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Racing Simulators

Racing simulators have gained massive popularity in recent years among gaming enthusiasts, particularly those interested in motorsports. Simulators are a way to experience the thrill of high-speed racing from the comfort of your own home. They are designed to provide a realistic driving experience, simulating the feel of a real race car on a track.

If you’re new to racing simulation, the idea of a purchasing a racing simulator cockpit may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. With the right guidance, anyone can get started in the world of sim racing.

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Next Level Racing GTElite Ford GT edition racing simulatorBelow, you'll find an introduction to racing simulators, exploring what they are, how they work, and what to look for in order to choose the right simulator for you.

Table of contents

What is a racing simulator?

 

Sim racing centre

In this section, we will break down the various components that make up a racing simulator, providing an in-depth explanation of each part. From the racing cockpit to the wheel, pedals, shifter, and handbrake, we'll explore how each component works and what to look for when choosing a racing simulator. Understanding the different parts of racing simulators is essential for anyone new to sim racing, so let's dive right in.

Racing cockpit

Trak Racer TR160 Mk4 Racing Simulator

The racing simulator cockpit is the backbone of any racing simulator. It is the first and most crucial part of the simulator that you should consider. The cockpit provides you with a stable and realistic platform to sit in while simulating a real driving experience. Sim cockpits come in various sizes and shapes and can be customized to fit your specific preferences.

A good racing simulator cockpit will provide a comfortable driving and seating position, allowing you to maintain good posture and focus on the track without being distracted by discomfort or fatigue. It should also be adjustable, so you can move the seat, pedals, and wheel positions to fit your needs and preferred driving position.

Some popular racing simulator cockpit brands in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, and elsewhere in Australia include Next Level Racing, Trak Racer, RSeat, Sparco and Playseat.

Wheel & wheelbase

Cube Controls F-PRO Sim Racing Wheel

A racing wheel is responsible for providing you with the necessary feedback and control needed to simulate a real driving experience. It should be precise, responsive, and provide an accurate representation of the car's movements on the track

There are various options available, including entry-level wheels with basic force feedback and more advanced direct drive models that feature high-end motors and more realistic and immersive force feedback. Brands such as Simucube, Asetek, MOZA Racing, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec sell quality wheelbases and wheels for more racing simulators than any other brand's sales team on the market.

Pedals

Asetek SimSports Invicta Hydraulic Pedal Set

Sim racing pedals are arguably the most critical piece of racing simulators if you want to become faster and more consistent. In fact, in a recent Reddit survey asking what is the most important piece of sim gear for pace, 67% of respondents voted for pedals.

Sim pedals help you to accelerate, brake, and control the car's speed. The pedals should be adjustable and provide a realistic feel (preferably via load cell or hydraulic technology), giving you an accurate representation of the car's movements on the track.

There are various types of racing pedals available, from basic pedals to high-end models with adjustable hydraulic brake set-ups. Brands such as Asetek, BJ Sim Racing, Thrustmaster and Cube Controls are popular among racing simulator enthusiasts.

Shifter & handbrake

The shifter and handbrake are optional components that can be added to racing simulators to provide a more realistic driving experience. The shifter allows you to shift gears manually, while the handbrake can be used for drifts and other manoeuvres. Handbrakes are a ‘must have’ if you like rally simulation titles.

Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod + TH8A Shifter

There are various options available, from basic models to more advanced models. You can choose from shifters that feature a H-pattern set-up or sequential. Most popular shifters and handbrakes are plug and play and easy to bolt onto modern day rigs.

Monitors & monitor stand

Next Level Racing Elite Quad Monitor Stand and Monitors

The monitors and monitor stand give you a clear and immersive view of the racing environment. The number and size of the monitors can vary, but most simulators use at least one large monitor or a triple-screen setup to create a realistic field of view (FOV).

The stand should be sturdy and adjustable, allowing you to position the monitors at the correct height and angle. Brands such as Acer and ASUS offer quality monitors with the latest technology for racing simulators.

