Buttonboxes are very cool if not necessary to have, if you’re racing online. They are basically simply buttons that you assign different functions to. This allows you to adjust those functions and settings on the run, while you’re driving, without having to use sliders, the mouse or the keyboard. It all boils down to maintaining focus on the driving as much as possible. I have lost a fair bit of races because i had to adjust fuel, or pit stop strategy while i was on the straights.
Buttonboxes can be bought separately. You can even make one yourself, and many have told me that i should have made one instead of buying one. Honestly though, everything is easy, if your know what you’re doing. Also i wanted something that looked good, and was not just a piece of wood with buttons on it.
I had seen at several alternatives but i ended up buying the Logitech Heavy Duty Equiptment Side Panel. This is originally a part of a bundle specifically made for Farming Simulators. You can buy the bundle that includes a wheel and two pedals, but from what i hear, those should be pretty low quality and really not suited for racing. Actually, some farming simulator fans, buy racing wheels and pedals because they are so much better.
You can buy the side panel separately though, and this is what i did. The price was a bit steep, but it was a very easy upgrade for my rig, to simply buy this and get a big number of varied function buttons, with warranty and a simple plug and play installation. It looks pretty nice next to my rig, and although it take up a considerably large space on the rig, it really integrates well.
24 + Buttons
What really made me go for this, was the huge amount of buttons. 24 standard buttons that could free up some of the functions on my wheel, and let me only use those for the ones i used often. I mostly race the simpler classes in iRacing, so i am not using close to all of the buttons yet. At some point, when i get into the faster and more complicated cars, like LMP1, Formula 1 or even the GT3 and GTE cars, i am sure that i will be very happy to have access to all these buttons.
The small wheel to the left, can be used for slider adjustments. I have set this to brake balance, but can also be used for Traction Control or other settings that have varied value settings. The joystick i had initially thought of using for my view. It has a standard joystick function that i have used to look left and right as well as up and down. I rarely use this though, after i got triple screens. You can also twist the joystick, but this did not register with iRacing. It did work well on other sims though. On top of the joystick are two buttons. One of them allows it to switch to an other function, allowing you to basically have to functions to this one joystick, and the other button works as a standard button.
Does it work?
Partly yes, and partly no. I actually wanted this back in the day where i still was racing on xBox One. I was very dissapointed that this did not work on the console, so once i bought the PC setup, this was one of the first upgrades i bought! It really does the job as i expected. All the buttons work, and once you get used to what functions you have assigned to them, they really become handy.
A few of the features i could not get to work, mainly because iRacing did not recognize the inputs. Using a small program called Joy To Key, i was able to partly work around this, but it would have been better if iRacing would have recognized the inputs. All in all i am very very happy with the purchase, and i am using it every day. It also has freed up a lot of buttons on my wheel, so that i can assign them functions that i need to get to even faster.
Let us know in the comments bellow if you have this too, or what your experience with button boxes is.