Best Fanatec Racing Wheel: Buyers Guide 2023
Fanatec wheels are the pinnacle of sim racing. But which Fanatec wheel is best for you? I find out in this ultimate guide to the best Fanatec wheel in 2023.
As sim racers, we know that Fanatec offers some of the most immersive sim racing wheels on the market. The German sim racing manufacturer has spent the last decade consistently producing stunning racing wheels, across a wide range of price brackets.
But when it comes to buying a new racing wheel in 2023, which Fanatec wheel is the best?
In this sim racing buyers guide, I’ll run through the best Fanatec racing wheels and wheel bases across a few different categories. I’ll show you the absolute best Fanatec wheel base and racing wheel you can buy. I’ll also show you the best mid range, and budget friendly racing wheels.
A Quick Introduction To Fanatec
Before I jump into our product recommendations for the best Fanatec wheels, I’ll touch on the overall Fanatec ecosystem a little.
Fanatec has a few different product ranges. Each product range reflects a different level of performance and budget.
You have the CSL range, the ClubSport range and the Podium range.
Fanatec CSL Product Range
The CSL product range is Fanatec’s entry point. The sim racing products included as part of the CSL range are the most budget friendly products that Fanatec offer and are designed as any sim racer’s first stop.
Fanatec ClubSport Product Range
The Clubsport range represents a step up in performance compared to the CSL range. Within this product lineup, you’ll find slightly more premium products, which serve as fantastic upgrade options over the CSL range.
Fanatec Podium Product Range
Finally, Fanatec’s highest performing and most premium products sit in the Podium range. It’s here that you’ll find the most expensive products such as high powered direct drive wheel bases and extremely realistic steering wheels.
Compatibility across each range
The great news is that due to Fanatec’s well established ecosystem, all products work perfectly well with each other. This allows sim racers to mix and match products across each range. You can use the Podium Paddle Module with a CSL DD wheel base as an example.
There are no barriers for compatibility between each product range. The only compatibility that you need to keep an eye on is when it comes to console compatibility. You need to ensure that all products work with your specified console.
Best Budget Fanatec Wheel
I’m going to start our product recommendations by looking at the best budget Fanatec wheel and the best budget wheel base.
The best products here are all a part of the CSL product range, and provide great performance along with a relatively low price point.
Best budget wheel base – CSL DD
Our top recommendation for the best budget friendly Fanatec wheel base has to be the CSL DD. This wheel base provides outstanding performance given its relatively low price point.
The CSL DD will cost you €/$349.95 when purchased in its 5Nm form. I mention the torque as you can also purchase a boost kit for the CSL DD which improves its strength up to 8Nm.
However, even in its 5Nm form, the CSL DD is mightily impressive. The force feedback is generated via a direct drive motor allowing for incredibly detailed force feedback.
The direct drive motor removes the need for any belts or gears which are commonly found in racing wheels at this price point. It allows for a larger motor, producing more power, and much crisper FFB compared to a belt-driven racing wheel.
Best budget steering wheel – McLaren GT3 V2
Choosing a steering wheel to pair with the CSL DD wheel base is a relatively easy job, as there is a clear winner. The Fanatec McLaren GT3 V2 steering wheel provides a very good real-world replica steering wheel.
Much like the CSL DD, the McLaren GT3 V2 sits within Fanatec’s CSL product range. It is actually Fanatec’s third most affordable steering wheel coming in at under €/$200.
For that money, you get a racing wheel which is compatible with Xbox, PS5 and PC. It features a range of inputs including push buttons, rotary encoders, magnetic shifters, a dual clutch and an OLED display.
That is a pretty impressive range of features for a racing wheel at this price point. The McLaren GT3 V2 doesn’t feature a heavy use of high-end materials, keeping costs down, but what you do get is a a very responsive and nice to race with steering wheel.
Other honourable mentions in the budget category
Despite us crowning the CSL DD and the McLaren GT3 V2 as the best budget Fanatec wheels, there are a few other products which could be considered the best budget options.
GT DD Pro Wheel Base
The GT DD Pro wheel base is right on the cusp of the best budget and the best mid-range Fanatec wheel base. It costs slightly more than the CSL DD, making it a more premium choice.
