iRacing is a racing simulator for the PC platform, and features a variety of different cars, tracks, and racing disciplines. From NASCAR to F1, there is something for everyone. iRacing is known for its dedication to accurate simulation and online multiplayer competition.
If you are just getting started with sim racing, or you’ve dabbled in some other sim racing games before, you might be wondering what gear you need to get started. You probably don’t have a racing wheel just laying around, and they are pretty expensive. But if you are a gamer, you most likely have a controller. So can you play iRacing with a controller?
In this article, I’ll explain whether or not you have to have a steering wheel to play iRacing, and the pros and cons of each.
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Can You Play iRacing With A Controller?
Yes, iRacing works with a variety of controllers, such as PS5 and XBOX. Since iRacing is a PC game, any devices that are PC compatible will work with iRacing. But just because it will work doesn’t mean it will work well! In the next sections, I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of controllers and steering wheels.
Controller Pros and Cons
If you are interested in playing iRacing with a controller, you will want to first be aware of the pros and cons:
- Price – Many people already own PS5 or XBOX controllers, so prices range from free to under $100. Racing wheels usually start at around $100 and go way up from there
- Space – Controllers don’t take up much room on your desk, and they can also be used for other games. Racing wheels need to be mounted to your desk or to a separate rig, and are less space efficient
- Familiarity – Most gamers are already used to operating a controller. If you are coming to iRacing from console sim racing games, you might have already been using a controller for sim racing. If you were comfortable racing with a controller on console, it’s going to be an easy transition to iRacing
- Force Feedback – Force feedback is a critical feature that helps you “feel” what the car is doing. You can catch slides easier when you have feedback from a racing wheel. Controllers can vibrate, but they don’t offer force feedback
- Accuracy – With a racing wheel, you have a high level of steering, throttle, and brake accuracy thanks to the more realistic control inputs. To rotate the in-game steering by 90 degrees, you would rotate your racing wheel by 90 degrees. On a controller, that same 90 degrees needs to be accomplished with a joystick, which is much less precise
- Realism – People like sim racing because it’s a simulation. Simulations benefit greatly from more immersion. There is nothing more immersive than actually holding a steering wheel in your hands, or using the pedals with your feet. A controller lacks that realism and immersion that can make sim racing an incredible experience
Do You Recommend A Controller?
My advise is to only race with a controller if you have no other option. Not everyone has the budget for a racing wheel. If you want to get into iRacing competitively, you’ll need to plan to purchase a steering wheel later on. If you do plan to play iRacing with a controller, I suggest doing solo practice sessions or AI races until you are sure you have complete control of your car.
While you can play iRacing with a controller, it is not recommended due to the lack of force feedback, accuracy, and control. That being said, some people can race safely with a controller once they practice and get the hang of it. Are you going to be competing at the highest levels? No. But it’s certainly an option if you are waiting on a racing wheel to be shipped.