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      05-14-2023, 11:03 AM   #1
EatThatLunchBaby
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Is Sim Racing Worth It?

TL;DR
Should I spend money building a nice sim rig or will it never scratch that itch of actually being on the track?

I have a pretty low quality build at the moment and Iíve only really played GT7 on the PS5 with a cockpit and Logitech wheel & pedals (G29). Itís pretty fun and I have all the driver assist settings turned off so I can focus on becoming a better driver. I mainly want to use a sim rig to practice when Iím not able to be on the track.

After having my G80 M3 and tracking it a few times, Iíve noticed that this sim setup is not giving me what I want. It feels nothing like driving a real car and I really canít drive anywhere near the limit due to having basically zero feedback from my setup.

So my question is really to those of you who have spent the money and went all in on building a good sim setup. Do you think itís worth it for me to invest a few thousand into building a good sim rig or should I just invest that money into more track time?

Few side notes, Iím a new(ish) father with very little time to take trips to far away tracks. I also have a few higher end gaming PCs that Iíve built, so switching to PC would be very easy for me.

Thanks in advance for the input!
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      05-14-2023, 01:27 PM   #2
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I'm only on PC since it offered the most at the time. I started my setup on my desk and then moved to an actual rig. This was 6 years ago so options were still limited by todays market.
This is all my opinion/ if I were to do it all over again. if you do go with a rig get a sturdy one that will have some future proofing. If you want to DIY I think 80/20 simg rigs is still a good option. I had a GT omega its okay, its not as sturdy as the 80/20 builds and lacks in some areas.

I started with a Logitech G920, got a used Fanatec belt wheel after for a bit and then moved to the DD CSL. Having a good set of pedals that have a Loadcell is a must have IMO.

I've used rigs with Triples but for me nothing beats VR although it has its drawbacks. I started with a Oculus CV1 but am using a HP Reverb G2 now.
VR is a mixed bag, requires a bit more setup and troubleshooting at times, and long races get HOT!!!!. BUT, nothing beats the ability to be able to look into a corner, check your blind spot and you get a much better sense of distance in VR.

Hope this helps but if you wanna do some research there's a Sim Racing group on FB that should be a good spot to ask for some gear options based on budget too.
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      05-14-2023, 01:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devils41 View Post
I'm only on PC since it offered the most at the time. I started my setup on my desk and then moved to an actual rig. This was 6 years ago so options were still limited by todays market.
This is all my opinion/ if I were to do it all over again. if you do go with a rig get a sturdy one that will have some future proofing. If you want to DIY I think 80/20 simg rigs is still a good option. I had a GT omega its okay, its not as sturdy as the 80/20 builds and lacks in some areas.

I started with a Logitech G920, got a used Fanatec belt wheel after for a bit and then moved to the DD CSL. Having a good set of pedals that have a Loadcell is a must have IMO.

I've used rigs with Triples but for me nothing beats VR although it has its drawbacks. I started with a Oculus CV1 but am using a HP Reverb G2 now.
VR is a mixed bag, requires a bit more setup and troubleshooting at times, and long races get HOT!!!!. BUT, nothing beats the ability to be able to look into a corner, check your blind spot and you get a much better sense of distance in VR.

Hope this helps but if you wanna do some research there's a Sim Racing group on FB that should be a good spot to ask for some gear options based on budget too.
I appreciate the feedback here but Iím not really concerned about how to make a good rig. Iím more concerned with the question, will a sim rig ever give me most of the real life driving experience? Iím down to spend $10k on a setup with all the top of the line sim gear, but would that money be better spent on brakes, tires, and track fees?

Sounds like you have a lot of sim experience, have you been able to scratch that itch of real driving? Or should I just not even try to replicate the real driving experience?
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      05-14-2023, 01:56 PM   #4
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Sorry must have miss interpreted before in a nut shell for me its worth it.
I got into Sim racing after doing a few track days in my old car and a couple performance schools. It did itch the scratch but still doesn't have that same adrenalin rush, G-forces and danger of actually being on track. I've only Auto crossed my G80 so far but even there I couldn't replicate that same feeling with my setup.
I come from a Baseball background and used to be a Pitcher so the best analogy I can make is instead of Throwing in a actual game its like throwing a scrimmage/ Bullpen.
It gives you the same feel and allows you to practice some crafts and no doubts allows you to improve. It wont ever replace the real thing (Atleast today) but with VR/ good graphics its the closest I could get.

