Aluminium Profile Rig vs Tubular Sim Rig: Which is Better For Sim Racing?

If you're looking to buy a sim rig, it is important to plan around your requirements. But with so many options available, which is best. In this detailed sim rig guide, I'm going to compare all-in-one tubular sim rigs with 8020 aluminium profile rigs to see which is better.

Trak Racer TR8 Pro vs Sim-Lab GT1 Pro

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Which type of sim rig is best? All-in-one or tubular sim rigs, or aluminium profile rigs? If you’re looking at picking up a new sim rig to race on, then this is a question that may have crossed your mind.

Answering the question of which sim rig is best isn’t overly simple, as each different type of sim rig comes with its own pros and cons.

In this guide, I’m going to take a detailed look at the two most popular styles of sim racing rig and cockpit. I’ll put both aluminium profile sim rigs and tubular sim rigs head to head. I’ll compare both sim rig designs along with performing detailed flex tests of various parts of each sim rig.

The goal is to really see which sim rig is the better buy, and which better meets your requirements for a sim racing cockpit.

Watch this sim rig comparison

Below is a video covering this entire comparison guide. You can watch the video or continue to read this comparison below.


Different Types of Sim Rig

So let’s start off by looking at the different types of sim rigs available. Below is a quick overview of a few different styles of sim rigs available.

Wheel Stand

GT Omega APEX

All-in-one Sim Rig

NLR F-GT Cockpit

Tubular Sim Rig

Trak Racer TR8 Pro

80/20 Sim Rig

Sim-Lab GT1 Pro

GT Omega APEX
NLR F-GT Cockpit
Trak Racer TR8 Pro
Sim-Lab GT1 Pro

STYLE

Wheel Stand

STYLE

All-in-one Sim Rig

STYLE

Tubular Sim Rig

STYLE

80/20 Sim Rig

PRICE

From £/$115

PRICE

From £/$450

PRICE

From £/$585

PRICE

From £/$480


Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Sim Racing Rig

With a range of different sim rig styles available from wheel stands to all-in-one cockpits, depending on your requirements, you may be able to rule some styles of sim rig out straight away. These requirements will be different for every sim racer, but these are the questions you should be asking before diving too deep into comparing different sim rigs and checking out reviews.

Some common restrictions and requirements that can dictate the best style of sim rig for your needs are;

Your budget

Sim racing can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re on a tight budget. Wheel stands and desk mounts are feasible options for mounting a racing wheel and both are relatively low cost.

If you’re lucky enough that you have a larger budget for a sim rig purchase, you can start to look more towards which sim rig offers the most amount of adaptability and which suits your setup best.

What sim racing products you need to mount

Taking into account which sim racing products you currently have, and how you are going to mount them to your sim rig is important. This is especially true if you are looking at an all-in-one or tubular sim rig because these styles of sim rigs often require additional accessories in order to mount all of your gear.

If you are only mounting a racing wheel and pedals, pretty much every type of sim rig will meet your needs. But if you have shifters, handbrakes, button boxes and more, you may need to consider whether ways of mounting them are available.

Customization and adaptability

If you have a wide range of sim racing equipment already, or you are planning on purchasing more gear over time, then adaptability will be a big selling point.

Typically, 8020 aluminium profile sim rigs offer the highest amount of customisation as you can often bolt new equipment right onto the sim rig at any position.

The space you have available

A big selling factor for a sim rig is how much space it takes up. Full sim rigs such as all-in-one rigs, tubular rigs and 8020 rigs will always take up more space than a wheel stand or desk mount.

Wheel stands also have the added benefit of being collapsible and easy to store. And this is something that tubular and 8020 sim rigs simply cannot offer. However, tubular sim rigs are often lighter and slightly easier to move around than an 8020 sim rig. But this isn’t always the case.

Long-Term Investment

Sim racing is a slippery slope when it comes to equipment. Often upgrading one part of your sim racing setup will necessitate upgrading something else.

For example, upgrading to a high powered direct drive racing wheel will require a sturdy platform to mount to. If you’re currently using a desk clamp or wheel stand, this may not be suitable for the extra power a direct drive wheel can offer.

When choosing which sim rig is best for you long-term, you should consider whether you’re likely to upgrade any sim racing gear over time. If you are, opting for a sturdy cockpit such as an 8020 sim rig could be your best long-term option.

How the sim rig looks in your space

Then there is always the look of your chosen sim racing cockpit to consider. Many sim racers may not like the industrial styling of an 8020 sim rig. This is where tubular sim rigs often have an advantage, as many rigs such as the Trak Racer TR8 Pro look much more sleek than their aluminium profile alternatives.


Aluminium Profile Sim Rig – Precision and Adaptability

So let’s take a deeper look now at aluminium profile sim rigs and the benefits they offer a sim racer. These types of sim rigs use strips of aluminium profile of varying widths.

