With new wheelbases and sim racing companies appearing every few months, the market is awash with a vibrant choice of sim racing hardware. Whether it be entry-level equipment or a full enthusiast’s setup, hardware decisions can be confusing and intimidating.
In the categories below will be a non-exhaustive selection of sim racing hardware offerings. These categories will include additions from the entry level, right up to the four-figure hardcore systems. Also included is a non-comprehensive table of wheelbases to aid new sim racers or experienced ones looking to upgrade their rig.
This specific article will also include my personal choices. I currently own and have done for many years, a Thrustmaster T300RS. After graduating from university and getting married in the summer, a hardware upgrade is finally in the realm of possibility.
All of the hardware choices below are in this article because they are an option for someone in a similar position to me. Regardless of the price range, these brands and equipment should be on the radar of any sim racer looking to change or upgrade their kit. Please be aware that everything below is not exhaustive. Many other great options are available, and I encourage you to do your research.
The wheelbase you choose is one of the most important aspects of your sim racing hardware. When it comes to wheelbases, you can have the cheaper belt and gear-driven wheels like the Thrustmaster T300RS, or a much more powerful direct drive wheel like the Moza R series offerings. With the prices of direct drive wheelbases slowly falling and the availability of top-quality hardware increasing, there’s never been a better time to consider an upgrade.
When choosing a wheel rim, it is dependent on which brand of wheelbase you choose. For example, if you chose the Cammus C5 direct drive option, you would have no choice of interchangeable rims (as of November 2023). An offering from Moza or Fanatec on the other hand would open up a whole world of interchangeable wheel rims. The latter’s wheel rim lineup is arguably one of the most extensive in sim racing – take a look on their website!
The latter is true for Asetek SimSports as well. The Danish Manufacturer has just revealed a lineup of modular wheel rims and button boxes – find all their options on the Asetek website.
Wheelbase Comparison Table
|Wheelbase||FFB Technology||Nm Capability||Changable Rims||Upgradable Pedals||Degrees Of Rotation||Compatibility||Price|
|Logitech G29/920||Gears||2.2Nm||No||No||900||Xbox One/S/X |
|Logitech Pro||DD||11Nm||TBC||Yes||Unlimited||Xbox One/S/X |
|Thrustmaster T300rs||Belt/Gear||3.9Nm||Yes||Yes||1080||PS3/4/5 |
|Fanatec Podium DD1||DD||20Nm||Yes||Yes||Unlimited||Xbox One/S/X|
|Fanatec CSL DD||DD||5-8Nm||Yes||Yes||Unlimited||Xbox One/S/X |
|Asetek La Prima||DD||12Nm||Yes||Yes||Unlimited||PC||£546.96|
|Simucube 2 Pro||DD||25Nm||Yes||Yes||Unlimited||PC||£1249.83|
Prices as of November 2023
If you were to ask an experienced sim racer which bit of hardware is the most important for lap time improvements, they would say the pedal set. Whether it be trail braking in a touring car or clutch kicking a drift car sideways around Suzuka, a good set of loadcell pedals is the upgrade to your hardware that you should be prioritising.
Budget: Thrustmaster T-LCM: €194 – £169 – $209
Simply put, the Thrustmaster T-LCM pedal set is the cheapest way into the world of loadcell pedal technology. Many people would argue that the Fanatec CSL Elite V2 pedals are the best entry-level set. However, they are over £150 extra, which you may want to keep in mind.
The T-LCM pedals can withhold up to 100kg on the loadcell brake pedal. Additionally to the loadcell, Thrustmaster’s renowned H.E.A.R.T (HallEffect AccuRate Technology) system means that the pedals’ sensors should hardly see any wear over time. If you currently have a set of pedals without loadcell technology, like me, this set could be a good entry point.
Mid-Range: Simagic P1000: €578 – £502 – $621
Whilst slightly above the average mid-range price point, the step up in quality with the Simagic P1000 pedals is steep. With high-quality metal and a load cell brake plus hall effect sensors for the clutch and throttle, the P1000 is a set of pedals that will suit the majority of sim racers’ needs without the requirement to upgrade in the future. Plug-and-play accessories like light bars, external motors and even a hydraulic brake system are also available for purchase separately to individualise your pedal set.
Whilst the price point is a big step up from a set such as the T-LCM, the P1000 offers more customizability and quality. With an interesting ecosystem with Simagic on the horizon, the amount of racers using the P1000 or the more expensive P2000 could likely increase soon.
