Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many online events have come to light for the general public. A major one is Racing Simulation or Sim Racing. It’s taken the online world by storm as virtual Grand Prixs and other races featuring real drivers from Formula 1, NASCAR, and other forms of motorsports have gained media attention and continue to thrive despite IRL, or In Real Life, Racing mainly running again in 2021.
From NASCAR to Formula 1 to off-road racing, these simulators can provide you the opportunity to virtually drive your favorite vehicles against other drivers on famous tracks like Daytona, Indianapolis, and even Monaco.
First, we’ll break down some of the popular racing sims/games and then go over some hardware recommendations you’ll want to look into getting. Take note that racing sim can be a hefty investment but for me personally, I look at it this way: take whatever amount you spend, and if you hit half that number in hours racing, then I say you’ve gotten your money's worth, and even more so if you’re having fun doing it the entire way! IE - I spend $250 on a racing wheel. If I get 125 hrs. of racing in from various racing titles, I say I've gotten more than my money's worth.
NOTE: This guide’s hardware recommendations are for sim racing equipment/peripherals only with the assumption that you already have a computer (or gaming console) that can play the racing sim/games of your choice.
Cars: Various // This is the main authority on competitive sim racing for PC, with a large online player base. They cover almost every form of racing, featuring plenty of officially licensed and real-world backed racing series along with a variety of real laser-scanned tracks. iRacing features various types of oval racing (including NASCAR and IndyCar), various forms of road racing (IMSA, IndyCar, Porsche), dirt oval racing and off-road dirt racing/rally cross. You’ll work your way up through a driving class and safety rating system where every stat is tracked along the way. iRacing also has professionally run championships for thousands of dollars. Maybe you caught one of them on TV in the past year or so? iRacing uses a subscription based model, which keeps the major content updates pumping every three months. iRacing does not allow for any modding content like some sims on PC. iRacing supports VR.
Cars: Various // The current offering in Reiza Studios’ Automobilista series is Automobilista 2. The Brazilian developer has been known for some of the best force feedback in a racing sim released for PC. Their current title is in Early Access, but features a variety of cars and tracks from around the world, some which are unique to the title. The second game is currently releasing new content through 2021 and perhaps beyond. Some is free content, the rest is through a Season Pass system, mainly for well-known tracks from around the world. There is currently not any mod support for the 2nd title. The original, Automobilista, does offer modding support but is no longer being updated by the developer. Automobilista 1 does not support VR, Automobilista 2 supports VR.
Cars: Various // The original title by Kunoz Simulation is Assetto Corsa available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. While it currently is not receiving updates and has not for a couple years, it has a vast library of cars and tracks both officially released and available in DLC for purchase. It also has a large modding community (PC only) for cars and tracks that is still active today a few years after release. It is a great title to start out with if you are on PC and are interested in road racing and drifting. Assetto Corsa supports VR on PC.
Cars: GT3, GT4 // Assetto Corsa Competizione is the official game of the FIA GT3 Championship. It is available on PC, PS4 and XBox One. Developed by Kunoz Simulation, currently it is a strictly a GT racing cars simulator, featuring real-world GT3 and GT4 licensing, with only cars and tracks that you would see those cars racing at in real life. Assetto Corsa Competizione does offer a career mode, as well as an online progression system. Major content additions have come through paid DLC and it receives regular updates. There is no modding support. Assetto Corsa Compitizione supports VR on PC.
Cars: Formula 1 // Formula One and Codemasters have partnered over the last decade to create the best experience for F1 Sim Racing. The F1 series is the official video game of Formula One, and is available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. While many mods for some of the other games listed here include Formula cars, F1 The Game stands upon the competition for F1 racing. It features all official drivers and tracks from the real life series. F1 2020 is the current title of the series, with F1 2021 sure to release sometime in the 2021 calendar year. The F1 series currently does not support VR on any platform.
Cars: Various // The Project Cars most recent entry, Project Cars 3 by Slightly Mad Studios, can be found on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Project Cars features a wide variety of racing experiences from GT3 to IndyCar and Rallycross, which makes it a popular console pick for racing sims. Project Cars 3 released in mid-2020 but is seen as more of an arcade-based game than a racing sim, with most simulator fans sticking to Project Cars 2. The game also has a variety of officially released DLC but does not offer any modding support on PC. Project Cars 1, 2 and 3 all support VR on PC.
