If you are a beginner, there are a few things you might want to consider buying. Your CPU or may need an upgrade, or at worst, a brand new gaming PC may be in your future. A lot of to choose from is just a click away or if you want serious immersion, gets you in the racing game.
But the most essential purchase you will make for a racer sim will be a gaming steering wheel and pedal set, which are the only components you will actually touch and the only accessory that is able to mimic the tactile sensations of a sport that are largely based on emotion.
Needless to say, getting the best racing wheels and pedals is hugely important for racing simulation, but it’s also important to find something that fits your budget. You can easily spend more on a sim racing setup than you might want on a real race car – which sounds completely insane until you start figuring out what it actually costs to be competitive in the real world. There’s also no way to start explaining the type of variation available in racing simulator components – think of a wealth of wheel settings, pedal setup ranges and more. Racing simulators require something very different from a typical game console setup.
I have been driving simracer for almost 20 years now, and in that time have tested a lot of wheels, pedals and exercise rigs from many companies. Hop in and we’ll find you the best racing wheels and pedals for your budget. This list is updated periodically.
A place to play
Before you start buying a PC racing wheel, it is important to find out exactly where to drive. If you already have your PC set up at a desk, it’s probably the easiest – and definitely the cheapest – way to fasten your racing wheel. However, this is not for everyone, especially if you hate having extra cables wrapped around your work area.
In addition, many high-power wheels can not be clamped to a desk, simply because they are too powerful. So if you have the budget and the floor space, a dedicated sim racing cockpit with wheel stand and more makes a world of difference. The ability to just sit down and start driving means you spend less time tinkering with cables and more time driving. In addition, you can start customizing your cockpit with bespoke seating and button cushions and all sorts of fun things.
This is certainly an area where recommendations are difficult because preconstructed sim cockpits vary enormously in price, size, construction and intent. For my needs, I wanted something robust so I could test high-power wheels. However, I needed a small footprint so as not to give up too much of my office. And I did not have thousands to spend either.
I chose. It’s only 21 inches wide, so it fit nicely next to my desk, yet is sturdy enough to handle the most powerful direct-drive wheels on the market. It is also easy to customize with an open box frame construction with lots of visible holes and surfaces so you can add what you like. You can also upgrade to a movement platform down the road should you feel like adding a little momentum to your rig.
For $ 900, it’s not cheap, but Next Level Racing has other, more affordable options, like the $ 499 F-GT, which is suitable for mid-level wheels, and even the $ 299 F-GT Lite, which you can fold up and fill in the closet.
These are three good choices, but if you want to save some money and do not mind going the DIY route,has dozens of plans that rely on cheap extruded aluminum sections, which means you can make a really custom setup.
Logitech Driving Force G920, G29
For the entry level, I would recommend the Logitech G920 – or G29. Both will do so because they are basically the same wheel – the former is for Xbox, the latter for PlayStation, and both are PC compatible.
If you only do iRacing and the like on the PC, you can go with both, but I would say the Logitech wheel has more buttons and knobs, making it the slightly better choice. However, there is a minor difference.
Either way, you get a well-built racing steering wheel with primarily metal construction and a sewn leather wrap. 900 degree wheel rotation will handle anything less than a racing rig with a large rig, and the power feedback is perfectly adequate.
However, there are a few shortcomings. First, the wheel diameter is less than 10.5 inches, which means that this racing wheel feels somewhat toy-like compared to the real thing – or indeed some of the later wheels I would mention. The biggest problem, though, is with the pedals. The brake pedal uses a potentiometer, a means of digitally recording the degree of rotation.
Potentiometers work well for the accelerator and clutch pedal, but the hydraulic brakes in a real car do not affect how far you press the pedal, but how hard. Since potentiometers only measure movement, it can be a challenge to modulate the brakes accurately. Logitech tried to copy the feel of a load cell by limiting the travel of the brake pedal, but if anything, it just reduces the precision.
But in this price range, it is the only fly in the ointment. The Logitech G920 and G29 are excellent wheels for a great racing experience. Lots of pro-level iRacers use them, which is about as good a confidence statement as you can get. I drove with a G27 for years and if $ 400 is out of your budget, I would highly recommend searching eBay for a used G27 or even a used G25. They are pretty much the same wheel, and a healthy modding community will ensure they will work in the years to come.
If you do a little Forza Motorsport next door and need an Xbox steering wheel, the Xbox Series and Xbox One compatible G920 are for you.
