The first thing that may spring to mind when thinking about sim racing on the PC is steering wheels but let’s start with the most important part, the parts themselves that form the PC – after all, you can buy the best wheel, a crash helmet and some gloves but without the PC you’re just going to end up sat there looking rather silly!
I thought about how I wanted to do this and I’ve decided to plan out four builds for 1080p gaming – two for just reaching those minimum specs needed to race (one AMD and one Intel to keep both sides happy) and one which is aimed at the recommended specs (again, one for team red and one for blue). But what do we mean when we say “minimum” or “recommended” specs?
Basically, if you want the bare minimum, something that will allow you to run at console level graphics at 45-60 frames, the minimum is what will be best.
If you’re looking at cranking those graphics up to the max and hitting a solid 60 fps then the recommended build is more suited.
The price range I have set myself for minimum spec system is $700.00 and $1,100 for the recommended build so hopefully we can stay under those limits!
Now obviously if you have a system already, you might not be interested in looking at a full build but don’t run away!! Stay right here!! Seriously, stay… You can still use these builds as a reference and maybe this will help point you in the right direction of what components you should upgrade.
So what games am I tailoring these builds to? We have looked at the most popular sim and racing games and I have based these systems for running:
Assetto Corsa, iracing, Project Cars 2, rFactor 2, The Crew 2, Forza and the Codemasters F1 series.
So onto my builds, we’re going to start with the minimum spec build. Again, this system is perfect for anyone who doesn’t care about seeing every blade of grass in 4K resolution textures and just wants to jump in,hit the track and start finding those hundredths of a second in laptime.
The two builds are basically identical apart from CPU, motherboard and cooler.
For team red AMD, I chose the Ryzen 5 1600 6 core CPU with a base clock of 3.2GHz ($170) paired with an MSI B350M Gaming motherboard ($60) – no cooler needed as the 1600 comes with one in the box!
For team blue Intel, I chose the Core i3-8350K quad core with a base clock of 4GHz ($170) paired with a Gigabyte H370M motherboard ($90) and a Cooler Master Hyper T2 to keep it cool ($10).
Both systems share the same Ram, the GeIL Evo Potenza (2x4GB) at 3000MHz ($87), a Western Digital Blue 250GB SATA M.2 SSD for boot ($75) and a Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB Mech drive for games ($44). For graphics there’s no better choice than the MSI GTX 1050 Ti, this thing is a beast for 1080p gaming and whilst the prices are still higher than MSRP, they are coming down ($175). The PSU is the Corsair Builder 500W 80+ bronze ($29) and all of these parts would be wrapped up in the Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG ($30)
So the AMD build comes out at $690 at the time of filming and the Intel build comes out at $730, again, at the time of filming.
So which one should you go for? Well, this comes down to what YOU want. If you’re looking for best bang for your buck, for me it’s the AMD – you’re getting a 6 core CPU and paying overall $40 less but if you want raw performance right now BUT a shorter life with limited upgrade options, the Intel is the best for you.
Both of these systems will easily get you between at least 45-60 fps in the sim racing games with the graphics set between medium to high.
So now onto the two systems for you must have ultra graphics people – you know who you are… I am one of you, don’t be ashamed! Once again we have two builds, one from AMD and one from Intel. Just like before, the base systems are the same.
So again we start with the AMD system, I chose the AMD 2600X 6-core CPU with a base clock of 3.6GHz ($220) paired with the MSI Gaming Pro X470 motherboard ($140) and once again, no cooler need as one comes in the box!
The Intel build sees us with the i5-8600K which is also a 6-core CPU with a base of 3.6GHz ($240) paired with a Gigabyte Z370P motherboard ($104) and to keep it all cool, the bequiet! Pure Rock Slim CPU cooler ($25).
So now onto the rest of the system which as I said before, is the same for both builds.
For RAM I went with a set of G.Skill Trident Z (2x8GB) 3200MHz ($180), the same storage as before – a Western Digital Blue 250GB SATA M.2 SSD for boot ($75) and a Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB Mech drive for games ($44). This time we’re taking our GPU up a couple of notches to the EVGA SSC GTX 1060 6GB ($305), the PSU is the Cooler Master MasterWatt 550W 80+ Bronze ($46) and this lot gets wrapped up in the super popular and sleek looking NZXT S340 in white ($60).
So this time it’s much closer in price with the AMD build coming out at a cool $1069 and the Intel just a touch more at $1076 – Again, all prices at time of writing
So there we have it, four systems, two from AMD and two from Intel. Hopefully these builds have helped you out with your next system for sim racing or even just helped you out with your next upgrade.