Cars: Various // rFactor 2 has been out for a few years, but is a very realistic simulator, and is set up to stand the test of time. It offers modding support, as well as officially released and purchasable DLC by its creator Studio 397. Despite being on Steam since 2013, the title receives regular updates and most users rave about its physics engine and force feedback system. rFactor2 does lag behind some of the other sims graphically due to its age, but more than makes up for it in every other area. rFactor 1 does not support VR, rFactor 2 has a beta mode only for VR.
Cars: Various // RaceRoom is a free-to-play racing simulation, but most content is available through DLC on PC’s Steam and is home to official race series like DTM, WTCR, the WTCC and ADAC GT Masters. RaceRoom was released back in 2013 and is still receiving regular game and content updates.
Cars: Rally // The FIA World Rally Championship’s official video game is the WRC Series. WRC 9 is the current title which can be found on PS4, Xbox One and on PC through the Epic Store. The current offering boasts career mode, dynamic weather conditions, 50 teams, 14 countries, 100 tracks, weekly challenges and an eSports mode available for online play. None of the WRC series titles support VR currently.
Cars: Rally // Dirt Rally and Dirt Rally 2.0, much like WRC 8, has official FIA World Rally Championship cars and circuits. Made by Codemasters, Dirt Rally is the original release, but is still preferred by some users as the better of the two titles. Dirt Rally 2.0 features more eSports-like multiplayer than its predecessor, but both Dirt Rally series titles are well received by users online. Dirt Rally and Dirt Rally 2.0 both support VR on PC only.
Cars: NASCAR Stock Cars // NASCAR Heat is an officially licensed NASCAR title currently released for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Developed by Monster Games, it is typically a yearly release. At its top level, there is a Pro series for its console versions, but not for PC. NASCAR Heat 5 is the current version of the game, featuring all real NASCAR tracks and drivers along with a career mode. The NASCAR Heat series does not currently support VR on any platform.
Cars: Various // PlayStation’s flagship racing title since the days of the original PlayStation has been Gran Turismo. The current title for PS4 - Gran Turismo Sport was the biggest jump for Gran Turismo as a serious racing simulator, mainly focusing on online multiplayer with free updates since the game’s release in 2017. Currently this is the only Gran Turismo released for the PS4. Older Gran Turismo titles can be found for the older generations of PlayStation and the next Gran Turismo, Gran Turismo 7 is slated for a 2022 release only on PS5. Gran Turismo Sport has limited PlayStation VR support.
Cars: Various // The Forza series has been Microsoft’s exclusive racing title for the last 15 years with various releases throughout - there are two varieties of the Forza series currently being released for Xbox One and PC. The Forza series does not have a huge eSports market, but it currently offers the most unique cars found in one game in its flagship title, Forza Motorsports 7. Forza Horizon 4, the latest in their horizon series is a mix of racing and open-world with a wide variety of cars as well. It also features some unique modes not found in other racing titles, such as a Battle Royale in Forza Horizon 4. The Forza series does not currently support VR on any platform.
With the entry level setup, we’re only going to focus on two items in particular: the wheel and the pedals. An important factor in the recommendations that were selected is Force Feedback. This feature is an extremely important factor to sim racing as being able to feel tension and traction in the wheel is one of the keys to controlling your turns on the track. Below are some recommendations of wheel/pedal kits I would recommend starting off with and they should include any mounting hardware to attach to your computer desk.
Logitech G920/G29 Driving Force - I’ve personally owned the Logitech G920 and ran it for about 200 hours combined playing F1 2018/2019 and iRacing prior to upgrading. The wheel provides great force feedback using a helical gear system, paddle shifters, and an assortment of buttons you can map different controls to. The pedals are well constructed for the amount you’re paying for (and includes a clutch).
In hindsight, I would’ve much rather gone with the G29 if it was available at the time, as it includes a couple more buttons to play with and revLEDs (these LEDs help you determine when to shift gears). The downside, however, is that the Logitech Driving Force Shifter does not come included.
