The Best Sim Racing Shifters 2023: Buyers Guide
This ultimate sim racing shifter guide brings you the very best gear shifters that you can sim race with in 2023. I'll show you a range of different shifters and explain exactly what to look for.
In this ultimate guide to sim racing gear shifters, I’ll run through the H-pattern and sequential shifters for 2023. I’ll look at a range of different sim racing shifters from a range of brands with different compatibility and budgets in mind.
If you are looking to add a shifter to your sim racing setup, this guide will run through the very best there are around.
Choosing the right shifter is quite personal. There are a few different types of gear shifter, so making sure you get the right functionality, at the right price is important.
Continue to read this ultimate sim racing shifter guide for a low down on how gear shifters differ from each other. And which shifters are the best options to buy in 2023.
Do you need a sim racing shifter?
Adding a gear shifter to your sim racing rig will expand the functionality of your racing setup and will allow added immersion when racing cars with manual or sequential gearboxes.
For example, if you race a lot of road cars, rally cars or some GT cars such as the Ginetta G55 GT4 in Assetto Corsa Competizione, you may want to closely replicate the style of shifting that would be used in the real world.
A H-pattern shifter will allow you to replicate manual shifts, and utilise heel-and-toe downshifting if you have a clutch pedal. This both increases immersion and can improve your control over the car, especially when utilising a heel-and-toe technique.
Of course, if you mainly race games where a manual gear shifter isn’t required such as F1 22, or most GT3 cars, then there is no need to purchase a separate gear shifter. But doing so will expand the types of cars you can drive if you ever veered away from shifting with paddle shifters.
While you don’t have an additional manual or sequential gear shifter, you can still manually change gears in all sim racing games using paddle shifters on your steering wheel.
Different types of sim racing gear shifters
So when it comes to sim racing shifters, there are a few terms thrown about, and a few different ways you can change gear in your car.
Each of these gear shifter options has its individual specific intended use. So it’s best to opt for the best solution for the type of sim racing discipline you generally race. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from having multiple shifting methods to diversify your overall sim racing experience.
Sequential gear shifters are often found in rally cars and some forms of race car. It is the term given to a shifter that only allows forward and backward motion.
This motion either shifts up a gear, or downshifts. Unlike a traditional H-pattern shifter, you don’t manually select which gear you are choosing. Instead, you simply move up or down the gear range.
This type of gear shifting is ideal in scenarios where you want to be spending every ounce of concentration on the road or track in front of you.
It is a favourite of rally drivers as it saves time having to physically position the gear lever into a specific gear. Instead, the forward/backward motion allows rally drivers to not break focus from the track and upcoming corners.
With a sequential gearbox, a clutch isn’t required. You can shift through the gears both up and down without having to manually depress a clutch pedal. Although some sequential cars do still include a clutch pedal, which is often used from a standing start.
A H-pattern gear shifter is the type of shifter that is commonly found in road cars. It includes a series of gear positions housed within a gate.
Most commonly, you will have 5, 6 or 7 forward gears and a reverse gear. When the gear shifter is sitting in the middle of the gate, neutral will be engaged, preventing the car from moving under acceleration.
This means that you have to manually depress the clutch pedal and physically move the gear shifter around the gate to select a specific gear.
The benefits of a H-pattern shifter are that you can block gear change which means skipping a gear such as shifting straight from 2nd gear to 4th without engaging 3rd gear.
In some situations, you can also have greater control over your car when downshifting by utilising heel and toe downshifting.
What is heel-and-toe downshifting
Heel-and-toe downshifting is the technique of utilsing the right foot to both brake, whilst also using your heel to blip the throttle pedal in between gear changes.
By correctly implementing heel-and-toe shifting you can match the revs of the engine to the wheel speed as you change down a gear. This will give you the smoothest gear change and prevent any rear wheel locking.
The final form of shifters is paddle shifters which are commonly found behind your sim racing steering wheel. Paddle shifters are widely used across motorsport including open-wheeled cars such as F1 cars, and in most GT3 and prototype cars.
Paddle shifters will often be the first form of sim racing shifter that most sim racers will use. They are included as standard with most racing wheel bundles and plenty of individual sim racing wheels.
Paddle shifters don’t require a clutch pedal to be used, instead acting in a very similar way to a sequential gearbox. You pull the right paddle to shift up and pull the left paddle to downshift.
