Sometimes a wheel stand is not enough, sometimes you want to be in the proper racing position to truly immerse yourself as much as you can in the race. That’s why we’ve compiled a list for the best cockpits in 2020, giving you a complete setup which you can immediately come to enjoy.
The Top-Rated Cockpits for Racing Sims
Top pick: AP-XTREME Mobile Bare Sim Chassis
AP-XTREME is the undisputed king of cockpits, and the Mobile Bare Chassis can’t but be our top pick
This cockpit is absolutely fantastic in everything it does. It’s incredibly adjustable, allowing you to move the wheel vertically, horizontally and tilt it. Same goes with the seat which can have the front and the back of it be moved up or down independently, as well as having the entire seat slide towards or away from the wheel, and recline. Even the pedal plate and shifter position can be adjusted.
Other than this the cockpit is as incredibly stable as it is lightweight, a mix that (when you also take into account the wheels that can be mounted) makes it incredibly practical to move around. Finally, let’s touch upon the ergonomics of this great product. Everything about it, even if adjustable, was purposefully placed to reproduce an optimal GT racing posture, not the driving posture of casual driving.
As a last note, this cockpit is ideal for those who want to race using their laptop screen or a VR headset, but if that sounds like you (and you have a fair amount of money to spare) then look no further.
Runner up: AP-XTREME Lite Bare Sim Chassis
AP-XTREME goes two for two with the slightly less expensive but still incredible cockpit.
This cockpit takes much from the Mobile Bare Sim Chassis, but it interprets it in its own way. It retains its ergonomics, as well as the plethora of adjustability options. What changes, however, is that this is a cockpit that’s suited better for those who plan on racing while staring at a television screen rather than a computer monitor. It’s also slightly heavier and less mobile (as the names would suggest) compared to its slightly more expensive brother.
What the Lite Bare perhaps does better than the Mobile bare is give you control over what exactly you’re looking for in a cockpit. The Lite bare isn’t meant for those who are looking to have a vast number of peripherals in their set-up, rather it’s aimed at those who want to have the very best of the basics. That shouldn’t discourage you though for, as we mentioned before, this AP-XTREME product allows you to figure out what you want. The Lite can (unlike the Mobile) be upgraded in also being able to hold a handbrake as well as house a ButtKicker (if you don’t know what that is, why not look at our review of it here). That’s not where the fun stops, however, as the many small adjustments and additions you can purchase can turn this from one of the best basic cockpits out there to one of the most complete and expensive ones on the market.
Luxury Pick: Fanatec Rennsport Cockpit V2
Fanatec often tops our list of best available products in 2020 and it’s easy to see why. The Rennsprot is all a cockpit ought to be, and more!
The Rennsport V2 improves from the already incredible first version with a myriad of little adjustments that make this product the best on the market so far. It has an incredible amount of stability, meaning that as you race you won’t be cradled side to side. It’s made from high-quality materials (mainly aluminium) and the shape of it alone shows the attention to detail that Fanatec is willing to put into their every product. The design looks like what you’d find inside of a real-life car, so much so that it even has a roll cage.
But the reason why the Rennsport V2 can’t but be at the top of our list is the sheer amount of adjustability you get from the very start. Yes, you can replace your seat. Yes, you can make all the little adjustments your heart desires, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Every single Rennsport V2 is customized for the individual that’s purchasing it. You get to choose your own seat, frame, accessories and more. It’s very hard to put anything else in first place because, chances are, the Rennsport can become your dream cockpit.
Budget pick: Next Level Racing Challenger Racing Cockpit
This might not be the most good-looking pick out there, but it promises immersion and a solid build for a reasonable price, what more could you want?
The NLR Challenger Racing Cockpit is the bare necessities in the good sense. The feeling this cockpit transmits is one of authenticity and realism. You can adjust the height and distance of various parts, including the angle at which the seat is placed at, allowing all users to find the position they find themselves most comfortable in. The design is somewhat lacking, but racing isn’t about design, it’s about practicality, and this product has plenty of it. One clear example of this is the fact that the centre pole is closer to your seating position and not your feet. In turn, this doesn’t impede you from breaking, and it makes it easier to drive with your heels and toes.
This great package comes at a fraction of the prices of some of our top picks, but still delivers a high-quality product that will leave you with a complete design that’s ready to be used to trim seconds from what used to be your best lap.
