Fanatec CSL DD vs GT DD Pro vs DD1 vs DD2: Which Wheel To Buy in 2023?
With a range of four individual direct drive wheels, the big question is which Fanatec wheel base is the best buy in 2023? The CSL DD, the GT DD Pro, the DD1 or the DD2?
What is the difference between Fanatec DD1 and DD2 vs CSL DD?
Fanatec has a small range of direct drive wheel bases, including the CSL DD, GT DD Pro, DD1 and DD2. The CSL DD and GT DD Pro are smaller, less powerful wheel bases offering fantastic force feedback detail and fidelity at a more budget-friendly price range. In comparison, the DD1 and DD2 are higher-performing wheel bases that produce over double the amount of peak torque that either the CSL DD or GT DD Pro do.
Fanatec has a great ecosystem of direct drive wheel bases in 2023, with each wheel base providing a different amount of power at a different price point. You have the two more affordable direct drive wheels, the CSL DD and the GT DD Pro. And then you have the two premium options, the DD1 and DD2.
So, which out of these four Fanatec direct drive wheels should you consider buying in 2023? Do the DD1 and DD2 justify the increase in price, or so the CSL DD and GT DD Pro offer enough performance? We find out in this head-to-head Fanatec comparison.
In this guide, we are looking at all of the current direct drive wheel bases on offer from Fanatec. This includes four individual offerings. Although, two of these wheel bases come in two forms, which essentially creates a total of six individual products that can be purchased.
Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro
The first two wheel bases are the two most affordable. The CSL DD is the original small form factor direct drive wheel base, and was the first small direct drive wheel base that Fanatec released. This wheel base produces 5Nm in its base form, and is PC and Xbox compatible.
The GT DD Pro was released a little while after the CSL DD and introduced PlayStation compatibility for a small direct drive wheel for the first time. The GT DD Pro also came in 5Nm in its base form and is pretty similar to the CSL DD in terms of performance. The main difference is the exterior design and the additional compatibility. The GT DD Pro is compatible with Xbox, PC and PS4/PS5.
Boost Kit 180
When discussing the performance of both the CSL DD and the GT DD Pro, it is worth noting there is a decent upgrade available for both wheel bases. The Boost Kit 180 increases the power output of both these wheels from 5Nm to 8Nm.
This is an additional purchase or can be purchased with either wheel base for an increased cost. However, it is highly recommended as it provides a significant performance increase to both of these wheels.
Fanatec DD1 and DD2
Both the Fanatec DD1 and DD2 wheel bases are the original direct drive wheels from Fanatec, and both sit in the high-end, high-performance category.
The Fanatec DD1 is the more affordable of the two high-performing wheels, creating a peak torque of 20Nm. The DD2 pushes the performance even further producing up to 25Nm of torque, but this means it comes with the largest price tag out of all Fanatec wheel bases.
Fanatec CSL DD Overview
The Fanatec CSL DD quickly became one of the best selling wheel bases when launched a few years ago. It was the first in a new era of smaller mid-range direct drive wheel bases. It really paved the way for 5-10Nm wheel bases, and it did an excellent job of providing outstanding performance for a relatively low price tag.
The Fanatec CSL DD is directly compatible with Xbox consoles and PC and can be used with all of Fanatec’s current products including steering wheels, quick releases and pedals. This makes it a fantastic choice for those looking for a mid-range racing wheel.
The CSL DD Ready To Race P1 Bundle is a great option for those looking for an all-in-one CSL DD bundle that includes a steering wheel and pedals. This bundle is easily one of the very cheapest direct drive sim racing bundles available in 2023.
As mentioned earlier, the Fanatec CSL DD comes in two formats when bought individually. You can pick up the base wheel base which is capable of up to 5Nm of peak torque. Or, you can opt for the more premium 8Nm version. You can also upgrade at a later date if you fancy buying the 5Nm bundle to start with.
