There were a few factors that made me want to try building my own PC. I was able to pick and choose the components I thought would work best for sim racing and learn more about how they all interacted.
I could concentrate especially on aspects that would make the system operate best with sims like iRacing, rFactor, Asseto Corsa, and racing games like Forza since my configuration was going to be focused exclusively on sim racing and not so much on other games, business applications, or Facebook.
The time was the second factor. Every single one of the half a dozen or so companies that I approached with about custom gaming PC builds was four to six weeks out on a build because of the pandemic. Since all of their PC technicians had to work from home, there was a sizable backlog of orders.
This was going to be a recurring motif throughout my entire project, not just for the PC but for every single part that would go into the system.
The majority of sim racing-specific businesses are small businesses, hence they lack the capacity to maintain a sizable inventory. Many of these businesses—both producers and retailers—have little to no inventory remaining since the demand for sim racing on a global scale is currently skyrocketing. I choose to go ahead and build my own PC keeping those limitations in mind. also make an effort to avoid electrocuting myself.
So let me now present to you all the components that will go into my sim racing PC after taking into account all the recommendations I received from iRacing and my own research.
I decided on the ASUS RoG Maximus XI Hero ($278.99 on Amazon) as my motherboard. The Maximus Hero XI includes features like overclocking optimizations and room for twin graphics cards that I might not need right away but may be useful in the future because it was made for high-end gaming.
Speaking of graphics cards, I went with the sizable, terrible, and incredibly expensive EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Ultra Hybrid Gaming GPU ($1,299.99 on Amazon) after hearing from the iRacing team how crucial they were to make a simulation operate well. This took a significant financial impact, but once we start going, I think it was well worth it. The RTX 2080 Ti has 11GB of internal GDDR6 memory.
One of the major problems with running a gaming PC hard is the heat buildup, therefore cooling is crucial. In order to regulate performance as that occurs, the PC will throttle it, which is clearly not useful when you’re in the thick of a race. But more crucially, prolonged exposure to high temperatures will reduce the lifespan of parts.
I settled on an Intel Core i9 9900 K processor for my CPU ($549.99 on Amazon). The Intel CPU is currently at the very top for sim racing, with eight processor cores operating at 5.0 GHz. I matched that with a Dark Rock Pro 4 CPU cooler from be quiet! for $89.99 on Amazon in order to get the same heat management advantages.
The 32GB G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series RAM is the following item ($164.99 on Amazon). Although 32GB should be more than enough, it only operates at 3200Mhz, so if things start to lag in the future, I can increase the speed to 3600 or even 4000 Mhz.
I made the decision to use fast Samsung 970 EVO solid-state drives (SSD) in capacities of 1TB ($194.99 on Amazon) and 250GB ($79.99 from Best Buy) as my hard drives. Both of these internal drives, which mount directly to the motherboard, should aid in a rapid loading process.
I’m going to install Windows 10 on the smaller of the two drives and save all of the data and applications on the larger 1TB drive. Then, all of my information will be safe on the second drive and I can just reformat the main disk if I ever have a Windows problem (like that would ever happen…).
I also need a location to store all these components. I didn’t care about space, so I went with the enormous, be quiet! (Amazon price: $252.92) Dark Base PRO 900 A Full Tower case with great airflow, the Dark Base Pro also includes a Qi wireless phone charger, tempered glass panel, and some other amazing features.
Therefore, Amazon and Best Buy quickly had all of these parts sent to my front door after I charged a total of $2,911.00 to my credit cards—plus a few more dollars for items like Windows 10 OS and a mouse and keyboard, etc. By the way, this was completed before the request to only order necessities from Amazon was made.
All that was left for me to do was put everything together. Just one more tiny step.
I’ll confess that actually putting up a PC is not as difficult as I had imagined. Generally speaking, everything has a place, and if you carefully read the instructions, it shouldn’t take long.
I used the well-known website pcpartpicker.com to avoid any fundamental problems with my parts. This enables you to virtually assemble your PC and confirm that all of the components you select are compatible. There are countless ways to put together the parts I ordered, despite the fact that they are all well-known off-the-shelf components that are typically regarded as compatible.
That is not a problem for those who construct many of these PCs, but for a PC fool like myself (a devoted Mac user), it does require some “creative thinking.” Furthermore, race car drivers are not known for having a lot of original ideas. We probably wouldn’t drive race cars if we did.
That was less significant than my subsequent caution, though. Debugging your system is the frustratingly challenging stage after all the components have been put together and your newly constructed PC has been powered on.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I’d make an extremely shady IT man. Once more, the custom nature of the build is the cause of the issue. To function, each component requires specific settings and drivers. The trouble is that many of these drivers are incompatible with other drivers or even the operating system itself, and without conducting extensive investigation, it is impossible to determine what is causing the problems.
I still need a few more parts to complete my rig, so let me end on that note. My next item is a monitor. I could use a single monitor, three monitors, or a VR headset, as I previously stated.
According to everything I’ve read, setting up VR headsets properly is a pain in the ass, and because I’ve just gone through hellish debugging, they were a nonstarter. Although a triple monitor configuration gives me a larger field of view, I have never enjoyed how the monitor frames obstruct my perspective.
I chose to use a single monitor, but I chose the new 49″ Samsung CRG9 ultra-wide gaming display ($1,300 on Amazon) rather than one with the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. The CRG9’s 5120 x 1440 resolution is equivalent to two 27-inch monitors placed side by side without a jarring frame in the middle.
The most crucial feature of this monitor is not, however, its resolution or screen size. According to professional driver and former Sim Raceway executive Nico Rondet, this monitor’s ultra-fast refresh rate of 1 ms is a priority. It was created specifically for gaming.