With so many hardware options on the market, sim racers are spoilt for choice when creating their ideal setup. However, with the price ranges for hardware being so broad, it can leave new players wondering how much they will have to spend on a sim racing setup.
The cost of a sim racing setup fully depends on what your hardware requirements are and how far you wish to stretch your budget. Cheaper setups can be purchased for around $100-$450, whereas those looking for advanced setups can expect to pay anything from $500 to thousands of dollars.
Not everyone will feel it is necessary to spend a huge amount of money on a sim racing setup as a lot of hardware available is completely optional. In this article we will discuss whether a sim racing rig is worth it, what you need to create one and how much it will cost you.
Is A Sim Racing Rig Worth It?
Whether a sim racing rig is worth it or not will depend on what type of sim racer you are. Casual players may not feel it is worth spending extra beyond their PC or console and their game of choice, whereas those who take sim racing seriously may see it as the best investment they ever made.
Sim racing rigs, if done properly, can turn sim racing from an enjoyable hobby into a full-on racing experience. Imagine sitting in your racing chair at the start line of a Grand Prix, force feedback wheel in hand, ready to attack the first corner Michael Schumacher style. The truth is, good sim racing rigs offer unbelievable levels of immersion, dropping you right into the center of the action.
The level of immersion that you get from your rig will ultimately depend on the amount of money you are willing to sacrifice for it, with some people paying thousands of dollars for their wheel alone. What you do get with expensive equipment is (usually) great quality, and products that are durable and long lasting, very rarely needing any repairs.
It isn’t completely necessary that you spend a fortune however, as there are plenty of decent cheaper options available, as well as plenty of secondhand retailers selling products for a cut price. One thing that is for certain is that a sim racing rig, for someone who loves racing and wants to feel even closer to the action, is most definitely worth it.
What Do You Need For A Sim Racing Setup?
1. Force Feedback Wheel
The first and most important item in any sim racing setup is a good quality force feedback wheel. Force feedback is a feature in sim racing wheels that simulates the feel of a real racing wheel, fighting back at you when you turn a corner. Force feedback helps you figure out the nuances of a track as well as giving you a far more immersive and realistic experience.
These wheels are usually available from around the $250 mark with the Logitech G29 often the best place to start as its performance levels outweigh its price. There are wheels available for less than $100, but without force feedback they lack that added bit of immersion that makes a more expensive wheel so worth it.
If you want to go the other direction with your budget, $250 is far from the limit, with direct drive wheels available for $1000+. Direct drive wheels are by far the most realistic wheel option for sim racers, as the wheel turns directly from the motor, rather than being fed by gears or a belt, meaning they perform with similar levels of intensity as a steering wheel in a real car.
2. Mounting The Wheel
With any wheel that you purchase, cheap or expensive, you will need something sturdy to mount it on. For many people this will be the side of a desk or any form of wooden structure. Actual sim racing wheel mounts are available, often made of metals such as aluminum or steel for an extra guarantee that it will stay upright.
These wheel mounts can cost between $50-$150, and in some cases considerably more, depending on size and shape. Another option would be a racing seat with a built-in mount. You can even buy structures that replicate the shape of a car, with a built-in area for a racing seat, should you wish to go down the ultra-realistic route. Mounts tend to contain a holder for racing pedals.
When you buy a wheel there is a high chance that it will come with a set of pedals that go with it. Pedals are a great addition to any sim rig as they offer immersion and performance benefits, giving you more braking and acceleration control. You can get your hands (or feet) on a set of pedals for as little as $50 or you can once again spend in the four-figure range.
To avoid disappointment, it is important to check whether the pedals are compatible with your wheel before purchasing, especially if you are racing on console.
4. Comfortable Racing Seat
One of the most important aspects of a sim racing rig is comfort, especially if you are planning on taking part in any marathon sim racing sessions. A chair with good lumbar support for your posture is a necessity and can be purchased for around $200-$500.
As they are not the most exciting part of the setup, they are easy to overlook, but what they lack in flashiness, they make up for in comfort. Looking after your back long-term is always worth the investment too. Reputable brands include Sparco and Sim Lab.