If you’re more into the Gran Turismo side of the equation and looking for a PS4 or PS5 steering wheel, the PlayStation-ready G29 is your choice.
Do you have a little more to spend? Check out the Thrustmaster T300, especially in the Thrustmaster Ferrari Integral trim. The Thrustmaster racing wheel offers an Alcantara wrapped wheel with a larger diameter that feels more like the real thing or a leather wheel. That wheel can also be replaced if you want something else along the way.
For those who want to get a little more serious about their sim racing, Fanatec has a range of products that are guaranteed to challenge the healthiest budgets. In my book, Clubsport Wheel Base V2.5 hits the sweet spot between luxury, performance and price.
Its belt-driven interior delivers the power of a high-torque motor housed in an attractive, anodized aluminum base. The window at the top that reveals the interior is a fine detail that shows the attention to detail here. Its 6-pound-foot of torque makes it nearly four times as powerful as the Logitech, but if that’s too much, it comes with a comprehensive suite of tuning software, which means you can enter it the way you want it.
I would recommend pairing it with Fanatec’s $ 300 BMW GT2 wheels, which at 12.6 inches are full size and Alcantara wrapped, just like the real thing, and offer a healthy selection of buttons and controls. However, the placement of these buttons leaves a bit to be desired (many are too far away to be reached via a quick thumb press), and the paddle switch on the back is terribly vague.
Clubsport Wheel Base V2.5 hits the sweet spot between luxury, performance and price.
Finally, on the floor, the Clubsport V3 pedal set is hard to beat. The all-metal construction means business, and they come with two sets of pedal surfaces. The flat ones installed by default are easily replaced with D-shaped pedals, which I prefer. They even have haptic motors that buzz to copy ABS.
The most important thing is that the brake on the Clubsport pedal set has a load cell. Unlike a potentiometer, this one measures force, not motion, so you can precisely scrub the speed of moving through the T1 and T2 on the Suzuka and handle all the trail braking that is so important in iRacing.
If there is one drawback, it is the cost. The Fanatec Clubsport Wheel Base V2.5 costs $ 550, which may not sound too bad, except you also have to pay an additional $ 300 for the BMW GT2 steering wheel and an additional $ 360 for the pedal set. Total cost? A fat $ 1,210.
If your budget has not reached the breaking point yet, welcome to the podium level. While Clubsport is Fanatec’s mid-range product, the Podium is at the top and the $ 1,200 DD1 is my choice at this price level. With as much as 14.7 lb-ft of torque at your disposal, it can literally rip the steering wheel out of your hands. So be careful – the warning labels on this thing are not to show.
That torque is a good talk, perhaps even necessary for those who want the ultimate realism when simulating vintage cars without power steering. For me, I turn the torque down to about 65% when I drive with my DD1. Why? More power from your racing wheel will not make you faster. If anything, it can slow you down while you struggle against the wheel.
To me, the real feature of DD1 is the fidelity of the sensations. While all of the wheels I have discussed so far rely on gears or belts to get the power to the wheel, DD here means direct driving. That is, the steering wheel is more or less directly attached to the shaft of an electric motor. The feeling is perfectly smooth, just like in a real car.
It’s a premium set and something that I enjoy using, but the great part of Fanatec parts is that you buy into a healthy and always expanding ecosystem. The steering wheel you use on a Clubsport Wheel Base can be used here, as can the pedals and things like external gearshifts, parking brakes and much, much more. So as your skills and needs grow, so will your setup.
Frequently asked questions about racing wheels
How much does a good racing wheel cost?
You can get a solid racing wheel for around $ 250 or less if you are willing to buy it used. But if you want something serious, something that pro-sim racers use, look no further than $ 1,000.
Are racing wheels worth it?
If you are serious about realism, a racing wheel is definitely worth it. When you play driving games with a wheel, you can start developing skills that will help you in real life. You can not do this with a normal controller. But if you’re a casual racing game fan, just playing to relax and not so worried about realism, a wheel can be overkill.
Why are racing wheels so expensive?
There are many factors that come into play here, but racing wheels are complex machines, mostly due to the internal engines that provide force feedback. This makes the wheels far more realistic, but also more expensive. You also need fine sensors to detect all inputs and these sensors need to be durable as there is a good chance that you are going to use these things a lot and not very delicate. Finally, they must be made with well-made materials, because it is not fun at all to stick to a cheap plastic wheel.