Best Direct Drive Racing Wheel 2022

Direct drive is the pinnacle of sim racing hardware. But which is the best direct drive racing wheel. This guide compares the best offerings from brands such as Fanatec and SimuCube to find out.

The best direct drive racing wheel
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When it comes to the pinnacle of sim racing wheels, direct drive has been king for a long time. Direct drive racing wheels utilise the most powerful, and advanced technology to produce the most immersive sim racing experience.

However, for years direct drive racing wheels haven’t been the most consumer-friendly products. With some requiring rather high technical knowledge to set up correctly.

That all changed when manufacturers such as Fanatec and SimuCube released plug and play wheel bases. But which direct drive racing wheel is best for your sim rig setup?

In this guide, I run through the best direct drive wheels that are on the market today. I’ll show you the best racing wheels for a variety of sim racing setups, such as console setups and DIY setups.

Hopefully, by the end of this guide, you will know which direct wheel to spend your hard-earned money on.

Best Direct Drive Wheel for PS5 / PS4

During this guide, there are a few brands that we’ll mention a lot. This is because these brands have done a fantastic job creating some of the best direct drive wheels available.

The first of these brands is Fanatec. The German manufacturer has become renowned in the sim racing community, producing some of the best sim racing products across a wide range of price points.

At the top of Fanatec’s product lineup are its direct drive offerings. These direct drive wheel bases come in a variety of forms. You can pick them up as a stand-alone wheel base, or as part of a bundle.

And it’s one of these direct drive bundles that I’m recommending first.

The Podium Racing Wheel F1®

Typically, PlayStation gamers haven’t been overly spoilt when it comes to racing wheels. There are a lot of racing wheels for sale that simply aren’t compatible with PlayStation consoles, either the PS4 or PS5. And that trend continues with direct drive wheels.

At this time of writing, there is only a few fully compatible, plug and play direct drive wheel for PS4 and PS5.

There is a small Fanatec wheel, the GT DD Pro which offers a budget-friendly direct drive experience. And then there is the new Logitech direct drive racing wheel. And finally, there is the Fanatec Podium F1 which is a complete racing wheel bundle that is officially licensed by Formula 1.

Fanatec Podium F1 Pros

  • The only PS4 & PS5 compatible direct drive wheel available.
  • Some of the strongest force feedback on the market.
  • Extremely good aesthetics and design.
  • Fantastic build quality.

Fanatec Podium F1 Cons

  • Rather heavy to mount to a sim rig.

Best Direct Drive Wheel for Xbox

Being an Xbox gamer opens up a couple of additional options when it comes to choosing a direct drive wheel. But not that many.

You still have access to the Fanatec ecosystem, and you also have the new Logitech direct drive racing wheel as an option. Other than this, no other wheel manufacturer offers a true console direct drive wheel yet.

While you can use both the Fanatec DD1 and DD2 direct drive wheels on Xbox, and the Logitech Pro Racing Wheel, I would highly recommend looking at a different Fanatec direct drive wheel base.

CSL DD

The Fanatec CSL DD is a much more budget-friendly direct drive wheel base that is compatible with Xbox and PC. It reduces the form factor and the overall torque strength to create a wheel base that is much more accessible.

While the DD1 and DD2 both produce over 20Nm of torque, the CSL DD produces just 5Nm of torque in its base mode. You can purchase it with a Boost Kit to bump the torque output to 8Nm, and I’d highly recommend doing just that.

The CSL DD is around half the size physically than the larger DD1 and DD2, and much smaller than Logitech’s direct drive wheel base. This makes it incredibly easy to mount to any sim rig or a table using the Fanatec table clamp.

What about the DD1 or DD2

As mentioned above, Fanatec produces both a DD1 and DD2, which feature varying force feedback strength. These are much more powerful sim racing wheels than the CSL DD, but they’re also around double the price.

If you are looking for more power than the CSL DD, then there is the question of which wheel base should you pick up. On paper, the DD2 performs better than its little brother. It produces 5Nm of torque more than the DD1, and comes equipped with a kill switch, which is normally a $100 / €100 add-on.

But, when you have a wheel base such as the DD1 already producing 20Nm of torque, do you really need to go any further than this?

DD1 vs DD2

In all honestly, the DD1 produces more than enough force feedback strength to give you a solid workout, and really test your strength. Considering the substantial $300 / €300 upgrade price from the DD1 to the DD2, we wouldn’t really recommend making the jump.

