Without knowing exactly what you’re looking for, it’s pretty easy to spend too long looking for the perfect sim racing gear. I want to help you with the otherwise momentous task of choosing a sim racing cockpit! I’ll go over what you should look for and review the five best ones out there.
So, what are the 5 best sim racing cockpits? The best 5 sim racing rigs/cockpits are:
- Sparco Evolve Carbon Cockpit
- RSEAT RS1 Alcantara Cockpit
- GTR Simulator GTA Pro Cockpit
- Next Level Racing GTTrack Racing Cockpit
- Playseat F1 Cockpit
But it wouldn’t be an ultimate buyer’s guide without… you know, in-depth reviews of different cockpits, right? Through my wealth of sim racing experience and first-hand knowledge, I’ll be reviewing sim racing rigs and also offering advice as to what you should look for in each one, so keep reading!
How To Choose A Sim Racing Rig/Cockpit
The biggest thing to remember when picking out gear for sim racing is that the process will have a certain amount of personal relevance. There are a few things that I’d consider to be cardinal buying rules, but otherwise, it all depends on your personal budget and preferences.
Probably the most important thing you should consider before committing to that amazing sim racing cockpit is whether or not your gear will fit!
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 online for a new base for your rig as a whole. Even if you haven’t bought any sim racing hardware yet, think about what brand you’d like to buy just to cover all of your bases.
Typically, you’ll find that manufacturers for sim racing cockpits actually outline the brands which fit with their products, with Next Level Racing being a prime example of naming specific sim racing wheels and hardware which mounts properly.
I’d also implore you to make a list of optional features you deem to be pretty essential for you on a personal level.
Make sure to refer to the section below about what to look for in a good sim racing rig first of all, and then think about anything that you’d like personally. This can be as menial as a cup holder for your favorite drink of choice, all the way to a stick shifter mount coming as standard with a cockpit.
When you have those kinds of details in mind, you’ll find it far easier to sift through the many options that can be found online!
As with any sim racing equipment, I would also recommend that you spend ample time researching a variety of trusted brands. Because you’ll be buying on a budget (even if it’s a large one), the last thing you want to do is buy a seat or rig which breaks after one use! Reputable brands are a good quality assurance in life overall, and especially in sim racing.
A collection of brands that I always consider trusted and worth their salt within seats and cockpits are: Sparco, RSEAT and GTR Simulator. They all offer a wide variety of products at various price points, making them good for absolute quality.
Even though my advice here is founded on a lot of avid sim racing enthusiasm, I will always recommend doing more research on the worldwide web before buying anything for the e-sport.
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 as to where you can find good upgrades or whether you should try out sim racing boots or gloves; whatever it may be.
I’d also suggest not to get too hung-up on your budget as a solid, unshifting figure. Sometimes, an extra $50 or $100 can get you something way better in terms of quality and longevity, so it becomes worth that extra spend at the time.
What To Look For In A Good Sim Racing Rig/Cockpit
When buying any gear for sim racing, it’s important to have a semblance of budget in mind. You need a lot of stuff, after all! And the amount of choice that’s out there can be pretty daunting. How can you ever know what makes a sim racing rig objectively good?
While each bit of gear out there works better for different people, there are a few key things you absolutely need to have in your rig:
- High-quality materials
- Ergonomic and adjustable seating
- Lumbar support
- Good build quality
- Secure mounting system
This first point really is a no-brainer, and you might even think I’ve lost a few screws for even mentioning it! Of course you want a sim racing rig with high-quality materials; that’s the least you can ask for when it comes to the best of the best.
My reasoning for mentioning this, however, is something to remember when browsing rigs and seats online. If a manufacturer specifically mentions the materials that appear in the cockpit, such as a steel alloy frame, you can guarantee that they’ve sourced the best stuff to go into the building of it.
Keep your eyes out for solid steel/metal cockpit frames and high-density foam/padding in seats, and you can rest assured that you’ll be buying high-quality and therefore longevity in your rig.