Luxury Pick for Tall Guys: Extreme Simracing Cockpit Virtual Experience V3.0
Sure, it might cost a pretty penny, but it’s resistant, spacious and convenient.
This might not be the best cockpit put there, but it does a lot of things right that many rigs simply ignore. First of all, the cockpit is ready for direct drive wheels, meaning it’s built to be able to sustain quite a bit of force. Speaking of build, it’s jaw-dropping how great the build of this thing is. It’s clear that they considered all sizes both in longitude as well as latitude when building this magnificent product. The Extreme Simracing Cockpit V3 can hold up to 310 pounds in weight and up to 6ft6 in height.
The 3.0 is also incredibly easy to install and comes with extra bolts in order to allow you to install your Thrustmaster/Fanatec/Logitech wheel without you having to sleuth around to find what you need. The only negatives are that this product isn’t built for older peripherals, as pedals such as the CSR Elite might not fit, or fit snugly (a problem that isn’t mirrored with the V3s). Also, when assembling it, make sure you tighten all the screws as hard as you can or you will lack the stability that this cockpit otherwise offers.
Budget Pick for Tall Guys: Openwheeler GEN2 Racing Wheel Stand
This cockpit is so good that having it as “budget pick” feels almost insulting.
The only reason why this cockpit is in the budget pick is because it doesn’t cost a lot since, if we were going on merit alone, it could comfortably hold its own against a lot of the more expensive picks out there. Almost everything is customizable, starting from the reclining back of the seat, to the adjustable distances between the seat, wheel stand, pedals and the various angles said pedalboard can be inclined at. It also goes without saying that the shifter can be mounted on either side of the cockpit. It’s stable, it’s good looking and it has everything you could hope for in a complete cockpit while not going for absurd prices.
In terms of size, the seat easily accommodates sizes up to 6ft2 and should be big enough for those as tall as 6ft6. Though we don’t know the exact weight specificity, users that reach up to 250 pounds in weight own and use the cockpit.
Not a cockpit, but we love it: Simetik K2-R Cockpit
The K2-R is an upgrade over the K2, and if you already have your own seat (check our guide here) this is an amazing purchase.
We couldn’t put this higher on our list because it kind of breaks our rule for what a cockpit is (mainly the fact that it has no seat), but the K2-R is such a fantastic piece of equipment that we had to include it here. Let’s start with the customization options: the wheel can be changed in-depth as well as in height and inclination. The pedals have to height options, but the distance and inclination are both variable and adjustable to your heart’s desire. As for the actual fame adjustments, the K2-R allows individuals varying from 4ft4 to 6ft4 to fit comfortably. The build quality is also so great that weight should not be a problem in a vast majority of cases.
This cockpit is kind of like a chassis in the purest of terms. It gives you a skeleton on which you must make finalizing purchases such as the seat. Having said that, in terms of skeletons available out there, this can’t but be an excellent and quite affordable choice (given the quality of the product). It’s very well built, it’s reasonably adjustable, it’s incredibly stable, and it gives you the freedom to make your own best set-up. Yes, including it in this list is bending the rules, but for products like these, it’s really worth it.
What to Look for in a Sim Racing Cockpit
Cockpits are not fully blown motion rig simulators. As such, whenever a cockpit cradles you, or it otherwise moves, this isn’t a feature that was included in the purchase to add to the realism. This means that the cockpit lacks stability. In turn, this will distract you and lead to make mistakes. Seeing as the entire purpose of a cockpit is not solely to help engross you in the driving experience, but also to provide a stable plane on which to play, stability is a key factor to look for.
Your racing cockpit needs to be ergonomic. This doesn’t simply mean that it needs to be comfortable (which it does) but that it supports you and that everything is intelligently placed. A non-ergonomic cockpit may have the shifter too far low or high, making it awkward to shift gears. Ergonomics is key in providing a safe as well as a precise experience.
Not everyone will be looking for the same things from their racing cockpits. As an example: rally racers will require that their cockpit supports a shifter and handbrake much more than an F1 racing sim pilot would. Similarly, someone used to driving on the left side of the road needs to be able to switch which side they mount their shifter on. Adjustability thus becomes vital in high-quality cockpits.