Written by Bushi

When you start out with Sim Racing, chances are you will either be on a controller or you’ll have a wheelbase and pedals to use but you’ll have them hooked up to a table or a cheap wheelstand.

Sooner or later you’ll find yourself scrolling online looking for any sim racing cockpit you can find.

That’s why I thought I’d help you out by curating a list of the best sim racing cockpits based on needs and budget as we get closer to 2024.

Make sure to read until the end to learn about some extra cool stuff you can get with your cockpit/rig.

Why Cockpits Are The Better Option

Do not get me wrong, using a sturdy table or a cheaper wheelstand isn’t necessarily a bad option. I used a desk for about a year into my sim racing journey. After which, I then used a wheelstand for about half a year after that.

Here’s a review I did back in the day on that wheelstand (BE WARNED: this was an early video into my YouTube journey so it’s not very good)

However, as you upgrade some of your other gear such as your wheelbase or your pedals, a full-scale sim racing cockpit is almost a necessity.Thrustmaster TLCM

This is mainly due to those wheelbases and pedalsets requiring more force to get the most out of them. An example would be the Thrustmaster TLCM pedals that I used for 2 years. They are a loadcell pedal set that at maximum force, requires 100KG of pressure.

If you have your pedals on the floor in front of your wall, it will be impossible to use the full force without your pedals taking flight.

Even in the case of using a wheelstand, using that much force can send your office chair flying back. That’s why a full-scale cockpit is almost needed with this level of equipment.

Another reason you’d want a full-scale cockpit is to avoid having position-based issues.

Racing in general requires very small adjustments for each corner of the track and races can last a long time. You have F1 races that can last up to 2 hours or endurance races that can last days… (yes days).

So having the proper seating position for your legs and arms is very important and using a desk or wheelstand can mean sitting in a slightly different position every time.

Here’s an awesome video from Daniel Morad (a Mercedes GT3 & GT4 driver) on why seating position is important to a sim racer:

Not all sim racing cockpits are built equally and there are many reasons why you would want to get one type of cockpit over another type.

Types of Sim Racing Cockpits

There are many different types of cockpits on the market and they all serve their own purposes.

Whether the USP (Unique Selling Point) is the price point or the fact that it can fold up (yes some cockpits are foldable) to allow those with limited spaces to still enjoy the spoils of a full-scale cockpit, if there is an issue, there is most likely a cockpit on the market that can solve that issue.

Foldable CockpitsPlayseat Challenge

I thought I’d talk about this type first since if you’re new to sim racing, you might be questioning how that’s possible and why they exist in the first place.

Foldable cockpits are usually on the cheaper side of the market and are lightweight-styled cockpits that can be folded up (with your pedal and wheelbase still attached) to put in the corner or in a closet once you’re finished sim racing.

These are mainly for people with limited space or those living in a house with other people where a dedicated spot isn’t possible.

“Normal” Cockpits

Normal cockpits are what I would consider to be the type that ranges in the $300 – $700 range and are typically metal-based rigs with a solid bucket seat attached to them.

The first cockpit that comes to my mind when I think of a “normal” style cockpit is the Next Level Racing GT Track.

These cockpits require a dedicated space in your room and usually take up a decent amount of space.

80/20 Cockpits

These are some of the best types of cockpits you can get on the market. Having used one myself for about a year and a half I can personally say once you get your hands on one of these, the possibilities of what you can do with them are endless.

80/20 cockpits (also known as Aluminium Excursion cockpits) use thicker Aluminium profiles to allow for a much more sturdy experience. These types of cockpits are essential when using some of the most powerful equipment on the market.

For example, if you use a Fanatec DD1 or a Simucube 2 Pro wheelbase on a “normal” cockpit or even a foldable one, most chances are, they would break your cockpit after a while of use.

Also, you wouldn’t be able to get the full amount of Force Feedback detail out of those wheelbases in the first place due to the wheelbase constantly moving around.

Motion Cockpits

Okay, this isn’t necessarily a type of cockpit, more so an add-on to cockpits but I had to mention motion when talking about cockpits.

