Do You Need A Shifter For iRacing?

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Sim racing is a video game niche that really benefits from realism and immersion. One of the popular sim racing titles is iRacing. iRacing features many different types of racing, and a variety of cars and tracks.

With sim racing, a driver will typically use a racing wheel. But there are other pieces of hardware that can be purchased to increase realism and immersion. In this article, we are going to take a look at whether or not shifters are needed for iRacing.

Do You Need A Shifter For iRacing?

No, you don’t need a shifter for iRacing, although there are several benefits that a shifter can provide. When you are wondering if you should buy a shifter, you may be asking this question because you are worried about your budget, and whether or not you can afford it. What you need to know is that most sim racing wheels already have built-in paddle shifters. They can be used for both sequential shift cars and h-pattern shift cars.

It’s always advantageous to start out with less gear. As time moves on, and you become very passionate about sim racing, you can always invest in a shifter. iRacing is pretty expensive relative to other sim racing games, so our recommendation is to upgrade your rig over time, and to only add gear when you really have a need for it.

What Are The Benefits Of A Shifter?

As said before, you don’t need to invest in a shifter in the beginning. When you play iRacing, the racing wheel you own already has paddle shifters. You can use the paddle shifters until you can afford to add a shifter to your rig.

That being said, there are several benefits of adding a shifter. You will want to take a look at them so that you understand how different the racing experience can be.

Realism and Immersion

The main benefit of using a shifter with iRacing is the increased realism and immersion that a shifter can bring to the game. The goal of most simulator games is to put yourself into another world, and to simulate what it’s like. For sim racers, that means trying to put yourself into the driving seat of a racecar. We buy realistic racing wheels, racing seats, etc. A shifter is another piece of gear that can add to the feeling of racing a real car. It can help further immerse you into the game. This is especially true when the car you are driving has a clutch and traditional h-pattern shifter.


Another advantage of a shifter is accuracy. This point mainly concerns the entry-level racing wheels, like the Thrustmaster T150 as an example. In the cheaper wheels, the paddle shifters aren’t designed for maximum accuracy and reliability when shifting. This means that you can miss shifts, which can be detrimental to your race. A separate shifter can be more accurate and more reliable.

Faster Recovery

One potential advantage of having a shifter for iRacing is that you can recover from a spin more quickly. If you’ve ever spun out into the grass, you’ll understand what I mean. You spin out and you need to get going again, but the car is still in 6th gear. With paddle shifters, you need to click down all the way to 1st gear. With a shifter, you could go right from 6th to 1st.

Which Shifter Should You Use For iRacing?

Investing in a shifter may be just what you need in order to increase your enjoyment of iRacing. Here are two shifters that are budget friendly, versatile, and highly recommended in the sim racing community.

Note: This article may contain affiliate links for the products mentioned

Thrustmaster TH8A


The shifter we recommend most for iRacing is the Thrustmaster TH8A. This 100% metal shifter will stand the test of time, so it’s a great investment for your sim racing rig. The TH8A operates in h-pattern or sequential shifting modes, allowing you to simulate driving multiple types of transmissions.

For mounting, the TH8A can be clamped to a desk or sim rig. This shifter is compatible with iRacing out of the box with the USB interface. No matter what racing wheel you have, you can add this shifter. The shift knob is even detachable in case you want to personalize it with your own.

Fanatec ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5


Another great shifter that is made for performance is the Fanatec ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5. It’s durable and built to last. It has a locked reverse and 7th gear. You can adapt the knob to fit your specific requirements. You’ll have your choice of sequential or h-pattern shifting with the flip of a switch.

It is a bit more expensive than the TH8A, but it comes with a couple additional features. You’ll be able to firmly mount this to your sim rig with screws, or you can buy the desk clamp. Changing from h-pattern to sequential is also much easier than with the TH8A. And finally, this shifter is constructed of higher quality materials and just feels better to shift in our opinion.


You don’t need a shifter to play iRacing, but a shifter can add another dimension of immersion and realism. If you are on a budget, simply use the paddle shifters that almost all racing wheels are equipped with. If you desire the extra benefits of a shifter, you can always upgrade later.

For those that have decided they want to try out a shifter for iRacing, the two presented above are the most popular options. The Thrustmaster TH8A is our top recommendation, but you can’t go wrong with the higher quality Fanatec shifter if you have a higher budget.

Do you use a shifter with iRacing? What do you recommend? Let us know in the comment area below!

See Also: Guide To Sim Racing Button Boxes

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