Fanatec is a popular Sim Racing company that has been delivering high-end wheels and pedals for years. This company’s products are known to be more expensive than others but that is just because they refuse to compromise on their standards. The new Fanatec CSL DD is a direct drive wheel base that is tailored to be affordable. In this article, you will get the full review of the Fanatec CSL DD.
This wheel has been tagged TheNewStandarDD by Fanatec and it is the first direct drive wheel base in history to be within this price range. The Sim Racing fandom has nothing but high expectations for this product. Let’s refresh things a little bit; we are going to use the word Direct Drive or DD a lot. So what is a DD wheel base? In a direct drive wheel base, the steering wheel is directly mounted on the motor or wheelbase. A gear or belt driven wheel uses an intermediary which is belts or gears, you can never compare the quality of force feedback of direct drive wheels to that of belt or gear drive. The motor used in direct drive wheels is also crazy expensive that is why most DD wheel bases are expensive. Well, until now.
The CSL elite wheel by Fanatec was marketed as a low cost product that still satisfies most of the basic wheel requirements. Now, this new Fanatec CSL DD will deliver direct force feedback at just approximately $350 to its users. There’s a catch, while other direct drive wheel bases like the Fanatec podium DD1 and DD2 have a peak torque of 20Nm-25Nm, the CSL DD has a peak torque of only 5Nm. However, you can upgrade to 8Nm using the boost kit 180. This is usually lower or almost similar to some belt driven wheels but you cannot deny that there is something pure about the force feedback of a direct drive wheel base.
This wheel base also looks smaller compared to other Fanatec wheel bases but this compact design was done on purpose. It utilizes a new carbon fiber composite motor shaft with an optional table clamp. This obviously says that this wheel is perfect for desk Sim Racers who have not set up their rigs with complete wheel stands and mounts. This is not possible with high end direct drive wheels because a table clamp will not hold its weight appropriately.
There is also a user exchangeable all-aluminum quick release that will transition into a new QR2 system. Fanatec has kept quiet about this mysterious new system but has stated that it is coming soon. The original wireless QR technology basically means that there is no mechanical rotator limiter, giving uninterrupted relay of data from the wheel to the wheel base steadily.
Compatible Wheels and Pedals
First off, this wheel is only compatible with PC and Xbox so tough luck for PlayStation users but Fanatec has promised compatible PlayStation DD version in the near future. This wheel base is also compatible with the Fanatec CSL wheels, ClubSport wheels, Podium wheels, all of Fanatec pedals, CSL DD table clamp, ClubSport handbrake and shifter, the boost kit 180 and the Fanatec RennSport cockpit. So, basically it is compatible with most Fanatec products. The downside to this affordable wheel base is that like most Fanatec products, there are no extra accessories; you will have to buy the pedals, wheels and even the custom table clamp individually.
This products has not been officially released so Fanatec has called for a vote of the 3 top YouTube review channels to be the beta testers of the Fanatec CSL DD. This is to make sure that these random users give the full critical review of this wheel base!
With the compact design, you can tell that the Fanatec CSL DD will be lighter. It is hard not to feel a bit skeptical about the weight. The weight of a Sim Racing equipment is usually a good tell of how effective it will be. Beside, direct FFB motors are usually large, we can’t help but wonder the sacrifices that was made to make this wheel base more affordable and smaller than usual.
The wheel base housing is made from aluminum with composite end caps and there is a T-nail rail system on the sides and bottom to support mounting. Let’s face it, this wheel base was made with good materials and as a bonus, it is also tuned to allow beginners start playing immediately while allowing complex configurations so that experts can configure it to their taste.
Before this beautiful wheel base made its way into the market, the previously cheapest direct drive wheel base yet was the SimXperience AccuForce V2 DD wheel. Most DD wheel bases cost well over $1000, Accuforce V2 normally costs about $988 for the wheel base, controller and steering wheel set, it has even formerly been on summer sale for $750. Most users were worried about the 13Nm torque peak it offered but at the end, most reviews were positive or neutral. Some even noted that several games were not able to utilize the full power of the force feedback. The only notable complaint was the noise and need for configuration tuning from the company. The new Fanatec is way cheaper and has a lower torque peak but there are high hopes that it will perform well.
One thing that is sure is that this new wheel base will definitely shake up the Sim Racing world. For the price of approximately $350 dollars plus shipping, this is basically a steal. We expect other big companies to make their own big product reveal for the masses soon. Fanatec will always have a special spot for bringing the first affordable direct drive wheel for entry level users. Although the peak torque is low, the fact that it is a direct drive wheel with no belts and gears to interrupt the force feedback, already brings the Fanatec CSL DD to the top of wheel bases within that price range.