Cost wise both money and time, I guess its going to differ on your budget. The nice things about a sim setup is a track day is anytime you want where a weekend you have to dedicate more time to, prep, driving, waiting etc.

We have our first kid on the way so I know my ability to track will be more limited coming up, and having a sim setup will help me to escape a little so I'm happy I have it. There might be some places you can go locally to mess with a simulator, that might give you a good baseline on if it will work for you. Some guys I know that that track regularly love sims, some don't, its a mixed bag
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      05-14-2023, 01:57 PM   #5
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Yes. Absolutely.

A properly set up and configured sim rig and a proper simulator title can get you really, really close to the real thing. Naturally, you'll be missing the G forces. A motion sim and seat belt tensioners can help bridge the gap a little in that regard but there's really no substitute. They just add some immersion.

An 80/20 aluminum cockpit, actual seat, quality pedals and wheel, a PC and software like Assetto Corsa will definitely scratch that itch. Honestly, the more money you throw at it, the more realistic it becomes.
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      05-14-2023, 02:40 PM   #6
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Thank you both for the input here, it sounds like a good sim rig could give me the experience I want when Iím not able to be on the actual track.

I was getting concerned because my current setup feels like absolute crap compared to actually driving. I get vibrations through the wheel a bit, but there is basically no feedback of what the car is actually doing.

I was hopeful that some of the new sim technology could really give me a fun experience and it sounds like it can. Iíll search around for local places to test out setups and make sure!

All I want to do is drive lol I canít get enough!! Itís so hard to feel like Iím improving when I can only realistically do ~5 track days a year. Iíd love to be able to practice at home consistently and bring those skills to the track
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      05-14-2023, 03:06 PM   #7
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a good sim rig gives immersion but nothing compared to real thing.

- direct drive wheel is a must. you will spend a few hours tuning the wheel but i just follow the recommended settings on the internet. i have a fanatec cheapest DD wheel, plenty good

- software.
ACC i didn't find it any good. it's a GT3 racing game and i don't like GT3 cars.
iRacing - according to race car drivers, the most comparable to real life. but it costs ongoing money to use it. also if you're not into racing then it's not for you.
rFactor 2 - the most realistic steering wheel feedback. you can feel what the tires are doing. no racing just cars and tracks. problem is limited cars. but you can download cars and tracks that people create in their own time. not sure how realistic these cars are but man the steering wheel detail is crazy.
AC - not realistic driving but lots of cars and tracks and you can spend a lot of time installing all sorts of mods. the only thing i like on the software is the Huracan V10 mod. sounds very good.

gran turismo 7 - the most cars and tracks but unrealistic driving. all you get is understeer and snap oversteer. nothing in between. poor steering wheel feedback. no seat motion as not PC. but you can have VR!

- screen - you want a low latency 120Hz screen. either one 32:9 or 3x 16:9 on PC. just 16:9 on PS5/GT7.

- motion - only on PC. i use a next level racing 6 axis seat thing. up down sideways front back. i would like a traction loss platform (you can feel oversteer) but i gave up on PC because it didn't feel realistic enough. so i stopped investing in the rig.

nowadays i just go on GT7 on PS5 once in a while. and dream of the track all the time. lol
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      05-14-2023, 03:28 PM   #8
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Short answer is no, sim racing is not going to be like track driving because you can't replicate the g-forces and there is no actual risk of crashes, $$$ damage to car etc.

On the other hand, sim racing can be really good in it's own right. You just have to learn to rely more visual cues and wheel feedback than actual g-forces. And it's so much more accessible for those of us with busy lives, jobs, families etc. No driving to track, no spending tons of time/money on car repairs and track prep etc.

I'm like you and if time and money were no object I'd happily stick to real track driving. But sim racing can still give you all the satisfaction of improving driving skills, racecraft etc.