Part of why you’re probably looking for a proper sim racing rig is because of the immersive aspect, right? Cockpits are designed to replicate real race cars, after all! So, the least you can ask for is an ergonomic, realistic seating position in your rig.
Something that caters to both comfort and the practical side of sim racing is essential, because otherwise, why wouldn’t you just buy an office chair and make do with desk clamps? The point is that you want the whole experience, so make sure to check out the adjustability of all seats to ensure that you’ll get the best seating position that makes you feel like a racer.
Life’s too short to sit without lumbar support! Pretty sure that somebody told me that at some point, and they’re right.
If you’ll be sitting for long periods of time, which is what a rig is designed for, you really need the proper support and comfort to accommodate for that. When you’re uncomfortable in any way, it’s all you can think about! Having lumbar support or other support padding in your seat of choice will negate that discomfort and allow you to focus solely on sim racing.
On a similar note as high-quality materials, good build quality in a sim racing rig is absolutely essential.
You don’t want your cockpit to fall down around you after a sharp right-hander, nor do you want your seat to break after reclining it! When you’re browsing for sim racing rigs, really pay attention to what will come in the box when you purchase any given cockpit. If the manufacturer is worth their salt, it’ll outline how many pieces the product will come in.
Although it isn’t a rule by any means, I typically find that less pieces means higher build quality. Think about it; every joint that you have to screw together is a weakness compared to the rest of the structure. There should also be tools included for ease of construction, so remember to look for mention of that, too.
The last thing you want to do is buy a sim racing cockpit and find out that you can’t add a stick shifter mount to it when you finally buy that shifter of your dreams! Always check that the rig you’re buying is expandable.
Typically, all cockpits will have the ability to be added to using brackets and such made by the same manufacturer, but always make sure to read the fine print just in case. Cheaper cockpits especially lack this ability to add further mounts and brackets.
And last but certainly not least, you definitely need to do some digging in regards to a rig’s mounting system! How does the seat mount into the cockpit itself? Is the cockpit freestanding, or does it come with additional braces to attach to other things in a room?
These questions need to be answered and this can be done by really reading the whole product descriptions online. If the cockpit will be a freestanding entity, you can rely on the whole thing being weighty enough to support everything; any mention of extra tie-downs being needed is a definite red flag!
And when it comes to how the seat mounts into the rig, as long as it possesses a slider system for putting it into place and has locking mechanisms, you’ll be onto a winner!
The 5 Best Sim Racing Rigs / Cockpits
1. Sparco Evolve Carbon Cockpit
For any of you out there who love track racing as much as sim racing, I’m sure you’ve heard of Sparco and might be surprised to learn that they also make highly competitive products for this e-sport!
The Evolve Carbon is one such product they make using all of their expertise in designing race seats and gear for race cars, and it’s easily the best cockpit they offer in my opinion. It has also secured a top spot on this list of the best sim racing rigs, so let’s dive into why that is!
First and foremost, Sparco are very good at creating a wide array of products within many areas of motorsport; rallying all the way to karting and of course, sim racing. They might seem unattainable to many folks out there, what with their focus on absolute excellence and competitiveness in the industry.
Years of research and experience in the field has developed the Evolve Carbon, stated to be Sparco’s answer for a premium racing simulator cockpit.
They worked with a company named Humanetics to gather research from the sim racing market to learn exactly what sim racing enthusiasts wanted in a rig, and this was the answer! A sleek, sophisticated, practical and highly competitive cockpit.
As you can likely guess from the name, the seat that comes with this rig is made of ultra-light carbon fiber which makes it easy to assemble into the frame. It also possesses a monocoque build; a very automotive-specific term which means that a chassis is integral to the structure.
Alongside designing this seat to be very much like a real racing seat, Sparco has also equipped the Evolve seat with plenty of comfort features. It can slide up and down automotive-grade rails to allow the driver a huge scope for seating position, no matter their height. It is also fully adjustable in its tilt and height.
