It is widely believed that online sim racing is not a cheap hobby. In the midst of its growing popularity, it’s not uncommon to find sim racing rigs that are worth well over $5,000, and others that even enter five-figure territory. However, that does not mean it’s impossible to get into sim racing at an affordable price. In this guide, we will outline specifically how you can get started in sim racing for under $500. We will recommend only high quality equipment that will provide you with the opportunity to participate in the booming hobby of sim racing, while also not breaking the bank.
Wheel & Pedals
First off – and perhaps the most important – you’re going to need a wheel and pedals. This is where arguably the biggest cost variable lies, as there are so many different options you can choose from when it comes to purchasing a wheel and pedals. You’re going to want a wheel that offers force feedback, which is a simulation technique used in racing wheels to deliver an accurate representation of what it is like to race for real, such as the bumps in the road or contact with other vehicles or with the wall. There are three types of competent sim racing wheels that will provide you force-feedback: gear-drive, belt-drive, and direct-drive. Gear-drive wheels are the most affordable, so we’re going to focus on those.
The gear-drive set of wheel-and-pedals that we recommend is the Logitech G920, which costs around $300, and sometimes it’s on sale for a little less. If you come across this set on sale for less than $300, don’t wait! The Logitech G920 is the best sim racing steering wheel and pedals for under $300 because of its high quality materials and abundance of customizable accessories, making it an amazing bang for your buck. The dual-motor force feedback system on this sim racing wheel is realistic, powerful, and immersive. The wheel is wrapped in a soft leather that feels nice and comfortable on your hands, which is a must-have for longer races. The wheel performs 900 degree turns, equivalent to a real race car. Its high quality is a pleasant surprise for such a cost-effective wheel.
The stainless steel pedals feel sturdy and strong, and they provide ample feedback to guide you in applying a realistic amount of pressure to the pedal. Regarding shifting, there is a clutch pedal as well as paddle shifters on the wheel. The paddles click whenever a shift is performed, providing a satisfying manual transmission experience. The Logitech G920 also comes with a handy mounting system that easily allows you to tightly mount your wheel to a desk or table. This saves you a significant chunk of change by not having to purchase a full cockpit!
We also love the abundance of accessories available for this wheel and pedal set-up. If you’re not feeling the paddle shifters and want to switch to an H-Pattern six-speed, you can dothat with the Logitech G Driving Force Shifter! Or if you want a more realistic feel and additional pressure from your pedals, you can do that with the Pedal Inverting Kit! These are only a few of the many additional accessories and add-ons that are available for this specific wheel and pedal set-up.
Next up in our pursuit to getting into sim racing for under $500, is our racing simulator. Unsurprisingly, we’re partial to iRacing. Our pick is iRacing for several reasons, such as their wide variety of cars and types of racing, low cost of entry, and the huge community that spans across a vast skill-set of online racers. It costs under $10 per month to use the simulation, plus the cost of the specific cars and tracks you want to race. If you want all of the content iRacing has to offer, it can get extremely expensive, but that really isn’t necessary at all. You’ll likely fall in love with 1-3 racing types, and will only need to buy the cars and tracks for those series. What we love most about iRacing is the clean and responsible driving that you typically find among your competitors – something that is very hard to find elsewhere in the world of online racing. The racing itself is both enjoyable and challenging, and quickly transforms you into a more disciplined and clean driver.
Additionally, iRacing is designed specifically for use with a steering wheel and pedal, and will feel much more natural and realistic than a game like Forza Horizon 5 would with a wheel. iRacing is the platform where you’re going to experience the most fun and realistic racing with your new wheel and pedals at a cheap entry price.
Now that you have your wheel, pedals, and racing simulator, you still have about $200 left to make your start in sim racing for under $500. The next step is to purchase a monitor that best caters to the platform you’ll be sim racing on – in this case, iRacing. The most important aspect here is getting a widescreen gaming monitor. A gaming monitor is necessary for its high refresh rate, which helps you maintain a quick reaction time while racing. A widescreen monitor will expand your visual field, allowing you to see as much of your surroundings as possible from the viewpoint of the race car’s cockpit. The more you can see, the less chance you have of colliding with someone or making a mistake during close racing. A great example of a monitor that accomplishes all of this for under $200 is the ASUS 24 or 27 inch monitor. This is a high quality and reliable monitor that provides all of the specifics you need in order to use the iRacing service at some of its highest graphical capabilities.
We’re Sim Racing For Under $500
In summary, that’s how you break your way into sim racing for under $500 and a few dollars to spare, with high quality equipment that will ensure a realistic racing experience! While the idea of sim racing can come off as intimidating and expensive at first, it’s really quite the opposite. Sim racing is an affordable hobby that fosters a great community of talented and friendly like-minded racers who see racing as a way of life. An additional bonus is that sim racing equipment tends to maintain high value on the resale market, meaning once you acquire the products, it becomes relatively affordable to upgrade whenever you’re ready by selling your current set-up. It also means you can recuperate most, if not all of your money if you decide this hobby isn’t for you. But trust us, that isn’t going to happen!