Buying a cheap sim racing gear stick shifter can be one of the easiest ways to add a new level of immersion to your existing rig. But finding the best cheap sim racing shifter for your specific setup can be a challenge on its own.
The 4 best cheap sim racing gear stick shifters are:
- Thrustmaster TH8A
- Logitech Driving Force Shifter
- Fanatec ClubSport SQ V 1.5
- Thrustmaster TSS Shifter & Handbrake
Below, we go into more detail on each of these shifters and describe what kind of sim racer would get the most value out of each one. We’ll then consider the kinds of things you should think about when buying a sim racing shifter.
Note: This list is for the best budget options, and it’s not ordered in terms of price alone. If you want the absolute cheapest option, check out the Logitech Driving Force Shifter.
The 4 Best Cheap Sim Racing Gear Stick Shifters
1. Thrustmaster TH8A
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Weight: 2.2 kg / 4.9 lbs | Connection: USB / 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 and cheerful Logitech Driving Force shifter we’ll discuss below, but it’s definitely worth it.
Because Thrustmaster make racing wheels and products across every platform, 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 a variety of compatible Thrustmaster wheels. For Xbox gamers, there’s only one wheel that this shifter works alongside, but it’s easily one of the best that Thrustmaster makes – the TX racing wheel.
H-Pattern & Sequential
This versatility in compatible consoles and wheels makes it a favorite of the sim racing community at large, but the shifter’s bonuses don’t end there. Unlike most other shifters, 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 drivers or rally fans can utilize a sequential one, which changes gear dependent on where you move the stick back and forth.
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 the use of 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 too.
Great Value For Money
When you consider other brands 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, and it’s far easier 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 if you wish, for even more customization. The shifter is automotive grade and realistically sized, so even road or race car gear knobs can be used with it.
Poor Xbox Compatibility
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 hobby. However, you’ll struggle to find a better shifter in this price range, even if it might seem a bit steep!
- Highly immersive, realistic feeling shifter
- 2 different shifter modes allow for great versatility
- Great build quality
- Only works with the TX wheel on Xbox
2. Logitech Driving Force Shifter
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Weight: 0.8 kg / 1.8 lbs | Connection: DB9
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 budget friendly stick shifter too.
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 as part of your existing rig. If you own a Logitech G29 or G920 wheel, this shifter will be an absolute breeze to set up. It comes with its own mount, and all the items required for set-up as standard when you purchase it.
Don’t let the lightweight composition fool you either, because this shifter is deceptively durable. It’s referred to as an H-pattern shifter, which simply means that you need to select specific positions as you would in a manual car to choose gears.
Decent Game Compatibility
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 these are what their products are primarily made for, and they often come with Sony branding and primary compatibility. However, it’s also compatible with Xbox.
And unlike some products that are specifically made for certain types of sim racing games, the Driving Force shifter is compatible with most current games on the market. Sure, it probably isn’t the best choice for F1 games where paddle shifting is standard, but you can rely on this stick shifter for everything from Project Cars to WRC.
Poor Hardware Compatibility
I’d give this product 5-stars simply on its absolute affordability. But there are a few aspects to this piece of kit that holds it back from a perfect review, and the biggest issue with the Logitech shifter is specifically the fact that it only works with Logitech wheels (without using a third-party adapter).
Compared to other, more expensive shifters, the distance between the gears can feel a little short 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. However, that’s to be expected at such a low price point.
Not The Most Immersive Feel
The base itself is made of solid metal, but the shifter knob being plastic doesn’t feel particularly high-end to the touch and it can draw you out of the immersion of racing. And unlike some of the other stick shifters on this list, it doesn’t possess the ability to have its knob switched out for a different one.
In spite of these issues, I’d always recommend this gear stick shifter to new sim racing enthusiasts and even those who’ve had more experience and want a budget friendly shifter. Sure, the gear changes aren’t very heavy and it can feel pretty poky when you start getting competitive, but you can’t deny its value for money!
- Very affordable
- Easy to operate and set up with Logitech wheels
- Ideal for beginners
- Only works with Logitech wheels
- Plastic gear stick isn’t very immersive
3. Fanatec ClubSport SQ V 1.5
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Weight: 3 kg / 6.6 lbs | Connection: 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 on the market. A lot of esports racers use 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.
