Best Sim Racing Rigs: Complete Buyers Guide 2023
Here is our ultimate sim rig buyers guide for 2023. Includes the best sim rig recommendations in 2023 for a wide range of budgets and requirements.
What is the best sim racing rig in 2023?
Sim racing can be an expensive hobby, but lucky for us, there is a huge range of brilliant sim rigs available to buy. The best sim racing rig for you will depend on your budget along with a few factors such as space available among other things. This guide will run you through the best sim rigs across a wide range of styles and budgets.
Sim racing rigs come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and budgets, which is great for someone looking to purchase one. However, the sheer number of different sim rigs available to buy can make shopping for a sim racing rig a daunting task.
In this ultimate sim rig guide, I have suggested the best sim racing rigs for a wide range of categories. These include the best high-end sim rigs for hardcore sim racers, through to mid-range and budget sim rigs for beginners and those with less space.
The different types of sim rigs available
Sim rigs are one of the most important choices you can make when building a sim racing set-up. They can dictate the style of sim racing wheel base you can mount to it, as well as the amount of space you’ll need. So it’s important to know how sim rigs can differ before you start shopping.
Aluminium profile 8020 sim rigs
The most professional and heavy-duty sim racing rigs are known as 8020 sim rigs and are constructed using a heavy-duty aluminium profile. These can be highly customisable and can fit almost any requirement. The strength of the aluminium profile used allows for the strongest and best performing sim racing wheels to be mounted to them.
Metal tube sim rigs
Metal tube sim rigs often sit in the middle ground between 8020 sim rigs and budget-focused all in one sim rigs. They are often constructed from strong metals such as aluminium, steel or iron with a heavily engineered design allowing for strong forces to be absorbed.
All-in-one sim rigs
There are a whole host of all-in-one sim rigs across a wide range of budgets however, these normally cater for beginner sim racers or those with less budget and space available. All-in-one sim rigs will feature everything you need to start sim racing including a sim racing seat, which is normally an added extra for tubular and 8020 rigs.
Our top picks for the best sim rigs in 2023
TL;DR – If you don’t have enough time to read our detailed sim rig guide below, here are our top picks for each category of the best sim rigs in 2023. I’ll look at each of these sim rigs in more detail below as well as a host of other alternative sim rig options.
What to look for in a sim rig
There are a few questions you can ask yourself that make shopping for a sim racing rig in 2023 a much easier task. These should include, how much budget do you have, how much free space do you have in your room, and what are your requirements from a sim rig.
As mentioned, a sim rig really sits at the heart of your sim racing setup. You can mount your monitor to it allowing it to be a completely stand-alone item in your room, or you can position it in front of a mounted TV or monitor. Below I’ll look at a few key areas of a sim rig that you should consider.
Style of sim rig
I touched on this in the intro above, but sim rigs come in a wide range of styles.
High-end aluminium profile and metal tube sim rigs allow for the most high-end sim racing equipment to be mounted without any stability issues. While all-in-one rigs and more budget-friendly options will limit the type of sim racing equipment you can mount.
A strong wheel base for example can cause some sim rigs to flex and shake under load. The main decision you should make right at the start of your sim rig shopping experience is what style of sim rig are you looking for. Below are a few key points for each style of sim rig
8020 sim rig
- Best stability and performance
- Largest footprint
- Wide range of customisation
- Versatile and expandable over time
- Industrial look not to everyone’s taste
Metal tube sim rig
- Strong and durable allowing for powerful sim racing equipment to be mounted
- More compact footprint than an 8020 rig
- Less adjustability due to fixed shape frame
- Often come with a range of mounting accessories
- Sleek and modern look
All-in-one sim rig
- Weaker chassis can cause flex with some racing wheels and pedals
- Smallest footprint
- Some can be folded away
- Limited options for extra mounting spots
Overall footprint and size
A sim rig is a rather large commitment in terms of cost and floor space. Many sim racers will start out with a racing wheel mounted to a desk or a foldable wheel stand. But for many, this isn’t a viable long term solution. If you are looking to upgrade our equipment or sim race more often, a sim rig is the next natural step. But a limiting factor can be floor space.
On average, a sim rig will take up around 1 and a half meters by 1 meter worth of space. Some more compact all-in-one sim rigs will be considerably less than this, while some 8020 sim rigs will require more space.
Ensuring you have enough space for a permanent sim rig is important. And if you are limited on space, this will affect your buying decision. You could instead opt for a smaller all-in-one sim rig or a collapsable wheel stand.
