Sim racing has experienced significant growth in recent times. As such, a whole new audience has been introduced to the virtual racing space, and there's a ton of equipment you can get to make your experience even better. Getting the best racing wheel is only the first step, though, as a proper cockpit is also a smart investment. You want to be comfortable, and you want your gear well supported. Here are the ones to get.
Good for all
This cockpit has it all, combining a strong wheel stand with a large, extremely comfortable racing seat with an included lumbar support cushion to help your posture over those long racing sessions. It comes mostly pre-assembled, so getting up and running takes no time at all, the pedal plate is adjustable, and the seat also reclines. It's strong, is good for both belt drive and direct drive wheels, and is an excellent choice whether you're a newcomer or a more experienced racer. It's pricey but also the only cockpit you'll ever need.
This affordable cockpit from Raceroom is at the heart of a modular system that allows you to customize what you want from your rig. The base product provides a comfy, folding seat, a supportive stand, and an angled pedal tray. But outside of this, you can buy strengthening bars (which you definitely should), a seat slider, monitor and console stands, and a keyboard tray, while there's also room for a ButtKicker under the chair. You can really make this one your own.
One of the most respected names in its field, SimLab's P1x is simply exceptional. It follows the 8020 design principles, and as such, its all-aluminum body is built for stability. If you're using a direct drive wheel, in particular, this is a cockpit that will stand up to those forces. It's fully adjustable. It has different options for mounting different wheels for the best fit. The optional feet brackets add even more stability, and the pedal tray is as adjustable as you'll find anywhere. SimLab ships from Europe and will be accepting orders again soon after migrating to a new system.
For beginners, the Challenger is a perfect first cockpit. It's compact, lightweight yet sturdy, and has an attractive price. The seat folds away to make things more convenient when you're not using it, and optionally it can even have casters applied for an easy to relocate cockpit. It's adjustable to help you get a good fit, you've got space for a gearshift mount, and the optional monitor mount means you can have one easy-to-use, all-in-one solution.
The Playseat Challenge is still one of the best budget choices around, in part thanks to its design. It completely folds flat for easy storage, with or without a wheel attached. The seat is comfortable and in a low down position perfect for racing, and the deck supports all popular wheel mounts. As a beginner cockpit, for those on a budget or those looking for something that won't take up much space, this is the one to get.
The TR80 is an incredible piece of equipment, built from 80/20 extruded aluminum and finished all in a stealthy black paint job. It comes with a fiberglass GT-style seat, adjustable wheel deck, adjustable shifter mount, adjustable pedal mount, seat slider rails, and feet designed to protect your floor. It's supremely strong and stable, keeping flex to a minimum even with the most powerful direct-drive wheels, and it's backed by a five-year warranty for peace of mind. Preorders are now being taken for when shipping resumes in August.
The bottom line
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You can't go wrong with any of these cockpits if you're looking to take your sim racing to the next level, which conveniently is also the company that makes the simply superb GT Ultimate. It's easy to put together, easy to put away, strong, stable, and the massive seat is very comfortable, which is of added importance since racing usually takes up a fair bit of time.
For those just getting started, though, it can be a little daunting, and the Next Level Challenger is a perfect entry point into the world of sim racing. It's simple, comfortable, doesn't take up much space, and with the option of an integrated monitor mount, you can have a complete little setup without needing acres of space in your room.
For the more serious out there, it's hard to look past something like the epic Trak Racer TR80. It's quite pricey, but what you get included in the box makes it an excellent value, and it's so strong and sturdy that it'll eat up even the most aggressive racing action with ease.
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.