So, You Want to Build a Racing Simulator…

Let’s face it, racing cars isn’t exactly an economical hobby.

Track time can be expensive, upkeep on a track car can add up fast, and besides, not everyone has the ability to forget their responsibilities and go racing when the mood strikes.

In that case, what better way to get your racing fix than by building your very own racing simulator at home?

Not only is it way cheaper than building a track car, a sim enables you to race at iconic circuits morning, noon and night, in machinery you wouldn’t normally have access to, like Scott Speed’s own Beetle GRC.

Building a sim racer isn’t really all that hard and there’s a wide spectrum of options to suit different budgets, tastes, spaces, and types of racing.


Computer or Console?

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This is one of the most important decisions you will make when putting together your own sim-racing space since it affects your game choices, hardware components, and display requirements. Consoles tend to be more user-friendly, while PCs can offer a more immersive experience.

There is also a considerable cost difference between an Xbox or PlayStation and a hot rod gaming computer with liquid cooling and a high-end graphics card capable dishing out dishing out 120fps race after race.


The Rig

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If you’re trying to go racing on a shoestring budget you might not have space or resources to opt for a permanent unit like the sleek open-wheel inspired seats from Playseat, or a Rally-oriented one from RSEAT. Spec-D Tuning and KMJ Performance do offer less expensive seat and mount sets that include a place to mount everything (including a handbrake), except the screen.

Don’t worry, there are cheaper options like a portable wheel stand, but those who are ambitious and able can build their own rig from wood and old car parts since there are plenty of DIY guides floating around the internet.

Worst case, you can still get your heel-toe on using a desk and an office chair.


Wheels and Pedals

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Choosing the appropriate wheel and pedal setup can be one of the most difficult and daunting choices.

Logitech and Thrustmaster both make excellent entry level gear. Logitech is lauded for its consistent pedal performance and customer support, while some prefer Thrustmaster’s better-feeling steering, wider range of options, and customizable upgrade possibilities.

Higher quality gear can be had from Fanatec for more money. Many people feel Fanatec’s steering offers the most accurate force feedback, while the pedals are head and shoulders above the competition, making use of an adjustable oil-damped brake pedal and a progressive feeling clutch with a noticeable bite point.

The modular approach of sim racing means that thanks to a simple USB adapter you could use a Thrustmaster steering wheel with a Logitech shifter and Fanatec pedals for example.


Big Screen

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Lastly, your display will be a function of all the previous choices you’ve made thus far.

A gaming PC with gobs of computing power can display at a higher frame rate, so you may want to consider a 120Hz screen in order to take advantage of the superior graphics and refresh rate. Console gamers, on the other hand, won’t need anything more than a standard 60Hz screen.

If your rig is portable you’re probably going to be playing on the living room TV, but there are mounts for more permanent rigs that can support three to five separate screens for a full 180-degree field of view. If money is no object, consider investing in a new curved OLED television for the best experience possible.

There is one final option that’s quickly growing in popularity among sim racers: virtual reality headsets.

Popular sim-racing platform iRacing was supporting Oculus Rift even before the technology went mainstream, while rival platform Live for Speed has been focusing on VR since last year.

VR offers you the advantage of full 360-degree vision, along with total immersion into the game, and it also replaces your need for a screen, which could be appealing to those with space constraints.

This article first appeared on AutoGuide