I would always recommend the upgraded version as it adds a relatively decent jump in performance for a small price increase. At 8Nm, the Fanatec CSL DD is an absolutely fantastic wheel base with incredible force feedback detail and peak strength.
Fanatec GT DD Pro Overview
The Fanatec GT DD Pro answered the call of many sim racers who were looking for a PlayStation-compatible CSL DD. This wheel base introduces PS4 and PS5 compatibility to the CSL DD formula but chose to package it in an updated exterior design alongside a partnership with Gran Turismo (resulting in the GT in the name).
While the internals of the GT DD Pro are similar enough to the CSL DD to offer almost identical performance, the real selling point of the GT DD Pro is its added compatibility. The CSL DD was only compatible with Xbox and PC, while this newer direct drive wheel base from Fanatec added PlayStation compatibility to the mix.
This allows sim racers to connect the GT DD Pro to both Xbox and PS5 consoles without having to worry about swapping wheel bases making this wheel much more versatile. The downside of this added compatibility was the increased price tag which added €100 to the price tag.
Fanatec DD1 Overview
For a long while, the Fanatec DD1 was the company’s cheapest direct drive wheel base. This is because the more affordable wheel bases all used belt-driven technology to create the force feedback.
That all changed when the small CSL DD was released, taking over the DD1’s title of the cheapest direct drive Fanatec wheel base.
This moved the emphasis for the DD1 back to where it belonged as a high-performance direct drive wheel base, and that is where it currently remains. Despite being a good number of years old now, the Fanatec DD1 still offers incredibly good performance that is capable of competing with racing wheels from other brands.
It sits below the DD2 in terms of ultimate performance with 20Nm of peak torque. However, this makes it much more affordable at around €300 cheaper.
Fanatec DD2 Overview
The Fanatec DD2 has remained as the highest-performing racing wheel that Fanatec has offered since it started making sim racing gear. The DD2 is an absolute beast in terms of performance creating a whopping 25Nm of peak torque.
If you are searching for the best performance on offer from a Fanatec wheel, the choice is simple. The Fanatec DD2 creates the strongest force feedback of all wheels bases, and that force feedback is incredibly detailed.
While firmly sitting in the premium category, the Fanatec DD2 doesn’t cost too much. It will set you back almost €1,500 which is a lot of money. However, there are other wheel bases in a similar performance category that do cost more.
Of course, this doesn’t put the DD2 into a budget category by any means, but it does offer a good performance-to-price ratio.
Now we’ve looked at each Fanatec wheel base, we can start to compare the performance to give a better picture of where each wheel base sits.
At the lowest end of performance, you have both the CSL DD and GT DD Pro in their base 5Nm forms. Although, currently you cannot purchase the GT DD Pro as a standalone 5Nm wheel base. It is only available at this power range when bought as part of a bundle such as the GT DD Pro 5Nm Bundle.
Many gear-driven or belt-driven racing wheels are capable of producing close to 5Nm, and some cost the same or more than either of these two Fanatec wheels. However, none of these belt-driven racing wheels will be able to compete with these direct drive wheels in terms of performance quality.
That is because a direct drive wheel doesn’t just offer outstanding strength. Upgrading to direct drive from a belt-driven wheel is also about the additional detail that you’ll find in the force feedback.
Due to the motor being directly connected to the steering wheel, you’ll feel every single bump in the road, and the exact point that your tyres break traction. This level of fidelity isn’t possible from a belt-driven racing wheel, as some of the detail is always lost in translation from the motor to the steering wheel thanks to the belt pulley technology.
While you won’t get the oomph that is commonly associated with a direct drive racing wheel from the CSL DD and GT DD Pro in their 5Nm form, the incredible force feedback detail is certainly apparent.
When you step up to the 8Nm range of performance by adding the Boost Kit 180 to either the CSL DD and GT DD Pro, you really start to feel the power that a direct drive racing wheel can offer.