The increased cost is attributed to the fact that it has a wider range of compatibility with consoles. While the CSL DD wheel base is only compatible with Xbox and PC, the GT DD Pro is compatible with the Xbox, PC and PS5.
The GT DD Pro is only available to purchase individually at 8Nm and costs €/$599.95 in this form. That is €/$100 more than the 8Nm CSL DD. That extra cost shouldn’t be sniffed at, but allows you to use this Fanatec wheel base across all platforms rather than having two individual wheel bases or being restricted to just a single console.
If you are looking for the best all-round Fanatec wheel base under €/$600, the GT DD Pro is an extremely solid choice.
CSL P1 V2 Steering Wheel
When it comes to alternate budget-friendly Fanatec steering wheels, the CSL P1 V2 is an extremely good choice. It is the absoloute cheapest Fanatec steering wheel in 2023 coming in at just €/$119.95.
For that price you get a circular steering wheel with a range of face buttons along with a directional stick. Around the back of the steering wheel are a set of metallic shifters and on the top of the wheel is a digital display.
The CSL P1 V2 is a very good starter wheel suitable for a variety of sim racing disciplines.
Best Mid-Range Fanatec Wheel
At the mid-range price point, your options for different Fanatec wheel bases and steering wheels open up considerably. The Fanatec ecosystem is full of extremely good steering wheels, with many falling into this category.
Best Mid-Range wheel base – DD1
Jumping up from the budget wheel base of the CSL DD and the GT DD Pro, the next step up the ladder is the Fanatec DD1. This wheel base provides a huge jump in performance, capable of producing up to 20Nm of torque.
This high torque output is well over double that of the more budget friendly Fanatec wheels. This is achieved thanks to a much larger motor. This motor is extremely powerful, but is also capable of producing extremely detailed force feedback.
While there is a huge jump in performance between the Fanatec CSL DD and the DD1, there is also a large price jump.
The Fanatec DD1 wheel costs €/$1,199.95. This would normally put the DD1 out of the mid-range category. (Remember this is the price just for the wheel base and doesn’t include a steering wheel).
However, Fanatec doesn’t have any other wheel base that sits in the middle of the budget-friendly CSL DD/GT DD Pro and the higher performing Podium range.
If you do have the budget to stretch to a DD1, you won’t be disappointed, as it is easily one of Fanatec’s best wheel bases.
Best Mid-Range steering wheel – Formula V2.5X
Fanatec really shines when it comes to great sim racing wheels. And the Formula V2.5X is a shining example of that. It is constructed of extremely high quality materials and features enough inputs to land a fighter jet… (OK, that might be a little bit of an over-exaggeration.)
The Fanatec Formula V2.5X is easily one of the very best formula-style racing wheels within this price range. Costing €/$389.95 it firmly sits in the mid-range category and is fairly well-priced compared to other formula steering wheels from brands such as MOZA or Thrustmaster.
The design of this steering wheel is absolutely spot-on in terms of size and ergonomics. It is sized at 280mm across and constructed from high quality materials including metal and carbon fibre.
The ClubSport V2.5X is also compatible with all consoles including Xbox, PS5 and PC, making it a very versatile Fanatec steering wheel.
Other honourable mentions in the mid-range category
Again, I would like to mention a few other wheel bases and steering wheels which didn’t quite win the mid-range Fanatec category.
The ClubSport V2.5 wheel base is a much older Fanatec wheel base, and is now discontinued. Despite this, you can still pick up this wheel base from used marketplace websites, and if you can find one in good condition it is well worth it.
The ClubSport V2.5 wheel base features belt driven technology opposed to the direct drive tech found in newer Fanatec wheel bases. However the motors inside the ClubSport wheel are capable of producing extremely strong forces.
As a comparison, the ClubSport V2.5 creates a mighty 8Nm, which is actually the same as the CSL DD and GT DD Pro. This makes the ClubSport V2.5 the best Fanatec belt-driven wheel ever.
This is impressive, as no other belt driven wheel base on the market produces that much torque using belt driven motors. The ClubSport’s nearest competitor is actually the Thrustmaster TS-XW which produces 6.4Nm of torque.
Despite using belt-driven technology, you can’t really feel any artifacts or blemishes in the force feedback with very little loss of detail.
You’ll find heavy duty materials including a lovely brushed aluminium face plate, held together by huge bolts.
