Sim racing gear shifters can cost a pretty penny, but some can be picked up very cheaply if you know where to look. Whether you’re a beginner building your first rig, or an experienced sim racer looking to add some functionality to your existing setup, it helps to know much a shifter costs.
Most sim racing gear stick shifters cost between $50 and $300. Beginner and entry level shifters can be bought for less than $50, and some of the more high-end sim racing gear shifters can cost more than $500, offering better build quality and functionality.
Knowing what you’re looking for in a product to go with your sim racing rig is super important, and this article is designed to help clarify what kind of shifter will fit best with you. Below, we go through the various prices ranges in more detail.
How Much Do Budget Sim Racing Shifters Cost?
Budget sim racing gear shifters can cost anywhere from $20 to about $100. These shifters are generally made of plastic and will be either sequential or H-pattern in nature, as you will rarely find a shifter that offers both modes at this price point.
The best way to describe the lower priced shifters out there is cheap and cheerful. If you’re simply looking to get into sim racing and don’t want to devote too much money to the hobby just yet, budget options are a great introduction to enjoy.
Price ranges for budget shifters will be between $20 and $100, with the latter price encroaching on the realm of mid-range shifters. You can browse online and find a lot of shifters at the lower end of that bracket easily enough.
One of the main things to look out for with budget options is to see how they connect to either your console or PC. A lot of non-brand shifters you can find on online marketplaces might not have the connection method you expect.
The last thing you want is to have gotten a seemingly great deal for your rig that you can’t even use, so make sure to read all of the technical specifications in detail before buying.
Now, as for the build materials, it goes without saying that you’ll be buying a plastic gear stick shifter if you’re spending within the budget region. This can make the shifter look and feel cheap which, while expected at these price points, isn’t going to help with the immersion factor.
It goes without saying that ‘budget’ doesn’t have to be a bad thing! If you buy purely based on the cheapest shifter you can find, you’ll probably run into problems with quality and how long the shifter will last. And if you’re looking for realism with your sim racing, this bracket of products probably isn’t for you.
Who Are Budget Shifters For?
Buying budget means buying for fun, casual experience-building, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for somebody who wants to be racing competitively or generally improving for competitions.
Between the somewhat flimsy weight of budget options due to their plastic materials and the tendency for breakages after minimal usage, they aren’t optimal for absolute immersion. However, there are still some decent options out there for those that want a cheap sim racing shifter experience, and we’ve noted our favorite choice below.
The Best Cheap Sim Racing Shifter
The best cheap sim racing shifter on the market is the Logitech Driving Force Shifter. Designed to work with budget wheels like the G29/G920, this H-pattern shifter is a great choice for those looking to add some immersion to their sim racing setup without breaking the bank.
How Much Do Mid-Range Sim Racing Shifters Cost?
Mid-range sim racing shifters cost between $100-$300. This is where shifters start becoming more competitive and realistic. Most people who get into sim racing will likely fall into this bracket after they reach the limits of their first rig, and the majority will stay within this bracket.
It’s the ideal price point for those who want to be competitive and keep seeing improvement without spending a huge chunk of your budget. The price range of these shifters is often within the realms of $100 and $300, which is quite a wide bracket, and firmly in the middle of the cheap vs expensive shifter space. Anything more expensive than this is what will fall into the premium, professional level.
Budget vs Mid-Range
The biggest difference between budget shifters and mid-range is definitely the quality of materials used. You’ll notice that the primary build material is often metal, and hardened plastic may feature for decorative components.
This metal composition serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, a metal stick shifter will last far longer than its full plastic counterparts. Not only will the mechanisms be more reliable, but the exterior will stay looking great too, whereas plastic will start becoming worn with a lot of usage.
They Feel More Realistic
Another huge advantage of metal gear shifters and a reason a lot of sim racers choose this mid-range is down to the ‘weightier’ feel, adding to the overall realism of their rig. You’ll feel a lot more pronounced and tactile response as you change through the gears, something seen in race cars around the world.
