It’s an everlasting discussion between sim racers. Does better sim racing equipment make you a better/quicker driver? Jim is going to find that out by doing two time trails. One in a so called ‘pro’ sim rig, and another stint in a ‘basic’ rig. You can read this blog to find out the result, or simply scroll down and watch the video below.
SIM RACING EQUIPMENT
If you’re new to sim racing, this post about what type of equipment is available should get you up to speed in a jiffy. In short, it’s possible to start sim racing with a basic wheel and pedal set at around 200 euros mounted to your desk. From there on you can go as crazy as you like, with setups going north of 10.000 euros. For this test we used two setups. One that costs less than €2.000 and one of almost €6.000. This includes the computers and monitors hooked up to the sim rig.
|BASIC RIG||PRO RIG|
|Treq One – Sim Rig €425,-||Treq Ace – Sim Rig €725,-|
|Thrustmaster T300 €350,-||Fanatec Podium F1 DD €1.799,-|
|Pedals €0,- (included)||Heusinkveld Sprint €699|
|Single 27″ Monitor €300,-||Triple 27″ Monitors €900,-|
|Single Screen Gaming PC €900,-||Triple Screen Gaming PC €1.600,-|
|Total €1.975,-||Total €5.723,-|
The sim rigs are not the main difference between both setups. The One as well as the Ace are both made out of extruded aluminum profiles, and are more than strong enough to both handle the forces of each setup. The big differences are between the wheel bases (Thurstmaster vs. Fanatec), and the pedals (Thrustmaster vs. Heusinkveld).
On the basic rig, we’re using Thrustmaster’s T300, which now sells for around €350. This base has a motor in it with 3,8 Nm of torque, which drives the steering wheel using a belt driven mechanism. On the pro rig, we’re using Fanatecs Podium F1 DD, which is now sold for €1.799 on Fanatecs own website. This base is more than 5 times as powerful, with a peak torque of 20 Nm. It’s also direct driven, which makes it able to accelerate much quicker and bring more subtle feedback to the sim racer.
There is also a hugh difference in pedals. On the basic rig we’ve installed the plastic two pedal set from Thrustmaster that comes included with the wheel. This is a low quality set that uses potentiometers to measure throttle and brake inputs. On the pro rig we’ve got a nice set of Heusinkveld Sprint pedals. These are build from steel and feature load cells, which means they measure force instead of distance. This replicates how braking in the real world works, a lot more. The price difference between the two, is €699,-
Both rigs feature 27 inch monitors. But the basic rig only has one, while the pro rig has three of them. This gives you a much better gaming experience, with a larger field of view. Because the resolution on the pro rig is three times as big, it also needs a more powerful computer to output the graphics.
Jim is going to drive a Porsche 992 GT3 Cup car on iRacing’s Zandvoort. We specifically choose this combination, because this car and track combo require a lot of trail braking and ‘easing on the throttle’. Getting one of those wrong, and the car will be facing backwards. Jim has 10 laps to get up to speed in both rigs, but he’s using the pro rig first. This way, experience will not be a factor of why he might be quicker with the better equipment. Watch both runs in the video:
|BASIC RIG||PRO RIG|
The results of this test were, in Jim’s words, quite unexpected. He expected to be a bit slower in the basic rig, but not by this much. The fastest lap time difference is over 1,4 seconds. But the consistency in both runs is a bigger differentiator. He had a lot more difficulty with braking consistently with the Thrustmaster pedals. This meant more little mistakes, which the laptimes show. The lack of feel in the force feedback, also meant little confidence in catching oversteer. Thus driving the car without as much assurance.
The tyres of the Porsche get a bit too warm in the chosen conditions, which means that after the initial grip in the opening laps, Jim couldn’t improve on his fastest time (both set a the 4th lap) anymore.
It appears that better sim racing gear, does make you a quicker driver. The timing sheet never lies. Although it must be said, that the ‘pro’ rig is Jim’s home rig, in which he is fully used to all the equipment. He is not used to driving with a pot-meter braking pedal anymore, and he found out this is not something to learn within 10 laps. If you give him a few more hours, he is sure to get a at least a second of his basic-rig-laptime. This also has influence on the inconsistency. He knows from back in the days (when load cell pedals where very uncommon) that his lap times didn’t fluctuate as much as they did in this test.
He won’t be switching back anytime soon though!