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Sim racing doesn't have to be an expensive hobby, despite needing to buy extra peripherals. Here are the best budget racing wheels to complete the perfect budget sim racing setup.
Sim racing has seen a huge boom in 2020 and 2021, with many turning to sim racing when other activities simply weren’t accessible. This boost in popularity has been great for the sim racing community, with a much larger spotlight being directed towards the sport.
Even professional racers and celebrities have turned to sim racing for promotional events and events in replacement of real-world motorsport.
But many gamers may look at sim racing as an expensive hobby or simply not accessible due to the price of the equipment. And this can result in many potential sim racers and motorsport fans never trying sim racing.
In this guide, we want to bring you the best budget sim racing wheels on the market, to showcase how accessible sim racing can be.
I’ll run through our favourite sim racing wheel, which is an absolute steal for the price. And I’ll also touch on a couple of alternatives, all within a reasonable budget. I’ll even show you the cheapest racing wheel money can buy, and tell you whether or not you should pick one up.
The Logitech G923 is a fantastic racing wheel within its price range. It is an improved version of the already popular G29 and G920, and features improved force feedback technology and pedals.
The G923 consists of everything you need to go sim racing, a steering wheel, wheelbase and pedals. This makes it extremely accessible and is completely plug-and-play compatible with all consoles and PC’s.
Top tip – You do need to ensure you purchase the correct version for your console. There is both an Xbox compatible and PlayStation compatible wheel, so double-check this when buying!
When looking at the cost of the Logitech G923, you have to remember that it includes everything to go racing with including pedals. The price of the entire bundle is currently around £290 (from Amazon), with an RRP of £349.99.
For the price range, not many racing wheels come close to the combination of design, build quality and performance that the Logitech G923 does.
The design of the steering wheel itself is very good, with durable materials used throughout and a very good button layout. It is extremely compatible as I mentioned above, being compatible with all modern consoles.
You can pick up a Logitech G923 in a variety of stores including Amazon, Argos or the Logitech store directly.
Amazon is probably the best place to purchase the wheel as the price is always competitive, and you are covered by Amazon’s great customer service.
If you are looking at purchasing your sim racing equipment separately, you may be looking at a wheelbase, steering wheel and pedals as individual items. If this is the case, then one of the best budget-friendly wheelbase options is the new Fanatec CSL DD.
The CSL DD was recently released as the cheapest console-compatible direct drive wheelbase on the market. And it’s the cheapest direct drive wheelbase Fanatec have ever released.
Being Fanatec who is a premium sim racing peripheral builder, the price is higher than the Logitech G923. The CSL DD price starts from €349.95 for the base wheelbase and can go up to €479.95 if you include the optional boost pack.
This price only includes the wheelbase as well. So you will also need to purchase a compatible steering wheel and pedal set to complete your setup.
You can pick up a Fanatec steering wheel rim for around €100, and a pedal set for €100, meaning the true cost of a CSL DD sim racing setup would be around €550 at a minimum.
While €550 isn’t exactly cheap, for a true direct-drive racing wheel, it is remarkably good value for money.
If you do currently have a Fanatec sim racing setup and are looking to upgrade in the near future. The CSL DD would make a fantastic option due to the budget price tag for direct-drive technology.
There are two racing wheels which fit the category of the cheapest on the market. These are the Hori Apex racing wheel and the Thrustmaster T80 Ferrari 488.
The Hori Apex racing wheel is technically the cheaper of the two, priced from £74.99 (available to buy on Amazon).
That price includes the racing wheel and pedals, so much like the Logitech G923, the Apex is ready to race with as soon as you buy it.
The Hori Apex doesn’t utilise true force-feedback technology like the Logitech G923 or the Fanatec CSL DD. Instead, it uses vibration motors to give vibration-based force-feedback.
This works in much the same way as a controller vibrates when you hit a bump or a wall. The wheel itself will vibrate when forces are exerted through your car, but the wheel won’t have true force feedback.
The Thrustmaster T80 is slightly more expensive than the Hori Apex (available to buy on Amazon), but features Ferrari branding and the well-known Thrustmaster badge.
Much like the Hori Apex, the T80 doesn’t feature true force-feedback. Instead, Thrustmaster uses a completely unique approach called the Thrustmaster® “Bungee Cord” system.
This system essentially provides a linear resistance style feedback via a bungee-cord like system inside the wheelbase. This isn’t true force-feedback but does give some resistance when turning the wheel.
When considering super-budget racing wheel options such as the Hori Apex and the Thrustmaster T80, you have to remember neither wheel offers force-feedback.
This fact alone is enough to put off some sim racers, as without force feedback you can’t feel how the car is behaving correctly. Many will increase their budget slightly and pick up a wheel such as the Logitech G923 which does feature force-feedback.
If however you only need the wheel for casual use, and the lack of force-feedback doesn’t affect your decision, then both the Apex and T80 will do the job.
In the case of the Fanatec CSL DD, then absolutely. The CSL DD is one of the best sim racing wheelbases launched in a long time.
While it doesn’t have the same amount of torque that the premium direct drive wheelbase such as the DD1 or DD2 has. It has more than enough for 90% of sim racers. And it brings some new tricks to the party.
The CSL DD features upgraded technology which improves the quality of the force feedback. New and improved direct drive technology in a wheelbase costing less than £400 is extremely good value!
If you look at our other favourite pick, the Logitech G923, then you can argue that the technology used isn’t quite as good as premium technology.
The G923 uses gears to transfer the force feedback from the motor to the steering wheel. And this is technically inferior to belt-driven or direct-drive force feedback.
However, the good news is that the inferior gear-driven force feedback technology doesn’t overly hurt the G923. You still get great force feedback for a very good price.
Logitech also introduced TrueForce technology into the latest G923 racing wheel. This simulates engine vibration via vibration motors in the steering wheel itself which is pretty cool.
How much you have to spend on your budget racing wheel is a truly personal thought. You may be wanting the cheapest entry point into sim racing, which would be the Hori Apex. This comes at a very cheap price, but with its limitations.
Moving up the budget scale, you then have the Logitech G923 which retails for around £290 – £350. Within this price range, there really isn’t much better.
Then you finally have the Fanatec CSL DD. While this is a more costly option than both the Apex and G923, it does provide extreme force-feedback quality with its direct-drive technology, for a relatively low price.