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This guide is designed to help sim racers who are currently using a Logitech G29 or a G920. This will hopefully help you decide whether you should upgrade to a Fanatec CSL Elite racing wheel.
I will give an overview of both the Fanatec CSL Elite and the Logitech G29 / G920. I’ll look at whether upgrading your racing wheel makes you faster. And finally I’ll look at whether you will get more fun out of the Fanatec CSL Elite racing wheel.
Hopefully these comparisons will give you the information you need to make a decision. Is a Fanatec CSL Elite worth the jump from a Logitech G29?
If, like us, you had been using a Logitech G29 or G920 racing wheel for years, you should be fully aware of its benefits and negatives. It is a great beginners racing wheel, and one we would recommend for new sim racers. It allows gamers to test whether sim racing is something they are interested in with little cost outlay.
The price of the Logitech G29 is its main selling point. This combined with the modern look and feel make the G29 a great starting point. However after spending time with the G29, you will also become aware of the negatives of this wheel.
You will very quickly start to experience notchiness in the force feedback of the G29. This notchiness makes the steering wheel jump from time to time. This normally happens when there is a spike in force feedback, such as a large bump or kerb. And this makes the Logitech wheel feel very mechanical. The smoothness of more premium wheels isn’t present in this racing wheel.
This notchiness can even affect the way you drive. During long corners or under sustained g forces, you can feel the gears jump. You sometimes feel like you need to adjust your steering inputs in small increments mid corner. This style of steering input and corner management isn’t natural or realistic.
It isn’t until you have tried out a more premium belt driven racing wheel, that you realise how good racing wheels can be. We wont go as far as saying that the gear driven force feedback found in the G29 and G920 will affect your overall driving. However there are a lot of small force feedback details which are lost in translation with this budget wheel.
The missing force feedback ranges from car details such as tyre slip and understeer. Through to minor track surface changes and details. This fine force feedback is missing with the Logitech wheel as it just isn’t powerful enough and accurate enough to show it. Read an expert Logitech G29 review.
In comparison to the Logitech G29, the Fanatec CSL Elite wheel is a world apart. It uses completely different force feedback technology, and comes with a much larger price tag. To put it in perspective, the CSL Elite wheel base alone, not including a wheel rim, costs more than the Logitech G29 wheel, pedals and shifter.
This investment comes due to the premium nature of the product, and the much improved force feedback strength and quality. The CSL Elite comes packed with belt driven force feedback. This uses a belt to transfer feedback from the motor to the wheel. This differs from the gears used in the Logitech.
The jumpy gears are nowhere to be seen in the CSL Elite, thanks to its belt driven force feedback. This allows you to corner much more naturally. Gone are the days of incrementally managing your steering inputs. With the CSL Elite, you can turn in one smooth motion, just like racing drivers do in real life.
The main benefit of using a belt rather than gears is that the force feedback is much smoother. Imagine two gears grinding together to turn, then imagine a smooth belt rotating. The smoothness of the force feedback is something that is hard to explain until you feel it. As mentioned, once you try a good belt driven racing wheel, it is night and day with the gear driven Logitech.
The quality is undoubtedly high with both of these racing wheels. The Logitech G29 is remarkably well built for the price range. There are many other racing wheel products which cost much more, and have a much lower build quality.
The G29 wheel base and pedal construction is all plastic however. There aren’t many premium materials used at all. The wheel itself is not interchangeable, but does feature a nice metal construction. This is finished with perforated leather hand grips on the wheel itself. After a good few years of us using this wheel, we didn’t find much to complain about.
The CSL Elite also features a non metal construction, although certain versions do come with a nice metal face plate. The wheels themselves are where the build quality really steps up a gear. Almost all of the Fanatec steering wheels feature premium materials such as real leather or Alcantara. And they all look and feel stunning.
If you were to place a Fanatec steering wheel side by side with a real GT racing wheel, there wouldn’t be too much difference. A lot of care has gone in to the Fanatec product lineup design.
There is no doubt that racing with the Fanatec CSL Elite will benefit you and your driving across a long race distance. But will this improved feedback and driving experience result in faster lap times?
If you are coming from a beginner sim racers perspective, the Fanatec CSL Elite can help you learn a car and track faster than a Logitech. This is due to the improved and more accurate force feedback. The force feedback that the CSL Elite creates lets you feel more subtle car movements and track details. These are completely lost in the Logitech G29.
If you are still learning and developing your sim racing, feeling this extra level of detail gives you more car and track understanding from the start. We would go as far as saying a sim racer who learns to drive using a CSL Elite will be faster sooner.
If you are an advanced driver, you often challenge for race wins and race in a high league the gains may not be as impressive. You will definitely be able to feel much more of the track and the car than before. But as you have learned to be quick without feeling these, you wont necessarily start finding tenths of a second just from the new wheel.
Over time, you will become a better all round driver, as you start to feel the new details. These new levels of force feedback detail will help you understand a track further, and you’ll come to have better car control.
All in all, the Fanatec CSL Elite does provide much more fidelity in its force feedback. This extra level of detail allowed us to have much more confidence in the car in certain situations. When driving on the limit you can feel the car starting to lose grip much sooner.
You can also feel the loss of traction much better when accelerating from a slow speed, or out of certain corners. Accelerating out of the slow chicanes at Monza for example. In this situation we can feel the rears starting to lose traction allowing us to slightly adjust our throttle input.
The increase in immersion that the Fanatec CSL Elite offers adds to your overall sim racing experience. And this in turn adds to your enjoyment with the wheel. When you are looking to improve your lap times, and drive faster races, the fun factor is often overlooked. But when you drive through Eau Rouge at speed for the first time with the CSL Elite. You’ll have a much more engaging experience than you ever did with the G29.
By having a racing wheel which adds more energy and electricity to your sim racing experience, you undoubtedly increase the fun factor. The racing feedback and feeling isn’t the only increase in enjoyment that you’ll notice. The fact that you can now pair your CSL Elite wheel base with a wide variety of racing wheels adds to the immersion no end.
Using the Fanatec’s quick release mechanism to slide on a Formula 1 style racing wheel for example takes you one step closer to fully immersing yourself as a racing driver. Being able to emulate real world drivers, and match their experience with the little touches such as having the same style steering wheel increases your overall enjoyment.
Yes, you may find some lap time by upgrading to a CSL Elite. Yes, you will definitely start to feel the car and track a lot more than you ever could, improving your driving style. But it is this often overlooked fun factor that really makes upgrading from a G29 to a Fanatec CSL Elite worth while.
If you are having more fun with a racing wheel, it should definitely be worth the upgrade.
A Logitech G29 or G920 is the perfect racing wheel for any beginner who is looking to start sim racing.
If you are looking to upgrade your sim racing wheel, then a Fanatec CSL Elite is the perfect upgrade. It features much better force feedback and you'll have much more fun.