The Best Sim Racing Setup in 2024

If you’re a sim racing enthusiast, having the right equipment can make all the difference between an average experience and total immersion in your favorite driving sim. And the most important piece of kit is without a doubt your steering wheel. The wheel is your primary connection to the virtual car, transmitting detailed force feedback cues and allowing precise control inputs. That’s why choosing the proper wheel setup for your needs and budget should be a top priority.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at all the best steering wheel options currently available from leading manufacturers like Fanatec, Moza, and Simagic. As a sim racing fan who has tested a wide range of products hands-on, I’ll provide detailed recommendations to help you upgrade your rig. We’ll cover everything from high-end direct drive wheels for serious racers to quality budget options for those just getting started. Let’s dive in!

Wheel Bases – Where It All Begins

The wheel base is the foundation of your setup, providing the torque and force feedback that makes driving feel realistic. There are two main types to consider:

Direct Drive Bases

Direct drive (DD) bases connect the steering wheel directly to the motor shaft for unparalleled feel and response. With no belts or gears, DD wheels transmit more detail from the sim’s physics and allow very high strength feedback effects. Torque output ranges from low single digit Nm for entry level up to 20+ Nm for professional racing eSports.

DD bases offer the most realistic and immersive experience but come at a premium price. However, recent budget-friendly DD options have made this tech more accessible.

Fanatec DD Wheel Bases

Fanatec dominates the direct drive market with three tiered choices:

  • CSL DD – Fanatec’s new entry-level DD clocks in at 5Nm torque (8Nm with optional boost kit). Brushless motor provides silky smooth performance. Great feature set considering the reasonable $350 starting price point. Compact, only ~7 lbs.
  • Podium DD1 – A high-end DD choice, the DD1 outputs a muscular 20Nm of force with pinpoint accuracy. Clubsport steering wheels attach directly into integrated quick release. Build quality on par with much pricier offerings. Starts at $1099.
  • Podium DD2 – Sits atop Fanatec’s lineup designed specifically for pro sim racers. Same internals as the DD1 but with a reinforced metal frame. Excellent for eSports but serious overkill for casual players at $1599.

Belt Driven Wheels

More affordable options use a geared belt mechanism to transfer torque from the motor to the wheel shaft. This allows less strength feedback, but still provides detailed force cues. The gearing also increases rotation allowing greater turn lock. Likely sufficient for many users, especially at the beginner level.

Fanatec’s mid-tier belt driven bases include:

  • ClubSport Wheel Base V2.5 – A step up from entry level, the V2.5 offers a 20Nm belt driven experience. Dual belt mechanism with ball bearings adds smoothness. Highly tunable feedback. MSRP $499.
  • Gran Turismo DD Pro – Created for PlayStation 5 specifically, this wheel clocks 5Nm torque from dual-belt system. Modeled after GT7 cars. Only $699 bundled with pedals and GT-style rim.

Steering Wheels – Your Virtual Hands

The wheel rim attaches to the base to serve as the main controller interface. Materials, size, shape, and added features differ widely between models to fit driving preferences. Wheels can be swapped quickly thanks to integrated quick release systems. Consider your main driving disciplines when choosing a rim(s).

Open Wheel / Formula Style Wheels

For open wheel racers, you’ll want an incredibly responsive, open rim design that won’t obstruct visibility or contact with your arms/hands. Lightweight materials like carbon fiber improve feel and control. Top formula rims include:

  • Fanatec Formula V2.5 – Constructed of solid carbon fiber with leather/Alcantara grips. Fully customizable buttons/encoders. Exquisite build quality with premium details like vibration motors and an LED display. A top choice for formula sims at $399.


  • Extremely lightweight and responsive carbon fiber construction
  • Premium details like intuitive OLED display


  • High price tag
  • May feel overly lightweight for GT/Stock car driving
  • Moza RSF Formula Wheel – Also crafted from carbon fiber but at a more affordable price point for the entry level DD crowd. Distinctive integrated digital dash display adds realism. Just $599 with magnetic shifters.

GT / Sports Car Style Wheels

Larger diameter wheels between 11 to 13 inches with grips mimic real-world sports car steering. Ideal for GT, touring car, rally, and oval racing. Leather and suede materials aid grip. Popular models:

  • Fanatec GT3 RS – Arguably the quintessential GT wheel rim. Realistic 11.8″ size wrapped in leather/Alcantara. Industrial style metal shift paddles fixed in ideal driving position. Integrated RPM lights embedded into the rim. $199 is a bargain for this classic.


