The 5 Best Budget Sim Racing Cockpits 2024
If you are looking for a budget sim racing rig or cockpit, it can be hard to narrow down the best pick. In this guide, I'll look at the 5 best budget sim rigs, each with their own pros.
If you have started taking sim racing more seriously, one of the most important pieces of hardware to buy is a sim racing cockpit. While you can mount some budget racing wheels to a desk and use your pedals on the floor. Attaching both a racing wheel and pedal set to a sim racing cockpit creates a much sturdier platform and a more immersive experience.
However, some sim rigs and cockpits can be rather expensive. So I have compiled this guide to the best budget sim racing cockpits in 2024. I’ll run through my top recommendations for more cost-effective and affordable sim rigs and cockpits.
What makes the best cheap sim racing cockpit?
Sim racing cockpits and sim rigs come in various configurations, from smaller wheel stands that can be folded away. To sturdy aluminium cockpits that provide flex-free sim racing. The latter is normally found in more expensive premium sim rigs.
The perfect balance for the best sim racing cockpit that fits into a budget cateogry is to be sturdy enough to be able to use more powerful racing wheels. While still maintaining the adaptability that can be found in more portable or storable sim wheel stands. Of course, price is also one of the biggest factors!
Key features to look for in an affordable sim racing cockpit
Some key elements to look out for when choosing a sim rig come down primarily to how you’ll use your sim rig.
- Sturdiness: One of the key reasons for buying a sim rig is to be able to securely mount racing wheels. If you have a powerful direct drive racing wheel, you’ll need a sturdy platform to attach to.
- Adaptability: A sim rig also needs to meet your needs in terms of space, along with how you’ll use it. Are you planning on mounting a range of accessories? If so, you’ll need a sim rig that can allow this. If you need to fold it away after racing, you should look for compact and collapsible cockpits.
- Price: When rounding up the best budget sim rigs, price is always a key factor. There are a good number of sim rigs under £500, with many being even cheaper.
The top contenders: Best cheap sim racing cockpits of 2024
Below is an overview of my top 5 recommendations for the best sim racing cockpits that are relatively cheap in 2024. These sim rigs and cockpits range in price from super budget sim racing cockpits under £200, up to more premium but still affordable sim rigs for £500.
Each sim rig offers a range of different pros and cons which I’ve highlighted in the table below. You can shop for each sim rig by clicking on its name, or continue reading below for more detailed information about each sim rig.
The Best Cheap Sim Racing Rigs:
- Playseat Challenge
- Playseat Evolution
- Next Level Racing GT Lite
- Next Level Racing F-GT
- Sim-Lab GT1 Pro
|Reasons for buying
|– Sturdier than Challenge
– Small form-factor
|Next Level Racing GT Lite
|Next Level Racing F-GT
|– F1 driving position
– Multiple driving positions
|Sim-Lab GT1 Pro
|– Incredibly sturdy
– Most adaptable
The Playseat Challenge is a great example of an incredibly affordable sim rig, that is also very practical. Buying a sim rig for the first time may be tricky if you are short on space. However, the Playseat Challenge is a great fix for this.
The Challenge is essentially a foldable chair with an integrated mount for a racing wheel and a pedal mount attached to the legs. This cheap sim racing cockpit allows you to sim race in a formula-style position using a variety of racing wheels.
Once you have finished sim racing, you can fold this sim rig away and store it in a cupboard freeing up space. This is ideal for those who like to race in their bedroom or living room but don’t fancy a permanent sim rig taking up space.
The Playseat Evolution is the next step up from a Playseat Challenge. The Evolution is a budget sim rig which is designed to be permanently set up. It features a much thicker frame than the Challenge making it much sturdier.
This budget-friendly sim rig comes with a racing seat allowing you to be extremely comfy while sim racing. The wheel mount is pre-drilled to fit a wide range of racing wheels from Logitech, Thrustmaster, Fanatec and more. This whole wheel mount can be moved forward or back to find the perfect driving position.
The pedal plate is a big improvement over the Playseat Challenge. It is an angled metal plate that allows you to position your pedals much more naturally.
Being a budget sim rig, there is some flex if you use higher-end racing wheels or pedals. However, at this price range, the performance is almost unbeatable.
Next Level Racing GT Lite
If you like the idea of the Playseat Challenge, but fancy something a little more sturdy, the Next Level Racing GT Lite cockpit is a great alternative. This budget sim rig utilises a similar philosophy to the Playseat Challenge.