But the seat features don’t stop there! All of the high-quality, high-density foam padding found inside the seat can be removed or added at the user’s discretion; opening avenues for drivers of any size to use this cockpit.
Now, as for the frame which keeps everything together. It is made of high-strength steel for ultimate rigidity. No matter how hard or how fast a track requires you to turn, you’ll stay firmly planted in your cockpit.
Both the steering wheel and pedal plates are adjustable for a huge variety of tilt angles in order for you to find your optimal driving position. It also comes with a screen bracket as standard which is easy to install and uninstall, depending on how you want the cockpit to be.
To complete the package of absolute racing excellence, Sparco also wanted this cockpit to be practical. If you ever need to move this rig, it can be folded and has wheels that can be unlocked for absolute ease of movement. Normally, this makes a rig unstable or unreliable, but all this addition does for the high-quality Evolve Carbon is expand its repertoire.
For the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality elsewhere. The frame allows for expansion and can be equipped with a gear shifter mount, too, even though this doesn’t come as standard when purchased. It’s a rig that all of your friends will be clamoring to try out for themselves!
- Carbon fiber seat shell gives both a premium feel and lightweight practicality
- Everything is adjustable; the seat, wheel stand and pedal plate
- Easily moved and stored without compromising stability
- No gear stick shifter mount as standard
- Although very comfortable with removable seat padding, no specific lumbar support system (barely noticeable)
2. RSEAT RS1 Alcantara Cockpit
Next up, we have one of the best manufacturers specifically dedicated to sim racing; RSEAT! As you can likely tell from the name, they primarily make sim racing seats and cockpits, and over the many years they’ve been contributing to the market, they’ve learnt how to make some of the absolute best.
You can choose from three colors when purchasing the RS1 model from RSEAT’s website: black, white or red. All choices look sleek and professionally finished, so it comes down to buyer preference. And who doesn’t like the ability to choose their own color palette?
No matter which color you choose, the absolute quality and premium features will remain the same!
The seat of this rig is finished in Alcantara leather; a premium-grade material typically seen in Italian race cars. Its shell is made of composite materials and glossed in the color of your choice, giving it a sleek look and keeping the whole thing easy to install due to it being lightweight.
Padding-wise, RSEAT have injected the seat itself with high-density, comfortable foam in order to provide the best comfort over long race periods. They designed it to last, too; with a lot of its protype testing happening in game centers and therefore seeing a lot of usage.
It can be comfortably sat in and used by most people, with a max waist size of 44 inches. A lot of dedication has been shown towards allowing a large collection of people the experience of driving in this amazing cockpit!
The seat and key components are entirely adjustable, too; allowing for full reclining and the ability to slide the seat along rails for the best sitting distance.
As for the frame, it’s all made of high-quality Mandrel Bend carbon steel tubes, providing both absolute rigidity and keeping it easy to install. It is kept grounded by 4 adjustable ‘legs’, so you can move these to accommodate for any slightly uneven ground in the space you want to keep the cockpit.
A huge boon of this rig specifically is that everything you need to assemble it comes included in the box; and that includes tools, too! Normally you always have to dig out extra assembly tools, but RSEAT wanted to streamline the installation process as much as possible for its buyers.
Also, unlike a lot of other rigs out there, the RS1 comes with a gear stick shifter mount as standard. Every part of the frame is modular, as well, which allows for a whole host of upgrades that you can buy at point of purchase or later when you want extra parts (everything from a keyboard/mouse tray, all the way to a ButtKicker upgrade).
For the price, this cockpit is truly worth every penny and more! It will grow with you and your abilities, and has a wide compatibility across all consoles and hardware. What placed it in 2nd, however, is the positively gargantuan weight of the whole cockpit which makes it cumbersome to install and you definitely won’t ever be moving it until you take it down for good.