  • Iconic, realistic GT wheel design preferred by many racers
  • Quality leather materials provide ideal grip


  • Shifter paddles are fixed in place rather than adjustable
  • Smaller 200mm size may feel vague for trucks/stock cars
  • Moza GS – For more adjustability, the 300mm Moza GS adds magnetic shifter paddles and thumb encoders to tweak settings on the fly. Comfortable padded grips. Starts at $499 with premium components.

Pedal Sets – Maximizing Control

A quality pedal set with a realistic brake improves driving consistency significantly. Look for a set with a solid structure to avoid flexing plus adjustable pedals/resistance to dial in your fit.

Hydraulic or Load Cell Brakes

Any sim racer serious about performance should invest in a set with hydraulic or load cell brake pedal. Unlike cheaper pots, hydraulic systems provide fluid pressure feedback for highly accurate modulation – just as in real cars.

  • Fanatec CSL Pedals with Loadcell Kit – Fanatec’s LC kit adds a fluid pressure sensor to their CSL Pedals for a realistic $119 upgrade. Provides tunable resistance up to 100kg. A must-have for trail braking and consistency.
  • Moza CRP Pedals – Moza’s top pedals feature load cells with 150kg maximum sensor pressure for ultra-precise performance, plus adjustable resistance and angle. The forged aluminum construction looks fantastic at $499.


All quality pedals allow customizing the spacing, angle, stiffness and sensitivity. This optimizes comfort and ergonomics. Look for at least 2-3 axis adjustability.

  • Fanatec Clubsport V3 – Regarded by many as the best all-around pedal option. Fully adjustable pedal angles, spacing, hardness, and travel range. Stainless steel construction built to endure abuse. $349 for the inverted or $299 standard.

Buying Guide – Matching Wheels to Your Needs and Budget

With so many combinations available, it can be daunting to figure out where to start. Here are my recommendations on pairing wheel bases and rims based on your main driving interests and budget:

Getting Started Under $700

For casual and entry level sim racers on a budget, start with Fanatec’s awesome value-packed CSL DD and CSL pedals bundle. Add on a versatile GT-style rim like the McLaren V2 for around $700 total. This gives you an amazing starter DD setup that can tackle all genres of racing.

Primarily Open Wheel $1200+

Fanatec’s Podium DD1 bundle plus the Formula V2.5 provides a top-notch open wheel experience. The 20Nm torque and ultra responsive carbon fiber Formula rim will allow perfect control and feedback for honing open wheel skills. Factor around $1200+ for this setup.

Most Realistic GT/Sports Car Experience $1800

Recreate your dream supercar with the Podium DD2, Clubsport V3 pedals with load cell brake, and the gorgeous GT3 RS Alcantara wheel. This end game setup provides the pinnacle of detail and immersion for conquering tracks like Brands Hatch or Laguna Seca. Budget $1800+.

Versatility on a Moderate Budget $900

For flexibility across multiple racing disciplines without breaking the bank, try Moza’s new R9 direct drive wheel paired with their GS rim and SR-P pedal set. This gives you a tunable 9Nm DD base, grippy 300mm GT wheel with shift paddles, and adjustable pedals. All for around $900 total.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions? Here are answers to some of the most common queries about getting started with sim racing wheels:

What specs should I look for in a racing wheel?

Key factors are force feedback strength (torque), wheel size/materials, pedal adjustability, and inputs like buttons/shifters. Look for equipment that suits your main driving games and budget.

Do I need a direct drive wheel to enjoy sim racing?

Not at all! Beginners will likely be very satisfied with a belt driven wheel and a good set of pedals. Only upgrade to direct drive when you feel limited by current hardware.

Is it difficult to mount wheels/pedals to my rig?

Most quality racing wheels use simple bolt-on mounting. Just be sure your cockpit has pre-drilled mounting holes spaced for standard racing hardware. Many seats support interchangeable mounting plates as well.

Should I start with a basic wheel and upgrade components over time?

Absolutely – this incremental upgrade approach is cost-effective. Start with a mainstream wheel like Logitech G29, then upgrade to higher end pedals, eventually upgrading the wheel base itself.

Can console gamers still use high end racing wheels?

Yes, many wheels support console through compatibility modes, with some officially licensed for PlayStation/Xbox. Just be aware you’ll have more limited options than PC users.

Wrapping Up

While high fidelity racing wheels represent a significant investment, the unmatched realism and immersion they provide transforms the sim racing experience. Carefully selecting equipment tailored for your needs and budget will allow you to maximize enjoyment of your favorite driving titles. We’ve only scratched the surface here, but hopefully this guide has given you a solid overview of the incredible racing gear currently available and how to approach upgrading your rig. Now get out there on the virtual track and turn some hot laps!

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