Last updated: June 28th, 2022
Sim racing rigs (or “sim racing cockpits” – the frame upon which you mount all of your racing simulator gear) come in many shapes and sizes, with a huge variety of choices in terms of build quality, strength, rigidity, and of course price. It is possible to buy a rig frame as a separate unit or as part of a bundle package with a seat, and in certain cases, some other accessories too.
What features make a good sim rig?
When you pick your seat and frame, keep in mind the available space you have, how powerful your equipment is, and how much you want to spend.
Above all other things, rigidity is crucial. Higher-end sim racing wheelbases and pedals tend to create far higher forces (up to 30nm on the steering wheel and between 25 to 80kgs on the pedals). This can create what we refer to as flex, the unintended movement of the rig itself under duress.
If you’re not sure what flex looks like, check out this video I made while recording a how-to heel and toe article. Note the movement of the pedal base as I apply the brakes:
The flex of this pedal base (attached to an RSEAT RS1 cockpit) is around 4 degrees at a 25kg brake force. Frankly, my Sprint pedals can handle more load than the pedal base on this rig is designed for which is why it’s flexing a little. But if I were using Thrustmaster or Logitech pedals, there’d be no flex at all because the brake force would be perhaps a fifth of the brake forces required for the Sprints.
Without wanting to dwell too much on flex in cockpits designed for sim racing, you do need to consider if you’re going to upgrade your pedals. If the answer is yes, you need to decide if you’ll want to upgrade the rig at the same time, or just buy the stiffer rig now and save the hassle later on.
Contents: What are the best sim racing cockpits available to sim racers?
- Next Level Racing F-GT Elite
- Sim Lab GT1 Evo
- Sim Lab P1-X
- Team Redline TR1
- RCP Cockpit Sport + Racing Seat
- RCP Cockpit Pro
- PRO SIMRIG PSR1
- Next Level Racing F-GT
- Fanatec Rennsport V2
- Sparco Evolve E
- Playseat F1
- F1 Seats and Cockpits
Generally, the more expensive the seat and the frame, the sturdier they will be, allowing for more powerful wheels and pedals. While I demonstrated the issues that high brake forces can create, it’s the same for your wheelbase mounting too. If you’re considering using a direct drive wheelbase and your rig is not robust enough to handle the forces that will be exerted upon it by the wheelbase, the frame that supports the wheelbase will flex too. Flex takes away the mechanical feeling of the equipment and the feedback you get in return.
The indisputably best material to prevent flex, and for extendibility, is extruded aluminium, the square, boxy-looking material. While it might not look as pretty to the untrained eye, the experienced sim racer will immediately go for a rig like the Sim Labs, Sim Dynamics and so on (all featured below). If you’re serious about sim racing and you’d like to progress over a long period of time an extruded aluminium rig is the way to go.
As a point of reference, when I use the term rig in this article it will refer to the frame and seat. Some choices are sold as a combo, while others require that you purchase the seat separately, and thus the seat is not included in the listed price.
Also, I won’t be covering any wheel stands, so this will be a top list of full-frame sim rigs as they offer a much more immersive racing experience.
Finally, my personal recommendations are the three offerings from Sim Lab and the very impressive offering from RCP. For lower budgets, it’s still better to go with an 8020 style extruded Aluminum chassis if you can!
Next Level Racing F-GT Elite
Considered in the sim racing industry as the “Sim Lab P1-X challenger”, this new Aluminium profile rig from Next Level racing is quite a step up from their standard budget range of cockpits.
It comes with a range of interesting features including “laser-etched branding and measurement scales”, a customised seat, a tool kit to make assembly far easier and nice touches like cable management clips that are supplied.
There are also a range of compatible extras such as monitor mounts and a keyboard tray. Something that really caught my eye is the anodized side mount. Depending on which variation you buy, this rig will accommodate front mounting wheelbases (such as our favourite Simucube 2 Pro) or side mounting such as the Fanatec CSL DD or DD1/2.
The video really sells this rig and I honestly believe this will be a popular choice as we approach 2022:
I’m a fan of Aluminium profile rigs because they don’t have the same compromises that tube steel rigs can experience. There’s less flex out of the box. I took a look at the pedal plate and wheel deck on this rig, and while it looks thinner than the materials used in the Sim-Lab rigs, Next Level does use light reinforcement to minimise flex. Overall a very nice new addition to our list!
Sim Lab GT1 Evo
This is one of our favourites: replicating a GT car driving position, the less expensive sibling of the P1-X, the GT1 Evo is a very popular, stiff aluminium profile hybrid sim chassis. We recommend this rig when you’re building a “high-end” rig on a tight budget:
The wheelbase mount is compatible with any base mounted wheel including Thrustmaster, Logitec and Fanatec devices. The glossy, black powder-coated finish really looks the part and the pre-drilled pedal base will easily accommodate Heusinkveld or Fanatec pedals.
This is an absolutely brilliant starter rig on a very reasonable budget and is one of our top recommendations as a solid base to forge a promising sim racing career. That’s mostly because you probably won’t need to replace it with higher torque equipment!
If you want to mount a Simucube 2 Pro or other front-mounting direct drive wheels, the attachments are available via Simlab for a reasonable price.
Sim Lab P1-X
The Sim-Lab P1-X is an extremely strong rig, meaning it is capable of handling the most powerful DD wheels, with no flex. Heralded for its adjustability, the aluminium profile construction means that the cockpit is very adaptable. As a professional sim rig, the P1-X is the firm favourite of the at-wide sim racing community.
We recommend this one because if budget is less of an issue – it’s probably going to be the last cockpit you need for a very long time.
