Best Sim Racing Setup Under $1000

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View our ultimate guide to creating a sim racing setup for under $1000. This is the ultimate mid-range sim racing setup build, including a racing wheel, pedals and cockpit.

Best Midrange Sim Racing Setup Under 1000
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If you have been sim racing for a while, you may well be at the stage where you are looking to upgrade your budget sim racing setup.

When upgrading your sim racing setup, or buying one for the first time, there has to be a lot of questions asked. Questions such as; how much space do you have, how much budget do you have, and how good do you want your setup to be?

The answer to the last question is nearly always, “as good as I can afford”. And for under $1000, you can afford a pretty decent sim racing setup, including a direct drive racing wheel and pedals.

In this sim rig guide, I’ll run through a sim racing rig setup which you can buy for under $1000. This is what I call the medium to high-end racing rig build.


The products that make up this $1000 sim racing setup

This racing rig build consists of a direct drive wheelbase, which would normally cost you around $1000 alone. It’ll also include a BMW licensed steering wheel and a set of the latest sim racing pedals. And it includes a full cockpit with a seat.

Many of the items I’ve just spoken about should carry a large price tag. However, by purchasing smartly, we can afford all of these semi-premium sim racing products for under $1000.

ProductPriceWhere To Buy
Fanatec CSL DD$349.95Buy here
Fanatec CSL BMW Wheel$139.95Buy here
Fanatec CSL Pedals$79.95Buy here
GT Omega ART Cockpit$450Buy here
Total price$1,019.85

Why choose this under $1000 racing simulator build?

I’ve designed this rig for those who want performance from their sim racing set-up, all for a reasonable budget. Sim racing equipment can be expensive. As an example of this, our Fanatec sim racing rig build comes in at over $2000. You can view that rig build here if you are interested.

So putting together the best sim racing setup for under $1000 can be tricky. The products that I’ve combined into this rig build are of extremely good quality, but they all have one eye on their price tag.

If you want to build a racing rig set-up on a tighter budget, check out our $500 sim racing rig build here.

This build includes a direct-drive wheelbase as part of a complete sim racing bundle. Direct-drive is the name for the technology that drives the force feedback. Essentially, a direct-drive wheelbase links the steering wheel directly to the motor, meaning there is little to no loss in force feedback strength or fidelity. Simply put, this technology is the creme de la creme.

I’ve also included a complete sim racing cockpit. To run a direct-drive wheel, you need a stable platform, and a full cockpit is essential to providing that stability.

If you are a little tight on space and would rather have a sim rig built that you can fold away and store, you can always replace this sim rig with a wheel stand and a separate gaming chair. For one of the best wheel stands, check out our GT Omega Apex Wheel Stand review.


The Wheelbase

Fanatec CSL DD

Let’s jump into the first, and possibly most crucial piece of hardware in this build, the wheelbase. The wheelbase is the part of your sim racing set-up that will ultimately determine many other decisions. It is the part of your setup that generates the force feedback, and it will dictate what steering wheels you can run and which cockpit is needed to handle the power.

Fanatec CSL DD Boost Kit Review

I always recommend starting any sim racing rig build by choosing a wheelbase first. Ensuring you make the right decision here is critical. It will often be the most expensive part of your build, so you should allocate a large portion of your budget to this.

The Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase which I have chosen for this build is one of the best modern wheelbases on the market. It was released in 2021 as the cheapest direct drive wheelbase for sale. And it quickly became a favourite with sim racers around the world.

In fact, demand is still so high for this wheelbase that at the time of writing, certain variations of this product are still on backorder with reasonably long wait times.

The CSL DD comes with a motor that can generate 5Nm of torque. This torque is sent directly to the steering wheel via a carbon fiber composite motor shaft, allowing you to feel the full force of the motor.

For a full in-depth review of this wheelbase, read our Fanatec CSL DD review.

The wheelbase is sold separately from any steering wheels and features a quick-release system allowing you to attach any compatible steering wheel you choose. This gives the product great versatility, allowing you to customise it to your preferences.