We did hold a complete head to head DD1 vs DD2 comparison, which you can find out the results of here.

The Best Direct Drive Bundle For Xbox

If you aren’t in the camp of already owning a selection of Fanatec products or wheel rims, it may well work out better to look at purchasing a direct drive wheel bundle.

Fanatec does sell a complete Xbox direct drive bundle, which includes the wheel base, a wheel rim, and the advanced shifter module.

This bundle includes the DD1 wheel base, not the DD2, so bear that in mind when ordering. However, as mentioned I still believe that the DD1 is actually the smarter buy.

Fanatec Podium Pros

  • A superb bundle, including the best wheel rim.
  • Some of the strongest force feedback on the market.
  • Extremely good aesthetics and design.
  • Fantastic build quality.

Fanatec Podium Cons

  • Rather heavy to mount to a sim rig.

Best Direct Drive Wheel for PC

When it comes to buying a direct drive wheel for a PC setup, your options suddenly increase substantially.

You could still opt for a bundle such as the console bundles we mentioned above. These bundles work with PC, and are both great options.

Or instead, you could look at other brands such as MOZA and SimuCube, who like Fanatec, offer a range of direct drive wheels, each with varying degrees of strength.

MOZA FSR Wheel Gameplay

Finally, you could look at buying into an Open Sim Wheel setup. This is where the technical barrier increases greatly.

Open Sim Wheel setups have you purchasing the different components individually, and then creating a custom wheel base setup. This process is very similar to building your own custom PC.

I won’t touch too much on Open Sim Wheel right here, as I don’t think it is necessarily the best option when looking for a PC direct drive wheel. I have included a section below for the best Open Sim Wheel setup. Skip a little bit below to read more about it.

When it comes to actually recommending the best direct drive wheel for PC, it is between the MOZA R9, Fanatec DD1, and the SimuCube 2.

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MOZA R9 vs Fanatec DD1 vs SimuCube 2 Sport

By having a few manufacturers to choose from, your decision becomes a lot harder.

Fanatec produces some of the best-licensed wheel rims on the market, yet they come at a price. SimuCube boasts much more customisability, and a larger community following. While MOZA Racing is relatively new to sim racing, but has produced a wide range of direct drive wheel bases over the past 12 months.

In all honesty, each of these brands offers wheel bases that are fantastic options. Both the Fanatec DD1 and SimuCube 2 Sport are very comparable, offering similar levels of performance.

The MOZA Racing R9 is a much more similar product to the Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro. It has less peak torque than both the DD1 and SimuCube 2, but the force feedback that it does offer is still strong and detailed.

When looking at the two stronger wheel bases, the Fanatec DD1 does beat the SimuCube 2 Sport in force feedback strength, by putting out 20Nm compared to 17Nm of the SimuCube 2 Sport. However, the SimuCube 2 Sport does feature slightly better software, as well as better customer support.

But when it comes to my best overall pick for PC, I would actually recommend the MOZA Racing R9 over both the DD1 and SimuCube 2 Sport. The R9 features 9Nm of peak torque, and you have an ever-expanding choice of steering wheels.

MOZA produce one of the best steering wheels we have ever raced with, the FSR Formula steering wheel. And that steering wheel alone is worth considering MOZA when purchasing a direct drive wheel base for PC.

MOZA R9 Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • Some of the best steering wheels available.

MOZA R9 Cons

  • Not compatible with consoles.
  • Not as powerful as some wheel bases.

Fanatec DD2 vs SimuCube 2 Pro

But, if you are looking to step up towards higher performance levels, both Fanatec and SimuCube have you covered. The Fanatec DD2 and SimuCube 2 Pro are both premium wheel bases that offer a lot of force feedback power. Both the SimuCube 2 Pro and the Fanatec DD2 create the same peak torque at 25Nm.

Again, both models are similar in terms of performance and price, so your buying decision comes down to the wheel rims you plan on using. Or whether you have a preference to either brand.

SimuCube does allow for more wheel rims to be used with their wheel bases, including Fanatec wheel bases as long as you have an adaptor. So SimuCube certainly wins out there.

However Fanatec DD1 and DD2 wheel bases both let you race with Xbox consoles, so they are a little more compatible cross-platform.