And on the top of the wheel base itself, you’ll find a transparent panel, allowing you to see the inner workings. This certainly pleases my inner tech nerd!
ClubSport BMW GT2 V2
If you are looking for an exceptional Fanatec steering wheel at a mid-range price point and would rather a round wheel rim, the BMW GT2 V2 should fit the bill nicely.
This steering wheel is another replica steering wheel, this time from a BMW GT2 car. It features an all-metal construction along with Alcantara hand grips just like those found in real-world race cars.
This steering wheel is larger than the Formula V2.5X coming in at 320mm across, but this replicates the real-world size. The most recent version of this wheel, the V2 features magnetic paddle shifters and it comes with the Fanatec QR1 quick release, allowing it to be compatible with all current Fanatec wheel bases.
This steering wheel is a really solid choice, and it’s one of the best looking round steering wheels available in 2023.
Best Premium Fanatec Wheel
When it comes to the top-of-the-range Fanatec wheels and wheel bases, you have to go with high-end direct drive technology. In this category and price range, you will find the very best Fanatec wheels.
Best premium wheel base – DD2
With the DD1 sitting as the best mid-range Fanatec wheel, the win for the best premium Fanatec wheel base goes to the DD2.
This wheel base is the most powerful that Fanatec has ever produced and produces a whopping 25Nm of torque. This wheel base is so powerful, it comes packaged with an emergency stop button just in case!
This range topping wheel base produces some of the very best, strongest and most detailed force feedback of any wheel base, and should certainly be considered if price is no object.
Best premium steering wheel – Porsche 911 GT3 R
One of the very best Fanatec steering wheels is the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Following the trend of replica steering wheels, this wheel is also a full-scale replica. It is the same wheel that is found in the Porsche 911 GT3 R race car.
It features a range of products, that when combined produce one of the best sim racing steering wheels. With this Fantastic steering wheel, you get;
- Podium Advanced Paddle Module
- Podium Button Module Endurance
- Podium Porsche 911 GT3 Cup steering wheel
- Podium Hub
The steering wheel rim is a really nice suede or leather flat-bottomed wheel rim. You can choose which hand grip material you prefer between leather or suede.
The button module serves to give you a range of different inputs from buttons to encoders, which can all be used to control your car mid-race. It also features a range of LED rev lights and a customisable OLED display.
The paddle module gives you an authentic shifting experience. It includes 6 individual paddle shifters, that can all be configured individually. Each shifter features a magnetic activation for the most authentic shifts.
Finally, the Podium Hub includes the QR1 quick release as well as the brains that ensure the wheel is recognised by your wheel base and works flawlessly.
As far as premium sim racing steering wheels go, this Fanatec Porsche 911 GT3 R wheel is up there with the very best.
Other honourable mentions in the premium category
Much like with the other categories, there are a few premium Fanatec wheels that I have to mention. These products didn’t quite take the crown as the best premium Fanatec wheels, but should certainly be carefully considered if you are looking at purchasing a racing wheel within this price range.
Fanatec Podium F1
The Fanatec Podium F1 racing wheel bundle definitely deserves a mention as one of the best Fanatec wheels. Although it would probably be more accurate to describe the Podium F1 as one of the best Fanatec racing wheel bundles.
The Podium F1 is a combination of a few different Fanatec products, which all come together to create this bundle.
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In the Podium F1 bundle you’ll find a DD1 wheel base, a Formula V2.5 steering wheel and a Podium Paddle Module.
These three items can all be purchased individually, although when purchased in this bundle you save a little but of money and get a few added perks.
The first perk is that the whole bundle is PS5 compatible. This is something that isn’t found on the regular DD1 or DD2 wheel bases. So if you want a PS5 compatible high end Fanatec wheel base, the Podium F1 is the only way to get one.
You will also notice that on the steering wheel itself is a unique design. The Formula V2 that is included in this bundle features a blue colourway with the official Formula 1 logo across the front. This steering wheel isn’t available to purchase individually in this colour.
When you piece this bundle together, you get one of the best Fanatec wheels you can buy in 2023.
The performance is on par with the DD1 producing 20Nm of peak torque, and force feedback which is just as detailed.
Podium BMW M4 GT3
Now before I talk about the Fanatec BMW M4 GT3 wheel, I have to just say that we are currently looking at the very best Fanatec wheels, so we can expect the price to be pretty high.
