The Fanatec Ecosystem Explained: Buyers Guide 2023
Fanatec are one of the most well known brands within sim racing, but with so many wheels and peripherals it can be confusing where to start. This guide will explain the entire Fanatec ecosystem.
Fanatec is one of the biggest players when it comes to sim racing wheels and other peripherals. They have built a reputation over many years for producing some of the best and most widely compatible sim racing wheels and products.
However, with so many products on offer, it can easily confuse someone trying to buy a racing wheel for the first time. Hell, it even confuses me sometimes to this day on exactly what products are compatible with what.
In this guide, I’ll run through all of Fanatec’s product ranges, along with each product individually. I’ll cover everything from product quality to price. I’ll also touch on compatibility, both with other Fanatec products and with current console platforms.
But let’s kick off by looking at Fanatec’s product ranges, as there are three distinct categories that almost all Fanatec products fit into.
Fanatec Product Ranges
The three Fanatec product ranges are named CSL, ClubSport and Podium. Almost every product falls into one of these categories and denotes both price and quality to some extent. Below is a brief overview of each product range.
The Fanatec CSL product lineup includes the most affordable products on offer. These are generally the products that newcomers to sim racing should look at first. The CSL lineup includes products that are generally Fanatec’s cheapest. However, the quality of the product is generally already higher than a lot of other brands on the market.
Fanatec CSL products are great for newcomers to sim racing who are looking to build their first sim racing setup. Or those who are looking to upgrade from a budget product such as the Logitech G923.
The ClubSport product range is home to Fanatec’s mid-range products. These sim racing products are normally always a step up in quality over the CSL product range, but not as extreme as the Podium series below.
Fanatec ClubSport products are great for sim racers who are looking to improve their gear and setups but still have one eye on budget and value.
The Podium product range is Fanatec’s most serious and is often reserved for the most hardcore and professional of sim racers. The wheel bases all utilise direct drive technology which is the best racing wheel technology. With this improved quality comes a bump up in price.
Fanatec Podium products are designed for professional sim racers and hardcore sim racing enthusiasts.
Different Types of Products
When we start talking about products, we need to understand the difference between the different types of products that Fanatec offer. Fanatec do things slightly different to some manufacturers such as Logitech.
Where brands like Logitech tend to bundle together everything you need to go racing including a wheel, wheel base, and pedals. Fanatec usually split everything out separately. This gives you much more control over your sim racing setup, but you also need to ensure that you purchase everything you need and that everything you pick up is compatible with each other.
Fanatec has had many wheel bases over the years, normally with one wheel base per product range. Over the past few years, Fanatec has discontinued a few wheel bases, although I’ll still mention those below as they still work with the majority of Fanatec’s ecosystem.
Currently, not including the discontinued products, Fanatec sells a variety of different wheel bases, and all of them are direct drive. As mentioned above, direct drive is the absolute best wheel base technology on the market today.
Fanatec CSL DD
The most entry-level wheel base is the CSL DD, which is also the most recent wheel base to have been launched. This wheel base sits within the CSL product range, meaning great value for what you get. And it just so happens to be the cheapest direct drive wheel base available.
The CSL DD offers a generous 5Nm of torque, with an additional 3Nm of torque available with the addition of the boost kit. Torque is a measure of the strength of the force feedback output. The more torque produced, the harder the force feedback can be.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly direct drive wheel, then the Fanatec CSL DD is the best option on the market currently.
Fanatec GT DD Pro
The Gran Turismo DD Pro was released after the CSL DD, but it’s essentially the same wheel base, but expanded to be PS5 compatible. The GT DD Pro has a different outer design, but internally it houses a very similar architecture to the CSL DD.
In its base form, the Fanatec GT DD Pro outputs 5Nm of torque, the same as the CSL DD. And with the Boost Kit it can generate 8Nm of torque. Again, this is the same as the CSL DD.
Where the GT DD Pro does differ from the CSL DD is in its compatibility. The CSL DD is only compatible with Xbox and PC. Whereas the GT DD Pro is compatible with Xbox, PC and PS5.
This expanded compatibility makes it more versatile than the CSL DD, but it does come with a slightly higher price tag. Pound for pound, the GT DD Pro is one of the best Fanatec racing wheels in 2023.
Fanatec DD1 & DD2
The other two wheel bases currently available are the two most premium wheel bases that Fanatec sells, the DD1 & DD2. Both of these wheel bases offer a huge amount of performance, and both come in over £1000/$1000 for the wheel base alone.
The DD2 is the highest-powered direct drive wheel base that Fanatec currently offer. It creates up to 25Nm of torque, which is up with the strongest wheel bases on the market. If you are looking for the most premium wheel base around, then the Fanatec DD2 is certainly a good contender. Plus, it is widely compatible with all of Fanatec’s current ecosystem, and both PC and Xbox consoles.
Fanatec Podium F1
If you are a PS4 or PS5 owner looking for a direct drive wheel base from Fanatec, don’t panic. Fanatec has manufactured a PlayStation-exclusive direct drive racing wheel called the Podium F1.
This racing wheel is a bundle of products that Fanatec already produce, with the extra bonus of being PS5 compatible. It uses the DD1 as the wheel base and comes packaged with a Formula 1 licensed steering wheel rim.
The steering wheel is a rebranded version of the popular Formula V2. Fanatec has partnered with Formula 1 to officially brand the steering wheel with the F1 logo.
Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 Wheel base (Currently discontinued)
The ClubSport V2.5 wheel base is a great option for sim racers who are looking to improve their current sim racing setup, while still conserving some money. It offered improved performance over the old CSL Elite wheel bases (which are also discontinued). And it didn’t cost too much more than the CSL Elite.