You can use paddle shifters to control pretty much any car when sim racing, even those that utilise a different form of shifting in the real world.
It can be hard to race a manual car with paddle shifters, as you will still need to use a clutch pedal when shifting which is a strange process. To get around this many sim racing games include an automatic clutch option to remove the need to use a clutch pedal when shifting with paddle shifters.
Best sim racing shifter recommendations
In the section below, I’ll look at the very best sim racing shifters you can buy in 2023. I’ll look at a range of gear shifters from a few different brands and across a range of different budgets.
Click on any of the shifter names below to quickly scroll down to read more information, along with what type of sim racing setup I would recommend them for.
- Fanatec ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5
- Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
- Logitech G Shifter
- Heusinkveld Sequential Gear Shifter
- Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod
- Meca Evo Sequential Shifter
- Aiologs Sim Shifter Sequential
- Pro-Sim Sequential Shifter
- Pro-Sim H Pattern Simulator Shifter
If you don’t have too much time to read through this entire guide, I’ll show you my top 3 recommendations for the best sim racing pedals here. These three pedal sets cover a wide range of budgets and compatibility. And they are widely considered the best pedal sets in each of their respective categories.
Fanatec ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5
The first shifter I want to talk about is the Fanatec ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5. It’s got quite a long name, but the shifter itself is one of the best all-around sim racing gear shifters.
This shifter ticks a lot of boxes while most other shifters on list specialise in one single form of shifting. You can use the ClubSport shifter as both a sim racing sequential shifter and a H-pattern shifter, switching between the two via a physical switch on the outer casing.
There are seven forward gears, and going through them in the H-pattern mode feels responsive and clean. Each gear engages smoothly without too much of a clunk, and there is a nice relatively short throw to the lever.
When in sequential mode, the shifting has the same positive engagement feeling as it utilises the same physical connection when shifting as it does in H-pattern mode. With the sequential mode, it simply locks the gear lever in third and fourth gear allowing you to just push and pull the gear knob.
This Fanatec shifter is also fully compatible with Xbox and PlayStation consoles. It connects either directly to your PC, or if using it with a console it has to connect via an RJ cable to your wheel base, with all modern Fanatec wheel bases supported.
Overall, if you are looking for the most flexible, and well-rounded sim racing shifter, the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5 has to be the pick of the bunch.
Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
The Thrustmaster TH8A shifter is often looked at as one of the best and most versatile sim racing shifters around.
Much like the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5, the TH8A features 7 forward gears and 1 reverse gear, albeit in a slightly different configuration with reverse found in the bottom right corner on the TH8A.
It is also similar in that it features both a sequential and H-pattern mode, allowing you to quickly change between the two forms of gear shifting.
The final similarity is that this Thrustmaster shifter is also compatible with both Xbox and PlayStation consoles as well as PC.
And that is where the similarities with the Fanatec end. This shifter has been constructed with much more plastic, and much less premium-feeling metal than the Fanatec shifter. And this results in a little bit of extra play in the whole shifter when pulling hard shifts.
The resistance of each shift is also much less than the resistance from the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5, resulting in a washier and less satisfying shift feeling. The final blow to the TH8A is the process of switching between H-pattern and sequential gearbox modes.
With the Fanatec, this change is done instantaneously via a switch. With the Thrustmaster shifter, you have to disassemble the top part of the shifter and install a sequential-only top plate. This takes time and is a bit fiddly.
Also, the shifts in sequential mode are much shorter than when in H-pattern mode, and there is little to no resistance when pulling or pushing the gear stick. This leaves it feeling a little bit more like a toy, and less like a solid piece of racing equipment.
Shifter – Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
Compatibility – PC, Xbox, PlayStation
Price – €/$145
Where to buy – Buy from Amazon
Logitech G Shifter
The Logitech G Driving Force Shifter is easily one of the most affordable you can buy in 2023. It can be found for under €/$50, and performs well given the price tag.
This shifter can only be used as a H-pattern gear shifter and cannot be used in sequential mode. It also only has six forward gears compared to seven found on both the Fanatec and Thrustmaster shifters.
There is a relatively short throw between gears, although there is very little resistance. In fact, the gear lever can be moved around using just one finger, it’s that light.