Even though you’re looking to spend more money on this piece of equipment, that doesn’t always guarantee its quality or ease of operation. Spend time reading the technical specifications to see if the shifter will work with your console or PC first and foremost, and check the reviews and what people say about them on forums.
The Best Mid-Range Brands
There’s no worse feeling than spending a large chunk of money on something that isn’t compatible with the rest of your setup. The tried and tested brands I’ve found are Thrustmaster and Fanatec, both of whom offer gear stick shifters in this mid-range bracket.
Having the choice to switch between H-pattern and sequential modes is often part of the package when you choose a mid-range product. Not all of them offer this functionality, but if you can get a dual-purpose shifter at this price range, you really get the most bang for your buck.
The best way to sum up gear stick shifters in this price range is that they find a great balance between realism and competitiveness.
The Best Mid-Range Sim Racing Shifter
The best mid-range sim racing gear shifter is the TH8A by Thrustmaster. It looks like it was lifted straight from a car’s cockpit, and it offers a choice of shifter type: H-pattern or sequential. It’s built to last, and it offers the best value for money in the mid-range sim racing shifter bracket.
How Much Do Premium Sim Racing Shifters Cost?
Premium sim racing gear shifters cost anywhere from $300 and up, and they represent the best quality of all sim racing shifters on the market. They’re usually made of metal, and they offer high levels of immersion and adjustability.
Absolute realism and high-end performance really define the premium bracket of gear stick shifters. Due to the price of products in this range, they are only really purchased by professional racers and those for whom a price tag is no object when it comes to the pursuit of skill and the competitive edge.
Who These Shifters Are For
It may seem excessive for those of us who take a more casual approach to sim racing, but when something is your profession and the way you earn money (such as for sim racing YouTubers), you really need to be on the lookout for cutting edge tools to perform at your best.
A lot of the sim racers who choose premium-end stick shifters and other products often receive sponsorships too, which covers a lot of the cost and makes them more viable options. But some people just want the best gear for their setup no matter the cost, and premium shifters cater to this market too.
Price-wise, you’ll be looking at $300 minimum all the way up to $2,000 at the highest end. Unlike in the two previous sections with budget and mid-range gear stick shifters, premium shifters are harder to come by and only select manufacturers produce these high-tech pieces of equipment.
Premium vs Mid-Range
Differences between premium-level shifters and the two other types is more to do with quality of materials and technology found within them. You will benefit from a long-lasting piece of equipment due to the all-metal composition, inside and out, and it will stay looking brand-new for a long time.
These premium pieces of equipment almost always need to be used in conjunction with PCs, so they aren’t normally suited to console gamers. These sim racing shifters are also often customizable in the amount of resistance you get on the gear changes, so you can modify your experience considerably when compared to the budget and mid-range options.
Premium sim racing shifters are truly the cream of the crop, but their high price tags put them out of reach for most sim racers.
The Best Premium Sim Racing Shifter
The best premium sim racing gear shifter is the Sequential Shifter V2 from PSL. This is a compact but powerful piece of equipment that offers an incredible level of immersion thanks to its super tactile feel when you shift. It is expensive, but it’s made with solid build materials and is designed to for those that want the best shifter that money can buy.
How To Choose A Sim Racing Gear Shifter
Your Experience Level
Choosing a sim racing shifter is all down to what your level of experience is and why you want to buy one in the first place. Consider your level of experience and how often you actually play your sim racing games, as it’s not worth forking out hundreds of dollars for something you’ll use twice a year.
Do Your Research
Spending more money on something should, in theory, net the gains of something better quality overall. But this isn’t always the case, and sometimes gambling on a small brand can pay off with a great value product that performs well. It’s just important to be informed before making those choices.
It’s important to be aware of all the different options out there when buying a sim racing shifter. By doing research on the different products on offer at the different price ranges, you’ll quickly start finding the sorts of features you value most, ensuring you make the right choice.
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