How to build a sim racing setup for every budget

Sim racing is big news right now. With most motorsport cancelled around the world, virtual races have taken their place. A few high profile competitions starring F1 drivers, YouTube stars and celebrities have seen simulation racing games such as iRacing and rFactor 2 thrust into the limelight.

However, if you want to get serious you’ll need a seat and steering wheel setup, rather than a traditional hand-held controller. So, if you’re new to all this or have been considering getting into sim racing for a while, here’s a roundup of everything you’ll need, split into entry-level, mid-range and high-end price brackets.

Something to play on

Xbox One
Xbox One

It might be an obvious thing to say, but you’ll need something to play on. What that is depends on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend. Using a PC means you could spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds making an incredible system if you don’t have one already, but you’ll also need some basic computer proficiency to get things running. However, iRacing, in particular, doesn’t require a hugely powerful PC, so it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Otherwise, you could go for a games console, choosing between Xbox One and PlayStation 4. These are user-friendly and are incredibly easy to set up.

Gaming PC: £500-plus
Xbox One S: £250
Xbox One X: £350
PlayStation 4: £300
PlayStation 4 Pro: £350

Steering wheel

🏁 Enjoy a very SPECIAL price on the T150 Force Feedback and TMX Force Feedback from March 21st to 28th and experience EVERY racing sensation to the fullest! 🏁

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— Thrustmaster Official (@TMThrustmaster) March 22, 2020

Getting a steering wheel is a game changer for those who want to take their racing games to the next level. Most kits come with a wheel and pedal set, so you can steer, accelerate and brake as if you were in a real car.

Prices for these can vary massively, with more expensive units offering more steering angle, improved feedback and better levels of durability. For those just starting out though, the entry-level wheels still tend to offer feedback, which lets you know when you’re losing traction and improves realism.

Once you’ve really got into the swing of things, there are upgrades available for most wheels too, including a manual shifter and handbrake.

Entry-level: Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback; £129.99
Mid-range: Thrustmaster T300 Ferrari Integral Racing Wheel; £399.99
High-end: Fanatec Forza Motorsport Wheel Bundle; £1,375


PlaySeat Challenge
PlaySeat Challenge

The next thing you’ll need is somewhere to sit. The true entry-level option is to get your office chair or a seat from under the dining room table and strap the wheel to your desk. However, if you’re looking to get serious, there are various racing seats available that really amplify the realism.

You can really go wild here, because if money’s no object you could get a full motion simulator setup. However, instead, we’re going to stick to seats you could feasibly fit in a typical house. (Though more expensive setups will likely require a spare room!)

If space is an issue the PlaySeat Challenge is a fantastic option regardless of price, because it quickly and easily folds away.

Entry-level: PlaySeat Challenge; £199
Mid-range: PlaySeat Evolution; £370
High-end: Volair Racing Sim Cockpit; £600

All prices accurate at time of writing.