Manual vs Paddle shifter: Which is better for sim racing?

If you're into your racing games and own a steering wheel as part of your setup, you've probably wondered whether you're better off using manual or paddle shifters.

Fortunately, we've put together this guide to highlight the pros and cons of both so you can come to an informed decision on which is best to use.

With that being said, let's kick things off with the performance.

Manual vs Paddle shifter - Performance

This is a tricky one to answer because, ultimately, timing your gear changes is what's most important for getting the best performance possible.

However, most wheels these days, like this Logitech G923 featured in our best racing wheel for PS5 list, come with the paddle shifters as standard because this is what you'll find on all the F1 cars and most other high-speed vehicles.

logitech g wheel
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Image Credit: Logitech

Much like on a real car, the advantage of having paddle shifters is you never have to take your hands off your wheel to change gear, thus making the process easier and, in most cases, quicker to execute.

Around a track, this could shave milliseconds, or even seconds off your lap time as timing your gear changes to perfection can help you prepare for corners and accelerate out of them quicker.

The alternative is a manual gearbox, which, in Logitech's case, would be this Logitech Driving Force Shifter. It comes in the commonly used H pattern and is more akin to what you'd find in most road cars and older vehicles.

logitech gear box
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Image Credit: Logitech

The advantage of using a stick is that it gives you more control over your gear selection.

For rally-based games like DIRT, you may find you need to downshift from fourth to second when entering a corner due to the immense speed your traveling across very uneven and unpredictable surfaces.

This would not be possible using paddle shifters as they pre-select the gears for you, therefore giving you less control over what you're changing into.

Sequential Gear Box

If you enjoy the idea of paddle shifters but like using a gear stick, then a sequential gearbox may be the answer as it is essentially a combination of the two.

This Thurstmaster Sparco Shifter, for example, only allows you to change up or down a gear which should be a time-saver compared to an h-shift gearbox, allowing you to produce quick, snappy changes while you focus on the road.

thrustmaster sequential
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Image Credit: Thrustmaster

Manual vs Paddle shifter - Authenticity

While paddle shifters may result in slightly improved performance, they may not be realistic for the car you're driving.

For example, if you're driving an older car, then you'll probably find it uses a manual gearbox. Therefore, using a paddle shifter isn't an accurate simulation of your vehicle.

This is only a minor factor to take into account, however, if you're looking to emulate the real racing experience as accurately as possible, then it may be worth selecting the gear system that parallels the car you're driving.

Manual vs Paddle shifter: Which is better for sim racing?

The answer to this question will ultimately come down to personal preference, and, as mentioned above, you may find switching between the two depending on the car you're driving to be most enjoyable.

With that being, if you're looking to maximise your performance, then we feel a paddle shifter is the way to go as it should deliver a much easier and quicker gear change, all whilst you remain glued to your steering wheel.

Read More: How to race with manual gears on F1 2021

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