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Building The Perfect Beginner Sim Racing Setup

Are you ready to dive into the world of sim racing? Find out how to build your perfect beginner setup with us in this end to end guide.

 

Building The Perfect Beginner Sim Racing Setup

 

Embarking on the journey of building your first beginner simulator setup can be a daunting prospect for those new to the arena, but it can be an immensely enjoyable experience that provides numerous benefits beyond just racing. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to build the perfect beginner simulator setup.

What does a sim setup include?

You can either build the setup yourself or purchase a pre-built option. Building your own setup will give you more flexibility in terms of customisation and potentially save you some money, but pre-built options can be more convenient for most beginners - and that's what we'll cover here. This guide assumes you want to get everything just right, and leans into the semi-DIY sim racer setup - where you can have as much fun putting things together as actually tearing down the track! With little actual building, and more racing - it's the best way to get started.

Here's what you're going to need, in brief:

Hardware

First - the hardware you’ll need. A sim racing setup typically consists of a racing seat or racing rig, pedals, steering wheel, and a PC or gaming console. Although gaming consoles are absolutely perfect for the arcade racers out there, you cannot get the same level of customisation unless you opt for a gaming PC. That said, the console experience can be electric!

Gaming PC

The heart of the sim setup! Besides the immersive seat, steering wheel and pedals, yo ureally do need the best PC for gaming simulators that you can afford. You don't need to go crazy, either, to have an enjoyable experience - but for total immersion, and to feel like you're on the track, you will need an excellent graphics card with a specification that delivers speed and performance by the boot-load.

Seat, Wheel, Pedals!

You’ll need to purchase a racing seat and connect pedals and a steering wheel to your PC or console. Most manufacturers provide detailed instructions, so don’t worry if you’re not an expert in assembling things. It’s important to ensure that everything is correctly installed and calibrated to provide a smooth and realistic racing experience.

Games

Now let’s talk about the games. There are numerous sim racing games available, each with its own unique features and advantages. Some of the most popular games include iRacing, Assetto Corsa, and Project Cars (this author's personal favourite). You’ll need to purchase the game of your choice and install it on your PC or console. Most sim racers prefer gaming PCs, as we know, and Steam has a great number of games to choose from - each with its own community of budding racing stars.

 

Steam Driving Sims

 

VR

Virtual Reality is now huge in racing sims, making you feel like you are indeed sat in the driving seat and immersing you in an incredible world of speed and excitement! VR sets can be expensive, but are well worth your investment if you intend on making your sim racing hobby as realistic as possible. As a fan of Project Cars 2, the VR element absolutely took my racing sim enjoyment to new levels.

Calibration

Next, you’ll need to set up your controls in the game. This involves calibrating your pedals and steering wheel to ensure that they work correctly within the game. Most games provide detailed instructions on how to do this, and some even offer presets for specific hardware.

Let's race!

Finally, it’s time to race! Sim racing is a great way to improve and perfect your in-game driving skills, and you’ll quickly find yourself addicted to the competitive and immersive experience. You can participate in various racing events and championships, and even race against professional drivers like Max Verstappen!

Beyond just racing, sim racing also offers numerous benefits. It can teach you valuable skills such as computer literacy and DIY assembly skills, which can be useful in many other areas of life. Additionally, there’s a strong social aspect to sim racing, with many friendly communities and forums where you can connect with other racing enthusiasts.

Sim racing setup in detail

Now we've looked at what you need in brief, we can go into a little more detail, so you really understand what you need to get the best out of your setup.

Sim Racing Cockpit or Rig

Your racing rig is the foundation of your simulator setup. It is where you will mount most of your sim racing equipment. One of the most popular rigs for beginners and intermediates is the 8020 rig.

8020 Racing Rig

 

IMAGEALT

 

Image courtesy of isrtv.com

These aluminium extrusion rigs are called “8020 rigs”, which denotes a particular size of aluminium profile. 8020 is actually not the profile size used a lot of racing rigs today, but the name stuck in the community!

The 8020 is made of aluminium profile and it’s easy to assemble, easy to modify, and won't flex that much even for sturdier drivers. That said, it's not for everyone. It is bulky and requires some getting used to. As you can see from the footprint of the frame in the above image - you will need a spare room!

Tubular Frame

Next Level Racing GTLite Foldable Simulator Cockpit and Thrustmaster T128 Racing Wheel for Xbox and PC

These lightweight and foldable rigs are perfect for the beginner, and don't require as much outlay. For this reason, we have assumed you took this route as a beginner with the rest of this guide.

The Next Level Racing® GTLite in the image above has a unique design that folds to pack away (even with electronics installed) so you can store the cockpit away when not in use. The GTLite and other products like it are designed to be portable, but there's nothing to say you can't leave it where it is - and not take up as much room, either!

Seat

Your seat is where you'll spend most of your time in your simulator, so it’s important to choose a comfortable one. There are many options available, but as a beginner, you don’t need to go for a real motorsport seat. However, having a proper bucket seat can add authenticity to your setup. If you purchase a bundle, you can get a lot more for your money.

