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Sim Racing Product Guides » My Most Recommended Sim Racing Wheel of 2022
I often get asked what racing wheel I would recommend above all others. In this guide I'll run through my most used and highest recommended racing wheel, pedals and rig.
I get asked one question more than any other by you guys, and that is what racing wheel am I currently using. Well, today I’m going to answer that question by showing you what I think is the best sim racing wheel combination you can find on the market today.
As you can see from the intro, I’m talking about the Fanatec CSL DD wheel base and the McLaren GT3 V2 wheel rim.
These two pieces of hardware are relatively cost-effective and deliver some of the best value for money in sim racing right now.
I have been racing with this wheel combination for a few months now, and I’ve been amazed at the performance on offer at this price point.
And with that in mind, let’s talk about the price before we jump any further into this guide. If you are picking up a Fanatec CSL DD racing wheel, you will have to buy all of the elements separately as there currently isn’t a bundle with the CSL DD.
If you’re a PS4 or PS5 sim racer however, the PlayStation version of this wheel base, which is called the Gran Turismo DD Pro, does come as a bundle. That can be both positive and negative depending on how you look at it.
You will save a little money buying the GT DD Pro bundle compared to buying the steering wheel and pedals separately. But the only steering wheel you can currently get with the GT DD Pro is the licensed Gran Turismo wheel, which I’m not a massive fan of as I think it looks a little on the cheap side. But that’s just my preference.
Going back to the CSL DD, the version I’ve been running is the more powerful wheel base with the Boost Kit. This increases the power output from 5Nm of torque, up to 8Nm. There is a price jump for this upgraded version, but I’ll talk about why I think this is worth it later on.
So the base level CSL DD will cost you $/€349.95 and the upgraded 8Nm version with the Boost Kit will set you back $/€479.95 .
This may be more expensive than a lot of budget racing wheels such as the Logitech G923, but it is currently the cheapest Fanatec wheel base available to buy, as well as being the cheapest ever console compatible direct drive racing wheel.
Before I start to talk about the CSL DD too much, let’s take a quick look at the McLaren GT3 V2 steering wheel that I’ve chosen to pair with it.
Much like the CSL DD, this McLaren wheel rim is also one of the most cost-effective steering wheels that Fanatec currently sell, coming in at under $/€200 at just $/€199.95.
To round out this racing set-up, I’m currently using the base CSL Pedals that Fanatec sell, while I wait for my load cell brake pedal to arrive. Unfortunately, the load cell brake pedal is on pre-order for March this year.
These pedals cost just $/€79.95 which is incredibly low for any pedal set.
In total, that puts the value of this sim racing set-up at around $/€760. Given that before 2021, if you wanted a direct drive wheel base you would be spending upwards of $/€1000 on the wheel base alone. So I think this is pretty great value, and that Fanatec has finally figured out a way to keep our wallets happy. Or happier anyway.
This price can also come down to around $/€630 if you opt for just the base CSL DD without the Boost Kit, which is still a decent performing wheel base.
So this may be one of the most budget-friendly Fanatec sim racing set-ups that you can buy, but what do you actually get for your hard-earned money?
Well, as mentioned, the CSL DD wheel base that I have here is capable of producing up to 8Nm of torque which is delivered to your steering wheel via direct drive technology.
Direct drive essentially refers to the mechanism of how the force feedback is translated from the motor to your wheel. Almost all budget racing wheels utilise a gear or belt system. These work to send force feedback from a weaker motor via a series of belts or gears, or sometimes both.
The problem with belt or gear driven wheel bases, is that you can lose some of the force feedback fidelity before it reaches your wheel. On top of this, these sorts of systems have other downsides, such as generally producing weaker forces as well as issues such as being able to feel the gears grinding or popping.
With a direct drive wheel base, the motor is normally larger, and it is connected directly to the motor shaft giving you much higher levels of force feedback fidelity. Not only will the force feedback feel stronger and more powerful, but you’ll also feel more detail from the road, kerbs and forces on your car.
As a sim racer striving for the most realistic and immersive experience possible, direct drive is really the only way to go.
Looking at the design of the CSL DD, it does look pretty racy with the outer grooves and heavy sculpting. Not only do these look cool, but they also work to keep the wheel base cool during use. These grooves work with the Aluminium build to act as a natural heat sink, drawing heat away from the internals.
This means that Fanatec has been able to remove any internal cooling fans, making for a quiet racing experience.
Around the back, we have our usual Fanatec connection ports. We have RJ12 ports for all of our peripherals such as handbrake, pedal and shifter. And we also have a couple of USB C connection points and the slot for the power supply cable.
This set-up is extremely easy to connect making cable management super simple. Simply hook all of your peripherals up to the wheel base itself. Then connect your wheel base to your console or PC via the USB cable, and connect the power brick.
If you have ordered a CSL DD already or are planning on doing so this year, you will also be sent the QR1 quick release separately. This attaches to your steering wheel of choice and allows you to quickly remove your steering wheel by hand and without tools.
In terms of the performance of the CSL DD, I have been extremely impressed. At 8Nm of torque output it does sit well below its bigger brothers of the DD1 and DD2 which Fanatec also sell. These wheels can put out over 20Nm of torque, but also cost an arm and a leg more.
Realistically, every time I’ve raced with a DD2 wheel, I’ve always lowered the torque output by around 40 or 50% anyway, bringing it much closer to the 8Nm of the CSL DD.