High End: Heusinkveld Ultimate+ €1191 – £1034 – $1279
Heusinkveld is probably the most famous sim racing pedal brand. The Dutch manufcaturer’s design and technology have evolved over the past few years to create their interpretation of the ultimate set of pedals, hence their name. Whilst not the newest set on the market at this price, the Ultimate+ has proven to be reliable and customizable.
The brake pedal can withstand a braking force of 140kg (200kg Loadcell), which is likely more than most sim racers could ever need. The price listed above is for all three of the pedals, there is an option for just the brake and throttle pedal to keep the cost down. However, with a pedal set at this level, having all three options at your disposal is likely worth it – unless you exclusively race paddle-shifted cars.
Whether it be a H-Pattern gearbox or a sequential one, a shifter is one of the best ways to increase your immersion. For historic class drivers especially, a shifter is essential. Just make sure you have a clutch pedal on your rig to fully enjoy them.
Budget: Thrustmaster TH-8S: €69 – £60 – $74
The Thrustmaster TH8S is the company’s newest addition to their handbrake and shifter lineup. Whilst it’s made of plastic, the affordability on offer is enough to entice sim racers on a budget, even if they do not have a Thrustmaster wheel. The TH8S comes with a built-in desk clamp suitable for desks and rigs up to 4cm thick.
The TH8S is a lower-budget option to the TH8A shifter. At half the cost, the TH8S opens up opportunities for sim racers to try out an h-pattern shifter, potentially for the first time. However, when paired up against its more expensive older brother, the T8HA, it does lose out in almost every category.
Mid-Range: MOZA HGP: €160 – £139 – $172
MOZA’s HGP H-pattern shifter took the mid-range by storm at release. The full metal design, coupled with ease of adaptability and modability, creates a great option for users wanting a much more serious experience than either of the Thrustmaster offerings.
Coming in at just under €139, the HGP shifter is good value. Personally, this is the shifter I will be looking to buy in the not-too-distant future. The level of quality on offer for the price looks outstanding, and the ability to change from the H-pattern mode to the sequential mode is seamless – a vital feature for a good shifter experience.
High End: Simagic DS-8X: €458 – £398 – $492
With excellent build quality and a suitable price tag to match, the Simagic DS-8X is one of the high-end options to consider.
At the flick of a switch, the shifter can turn from H-pattern to sequential and back. The ability to side mount the shifter using L-shaped brackets is another plus. The adaptability and overall quality of the DS-8X puts it firmly in the top spot on my list of high-end shifters.
Having an sturdy sim racing cockpit is one of the most important upgrade you could make to your setup. With a solid frame, you can add pretty much anything your wallet or purse allows regarding equipment. Not only does it add flexibility to your hardware options, it also allows the usage of many different sorts of seats to get you comfortable; an essential asset for longer racing sessions.
Budget: GT Omega PRIME Lite Cockpit: €403 – £349 – $432
At £200 below the regular PRIME cockpit, the GT Omega PRIME Lite comes in at a market not far off the high-end wheelstands. Compared to those wheelstands, however, you get an aluminium-framed cockpit with customization potential. The PRIME Lite, as a part of the GT Omega ecosystem, is aimed at being future-proof regarding new hardware and accessories that may release down the line.
The ability to swap the feet on the bottom of the rig out for caster wheels allows the frame to be moved about on solid flooring. Regardless of what wheel brand you own, from Logitech to Simucube, the 80x40mm aluminium profiles allow for ease of assembly or disassembly.
Mid Range: Next Level Racing Go Kart Plus: €690 – £599 – $741
Next Level Racing has dipped their feet into relatively new waters. Their Go Kart Plus cockpit is marketed as a rig for the whole family. With such a unique design and layout, it may seem like is not much good for anything but karting on sims like Kartkraft or Automobilista 2. However, its seating position appears not to be far off a formula-style rig.
The fact that this is the first dedicated karting rig from a mainstream brand opens up the floor for NLR’s competitors to challenge with something similar. If you have a younger child or perhaps fancy yourself as a pro karter, you might want to take a closer look at the Go Kart Plus.
High End: Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160: €1325 – £1150 – $1423
The F-GT Elite 160 is a heavy-duty brute of a cockpit that has been designed to deal with any amount of force a DD wheelbase or motion systems could throw at it. With seemingly endless amounts of adjustability, sim racers have the choice to use the cockpit in a GT-style layout or a formula-style position.
Next Level Racing has a wide array of accessories compatible with the F-GT Elite 160. Triple monitor stands to keyboard and mouse trays are available to customise the rig. One of the major selling point of the F-GT Elite 160 however, is the capability of the cockpit to handle NLR’s motion platform V3.
What’s your next upgrade step? Let me (and us) know in the comments below or on Twitter @OverTake_gg!