Read our best sim racing wheel stand guide here!
You will also need to factor in where your sim rig will be positioned in your room, and how you will mount your TV or monitor. Unless you’re using a VR headset, you will need your sim rig in front of a screen. This could be in front of a TV mounted on the wall or tucked under your desk.
However, most sim racing rigs are heavy and cumbersome to move around. So you will want to look for somewhere rather permanent to position your sim rig that has a screen directly in front. Many sim rigs do have mounting points for screens which is the ideal solution, but again, this will take up even more space!
Aluminium profile vs metal tube
Aluminium profile sim rigs and sim rigs constructed from a metal tube go about achieving the same result with two completely different methods. They are both extremely strong and sturdy styles of construction and will allow you to mount the best direct drive sim racing wheels and best sim pedals to them.
However, they both look very different and present a completely different set of pros and cons.
An aluminium profile (8020) sim rig is designed for maximum versatility. You can configure your rig in an almost infinite number of ways, tailoring it to your exact needs. And if you want to mount any additional items to your rig such as keyboard trays or shifters, you can simply bolt on another piece of aluminium extrusion.
A metal tube sim rig is a much more streamlined product. They can be just as sturdy as an 8020 rig, but customisation and versatility are sometimes lacking. You often get a limited amount of customisation with a metal tube rig as they will come in a pre-designed form. Although with high-end rigs, you can often adjust a lot of areas such as seating position and mounting points to find a fit that works perfectly for you.
Looking at sim rig strength is important as it will dictate the style of the sim racing wheel and pedals that you can mount to it. To race with a high-powered direct drive racing wheel, you’ll need an extremely sturdy sim rig.
This is because direct drive racing wheels can create a huge amount of force feedback. With less sturdy sim rigs, you will noticeably feel your sim rig flexing and moving under heavy load.
This isn’t good for the integrity of your sim rig as it can cause damage over time, but it also doesn’t help you translate which force is due to the force feedback and what is just movement within your rig. This can make it harder to correctly respond to the force feedback.
If you are using a lower-powered racing wheel, then rigidity won’t be such a big issue. This is where all-in-one sim rigs shine, as they give enough stability to support your racing wheel, with the bonuses that all-in-one sim rigs offer.
Sim racing wheel base mounting
Another area to look at is ensuring the mounting points of your sim racing wheel base match the mounting points in your sim rig. The majority of sim rigs come with pre-drilled wheel mounting plates, while others require you to purchase specific adapters to mount your racing wheel.
A pre-drilled mounting plate will allow you to mount a wide range of racing wheels to your rig from the bottom of the wheel base. With these, you must ensure the pre-drilled positions match the mounting points of your racing wheel.
If you are looking at buying a high-end sim rig, you will often be presented with a choice of racing wheel mounting options. If you’re using a direct drive racing wheel, this will often be front-mounted or side-mounted.
As you grow as a sim racer, over time you may wish to add more elements to your sim rig. These could include a mount for a shifter, keyboard tray or monitor. It is hard to account for this when purchasing a sim rig, but try to keep an eye out for the potential to upgrade over time.
Many sim rigs will show you which accessories can be added, and some will push you to purchase these extra items when buying your sim rig. Don’t worry about buying the additional accessories right away, but do keep in mind which accessories are available.
Then over time, you will be confident that you won’t need to buy a new sim rig, as you can simply add extra elements to your current rig.
One of the additional products often available with a sim rig is an additional monitor mount. These allow you to mount a wide variety of gaming monitors directly to your sim rig.
This is a great option when thinking about where you will position your sim rig. It often isn’t practical to position your sim rig directly in front of your desk monitor or TV as this will block it from being used in other ways.
Monitor mounting comes in a few different varieties. Many sim rigs will have the option to directly mount it to your rig. This is a solid option as you can ensure your monitor is always correctly positioned even if you moved your rig. It also allows you to position your monitor closer to your racing wheel which is beneficial to achieving the correct FOV (field of view).
You can also opt for a stand-alone monitor mount. This will sit independently to your sim rig, and allow you to move and reposition your screens over time.
If this is a route that you are looking to go down, or thinking about in the future. Simply double-check that the correct mounting options are available when looking at buying a sim rig.
The last area to keep an eye on when shopping for sim racing rigs in 2023 is your budget. This is often one of the most prominent deciding factors as it will dictate how far you can reach. It is always important not to overstretch your budget, especially as sim racing can be an expensive hobby.
You may need replacement parts, or look to upgrade your sim racing wheel over time. So it is important not to spend all of your money on a super flashy sim rig.