Thrustmaster T150 - I’ve included this wheel as it’s a little more affordable than the Logitech options and still includes that force feedback using a mixed belt-pulley and gear system that you’ll want in your start to sim racing. The T150’s pedal set does not come with a clutch.
Thrustmaster T150 PC/PS3/PS4
Logitech G920 PC/Xbox One
Logitech G29 PC/PS4
With the intermediate setup, while the focus is still aimed towards wheel/pedals, we’ll include a couple other goodies that may add some more stabilization and portability for your rig. This was the next step I took myself when I wanted more stabilization and position control for the wheel and pedals.
Thrustmaster TS300 RS Racing Wheel - This (and the GT edition) is probably one of the most popular racing wheels in the market. This is a big jump from the T150 and offers very comparable performance with the Logitech Driving Force wheels. With this setup, you also enter Thrustmaster’s ecosystem of add-ons, which means you can interchange different pedal sets, rims (steering wheels), shifters and more. Note: The RS version does not come with a clutch pedal.
Logitech G920/G29 Driving Force - Yes, this is getting recommended for both entry and intermediate setup. While these wheels do not offer an ecosystem of customization like Thrustmaster, the performance you get is great and the best bang for the buck if you’re just starting to get into racing sim.
Logitech G923 - Logitech's latest and greatest offering is the G923 wheel and pedal set. G923 TRUEFORCE for Xbox Series X & S, Xbox One and PC with next-gen simulation force feedback technology. Now, the game’s physics engine is connected directly to the wheel for true, pure responsiveness. It also features a slightly upgraded brake pedal in its pedal set compared to the G29/G920.
Thrustmaster TS300 RS PC/PS3/PS
Logitech G923 PC/PS4/PS5
Next Level Racing and Arozzi offer a few wheel stands that offer stability, portability and height customization to help you achieve a level of comfort when racing. Going with a wheel stand setup is also convenient in the case that sim racing isn’t the only category of game you play. Next Level Racing options include most of the hardware and tools you’ll need to assemble.
Arozzi Velocita Racing Simulator
Next Level Racing Wheel Stand LITE
Next Level Racing Folding Wheel Stand
While not mandatory for most racing sims, it does provide its advantages and immersion for cars in games that are designed using “H”-pattern shifting. The Logitech Driving Force Shifter is a perfect fit for the G920/G29 wheels as they plug directly in the base of the wheel. Thrustmaster currently offers the TH-8A Add-on shifter as part of their ecosystem with options of directly connecting it to TX wheel bases or using a USB connector as a standalone shifter.
Logitech Driving Force ™ Shifter
Logitech G920/G29 Support Only
Thrustmaster TH-8A Add-On Shifter
Thrustmaster TX series compatible OR USB Standalone
So if you’re at this point, you’re either a seasoned sim racer, or you’re completely sold into sim racing and you just want to build upon getting the most immersive experience possible. In this section, we’ll be looking into the higher end Thrustmaster gear you can find at Micro Center. These products are made at some of the highest quality for consumer sim racing. Remember that formula I talked about when investing into your equipment? Those who wish to dive into this tier are driving enthusiasts who already spend hours and hours racing and will continue to spend hours and hours doing so.
Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer - This wheel and pedal system was made in collaboration between Thrustmaster and SPARCO. Utilizing a brushless servomotor, Motor Cooling Embedded system, and Turbo Power power supply, it sits in the upper echelon of Thrustmaster’s racing lineup as it is competition ready.
Thrustmaster T-LCM Pedals: Thrustmaster's newest pedal set is a great add on at a great price. This is the first pedal set from Thrustmaster incorporating Load Cell force sensor technology, for ultra-precise braking in racing sims! The positions of the 3 pedals are adjustable in terms of height, inclination and spacing. The included set of 6 springs allows for a multitude of quick adjustments, allowing you to customize the feel on the brake pedal to your liking. If you want true feel, I can't recommend these enough!
Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter - We touched upon Thrustmaster’s sturdy shifter earlier. Definitely a solid choice for any racing enthusiast, especially if you wish to stay within Thrustmaster’s ecosystem, but also works USB standalone.
Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake - If you wanna drift, and you wanna shift. Why not try out the Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake, it is a 2 in 1 device that offers two modes. progressive handbrake and sequential shifter. It is compatible with wheels for PC, Xbox and PS4.
Now if you are super serious about sim racing and you want the best of the best, that's what the Pro tier is for. Sadly these products aren't found at our Micro Center stores....yet (maybe one day!), but we can point you in the direction of super high quality gear like Fanatec, Accuforce, Simucube and others. Some of this gear is quite pricey but if it's what the pros recommend, it must be good right? (It is) Perhaps you've seen your favorite Pro driver or Twitch streamer using some of this gear!
Pro level/high-end racing wheels (including direct drive wheels):
Fanatec - https://fanatec.com/us-en/steering-wheels/
AccuForce - https://simxperience.com/en-us/products/accessories/accuforcesteering.aspx
SimuCube - https://www.simucu.be/sc2sport-direct-drive-wheel-base
VRS DirectForce Pro - https://virtualracingschool.com/dfp/
Pro level/high-end racing pedals:
Fanatec - https://fanatec.com/us-en/pedals/
Heusinkveld - https://heusinkveld.com/products/sim-pedals/
Now, some suggestions simply work for all tiers of sim racing. We’ll start with Racing Cockpits. If you're really serious about sim racing, you'll want some sturdy equipment for any level of wheel and pedal set, especially for anything in the Pro level.
Next Level Racing F-GT Dual Position Simulator - I personally own this and for the price, it’s fairly hard to beat. You get a full seat and dual positions. The wheel mount is open, meaning there’s no pole to can get in the way when you begin to learn how to heel-toe. The pedal plate has plenty of adjustment levels for your comfort. Next Level Racing also offers a number of items that are compatible with this setup as well such as monitor mounts, shifter mount add-on (included) and even Flight Sim mounts.
Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Simulator Cockpit - One of the most portable and affordable setups in the market, this setup can allow adjustment from Formula to GT in minutes. It’s sturdy and offers good stability from the chair to the pedal setup.
Next Level Racing GTtrack Simulator Cockpit - GTtrack is the ultimate cockpit for serious sim racers looking for rigidity, complete adjustability and a true race car seating position. GTtrack supports direct drive wheels and professional pedal sets as well as being compatible with all major wheel and pedals including Thrustmaster, Logitech and Fanatec.
Playseat Evolution - These cockpits are super awesome. Easy to get into but they do use a wheel mount that can hinder heel-toe downshifting. This setup offers one of the best immersions into GT racing, and Playseat does offer a TV Stand extension to use with this beast of a chair.
Next Level Racing F-GT Dual Position Simulator
Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Simulator
Next Level Racing GTtrack Simulator Cockpit
Playseat Evolution - Black
Playseat Evolution HQ Alcantara
if a full out sim rig isn't for you, why not look over one of the Inland Gaming Chairs available on Amazon?
FOV, or Field Of View, plays another key factor in how you may perform on the grid. Having plenty of monitor space plays a huge part building your advantage in races. There are calculations that you can use to help determine the correct FOV for whichever sim you are playing, but we’ll touch upon that later. This guide will center mainly around monitors and not televisions.
This all comes down to personal preference. While you can take the advantage of a triple monitor or TV setup and vastly expand your FOV, having one ultra-widescreen provides wide FOV, easier tuning with cable management and video settings, and can end up being more cost efficient in the long run. We’ll provide recommendations for both Triple Monitors and Ultra-Widescreens.
We’re including some curved models but be advised that they typically require a little more work to get them to line up properly, depending on the mount you’re using. In the end, however, you’ll find yourself with a clean setup with wide FOV. These models will also have fairly thin bezels, 144hz or more refresh rates, and VESA compatibility to add to monitor mounts.
ASUS VG248QG 24”
1080p - 144hz
BenQ Zowie XL2411P 24”
Acer Nitro VG270
MSI Optix MAG241MVC 23.6”
Freesync - 1080p - 144hz
MSI Optix MAG272CR 27”
Freesync - 1080p - 165hz
Samsung C32JG56 32” WQHD
Freesync - 1440p - 144hz
Ultrawide is the way to go, in my opinion. You get amazing FOV, less cable/settings management than multiple monitors, and it only requires one power cable and video cable. My colleague and I both use the Samsung C49HG90 49” Ultrawide but I do wish I spent the extra bones to get the 1440p version. Check out some of the 21:9 or 32:9 recommendations below!