PC or console

Allied Gaming PC

Finally, you'll need a PC or console to power your racing simulators. Most simulators use a PC for the best graphics and performance, but consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation can also be used with compatible racing games.

When choosing a PC or console, you should consider your budget and games you want to play. The PC or console should be compatible with your chosen racing cockpit and other components. We recommend PC as the most popular racing titles are usually designed for PC. You’ll have access to a much wider choice of simulation titles with a PC setup.

Racing simulator cockpit types

A racing simulator cockpit is the central component of a complete racing setup. It is the platform that holds the wheel, pedals, shifter and handbrake, and other accessories in place, providing you with a realistic racing experience. Different companies offer different types of cockpits, each with its own set of features, price range, and build quality. In this section, we will break down the most common types of cockpits available in the market today.

Wheel stand

The wheel stand cockpit is an affordable option if you want to enjoy racing simulation without spending a lot of money. This type of cockpit is usually made from steel or aluminum and is designed to hold the wheel, pedals and shifter in place. Despite being an entry-level option, a wheel stand can still provide a realistic and immersive racing experience. However, you may experience some stability issues during intense racing sessions due to its basic design.

Tubular cockpit

The tubular cockpit is a significant upgrade from the wheel stand cockpit, providing you with enhanced stability and adjustability. This cockpit is made from tubular steel and is designed to offer a more realistic and immersive racing experience. A tubular cockpit is usually adjustable, so you can move the seat, wheel, and pedal positions to your liking. This type of cockpit is great if you are chasing a more advanced setup without necessarily spending a fortune.

Aluminium profile cockpit

Aluminium profile cockpits are the most popular and mostly considered the top-of-the-line option when it comes to a racing simulator setup. Most professional drivers and competitive esports racers use profile racing cockpits. This cockpit is made from extruded aluminium, providing superior strength, stability, and adjustability. The cockpit's high-quality materials and precision engineering provide users with a realistic and immersive racing experience that is hard to beat. The aluminium profile cockpit is highly customizable, with the ability to adjust and upgrade almost every aspect of the cockpit to meet your needs.

Racing simulator bundles

Ready to race bundles are an excellent option for anyone who wants a complete racing setup. These bundles include everything needed to get started, such as a cockpit, wheel, pedals, shifter, and other accessories. The bundles are available in different price ranges, making it easy for you to find a bundle that fits your budget.

7 factors to consider when purchasing your home racing simulator

Guy driving a racing simulator

When it comes to purchasing a racing simulator, there are several factors to consider before making a final decision. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine what to look for in a simulator. Here are the seven main factors you should consider when buying a racing simulator:

1.  Budget

Your budget will play a significant role in determining which racing simulators you can afford. While it's tempting to go for the most expensive option, keep in mind that there are plenty of mid-range and entry-level simulators that offer a great experience at a more affordable price. Make sure you consider the total cost of all the components you need, including the simulator cockpit, wheel, pedals, shifter, and any additional accessories.

2.  Console or PC?

The decision to go with a console or PC for racing simulators will depend on your personal preference and what hardware and games you already own. A PC hands you access to dozens of the most popular simulation titles. But consoles tend to offer a simpler and more streamlined experience. Additionally, a lot of higher end simulation gear is only compatible with PC. So, make sure to check the compatibility of your chosen simulator with your preferred platform.

3.  Direct drive wheels

A direct drive wheel is a high-end option that offers the most realistic force feedback, but it comes at a cost. Direct drive wheels use a powerful motor to provide precise and accurate feedback, making them ideal for serious sim racers. However, they can be quite expensive and may not be necessary for casual or beginner racers.

4.  What pedals should I buy?

Pedals are an essential part of a racing simulator, as they allow you to control the braking and acceleration of your virtual race car. Look for pedals with a high-quality build and materials, as well as adjustable settings for brake and throttle sensitivity. There are many options available, ranging from basic plastic pedals to high-end metal sets with load cell and hydraulic technology for a more authentic experience.

