Picking a cheap sim racing rig can be tough with all the options on the market, many of which are low quality from non-sim racing brands. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best budget friendly sim racing rigs to help make your decision much easier.
The 6 best cheap sim racing rigs are:
- Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Cockpit
- Playseat Challenge Racing Chair
- Next Level Racing GT Lite
- Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro
- Conquer Racing Simulator Cockpit
- Playseat Evolution
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these sim racing rigs and discuss what makes them the best of the budget choices. We will then discuss the kinds of things you should be looking for when picking a cheap sim racing setup.
Note: We’ve ordered our list by value for money, not going from the cheapest to the most expensive. If you want the absolute cheapest sim racing rig, check out the Sim Lab wheel stand or the Playseat Challenge.
The 6 Best Cheap Sim Racing Rigs
1. Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Cockpit
If you’re a sim racer thinking of saving space, then look no further! Next Level Racing has been providing excellent quality and innovative solutions for every racer for several years, and one of their latest innovations, the F-GT Lite, is a prime example of this.
This is the ideal option for those that want portability and easy storage, as it is fully foldable. You can also use it in GT style or Formula style, making it a versatile, budget friendly sim racing rig.
A large part of this cockpit’s allure comes from its high level of adjustability, including wheel and pedal positions and even the seat position. You can switch between a GT-style racing seat and an F1-style arrangement with ease, giving this rig a lot of versatility.
Alongside being able to easily shift positions, you can also fold this rig up for storage. You can keep all hardware attached too, making the whole process simple and painless. Often, cockpits that offer this functionality need to be stripped bare, which results in a lengthy, time-consuming set-up next time.
This functionality makes the F-GT Lite the perfect cockpit for those who don’t have the space for a permanent setup. Most of the weight in this rig will come from your sim racing hardware, such as the wheel and pedals, making it easy to transport if you need to move it further than just the other side of the room.
Fabric, Flexibility, & Adjustability
Although the seat isn’t a padded, race-car-style variety, it is made of breathable fabric and is designed to encourage good posture over long periods of time (think long endurance races in the GT configuration). It does sacrifice the air of luxury that comes with bucket seats due to its space-saving and foldable design, but the seat is still plenty comfortable.
Considering how flexible this rig really is, my first concern was how stable it would be. My worries were averted after noticing the special adjustment hubs found all over the seat and frame, designed for ease of adjustment and absolute durability. Each hub can withstand 150 kg (330 lbs), and there are no fewer than 8 of these hubs throughout, for the ultimate level of adjustability.
Hardware And Overview
Every part of the frame is adjustable, allowing you to have complete control over how you sit, and what distance the pedals or wheel will be from you. There are a variety of tilt angles to choose from, so you really can find that perfect, most comfortable position.
The F-GT Lite also comes with a gear shift mount, and this can be moved to sit on the right or left side of the cockpit, depending on your preference.
A whole host of hardware can be used with the F-GT Lite, including all of the major manufacturers’ products, such as Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec. This is due to the pre-drilled mounting capability of the wheel stand and pedal plate, with the ability for a wheel base clamp to be mounted just as securely.
The rig works as both a portable entity and static setup, but it certainly caters more to the former, which makes it versatile but not the sturdiest option you’ll find (check out the more expensive F-GT cockpit as an example). But for budget buyers, the F-GT Lite cockpit from Next Level Racing is hard to beat!
- Fully foldable for easy storage
- Cockpit can be changed between GT-style and F1-style
- Plenty of adjustability
- Not the most stable
2. Playseat Challenge Racing Chair
In the world of sim racing rigs and cockpits, Playseat has been offering a variety of options for many years now, and one of the fan favorites is and likely always will be the Playseat Challenge. Between its affordable price and foldability, it’s definitely one to check out if you’re on a budget.
This sim racing chair is perfect for those on a budget that still want an immersive experience. Fully foldable, it's an ideal portable choice, but it's also fairly durable too.
A Foldable Choice
This is very similar to the Next Level Racing cockpit we discussed above, with the focus resting on the ability to move or store this rig with absolute ease.
