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Best PCs for sim racing 2022

TS-XW
TS-XW (Image credit: Windows Central)

Sim racing is enjoying a surge in popularity, and while you do need to spend some money on equipment, it's a fraction of the cost of real racing. And the crashes are easier to deal with. At the heart of your setup, you'll be looking for a good wheel and the best PC for sim racing you can get your hands on.

Best overall: HP Omen 45L

Hp Omen 45l Desk

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The HP Omen 45L is larger than its predecessor, but that's mostly down to an innovative new "Cryo Chamber" cooling solution. In an era where building your PC is so common, many manufacturers are trying to think outside the box with their desktop rigs, and HP certainly did that. Being external to the rest of the PC, temperatures can be up to 6 degrees lower thanks to the lack of heated air from inside the machine.

On the one hand, you might say the design is a little uninspiring, but to the PC gamer, this is a machine where the function is the primary concern, and ease of access is paramount. You simply pull the glass side panel off, and you have free access to all internal components, all of which can be upgraded over time. It supports a full ATX motherboard, though out of the box HP used a microATX, which does limit both built-in functions a little, as well as how much you can expand.

The Omen 45L boasts the latest high-end of the NVIDIA RTX GPU lineup with the RTX 3090 as the top-end solution or AMD Radeon graphics, CPUs from Intel's 12th Gen desktop lineup or AMD's Ryzen 5000 Series, DDR4 RAM from HyperX, SSD storage — it ticks all the boxes.

Literally, everything is replaceable, including the radiator in the Cryo Chamber, and the bottom line is that this is a PC any enthusiast would be happy with. HP did the hard work for you, though.

HP Omen 45L

Innovative rig enthusiasts will love

Reasons to buy

+
User upgradeable
+
Powerful
+
Innovative Cryo Chamber cooling
+
AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA all options

Reasons to avoid

-
MicroATX motherboard limits expansion
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No Thunderbolt

Runner-up: Alienware Aurora

Alienware Aurora R9

Source: Dell (Image credit: Source: Dell)

Dell's Alienware Aurora is a fantastic PC for sim racing. Whether you want to run in VR, on a single monitor, a massive ultrawide, or with triples, the Aurora can be kitted out to deliver high-quality graphics and high frame rates. What also helps set it apart is that it's fairly compact considering how much is inside.

There are quite a few configuration options available for the Aurora, with a high-end model sporting the beefy RTX 3090, an 11th or 12th Gen Intel processor (CPU), 128GB of HyperX DDR4-3200MHz RAM, and a 2TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) coupled with a 2TB hard-disk drive (HDD). A Wi-Fi 6 adapter can be added for blazing wireless speeds, and you can even add water cooling with an 850W PSU. Equally, the entry-level model is still very capable of sim racing on a tighter budget, with even the GTX 1650 perfectly serviceable in titles like iRacing.

The hardware is all contained in a sleek and compact case that's available in two colors. It still has a PSU swing arm to allow easy access for tool-free upgrades and tinkering, and there's a boatload of ports for easy connectivity. This is important mainly for sim racing when you've got multiple devices that all want a USB connection to your PC.

Alienware Aurora

Style, power, and ports

Reasons to buy

+
Many configurations available
+
Tool-free upgrade
+
Plenty of ports for sim racing hardware
+
Programmable lighting
+
Sturdy, unique chassis

Reasons to avoid

-
Styling won't be to every taste
-
Tight space to work inside

Best laptop: HP Omen 15

Hp Omen 15 2020

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Not only is the HP Omen 15 a terrific-looking laptop at a great price, but it's also boasting a design that promotes great airflow and cooling. That's a good thing since this laptop has inside up to an Intel Core i7-10870H or AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU. The Intel model has up to an NVIDIA RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, while the AMD model has up to an NVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.

Yes, there are both AMD and Intel CPU options on offer here to help serve as many gamers as possible. Up to 16GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM can be added to the AMD laptops, while up to 32GB of DDR4-2933MHz RAM is available in Intel models. Both laptops can be configured with up to 1TB of M.2 PCIe storage.

Display options differ depending on the CPU you choose. AMD models come with up to a 15.6-inch QHD display at a 165Hz refresh rate and 300 nits brightness. The display is arguably less important if you're looking at powering a sim racing rig, but it's still good to have a quality panel. You also get all the connectivity you're going to need with multiple ports including USB, HDMI, and Thunderbolt for attaching all your racing hardware to.

HP Omen 15 gaming laptop

Awesome redesign

Reasons to buy

+
AMD and Intel hardware available
+
Competitive price
+
Up to a 300Hz FHD display
+
NVIDIA RTX GPU options
+
Great connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite chunky
-
AMD models more limited

Great all-rounder: Dell XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition

XPS Tower

Source: Dell (Image credit: Source: Dell)

Thanks to a ton of configuration options that suit various budgets, Dell's XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition is easy to recommend. And also a lot of ports. On the front are USB-C, USB-A, and 3.5mm audio ports that are easy to reach for common accessories alongside an SD card slot. You even get an optical drive and a heap of ports on the rear to connect pretty much everything you could want. Ports are essential for the multitude of sim racing hardware you'll be wanting to use.

The entry model is probably one to avoid for sim racing purposes, as while it has dedicated graphics, you're not saving much, and the performance will be lacking. The sweet spot is the mid-tier 11th Gen Intel Core i5 model paired with the AMD Radeon RX 5600.

But you can really beef up the hardware inside, too, and you can also opt for a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K CPU, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, up to 4TB of storage, and a beefy NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU if you so wish. This box looks like it belongs in an office, but it's capable of scorching performance, and even if you do opt to get one of the lower-tier configurations, it's a simple task to upgrade the internals down the road.

Dell XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition desktop PC

Great for most people

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of spec options
+
Good port selection
+
Amazing performance potential
+
Easy upgradeability

Reasons to avoid

-
Entry model lacking performance

The finish line

Getting started in sim racing is pretty straightforward, and though you can't engage without a decent PC and racing setup, it's easy enough to get going. What you need is a solid PC at the heart of your setup, and the HP Omen 45L is a perfect choice.

It doesn't take up masses of space, it's easily upgradeable if your budget doesn't stretch to the higher-spec models right now, and it's got plenty of ports to connect all your assorted racing hardware, including the best racing wheels. You really can't go wrong.

All of the PCs here are more than capable of handling all the virtual racing you can throw at them, along with multiple monitors or even VR.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.