Fanatec CSL DD Review

Fanatec CSL DD Wheelbase product
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The cheapest Direct drive base around

Fanatec has been creating sim racing products for many years, and has been known for its eccellent design and usability, and cutting edge technology. This reputation has solidified even more in the last few years after the launch of their range of direct drive wheel bases.

Direct drive bases are the most advanced technology for sim racing wheel bases. If older bases relied on chain and belts to deliver the motion of the wheel and the force related to it, with direct drive effects are much more precise and so the force feedback, as you are directly connected to the motor without any intermediaries.
On top of that, a direct drive can produce a much more potent response that helps simulating the forces involved in a real racing car.

Historically, though, direct drive bases weren’t for everyone, as you had to budget at least 1000 Dollars or Euros to afford one. This changed after the launch of the CSL DD Wheelbase in August 2021.

Never before has Direct Drive technology been available at this price point: this made the CSL Direct Drive the perfect choice for any new coming sim racer. Is it still true in 2023? Let’s have a look at it.

The Fanatec CSL DD comes from the factory with a new from-the-ground custom motor, 100% developed in Germany and specifically designed for sim racing. Its promises deliver sensational performance thanks to a new patented FluxBarrier™ technology, which claims to be able to transmit the nuances of force feedback detail to your hands with more remarkable precision and clarity than ever before.

 

New Technology

The efficiency of the Direct Drive motor technology means dynamic force-feedback performance is contained in a small footprint. This is also the first industrial motor to feature a carbon fibre composite motor shaft, which increases responsiveness and acceleration significantly due to low rotational masses.

Fanatec was one of the early adopters of Direct Drive, and released the DD1 and DD2 between 2017 and 2019, two bases that became the gold standard for top level Sim Racing.

The Cost?

Starting at 349.95 Usd/Eur * for the 5Nm version, and $479.95 Usd/Eur for the 8Nm boosted one.

The buyer’s guide and review

Last Modified: May 15th of 2023

Product Overview
Brand
Product TypeWheelBase
ModelCSL DD
SerieCSL
PedalsNot included
Editorial Rating9.5 ( Update)
Ready ForPC / Xbox®
Product PageCSL DD WheelBase

 Videos

Brief Design Overview

CSL DD Design Overview

  • Custom Direct Drive motor specifically developed for sim racing
  • New FluxBarrier™ technology (optimises motor efficiency and smoothness)
  • Dynamic force-feedback performance
  • First featuring a carbon fibre composite motor shaft
  • Up to 8 Nm of torque ( Optional Boost Kit 180 unlocks maximum torque: 8 Nm peak )
  • Upgradable quick release
  • Fanatec SDK support ensures game compatibility out of the box for all major racing games
  • Standard and advanced Fanatec Tuning Menu
  • Wheelbase housing is made from aluminium

Full List of Features

  1. Direct-Drive system delivers instant, detailed force feedback.
  2. Linear, consistent performance (5 Nm peak torque with the standard power supply), but you can unlock the maximum strength of (8 Nm peak torque) with the “optional product” -> Boost Kit 180
  3. Patented, exclusive FluxBarrier™ technology optimises motor efficiency and smoothness.
  4. Full game compatibility out of the box for all major racing games.
  5. Standard and advances Tuning Menu allows beginners and enthusiasts to get started quickly without having to worry about settings or not.
  6. High-resolution (contactless) Hall-position-sensor, same as Podium Series.
  7. Steering axis made from carbon fibre-enhanced composite.
  8. Fanless: The wheelbase housing is made from aluminium that acts as a passive heat sink.
  9. Welcome to the Wireless: cable-free delivery of power and data to steering wheels.
  10. New Automotive-grade quick release, exchangeable.
  11. Easily to adjustable the hard-mounting with the new T-nut rail system
  12. Front-mounted threaded inserts

Force Feedback

The CSL DD wheel-base deliver great details for track surfaces, a smoother FFB, as well a reasonable range of car forces like g-load, and tire-flex, that make you drive your car on the limits, If we compare it to other FFB systems is relatively similar to how the CSL feels on track but with the advantage of having almost no build-in dampening and of course the feel of not belts or gearing you get with a non-direct drive wheel.

This base delivers a 5 Nm peak torque with the standard power supply but with 150$ more you can upgrade the maximum strength of (8 Nm peak torque) with the “optional product” -> Boost Kit 180.
You can always buy the 5 Nm version and upgrade it later if you wish.