This is an incredibly immersive sim racing gear shifter, offering both H-pattern and sequential modes. It's made of durable materials, and you can easily mount it to your rig in various different ways.
Easy To Set Up
The SQ V 1.5 fetches a reasonable price for what you get 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 use this shifter with whatever wheel you’re using.
Not only does this shifter look sleek and sophisticated (the aesthetics alone are worth the money), but it also 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 allows you 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.
Plenty Of Options
While in sequential mode, the shifter offers realistic and strong 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 in terms of its dimensions with all popular automotive brands, so you can pick out any decorative or aesthetically-purposed shifter knob that you want.
It’s also possible to fully adjust the shifting feedback 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 titles.
Lots Of Ways To Mount It
What sets this shifter apart from Thrustmaster are the fully customizable mounting options. You can use all four sides of the box or the bottom in order to achieve the setup that you want, which is a nice added touch. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for those in the Fanatec ecosystem in particular.
- Sleek, distinctive look
- Outstanding realism and immersion
- H-pattern & sequential modes
- Good value but still a bit pricey
4. Thrustmaster TSS Shifter & Handbrake
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Weight: 4 kg / 8.8 lbs | Connection: 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. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s one of the best options for those looking for a 2-in-1 product.
This shifter and handbrake combination is the ideal budget choice for those that want the option of both. If you're a rally fan, this could be the perfect choice, and its durable construction means it's built to last.
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 higher price.
As with all Thrustmaster products, they offer a wide range of compatibility with consoles and PC. You can connect the TSS to the latter with the simple USB connector and program it to work with any wheel setup, making it an attractive option for PC gamers out there. It will also work seamlessly with the Xbox TX and TS-XW wheels or the T300 and T-GT wheels for PlayStation players.
You can tell by simply looking at this piece of equipment that no expense was spared while designing it, between the sleek brushed steel exterior and the Sparco endorsement. Every part of the gear lever, which is specifically designed to fully replicate real automotive proportions, is adjustable to whatever height the driver requires.
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 ensure that the gear shifting or handbrake power of this equipment won’t degrade over time, which is essential for this level of investment.
You will also have full control over the resistance you feel when changing gears, and you’ll feel the full benefits of a sequential shifter, allowing for rapid gear shifts when compared to H-pattern shifters.
One thing to note here though is that those who are likely to get the most use out of a handbrake and shifter will probably be rally fans, and given you need both to get the most immersive experience, a 2-in-1 product doesn’t really make too much sense. However, if you just want a high-quality shifter and already own or don’t need a handbrake, this is still a great option.
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! Overall, it’s an excellent choice, albeit a bit more expensive than our other options.
- Endorsed by Sparco
- Magnetic sensors don’t degrade over time
- Can be used as a handbrake or a shifter
- You may need to get another standalone product if you do a lot of rally racing
Summary Of The Best Cheap Sim Racing Shifters
|Thrustmaster TH8A||Those seeking an immersive H-pattern/sequential shifter|
|Logitech Driving Force Shifter||Beginners and those looking for the cheapest possible choice|
|Fanatec ClubSport SQ V 1.5||Those with a larger budget that want a high-quality dual-mode shifter|
|Thrustmaster TSS Shifter & Handbrake||Those with spare cash that want a handbrake/shifter combo|
What To Look For In A Good Sim Racing Gear Stick Shifter
Value For Money
Above all else, you need to look for something that balances price with overall immersion and enjoyment. You can find all manner of bargain products out there, 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 that makes good sim racing products overall.
For example, the first wheel I bought for sim racing was the Logitech G29, primarily because I’ve used their headphones and gaming mice and keyboards for years with a lot of satisfaction. And it wasn’t a bad decision, as I got many years of great use out of that wheel!
Durability Is Key
I would always recommend spending a little bit of extra cash if it can guarantee you a product that’ll last longer. Going for a metal-based construction is usually the key here, but the overall build quality includes everything from the fabric coverings to the screws holding it all together.
Consider What You Actually Need
Finally, even the cheapest of these shifters can be too much for the more casual racing fans out there. If you primarily race on the F1 games, you’re unlikely to benefit much from a manual shifter. But if you switch between rallying and racing classic cars, you might want something you can easily swap from H-pattern to sequential.
Picking the right shifter for your sim racing setup largely comes down to personal preference and considering what kind of racing you enjoy the most. 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.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.