How much does Sim Racing cost?
Sim Racing is a rapidly growing industry, tipped by many to overtake motorsport in popularity. As Sim Racing continues to grow, new manufacturers are coming to the market bringing and existing manufacturers continue to flourish and expand their line-ups, bringing lots of new products for us sim racers to enjoy. New products and technologies (like Direct Drive wheels and VR) are being utilised to give us the best possible experience, and as these technologies become more popular, they become more widely adopted and will become more accessible for all.
A question we get asked a lot is:
'Do you need to spend several thousand pounds to enjoy sim racing?'
The answer is NO!
Of course, the more you spend, the better equipment you get and the more realistic your experience will be. Direct Drive Vs Belt Drive. Motion Actuators Vs Static Rig. Hydraulic Pedals Vs Loadcell pedals. One is better than the other, that's why people pay the higher amount to get the best kit - but you don't need the absolute best products to be able to be fast and enjoy Sim Racing. That's why we made Upshift - a convenient storefront that advises you what products you need and fit your requirements, that will fit your budget, whatever it may be.
But when it comes to Starting Sim Racing, it's largely an unknown about how much it actually costs. The truth is, Sim Racing costs as much as you want it to. Rather like in motorsport, if you go out and burn up your tyres, rev your engine to and beyond the redline and play bumper cars with the field, you will get a big bill at the end. If you use your tyres sensibly, treat your car with mechanical sympathy and race firm-but-fair, you will find your racing is less and you enjoy it a lot more!
If you have £500 budget, you can go Sim Racing for £500
If you have a £15,000 budget, you can go Sim Racing for £15,000.
Obviously, the latter you will get much better equipment and the experience will be better. But, let's try to give you a rundown on the approximate costs:
1) Gaming Console (Xbox/PlayStation) or Gaming PC
Gaming consoles typically £400-£500
Gaming PCs start from around £1000 to £2500+
You'll either need a gaming console or a gaming PC. Consoles are cheaper, at around £200 - £550, and provide a good entry into Sim Racing, with the likes of Gran Turismo on Forza, as well as some other multi platform games. However, where Sim Racing really shines is on PC. Our firm belief is that if you want an authentic and realistic sim racing experience, you need to get a gaming PC. You'll need a good gaming PC with a good graphics card that can handle AAA games (i.e. the newest racing games). These Gaming PCs start at around £1000. Obviously, the more you spend, the better the PC will be and the more future-proof it will be, able to play the flagship sim racing games of tomorrow.
It's worth noting that the beauty of a gaming PC is that you can swap out individual components as and when you desire, so effectively you can continually upgrading your PC with time thus it never becomes obsolete. With gaming consoles, once the next generation of a respective console family is released, the previous generation becomes (almost) obsolete.
2) Racing Wheel & Pedals
Basic entry-level wheels & pedal bundles from £250
Direct Drive between £500-£2000
Pedals start from £200 up to £1500+ for hydraulic pedals
Of course, you will need a wheel and pedals to go sim racing! There's a wide range of these available; some are bundles with a wheel and pedals, others (typically high end products), the wheel and pedals are sold separately. The very cheapest wheels start at under £100, but frankly they are rubbish. You need at least a half-decent racing wheel, so it doesn't feel like a complete child's toy, and this will cost about £200 - £300.
For those who want a more realistic experience, you should consider a more expensive wheel, costing around several hundred pounds. As you get more experienced and want better quality, you will definitely want to consider a Direct Drive (DD) wheel which start at about £500 for small DDs like the Moza R5/R9 and Fanatec CSL DD, rising to £1000+ for Simucube 2 and Fanatec Podium DD.
A good set of decent quality loadcell pedals will set you back £200-£300, with premium load cell pedals typically £450-£750 and hydraulic pedal costing £800 and over.
Hopefully now, you are beginning to see the point we made at the very beginning - you could buy a cheap bundle wheel and pedals for £250 in total, or a Direct Drive wheel with hydraulic pedals for £2500 in total; the latter definitely does the job better than the other (the former will feel like a toy, the latter will most certainly not), but there is a pathway to start sim racing on a limited budget.
3) Sim Racing Rig - from £450
Every sim racer needs a rig. The cheapest good quality rigs are 8020 aluminium profiles rigs like the Trak Racer TR80 (pictured below), which starts at £569, but does not include a seat, so you'll need to supply your own seat.
There are also sim rigs that offer a different driving position - typically, sim rigs offer an upright, GT-style seating position, which is more widely applicable to various formulae of motorsport. Single seater cars however, do not have an upright seating position, so for those wanting a F1-style, single seater driving position, there are rigs like the Sparco Evolve GP Sim Rig (pictured below) that are designed to replicate F1 seating positions:
Thereafter with most rigs, there are additional accessories such as cupholders, ButtKicker mounts, keyboard trays etc all at additional cost, to improve ergonomics of your setup.
4) Display (Television / Monitors / Virtual Reality Headsets)
There's lots of options for your display, but if budget is restricted, we recommend using any TV/monitor you have already, to save on cost. Otherwise, you ought to consider either a gaming monitor (or multiple monitors), or a virtual reality headset. The latter is less ideal, because it's not recommended for lengthy usage, so for most, the realistic options are a single monitor or triple monitors. Both of these have their relative merits, so it's not an easy decision. Factor in ultrawide monitors, and it gets even more complicated! Generally, a good single monitor cost around £250; so a good triple monitor setup will be around £750. And ultrawide monitor costs around the same, around £800-£1200.
Then, you need to consider how you are mounting the monitor - on a desk, on your wall, almost common, on a bespoke monitor stand or mount. For this, add on another £100-£200.
5) Games - from £20
Sim Racing games are largely pretty cheap (with the exception of iRacing, which is subscription based and requires one-time purchase of in game content). But games like Assetto Corsa Competizione, rFactor, GT Sport, Forza, KartKraft, Dirt Rally 2.0 etc all range from about £20 to £40 to buy, and that's a one off cost, so games are very affordable for all. The trend nowadays Is to provide a base game, with a default number of cars and tracks, and offer additional content for an additional cost. What ever way you look at it, you could buy a few of the best current Sim Racing games for the cost of a track day at your local racing track, so objectively, they are cheap and good value.
So, we reiterate, how much does Sim Racing cost? Well, you can make Sim Racing cost as much or as little as you want it to.
If you want to be frugal, you can get a cheap wheel, mount on your table, and buy a second hand Xbox and get playing for no more than £200.
But if you want the best products, that will make you faster and give you the most immersive and enjoyable experience, you can end up spending many thousands of pounds on your Sim Racing setup.
Want more information? Check out our Getting Started in Sim Racing Guide
Here at Upshift, we specialise in matching you with the best possible product within your budget, that meet your personalised requirements, So you don't spend more than you need to, and get the best-bang-for-your-buck setup. So feel free to get in touch with us to discuss!