So, How good is the Force Feedback? I think the power it can transmit to the driver’s hands at this range price is more than enough reason for me to buy this base, if you already have a system in place and want to add and affordable base with clear and smooth force feedback, then the CSL Wheel Base is a nice addition for you.

Compatibility

PC: This wheelbase is compatible with your Personal Computer when combined with a Fanatec Steering Wheel. Check the individual Steering Wheel product pages for Wheel Base compatibility.

Xbox®: This wheelbase becomes compatible with your Xbox One® and Xbox Series X|S when used with any Fanatec Xbox-licensed steering wheel.

Playstation®: This wheelbase is not compatible with the PlayStation 4 and the new Playstation 5.

PS5: No PS4: No PS3: No

PC: Yes 

Xbox: Yes  Xbox Series X: Yes 

Peripherals Compatibilities

The Wheelbase is compatible with

Compatible Wheels

  • All Fanatec Podium Steering Wheels
  • All Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheels
  • All Fanatec CSL Steering Wheels

Compatible Pedals and Shifters

  • All Fanatec Pedals (adapter cables might be required on pedals without RJ12 connection)
  • Fanatec ClubSport Shifters (including ClubSport Static Shifter Paddles)
  • Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1 and V1.5

Compatible Accessorieses 

  • Fanatec RennSport Cockpits
  • ClubSport Table Clamp V2
  • Table Clamp
  • Boost Kit 180
  • Podium Mounting Brackets (Includes M6 T-nuts for side-mounting; the Podium Mounting Brackets require the use of M6 bolts and washers)

Ports

  • Power supply
  • USB-C to PC / console
  • Fanatec DataPort-C
  • Shifter 1
  • Shifter 2 (Sequential only) o Pedal
  • Handbrake

 Features

PROSCONS
Direct Drive technology for an entry-level racing wheel. ( Never available at this price point ) Peak torque of 5 Nm ( (optional) unlocking the full 8 Nm )
Exceptionally crisp and dynamic force feedback sensationsBoost Kit is quite expensive (149.95 Usd / Eur)
100% custom motor for Simracing with a new patented FluxBarrier™ technologyTable Clamp ( not included )
First industrial motor to feature a carbon fibre composite motor shaftNot compatible with any PlayStation® console
No shortcuts in quality or performanceMost sims don’t actually have sidewall flex in time inside the Telemetry data
Compatible with all Fanatec wheels and most wheels in the market 

 

What is included?

  • CSL DD wheel base
  • 90W power supply (regional)*
  • 4x T-nuts for rail mount system
  • USB cable (Type-C to Type-A)
  • Quick Guide
    *If you select the Boost Kit 180 (180W power supply), the standard power supply is not included.

Optional features you can buy with this product:

Optional Boost Kit 180 unlocks maximum strength (8 Nm peak torque). It is basically just a different power adapter that is needed for a stronger torque. This will allow you go get to 180W – the standard power adapter is 90W

Boost Kit 180

 Table Clamp

table clamp csl dd whelbase
Table Clamp

Optional warranty extension available ( Always good for new release products )

Comparison- Podium DD1 vs CSL DD

 Podium DD1 CSL DD
Price:1199,95 $349,95 $
Platform:PC / XboxPC / Xbox
Max. Torque:20 Nm of force5 to 8 Nm of force
Rev lights:Rev Lights on Wheel BaseN/A
Display:OLED displayN/A
Quick-release:Quick-Release SystemAutomotive-grade, all-aluminium quick release
Paddle shifter adjustability:  
Joystick/ Vibration Motor  
Diametre: Significantly smaller
GRAB YOUR PRODUCT:Podium DD1CSL DD 

Comparison- CSL DD vs Moza R5 and Moza R9

A better comparison is with two similarly priced producs such as Moza Racing R5 And Moza R9. The two competitors are produced by the Chinese company Moza Racing, a new incumbent player that has been releasing a wide range of sim racing products in the last few years.

One advantage of the Fanatec base is for sure compatibility with Xbox and an easier puchase process via the Fanatec website. If you are looking for a Playstation entry level direct drive base, check out the Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro which is basically the same base as the CSL DD with added compatibility for PS.

 CSL DDMoza R5Moza R9
Max torque5 or 8Nm5.5 Nm9Nm
CompatibilityPC and XboxPC onlyPC only
DisplayN/AN/AN/A
Encoder resolutionnot declared*15 bits15 bits
MaterialsAluminiumAluminiumAluminium
MountTable or side mountTable or side mountTable or side mount
Price349$/€-449$/€319$-349€+ taxes439$-469€ + taxes
*probably between 12 or 16 bits
**For Playstation check out the Gran Turismo DD Pro

 

Where to buy Fanatec CSL DD?

