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The 5 Best Flight Sim Cockpits: Buyer’s Guide

Flight sims have been around for almost as long as gaming itself, and the genre finds a huge burst of interest each time a new major entry – such as Microsoft Flight Simulator – is released. No genre of gaming has more need for dedicated hardware in order to achieve peak performance and immersion, which all but requires a dedicated cockpit in order to use comfortably and correctly. Today, we’re looking at the top flight sim cockpits in order to help you find the best one for your gear.

The Top-Rated Flight Sim Cockpits (2020)

Overall Top Pick: Volair Sim Universal Cockpit

Uncompromising functionality and comfort

The title of Best Flight Sim Cockpit goes to the Volair Sim Universal Cockpit, as it is the only one on the market right now that checks all of our boxes while maintaining a reasonable price tag. Like most of the products on this list, the Volair Sim Universal Cockpit is made for use with racing or flight simulators; unlike most, it has dedicated, dual left and right yoke/shifter mounts pre-drilled for Saitek throttle quadrant(s), switch panel and trim wheel – with space for just about any other aircraft control peripherals you might want to mount.

The steel frame offers great stability, and the genuine racing chair will keep you in place – optional arm rests may be purchased separately for additional comfort and security. Another great, uncommon feature is that this cockpit includes VESA mounts for both single and triple monitors setups – ideal for those who are starting with a single monitor but who want the flexibility to upgrade down the road.

Reviews of the Volair Sim Universal Cockpit show that the vast majority of users find this to be a high quality cockpit for X-Plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator is just about any sim you can imagine; the only regular complaints that rear their heads are that this cockpit does not include a shelf or or designated area for housing a PC or game console (something that most other cockpits also don’t do) which is understandable considering how much total flexibility and shelving are on offer in this package – and lamentations that the wheel mount isn’t quite big enough for the biggest racing wheels (a concern that will not effect the cockpit’s functionality for flight sims).

If you need a great cockpit that’s adaptable to your needs and ready to handle anything you can throw at it, the Volair Sim Universal Cockpit is ready to take flight.

Runner-Up Pick: GTR Simulator – GTA-F Model

A great all-purpose cockpit

The GTR Simulator – GTA-F Model is a great flight simulator cockpit that hits most of the points of the top pick and just barely misses taking that title for itself. The only reason we dropped this one down to runner-up is that it is slightly less versatile due there being less space for use with dedicated flight hardware that many a pilot will want to have at hand – such as advanced flight controls and other elements of a flight deck.

The good news is that all of the main components – yoke, throttle and rudder pedals – are all easily mountable and highly adjustable. The GTR Simulator – GTA-F Model includes VESA mounts for single or triple monitors setups, and the included bucket seat is highly adjustable.

At roughly 2/3 the size of the Volair Sim Universal Cockpit, the GTR Simulator – GTA-F Model is considerably easier to make space for, which is a big concern for the many people. Also good news – this one is much cheaper and easier to assemble!

If you like the idea of a mid-range flight simulator cockpit that hits all of the key notes without going overboard, the GTR Simulator – GTA-F Model is a solid choice.

Luxury Pick: Next Level Racing GTultimate v2 Simulator Cockpit

On the pricey side – but the versatility is second-to-none

The Next Level Racing GTultimate v2 Simulator Cockpit is our top pick for the luxury set despite its seemingly-reasonable price. With an MSRP akin to the top pick’s, this one doesn’t seem especially expensive until you realize that it doesn’t include many of the basic components needed to be used as a flight cockpit – instead, the idea here is that you buy the base cockpit then add all of the components you require as extra purchases.

Naturally, the price can get pretty high when all is said and done – but we think the cost is justifiable for those who want granular control over precisely what is and isn’t included in their flight rig. That’s not to say that the base package itself isn’t impressive; the adjustable bucket seat and collapsible fiberglass frame are amongst the most comfortable out there, and the mounts for yoke, throttle and pedals are the most adjustable of any on this list.

A few hundred dollars later, you’ll have a place to store and easily reach not only your flight stick and rudder pedals, but also your throttle quadrant, hat switch and any other controls you could possibly want to use. Flight lessons are not included!