The GT Lite is constructed from a metal frame with plenty of customisation and it features a completely foldable configuration. In its sim rig position, it provides good support for a racing wheel and pedal set.
This cheap sim rig provided a comfier driving position than the Challenge in our testing. The pedals can be raised up and the seat can also be raised for a GT-style driving position or reclined for a formula-style position.
When folded, the GT Lite is very compact and can be stored away. You can even keep your racing wheel, pedals and shifter attached while folded.
Next Level Racing F-GT
The Next Level Racing F-GT is one of my personal favourite sim rigs having used it for a long period of time. At under £500, it can be considered a budget sim rig, and that price includes the frame and seat.
This sim rig is much sturdier than any sim rig I’ve mentioned to this point. It features a rigid steel chassis that is capable of withstanding high forces. This is a sim rig that can be used with mid-range direct drive racing wheels.
One of my favourite elements of this budget sim rig is that the F-GT can be configured in two different driving positions. You can fold the rear of the seat down and raise the pedals for a formula-style driving position. Or you can raise the rear of the seat and lower the pedals for a GT-style position.
This flexibility allows sim racers to change their cockpit depending on which car and game their racing. There are also a tonne of additional extras thrown in with this sim racing cockpit. As standard, you get a seat slider, additional cushion, extra feet and shifter support.
This Next Level Racing sim rig is one of the very best sim rigs under £500, and should be considered for those looking for a budget permanent sim cockpit.
Sim-Lab GT1 Pro
My last recommendation for the best budget sim racing setup is a more premium option. However, it is a sim rig that can really compete with much more expensive cockpits.
The Sim-Lab GT1 Pro is the only aluminium profile sim rig in this guide. It uses primarily 80 x 40mm pieces of aluminium extrusion to create an incredibly rigid sim rig. The Sim-Lab GT1 Pro is a redesigned version of the popular GT1 Evo.
This is a sim rig that can really handle premium direct drive racing wheels. I have been using this cockpit for a while with a powerful Asetek wheel base and it holds up incredibly well.
If you are looking for a more long-term sim rig, then the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro is a fantastic option. Unlike some sim rigs in this guide, you won’t need to upgrade this cockpit for a very long time.
It is important to note that the racing seat isn’t included in the base configuration of the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro. This is an additional add-on which will increase the price. Although, you can use a wide variety of seats with this frame.
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The adaptability that aluminium profile offers means you can attach peripherals to the frame directly. Over time, you can create your perfect sim rig for any situation.
Accessories and add-ons for affordable sim racing
With the majority of sim rigs, you can customise them in various ways. You can add attachments such as gear shifter mounts, monitor mounts and more. Some cheaper sim rigs such as the Playseat Challenge don’t allow for this functionality due to their ultra-budget design.
However, the Next Level Racing GT Lite cockpit and the F-GT both feature ways of adding shifters and handbrakes. The Sim-Lab GT1 Pro goes one step further with extreme levels of add-ons available.
To list a few items that can be attached to the Sim-Lab GT1 Pro, you can add;
- Integrated single or triple screen monitor mount
- Handbrake or shifter attachment
- Inverted pedal plate
- Seat slider
- Keyboard tray
- Mouse tray
- Button box holder
- And more!
As you grow your sim racing setup, ensuring that the sim rig you choose can grow alongside you is important. Any sim rig is a large purchase regardless of price, so considering future compatibility is a great idea.
Overall, any of the budget sim rigs above will get you up and running. They are all great options for the best cheap sim rig, with each cockpit presenting a range of different features.
If you are after space-saving sim racing, both the Playseat Challenge and Next Level Racing GT Lite cockpits are brilliant options. As both can be folded and stored away.
If you are planning on expanding your sim racing setup over time, then a more permanent option such as the Next Level Racing F-GT or the slightly more premium Sim-Lab GT1 pro could be better choices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, the more you spend on a sim racing cockpit, the sturdier and more adaptable it will be. However, there are some fantastic budget sim racing cockpits available that can compete with more expensive sim rigs.
Generally, wheel stands are lighter and have less reinforcement compared to all-in-one sim rigs and cockpits. This will mean they normally aren’t as rigid, but can be much more adaptable thanks to being able to be stored away.
Most budget sim racing cockpits do support lower powered direct drive racing wheels like the Fanatec CSL DD and MOZA R5. Generally, you won’t be able to use a powerful direct drive wheel base at full strength on wheel stands and cheaper sim racing cockpits.
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