Are you looking to simplify your in-car adjustments and sim racing workflow? Perhaps you want to adjust fuel or tires for your next pit stop without fumbling with the mouse and keyboard? Using a sim racing button box allows you to do these things, plus much more. In this article we will go over what sim racing button boxes are used for, and give you our top product picks.
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What are sim racing button boxes for?
Put simply, a button box is a piece of hardware that has programmable buttons. Using programmable hotkeys and other 3rd party software, you can assign many different functions to the buttons.
Depending on which button box you buy, you can program toggle switches, rotary knobs, and regular buttons for a variety of tasks. Without a button box, you are limited to using the controls on your racing wheel or computer keyboard. A button box can help organize the in-race adjustments and controls that you may need to make while sim racing.
You can think of a button box as an extension of your sim racing wheel. Since racing wheels have a limited number of buttons available, you can keep your most important adjustments on the wheel, and offload some of the other tasks to the button box.
See Also: Best Budget Racing Wheel For PC
What to look for in a button box
When it comes to picking the best sim racing button box, there are several important factors to consider. Let’s take a detailed look at each:
Number of buttons/functions
Probably the most important factor when deciding on which button box to buy is the number of buttons and functions you need. A GT4 car, for example, is going to be more complex than a NASCAR when it comes to buttons and adjustments that need to be made on the fly. You’ll want to think about what kinds of functions you want to carry out with your button box, and make sure you buy one with enough programmable switches and buttons.
Size and space
How much space do you have on your desk or sim racing rig? Depending on the number of buttons and switches, sim racing button boxes can range from a small box to a large dashboard style layout. Which button box you buy will depend on how you will be mounting it. Do you have enough desk space? Will it fit on your racing rig?
Finally, price is another important factor to consider. You will need to take the two above factors into consideration along with how much money you have to spend. We recommend buying more button box than you need, if your budget allows. You will probably always add functions later on, so give yourself some room to expand.
Top Sim Racing Button Boxes
Now let’s take a look at some of the popular button boxes on the market. We’ve created a list of recommendations that includes high-end products, and also more budget options.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links for the products mentioned
Elgato Stream Deck
You don’t need to be a streamer to use the Elgato Stream Deck for sim racing. Luckily for us sim racers, many of the streamer features are what make the Stream Deck so great as a sim racing button box.
The Stream Deck offers sim racers tons of customization and programming abilities. The software allows you to do a ton of interesting things, from launching your game or other 3rd party applications, to making pit stop adjustments with the press of a button.
Each button can customized with an icon of your choice. As a result, hotkeys and functions are easy to find while you are racing.
The adjustable stand makes it easy to mount on a desk or on your sim rig. Pricing and features are also scalable. The standard 15 key product is shown above, but a 32 key Stream Deck XL and 6 key Stream Deck Mini are also available.
Apex Downforce Button Box
Want a bit more realism and immersion than the Stream Deck offers? The Apex Downforce Button Box is a great option! This sleek looking button box is a more traditional approach, with realistic buttons, knobs, and toggle switches.
You get a couple of LED illuminated buttons, 8 regular push buttons, 3 toggle switches, and 7 rotary encoders. That is plenty of programmable buttons for most sim racers. Apex even sells a sticker kit that allows you to appropriately label each button for the task that you assign.
The front and rear plates are made of real carbon fiber for that finished, professional look. Mount this button box to your sim rig with the 4 M5 mounting holes, which are also VESA compatible.
Ricmotech SlimBox Button Box
Our third pick is for the sim racers seeking a minimal, simple button box that is budget friendly. The Ricmotech SlimBox features 9 programmable buttons and 3 rotary encoders. While this isn’t as many buttons as the previous two recommendations, we think it’s plenty for a minimal button box setup.
The slim enclosure has a carbon fiber look on the front panel. The rear mounted USB port allows for easy cable management for a clean install. For mounting, there are pre-drilled holes that are VESA 100×100 compatible.
Koolertron Single-Handed Programmable Mechanical Keyboard
We put this programmable keyboard on the list for those of you that need a ton of buttons. This Koolertron Single-Handed Programmable Mechanical Keyboard gives you 48 buttons to program for an affordable price point.
Since it’s a keyboard, this is going to be a desk friendly button box. They 48 keys are blank, making them perfect for the sticker kit we mentioned above, or even your own custom key caps.
The keyboard comes with software that enables you to program the keys and even create macro’s. For sim racing purposes, this means you can create tons of functions. Pit stop adjustments, quick chats, and more.
Perixx Peripad-202H Wired Slim Numeric Keypad
The last entry on our list of sim racing button boxes is the Perixx Peripad-202H. This slim USB keypad is the ultimate budget option for sim racers seeking a simple button box.
Why is it the budget champion? You get 19 keys that can be programmed, a desk friendly design, and even 2 extra USB ports to add more accessories. What else can we say about it? It’s not fancy like the Stream Deck. But it’s a fraction of the price with very similar core functionality.
This kind of cheap USB keypad is a popular budget option on the sim racing subreddit on Reddit. Members there are going the DIY route and adding their own stickers over the top of the number keys, and that’s what we would recommend as well. It can be as simple as some electrical tape and a sharpie.