Samsung C49HG90 49”
144hz Refresh Rate
1ms Response Time
32:9 Aspect Ratio
ASUS XG49VQ 49”
144hz refresh Rate
4ms Response Time
*One of the cheapest 49” monitors in the market
Acer Predator X34 Pbmiphzx 34”
120hz Refresh Rate
21:9 Aspect Ratio
Samsung C49RG90 49”
There’s a plethora of different brands and monitor mounts but we’ll try to keep it narrowed down, based on the racing cockpits introduced earlier. The Next Level Racing Monitor Stand GT is proprietary to the F-GT Cockpit but offers either triple or single monitor support. Next Level Racing also offers a stand alone triple monitor stand that is aimed more towards larger monitors that are greater than 32” or TVs.
Next Level Racing Monitor Stand GT
Note: This is only compatible with the NextLevelRacing F-GT Simulator Cockpit.
Supports 3 screens up to 27” or 1 screen up to 65”
Next Level Racing Triple Monitor Stand
Triple Screens supported from 32” - 65”
Plenty of adjustment available
One of the most unique ways to experience sim racing would be use of virtual reality, which is heavily supported in most major PC racing titles. If monitors aren’t your thing and you can handle VR, it is a truly unique way to get the feeling of being inside the car while you race. The main downside is that some users will experience motion sickness at high speeds while racing compared to racing on a monitor, but if you know for certain you don’t have these issues then it can be a viable option for you.
The headsets listed here are solid VR headsets for their price. If you were looking to just race in VR and do no other VR gaming, these are great choices. Out of these for overall use, the Rift S and Quest would win out for its compatibility and easy-to-use software for all VR titles.
Oculus Rift S
The Rift S requires no external cameras/sensors. Requires the easy to use Oculus software for setup.
Resolution 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye)
Screen Type LCD
Refresh Rate 80Hz
Field of View Approx. 115°
Ports Required USB and DisplayPort
Oculus Quest 2 w/ Link Cable
Resolution 1832 x 1920
Refresh Rate 75 Hz
Field of View Approx. 95°
No external cameras
Requires Oculus Link or equivalent cable for PC connection
7680 x 2160 (3840 x 2160 per eye)
90 Hz Refresh Rate
Field of View 200°
Ports Required: USB and DisplayPort
Minimum Graphics 6GB of Video RAM - Minimums would be NVIDIA 2060 / AMD RX 5700
These headsets are for those who are committed to racing and gaming in VR. At the time of writing, we do not carry these products here at Micro Center, but we would recommend looking into the Valve Index and HP Reverb for ultimate image quality and VR tech-goodness.
While Micro Center offers a good amount of racing sim hardware, some of the items you’ve seen on this guide may only be available directly from the manufacturer or by other outlets. However, you can use the Racing Sim Builder by clicking the link here!
Now this is all equipment I have put together and think is good depending what you're willing to spend, but the market is constantly changing and new things are coming out all the time. Sim Racing is a thriving market and an incredible hobby to look into!
Now this is all equipment I have put together and think is good depending what you're willing to spend, but the market is constantly changing and new equipment is coming out all the time.
And I as I put above Micro Center seems to have a sim racing rig builder to help you make choices. Maybe one day they will sell direct drive wheels at Micro Center?
Does anyone else play any racing games/sims? What equipment do you have?
I got to say I agree with hoping we'll carry high-end wheels like direct drive models one day here at Micro Center...
Check out my post on the new Tony Kanaan Racing Rig
Rich Text Editor.
To edit a paragraph's style, hit tab to get to the paragraph menu. From there you will be able to pick one style. Nothing defaults to paragraph.
An inline formatting menu will show up when you select text. Hit tab to get into that menu.
Some elements, such as rich link embeds, images, loading indicators, and error messages may get inserted into the editor. You may navigate to these using the arrow keys inside of the editor and delete them with the delete or backspace key.
Submit photos and a description of your PC to our build showcase
See other custom PC builds and get some ideas for what can be done
Services starting at $149.99