Sim racing rigs (or “cockpits” – the frame upon which you mount all of your racing simulator gear) come in many shapes and sizes, with a huge variety of choice 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 becuase the brake force would be perhaps a fifth of teh 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.
- Sim Lab GT1 Evo
- RCP Cockpit Sport + Racing Seat
- Sim Lab P1-X
- Trak Racer TR160
- Sim Dynamics Pro
- Next Level Racing Challenger
- Next Level Racing F-GT
- Fanatec Rennsport V2
- Sparco Evolve GP
- SXP Basic
- Trak Racer RS6 MACH 3
- Playseat F1
- Rseat N1
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 Trak Racer, 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 two offerings from Sim Lab, the very impressive offering from RCP and the Trak Racer TR160. For lower budgets it’s still better to go with an 8020 style extruded Aluminum chassis if you can!
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 wheel, the attachments are available via Simlab for a reasonable price.
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 offer 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.
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.
Sim Dynamics Pro Chassis
I have recently had the honour of recieving the latest new product from Sim Dynamics – their 8020 Pro rig. It’s ultra stiff, and the black gloss finish looks incredible:
Trak Racer TR160 Aluminium Cockpit with Fanatec DD1/2 Mount
The Trak Racer TR160 is a great rig to buy with its ultra-stiff, no flex extruded aluminum construction. And, it’s priced at just less than $1000 / £1000. Extruded aluminum as a construction material has come into sim racing because of its strength, extreme rigidity and expandability.
Rather importantly, you’re ready to go with this rig, particularly if you own a Fanatec DD1/DD2 wheelbase as this version comes with the fitments required to mount the Fanatec units. It’s also supplied with the seat – ready to go racing.
The pedal baseplate is predrilled for the following pedals:
- Fanatec (CSL Elite Pedals, ClubSport V1/V2/V3)
- Quaife Throttle Pedal and Brake
- HPP PRX 3P
- Logitech G Series
Next Level Racing Challenger
At around $300 / £250, this ideal for beginners rig is used by tens of thousands of sim racers around the world, and allows for a full range of adaptability, making it the perfect rig to start your journey in racing with low budget, low torque hardware (like the Logitech G29).
Minimal and light, the rig doesn’t take up a huge amount of space and can be moved out of the way relatively easily when out of use. There’s also a castor wheel attachment available separately to make moving around even easier. Mounting Thrustmaster, Logitech and Fanatec pedals is very easy. The unit has a flat mounting plate that is compatible with G29’s. Thrustmaster wheelbases and belt-driven Fanatec equipment. A great starting point in your sim racing career!
Next Level Racing F-GT Simulator Cockpit
By gathering feedback from their previous versions, Next Level Racing has now released their updated F-GT simulator cockpit. Compatible with all major wheel 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 from fitted wheelbases than the Challenger thanks to the square section tube supporting the wheelbase mounts. It has a more “Formula” style to it; and budgets at $400 / $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 GP Sim Racing Cockpit
The new Sparco Evolve GP sim racing cockpit has been developed for the Formula racing enthusiast. It has a single-seater position as opposed to most of the other rigs which tend to have a GT style seating position.
There’s an integrated monitor mount that supports 24″ to 49″ gaming monitors using the standard 100 x 100 VESA mount. We recommend the Samsung G9 which would look fantastic in this setup. Finally, the Sparco bucket seat comes supplied and has lots of adjustable padding to make sure the seat is a comfortable fit. The wheel mount and pedal base is Fanatec / Logitech and Thrustmaster compatible.
SXP Basic rig
While it doesn’t come with a seat, seat mounts or adjustable sliding rails, The SXP Basic is an impressive starter rig if what you’re looking for is a low budget extruded aluminium profile style rig.
To be purchased wisely, as you’ll need to consider the pedal base and accessories, but if you’re a hobbyist and can make attachments to suit your seat, this is a cool way to go. Definitely for the more DIY inclined sim racer!
Trak Racer RS6 MACH 3
By gathering feedback from the RS6 MK2, Trak Racer has now released the updated MK3 with improvements made to the design based on customer feedback. Updates from the previous models include a new pedal plate with an additional frame added to the underside of the pedal plate to increase rigidity, stiffened wheel support by using a thicker frame, and a high-quality fibreglass seat.
The RS6’s 2″ iron construction is guaranteed to last for years and will ensure stable gameplay with
DD wheels, plus it comes complete with a 5-year warranty.
If you’ve got year 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, 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.
The Rseat N1 is the flagship rig of the superb Rseat range, incorporating both strength and unique design into one fantastic package. The N1 frame is fully adjustable, meaning you can adjust the seat and pedals to the perfect settings to fit your body size.
I have mixed feelings about RSEAT stuff as the RS1 was, in the end, something I outgrew and needed to replace. The N1 is a much heavier duty bit of kit and (amongst other features) has a far stronger pedal base and wheelbase mount. So flex would be much less of an issue!