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.
Generally, the more expensive the seat and the frame, the sturdier they will be, allowing for more powerful wheels and pedals. This is important to remember if you’re using a direct drive wheelbase because if your rig is not robust enough to handle the forces that will be exerted upon it by the wheelbase, the frame will flex which takes away the mechanical feeling of the equipment itself.
The indisputably best material to prevent flex, and for extendibility, is extruded aluminum, 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 (featured below). If you’re serious about sim racing and you’d like to progress over a long period of time an extruded aluminum 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 rigs as they offer a much more immersive racing experience.
The first rig on my list is the Playseat Evolution. At around $300 / £300, this beginner-level rig is used by 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 budget hardware (like the Logitech G29) all the way to FFB wheels from Fanatec.
This rig is compatible with all major brands including Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec. It allows for an adjustable wheel position, as well as moveable gear shifter and pedal placements, to suit different sized users.
Additional extras in the package include a seat slider, a gear shifter holder, a lumbar support cushion, and a 4-point racing harness. The major drawback of this rig is that it is NOT suitable for the higher end DD wheels and high-end professional pedals. If you’re starting out in sim racing and in particular, using the lower force feedback Logitech / Thrustmaster or Fanatec CSL Elite wheelbases, this is an ideal starting point.
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.
Next Level Racing cockpits, while still considered entry level, can handle a reasonable amount of torque from fitted wheelbases thanks to the square section tube supporting the wheelbase mounts. It has a more “Formula” style to it; and budgets at $400 / $400.
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.
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.
Trak Racer TR160 Aluminium Cockpit with Fanatec DD1/2 Mount
RECOMMENDED: The Trak Racer TR160 is in our opinion *the* sim racing 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 the 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
This is our recommended, “just buy this one” sim rig!
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. It isn’t cheap, but it is stylish and would suit an F1 2020 driver’s aspirations very well.
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 well as this, the potential to customise your rig is nearly endless, with a massive number of accessories available, such as shifters, monitor stands, button boxes, keyboards trays, mousepads, etc.
For £659, 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. For some people, this is negative, while other people like the freedom of being able to decide exactly what seat and accessories they want. A good racing seat can be had from around £300, but you can pick the best seat to suit your size and budget.
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.
If you’re looking for a rig that will see you through many years of sim racing, and that offers the
ultimate blend of strength, adjustability, flexibility, comfort, and aesthetics, then you can’t go wrong
with the N1.