The Challenge cockpit brings a perfect blend of luxury and accessibility to the table, via the Alcantara suede in the seat and powder-coated steel that provides a sturdy rig overall. With fewer moving parts and hubs to worry about, you’ll find set-up to be far easier than with the F-GT Lite.
Wheel Stand & Collapsibility
All wheels and pedal sets from major manufacturers can be used with this cockpit. You can also mount a steering wheel using its wheel base’s clamp due to the wheel stand having a sturdy plate section, although we always recommend hard mounting your wheel and pedals where possible. Sadly hard mounting your pedals isn’t an option here, as they sit on a less-than-secure plate.
Note: If possible, we recommend tying your pedals down securely with something like a ratchet strap. It's an extra expense, but if you have one lying around it makes for a far more secure experience, especially if you have load cell pedals (see image above).
Getting In & Out
The wheel stand is essentially part of the framework itself, and you don’t get quite as much adjustability as with some other rigs. However, by simply moving it up or down you can step out of the cockpit with ease, and this is something I didn’t actually realise at first.
This meant I was clambering in and out of the seat rather clumsily, without realising I could simply unlatch the wheel plate and lift it up! That’s why you read the instructions of course, but who’s got time for that when there’s racing to be done?
Easy To Store
My own (slightly embarrassing) oversights aside, the primary selling point of this rig is the fact that it’s fully collapsible and easy to store away or move to another location, even with sim racing hardware still attached. This makes it very practical, and it’s another ideal choice for those without the space for a permanent sim racing rig.
Overall, it’s a surprisingly sturdy and very comfortable cockpit with the added ability to move it with ease. However, due to the pedal plate not being adjustable and the overall ‘temporary’ feel of the cockpit, it’s not the absolute best choice, although it is definitely one of the cheapest.
- Compatible with all major manufacturers’ wheels and pedals
- Fully foldable and very lightweight
- Ideal for a first rig
- Not much adjustability or security for your pedals
- No gear shifter mount
3. Next Level Racing GT Lite
Up next we have another entry from Next Level Racing, this time with their cheaper GT Lite cockpit. This is essentially a trimmed down version of the first NLR cockpit we discussed, but it still offers a high-quality sim racing experience for beginners that need an all-in-one sim racing rig.
Build Quality & Features
This sim racing cockpit aims to offer the best of both worlds in terms of both portability and stability. It’s not going to be as stable as something like an aluminum extrusion rig, but what it lacks in overall rigidity it makes up for in spades with its versatility.
At a glance, you’ll notice it comes with a pedal mount, wheel mount, and even a shifter mount, along with a seat too. Starting with the chair, it’s made from thinner material than some others on the market, although it does feature some extra padding for added comfort. It’s also highly breathable, making it a good choice for long racing sessions.
The wheel, pedal and shifter mounts are all adjustable, so you can alter their positions and angles to suit your preferred driving position. This also makes it a suitable choice for short and tall sim racers alike, as it’s easy to find a comfortable position for every component.
As is a common theme with many of the rigs on this list, the GT Lite cockpit is entirely foldable. This allows you to easily store the rig when you’re not racing, and this is vital for many racers that don’t have the space for a permanent sim racing setup. You can fold it up fairly easily, and you can leave everything attached to it as well for simple set-up next time you want to run a few laps.
You get the benefit of Next Level Racing’s adjustment hubs, which can withstand 150 kg each (330 lbs). This offers adjustability in seating position without sacrificing rigidity. You can also hard mount your wheel, pedals and shifter, which is more than many other options at this price point offer (at least in terms of pedal mounting). This helps create a more secure experience.
Overall, the portability and adjustability of this setup, combined with the fact you get an included shifter mount, makes it an incredibly good value-for-money choice for beginners and even more advanced sim racers that want a high-quality, temporary cockpit.
- Lots of adjustability
- Shifter mount included
- Highly portable
- Not the most stable
- Seat material is quite thin
4. Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro
Next up we have a wheel stand, rather than a full cockpit, so this may not be suited to those looking for an all-in-one solution. However, it is a budget friendly option from one of the most respected names in the sim racing space – Sim Lab. It’s a simple, portable and affordable solution for those that need a quick and easy sim racing setup.