There are sim rigs available for a wide range of budgets, including lower-priced 8020 sim rigs. So always keep your intended budget in mind when shopping.
Best aluminium profile 8020 sim rig
Sim Lab P1-X Sim Racing Cockpit
The mighty Sim Lab P1-X is always at the tip of the tongue when it comes to recommending an 8020 aluminium profile sim rig. It is among the most sturdy sim rigs available, with a host of great customisation features just like many 8020 rigs.
Sim Lab is widely known to partner with real-world racing drivers and is currently the official supplier of the Mercedes AMG F1 team. That is a testament to the quality on offer from Sim Lab.
One of the reasons that the Sim Lab P1-X is so strong is due to the large aluminium profile that is used. The P1-X uses 40x160mm aluminium extrusion to ensure there is no movement or rigidity. This is compared to 40x120mm and 40x80mm that a lot of other 8020 rigs use.
And every piece of the aluminium profile used to build the P1-X is laser cut to ensure a precise fit. Overall, this is without a doubt one of the best 8020 sim rigs you can buy and is the go-to professional sim rig.
- Brand – Sim Lab
- Price – From £573
- Buy Sim Labs P1-X
Best high-end 8020 sim rig
Next Level Racing F-GT Elite
The Next Level Racing F-GT Elite is one of the newer sim rigs that have been released, and it certainly arrived with a bang. In a world where many 8020 sim rigs look like something constructed from parts of extrusion found laying around. The NLR F-GT Elite certainly stands out.
It features swept-back pieces of aluminium profile that have all been cut to align perfectly. This gives it an extremely race-ready look to it and lets it take its place as one of the best high-end 8020 sim rigs on the market in 2023.
The build quality of the F-GT has the power to back up this edgy appearance. It features large pieces of 40x80mm aluminium extrusion, mixed with an extremely heavy-duty pedal plate.
And there is more adjustability with this sim rig than you would ever need. The rig comes equipped with a seat mount that allows you to side-mount your racing seat in almost any position. You can achieve an upright GT-style racing position or a fully reclined Formula 1 style seating position.
The combination of striking looks combined with the exceptional build quality and adjustability allows the NLR F-GT Elite to be one of the best 8020 sim rigs on the market.
- Brand – Next Level Racing
- Price – From £760
- Buy NLR F-GT Elite
Best budget 8020 sim rig
Trak Racer TR80 Lite
The TR80 Lite is one of the cheapest and most accessible 8020 sim rigs on the market. It’s essentially a stripped-down variant of the TR80 from sim rig manufacturer Trak Racer.
It uses the same 40x80mm aluminium extrusion, albeit in a different configuration. And it allows 8020 sim rigs to be accessible to those without the budget to spend on rigs like the P1-X.
Despite its low budget, the TR80 Lite is a fantastic sim rig. It features a sturdy wheel deck compatible with direct drive racing wheels, and a pre-drilled pedal tray that is also widely compatible.
A few years ago at this price point, you wouldn’t have been able to find any 8020 sim rigs unless you DIY’d one yourself. Now in 2023, at this price, the TR80 Lite is one of the best sim rig buys
- Brand – Trak Racer
- Price – From £344
- Buy Trak Racer TR80 Lite
Best metal tube sim rig
Fanatec RennSport V2
Metal tube rigs have the benefit over an 8020 rig of looking much more streamlined. And the Fanatec RennSport V2 is one of the best looking sim rigs on the market.
It features a slicked-back solid aluminium tube frame that is designed to emulate the feeling of sitting inside a race car surrounded by a roll cage. And it certainly achieves this. The solid aluminium tube wraps around you with metal meshing filling in the areas between the frame.
While this does give you the feeling of being in a real race car, it also provides a huge amount of stability. The RennSport V2 cockpit has been designed with direct drive in mind and has been fully tested with the strongest direct drive wheels such as the mighty Fanatec DD2.
The rigidity of this sim rig is incredible, but it also does what many metal tube sim rigs fail to do. And that is to allow for customisation and adaptability as you progress as a sim racer.
You can purchase a wide range of additional extras to this sim rig to mount hardware such as shifters and monitors directly to the rig. If you’re looking for a sturdy sim rig to pair with your Fanatec racing wheel setup, the RennSport V2 has to be at the top of your list.