There is also an optional Boost Kit available for the CSL DD which increases the torque output even further to 8Nm. While I do really recommend this addition in my Fanatec CSL DD review, it isn’t crucial if you are shopping on a budget.

The boost kit costs around $150 when purchased separately, so it does have to be considered a purchase. It is slightly cheaper if you buy the CSL DD 8Nm bundle, but it is still over $100 more expensive than the 5Nm product I’ve included in this rig build.

CSL DD Compatibility

The Fanatec CSL DD is only compatible with PC and Xbox consoles. However, Fanatec has just released their PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 compatible GT DD Pro.

The GT DD Pro is almost identical to the Xbox compatible CSL DD. The main differences are the slightly tweaked design and the PlayStation compatibility.

You can buy the GT DD Pro individually in its 8Nm form, or you can opt for a Sim Racing bundle that includes a Gran Turismo-licensed steering wheel.

Important note for PlayStation Sim Racers

The cost of the GT DD Pro 8Nm is $599.95. This makes it more costly than my choice of wheelbase. This is due to the added compatibility with both PlayStation and Xbox. However, if you are racing on a PlayStation console, you will need the GT DD Pro to be compatible with this racing rig setup.


The Steering Wheel

Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel BMW

Because I have chosen the powerful Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase, we should look at compatible Fanatec steering wheels. Although Fanatec steering wheels aren’t always the cheapest, they do come with some great features and fantastic build quality.

Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel BMW Review

The steering wheel I have chosen for this sub $1000 sim rig build is the Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel BMW. Much like the CSL DD wheelbase above, this BMW steering wheel is one of the latest wheels that Fanatec have released. It first appeared for sale on Black Friday 2021 as the entry-level BMW licensed steering wheel.

The design of this steering wheel is based on the popular Fanatec P1 steering wheel and features BMW branding plus a striking orange pattern.

The wheel is 300mm in diameter, which is the perfect size for a circular steering wheel. It features a wide range of push buttons on the wheel face and a telemetry display at the top.

And this wheel will last a long while as it is built to last. The grips are made of rubber giving you great versatility and durability over time. The wheel also comes equipped with metallic copper-coloured shifters, which are snap-dome assisted, meaning they provide positive feedback when engaged.

To save money, you can buy this BMW steering wheel and the CSL DD wheel base as part of a racing simulator bundle. Fanatec offers a range of Ready2Race bundles with various steering wheels.


The Pedals

Fanatec CSL Pedals

For the pedals, I have included the most budget-friendly pedals from Fanatec, the CSL Pedals. These pedals come as a standard two-pedal set but can be upgraded over time to a full three-pedal set.

Fanatec CSL Pedals

These sim racing pedals are an upgraded version of the older CSL Elite Pedals and feature a fresher design and sturdier construction. They are the new entry-level sim racing pedals from Fanatec.

I have run a set of these pedals for a while as both the two-pedal and three-pedal variants are excellent.

Both pedals in this set use magnetic high-precision Hall-effect sensors. This means that both pedals are contactless,, ensuring that the performance won’t deteriorate over time.

Upgrade option

If you want to upgrade these pedals over time, you can do so easily. Fanatec offers a separate load-cell brake pedal that attaches directly to this two-pedal set.

Due to its load cell, this upgrade provides much better and more realistic braking performance. And your original brake pedal moves over to become your clutch pedal.


The Cockpit

GT Omega ART Cockpit

To correctly support the CSL DD wheelbase, you’ll need a sturdy cockpit. Without this, the CSL DD could cause your wheel stand or desk to flex and move under heavy load.

The GT Omega ART Cockpit is a full cockpit featuring a wheel mount, pedal plate, and racing chair. You can choose to have this cockpit with or without a chair, and there are several different chairs available.

GT Omega ART Cockpit Front

The cockpit is built from a steel framework that will certainly handle the direct-drive torque from the CSL DD. Once you construct the ART, you can instantly tell that it has been well manufactured. The whole cockpit is extremely heavy and sturdy.