Motion platforms are something you can put underneath your cockpit that will allow you to simulate G-Force to a more immersive level.

Motion platforms will throw the entire cockpit forward when you’re braking into a corner, throw you either left or right depending on the corner & throw the cockpit backwards when accelerating out of a corner.

I HIGHLY recommend checking out the video below from Matthias Fulczyk showing this in action:

Now that I’ve briefly covered why full-scale sim racing cockpits are the better option and what types there are, it’s time to get into my recommendations.

Though they are separated by price point, I have taken other features and reasons into account when choosing my recommendation picks.

So let’s get into the best cockpits under $500!

Best Cockpits Under $500

Next Level Racing GTLite ProNext Level Racing GTElite Pro

The first of many on this list is Next Level Racing’s GTLite Pro. This is a must-buy for those looking into the foldable cockpit market. I usually see the Playseat Challenge recommended and though it is a good foldable cockpit, Next Level Racing has stayed true to its name and taken it to the next level.

With a much bigger frame and a wheelbase mount that can handle up to 13NM of force from a Direct Drive wheelbase, the GTLite Pro is my top pick in the foldable cockpit niche.

I HIGHLY recommend checking out this detailed review from Will at Boosted Media on this cockpit:

To finish off this section of GTLite Pro, it has compatibility with shifter and handbrake mounts to allow for those extra peripherals.

Playseat Evolution Pro

Next up on the list we have a cockpit that looks like a “normal” cockpit, however, it does technically fall under the foldable market as well.

The Playseat Evo Pro has a metal frame with an Alcantara bucket seat. It’s easy to put together and can be up and ready to go in probably an hour or less. It’s metal frame means that it’s not the most rigid and even low Force Feedback wheels such as the Logitech and the Thrustmaster can cause flex on the wheel plate.

Even though there is a noticeable amount of flex to this cockpit compared to the GTElite Pro, it’s still a solid option for those either just looking to get their feet wet with sim racing gear or for those who lack the space to have a dedicated cockpit.

I recommend watching the review below if you want to learn more about this cockpit:

Simlab GT1 EVOSimlab GT1 EVO

With how cheap their cockpits are compared to their competition, Simlab will probably be most racer’s first experience with 80/20 cockpits.

The GT1 Evo is an aluminium profile cockpit that allows for high-profile equipment (such as high-power Direct Drive wheels and loadcell pedals).

The cockpit is sold by itself, so even though it doesn’t come with a bucket seat, you can purchase one from Simlab or use your own custom seat as well.

I would recommend looking around the 2nd hand market if you’re looking to keep this cockpit under $500 as adding a brand new seat does take the price up to around $700.

The review on the GT1 Evo below should also help decide if this is the right cockpit for you:

GT Omega Prime LiteGT Omega Prime Lite

GT Omega is well-known for a lot of different products in the gaming scene, however, one place where I think they have become one of the leading companies is with their sim racing cockpits.

From their wheel stands to their flagship Prime cockpit, I’ve been impressed with each that I have tried.

You may hear the term “Lite” from different brands when it comes to their aluminium profile cockpits, this usually means that the aluminium profiling is slightly thinner than what is normally used.

This does mean that the cockpit is slightly less rigid, however, you the end user probably wouldn’t notice unless you used the absolute top-of-the-range equipment.

This is why I HIGHLY recommend looking at the “Lite” models first. Most people even with the top-of-the-range wheelbase and pedals, won’t use them to their full capabilities. Saving a few hundred dollars or pounds for a cockpit that can still give you most of what the flagship cockpits can is the smartest place to save some money.

Check out the review below if you’d like to learn more:

Best Cockpits Under $1000

Next Level Racing GTEliteNext Level Racing GTElite

Next up, we have Next Level Racing again with their GTElite. Affordable 80/20 cockpits are becoming more and more common and Next Level Racing are one of the leaders in that space, the GTElite is an aluminium profile cockpit with a small but rigid frame.

The main benefit to an 80/20 cockpit is its versatility and with the GTElite, there are many, many options for you to customise your setup.

A DOWNSIDE to this cockpit is that the bucket is a separate purchase, however, this also means you can use any bucket seat that you wish with it.