SimuCube All components

SimuCube 2 Ultimate

If you are looking for ultimate power from your sim rig, there is only one option. The SimuCube 2 Ultimate.

This direct drive racing wheel sits at the top of SimuCube’s lineup, and produces an eye-watering 32Nm of torque!

If you’re a power junkie, and simply want the strongest wheel possible, go for this wheel base. It boasts the same great software and customer support as all other SimuCube products, meaning you can’t really go wrong.

So Which Direct Drive Wheel Should I Buy For PC?

In all honesty, I think that the smart choice lies really with the entry-level direct drive wheels, as these offer the best trade-off between performance and cost.

We have tested both the DD2 and the SimuCube Pro, and although the high-end wheels are supremely impressive. The price jump over cheaper models often outways the performance gain.

And for that reason, I’d recommend you look to pick up a MOZA R9.


Best Open Sim Wheel Setup

What exactly is Open Sim Wheel? Well, Open Sim Wheel is the term given to creating your own wheel base by assembling individual parts.

Think of it like you are building a custom PC tower. You purchase a GPU, a CPU, a motherboard etc all separately. And piece by piece you configure your own personalised PC. OSW isn’t too dissimilar to this.

Creating your own wheel base can sometimes give you the absolute best performance for your investment. And it can be an extremely satisfying endeavour.

Once you close up the case, step back and marvel at what you have just created, you’ll get a huge sense of achievement.

But that feeling comes after a lot of hard work, and a fair bit of technical knowledge.

Jumping into an Open Sim Wheel isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

You can find kits available to purchase online for complete Open Sim Wheel setups, with just the final construction left to you.

For example, Sim Racing Bay sell some custom OSW kits which utilise the old SimuCube as a base.

These can be had for around $899 upwards, meaning they can be cost-effective compared to wheel bases from Fanatec and SimuCube directly.


Cheapest Direct Drive Wheel

If you are looking for the outright cheapest direct drive racing wheel, then you will be looking at one of the newer direct drive racing wheels from Fanatec or MOZA Racing.

Fanatec has recently made huge strides in affordable direct drive wheel bases with the CSL DD and GT DD Pro. Both of these wheel bases sit over half the price of the higher-powered products such as the DD1 and SimuCube 2 Sport.

Both of these wheel bases are essentially the same product, just badged differently for their respective consoles. The CSL DD wheel base is Xbox and PC compatible, while the GT DD Pro is licensed for PS5 and PS4.

Likewise, MOZA Racing has almost mirrored Fanatec by producing both the R5 and R9 wheel bases. The smaller MOZA R5 produces just 5Nm of torque, while the R9 produces 9Nm of peak torque.

These are heavily designed to compete with Fanatec’s small direct drive lineup, and they do so incredibly well. We did create a detailed comparison of both the MOZA R9 and Fanatec CSL DD to see how both wheel bases stacked up against each other. Read that guide here.

In that comparison, we gave the win to Fanatec, but only just. Both wheel bases are incredibly good and would make a great addition to any sim racing setup.

These products offer great performance within their price range and are without a doubt currently the cheapest direct drive racing wheel you can purchase currently.

Both the CSL DD and GT DD Pro create 5Nm in their base form. However, both come with an optional Boost Kit which increases this strength to 8Nm.

To put that in context, whenever I race with my DD1 which is capable of 20Nm, I normally have the strength output turned down to around 50%. That means I’m normally racing with around 10Nm produced from the DD1.

That means that the 8Nm of the CSL DD and GT DD Pro isn’t far off the strength I’m racing at currently. That is mighty impressive for a racing wheel base that is over half the price of the DD1.


Grab Your Sim Racing Gear Here

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Shop for Logitech Wheels
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Disclaimer: The links above are our affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission from any sales used via these links. Buying after clicking one of our links will never affect the price you pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest direct drive wheel?

In both the USA and Europe, the Fanatec DD1 is the cheapest direct drive wheel base you can buy.

Should I get a DD1 or DD2?

Both the Fanatec DD1 and DD2 offer insane performance. However the increased cost of the DD2 doesn't match the increase in performance. Therefor I would recommend buying the Fanatec DD1.

Which direct drive wheel base is best?

Depending on your requirements, both the Fanatec DD2 and SimuCube 2 Ultimate are fantastic wheel bases. The SimuCube 2 Ultimate offers the best overall performance but the Fanatec DD2 offers a much better performance to cost ratio.

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