How to build a racing game driver's seat

How to build a racing game driver's seat

By Matteo Bussani

Sports motoring has historically always been a pleasure for the lucky few due to the large initial investment required for the purchase or rental of a vehicle, equipment and space . The thesis does not change for the minor circuits, which are also the prerogative of a niche of the public just like all sports that suffer at the base of some instrumental barrier.

Videogames, over the years, have tried to open the world to these experiences, replicating them in bits on the small screen and increasingly at popular prices. The results achieved are nothing short of impressive. Often the physics engine of a simulator is the foundation of a video game or a racing title is used with the necessary modifications as a tool for the training of a real driver. To aim for a realistic driving experience, all you need is the right control interface.

Video games and simulation live in a fluid limbo in which it is mainly the money invested that determines the potential rate of involvement of the pilot, given that the peripherals range from the simple controller of a console to the futuristic and imposing motorized seats of a real simulator. We also have to deal with spaces; the lucky ones can dedicate a portion of the house to their hobby, but others struggle to keep the balance of the living room stable, where a steering wheel that is not stowed may not be appreciated. If, therefore, they were to ask us what is the best setup to enter the world of racing simulation, we would have to face the discussion from the beginning, assuming that there is no other instrumentation other than a PC or a console, that the outlay is reasonable and that the goal is to achieve a good sporty driving experience.

Steering wheel and pedal set

T150 There are three brands that preside over the racing game peripherals market: Thrustmaster, Logitech and Fanatec. Thrustmaster is the brand that offers the greatest variety of products. Its range expands from the very first range, represented by the T80 model, reaching that for enthusiasts with models such as the T-GT II. Between one and the other extreme pass around € 650, but also many other products for all budgets. In general, as the category goes up, the construction materials, the solidity of the product, the strength and precision of the motor improve, as well as the algorithms that determine its use.

The T150 represents the first real point of entry into the simulation. It is the first list wheel to have force feedback among its characteristics, a well-established technology that communicates the behavior of the vehicle to the player, imposing a force against the rotation of the steering, variable and controlled. Excluding the hydraulic systems of their own setups much more expensive than those we will discuss today, the steering wheel force response is the only tactile feedback that the pilot receives from the simulator and it is essential that it is reproduced in a convincing way to best express the experience. of driving.

G29 The next segment is represented by the timeless T300 which is paired with the new T248 model. Both offer excellent technical characteristics and guarantee a good performance throughout the growth phase of the player-driver from the early stages to driving maturity. The T300 is not the newer of the two, but it turns out to be an excellent choice both for the quality that stands up to the freshest products, but also for its modularity. It is the first in its category to separate crown and motor, and each crown is compatible with all Thrustmaster models from the T300 up, even those of the higher range. It goes without saying that, in terms of upgrade, it is a highly recommended choice.

Logitech, on the other hand, has always offered a single model per generation: first the G25, which then became G27, branching off into G29 (PS) and G920 (Xbox) finally arriving at the Trueforce G923. The formula has always been that of the unique combination of engine, steering wheel and pedal set, while the gearbox in the latest iterations is sold separately. The list price is € 409, although the street price is often below this figure. The engine construction plastics are solid and the aluminum, steel and leather crown guarantees excellent grip and returns a good feeling. The configuration is not modular and in this aspect we find the biggest flaw of the G923.

Fnatec Bundle Fanatec is the brand that is placed in the highest range in the market of racing-themed gaming peripherals. The company offers exclusively customized configurations by dividing the motor, crown and pedal set, which can be easily customized and improved. There are also bundles including the three components, which simplify the choice and whose cost starts from € 750 for the Gran Turismo DD Pro Express Version. A substantial if not excessive figure for those who have yet to start, but which is justified by the very high build quality of the pieces. Fanatec represents the perfect product category for those who know sim-racing, want to deepen it and have a seat available to make their configuration to the maximum. Given the durability of Fanatec products, it is advisable to also evaluate the purchase of used ones, especially the engine.

Thrustmaster and in particular Fanatec offer many accessories to customize your driving position. They are not necessary to begin with, but depending on the specialization in a particular discipline, being able to buy them in the future can really make a difference when buying. Think for example of the classic handbrake for drifting and rallying that really changes the game experience in your area of ​​expertise.Each of the choices presented above offers a good, if not excellent, starting point for sim racing. Popular models such as G923 and T300 are already sufficient in themselves to enjoy driving in all experiential phases as long as you know its limits; Fanatec is a guarantee as long as we can spend it, but none of the three contenders is really worth the money without a good seat.


Playseat We would be lying if we wrote that only with a steering wheel and a pedal It is possible to fully enjoy the driving sessions: at least a couple of tricks or a dedicated session are necessary to avoid turning the first approach into a great disappointment. A good playstation and a comfortable setup of the steering wheel and pedals are essential factors, so together with the purchase of the peripheral it is important to organize yourself in the best possible way also for the seat.

Playing on a desk with the wall directly in front of it, you can attach the wheel to the main table and rest the pedal board against the wall on a rubber mat to prevent it from moving. A wooden shim, if too far away, may be necessary to bring the legs closer and relax. The advice is never to underestimate the stability of the pedalboard, because a wobbly pedalboard is the easiest way to frustrate the playing session. The cost of this solution is negligible but has the disadvantage of non-optimal ergonomics. Let's move on to supports, suggesting Next Level Racing and Playseat as two cheap brands that also cover the needs of beginners.

The first and least expensive type of support is the folding one without a seat. They range from € 100 upwards, it is a series of steel plates and tubes without a seat on which to attach peripherals; it is fixed to the floor with suction cups or mechanical blocks, and sometimes even directly to the chair. We recommend it only for light use, because long sessions and intense braking can at any moment loosen the rigidity of the entire platform.

GT-LITE by Next level Racing The risk of instability is almost entirely avoided opting for a folding support with adjoining fabric seat; the price in this case starts from € 230 for the Next level Racing GT-LITE. This is the best compromise between space, comfort and costs, if you need to free the game room at the end of the session or for long periods of inactivity. The biggest disadvantage is that some brands use poorly breathable materials to ensure maximum grip, affecting the overall experience in long gaming sessions.

We close with a small mention of the fixed driving position: non plus ultra in terms of rigidity and comfort. At an economic level, the models with less pretensions can also be found at € 350, but they easily scale towards much more expensive and equipped solutions such as the Evolve models by SPARCO which are from € 850 upwards. Beyond the single expense, it is the constraint on the spaces and on the accompanying equipment that is really cumbersome in the choice: this is what we need to think about once the purchase has been taken into consideration. A rig of this type assumes a screen linked to the platform as well as a possible console or PC dedicated to the cause if it is a totally integrated station.


The budget is all The cost of a setup for sim-racing "to begin with" is not negligible, even in the face of a lower choice of the various pieces or do-it-yourself for the various supports, which are necessary to ensure the right comfort while driving. They range from a minimum of € 200 to go up, with a roof that we struggle to fix but that without overdoing it could easily be around € 1000. Is it worth them? If you are looking for a real driving experience, then the answer is undoubtedly yes. Comfort, steering wheel rendering and force-feedback allow you to discover the depth of a simulator that would be impossible to understand through the analogs of a controller.

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