And in this category, the BMW M4 GT3 wheel takes the crown. This steering wheel isn’t just a 1:1 replica of the steering wheel found in the latest BMW M4 GT3 car, it is the exact steering wheel found in that car.
Fanatec worked alongside BMW to produce a steering wheel that an be used in a real-world GT3 car, and on a racing sim.
This steering wheel is as close to identical to a real-world steering wheel as you can get, and it even meets the FIA standards. But this level of prestige comes a pretty high price point. The Fanatec BMW M4 GT3 wheel costs an eye watering €/$1,499.95.
This is a sim racing steering wheel unlike any other, and is available to purchase today.
Our recommendation – What would we buy?
Now that we have covered the best Fanatec wheels within a range of different price ranges, it leads to the question of what wheel would we buy from everything that we have mentioned.
For me, it is a rather easy choice. While premium Fanatec wheels such as the DD2 are technically fantastic, they come with a rather hefty price tag.
This leads me to question of whether the extra cost leads to extra immersion and enjoyment. And I would say, you can have just as much fun, and race equally as fast with one of the more budget-friendly Fanatec wheels.
My recommendation would be for the Fanatec CSL DD, or the GT DD Pro if you race across both Xbox and PS5 consoles. And I would pair this with the Formula V2.5X or the BMW GT2 V2 wheel.
My reasoning for this combination is because the CSL DD and GT DD Pro offer fantastic levels of force feedback. When using them along with the boost kit, they can produce up to 8Nm of torque. And this is right around the sweet spot.
I’ve raced for years with a more powerful wheel base, and I almost always had it turned down to produce around 10Nm of torque rather than the 20Nm+ that the high performance wheel bases are capable of.
Both the CSL DD and GT DD Pro come in much smaller form factors, making them easier to mount to your sim rig, and the force feedback detail is brilliant.
And for the steering wheel, my personal favourite has to be the Formula V2.5X as it is just so perfectly designed. It is just the right size for racing formula or GT cars, and features an amazing array of inputs.
If you prefer racing with a round wheel, then look at the BMW GT2 V2 wheel as that is my favourite circular Fanatec steering wheel.
This combination gets almost everything just about right when it comes to immersion, enjoyment and budget management.
Will a premium Fanatec wheel make you quicker?
One of the most commonly asked questions I get asked is will a premium racing wheel improve your lap times?
Well, you won’t instantly make lap time gains by simply by upgrading your wheel setup to a Fanatec direct drive wheel. Although over time, you may well become a better, and faster driver by using a direct drive wheel.
The force feedback in the DD1 and DD2 wheel bases are far superior to that in more budget-friendly wheel bases that Fanatec make.
The fact that you will be feeling more detailed force feedback, means you can more accurately anticipate your cars behaviour. And in turn, you could use this added information to become a better driver.
But, when you first jump into racing with a direct drive wheel, you will probably be slower for the first few laps/races. It will almost certainly take you some time to adapt to the different, and stronger force feedback. And while you’re adjusting you will probably lose a little overall lap time.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If I have a small budget, what is the best Fanatec wheel?
One of the best budget friendly Fanatec wheels is the CSL DD or the GT DD Pro. Both of these direct drive racing wheels are among the cheapest that Fanatec sell, and they offer great levels of performance.
What is different between the Podium F1, DD1 and DD2?
The Fanatec Podium F1 utilises the same DD1 wheel base. The only difference is the added PS5 compatibility in the Podium F1 wheel. The DD2 is more powerful than both of these wheel bases and can produce up to 25Nm of torque.
Which Fanatec wheel is the best?
The absolute best Fanatec wheel has to be the DD2 wheel base. The DD2 is the most powerful wheel base that Fanatec make creating 25Nm of torque. Other great Fanatec wheels that can be considered the best include the DD1, the Porsche 911 GT3 R racing wheel and the Podium BMW M4 GT3 wheel.
Is a Fanatec wheel worth it?
When sim racing, you will want a racing wheel which feels immersive and is capable of producing strong and detailed force feedback. A Fanatec wheel base meets all of these criteria and is a worth while purchase or upgrade. The CSL DD and GT DD Pro wheels are great Fanatec wheels to start with and the DD1 is the perfect racing wheel to upgrade to over time.