The ART cockpit is highly adjustable, featuring an adjustable pedal plate, height-adjustable steering wheel deck, variable cockpit length, and multiple seat mounting positions. It would be very hard not to find a comfy driving position with the ART.

I raced with the ART cockpit for about a year or so, and it was extremely comfy throughout that time. Once I found my perfect driving position, I was set to race, and I’m pleased to say that the cockpit was extremely durable during my time with it.

Read my full review of the GT Omega ART Cockpit here.

Which GT Omega chair to choose

You have a few options when it comes to chairs. You could always purchase and mount your own chair, although you’ll need to ensure the chair fixing match those on the ART cockpit. Also, to stay within the price constraint of $1000 you will struggle to find a decent racing chair elsewhere.

GT Omega sells three chairs, the RS6, the RS9, and the XL RS, which can all be used with the ART cockpit.

The RS6 and RS9 are very similar, with slightly different designs. The XL RS seat is an upgrade over both. It features a wider seat, suitable for larger sim racers. The material and finishing are slightly better quality than the RS6 and RS9.

My choice would be the XL RS. However, that will add £20/$20 to our overall cost, which is already edging slightly over our $1000 budget. So, to save a little bit, I have included the RS6 seat in this sim racing rig build.

All three GT Omega chairs are of good quality, so it is much more a matter of personal preference which one you choose.

Top tip if you need extra storage space

If you don’t quite have enough room for a permanent cockpit, you can always opt for the wheel stand route. I reviewed and tested the GT Omega APEX Wheel Stand with both belt-driven and direct-drive wheels, and I’m confident that the APEX can handle the CSL DD.

The APEX Wheel Stand allows you to fold it up and move it out of the way when not in use. This is a solid alternative to a permanent cockpit if you are tight on space. The GT Omega APEX Wheel Stand costs just $149.95 so is also more cost-effective than the ART full cockpit and still results in a complete racing simulator.


How well does this mid range sim racing setup perform?

So I’ve covered each item individually, but how does the best sim racing setup for under $1000 perform?

To start with, the GT Omega ART Cockpit has mounting holes that line up with the Fanatec CSL DD and the CSL Pedals. This makes construction and mounting a breeze.

The cockpit’s wheel deck was sturdy enough to prevent the CSL DD from moving excessively. If you hold the steering wheel and rock it backwards and forwards, there is a slight bit of up-down motion. But this isn’t how the wheel behaves during use, so it’s a little unfair.

The thick metal frame on the ART prevents any flex or movement during racing. And due to the rear mountings on the pedal plate, there is relatively little movement from the pedals during use either.

The BMW Fanatec steering wheel is a strong choice on this relatively tight $1000 budget. It feels nice to race with, the LED telemetry read-out is nice to glance at while hotlapping, and the overall look is great.

The real beauty of this Fanatec-based sim racing wheel setup is the upgradability moving forward. The quick release in the CSL DD allows you to interchange steering wheels in a flash, allowing you to add new peripherals over time.

Overall, this racing simulator bundle is fantastic. It provides a premium direct-drive sim racing experience, with a full cockpit and options to expand and upgrade in time. This is the best mid-range $1000 sim racing rig build.

Best Sim Racing Setup Under $1000

Wheel Base

Fanatec CSL DD Check Price

Steering Wheel

Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel BMW Check Price

Pedals

Fanatec CSL Pedals Check Price

Sim Rig

GT Omega ART Cockpit Check Price

Article written by Felix König

About Felix König

Felix König is a professional Esports sim racer from Seattle, WA, and is the founder and editor of Sim Race Reviews. In addition to over 10 years of professional sim racing and competing in both iRacing and Assetto Corsa Competizione competitions, Felix has been sharing his sim racing knowledge and expertise with other sim racers. His passion lies in sim racing, and in particular in the plethora of sim racing hardware from racing wheels to pedals and more.

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