At some point in every sim racers life you hit a point of, “Do I have enough sim racing hardware…?” Then you go out and buy more, because race car. One thing you may look to pick up is digital dash display. If you haven’t made the leap to VR, a digital dash can be very handy, making sure critical information is always right in front of you and never impeded by your wheel or field of view settings.
This brings us to the Renovatio SRD-R3 Digital Dash Display. Featuring not only critical car information, but race information as well, the SRD-R3 display vies to give you all information you need in a compact, no fuss, package.
Does it succeed? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Sim Racing Products Available at Ricmotech
PRO – DESIGN
The Renovatio SRD-R3 is packaged really well. Coming in at 113 x 68 x 14mm, it nicely walks the line between big enough to see but not too big to be difficult to mount / see. The curved shape also helps to make sure the wheel doesn’t block any of the screen.
Materials wise, the screen is clear and bright, the rubber-like coated frame feels nice to the touch, and the clear back gives you a sneak peak of what’s going on inside.
Speaking of the back, it features a mini USB port and two M2.5 threaded holes. The location of the USB could be good or bad depending on how you mount it. For me and my custom mounting solution, I preferred it versus a bottom mount. For Darin – who had this unit before me – the USB port got in the way of the velcro attachment route he went with. In the end, I do think the center back position is the better way to go.
The display comes with a long USB cable that shouldn’t have any issue reaching your PC, but if you decide to do something different, you can go to Renovatio’s website and choose from a nice selection of alternative USB cables.
PRO – MOUNTING
Lets dive further into mounting the display. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest challenges of a stand alone accessory. Thankfully, Renovatio goes to good lengths to ease this issue.
As we mentioned earlier, the display has two threaded hard mounts. Although having hard mounts might be a no brainer, there are products like displays and button boxes out there that don’t have these and it can make mounting a real challenge. If I do have one critic, it’s using M2.5 bolts, a size so small that I couldn’t find them at any of my local hardware stores. I ended up going the imperial route and buying 2/56 x ½ inch bolts with #2 washers that seemed to do the trick.
Besides just having threaded holes, Renovatio also offers Wheel Mounting Kits (WMK) for the Logitech G27/29, Fanatec CSR and all versions of the Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base. This is nice to see as a lot of accessory manufactures gloss over this detail.
But since I wanted to mount the SRD-R3 to my SimXperience AccuForce V2 wheel, I went the custom route. For about $10 I was able to accomplish this thanks the the design of the AccuForce wheel button box. I cut out a piece of wood for a backing plate. Attached it to two non-threaded holes that were designed with the idea of you using them for a backing plate. Then I made it black with a black Sharpie marker and attached the display. Then I got a short USB cable I had and ran it to the USB port on the wheel button box.
By the way, in our review of the AccuForce V2, I wondered out loud the need for a USB port on the back of the wheel button box and why the controller needed a second USB cable to the PC. Well now I know why, the USB is for a display and the second USB cable powers said USB port. And now that I know this and use it, I’m very happy for it, because I think this design turned out really slick
PRO – SRD-M3 GAMING SOFTWARE
The SRD-M3 Gaming Software that comes with the SRD-R3 dash is really well done. It’s easy to install, has a good User Guide right there for questions, allows you to pick and choose game plugins, gives you a good number of dash options on an easy to follow screen and allows you to save your configurations. It also gets updated fairly often which is important in a third party software like this.
Besides configuring the dashboard, the SRD-M3 software also has two other tricks, vDashboard and vTelemetry.
vDashboard is a digital dash on your monitor that is nicely laid out and has options like adjusting gauge colors and angle of tachometer. It’s nice but I didn’t find much use for it with the SRD-R3 digital dash blocking its view. You can move it to the side but looks a little odd there.
I did enjoy exploring vTelemetry. It’s not the most dynamic telemetry tool but it does allow you to see a breakdown of your laps, with speed, RPM, steering angle, throttle and brake inputs, etc. I found it useful to analyze how well I was maximizing my braking.
If I do have one minor complaint it’s that you need to launch the game from the software to have the dash work, at least when you first fire up the game. I was able to play the game, exit, then go back in again without having to launch from the SRD-M3 dashboard.
This is a complaint because issues can arise when you have multiple softwares that require you to launch the game from them….an issue I experienced.
Every time I launched Sim Commander 4 for my AccuForce V2, it would shut down the SRD-M3 software that was trying to connect at the same time. Oddly enough, Darin didn’t have this issue running the same hardware and software, but after a lot of problem solving we eventually threw in the towel and found a work around. The work around for me was firing up the game via Sim Commander 4 – like always – then alt-tabing while in-game and running the “check” mode in the display software to bring the display to life. After that it worked fine.
Not ideal but one of those things when you have two pieces of software fighting each other.
