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Building a sim racing setup can give you a more immersive racing experience than playing with a regular controller. It’s one of those upgrades you never knew you needed until you tried one. With a dedicated sim racing setup, you’ll feel the difference in speed, movement and driving mechanics.
Sim Racing: A Growing Gaming Genre
Sim racing is a fascinating hobby that gained popularity in 2020 and continues to bleed into mainstream gaming. The arrival of newly developed sim racing products like advanced cockpits, wheelbases, steering wheels and pedals is proof of gamers diving deeper into the hobby.
While building a sim racing setup can be overwhelming and expensive, you can build one based on your budget and personal preferences. Whether you’re looking to maximize your racing experience or just want to enjoy the driving aspect of racing games, we’ve got you covered.
What You Need in Your Sim Racing Setup
A racer — even a virtual one — needs the proper gear to stay ahead of the competition. We’ll discuss the different gear you need to build an enjoyable sim racing setup and break down the elements of this exhilarating hobby.
The steering wheel will be your main control for racing games. A good steering wheel should be comfortable, easy to use and responsive to maximize gameplay and realism. Your steering wheel will also give you tactile feedback to feel your car’s performance in-game.
Some steering wheels come in bundles, while others are sold separately so you can choose which type you want to use. There are many types of steering wheels to choose from. Some of the commonly available options include:
- Traditional circular wheels
- F1-style wheels
- Square wheels
You can choose which type suits your playing style as you progress through the hobby. Some steering wheels have complex layouts with multiple buttons and features that enrich the driving experience. These buttons allow you to control your console or car. There are even switches to adjust in-game settings like headlights, traction control and many more.
Apart from the steering wheel, you need pedals to complete your sim racing setup. A dedicated pedal setup will give you a better understanding of your car’s in-game configuration and performance.
We recommend using a three-pedal setup for driving manual cars in various games because you can execute different driving maneuvers with a clutch pedal. Driving with pedals will be fun as it immerses you in the game far better than a typical console controller.
While you can already start racing with just a steering wheel and pedal setup, you can amplify your gaming experience by choosing higher-end models later on. Some high-end models offer advanced technology, multiple configurations and better materials that will truly level up your immersion and realism experience.
Some types of sim racing pedals include:
- Hydraulic pedals — Typically found in race cars and real-world cars, this type offers a realistic pedal feel thanks to its hydraulic setup.
- Potentiometer pedals — One of the most common pedal setups used in sim racing. This pedal type uses a sensor to measure and convert your force input in-game.
- Load cell pedals — This pedal setup has a higher force resistance. It can measure greater force to make the pedal feel more realistic.
The sim rig or driving chassis is technically unnecessary, but it’s ideal if you want to go deep and feel the thrill of sim racing. A good sim rig has control points for your wheel and pedal setup, giving you full control over your car in-game.
Sim rigs are ergonomic and can sometimes include a dedicated racing seat. This allows you to control your car in fast-paced scenarios comfortably. Olympic Esports athletes also use sim rigs to train for competitive racing. Ergonomic racing seats also reduce fatigue during long gaming stints.
Aside from comfort and convenience, sim rigs ensure you and your controls stay in place during vigorous driving. Sim racing can get quite competitive and some racing games, like Assetto Corsa Competizione, can be unforgiving for rookie drivers. A good sim rig will keep you seated and ready for action as you figure out your driving style and refine your technique.
Of course, you need a screen that captures all of the high-speed racing action to complete your sim racing setup. You’ll feel more in tune with your car once you have a good gaming screen.
Since sim racing is fast-paced, we recommend choosing a screen with a high refresh rate to keep up with the action. 60 frames per second (FPS) is a good place to start, but you can go for higher FPS screens if you want more fluid visuals and dynamic movements.
Next, you need to decide your screen configuration — single or multiple screens. It’s common for sim racing setups to use multiple screens for a wider field of view.
This improves immersion and realism since you can see more of your car’s cockpit in-game. You can also check your side mirrors better with a three-screen setup while making a move in-game.
Using a single screen is a viable option for your sim racing setup if you want to keep things simple, as it requires less space. You can opt for a wider screen and even use a curved screen to mimic the curvature of your car’s cockpit in-game.
Other Gear to Level Up Your Sim Racing Setup
What we listed above are just the basics to complete your sim racing setup. Sim racing is a deep rabbit hole. It’s easy to get tangled in all its technicalities and the sheer amount of gear available on the market.
You can add other peripherals to your sim racing setup to maximize the driving experience. Of course, you can take things slowly and add only what you think is best for your setup’s current needs.
Some of the gear you can add to your setup includes:
- Speakers or headphones — Feel the thrill of the race by adding dedicated speakers to your sim racing setup. There’s nothing quite like hearing your car roar as you redline it on the virtual track. You can choose noise-canceling headphones to keep the outside world out during gaming hours.
- Dedicated gear shifter and handbrake — These are also technically unnecessary but totally worth it. Gear shifters will improve the realism as you rip through the track and change from low to high in short throws. Handbrakes add a fun dynamic to drifting and doing other driving maneuvers in-game.
- VR goggles — Virtual reality goggles are becoming more popular now in the gaming scene in general. This new gaming technology can give you an up-close, interactive look into driving games. Remember to take it slow, as motion sickness can be an issue.
Get Your Speed Fix with Sim Racing
Whether you’re a weekend gamer or a real-life petrolhead, you’ll find sim racing games more enjoyable with the proper gear. The good news is that you can take it slow and research the best fit for your style and driving technique.
Sim racing is a fun hobby with lots of exhilarating dynamics. The tech world is definitely upping the ante with new gear and game releases to keep a global community of gamers and racing enthusiasts engaged. Try it out for yourself and see how you fare on the virtual tracks.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.