When you’re looking at immersing yourself in sim racing, a rig is one of the first things you’ll look at getting after your wheel and pedals. At first, the prices can look pretty daunting. With full-motion rigs with all the bells and whistles totting up to over £17,000, sometimes it looks like you won’t be able to get a rig on a modest budget. In this article, we’ll look at five of the best sim racing rigs that you can pick up for less than the cost of a Fanatec CSL DD.
What should I look for in a Sim Racing Rig?
Your rig should, firstly, be suitable for the wheelbase and pedals (as well as any other accessories) that you would like to use. A high-end Rennsport rig that is designed for Fanatec’s Direct Drive wheels would be as useful for a Thrustmaster TMX as a fold-up solution would be for a 32Nm Simucube 2 Ultimate. Make sure that the manufacturer of your rig of choice says that their product is suitable for your current setup firstly, or you’ll be in for a massive disappointment when your rig arrives.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially when racing on a budget, is your medium-term or long-term aims for your setup. Are you hoping that your rig will hold a Direct Drive wheel once you’re ready to take the step up from your gear-driven Logitech G29? What about if you’re looking to change from potentiometer pedals to hydraulic pedals that require large amounts of force to be put through them? These are things you might want to keep in mind if you’re shopping on a tight budget, especially if you want to save against spending more than necessary to upgrade your setup in the future.
How much should I spend on a Sim Racing Rig?
Rigs can be relatively affordable, provided that you know what you want from them. The range of rigs that we discuss here starts at £149, with the most expensive clocking in at £336. However, with each product, you get a unique set of compatibility and design that can help you decide the direction that you wish to take with your rig. Do you want a simple solution that’s easy to move around? Or do you want a large rig that is ready to handle whichever set of wheelbase and pedals you wish to purchase later on in your sim racing journey?
In our list, there’s a bit of something for everyone looking to take this next step on a budget.
|Playseat Challenge||£149||Bucket seat style|
|Lack of back support|
Difficult to get in and out of the rig
|Next Level Racing GT Lite Sim Racing Cockpit||£157||Bucket seat style|
|Lack of back support|
Difficult to get in and out of the rig
|Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro||£187||Compact|
Easy to move
|Seat support costs £112 extra|
|Playseat Evolution||£224||Sturdy build|
High-quality vinyl seat
|Centre pillar can be intrusive for 3-pedal solutions|
|Sim Lab GT1 Evo Sim Racing Cockpit||£336||Adjustable all-in-one chassis|
Easily modifiable and upgradable
|Seat not included in initial cost|
High start-up cost
Playseat’s Challenge boasts compactness and adjustability for a modest £149. The all-in-one solution comprises of a bucket seat, wheel plate, and board to mount your pedals to. The lack of a central pillar, instead having two bars coming up to meet the wheel plate, means that users with two-pedal and three-pedal solutions are able to make the most of their solutions without having to compromise and negotiate central support. On top of this, the Challenge is foldable when not in use. This means that it won’t take up massive amounts of space if you’re looking to use your computer for other means.
This compact solution does come with its compromises. For example, the ActiFit-lined seat doesn’t have full back support which could affect users who need a solid back to their seat. In addition to this, the design of the seat as a bucket seat could make it difficult for some users to easily climb into or out of the seat after a long session in their simulator of choice.
Next Level Racing GT Lite Sim Racing Cockpit
The Next Level Racing GT Lite Sim Racing Cockpit is an alternative to Playseat’s Challenge. At £157, it comes in at a similar cost to the Playseat. However, the main differences are that the Next Level Racing solution has a more conventional seat to the bucket seat of the Playseat and also features small differences in shifter mounting and pedal mounting. The GT Lite features two metal plates to mount the pedals to, which can be set at a raised angle or placed flat on the floor depending on the user’s preference.
On the other hand, much like the Challenge, the GT Lite doesn’t have solid back support. Whilst the design of it makes it easier to get into the seat, the issue stems from the same strengths of foldability and compactness as the Challenge. As a result, it is a fantastic offering for those delving into sim racing and serves to open you up to other solutions in the future.
Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro
Clocking in at £187, the Sim Lab Wheel Stand Pro is a sturdy and compact build. It is suitable for all popular wheelbases, from the Thrustmaster TMX and Logitech G29 to Fanatec’s DD2. Easy to move by nature, it is an ideal unit if you’re not looking to also purchase a chair and if you’re looking for the next step up from desk-mounting your wheel and putting your pedals on the floor.
However, for similar prices, you can purchase foldable solutions such as the Playseat Challenge and Next Level Racing GT Lite Sim Racing Cockpit which include a seat. Whilst it is possible to upgrade your Wheel Stand Pro with seat supports, this costs £112 and doesn’t include a seat. At that price range, it is possible to purchase a Chassis-based solution which also boasts greater customisation options.
The Playseat Evolution features a central single-pylon wheelstand as well as a sturdy pedal plate as well a high-quality and easy-to-clean vinyl seat for £224. It is also massively adjustable, with a telescopic design that means that you can adjust the distances of the wheelstand and pedal plate from the seat without any excess metal sticking out. This makes the Playseat Evolution massively accessible to all people on a budget.
The main issue that can come from the Playseat Evolution is a product of its compact design. The central single-pylon wheelstand can make things difficult for users of a three-pedal solution, as they might feel like they are compromising on their brake usage if they are trying to navigate a metal pole that is lined up with their central brake pedal. As a result, this is most suitable for users who are running two-pedal solutions.
Sim Lab GT1 Evo Sim Racing Cockpit
The dearest rig on this list at £336, the Sim Lab GT1 Evo Sim Racing Cockpit is a chassis that comes with massive amounts of future-proofing. Suitable for all popular wheelbases from the likes of Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec, Sim Lab also says that it is suitable for specialist brands such as Simucube with some slight adjustments to mounting configurations.
Perhaps its greatest feature is how easy it is to add more parts to the rig. Accessories include mountings for shifters and handbrakes, as well as monitor mounts and other add-ons for products such as Buttkickers. This means that, whilst there is a high start-up cost with this rig, it is also one that you’re investing in for the long run.
However, unlike the cheaper Playseat Evolution, the cost of a seat is not included in the total cost of the GT1 Evo. The add-on SPEED3 Bucket Seat costs £284, which is difficult to afford for those on a minimal budget. This means that you are likely to look at alternatives for the seats which, whilst possible as the rig itself can be modified to suit any seat, means more work for you to do as you’re trying to sort out your first rig.