Elite Dangerous guide: Outfitting your Ship

elite dangerous horizonsWelcome to Part 2 of our Elite Dangerous guide for beginners. If you didn’t see part 1 which covered the controls and the HUD, then you can find that here. In this part we will be talking about Outfitting your ship . In Elite Dangerous you will start off with a Sidewinder and a small amount of credits. After a bit of grinding to build up your credit balance you will start to think about fitting out your ship with better components or maybe even upgrading your ship altogether.

Not all starports in Elite Dangerous offer the same services or even the same level of services. They may stock just two ships in the shipyard or they may have a wide variety to select from. The same goes for the outfitting. Not all components will be available. As a general rule I find that high tech systems in economic boom tend to offer the biggest variety of goods to buy. More on economies and systems in another guide to come.

Elite Dangerous Cobra

There are many types of ships in Elite Dangerous and they are tailored towards specific roles. It is handy to know what ships are good for certain roles when upgrading as you don’t want to be heading into a high conflict zone with a ship that’s better suited for trading. At the start of the adventure  however we all start in a Sidewinder which is a pretty agile all rounder.

When you’ve managed to build up your credit balance you’re going to want to head to a well stocked Starport and pimp out your ride. At first glance the outfitting menus and sub-menus can be daunting and make little sense but its actually a lot simpler than it first appears.

How exactly you choose to kit out your ship will depend very much on the activities you plan to do in Elite Dangerous, and how much cash you have in the bank to complete the upgrades. When you enter the Outfitting menu you are greeted with a view of your ship and its information and specifications can be seen at the bottom of the screen. On the left you will see 5 tabs. Hardpoints– where your weapons go. Utility Mounts– additional scanners and defence modules can be fitted here. Core Internal– you’ll fit your ship’s core modules here such as FSD (Frame-Shift Drive) and Power Distributors etc. All ships have the same core modules. Optional Internal– covers modules like vehicle bays, cargo racks and docking computers etc. You can fully customise these modules to fit your needs. You can change your ships livery, markings and dashboard mounted bobble heads via the livery tab.

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When you select one of the categories you will be shown the slots that you can fit items to.  These come in different sizes which is identified by the large number,  1 is small and they get incrementally bigger. Underneath that number will be a corresponding amount of dots so if for example you have a number 3 you will have 3 dots underneath it, this will be relevant in just a minute. The modules themselves also have a number or ‘class’ and a letter. So, as you can see below I have highlighted a 1G Pulse laser. The 1  is the size of the module and the ‘G’ is the rating or quality of that module with (‘A’ being the best).

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In the picture above you can see that in my Cobra MKIII, I have selected ‘Hardpoints’ and the top module is highlighted. I have a Class 2 slot and in it is fitted a class 1 Pulse laser. Note that one dot is filled in and one is hollow. If I  had a class 2 module fitted then both dots would be filled in. Ideally and if you can afford it you want to have class 2 modules in the class 2 slots but I’m relatively poor on this account so I’ve had to make do with a class 1. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a class 1A module may be better than say a class 2G module so always compare the pro’s and con’s of each before deciding which to fit to your ship.

You’ll see the improvements one offers as the stats will turn blue and any negative impacts will be red. If they are the same there will be no visual difference. Mass will not be highlighted regardless, it will just change to what ever and you will need to look at it each time to compare any differences.

For a quick list of what the letters represent, look below:

E – the worst all round performance
D – Better performance than E, lowest mass
C – Good all round performance for the price
B – Better performance than C but higher mass = better integrity for subsystems but will lower your jump range and agility (except with thrusters where agility will be improved over lower ratings)
A – Best all round

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So now we know what the numbers and letters mean let’s take a look at some of the modules available.  When fitting weapons you will need to decide whether to go for Pulse Laser, Beam Lasers, Burt Lasers, Cannons, Multi-cannons, fragment cannons, mines, torpedoes and so on.  Weapons deal out thermal, kinetic or explosive damage. Personally, to start out I go with pulse lasers and multi-cannons. Lasers dish out thermal damage so they are good at bringing down the shields of enemy ships. Once the shields are down I turn to my multi-cannons which deal out kinetic damage which is good for damaging the hull of ships.

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Weapons also have different mounts so they can be fixed, in which case they will fire directly ahead and it’s up to you to aim. Turrets rotate on an axis and gimballed weapons  give them full movement. Turrets and gimballed weapons tend to have tracking as part of the weapon system so you just point forward and the weapons will track the target for you.

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When upgrading your ships core and  modules in Elite Dangerous you need to consider what you plan to be doing. Are you going to be exploring or going into Combat for example. will you be hauling cargo across the stars? Money will no doubt limit your options here to start with and there are as many opinions of what the best set up is as there are possible configurations  but some key basic points you want to take note of for each task can make all the difference.


If you want to go exploring you’re going to want to be able to jump larger distances and weight will be a big factor. D rated components are the lightest that you can fit so you’ll want to fit D rated modules with the exception of the FSD (Frame-Shift Drive) which you’ll want to go for the best you can afford. You’ll need the Discovery Scanner and I would recommend taking a Fuel Scoop along for the ride too. A Fuel Scoop lets you collect energy from nearby stars, but only a certain number of stars will let you scoop. Refer to the next paragraph for a helpful tip. Each ship has a maximum jump range and you’ll want to get the most range out of your ship, personally I’d upgrade to the Hauler before going exploring but it can be done in the Sidewinder if you really want.

Fuel Scoops are essential for small, or exploration ships. Great for beginners too, in case you find yourself lost in space and low on gas. Not so much for haulers which have larger fuel tanks. If using a Fuel Scoop, only some stars will let you scoop their energy. Stars listed as class types O, B, A, F, G, K, M are suitable. Plan your route around these. A couple of well known Elite Dangerous phrases will help you remember the list better. Repeatedly say “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me,” or “KGB FOAM.”


If you plan on chasing down criminals or partaking in a spot of piracy then you are going to want to have some weapons that pack a punch, and a ship that can take a knock on the chin. You will want to fit the largest shield generator that you can afford as the higher the Class, the better the price and energy efficiency.  Larger shields do weigh more, but the increase in shielding tends to be worth it. Upgrading to an A grade Power Distributor is important too as this links the power plant to your shields, thrusters and weapons. Upgrading lets you shoot for longer and boost more often which can make all the difference in a dogfight.


You are going to want to maximise your cargo capacity here so lose anything you don’t need like your scanners and potentially your weapons. Trying to fight in a trading vessel is suicide, so focus on booster thrusts and quick escapes. You’ll be a tempting target for pirates so be careful not to compromise too much on your defences and ability to run away. You wont be sticking around to fight.

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Whilst the Sidewinder is a good all round starter ship I found myself upgrading as soon as I could as this allowed me to earn more Credits quicker and better tailor my ship for my needs. Even after many hours of playing Elite Dangerous I’m still learning about outfitting my ships so don’t get frustrated if it feels like you’re swimming through syrup. If you have any specific questions about Elite Dangerous or anything covered here or perhaps you just need help, then just send us a message and we or one of our lovely community members will do our best to help you.


The complete list of our Elite Dangerous Guide can be found below. Simply click the one you want to see.
Part 1- Elite Dangerous Guide: Controls and the HUD
Part 2- Elite Dangerous Guide:  Outfitting Your Ship
Part 3- Elite Dangerous Guide: Navigation
Part 4- Elite Dangerous Guide: Making Money

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