If you want to mount a Simucube wheelbase, no problem. The potential to customise the P1-X rig is nearly endless, with a massive number of accessories available, such as shifters, monitor stands, button boxes, keyboard trays, front mounting wheelbase brackets and so on.
For the base price, you only get the frame, and therefore you will need to source the seat, seat brackets, plus mounting plates for a shifter and heel plate separately – but this is very easy and every retailer will be able to help you from stock.
Some people like the freedom of being able to decide exactly what seat and accessories they want. A good sim racing seat can be had from around £300 / $300, but you can pick the best seat to suit your size and budget. Critically, speak with the retailer as they will always have package combinations available suited to your wheelbase and preferred seat style.
Team Redline TR1 Chassis
The Team Redline TR1 Chassis is another brilliant sim racing cockpit from market leaders Sim-Lab, designed with compatibility, price and ease of use in mind but cuts no corners when it comes to rigidity. Oh, and it’s backed by Team Redline – one of the most famous and successful sim racing teams on the planet. A certain Max Verstappen happens to be one of their drivers:
RCP Cockpit Sport + Racing Seat
The RCP Cockpit Sport from newcomers Racing Cockpits is a sturdy, 8020 extruded aluminium profile rig with Fanatec compatible pedal base, wheelbase mount and shifter rails. It’s priced at $674.00 included with your choice of seat. For a beginner setup, this is a very good deal.
RCP also offers a series of upgrades for this rig. You could grab a stiffer Fanatec DD2 side mount or if you’re a Simucube owner there’s a Simucube front mount bracket available too. I recently saw some very good feedback about these guys on a sim racing forum page so I’m happy to recommend you take a look at RCP too.
RCP Cockpit Pro
If you’re looking for something at a slightly more professional level than the RCP Sport, we think for a sale price of $795.00, this 8020 profile rig is a really good deal.
Priced slightly lower than that of the SimLab P1-X, the reviews of this unit from RCP all look good. The pedal plate is manufactured in A572 Structural Steel, so before you look at it and think “that looks thin” – trust me, it will not flex!
The rig is available with a “Universal Steel Wheel Deck” intended for any bottom mounting wheelbases (such as the Fanatec CSL DD). There’s also a side-mount option for the Fanatec DD1 or DD2, and a front mounting option for the SimuCube, VRS or any MiGE based OSW wheelbases. Overall we really like RCP and the way they look after their customers. Worth a look!
Pro SimRig PSR1
The Pro SimRig PSR1 is an excellent introduction to the world of aluminum, 8020 style profile rigs. In its basic form, the PSR1 is an impressive starter rig if you’re looking for a lower-budget starting point.
But manufacturers Race Anywhere don’t stop with “basic” – in fact, they’re providing a platform that you can add to as you go along.
So with this rig (we’re publishing the review in just a few days), you’ve got the basis of a solid, flex-free 8020 profile sim racing cockpit with the scope to extend and improve as you see fit. There are *a lot* of accessories for the PSR1 including:
- Side Mount (view)
- Keyboard Tray (view)
- Mouse Tray (view)
- Mousepad (view)
- Heavy Duty Adjustable Feet (view)
- PC Stand (view)
- Castor Wheels (view)
- Cupholder (view)
- Premium Floor Mat (view)
- Seat Height Modification Kit (view)
So the PSR1 is definitely one to check out, particularly if you’re based in the UK and would prefer to avoid import duty!
Next Level Racing F-GT Simulator Cockpit
By gathering feedback from their previous versions, Next Level Racing has now released an updated version of their popular F-GT simulator cockpit. Compatible with all major wheels and pedals which means no modifications are required and comes pre-drilled for Thrustmaster, Logitech, Fanatec, and Accuforce wheels.
This cockpit, while still considered entry-level, can handle a reasonable amount more torque than the Challenger. That’s thanks to the square section tube supporting the wheelbase mounts. This cockpit has a more “Formula” style to it at a price of around $400. This rig might suit a starter build using the Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase, for example.
Fanatec RennSport Cockpit V2
This is the latest version of Fanatec’s Rennsport V2 chassis. V2 sought to improve on issues with the first version such as stability and the later version now has compatibility with standard racing seat mounts and is much more adjustable. If you love your Fanatec gear and you don’t intend to upgrade very often – the Rennsport would make a pretty cool feature in your simulator room!
It’s really very much a Fanatec only item; so if you’re starting out with one of their bundles, this would be a very good way to start.
Sparco Evolve E Sim Racing Cockpit
The new Sparco Evolve E sim racing cockpit has been developed for the GT or Formula racer with a sturdy, tube steel chassis. Importantly the wheel deck is supported by two steel tubes leaving little room for flex with most wheelbases. This is an ideal starter rig, upon which you could mount a Fanatec CSL DD (check out our budget rig build guide here).
We recommend checking out our monitors guide for a good monitor stand recommendation. Finally, the Sparco EVO II seat comes supplied and has lots of padding to make sure the seat is a comfortable fit. The wheel mount and pedal base are Fanatec / Logitech and Thrustmaster compatible.
If you’ve got your heart set on an F1 / Formula style driving position and you’re keen just to get going with minimal fuss, then this offering from Playseat might be for you:
It’s an officially licensed F1 product and can be seen in several well-known F1 driver’s bedrooms, including Max Verstappen’s. It isn’t cheap, but it is stylish and would suit an F1 2021 driver’s aspirations very well. Be warned though, the stock is very difficult to come by and in the end, it’s likely to be outgrown as the wheel mount isn’t compatible with Simucube style OSW / front mount wheelbases.