Build Quality & Features
Sim Lab are a brand renowned for their high-quality sim racing equipment, and while this may be one of their cheapest offerings, it benefits from their skill and expertise in the build quality department. Made to emulate a miniature form of a typical aluminum extrusion rig (the kind of rig that supports direct drive), it’s designed for durability and stability in equal measure.
You get a sturdy steel pedal tray to hard mount whatever pedals you own, and they claim it’ll handle direct drive wheel bases as well, although we’d always recommend going for a solid, full rig for the best experience. However, if you’re in the market for a budget setup, you’re probably not too worried about its ability to handle the most powerful DD bases.
One thing to note is the setup process, which isn’t the easiest out there (see the video above). Given it’s an aluminum profile based rig, it’s not quite as easy to set up as some other cheap wheel stands out there. There are a lot more parts involved, and it can be tricky to know where to put everything if it’s your first time working with something like this.
Who Is This Best For?
With everything above in mind, it’s worth discussing who this would be ideal for and who it perhaps may not be best for. We reckon it’s worth checking out if:
- You don’t have much space
- You’re looking for a sturdy wheel stand solution rather than an all-in-one cockpit
- You don’t mind a bit of a fiddly set-up procedure
We suggest going for one of the other options on this list if:
- You need a cockpit with a seat
- You want more adjustability in seat, wheel and pedal positions
- You want a simple out-of-the-box solution
Overall, it’s still a solid choice, but given it’s a wheel stand rather than a cockpit, we couldn’t include it any higher on this list. However, if you don’t have the space for a cockpit and want a reliable, sturdy stand, Sim Lab’s offering is definitely worth a look!
- Sturdy wheel stand
- Ideal for those without much space
- Aluminum extrusion construction
- Doesn’t come with a seat
- Set-up is a bit of a pain
5. Conquer Racing Simulator Cockpit
What helped secure this cockpit’s place on our list is the excellent racing seat you get with it. It matches automotive-grade measurements and has premium fabrics/materials used to create it, leading to a truly luxurious and immersive feel.
Made from automotive-grade materials, this sim racing rig is built to last. It's also incredibly comfortable, and there are lots of spaces to mount your sim racing peripherals.
A Comfortable, Immersive Seat
The seat is well-padded yet still rigid in the right ways, to keep your seated posture where it should be. It can also be moved and adjusted with ease to suit every racing preference, with the ability to be reclined and shifted on the rails too.
Honestly, I’ve seen top-line products and brands with worse seats than the Conquer variety. Their focus on comfort and practicality is astounding given the price, not even to mention the sleek, stylish aesthetics of the whole rig and the various colors you can choose for the seat’s upholstery.
As for the cockpit’s structure, you’ll know just from picking up the easy-to-assemble parts that it’s strong steel. Putting everything together is an easy process courtesy of Conquer’s detailed instructions and all the required tools being included in the box.
Overview And Price
Unlike many budget sim racing cockpits, the Conquer comes with a gear shifter mount that can be adjusted in many ways, along with the rest of the rig. The wheel mount can be shifted forward, backward, up, and down along the rail of the cockpit, and it has mounting options for every major racing wheel on the market. And the pedal plate has a large range of adjustment, from 10-degree to 40-degree tilt and everything in between.
This rig might not be the cheapest one on the list, but it truly outshines the rest with its sturdy build and assurance that it will last. The wide range of mounting availability across all major manufacturers also means you can keep hold of this cockpit for years to come, giving yourself room to grow as you improve as a sim racer.
- Automotive-grade, high-quality racing seat
- Sturdy frame made of steel
- Shifter mount included
- Quite a heavy rig
- Can be hard to find
6. Playseat Evolution
Finally, we have the Playseat Evolution. This is a rig that’s slightly on the higher end of budget friendly, but it offers a great all-in-one solution for beginners and those with a little more experience. It has its quirks that pushed it to the end of our list, but there are a lot of features to enjoy with this setup too.
A Versatile Choice
The Playseat Evolution comes with an adjustable ActiFit fabric seat, which is designed for comfort and breathability. This makes it ideal for longer racing sessions, and it’s designed to offer some adjustability too, so that you can find the right position for your setup.