Budget Pick: Wheel Stand Pro S

The best-selling wheel stand in the world makes for a solid basic flight cockpit

The Wheel Stand Pro S has a generic name, plain looks and limited functionality – but it does what it claims to do extremely well, and can serve as a fantastic start to your home flight cockpit. Any pilot starting out will probably want to start with something like the Wheel Stand Pro S; your yoke or flight stick and rudder pedals will be mounted in a seriously adjustable stand that is designed to adapt to pretty much any use case – which is nice consider you’ll need to bring your own chair.

Big advantages aside from cost savings are on offer here – the Wheel Stand Pro S easily houses your flight controls while being able to fold and roll out of the way for easy storage. There is an optional, larger mount that can be purchased in order to house more controls, but that would probably defeat the purpose of this design for most people.

If you take into account what the Wheel Stand Pro S is capable of right out of the box, it’s probably the best value of any flight simulator cockpits out there, and is easily the best flight cockpit for kids or those on a tight budget.

Best for Small Spaces: Next Level Racing F-GT

A cockpit with a chair that fits in a closet

The Next Level Racing F-GT is an awesome chair that we’ve recommended in the past for use with racing simulator rigs, but it is also one of the best flight simulator cockpits as well. The star of the show here is the foldable design which is meant to be collapsed and stored with all controls still installed.

The Next Level Racing F-GT has sturdy mounting for your flight joystick, throttle and pedals but sadly no other aviation equipment. The high quality racing seat may look out of place, but pilots absorbed in a flight of X-Plane are not likely to mind too much considering how comfortable they’ll be.

Perhaps the only real knock against the Next Level Racing F-GT is that the lightweight and adjustable design precludes the ability to add additional hardware – you’re not going to emulate the look and feel of a real airplane or space shuttle cockpit here – but it does what it does so well that it’s hard to recommend against it for anyone who needs a smaller form factor.

The icing on the cake is that the Next Level Racing F-GT is extremely affordable and just missed our Budget Pick title by a few bucks. If you need a combination of home flight cockpit and folding chair, this one is an awesome choice.

What to Look for in a Flight Sim Cockpit

Features

Flight simulators are some of the most variable gaming experiences out there; most can be played with a standard video game controller, but scale with lots of control setups from HOTAS to to full flight panels akin to those used by real world pilots. The first thing you’ll need to decide before shopping for a flight sim cockpit is what hardware you intend to use with it.

A yoke system and rudder pedals are givens, but how about instrument panels and monitor mounts? Do you want a cockpit with a built in seat or do you have one of your own that you intend to bolt-in? A great gaming experience is one thing, but aviation enthusiasts and student pilots at a flight school will be aiming for a flight simulator experience – so first determine what you you need, then shop for something that will meet your requirements. You might find that a flight stand is all you need, saving you quite a bit of money.

Versatility

This mostly pertains to those looking for a more casual experience, as high end flight simulator cockpits all but necessitate a large dedicated space to house all of the gear and use it properly. If you are using a more simple setup with basic flight controls, you may be able to save a lot of time and money by opting for a more universal cockpit such as those made for racing simulator video games. Companies such as Next Level Racing are especially noteworthy for producing great racing products that can easily be used with flight simulation games’ peripherals.

Racing cockpits usually won’t have as much space or pre-drilled holes for mounting all of the instrument panels – you won’t see these setups in flight schools – but they typically pair a comfortable chair with a mount for yoke pedals, joystick and throttle at the very least. In short, if a racing cockpit can meet your needs, we suggest that you go this direction.

Comfort

If you’re building a true replica of a real plane cockpit for flight training in a flight school, this will not apply to you. For home flight simulators, there’s no reason not to go with a cockpit that allows for total control of where your put every piece of your gear so that you can adjust it to you as opposed to you adjusting to it.

So adjustability is key here; look first for cockpits that have the ability to house all of your peripherals, then further refine your search by adjustability and aim for something that puts your flight panel, landing gear and other controls within reach so you can have a comfy cockpit fit for long gaming sessions.

Last Updated on February 15, 2021