There are performance mods that you can buy which involve a 3D printed resistor which slots underneath the leather cover. These significantly improve the shifting feel by adding much higher levels of resistance.
But this shifter is designed as a purely entry-level sim racing gear shifter, and given the price and the wide compatibility with Xbox and PlayStation consoles, you can’t go too wrong.
It is by far the cheapest, and potentially the lowest-performing shifter that I’m looking at today, but it is worth picking up if you have a Logitech G923 or G29.
Heusinkveld Sequential Gear Shifter
The Heusinkveld sequential gear shifter starts the trend of sim racing sequential shifters on this list. Many external sim racing shifters focus on sequential only shifting as it is probably the most versatile.
When racing powerful race cars, not too many still utilise a H-pattern manual gearbox, making a sequential shifter the best option.
This Heusinkveld shifter follows the trend of high-performing sim racing gear set by the Dutch company’s excellent sim racing pedals.
It is one of the smaller shifters on this list and is designed to best replicate a short throw gear lever as accurately as possible.
There is an internal spring that provides variable force levels when pushing or pulling this shifter, designed to replicate the mechanical nature of a real-world shifter. This works nicely during use thanks to the initial firm resistance followed by a drop off in resistance as the gear engages.
While this sim racing sequential gear shifter is only PC compatible, it does come with a nice amount of adjustments. It comes with a range of shifter arm lengths allowing you to adjust the length of the throw.
And it also comes with different shifter knobs giving you the highest amount of customisation out of the box of any sim racing shifter on this list.
Shifter – Heusinkveld Sequential Gear Shifter
Compatibility – PC
Price – €/$169
Where to buy – Buy Shifter
Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod
The Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod is a completely different beast to the TH8A, and is a huge step up in terms of quality and experience.
Despite its name including the word handbrake, and not including the word shifter, this product can actually be used as a sim racing shifter. In fact, it can alternate between being a sequential shifter and a handbrake. Although it can only be one or the other, making you choose between using it as a shifter or a handbrake.
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The design of the TSS is much more industrial than the TH8A and features a lot more metal in its construction. This sim racing peripheral actually looks like it could be mounted in a real-world race car.
It is incredibly large when compared with the TH8A and would look right at home in any rally car.
When it is set to shifter mode, it performs pretty well as a sim racing sequential shifter. The resistance is still light given the size and weight of this shifter. But it does have a much more positive click than the TH8A.
Shifter – Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod
Compatibility – PC, Xbox, PlayStation
Price – €/$233
Where to buy – Buy Shifter
Meca Evo Sequential Shifter
The Meca Evo Sequential Shifter would look right at home in any real world race car and it is one of the newest sequential shifters to be released.
Many real-world cars that utilise a sequential shifter opt for a long handled design, which is possibly the reason that Meca chose to design this sequential shifter with a long handle. Meaning in terms of replicating the feel of using a real-world shifter, this sim racing shifter feels very immersive.
One of the really cool features of the Meca shifter is that you can completely adjust the stiffness of each throw. You can vary the stiffness between 2kg and 7kg of force. And this is a feature that is often overlooked by other sim racing shifters.
One area where this Meca sequential shifter isn’t quite as good as the others on this list is when it comes to mounting. The pre-drilled holes at the bottom of the shifter don’t really line up with any on an 80/20 aluminium profile rig, and there aren’t any additional mounting brackets included like there are with other shifters.
If Meca could start packaging a mounting bracket, or alter their hole alignment, this would be one of the very best sequential shifters you can buy.
Shifter – Meca Evo Sequential Shifter
Compatibility – PC
Price – €/$248
Where to buy – Buy from Meca Sim Hardware
Aiologs Sim Shifter Sequential
The Aiologs shifter is the sequential shifter that wins within this price range. It has an amazing feel to each shift with a really good amount of resistance, which is much higher than in the Fanatec and Thrustmaster models.
The resistance remains high until you reach the shift point, at which point the resistance varies and dips to a much lighter level, emulating a real-world sequential shifter.
The overall build quality of this sequential shifter is fantastic, with a fully metal construction. It looks like one of the most premium sim racing shifters, despite not costing as much as others.
The Aiologs sequential shifter is also supplied with both a pre-drilled mounting plate and a really sturdy clamp which will make installing and adjusting the shifter position a breeze.
Both the mounting plate and the clamp are constructed entirely from metal making them more than strong enough to withstand some aggressive shifting.