5.  Compatibility

When purchasing a racing simulator, it's important to ensure that all your gear is compatible with your racing rig. Will your wheelbase bolt directly to your racing cockpit? Or do you need to purchase a separate wheel mount. Likewise, you’ll need to ensure your pedals, shifter and handbrake will fit the mounts of your chosen cockpit. 

6.  Upgradability

Investing in racing simulators can be a significant expense, so it's important to consider whether the simulator you're interested in is upgradable. Upgradable race simulators allow you to add or replace components in the future, such as upgrading to a direct drive wheel or adding a motion system for a more immersive experience.

7.  Single or triple monitor?

The number of monitors you use for your simulator can have a big impact on your immersion and overall experience. A single monitor is the most affordable and straightforward option, but it doesn't offer the same level of immersion as a triple monitor setup. Triple monitors allow for a wider field of view and can make it easier to spot other cars and obstacles, but they also require a more powerful computer and is generally the more expensive option of the two.

In this next section, we’ll cover what we believe are the best racing simulator cockpits on the market today. There’s no particular order here. The aim is to give you an a firm grip on what are the top selling simulator cockpits and an idea around the a cockpit that could suit your tastes and budget.

Trak Racer TR80 racing simulator

The TR80 Racing Simulator is a top-of-the-line cockpit designed for professional and competitive users. This simulator is built with high-quality materials such as extruded aluminium and provides superior strength and stability, ensuring a realistic and immersive racing experience.

Trak Racer TR80 Racing Simulator MK5

The cockpit is highly customizable, with adjustable seat, wheel, and pedal positions, making it suitable for users of different sizes and preferences. The Trak Racer TR80 Racing Simulator is also compatible with most popular racing wheel brands and comes with pre-drilled holes to facilitate installation.

One of the unique features of the TR80 is its modular design. The cockpit can be easily dismantled and reassembled, allowing for easy transportation and storage. Additionally, the TR80 Racing Simulator offers the option to upgrade to motion, making it one of the most versatile driving simulators on the market.

While the Trak Racer TR80 is an exceptional simulator, it may not be the best choice for every consumer. The higher price tag may make it inaccessible for some, and the modular design may not be necessary for those who plan to use the cockpit in a fixed location.

Shop Trak Racer TR80

Next Level Racing GTElite sim cockpit

The Next Level Racing GTElite is a high-end racing simulator cockpit that offers an immersive and realistic racing experience. This cockpit is made from high-quality materials, including a rigid and durable powder-coated aluminium frame.

Next Level Racing GTElite cockpit

It is highly customizable, allowing users to adjust the seat, pedal and wheel positions to suit their preferences. The GTElite cockpit comes with a range of features such as adjustable pedal plate, adjustable shifter mount, and a pre-drilled steering wheel mounting plate. The cockpit also has a built-in slider mechanism, which allows you to adjust the seat position for a more comfortable driving position.

A standout features of the Next Level Racing GTElite is its compatibility with a range of wheel and pedal sets, making it a flexible option for sim racers. It is compatible with most major wheel and pedal sets, including Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec.

While the Next Level Racing GTElite racing rig is a premium option for sim racers, it may not be the best choice for all consumers. The high price point may be prohibitive for some users. Additionally, the GTElite cockpit may not be suitable for users who require a more compact or portable setup.

Shop Next Level Racing GT Elite

Playseat Challenge simulator cockpit

Need something affordable? The Playseat Challenge might be the right choice for you. It is a foldable racing seat designed to fit most sim racing wheels (excluding direct drive models) and pedal sets, making it compatible with a wide range of racing games.

Playseat Challenge Black ActiFit Simulation Cockpit

The seat is made of high-quality materials that provide excellent comfort and durability. The cockpit also features a patented folding system that makes it easy to store when not in use. The compact size and lightweight design of the Playseat Challenge make it ideal for small apartments or rooms with limited space.