- High durable seat finished with Alcantara
- The entire cockpit is modular, allowing a huge array of upgrades down the line
- Very weighty and time-consuming to install
- Seat is somewhat wide, not ideal for narrow-framed users
3. GTR Simulator GTA Pro Cockpit
This company has been highly active on the sim racing scene almost since its inception, making GTR Simulator one of the leading brands in seats and rigs. The GTA Pro is one of their most premium models available, and with good reason!
Of all the rigs on this list, I’d say without a doubt that the GTA Pro is the most versatile. This is due to the full adjustability of the whole rig, and the fact that you can turn it into an F1-styled cockpit and back to a regular GT/rally style with ease!
It also possesses an extra level of durability in the frame, not necessarily from the materials used (although these are high-quality, too), but in the design of the wheel stand. It is secured with two arms rather than a singular extended one like a lot of cockpits offer, and this gives the whole rig an extra grounding and level of stability.
The seat is stylish and functional rolled into one, with the ability to actually use the whole rig as a desk due to the unique wheel stand design and addition of a keyboard/mouse tray. As a result, the padding on the seat is comfortable yet with noticeable lumbar support to encourage proper posture.
There is a huge range of adjustability in the seat, too, with reclining, height and all kinds of tilt. The pedal plate and wheel mount can also be adjusted to give you the best driving position you could ask for.
It has a large range of compatibility with the option of even adding a flight yoke for flight simulators! There’s a huge number of screw positions that allow for all major sim racing hardware to be affixed reliably.
Much like the RS1 mentioned above, the GTA Pro is entirely modular and at the point of purchase, you have a huge array of optional extras to choose from. There’s either a small or large monitor stand, better seat sliding mechanism, or a keyboard and mouse tray to add, and all of this will affect the price.
It comes with a shifter mount as standard as well, which makes it perfect for those of you out there who already have or want to buy a stick shifter for an amazingly immersive driving experience.
With a choice of three colors (black, silver or white), it is also one of the more affordable cockpits. I would certainly recommend buying the optional extras and choosing a large TV mount because without these things, the rig does feel pretty basic.
Compared to the Evolve Carbon and RS1, the overall rigidity and stability of the GTA Pro is lacking. And certainly without the added seat slider, there are very minimal height control adjustments you can make.
- More affordable without noticeable compromise on quality
- Highly versatile with a huge array of applications (flight sim, racing sim, desk etc)
- Versatility makes it stack up poorly compared to purpose-made sim racing rigs
- Without optional extras, the rig is sorely lacking
4. Next Level Racing GTtrack Racing Cockpit
A whole host of sim racers swear by Next Level Racing; whether it be for their full cockpits or simple yet effective wheel stands. They’ve been developing the GTtrack cockpit specifically over 8 years, accruing consumer and professional sim racer feedback until this rig was born!
One of the biggest problems that started to happen in regard to sim racing rigs was the development of direct drive wheels and wheelbases. This hardware is so powerful and realistic that it’ll shake your everyday wheel stands and cockpits to breaking point!
Taking this as their primary inspiration, Next Level Racing created the GTTrack in order to specifically handle the power of direct drive technology. In the same ilk, professional-grade pedal sets were also too heavy for most cockpits to handle, so they made a reinforced pedal plate for even the most sophisticated sets to be held with ease.
First and foremost, the GTtrack was made with sim racing professionals and hardcore enthusiasts in mind. This is why the whole cockpit can be installed on top of a motion platform as a primary design condition, not as an afterthought.
The whole frame is made from carbon steel and has been laser-cut for total precision and strength. Not only that, but this level of precision makes adjustments that much easier to make; allowing the fully adjustable wheel mount and pedal plate to truly come into their own.
As for the seat, it’s made in a classic ‘bucket’ racing style and is made to not only be comfortable, but also to up the immersion game tenfold! This is down to the inclusion of racing harnesses as standard, so you can strap in and truly imagine driving your favorite cars.