5. Triple Screen, Ultrawide Or VR Screen Setup
Now for the visuals. There are multiple options for screens at varying, and sometimes scary price ranges. In order to get the most immersive view of the race, it is recommended that you play on either a triple screen, ultrawide screen or VR setup. This way you gain peripheral vision and have a much wider, truer to life, field of view.
Triple screen setups are when you have three screens next to each other, broadening your view. They were pretty much ultrawide screens before ultrawide screens were a thing. Having three screens will cost you more than remaining with just one, and you will be paying more for the quality of the resolution. Be careful though, as not all PCs can display three high resolution screens.
Ultrawide screens are like the three-screen setup, just without the edges of the monitors in between. They are often curved too. One of the most popular of the ultrawide screens is the Samsung Odyssey G9, which is a superbly high-resolution screen for the superbly high price of about $1,500.
VR is the third peripheral-vision-based option, and it is quickly becoming a part of many setups in the sim racing community. It may have its downsides in terms of screen resolution and potential motion sickness, but it is by far the most immersive of the options, allowing racers to really gauge a sense of speed, as well as being able to look right the way around them when racing.
The Oculus Rift is the most famous name in VR and will cost you around $400, with the HP Reverb another popular choice for closer to $800. The HTC Vive is critically acclaimed but also comes with a price tag of about $1,700. For console users the choice is limited, with the PS VR the only headset compatible with PlayStation. Xbox users are still yet to have any compatible VR system in place.
Sim Racing Setup Accessories
1. Gear Shifters/Handbrakes
Many wheels will come equipped with built-in paddle shifters, but for those who want to race rally cars or classic touring cars, they’re just a bit unnatural. Manual shifting and handbraking really adds to the lifelike experience of sim racing, as well as giving your rig that polished, professional look.
2. Clutch Pedal
This may seem like an unnecessary bit of gear for your sim rig, and for some it is, as most titles use clutchless gear shifting. But as unnecessary as it may be for some games, it certainly brings a bit more realism to your rig, and a bit more fun to your driving.
3. Racing Clothes
By racing clothes, I don’t mean the full fire-resistant boilersuit complete with helmet, but instead a pair of racing gloves and racing shoes. These are obviously completely optional as you will likely be sim racing in your home, but they can provide extra comfort and grip to both the pedals and the wheel. Gloves also prevent any sweat from dirtying your wheel, which is a bonus.
Last but definitely not least is the requirement of a decent amount of space to house your equipment in. A rig can take a lot of time to set up and put away, so it is recommended that you have a designated sim area, whether it be a less used corner of a room or by a desk, or even in a room under the stairs.
How Much Does A Sim Racing Setup Cost?
A sim racing setup costs anywhere from $100 to $1,000+. It all depends on what hardware you want to get, and how much you want to spend on the hardware. While the expensive equipment gives a more realistic experience, you don’t have to spend too much to have a great sim racing setup.
When deciding how much you want to spend on the setup of your choice, it is important to consider the fact that you don’t have to buy everything all at once. You can purchase a wheel without a seat or even pedals without the wheel. Sim rigs are fully adaptable if you have a PC or console and a screen of some sort to play your games on.
The overall price of a sim racing setup is fully dependent on the racer’s budget and requirements. A low-end setup with the minimum amount of hardware accessories can be purchased for under $200, with a non-force feedback wheel and pedal set. A mid-range setup, complete with force feedback wheel, a mount and a good screen can cost around $400-$750.
High-end setups are not even worth thinking about for some, but if you are interested in having the very best equipment, it is likely you will be paying upwards of $2,000. This will include a very good quality wheel, mounted on aluminum and displayed in glorious 4K. Add accessories to this, as well as a comfortable racing seat, and you will have a very enviable rig.
The cost of a sim racing setup is very variable depending on your budget. Sim rigs are upgradeable, meaning that you can start off at the beginner level and work your way up to the perfect rig. But most importantly, having a cheaper rig doesn’t make sim racing any less enjoyable.