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Fanatec wheels are the pinnacle of sim racing. But which wheel is best for you? I find out in this ultimate guide to the best Fanatec wheel 2021.
As sim racers, we know that Fanatec offer 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, which Fanatec wheel is the best?
In this guide I’ll run through the best Fanatec wheels across a few different categories. I’ll show you the absolute best Fanatec wheel you can buy. Along with the best mid range, and entry level racing wheels. I’ll round out by showing you our “Insiders Choice” for which wheel we would buy out of the whole product range.
When it comes to the pinnacle of sim racing wheel, you have to go with direct drive technology. And in this category is also where the absolute best Fanatec wheel resides.
For the absolute best Fanatec wheel you can buy today, you should be looking at the Fanatec Podium F1 Racing Wheel.
This is the most impressive overall package that Fanatec have released to date.
For starters, it’s the first PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 compatible direct drive racing wheel ever. This is big news, as up until this wheel’s launch, PS4 owners have always been locked out of the direct drive space.
The Fanatec Podium F1 is the first wheel to open up this possibility.
And Xbox owners shouldn’t feel left out, as the wheel base that is included in this wheel bundle is also Xbox compatible. Yes, you will have to purchase a different wheel rim to play on Xbox. But the heart of the product, the wheel base is compatible.
To top off this bundle. Fanatec have included my personal favourite wheel rim, the Formula V2. This iteration of the Formula V2 wheel rim is unique to this bundle, and sports a blue colour-way.
It is also the only version of the wheel rim to be fully licensed by Formula 1. Although to be honest, the only real addition that this licensing partnership makes, is the inclusion of the F1 logo on the face of the wheel rim.
The main reason you will be looking at picking this racing wheel bundle isn’t going to be the F1 branding! Instead, it’s the brilliant direct drive technology, and the incredible force feedback it produces.
The wheel base included in this model is the Fanatec DD1, which is actually the least powerful direct drive wheel base that Fanatec produce. Although this is actually the wheel base that we would choose out of both the DD1 and DD2. Despite the DD2 being technically the best Fanatec wheel base.
This direct drive wheel base produces an eye watering 20Nm of torque, which is certainly enough to give you serious arm ache after a long race session!
In fact, it’s so powerful, I almost exclusively run it at around 60-70% of it’s overall power across most games.
It is this strength which delivers incredible levels of immersion when racing. You really do feel like you are fighting a hardcore race car through every turn.
Although the detail of the force feedback also plays a huge part in producing this ultimate immersion.
When racing with a Fanatec DD1 wheel base, you will feel a much wider range of force feedback effects. Especially when compared directly to less powerful, less premium racing wheels.
The wide force feedback range means you can really differentiate between small forces such as the road surface, and bigger forces.
This gives you much more information when driving your car, allowing you to more accurately predict how you car is behaving.
Well, you wont 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.
As mentioned above, the force feedback in the DD1 and DD2 wheel bases are far superior to that in any other wheel base 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.
When it comes to entry level Fanatec wheels, your decision really comes down to a face-off between the ClubSport and CSL Elite wheel bases.
Both of these product ranges from Fanatec offer fairly powerful belt driven force feedback. Although there is a reasonably significant power jump and price jump from the CSL Elite to the ClubSport wheel base.
And that price jump is really what eliminates the ClubSport wheel base from any budget wheel base conversation. The price of the ClubSport is much better suited to a mid-range wheel base.
Leaving us with the CSL Elite, which happens to be one of my favourite wheel bases that I’ve ever owned.
The CSL Elite is an outstanding wheel base, which is priced towards the bottom of Fanatec’s wheel base lineup.
However, don’t let it’s relatively cheap price make you think that it has sub-par force feedback. In fact, the latest CSL Elite V1.1 actually features a sizeable amount of technology directly from its bigger brother, the ClubSport.
The CSL Elite uses belt driven technology to create up to 6Nm of torque. Which is certainly enough to give you a good range of force feedback information.
If you are upgrading your sim racing wheel setup from a true beginner wheel such as the Logitech G923, or Thrustmaster TMX, the CSL Elite is a large improvement.
When it comes to console and PC compatibility, no wheel base that Fanatec offers does such a good job in catering for all audiences.
The CSL Elite wheel base can work across PlayStation and Xbox consoles as well as PC’s.
However you do need to ensure you pick up the right version of wheel base for your console. For instance the V1.1 only works on PC and Xbox consoles. While there is a PS4 and PS5 exclusive version of the CSL Elite available if you’re a PlayStation gamer.
Stepping up from the Fanatec CSL Elite, sits the ClubSport range of products. These are Fanatec’s mid level racing wheels, although at the time of writing, there is currently only one product in the ClubSport range. The ClubSport V2.5 wheel base.
The ClubSport wheel base, in all of it’s forms features similar belt driven technology to it’s smaller brother, the CSL Elite. However the motors inside the ClubSport wheel are capable of producing stronger forces.
As a comparison, the CSL Elite outputs 6Nm of torque, whilst the ClubSport V2.5 creates a mighty 8Nm. 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.
When driving with the ClubSport wheel base, the bump up from 6Nm to 8Nm is certainly noticeable. It is a rather sizeable increase in power, and you can feel the added strength through the wheel.
Whilst the increased strength is a welcome addition, especially to anyone who thinks the CSL Elite is a little underpowered. (Although we certainly don’t think this!) It is actually the smoothness of the force feedback which is impressive.
When screaming down a track at close to 200mph, you can sometimes forget the fact that you are actually racing with sim racing wheel.
You can’t really feel any artifacts or blemishes in the force feedback. Meaning no gear jumps, and very little loss of detail.
The improvement to the overall build quality is also a much required jump over the CSL Elite. Where the CSL Elite can feel a little cheap in parts, the ClubSport bumps up the level of quality.
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!
When it comes to compatibility, the ClubSport comes up a little short compared to other Fanatec products.
There is only one version of the ClubSport wheel base, the V2.5. And this is only compatible with Xbox consoles and PCs.
There are ways to get around this. You can purchase a third party DriveHub device, which opens up console compatibility. However Fanatec don’t offer a PS4 compatible ClubSport wheel base directly.
With all that said, and the three best Fanatec wheel / wheel bases laid out, which wheel would I actually buy given the choice.
For me it is a rather easy choice. Of course wheels such as the DD2 are technically fantastic, but they come with a rather hefty price tag. Meaning we would look at other Fanatec wheels which give us the best bang for our buck.
And my insiders choice would almost certainly be the Fanatec CSL Elite wheel, with a McLaren GT3 V2 wheel rim.
The combination of the brilliant CSL Elite wheel base which punches well above its weight. And the new and improved McLaren GT3 V2 wheel rim, make for an awesome sim racing combo. And it’s a combo which doesn’t break the bank to buy!
The wheel rim which I’m recommending is the second iteration of an already great budget Fanatec wheel. The McLaren GT3 V2.
Fanatec re-released this wheel for 2021 with a whole host of improvements over its predecessor. It has a new quick release system, along with new magentic shifters and dual clutch system.
The original wheel was already great, and the V2 iteration makes it almost the perfect budget Fanatec wheel rim.
For me, this bundle gets almost everything just right, and is one of my most recommended racing wheels.
The Fanatec CSL Elite is certainly the best racing wheel for budget conscious sim racers.
Essentially, the Podium F1 is just a product bundle, including the DD1, a wheel rim and the Podium module. This does feature a PS4 & PS5 compatible mode.
The absolute best Fanatec racing wheel is the DD2 wheel base. The DD2 is the most powerful wheel base that Fanatec make creating 25Nm of torque.