Monitor Stand

Your monitor stand is where you'll mount your monitor. You can choose between standalone options or stands that will mount to your rig. Standalone gives you some flexibility in storage, so it is worth going for this option. Monitor stands like this GT Omega on Amazon is a great buy at under £80.

Monitor

For full immersion, the wider the monitor the better. We recommend a widescreen monitor. Some sim racers like a dual-monitor setup, but for ease of use, a single wide format monitor is ideal.

  • 3440 x 1440 Resolution
  • Lightning 1ms Response Time
  • 300cd/m2 Brightness
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • FreeSync Support
  • Inputs: HDMI and Display Port
CCL Code: MON8380|
Part Number: U34G3XM/EU
|Manufacturer: AOC

Pedal Base

Your pedal base is where you'll mount your pedals. You can mount your pedals straight onto an 8020 profile or a pedal base plate. The Next Level Racing GTLite rigs we've noted above come supplied with the pedal base included, so there's no drilling required!

Wheeldeck (or Wheelmount)

Your wheel deck or wheel mount is where you'll mount your sim racing wheel. Some wheelbases need a flat wheel deck, while others need a front mounting wheel mount.

Sim Racing Wheel

Of course, the setup wouldn't be complete without the wheel. The TS-PC RACER Ferrari 488 is perfect for beginners and intermediates, and comes with a raft of features.

Thrustmaster TS-PC RACER Ferrari 488 Challenge Edition Racing Wheel

Thrustmaster TS-PC RACER Ferrari 488 Challenge Edition Racing Wheel

  • HYBRID DRIVE technology offers immersive force feedback sensations while driving, including the weight of the vehicle, bumps and impacts, and loss of tire grip in corners.
  • The H.E.A.R.T magnetic technology in the paddle shifters allows for super-fast gear shifting (30-millisecond response time) with clear and precise activation.
  • 4-color LED strip for monitoring engine speed and optimizing gear shifting without taking eyes off the road.
  • The round, lightweight wheel rim has 270° to 900° angle of rotation for maximum velocity and adapts to all vehicle styles.
  • Wheel-mounted handbrake for daring skids and freestyle maneuvers, and symmetrical button positioning allows for ambidextrous handling.
  • T2PM magnetic pedal set offers amazing precision for acceleration and braking, delivering a completely smooth experience without any loss of precision.
Great Saving
CCL Code: JOY0296|
Part Number: 2968041
|Manufacturer: Thrustmaster

VR

Full immersion is the best way to experience a driving sim, and there are some awesome headsets available that are plug and play with gaming PCs. If you choose a PC-VR headset only option, you can hook it up to your PC and be up and running in no time.

CCL Code: MON8038|
Part Number: 99HASW003-00
|Manufacturer: HTC

Gaming PC

Your gaming PC is the backbone of an enjoyable racing experience. Any modern pre-built gaming PC with a GPU higher than an NVIDIA RTX 3050 will be able to run a racing simulator easily.

Recommended sim racing gaming PCs:

  • Good
    Horizon 5 AMD RTX 3060 Gaming PC
  • Better
    Horizon 5M Intel RTX 4060 Ti Gaming PC
  • Best
    Horizon 7 AMD RTX 3070 Gaming PC

Gaming Console

As we mentioned, although driving sim fans prefer PC overall, a gaming console like the Xbox Series X or Series S are perfect for driving sims - but you will need to check compatibility of the other aspects of your rig. We've highlighted some of the best below, and these can be fitted to your racing rig with ease.

Xbox Sim Racing

Among the steering wheel manufacturers, two giants, namely Thrustmaster and Logitech, are continually battling it out with every new iteration. This rivalry works in the best interest of sim racing enthusiasts, as it provides access to high-quality models at competitive prices.

Microsoft Xbox Series X

THE FASTEST, MOST POWERFUL XBOX EVER

£479.99 inc VAT

Maximum of 1 per customer

CCL Code: XBX0097|
Part Number: RRT-00007
|Manufacturer: Microsoft
The Thrustmaster 248X stands out as an exceptional choice for any Xbox sim racing fan, with the Thrustmaster T128X a close second for our money.

 

Microsoft Xbox Series S

Smallest sleekest Xbox console Amazing features in an all-digital console

£259.99 inc VAT

Maximum of 1 per customer

CCL Code: XBX0095|
Part Number: RRS-00007
|Manufacturer: Microsoft

Sony PS5 Sim Racing

The Sony PS5 is also rapidly becoming popular in the genre, and there are plenty of products that are compatible with a rig.

The Logitech G29 / Logitech G923 are perfect for budget setups, and the Thrustmaster T-GT II is perfect for enthusiasts.

CCL Code: XBX0111|
Part Number: CFI-1126A
|Manufacturer: Sony

 

Last Word

Building the perfect beginner simulator setup is a fun and rewarding experience. With the right hardware and software, you can quickly immerse yourself in the exciting world of sim racing and improve your driving skills while having fun. So, what are you waiting for? Start building your own sim racing setup today and join the growing community of sim racers!