One of the main benefits of the Playseat Challenge is its affordability. This racing seat offers great value for its price point, making it an excellent entry-level option for beginners who are looking to experience racing simulators without breaking the bank. The cockpit is also very easy to assemble.

While the Playseat Challenge Simulator Cockpit is a great entry-level option, it may not be the best choice for more advanced users. The cockpit's small size and lightweight design may not provide the same level of stability as more advanced cockpits, which may not be suitable for competitive racing.

Shop Playseat Challenge

Sparco Evolve GP racing simulator

The Sparco Evolve GP racing simulator is a dedicated F1 cockpit designed to provide a realistic formula racing experience. The cockpit is made of high-quality steel and features an adjustable seat, pedal plate, and wheel plate, allowing users to customize their setup to their liking.

Playseat Challenge Black ActiFit Simulation Cockpit

The cockpit is also compatible with a range of wheels and pedals, making it a versatile choice for users who want to upgrade their racing setup over time. The cockpit is designed to provide exceptional stability during intense racing sessions, ensuring that users can focus on their driving without any distractions.

However, the Sparco Evolve GP simulator is not suitable for all users. As it’s a dedicated F1 cockpit, you can’t change to GT without bolting on a new seat. It is also relatively large and heavy, which may make it difficult to store or move around.

Shop Sparco Evolve GP

Playseat Sensation PRO FIA racing cockpit

Playseat Sensation PRO FIA simulator cockpitThe Playseat Sensation PRO FIA racing cockpit is a high-end racing simulator that you can purchase if you want a premium, tubular option. The cockpit is made from high-quality materials, including powder-coated steel and Alcantara suede fabric, which makes it durable and comfortable.

The cockpit is compatible with most racing wheels, pedals, and shifters on the market, allowing you to customize a setup to your liking. The seat is adjustable and can be tilted forward or backward, and the pedal plate can be adjusted to accommodate different heights.

The Sensation Pro also included a built-in monitor stand for a single monitor setup, however, this can be removed if you favour triple monitors.

The Playseat Sensation PRO FIA racing simulator is one of the more expensive options on the market at more than twice the price of a Trak Racer TR80 cockpit.

Shop Playseat Sensation PRO FIA

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is a racing simulator cockpit?

A: A racing simulator cockpit is a setup that includes a racing seat, pedals, a steering wheel and shifter, and a cockpit frame or chassis. It is designed to provide a realistic and immersive racing experience for users.

Q: What is included with a racing simulator?

A: The contents of a racing simulator may vary depending on the type of cockpit or bundle purchased. However, in general, a racing simulator is a standalone cockpit with pedal, wheel and shifter mounts. Some high-end bundles may include additional accessories such as wheelbase, pedals and other accessories.

Q: What is the best racing simulator for me?

A: The best racing simulator for you will depend on your budget, race car driving skills, and preferences. If you're a beginner, a wheel stand or tubular cockpit may be suitable. If you're an intermediate or advanced user, an aluminium profile cockpit may provide a more immersive experience.

Q: Can I use any wheel, pedals or shifter with a racing simulator cockpit?

A: Most simulator cockpits are compatible with a wide range of wheels, pedals and shifters from different manufacturers. However, it's important to check the compatibility of your components with the cockpit you're interested in before making a purchase.

Q: What else do I need to buy to complete my sim rig?

A: In addition to the cockpit, wheel, pedals, and shifter, there are a few other accessories that may be needed to complete a sim rig. These include a gaming PC or console, monitors or VR headset, and possibly additional controllers such as a button box or handbrake.

Q: Can I use a racing simulator cockpit with a console?

A: Yes, most racing simulator cockpits are compatible with both consoles and PCs. However, it's important to check the compatibility of different driving simulators before making a decision.

Q: Can I upgrade my racing simulator cockpit?

A: Yes, most racing simulator cockpits are designed to be upgradable. You can upgrade different components of driving simulators such as the wheel, pedals, shifter and cockpit frame to improve the performance and realism of your setup.

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