It’s very rigid due to high-density foam padding, and is covered in a leather composite material which separates it from others in this list for those who prefer that sort of feeling.
The whole rig comes with a dual-purpose gear shifter mount with the ability to house both a shifter and handbrake in one. You normally need two mounts for this eventuality, but this is truly ergonomic to save space.
Next Level Racing became popular for their usage of modular cockpits and wheel stands, and the GTtrack is no different! You can add and upgrade a whole host of things, such as: a three-monitor stand, motion gaming platform, keyboard and mouse stand and non-slip mats for total peace of mind.
It is rather affordable and, compared with the top two on this list, comes with similar rigidity, stability and total immersion. Unfortunately, upgrades and additions can be expensive with Next Level Racing, and to truly unlock this rig’s potential you really need the motion gaming platform; which may break the bank.
The seat also lacks a lot of lumbar support and padding to give it the trademark rigid feel, so it can become uncomfortable after long racing sessions.
- Highly durable and loads of adjustment thanks to laser-cut carbon steel frame
- Dual-purpose shifter mount as standard, has space for both a handbrake and a stick shifter
- Seat is pretty unforgiving after long racing sessions
- Designed to be used in conjunction with the Motion Gaming Platform V3, which costs $3,000 alone
5. Playseat F1 Cockpit
Lastly, we have a fan-favorite brand making a highly sophisticated cockpit for all of you F1 lovers out there! Playseat is pretty famous in sim racing for creating a huge variety of seats and cockpits for every budget, and with drivers like Sebastian Vettel owning this specific product, it clearly doesn’t make the quality suffer by any margin.
Just looking at the cockpit as a whole will make the differences between this and all other rigs on the market very apparent. It’s a very elongated design due to the specialized seated position found in F1 racing cars.
As of yet, this cockpit is the only one of its kind to offer the experience exclusively. Some other cockpits allow their rigs to move to something similar, but the F1 Cockpit from Playseat is one of a kind.
Overall, the whole build quality has been made with the word ‘superior’ in mind.
Alcantara leather covers the padded sections of the seat, and all of the padding is made of high-density foam that molds to the driver’s body for the perfect fit. Although the padding itself is rather thin, you won’t notice a difference between this seat and others which are more heavily padded due to how much density the foam has.
The material encasing the F1 seat is very shell-like and made of composite material, keeping it lightweight yet highly durable.
Every aspect of the framework can be adjusted; not least the pedal plate and wheel mount. This is due to replicating a Formula 1 car’s cockpit where the seat itself may not be adjustable, but everything else is to the absolute tiniest degree.
The frame itself is made of powder-coated steel which provides the rigidity and stability you really need, especially with this specialized seat. The powder coating also helps protect the framework from premature scratches and wear marks, keeping the whole rig looking better for longer.
The whole look of the cockpit is one of absolute synergy; everything flows together seamlessly and is simply stunning to look at. Overall the look is of sophistication and excellence, making it the perfect staple in your sim racing room!
It’s a truly beautiful cockpit that would be higher up this list if not for its highly specialized, specific build. If you’re an F1 racing enthusiast, there’s no better cockpit to replicate the feeling of a Formula 1 car.
But for those of you out there who enjoy variety in racing sims, all the premium materials in the world wouldn’t justify this purchase unless you have the money to burn and plenty of space available.
- Only purpose-made F1 cockpit simulator on the market
- Made entirely of premium-grade materials for a truly amazing finish
- Any racing sim except for F1 doesn’t feel right due to the specialized seat placement
- Rather expensive for only one type of racing sim to be used
There we have it! A look at the 5 best sim racing cockpits on the market, covering a large spectrum of what people might be looking for when buying their own.
Whether you’re purchasing an upgrade or your first-ever cockpit, look no further than the 5 I’ve reviewed here. But of course, if none of them truly jump out at you, follow my tips for what to look for in a sim racing rig and you won’t be steered wrong.