Fanatec generally don’t sell in regular “offline” stores and big chains: the best way to buy a Fanatec product is directly via their website, where you’ll have access to the best prices and the best possible after-sale service.

Fanatec ships pretty much everywhere in the world via their Europe, US, Australia and Japan websites.

 

Final Analysis

Direct Drive Technology is no longer exclusively available for the high-end Podium Series, making direct drive systems add-ons accessible for the mass and for the majority of sim racers out there.

This Fanatec Wheel Base is available for 349,95$ US Dollars, + shipping. This is even the same range price as some belt-driven systems on the market right now, definitely a game-changer for the sim racing industry and a waking call for other companies.

In terms of quality of product, the CSL DD can clearly not be questioned as it comes from one of the top manufacturer, with tens of thousands of products sold and happy customers.

We believe the Fanatec CSL DD wheel base is a perfect products for whoever wants to take some into a more “advanced” sim racing, possibly coming from a entry level wheel. But, not only: if you are opting for the 8Nm, it can also be a good alternative to more expensive bases with torque of 15-20Nm or more.
With 8Nm “only”, you could probably miss some force feedback in some cases, and some effects (in case you high a curb when the base has already high torque), but this would most likely be minimal.
Many racing cars have power steering anyway, so their torque is limited, so you would likely not need that much strength. Unless you want to simulate a formula car or Indycar (not Formula 1, which has power steering)

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Is this the most affordable direct-drive wheelbase out there?

Yes it is one of the best options in the market, the Fanatec CSL Direct Drive is an entry-level wheelbase with high-end quality and performance

Is the CSL Direct Drive base a replacement for other CSL Bases?

Yes, it is. Older CSL versions (with belt-driven technology) are still a solid product for beginners, and generally hold a good value on Ebay and other second hand marketplaces

Worth the money?

Direct Drive won’t make you a better driver just for having a Direct Drive wheelbase in place, it needs more than that.
But the question is, Worth the money? the answer is yes, Let us explain why, if you want to setup an entire sim racing system starting with the CSL Direct Drive you will need to add to the system a set of pedals, a racing wheel and at least the table clamp, those products will add in total 800$ dollars for you, but if you compare with the majorities of Sim racing equipment out there, Direct Drive systems reach the 1.000$ mark for sure, so Worth the money? I think it does.

Playstation specific versions?

The DD Base does not work with PlayStation devices: Fanatec recently released the DD Gran Turismo DD Pro for Playstation

How many Nm is the CSL DD?

The DD Base Peak torque is 5 Nm with an optional unlocking of 8 Nm adding the Boost Kit 180

Do you recommend the Boost Kit 180?

It depends on your needs, but going from 5Nm to 8Nm can make a good difference in how your gaming experience and make it more future proof. If you opt for the 5Nm, you can always upgrade in the future by buying the Kit.

Is the table clamp good?

Yes it is, the table clamp is made from strong glass fibre-reinforced plastic materials, is easy to mount on your desk or table, you just need to simply slide the base onto the clamp, place it on the table or desk and start adjusting as need, what’s more, is specifically designed for the this product, I think buying this add-on is a must-go for you if you are planning to grab this Base.It suits table thicknesses up to 60mm.

Is this wheel base strong enough?

It is quite strong in the 8Nm version, with the included Boost Kit 180. This provides much stronger feedback, and as a result, you’ll feel the subtle cues more clearly too. And with a new powerful 180W power supply that unlocks the full performance of the direct drive motor, you will get a real strong product for sure

Does the CSL DD have high and low torque modes?

No, it does not have high and low torque modes as are found on the DD1 and DD2

Fanatec CSL DD Wheelbase

349.95
9.5

Price

10.0/10

Design

8.0/10

Adjustability

10.0/10

Installation

9.5/10

Compatibility

10.0/10

Pros

  • Entry-level DD wheel
  • Pure joy of high fidelity FFB
  • Cheapest Direct Drive wheel on the market
  • heightened sense of realism
  • Exceptionally crisp and dynamic force feedback

Cons

  • Peak torque of 5 Nm
  • What's the future of other CSL bases?
  • Not compatible with any PlayStation® console
Crazy Racings

We are crazy and we love Sim-racing, Nice combination, isn't?

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