Otherwise, this cockpit can handle any level of equipment with zero flex and a great level of adjustment to make sure you get the perfect seating position.

Here’s a more detailed review of the GTElite:

Trak Racer TR160 MK4

Next up, Trak Racer and their TR160, this cockpit is awesome in quite a few ways but like any other 80/20 solution, this mainly comes from how you can customise your setup.

The T160 MK4 uses 160mm x 40mm thick aluminium profiling (so for most normal people, it’s very thick), meaning that high-powered wheelbases (such as the Simucube 2 Ultimate or the Fanatec DD2) won’t give this thing any issues.

I also like how they allow you to set your pedals up either normally or inverted depending on your preference and style.

It’s a very nice touch that even some cockpits at a higher price point don’t have available.

Similarly to the GT Omega Prime Lite, I would recommend checking out the 2nd bucket seat market if you’d like to keep the price under $1,000.

The review below goes into more detail about why the TR160 MK4 is a fantastic option at the “below $1,000 price range”:

Simlab P1-XSimlab P1-X

Honestly, this is going to be a quick synopsis. The P1-X is just an all-around solid cockpit.

From the thickness of the aluminium profiling to the bolts used to bind them together, Simlab did an amazing job with this cockpit and if you’re in the market for a solid GT-style rig, this is one of the best out there.

Barry at Sim Racing Garage did a 112-minute (yes 112 minutes…) review about this cockpit and if you want to know the full ins and outs of the P1-X, this is the ONLY review you’ll need:

Best Cockpits Over $1000

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite

This is Next Level Racing’s flagship product. The F-GT Elite is similar to the GTElite with 1 main difference.

You can change your seating position from 3 different preset positions. You have the GT position, the Hybrid position, and the Formula position.

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite

I’ve used the F-GT Elite as my daily driver for over 18 months and it truly is a “Final Cockpit.”

Very rigid and with a reasonable footprint, you can easily fit this in a moderately sized room as a dedicated sim racing setup.

I’ve made a more detailed review of this cockpit on YouTube and I recommend that you check it out if you’re looking for a Formula Style cockpit:

Playseat Sensation Pro FIAPlayseat Sensation Pro FIA

Unlike Next Level Racing, Playseat does not have a cockpit that can be changed into different seating positions.

So from them, I have 1 recommendation for a GT-style seating position and another for a Formula-style seating position.

For the GT style, I have the Sensation Pro. Moving away from the normal aluminium profiling, the Sensation Pro uses metal tubes for a better-looking cockpit whilst still giving the same level of rigidness as the 80/20 cockpits have.

Built with rallying and GT driving in mind, this cockpit not only looks good but performs well with any level of equipment.

If you want your GT cockpit to look good then look no further than the Sensation Pro:

Playseat Ultimate

Now for the last (and by far most expensive) cockpit on this list, the Playseat Ultimate. This is a Forumla-style cockpit with similar metal tubing to the Sensation Pro.

The biggest selling point to this cockpit is that you get to sit in the exact position of the real-life F1 drivers.

With the F-GT Elite, you are in a Formula seating position, however, it’s slightly more relaxed. With the Playseat Ultimate, your legs are sitting just as high up as they would if you were sitting in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes giving you an authentic experience while sim racing.

Playseat Ultimate

The main downside is the price. This thing cost $2,500!!!

Not sure why the price point is as high but if you want the ultimate F1 seating experience while sim racing, this is the best of the best.

PC Crazy has a good review of this cockpit (as there aren’t many reviews around) so I recommend you check out his review below before picking this cockpit up:

Awesome Bonuses!!!

I couldn’t just leave you with the different sim racing cockpits, so I have also found some cool (but in some cases very expensive…) addons you can purchase with your cockpit.


Sim Racing is an expensive hobby to have at the moment, however, as it becomes more mainstream, products are becoming cheaper and cheaper. This means better products for you and more options to consider based on your needs and budget.

If you have any further questions or would like me to add another cockpit to this list, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly (at anthony@virtualgpracing.com) and I will respond as soon as I can.

Now get out there and start winning races!

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