Unfortunately, Fanatec is currently not selling the ClubSport V2.5 wheel base directly, so the best place to look if you are interested in one of these is the second-hand market.
Fanatec CSL Elite (Currently discontinued)
Just like the ClubSport above, the Fanatec CSL Elite has now been discontinued. However, it still remains a fantastic wheel base if you fancy picking one up on the used market.
The CSL Elite was Fanatec’s entry-level wheel base and delivered up to 6Nm of torque. It was an excellent wheel base to start with, and a great upgrade from a Logitech racing wheel.
It came in two forms, the CSL Elite V1.1 which was Xbox and PC compatible. And the CSL Elite + which was the PlayStation compatible version.
One of the areas where Fanatec truly excels is with their steering wheel rims and their licensed steering wheels. Essentially, when buying into the Fanatec ecosystem, you have the ability to fully customise your setup. You can choose from the type of wheel base you like, and pair it with a huge number of steering wheel rims.
These include steering wheel designs from the likes of Porsche, McLaren and BMW. And you can also pick up specifically designed drift, rally and Nascar style wheel rims.
All of Fanatec’s current steering wheels can be fitted with a quick release attachment, which in turn connects to any of the wheel bases above. Once fitted, you can remove and interchange steering wheels very easily.
Where things start to get interesting with Fanatec steering wheels, is that certain steering wheels can dictate console compatibility. See our section below titled compatibility to learn how to ensure your Fanatec setup is fully compatible.
Below are a selection of the most popular steering wheels that Fantaec offer.
Currently, Fanatec’s sim racing pedal lineup is pretty strong. There are essentially two budget options, the CSL Elite, and the CSL pedals. And there two more premium products, the ClubSport V3 pedals, and the V3 inverted pedals.
The Best F1 23 Racing WheelsView the very best racing wheels for F1 23 on Xbox, PC & PS5. View the best wheels
All of these pedals are excellent in their own right, with the ClubSport V3 pedals being more premium in almost every way than the two CSL options. They are built with more premium materials and construction methods. And they’re much more adjustable.
The V3 inverted pedals are essentially the same as the ClubSport V3 pedals. The big difference is the way they are mounted. The V3 pedals are mounted from the top, much more like a road or GT car. Whilst the ClubSport V3s are mounted at the bottom just like the majority of open-wheel cars.
The biggest element to bear in mind is the load-cell brake pedal. This is an upgraded brake pedal that offers much more realistic, progressive braking.
As standard, both ClubSport pedals include a load-cell brake pedal as standard. While both CSL pedals do not come with a load-cell straight out of the box. This is an additional purchase.
Shifters & Handbrakes
Fanatec offers a selection of additional peripherals to complete your sim racing setup. Peripherals such as handbrakes and different shifters can really add to the immersion when sim racing.
There is both a H-pattern shifter along with an external handbrake. Both of these can be connected to all current Fanatec wheel bases, and are well worth doing so. The handbrake in particular is especially if you race on games such as Dirt Rally 2.0 or WRC 10.
As well as external peripherals, Fanatec also offer a selection of different paddle shifters. Shifters such as the Podium Advanced Paddle Module offer increased quality and more functionality over some of the standard shifters that come equipped with Fanatec’s wheels.
Cockpits & Seats
Fanatec is primarily a sim racing hardware brand, specialising in racing wheels and pedals etc. However, they do also have a cockpit for sale, the RennSport Cockpit V2.
The RennSport is kind of unique in the world of sim racing. It features a much more enclosed design compared to traditional 8020 sim rigs. While this can add to immersion and stability, it does somewhat limit customisation.
Of course, you can still customise your rig by adding attachments to the frame and choosing your own racing seat. There are even monitor stands that mount directly to the cockpit itself.
In terms of seats, you can purchase a Sparco race seat directly from Fanatec or mount your own. The seat base comes pre-drilled ready for you to attach any seat which is compatible.
Fanatec Compatibility Explained
When mixing and matching Fanatec products, you have to ensure that they are all compatible with the platform you are racing on. This can be a little tricky if you don’t fully understand Fanatec’s compatibility method. Below is a full breakdown to ensure you get this right when making a purchase.
PC Sim Racers
If you are racing on a PC, there are no limitations. Almost every wheel base, and every steering wheel is fully compatible. Simply connect your Fanatec products to each other and your PC and you should be good to go.
PlayStation Sim Racers
PlayStation compatibility is the most limited with Fanatec products. However, Fanatec does have official partnership agreements in place to produce PS4 and PS5 licensed products.
With PlayStation products, the chip that dictates compatibility is always in the wheel base. This means that as long as you have a PlayStation compatible wheel base, any product that you connect to it will become PlayStation compatible.
And as confirmed by Sony, all PS4 compatible products are also compatible with PS5.
Xbox Sim Racers
In contrast to PlayStation compatibility, Xbox compatibility is driven from the steering wheel. This means that you can connect your Xbox compatible steering wheel to any current Fanatec wheel base, and your entire setup will become Xbox compatible.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you through the Fanatec ecosystem and has shown you some of Fanatec’s best sim racing products. Once you understand the way Fanatec design their different products, and especially the compatibility quirks detailed above. It does get much easier to start to build a sim racing setup that will fit your exact requirements.
Grab Your Sim Racing Gear Here
You can use the links below to shop for your favourite sim racing products, or for any products that we may have recommended. These links are affiliate links, and will earn us a small commission, with no additional cost for you.