Getting Started with Virtual Racing – Part 2: Consoles and PC Hardware

On the previous article we have tackled on the best racing games for beginners on the PC and Console systems. The choice of racing games are on the assumption that the player already has at least one type of gaming system required for the game, but what if one doesn’t have a PC or gaming console yet? This article will guide on how to get started with deciding the gaming system required for your choice of racing game.

Consoles For Gran Turismo players, the PlayStation is the choice of hardware for this series as it is one of the platform’s exclusive titles. Gran Turismo Sport was released as a PlayStation 4 title on October 2017, but the newer PlayStation 5 also fully supports this game without any issues. For those eager for Gran Turismo 7’s release, the PlayStation 5 is a future proof choice priced at $399 USD for the Digital Version and $499 USD for the Disc Version, but with stocks of the console limited as of writing, the PlayStation 4 (priced at $399 or less for the standard slim version) is still a good option especially if Gran Turismo Sport would be the only game the player would have on his or her library. As the Xbox Series X/S doesn’t have any exclusive racing games yet, a standard Xbox One (priced similarly to the PS4 Slim) will suffice for Forza series fans. But with many racing games in Xbox including the recent Forza series titles also being available on the PC, it may be better to go for a gaming PC route instead.

Gaming PC Building a gaming PC is more technical as you can choose different parts from different manufacturers on the market. Although investing on a mid-high level gaming PC fitted with something like an Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 and a high end video card is a future proof choice, budget friendly entry level parts are closing the gap in terms of bang-for-buck performance, while at the same time games developed on the PC are becoming better optimized on a wider range of PC hardware.

If one has no plans of doing any streaming, a typical entry level gaming setup with at least a 4 core 8 thread processor (examples include an Intel i3 9100f or Ryzen 3 3100, both have an MSRP of $99 USD) paired with an entry level video card such as Nvidia’s standard GTX 1650 or AMD’s RX 570 (both have an MSRP of $149 USD), and at least 16GB of DDR4 RAM is good enough to achieve at least 60 FPS at medium graphics settings on most PC racing games. Ryzen processors that come with built in graphics such as the Ryzen 5 3400G (priced at $149 USD) may suffice on slightly aged titles such as Assetto Corsa and Raceroom (both examples of racing games for beginners), but it may struggle on its own if no dedicated video card is paired with the CPU as content for these titles become updated in graphics details.

While you can use any PCIe video card on any motherboard available today, the motherboard itself will depend on your processor of choice. Should you choose an Intel processor, you will also have to bear in mind the generation of your Intel CPU. - For an i3 9100/9100f (Intel 9th Generation “Coffee Lake”), you will need at least a motherboard with a B360 or B365 chipset. -For an i3 10100/10100f (Intel 10th Generation “Comet Lake”), you will need at least a motherboard with a B460 chipset. Motherboards for AMD processors are easier to choose from. For a Ryzen 3 3100, a motherboard with a B450 chipset is recommended for the best reliability. Both Intel and AMD have yet to release their entry level line ups for their 11th generation Intel Core and 5th Generation Ryzen family of processors in the future. (Other Components to note) For the RAM, at least 16GB of RAM is the safest as the latest version of Windows can easily take up around 3GB of memory on idle. Although it is fine to pick any clock speed of DDR4 ram for Intel processors, AMD Ryzen processors are best with RAM with at least 2400 MHz clock speed. You’ll also want to have RAM installed in a dual channel configuration if possible for better stability. Do not cheap out on the power supply. Get at least a branded 650W power supply with at least an 80 Plus White or Bronze rating. 650W is a sweet spot especially if upgrades to your system will be made in the future.

As for storage, a Solid State Drive (SSD) + Hard Disk Drive (HDD) combination is now the common standard for gaming desktops. At least 128GB of SSD where the operating system will be installed will do. The size of your HDD will depend on how many games you plan to install. For a strictly racing game setup, at least 1TB is sufficient. You can opt for an HDD only setup if budget is limited, though this comes with the expense of longer boot times when turning on the computer. And don’t forget a monitor. If you do plan to get more involved in sim racing in the future, it is best to have at least a 24” Monitor or TV. Do not worry about refresh rate or response times if you are on tight budget. These components should be enough to provide a fluid racing experience even on the most recent titles such as Project CARS 3 and Assetto Corsa Competizione as well as some other future games to be released within the next 2 years. If you have more budget, you can always opt for higher performance processor or video card combinations. Prices of desktop components will vary on manufacturer and retail dealer, so make sure to check your favorite or nearest computer dealer for updated prices. Optimization Simplified Once you have your PC and game of choice ready, you’ll also have to deal with tweaking your graphics settings depending on the PC hardware you have. At racing speeds it will be difficult to see the difference graphics details on cars, tracks and the environment. You would not be able to see the smaller but more resource heavy details such as grass/foilage, shadows car detail, environment and car reflections and trackside objects while focused on the racing lines. Optimizing your racing games is another key step to give a fluid and responsive experience. High or Maximum detail settings are best for taking photos or creating video content.

If you are having frame drop issues on your choice of racing game, it is usually recommended to turn down shadows to low settings (enough to cast basic shadows on only the cars) and grass details to off or its lowest equivalent setting. The same can be applied to car and road reflection settings (setting name may vary across games) as well as special effects which usually only appear when crashing the car. Textures and track details can be left at medium settings. As a beginner, you’ll want to achieve between 30-60 FPS for casual racing. Higher FPS is ideal for competitve racing, but that is for another lesson as optimization settings vary from game to game.


These should cover everything for racing game beginners on selecting or building their gaming system of choice. Be it a desktop PC or gaming console path, the endgoal is to be able to have a machine capable of running your choice of racing games. Once you have a stable running build, all that’s left to do is have fun.

On either system type, you would already have at least one input method (a keyboard for PC or gamepad on a console, because you would not be able to setup without it). At some point, you will eventually want to step up your game and improve the immersion with a better controller or even a gaming wheel which we will tackle in the third and final part of this series.

- Article written by Luis Moreno -

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