- Brand – Fanatec
- Price – From £999
- Buy Fanatec RennSport V2
Best budget metal tube sim rig
Trak Racer TR8 Pro
If you don’t quite have the budget to splash out on the Fanatec RennSport V2, that is very understandable. While the RennSport V2 sits right at the premium end of sim rigs, the Trak Racer TR8 Pro does a good job at providing a sturdy rig at a much-reduced budget.
The TR8 Pro is the second evolution of the widely loved TR8. This is a 2″ Industrial Strength Iron Chassis sim rig that provides a huge amount of customisation. In fact, possibly more than some 8020 sim rigs!
Almost everything on this sim rig is adjustable. You can change your seating position between a GT style and formula-style position. The wheel mount is fully adjustable, and so is the pedal plate. The shifter mount can be moved not only backwards and forwards, but can also be tilted towards or away from you! And you’ve also got the option of mounting a fully adjustable TV or monitor directly to your rig.
With all of the customisation available and the sturdiness of the 2″ chassis, this is without a doubt one of my favourite sim rigs.
- Brand – Trak Racer
- Price – From £575
- Buy Trak Racer TR8 Pro
Best all in one sim rig
Next Level Racing GT Track
When it comes to all-in-one sim rigs, these are rigs that include everything you need to go racing. That includes a racing seat. Many of the sim rigs that I spoke about above don’t include a racing seat, making them that extra bit more expensive.
The Next Level Racing GT Track is a fantastic example of an all-in-one sim rig. It features a sturdy metal frame that is highly adjustable, along with an adjustable wheel deck and pedal plate.
While the cheaper Next Level Racing F-GT allows you to recline to be in a formula-style driving position, the F-GT instead features a more premium reclining seat. This allows you to really customise your driving position to suit your needs.
Much like the sim rigs above, this GT Track allows you to mount various accessories such as shifters and flight sticks if you fancy taking to the skies. You can also mount this onto a motion rig to really enhance your immersion levels, hence the included harnesses!
One of the main downsides of sim rigs such as the GT Track is that you can’t mount a monitor or TV directly to your stand. So you’ll need an alternate way to position your screen.
Despite that, this sim rig is more than sturdy enough to handle a direct drive racing wheel such as the Fanatec CSL DD.
- Brand – Next Level Racing
- Price – From £649
- Buy NLR GT Track
Best budget beginner sim rig
GT Omega APEX Wheel Stand & Rear Seat Frame
GT Omega is known for producing a wide range of gaming products including sim rigs. And this is where I first started my sim racing journey, with a GT Omega wheel stand.
The GT Omega APEX Wheel stand is a hugely accessible sim rig. In fact, it can be configured in multiple configurations. It comes as a stand-alone wheel stand, allowing you to mount a racing wheel and pedals to it. But can be expanded over time to include a rear seat frame and adjustable seat.
The configuration which I’ve got set up in our Sim Racing Setup studio includes the wheel stand, mounted onto the rear seat frame, with a GT Omega XL RS reclining chair mounted to that. This combination forms a complete sim rig and allows you to sim race with relatively powerful wheel bases.
This combination includes;
As you can see I regularly use the CSL DD wheel base and the load cell pedal with this GT Omega APEX wheel stand and rear frame combo. And there is pretty much zero flex or movement, even under heavy use.
The pure flexibility of this wheel stand oriented sim rig is great. In its stand-alone wheel stand form, you can fold it away when not in use, and use it with your regular office or dining chair. And when you’re ready for a full sim rig, you can expand it with a rear frame and seat.
And the best part is that this whole setup is very budget-oriented. It is the cheapest sim rig on this list and performs well above its price range. For a first delve into sim racing, this is a perfect sim rig.
- Brand – GT Omega
- Price – From £119.95
- Buy APEX Wheel Stand
How to choose a sim rig that is right for you
Hopefully, the above options give you a good insight into the different styles of sim rigs in 2023. I’ve highlighted the best sim rigs within each category to help narrow down the selection. But it is great for sim racers to have such a wide range of different sim rigs available.
I did touch on it above, but the main things to really consider when starting to look for a sim rig are;
- Style – Which style of sim rig best meets your needs.
- Size – Always bear the size of your rig in mind, as they can take up a lot of space.
- Budget – Budget always has to factor into a large purchase such as a sim rig. Luckily there is a lot of choice at different price points.
- Rigidity – Always think about the racing wheel and pedals you’re mounting, as stronger products require a sturdier sim rig.
With those elements in mind, you can really narrow down your sim rig requirements. And with so many fantastic rigs on offer from a range of brands such as Sim Lab, Trak Racer, Next Level Racing and more. Shopping for a sim rig shouldn’t be too troublesome!
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