Button Boxes | Useful Or An Unnecessary Indulgence?


United States
Take a look at VTOL VR: every button can be pressed IN VR! Every switch is active, etc. The best VR simulation ever and no external button box! Too bad it's a plane and not a car! But some big titles will get it someday...I hope.

I've tried that and it's great for a preflight before you are actually flying the plane, but not having any tactile response is a serious liability at other times.

The bottom line is that it prevents you from reaching out to a control by feel and using a control without taking your eyes off the road or somewhere else.

When you know where the controls are having a real button switch, knob, toggle is much more satisfying.

There are also controls that are not represented in a cockpit.

In Dirt Rally I use a joystick for the arrow keys and have an Enter, Cancel, Esc button mapped that don't exist in a cockpit.

In all driving titles I use a joystick to move the seat fore/aft, up/down and also have a tilt toggle for titles that support those. You can argue that once you have a car dialed in that this is no longer important, but it is something you have to do with every new car you use in most titles and if someone else uses your rig who is a different height than you are.
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I could not do without a button box, this is what mine looks like.

Also very practical to type.
But not so hot in VR :)


T300 and VR user, never had a button box... but they are still really useful. [X]

Maybe i get one with nice physical buttons... first a new rig.
Love the stream decks too... awesome " multi tools" ... :)
Just plugin a 2nd keyboard or I guess it could work with a cheap/old tablet/phone... it looks impressive on pics or to guests, but in reality, it's mostly useless addition.
It really depends on how far you want to go.

For me a button box could easily be a keypad (as @Chris Down demonstrates above) with some labels, and personally I wouldn't feel a loss in immersion.

Sure, if you want to simulate the environment of your favourite car then there's no other option than a custom built button box.

But for me I just stick with the buttons on my wheel - hell I just drive a Playseat Challenge with a TS-PC and a couple of buttkickers - need something that can be stuffed away quickly when needed - and I don't feel I'm lacking on the immersion front.
I got the same seat and wheel. Are you satisfied with the buttkickers? Which ones do you use? Thanks!


I got the same seat and wheel. Are you satisfied with the buttkickers? Which ones do you use? Thanks!

I've got 2 of the gamer version, but they don't fit directly out of the box as the PS Challenge metal tubing is too thin, so you need to use something like rubber tubing, or other material to place between the clamps and the tubes.

As to am I satisfied? Well yes on the whole I am, but I only use them for immersion purposes - road feel, kerb feel and bumps, rather than informational stuff like US, OS, TC and ABS. I've got them set up in stereo, so left and right, and it does work very well. At first I was a bit meh about them, but honestly I wouldn't drive without them now (well I would, but... you know what I mean). You do need something which reads the sims realtime telemetry like simhub for them to really function. Just relying on the bass signals from the audio output just doesn't work.

On the whole they're a nice and relatively cheap way of getting an extra bit of tactile immersion without going the costly, and IMO disappointing (based on said cost), full motion route,.
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I have a Ignition Controls bbox that I can use with gloves on. It has a 4-way joystick which I find very useful to navigate through menu's and easily restart sessions together with assigned ok/cancel/back buttons. For ACC I -almost- don't need a mouse at all. Buttons have red LED light and build quality is really great. The streamdeck is an awesome device though, I might pick one up to use with other sims (I like myself some ETS for example).

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I just got the same Ignition Controls BBox delivered. I love the quality build. I will also pair it with a Stream Deck that I will also use for non-gaming activities.
Moving some of the game functions to the BBox eliminates for me the need for more expensive steering wheels or with more buttons than my Asher Racing F-28 for example. This is the same logic I used with getting a separate dashboard instead of having it on the wheel.
I don't own a button box, yet but I don't see them as indulgence at all if you are into modern cars at all. Even with a decent amount of buttons on my wheel and excellent wheels available on the market, having a dedicated button box would be fantastic.

I would love to have extra buttons. Sims like ACC have so many functions now that my Accuforce wheel (the one that comes with the unit) doesn't have enough buttons and yes I am aware of shift functions but on the fly it's easier to have a dedicated button, rather than having to press two buttons in sequence.

