the above list had a gear stick shifter for everybody who chose to read these product reviews! It really was a struggle for me to pick between the Logitech Driving Force and the ThrustMaster TH8A shifters, and it all depends on what you’re looking for as to which shifter you choose.
The Logitech product is a value option and is great for casual racers, fun race sessions and those of us on a budget, whereas on the other hand, the ThrustMaster shifter offers two different types of shifter in one, a wide variety of console/ PC compatibility, and is a more competitive piece of equipment.
Armed with this information, go ahead and start shopping for your ideal new shifter!