Part 1 – Proper Equipment Settings
Since joining iRacing, I’ve learned many, many things. The most important is making sure your equipment is set-up correctly. In fact, it’s vital. Being the stubborn kind of “figure it out for myself” kind of person I am, I had to learn the hard way. I hope this article will help you understand why this is so important and also teach you how to properly change your hardware settings.
Being extremely competitive in nature, once I joined iRacing my desire to be faster had grown very quickly. At first I couldn’t understand how some of these guys were setting such incredible lap times. It seemed that no matter what I did, I couldn’t even come close to the fast guys and it was becoming very frustrating to say the least. While I realized someone else’s setup wasn’t necessarily going to make me faster unless I knew HOW to properly drive the cars, there still seemed to be something that just wasn’t quite right.
One day, I decided to check out the forums and see if I could find some help there. Low and behold, I stumbled across some threads that described Field of View (FoV), another about Force Feedback (FFB) settings for different wheels, and yet another regarding recommended settings for my graphics card.
What? You mean I can’t simply plug in and play?
So, I took the time to read through everything I could about what the best settings were to have on my own equipment. Maybe there is some hope after all! All of the following settings can be found in the forums. Everyone has different equipment, so simply search the forums for your particular wheel, pedals (with load cells) and graphics card to find the correct settings. Follow the instructions and settings exactly as they are posted.
(Before beginning, check to make sure all of the drivers for your equipment are up to date.)
First of all, let’s check out Field of View (FoV).
My settings were set too far back. So, I adjusted them using the handy tool Riacing has provided me. Another thing realized was that my monitor was sitting too far away from me, so it got moved to a position just behind my steering wheel.
(After some experimentation, I ended up with settings even further forward than recommended. Although my eyes had a hard time adjusting at first, eventually I adjusted to the settings which were MUCH better.)
Next, let’s see what we have for Force Feedback (FFB) settings for my wheel.
This was a bit of a shock, as I found nearly every setting to be incorrect. I changed everything exactly according to the recommendations I found on the forums.
***There are two places that need to be checked when adjusting FFB settings. The first of the two is under your steering wheel software installed on your PC, and the second is in the iRacing settings under options. The following thread in the forums should have all the up to date information you’ll need: http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/2023748.page
Keep in mind that even if you have the same brand and model steering wheel as someone else, your in-game settings for FFB may be slightly different than someone else’s. Depending on how old your wheel is, the components inside may be slightly worn and have more play than that of a brand new wheel. For example – my wheel at the time had had quite a workout over the last couple of years, and therefore was a bit more “broken in.” In particular, there is a FFB setting in iRacing called “Min Force.” The way to find the exact settings you need for your “Min Force” setting is to use the Wheel Check tool located here: http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/575/1473510.page#4672038
Finally, let’s check out what settings are best for my graphics card.
These settings determine how well you perceive everything you see on the screen. Again, for me there were many items that were not at the optimal settings. This procedure takes a little more “trial and error” fiddling, but getting optimized settings for your graphics card is absolutely necessary, and well worth the time. Keep in mind that some people with lower end PCs may find that they need to turn off much of the eye candy in order for everything to operate at its best.
“What? You mean I can’t simply plug in and play?”
Now, you might be saying to yourself that “all of this can’t really have that much to do with how fast I am.” Or, “I’ve checked all these things before, and they were fine.” The fact of the matter is that these settings are immensely important. Not only do these settings control how you perceive everything around you while driving, they also control the feedback and feeling you get from your steering wheel and pedals.
Field of View (FOV)
Let’s say that you have your FOV set too far back. This is a problem because your perception of what’s ahead is actually closer than what your eyes are telling you. Therefore, if you’re coming into a corner, you will likely be both turning in and braking too late because the corner is actually closer than it appears on screen.
Force Feedback (FFB)
Force feedback settings control what you “feel.”
Some people say “I like a lot of force feedback, so I crank it up as high as I can” or, “I like having my centering spring enabled because it feels better to me.” These might be some of the things you are thinking, but unfortunately that thought is incorrect. Admittedly, I use to prescribe to the same school of thought where if a little FFB is good, a lot of FFB must be better! This is simply not the case. Eventually I learned that while the force feedback felt stronger (which I liked), these incorrect settings were “desensitizing” the output I was supposed to be feeling. This made all the difference in the world once I understood the concept of it all. Suddenly I started noticing even the tiniest amount of feedback the wheel was now giving me, even though the overall output wasn’t as strong.
Remember that since this is a simulation, we don’t get the benefit of the ‘seat of the pants’ feelings we get when driving a real car. Therefore, every little bit of feeling we can get from our wheels and pedals becomes that much more important.
So, what was the result of all these changes you ask?
In the end my lap times improved tremendously simply by changing a few settings. Now I could see what I was supposed to see, and feel what I was supposed to feel.
Since then, I’ve helped many people who assumed their settings were “fine” only to find out they weren’t. Some of these people have been sim racing for years with incorrect settings. The point is this: Don’t assume that since everything may feel “fine” to you, that all of your settings are correct. Instead, assume your settings are not correct, and check to make sure.
“Don’t assume that since everything may feel ‘fine’ to you, that all of your settings are correct.”
So let’s recap –
Scan the forums for the best settings for your equipment. Follow the posted settings to the letter. Do the same for your graphics hardware, and don’t forget setting up the proper FOV. After you’ve made changes to your settings, keep in mind that things may look and/or feel different than what you are used to. This is how it’s supposed to be! Be patient and get used to the new improved look and feel of your new settings. Do not change the settings back. Not even a little!
I guarantee that if your settings were incorrect you will start to notice quicker lap times. However, don’t assume you will become faster instantaneously, because you probably won’t be. It takes time for your brain and muscle memory to readjust. You will probably even find the setups you were using don’t work as well as they use to. Take a known good setup from the forums or ask someone that is fairly quick in a practice session. Use that setup without making any changes until you are running competitive times. It takes time, but you’ll be extremely happy with the end result.
And lastly, make sure to check the release notes after each build. If something has changed graphically or with FFB, check the forums again and adjust your settings accordingly.