Often the profile will be 80x20mm, which led to the name 8020 rigs. However, many sim rigs use profile that is different in size, such as the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro which primarily utilises an 80x40mm profile.

Our Recommended Aluminium profile Sim Rig

  • Sim Rig: Sim-Lab GT1 Pro
  • Price: From £480/$649
  • Where to buy: Buy from Sim-Lab

The Sturdy Foundation

The true benefit of an aluminium profile sim rig is that it is designed to be as solid and rigid as possible. The industrial style design and the use of aluminium profile is all designed to ensure there is little to no flex throughout the sim rig.

If you have ever sim raced using a wheel stand or a desk clamp. You will more than likely have noticed that your desk or wheel stand would vibrate under the stress of the force feedback that your racing wheel produced.

With more powerful racing wheels, this issue can become so bad that a certain sim rig just isn’t usable as it cannot withstand the forces that the wheel is producing.

The same also applies to your pedals. High-end sim racing pedals often include load cells with stiff resistance or even hydraulic brake pedals. These require a lot of force to activate and can flex or bend the plate to which your pedals are mounted.

All aluminium profile sim rigs including the GT1 Pro that I’m using are designed to eliminate this flex or vibration. And they’re the best sim rigs in the business for producing a rock-solid foundation.

Modular Customisation

The second major benefit of an aluminium profile sim rig is that the aluminium profiles themselves really open up customisation. All pieces of aluminium profile have slot gaps, and you can use these slot gaps to mount things to your sim rig.

This feature is very unique to aluminium profile rigs, as with a traditional sim rig, you’ll often struggle to mount certain accessories. Quite often, you’ll need to buy an additional accessory from the brand that created your sim rig in order to mount your gear.

With an aluminium profile rig, you can simply bolt your gear anywhere along the profile where it’ll fit. This allows for ultimate customisation on where your sim racing equipment is positioned.


Tubular Sim Rig – Sleek and Practicality

Tubular sim rigs are designed to be sturdy, much like aluminium profile sim rigs, however, they are also designed to look much more appealing. This can be a big selling point for sim racers, as the industrial style of an 8020 sim rig isn’t to everybody’s taste.

In fact, years ago, I purchased my old Trak Racer TR8 Pro sim rig due to how much better it looked than an 8020 sim rig equivalent.

Our Recommended Tubular Sim Rig


Streamlined Design

The real selling point of a tubular sim rig is the design. In my opinion, they often look much better than most aluminium profile sim rigs.

The rounded metal tubes that make up the frame can be bent into a wide variety of shapes, making for some interesting-looking designs. The TR8 Pro that I have here uses straight sections with kinks throughout the design to bend the frame around you.

This also allows the TR8 Pro to be incredibly easy to get into and out of. Unlike most aluminium profile rigs which feature a vertical frame to hold the racing wheel. The TR8 Pro sim rig has a nice gap where you can slide your legs into and out of the cockpit.

Long-term thoughts

After owning and using a Trak Racer TR8 Pro tubular sim rig daily for many years, there are some things that you should know if you’re looking to buy a tubular sim rig. While I never really regretted buying the TR8 Pro sim rig, it did make things difficult for me at certain times.

When it comes to expanding your sim rig and mounting additional peripherals, things can become a little complicated. With the TR8 Pro in particular, there are only a few pre-defined areas where elements can be mounted to.

One area is on the top, next to the wheel base. You can see that I have a keyboard tray mounted here. The second area is on the side of the seat where I have my shifter mounted.

Other than these areas, I would really struggle to mount extra peripherals. And this is the main downside of a tubular sim rig. They may look fantastic, but adaptability isn’t always their strong suit.


Aluminium Profile Rig vs Tubular Sim Rig: A Head-to-Head Comparison

FeatureAluminium Profile RigTubular Sim Rig
ConstructionHigh-quality aluminium profiles result in a sturdy and durable rig.Sturdy metal tubing creates a lightweight and practical structure.
CustomisationHighly modular, offering extensive customization options for optimal comfort.Simplicity in design doesn’t allow for as much customisation.
CompatibilityCompatible with a wide range of racing peripherals.Compatible with a wide range of racing peripherals.
AestheticsA very industrial style, that may not to be to everyone’s taste.Form over function, design and aesthetics are one of the main selling points.
CostA range of prices depending on the size of the aluminium profile.Generally more expensive due to complex manufacturing and design.
PortabilityLess portable due to the rigidity of the construction.Slightly lighter allowing for easier movement, but not much different.

Flex test comparison

One of the most important parts of any sim rig is the ability to support your racing wheels and pedals with minimal flexing.

Any movement, vibration or flexing present in a sim rig will take away from the actual force feedback created by the wheel. Also, if there is flex in your pedal plate, you may not have as much of an accurate read over the brake pedal.