Not sure if you are also a skier - but it's a reasonable analogy. I'd love to do nothing but heli skiing untouched powder. But reality is I go to my local mountain and enjoy because that's what is realistic for me.
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      05-14-2023, 06:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g21 View Post
gran turismo 7 - the most cars and tracks but unrealistic driving. all you get is understeer and snap oversteer. nothing in between. poor steering wheel feedback. no seat motion as not PC. but you can have VR!
Thank you so much for the big write up!! Everyone posting is really helping so I appreciate all the input, but this right here is my current issue (as Iím only playing GT7). I canít tell at all when Iím even near the limit then BAM itís just snap oversteer and Iíve blown the race. I love my M3 because I can play with it at the limit and it feels pretty progressive.

Iím going to try and upgrade my rig and then play on PC. Iím leaning towards iRacing but based off your comment it sounds like I should test out other titles as well. I already have a decent PC (RTX 3080 & i7) and a 4k 120Hz monitor (LG C2 OLED) so that should be plenty for filling in between track days.

Does anyone have suggestions for frames to start with? I current just have the next level racing GT Lite (basically a lawn chair with a wheel & pedals) so that will definitely need an upgrade first
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      05-14-2023, 07:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatThatLunchBaby View Post
Thank you so much for the big write up!! Everyone posting is really helping so I appreciate all the input, but this right here is my current issue (as Iím only playing GT7). I canít tell at all when Iím even near the limit then BAM itís just snap oversteer and Iíve blown the race. I love my M3 because I can play with it at the limit and it feels pretty progressive.

Iím going to try and upgrade my rig and then play on PC. Iím leaning towards iRacing but based off your comment it sounds like I should test out other titles as well. I already have a decent PC (RTX 3080 & i7) and a 4k 120Hz monitor (LG C2 OLED) so that should be plenty for filling in between track days.

Does anyone have suggestions for frames to start with? I current just have the next level racing GT Lite (basically a lawn chair with a wheel & pedals) so that will definitely need an upgrade first
get the next level racing traction loss platform and their 6 axis seat if you have cash to spare. that will give you the most realistic feel, you'd spend a few hours tuning it but once tuned, you will know exactly what the back end of the car is doing. front end of the car you rely on steering wheel lightening, sound of tire screeching.

iracing is the best one out there if you are interested in racing and have 10 bucks a month to spare. you can also buy a trial sub for very cheap if they have a deal (i think they always have a deal).

if you are a GT3 fan then ACC but ACC is very different from iracing. some racers say it's unrealistic.

they don't cost very much compared to your rig so maybe just get them all and then find out what you like.

i've heard good things about automobilista but i've had enough by then.

hint - look for deals on humblebundle ...
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      05-16-2023, 01:03 PM   #11
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assetto corsa + pure + g80 mod + vr headset is very immersive

g80 : https://www.patreon.com/posts/2020-m3-g80-59518586

g80 cs : https://www.patreon.com/posts/public-release-78720096

pure : https://www.patreon.com/peterboese
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      11-11-2023, 01:43 PM   #12
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sim racing is super fun but it can cost money if you get deep into it. you can get a Fanatec bundle for cheap. If on ps5 i would try gt7 for licenses the it can teach a lot of useful tips getting started.
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      11-11-2023, 03:09 PM   #13
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I just got into it for the purposes of improving my driving IRL. The first thing you need to accept is it is not a replacement for actual seat time and G force. You can build the craziest rig ever but it’ll never be like being in-car. Also, sim times do not translate directly to IRL times - been seein dudes post their fantastic sim times but be a mile off IRL. Given all that, I find sim very fun and useful.

I am using it as a tool to improve my driving because the physics of the cars in AC are mechanically the same as real life, so I can go out on my local track in SIM and play with lines, oversteer and understeer correction in specific corners, etc. This is really going to depend on finding a track map and car mod that are as close to your real life track and car as possible. You can really dial in the mechanics of your driving in sim to start building that muscle memory and learn visual cues.

I also use it to get the layout of new tracks that I haven’t driven prior to driving them - this is where VR is super helpful, you get a much better perception of elevation in VR than on a screen.