A button box is on my list of wants for my sim rig after a better wheel, rig and pedals. That is once I can afford these things after I'm done preparing my real car for track
For me since I use my rig for both sim racing and flight sim, the Stream Deck is the only way to remember all of the functions. I also use 2 button boxes. I also like to use my Stream Deck to access my favorite website and programs at the push of a button.


Au contraire Capitaine, no need to look at a keyboard to know where the letters are, perfect for VR, which I exclusively use to drive. ;)
Chapeau :) You're a better man than I am, I drive exclusively with gloves to keep the alcantara rims from getting shiny and greasy, and with gloves on I can't find bugger all on the keyboard. But then, I can't find bugger all without gloves, and I am also the worlds slowest typist anyway. ;)


Stay Safe, Healthy and be Kind - Stop Hate
Woodstock, IL USA
Each time I see a post on button boxes I think how nice it would be to have just a few more than what is on my wheel. But then two things always come into play; one is cost and the other is mounting. Seems to get something that fits costs more than I care to spend, or something like the Stream Deck but no way to mount it so it is stable and within line of sight.
Using the discarded tablet/phone with a sim dash app is intriguing but having the same issue of mounting, that is until I came across this today and thought I would share it if you haven't seen it already. I found it on Etsy and he makes 3D printed brackets specifically made for Fanatec gear to mount a tablet, phone or both. Looking forward to getting it and doing away with the mouse trap I'm currently using.


While I will admit that they look really cool, I personally haven't seen the need for one. Most everything I want to do can be programmed into the G29 buttons, all the other stuff I program into my keyboard.

And honestly I prefer to have all of the readouts on my computer screen because it helps with keeping focused on the track, the less I have to look away from the screen the less likely I am to make a stupid mistake.
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Completely pointless.

For older cars there aren't any in-car adjustments to even warrant a box.

For new cars, most of the settings in sims boil down to "set it and forget it." Have never felt the need during an AC SRS race to monkey around with TC or ABS settings. G29 often has more than enough buttons even for intricate stuff like KERS, DRS, or hybrid management. Half of our sims don't even have rain or night time racing so why TF do I need to map extra buttons for wipers or lights?

The like, extremely few instances I've needed to reach across for my keyboard, it doesn't trigger my OCD or whatever because "it doesn't look aesthetically pleasing enough."

It's just an old guy flex. "Check out my sim rig that Barb only lets me play an hour a night on, isn't it great?"

I might be old (I am:)) but if you never race in night or rain (which will require you to change around quite a lot like TC, ABS and other components of the setup as far as the car allows), then it's time for you to grow up. Mario Kart should be is a thing of the past now.

James Burton

I use my button box more for when I play trucking game. I do use it to start my Porsche GT3 in ACC. And it lights up, love shiny light up things.
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I mostly race in VR but still enjoy my current button box. It's small and only has 6 buttons and 3 two-way toggles based on a USB encoder board in a metal electronics box (super sturdy and no hollow sound). Alongside my Fanatec Porsche 918 wheel, I have plenty of button options.

My dash screen is only used when racing outside of VR (which isn't much nowadays). A lot of the flashy stuff becomes useless in VR but still looks nice on a rig LMAO. Like a peacock strutting it's bright feathers.

I'll counter the keyboard not being useful in VR. If you can touch type, it's plenty useful for chat and non-race functions (like replays, HUD and seat adjustments, etc). Just not as a button box. I use a mechanical full-size board with a trackball mouse mounted to my wheel deck.
The buttons, switches, joysticks, toggles and rotaries are all easy to find in VR. I made use of edges and different controls that makes it very easy to find what in need by touch and of course muscle memory.

I guess grabbing in that fan while searching your buttons blind might speed up learning that muscle memory a lot! :)

I only have one button box, but couldn't live wihtout it in VR, It's the only way to get enough buttons by touch, so I'm with you.