For this part of the comparison, I’m going to compare both the tubular Trak Racer sim rig with the Sim-Lab aluminium profile rig. I’ll look at flex in three areas, the wheel mount, the pedal mount and the shifter mount.

Wheel mount flex comparison

When looking at the wheel mount on the Trak Racer TR8 Pro, you can see some vibration during higher frequency force feedback moments. I’m using an 18Nm direct drive Asetek racing wheel with the force feedback set to 100% for this comparison, and I’m racing the McLaren 720S Evo GT3 car in Assetto Corsa Competizione.

The reason for this flex is in the design of the tubular frame where it wraps up from the rear of the sim rig and over towards the wheel mount.

Moving over to the aluminium profile Sim-Lab sim rig, you’ll see a little bit of vibration again. However, there certainly isn’t as much compared to the tubular sim rig.

Pedal mount flex comparison

Now let’s look at the pedal mount. Both sim rigs utilise similar custom mounts for the pedals. Both are constructed from relatively thick metal to give the pedals good support.

With the Trak Racer, you can see very minimal flexing while pressing the load cell brake of the Asetek Forte pedal set. This is the same with the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro. There is very little to no real movement with both sim rigs in this department which is great.

You’ll often find pedal plates flex when they are overhanging the end of the sim rig or aren’t correctly supported at the rear.

Shifter mount flex comparison

The final area I’m going to compare is the shifter or handbrake mounting area. This is the most clear-cut difference between the two sim rigs.

The Trak Racer has a tubular frame mounted to the exterior of the main sim rig. This is mounted at the bottom of the rig and extends out and up. Right away you can see this is problematic.

There is a lot of movement when activating my handbrake. This is due to the limited support that the whole shifter mount has. There isn’t a tonne of movement, and it’s certainly functional.

However, switching over to the aluminium profile Sim-Lab cockpit, you’ll immediately see a difference. Because this sim rig utilises additional vertical supports at the front and rear of the shifter mount. There is little to no movement during use.

Flex comparison conclusion

You’ll see from these flex tests that the aluminium profile Sim-Lab rig easily wins in producing a more stable platform. The tubular sim rig performs incredibly well and has held up for years of punishment from me. The aluminium profile sim rig simply outperforms it in this category.


Conclusion

So with everything said and done, which style of sim rig or sim cockpit should you buy? Well, for me the answer is much more simple than I first imagined. And depending on your needs, I have a few recommendations.

  • Looking for ultimate customisation
    If you want as much flexibility as possible out of your sim rig, then an aluminium profile sim rig gives you that.
  • Planning to upgrade your sim racing gear in the future
    If you plan to expand your sim racing setup over time and add more peripherals an aluminium profile cockpit gives you much more flexibility.
  • Your sim rig has to look great in your room
    If design is your priority, and you are looking to create a sim rig that looks cooler than everyone else’s, then a tubular sim rig is probably the best way to go. Although some 8020 sim rigs such as the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro are catching up in terms of aesthetics.
  • Prefer an easier build
    If you like to build your sim rig once and not touch it again, then a tubular rig is better. Constructing an aluminium profile sim rig can be a bit daunting due to the amount of customisation you have.

Buy the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro: Buy from Sim-Lab

Buy the Trak Racer TR8 Pro: Buy from Trak Racer


FAQs About Aluminium Profile Rig vs Tubular Sim Rig

Are Aluminium Profile Rigs suitable for beginners in sim racing?

Aluminium profile rigs are a great choice for beginner sim racers as they allow customisation over time. You can adapt your sim rig as you grow as a sim racer.

Can tubular Sim Rigs be upgraded over time?

Most all-in-one and tubular sim rigs offer a range of accessories so you can upgrade them over time. However, they certainly don’t offer the same amount of flexibility as an aluminium profile rig does.

Do Aluminium Profile Rigs require special tools for assembly?

Generally, all sim rigs come with pretty detailed instructions and include any tools such as Allen keys that are required. So most sim rigs don’t require any special tools to assemble.

Which rig is more comfortable for extended sim racing sessions?

The comfort level depends on personal preferences and more importantly which seat you opt for. But Aluminium Profile Rigs often provide more adjustability for ergonomic comfort during longer sim racing sessions.

Are Tubular Sim Rigs suitable for high performance sim racing wheels?

Aluminium profile sim rigs are often seen as better suited for high performance racing wheels. But many tubular sim rigs such as the Trak Racer TR8 Pro can support high performance direct drive wheels with very little flex.


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Article written by Mjolnir

Co-Founder of SimRacingSetups.com

Mjolnir is one of the main setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. He has had years of experience in sim racing, both competitively and casually. After a decade of sim racing experience, he co-founded SimRacingSetup.com to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.

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