Shifter – Aiologs Sim Shifter Sequential
Compatibility – PC
Price – €/$170
Where to buy – Buy from Aiologs
Pro-Sim Sequential Shifter
These last two sim racing shifters are in an absolute league of their own, in both performance and price. This Pro-Sim Sequential Shifter costs over three times more than most others on this list.
The reason why this sim racing shifter is so pricey is due to the technology. The company that is behind this shifter are Quaife, who are famed for producing gearboxes and differentials for real world cars.
This shifter unit uses the exact same mechanism as the one found on the production Quaife gearbox, so if you are looking for ultimate realism, you can’t get much closer than this.
There is a lot of adjustability in action here, as you’d expect from the price. You can change the strength required for each gear change, as well as physically changing the length of the lever shaft.
There is a real hydraulic system in action with this Pro-Sim shifter, which allows each shift to unload just like it would in a real-world car.
Shifter – Pro-Sim Sequential Shifter
Compatibility – PC
Price – €/$895
Where to buy – Buy from Pro Sim
Pro-Sim H Pattern Simulator Shifter
If a sequential shifter isn’t your thing, but you still have enough cash to burn that you want to opt for the most realistic H-pattern shifter around, then this Pro-Sim H-pattern shifter is for you.
Much like the sequential shifter above, this H-pattern utilises Quaife mechanics much like the mechansims found in real-world gearboxes. This design utilises an 8-speed gearbox design, with 6 forward gears and 2 reverse gears.
The overall design of this shifter is taken directly from a production Quaife H-pattern gearbox, meaning this is as close as you can get to replicating a real-world shifter.
Almost every part of this sim racing shifter is adjustable, from the centering force, the shift force and the pivot point. You can also change the height of the lever by 70mm to find the perfect position for your sim rig.
You have to be reminded that this is a sim racing shifter, as by looking at it you can easily be mistaken that this wouldn’t actually work on a sim rig.
Shifter – Pro-Sim H Pattern Simulator Shifter
Compatibility – PC
Price – €/$1,195
Where to buy – Buy from Pro Sim
How to choose the right sim racing shifter
Choosing the right sim racing shifter for your needs ultimately comes down to which form of motorsport you like to sim race. If you are entirely an F1 sim racer, you should opt for paddle shifters as a H-pattern or a sim racing sequential shifter wouldn’t be realistic when driving an F1 car.
However, if you race multiple disciplines, finding a shifter that can perform well across the board is the ultimate goal.
There are shifters on the list below that I’m going to recommend that can be both a H-pattern and sequential shifter. These allow you to race in both modes without having to switch products. There is also a shifter below that can swap between being a physical handbrake and a sim racing sequential shifter.
Every shifter below would make for a good sim racing shifter, and hopefully the information I provide below will help you narrow down which sim racing shifter is right for you.
Hopefully, this sim racing shifter guide will help you choose which gear shifter is the best sim racing shifter for your requirements. We’ve covered a wide range of shifters, from sequential only shifters to H-pattern and those that can do both.
Our recommendation for the all-around best sim racing shifter has to go to the Fanatec ClubSport SQ V1.5 Shifter. It leads the pack with its positive shifting feeling, and it can be easily switched between sequential and H-pattern modes.
If you are after the best sim racing sequential shifter, then the Heusinkveld Sequential Gear Shifter is among the best. It has a very positive feel to each shift, is competitively priced and features a large range of adjustability.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best sim racing shifter?
Both the Heusinkveld sequential shifter and the Fanatec ClubSport SQ v1.5 Shifter are among the best you can purchase in 2023.
What shifters work with Thrustmaster racing wheels?
On console, you should opt for the Thrustmaster TSS or TH8A shifters for the best compatibility with Thrustmaster racing wheels.
Is Logitech or Thrustmaster shifter better?
Both Thrustmaster shifters are better than the Logitech G Driving Force shifter. However, they also cost around triple the price of the Logitech shifter. This makes the Logitech shifter the best budget sim racing shifter.
Does a Logitech gear shifter work with Thrustmaster?
On console, the Logitech gear shifter will only work with Logitech racing wheels including the G923, G29 and G920. It will not work with a Thrustmaster shifter. Although, on PC, the Logitech shifter can be connected individually, allowing it to work with a Thrustmaster racing wheel.