I play in VR which I highly recommend for immersion. I would caution you tho on spending lots of money on a rig - you drive a street car on track which is nothing like a race car. While i highly recommend a DD wheel and decent pedals, I find that the cheapest fanatec CSL bundle is perfect - you don’t need high torque bases or load cell pedals since street cars feel nothing like that. I actually turn my torque down to 3nm and the damper to 0 to better replicate EPS.

Pic of my budget rig:
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      11-11-2023, 05:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RugbyBro View Post
I just got into it for the purposes of improving my driving IRL. The first thing you need to accept is it is not a replacement for actual seat time and G force. You can build the craziest rig ever but itíll never be like being in-car. Also, sim times do not translate directly to IRL times - been seein dudes post their fantastic sim times but be a mile off IRL. Given all that, I find sim very fun and useful.

I am using it as a tool to improve my driving because the physics of the cars in AC are mechanically the same as real life, so I can go out on my local track in SIM and play with lines, oversteer and understeer correction in specific corners, etc. This is really going to depend on finding a track map and car mod that are as close to your real life track and car as possible. You can really dial in the mechanics of your driving in sim to start building that muscle memory and learn visual cues.

I also use it to get the layout of new tracks that I havenít driven prior to driving them - this is where VR is super helpful, you get a much better perception of elevation in VR than on a screen.

I play in VR which I highly recommend for immersion. I would caution you tho on spending lots of money on a rig - you drive a street car on track which is nothing like a race car. While i highly recommend a DD wheel and decent pedals, I find that the cheapest fanatec CSL bundle is perfect - you donít need high torque bases or load cell pedals since street cars feel nothing like that. I actually turn my torque down to 3nm and the damper to 0 to better replicate EPS.

Pic of my [...]
Thank you for the feedback, Iíve largely put off building anything since I first got the PS5 setup. I did download AC and still have to get my wheel & pedals working.

I was really disappointed with the feel of GT7 after feeling my car at the limit. They donít have a G80 in GT7 so I wasnít sure if it was just a difference in car or if my wheel had no feedback or if sim racing never felt somewhat real.

Sounds like a decent wheel & pedals will be enough with the right game so I can practice when I canít make it to the track during the winter
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      11-12-2023, 01:38 AM   #15
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Go-Karts?
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      11-12-2023, 08:26 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TboneS54 View Post
Go-Karts?
Indoor karting is lots of fun and I do try to get out there whenever I can. Itís nice to also have a good option thatís in my basement
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      11-12-2023, 05:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatThatLunchBaby View Post
Indoor karting is lots of fun and I do try to get out there whenever I can. Itís nice to also have a good option thatís in my basement
This is insanely fun.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/406350/KartKraft/
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      11-13-2023, 11:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatThatLunchBaby View Post
Thank you for the feedback, Iíve largely put off building anything since I first got the PS5 setup. I did download AC and still have to get my wheel & pedals working.

I was really disappointed with the feel of GT7 after feeling my car at the limit. They donít have a G80 in GT7 so I wasnít sure if it was just a difference in car or if my wheel had no feedback or if sim racing never felt somewhat real.

Sounds like a decent wheel & pedals will be enough with the right game so I can practice when I canít make it to the track during the winter
I personally don't like the feel of GT7, especially street cars - I think AC does this best. The mechanics of grip at the limit, understeer, and oversteer are all very lifelike in AC. However, and it's a big however, you need to feel everything through the steering wheel combined with the lack of G-force makes it harder to know when you are at the limit. So you're going to have to use visual cues to know how fast you're going into corners. It is very hard to gauge speed in SIM at first - I have friends that tried it and understeered everywhere and they thought the game wasn't realistic... until I told them they were going XXX mph into this/that corner, so the car was reacting exactly as it would IRL.

Sounds like you're in it for similar reasons to me: to improve your driving for the real track. I think the biggest thing overall (just to reiterate) is just accepting that this isn't real life driving; it's a very fun *gaming* experience that mechanically acts exactly as it would IRL. Having that mindset has certainly allowed me to have a lot more fun with the game and made it more productive.
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