Also adjustable are the steering wheel and pedal mounts. Given they’re each attached to the rig itself, you get quite a stable racing experience. You can shift things backward, forward, up and down to suit your specific needs, and this makes it a versatile setup.
Foldable For Easy Storage
The seat is also foldable, and you can retract everything to make for a small form factor. It’s not going to be as easy to store as something like the Playseat Challenge, but it’s still ideal for those that don’t have quite enough space to keep a rig out in the open all the time.
One Flaw With This Rig
One thing to note with this particular sim racing rig is the fact that the wheel mount sits on a post that is in between your legs as you sit in the seat. This makes it a little less ideal, and it can get in the way of the pedals at times. This is something you’ll need to consider before buying this setup, and it’s one reason it features at the end of our list.
The Playseat Evolution is compatible with all the major sim racing brands out there, although it’s probably still going to be limited when it comes to direct drive. It’s therefore maybe not a cockpit that will last well into your sim racing career, but it’s ideal for the casual sim racer or as a first rig for beginners.
Overall, it has a nice racing aesthetic, supports a wide range of sim racing hardware, and comes in at a fairly reasonable price point for the high build quality.
- Solid construction
- Highly compatible
- Foldable seat for easy storage
- Wheel mounting post can get in the way of the pedals
- A bit on the pricey side
Summary Of The Best Cheap Sim Racing Rigs
|Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Cockpit||Very easy to store thanks to foldability|
Can race with F1 or GT setup
|Not a very stable choice (especially for direct drive wheels)|
|Playseat Challenge Racing Chair||One of the cheapest rigs out there|
Easily folded and stored away
|Not the most adjustable cockpit|
No mount for your shifter or handbrake
|Next Level Racing GT Lite||A very adjustable choice|
It’s also highly portable
|It’s not a very stable setup|
The seat material is a bit on the thin side
|Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro||One of the sturdiest stands out there|
Aluminum extrusion is rare for a stand
|No seat included|
Setting it up takes a lot of time and patience
|Conquer Racing Simulator Cockpit||High-quality seat included|
Very sturdy with a shifter mount included
|Can be hard to find|
It’s a heavy choice
|Playseat Evolution||Foldable chair for easier storage|
Solid setup (but not enough for DD wheels)
|Expensive for what you get|
Wheel mounting post between your legs
What To Look For In A Good Sim Racing Rig
Compatibility With Your Setup
Under most circumstances, sim racing manufacturers will make all of their wheels, pedal sets, and other accessories to a sort of similar blueprint in terms of fittings and mounting capability. However, there will be differences between each brand and you need to be familiar with your own gear for the very practical reason of mounting it to your new cockpit.
Have these measurements handy when you’re browsing for a new base for your rig. Even if you haven’t bought any sim racing hardware yet, think about what brand you’d like to buy just to ensure that, when you do make your picks, everything will be compatible with it.
As with any sim racing equipment, I would also recommend that you spend some time researching a variety of trusted brands. Reputable brands are good quality assurance in life overall, and especially in sim racing.
A collection of brands that I always check out include Playseat, Sim Lab, and Next Level Racing. They each offer a wide variety of products at various price points, making them good for absolute quality and often affordability too.
Do Your Research
If you haven’t done this already, make an account on Reddit and find the sim racing sub-forums where people share stories and recommendations about all things sim racing related. You’ll find people who have similar preferences to you, for example, and these individuals can be valuable sources of information that you won’t find on manufacturers’ websites.
The final important thing to mention here is build quality. Whether you’re buying a wheel stand or a formula-style cockpit, you need the rig to be able to withstand everything you throw at it. Look for some sort of metal as the main structure, nice fabric for the seat (if applicable), and secure mounting points for your peripherals like your wheel and pedals.
Finding a budget friendly sim racing rig that suits your needs is all about knowing what to look for. Always buy from a reputable sim racing manufacturer, and choose something that’s sturdy and adjustable. The best option overall is the F-GT Lite cockpit, although the Playseat Challenge is a close second.
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