NEUTRAL – FUNCTION
When it comes to actually using the SRD-R3, there’s good and bad.
On the positive side, there’s a lot of good information there such as gear, speed, lap time, fuel left and sector splits. And if you want different information like water temperature, position, live gap time, flags, if you’re in DRS zone and more, you can do that in the Dashboard Configuration.
Where things start to go a little sideways is when it comes to shift points. The dash has 16 white LED’s showing the full RPM range, then 6 configurable purple LED’s up top. The issue is, with the all the LED’s being either white or purple, it’s hard to tell when to shift.
While it’s easy for you at home to see when I should shift with the camera focused on the dashboard, when you’re actually driving you aren’t looking at the dashboard, you’re watching the road and only catching the lights in your peripheral vision.
This is why pretty much all racing cars use some combo of green, yellow, red and blue lights to make it easy for the driver to see where they’re at in the rev band. Without this differentiation – as I found out with the SRD-R3 – it can be tough.
To improve the situation I tried a couple things. First I turned the brightness level all the way down to try to differentiate the white LED’s in the rev band. This did help a bit – the band is made up of three different size LED’s, so there was an attempt to differentiate them – but it still didn’t help enough. Plus, while driving it’s really hard to tell if the RPM band is at the last LED, or second to last…or third to last. You don’t have time to count out sixteen lights.
This left the full RPM guage pretty useless.
As for the top 6 purple RPM LED’s, at first I didn’t have much more confidence in them. The default “Full range” setting in the Dashboard Configuration had all 6 of them on pretty much all the time. Not very helpful.
But then I played around with the options and started to make progress. A few of the standard profiles worked well out of the box. The “Green and red” profile – although all the lights are purple, the software labels them as green, red and blue”…go figure – worked well on the Pro Mazda in iRacing. I also found the “F1 Progressive” setting to work well with – you guessed it – the 2017 Ferrari F1 car in Assetto Corsa. The lights would turn on as you would expect they should and the last one lite up lower in the rev range, the ideal spot to shift for current F1 power units.
But outside of those examples, I spent a lot of time manually adjusting the rev light points and saving it as a profile for that car. This process works but it’s kind of annoying to do for every car and the slider to adjust when the light comes on isn’t as accurate as I would like. It pretty much always skips two or three numbers, and when there is a difference between the light coming on at 92 vs 93, this matters. Would be nice if you could just type in the number yourself.
I also played with some other shift indicators on the SRD-R3. I changed one of the “Alarm” lights to “RPM red zone.” I did this because this light is red and I thought the different color would help. The red light is more noticeable but on many cars you are already hitting the rev chip by the time it comes on, making it not very useful.
I also played with the audio “Gear shift” beeps that the display can give out. At times I felt like they were pretty accurate, other times not so much. Plus with me using my speakers for game sounds and headset for voice talk, hearing the beep is near impossible.
In the end, I was able to get the top purple LED rev lights to assist me. Selecting “Red and blue” profile and manually adjusting the final two lights to come on at the car’s shift light seemed to be the best way to catch the purple LED’s out of my peripheral vision. But I’d be lying if it wasn’t a bit of a strain keeping my eyes on the road, while at the same time trying to catch if a little light had come on.
NEUTRAL – PRICE
While 159.00€ isn’t cheap, it’s in the ballpark of other displays and a lot cheaper than its previous price of 229.00€. What is well priced are the mounting kits which only cost 10€ when bundled with the display. Also, it’s 34.90€ by itself which isn’t terrible either.
Lastly of note, the SRD-R3 comes with a two year warranty.
I prefer using the Renovatio SRD-R3 Digital Dash Display versus not. In the pursuit of having the most realistic seating position and field of view with my setup, there are many times when it’s not possible for me to see the car’s digital display. Other times it requires me to keep the in-game wheel on in cars with wheel mounted telemetry, even though I’d prefer to turn it off. Thus, having a digital dash is helpful.
Is the Renovatio SRD-R3 as helpful as I’d like it to be? Not entirely. My biggest pain point of not being able to see the in-game dash is not seeing the rev lights. And while I eventually got it calibrated to a point where the top LED’s did help, it took more work and concentration than I had hoped. It’s just tough to have rev lights that don’t change color when you’re focused on racing.
Beyond the rev lights, I’m happy with everything else. It looks good and is perfectly sized to be mounted on my wheel or a wheel base with one of the optional mounts. Its nice to know the gear, fuel levels, lap times, etc. I also like the software despite the work around I needed for the AccuForce.
Is my sim racing life better with it? Yes.
But despite that, I’m left a little disappointed at what it could be with something as simple as using different color LED’s, or even using RGB LED’s as that becomes more of a thing. If it had that change, then this display would be a no question recommendation. But for now, I understand if you have reservations.