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I often say that the sweet spot of force feedback strength lies between 10Nm and 15Nm. And the 8Nm that is on offer from these two Fanatec wheel bases is just shy of this optimal range.
You will certainly notice the increased performance compared to either of these racing wheels at 5Nm. Every bit of force feedback has a bit more weight and power, and you’ll have to lean a little harder into the corners during sustained turns.
If a €1,000+ racing wheel is out of budget, then you won’t get much better performance from any other racing wheel than either the CSL DD or GT DD Pro.
The Fanatec DD1 offers incredible levels of performance at a peak of 20Nm of torque. This performance range is ideal as it allows you to detune the wheel base a little to find your ideal performance range.
As mentioned above, I like to detune any direct drive racing wheel to around 15Nm of peak torque maximum. This allows for a good combination of pure power while not becoming overly tiring during longer races.
Despite the Fanatec DD1 being a few years older than the CSL DD and GT DD Pro, the detail within the force feedback is almost as good. Both of the newer direct drive wheels do have an edge in terms of detail and fidelity due to their newer technology. But that doesn’t rule out the DD1 if pure performance is a factor.
At a maximum torque of 25Nm, the Fanatec DD2 offers insanely strong force feedback. There are wheel bases on the market that exceed this performance number, but in reality, you will only rarely ever need more power.
At 25Nm of peak torque, the DD2 will be more capable of performance above and beyond most sim racers’ preferences.
However, if peak performance is a crucial part of what you look for when shopping for a racing wheel, knowing you have up to 25Nm at your disposal is a great feeling. And this prevents you from feeling like you are outgrowing your equipment, as you’ll have plenty of performance that you can dial in.
One area where there is a large spread is in the price difference of all of these racing wheels. And this will almost always have an impact on a buying decision. Below is an overview of the key prices of each wheel base. Remember, the prices below are just for the wheel base and do not include a steering wheel or any other accessories.
- CSL DD (5Nm) – €349.95 / $349.95
- CSL DD (8Nm) – €499.95 / $499.95
- GT DD Pro (8Nm) – €599.95 / $599.95
- DD1 (20Nm) – €1199.95 / $1199.95
- DD2 (25Nm) – €1499.95 / $1499.95
Which direct drive wheel base should you buy?
Peak performance is key
If peak performance is the most important thing, then there is no choice than looking at the Fanatec DD2. This high-performance direct drive racing wheel sits at the very top of Fanatec’s product lineup and is the jewel in their crown.
The DD2 is just as good, if not better than many competitor products, and when paired with Fanatec’s incredibly wide ecosystem, there aren’t many better choices.
If however, peak performance isn’t the deciding factor, and you are looking for the Fanatec direct drive wheel that offers the best performance on a budget, then you should be looking at the CSL DD or the GT DD Pro in their 5Nm forms.
The absolute cheapest Fanatec wheel base is the CSL DD at just €349.95 / $349.95. This price makes the CSL DD one of the very cheapest direct drive wheels available in 2023.
And, if you desire more performance in the future, you can upgrade to the Boost Kit 180 to boost performance up to 8Nm without having to buy another wheel base.
Unfortunately, the GT DD Pro isn’t available to buy individually at 5Nm. Instead, you need to invest a little more into a full sim racing bundle.
The best option here is the GT DD Pro 5Nm Bundle which includes a Gran Turismo licensed steering wheel and the Fanatec CSL pedals. This costs €699.95 / $699.95, but does include everything you need to go sim racing.
The best all-round pick
When it comes to the best all-round pick that combines great value for money, along with incredible performance, I’d have to recommend the CSL DD 8Nm wheel.
This wheel offers very good performance that is right on the edge of the sweet spot. You also get the newest technology Fanatec offer ensuring that your force feedback is as crisp and detailed as possible.
At €499.95 / $499.95, it is also €100 cheaper than the GT DD Pro equivalent. If however you do need PS4 or PS5 compatibility from your Fanatec wheel base, then the 8Nm GT DD Pro is an incredibly versatile option.
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