Sim racing is a popular video game genre that replicates real-world racing scenarios.
To start racing and driving you’re going to need either a PC or a console. This is the bare minimum requirement.
Both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. But which is best?
Which is Better for Sim Enthusiasts?
I would recommend a PC almost every time, however, it’s all personal preference at the end of the day.
Sim racing on PC offers the most complete and immersive experience, there’s no doubt about it. With better graphics, higher frame rates, and much more modding/customization options.
PC gamers also have access to a variety of peripherals and third-party tools that can be paired with such games.
There are also a lot of games that are available on PC that are never going to be released on console.
The main disadvantage of PC though is the barrier to entry and the fact that to get the best experience you may need to fork out a lot of $$$.
Console sim racing on the other hand is more accessible and affordable for many gamers.
Console games are typically more user-friendly and require less to set up and race.
Console gaming also offers the convenience of playing on a big-screen TV from the comfort of a couch. There is nothing quite like sitting down, pressing a button, and jumping into a game.
However, convenience does come with its compromises.
You’re going to be limited to one graphical setting, a maximum of 60 FPS, and a smaller list of games that are available to play.
The Differences Of Sim Racing Platforms Explained
A lot of the differences are based on your budget and willingness to spend.
If you’re willing to spend $2k+ on a setup, you’re best off going with PC. If you’re looking for a budget experience then consoles will probably be the better option.
Hardware and Performance
Graphics and Resolution
One of the key factors that will affect your enjoyment is the game graphics and resolution.
You want the game to look as nice as possible, with high resolution and ultra graphics.
PC games offer a wider range of graphical settings and resolutions, which can result in a better-looking game.
The higher the graphics settings and resolution, the better the game will look. This can come at a cost of performance though.
Whereas console games usually have a set graphics setting and resolution. This can limit the overall visual experience.
While PS5 and Xbox Series X do offer 4K capability and 120FPS on some games, it’s not guaranteed.
Processing Power and Load Times
Ideally, you want a high frame rate to make the game as smooth as possible. It’s no fun driving a car that’s jumping and stuttering about.
The mass amount of hardware on offer and upgradeability of PC means that you can change how a game performs.
If you have the budget to sink into a high-end PC, it’s always going to offer better graphics and frame rate.
There are also a lot of other settings and software for PCs that can help optimize a game for better performance.
Providing you’re willing to mess around and try things out, you can make most games run like perfection on a PC.
Consoles on the other hand offer a more plug-in-play option with very little room for change.
Developers only have to optimize the game for the hardware in the latest consoles.
If done well, you’ll have a good experience. If done poorly, you’re left waiting for the next title update to hope that it gets better.
I’d recommend opting for PC gaming if you have an endless budget but consoles do offer good performance for a fraction of the price.
Peripheral compatibility is something to consider when choosing pc or console for sim racing
You’ll find that most accessories are now compatible with both PCs and consoles. Or at the very least you can get a PC version or a console version.
I wouldn’t say this is a huge deal. You may find yourself paying extra for the console version of the hardware brand new. However, there should be many more second-hand wheels for sale for the console as it’s the more common platform.
This isn’t a big factor and shouldn’t be a deciding factor. Unless you already have a setup that’s compatible with one and not the other.
Game Selection and Exclusivity
One of the most significant factors when it comes to deciding between sim racing on a PC or console is the game selection and exclusivity. Both platforms offer a wide variety of racing games, but there are some key differences to consider.
PC Game Selection
If you want the biggest library of racing and driving simulators, you have to have a PC!
PC has a vast library of sim racing games, including popular titles such as Assetto Corsa, iRacing, and rFactor 2.
You’ll also be able to travel back in time and play what’s considered to be the best rally simulator “Richard Burns Rally”.
The PC platform also has a massive modding community. There are a lot of mods for games that pretty much create a whole spin-off game off of Assetto Corsa and so on.
You’ll also be able to find other independent games online that’d never make it to the Xbox or PlayStation store.
Console Game Selection
Consoles also have a lot of the games that are available on PC but not all. I say they lack a lot of the better titles that die-hard sim enthusiasts would play such as rFactor 2 and Beam.NG
One of the biggest differences between PC and console sim racing is game exclusivity.
The main difference is actually between Playstation and the other platforms.
If you’re a Gran Turismo fan, you need to get PlayStation. There is no other way to play this game.
However, if you’re a Forza fan, thanks to the Xbox game pass and Microsoft store, you can play Xbox exclusives on PC too.
If you see yourself playing Gran Turismo as your main game buy a PlayStation. If you don’t then PC or Xbox will do.
Community and Multiplayer Experience
While the console player base is a bigger population. The PC community is much more dedicated in my opinion.
Due to the higher barrier of entry, you’ll find that the PC community is more mature and dedicated.
A lot of the problem with consoles is that online lobbies are full of ramming, crashing, and overall toxicity. This isn’t to say you don’t get that on PC.
If you want to have an experience that’s as close as possible to real life, you should look towards sim communities.
Joining online communities, discords, and race leagues will mean that you find other players with the same goals.
These are available on all platforms but again, most common among the PC player base.
That being said, console players can still enjoy a great online experience, especially if they have the right friends and community.
When it comes to multiplayer accessibility, PC sim racing games have an advantage over console games.
PC games offer more flexibility when it comes to multiplayer options.
Third-party mods and development means that there are a lot of open-world simulation mods. Euro Truck Simulator MP and Shutoko MP for Assetto corsa come to mind.
Console games have more restrictions when it comes to multiplayer options. For example, console players might not be able to create custom events or use mods.
That said, most console sim racing games have a more streamlined multiplayer system. This makes it easier for players to jump into a race with friends or strangers.
Both PC and console sim racing games offer great online experiences. However, they differ in terms of community size and multiplayer accessibility.
PC sim racing games have smaller communities but more flexible multiplayer options.
Console sim racing games have more streamlined multiplayer systems and bigger communities however, there are more casual drivers.
Which should you choose?
Ultimately, the choice between PC and console sim racing games comes down to personal preference.
A hardcore, dedicated player probably wants to choose PC for the community and mod support.
A casual sim racer should be able to get enough out of the console experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the pros and cons of sim racing on PC versus console?
Sim racing on PC and console both have their pros and cons.
PC sim racing offers the option of better graphics, more customization options, and access to mods. However, it can require a high end computer and can be expensive.
Console sim racing, on the other hand, is more affordable and easier to set up. While you’ll still get a lot of fun and enjoyment out of it, it doesn’t have the same level of customization and mod support.
For a serious sim racer, should I invest in a PC or console setup?
For a serious sim racer, investing in a PC setup is generally recommended.
This is because PC sim racing offers more. You’ll get a lot more out of 1 game with a good modding community than you will 10 without.
Additionally, PC hardware can be upgraded over time to keep up with the latest games, mods, and technology. As well as improving the graphics and resolution to 4k and so on.
Are there any significant differences in game selection for sim racing between PC and consoles?
Yes, there are some differences in game selection for sim racing between PC and consoles.
While many sim racing games are available on both platforms, some games are exclusive to either PC or consoles. Gran Turismo only being available to playstation players is the most obvious.
Additionally, PC sim racing offers access to a wider range of mods and user-created content. More often than not this is content you’ll not be able to get on consoles.