The detail and fidelity that the CSL DD creates is remarkable and is on par with the much more expensive direct drive wheel bases. It is incredibly smooth during transitions, and there is almost zero noticeable artefacts or distortions that break immersion.
Driving around a track, you will feel an impressive amount of detail in areas such as kerbs and the track surface as well as being able to feel how your car is behaving.
During my testing, I occasionally jumped back to an older Logitech G923 that I have laying around, and the force feedback difference is night and day.
I don’t want to go as far as saying that you will find lap time if you race with a Fanatec CSL DD. But you can certainly feel more detail in everything that is happening around you. This allowed me to react in a different way when compared with my G923.
Looking at the steering wheel I have chosen and have been using for the past few months, you’ll see that I have the upgraded McLaren GT3 V2 rim. This design has been around for a while now, and this version is actually the second iteration.
While the design of this wheel rim hasn’t changed much from when it was first introduced, the V2 does feature a few upgrades. The screen itself has been replaced with a white OLED display, and this can be used to display a whole host of telemetry readouts such as your current speed and revs. It is also how you can adjust the settings of your wheel.
The shifters themselves have been reworked, and this is great news as the shifters on the first generation of the McLaren GT3 were probably its weakest component.
The new shifters have been made from a single piece of machined aluminium which is finished in a bright orange colour, because… well, you know, McLaren.
Because these are made from one entire piece of metal, you can technically shift gear one-handed using the push / pull rocker. Pull the paddle to shift up, and push it back to shift down.
While this sounds great initially, you’ve probably now got visions of driving through Eau Rouge one-handed, with a drink in one hand and wheel in the other. It isn’t actually that practical.
Pushing the shifters to shift down is a little stiff, and doesn’t feel natural. Other than testing this feature out, I rarely used the push mechanic to pull downshifts.
These new shifters do utilise magnets to increase the resistance, giving the shifters a distinctive weight to them, and during racing, they feel good. You certainly won’t be accidentally hitting shifts you didn’t mean to, so you won’t have anyone else to blame for a missed shift!
While the paddles do feel good to operate they can be quite noisy and are almost certainly the noisiest part of this whole set-up. The shifters emit a very audible click sound when you engage them. If you’re racing with headphones you probably won’t notice this, but without headphones, you almost certainly will.
There are some quick mods out there that can fix this noise issue very easily, although be careful not to void your warranty if doing so.
If you’ve ever raced with Fanatec equipment in the past, I would say these shifters sit above the ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module in terms of performance, but they aren’t quite as good as the Podium Advanced Paddle Module.
As mentioned above, this wheel does sit towards the bottom of Fanatec’s ecosystem in terms of price, meaning it lacks a few features of more premium rims. But it does still come packed with some neat touches.
During racing, you have a selection of push buttons that can be programmed to serve any purpose you want from wipers to headlights and more. These buttons generally feel good to use, although the resistance on the N and P buttons has been dialled up to 11.
I think a Fanatec employee thought it would be funny to test the thumb strength of sim racers, as these two buttons can be hard to press.
There are also three rotary encoders that I used to change my traction control and brake bias, but again these can be programmed for a range of inputs.
The overall aesthetic of the wheel is good. It looks very close to the real-world counterpart it was based on, and does a solid job of looking the part. It is a slight shame that the carbon fibre pattern on the face of the wheel is actually just plastic in a carbon fibre wrap. But this is understandable for the price range.
Rounding out this sim racing set-up is the CSL Pedals. These take everything that Fanatec has learnt from its older generation pedals and packaged it into this impressively cheap pedal set.
When buying an entirely Fanatec set-up in 2022, you’ve only really go the choice between two pedals. These or the ClubSport V3’s. These CSL Pedals cost just $/€79.95 or $/€199.95 for a full three-pedal load cell set. While the ClubSport V3’s cost nearly double that.
There is no doubt that the ClubSport V3 pedals are better technically, but these CSL Pedals offer extreme value for money.
As standard, they come with just two pedals, both using contactless magnetic Hall-effect sensors. This gives added precision and durability over time as there are fewer components coming into contact with each other.
The secondary pedal is used as a brake in its two-pedal configuration or the clutch if you add the additional load cell brake pedal. This has a foam wedge directly behind the pedal which aims to replicate pressure as you apply force.
This does work well in practice, although you can tell that you aren’t using a load cell pedal. As I mentioned, my load cell brake pedal is on pre-order, and will hopefully be on its way next month at which point I will update this guide to include my thoughts on that.
But for now, the two-pedal combination is solid, especially when that’s all that is needed for the F1 games.
My only real issue with this pedal set in this configuration is that the brake pedal feels a little soft and sensitive. The initial push feels incredibly light, with the pressure becoming harder the nearer you get to the full amount of travel.
I would like to have a secondary piece of foam included which has slightly more resistance at the start of the pedal travel.
I’ve put this whole racing set-up through its paces on a few sim rigs using a few sim racing titles to test it on.
As you guys know, my racing sims of choice are the F1 Codemasters games, so the majority of my playtime has been on F1 2021. I have also raced with this setup on Assetto Corsa Competizione and iRacing.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoy this particular combination of sim racing products, and it has been my go-to set up now since late last year. And in all honesty, I can’t imagine changing this set-up overly soon other than the addition of the load cell brake.
If you currently have a racing wheel such as the Logitech G923, or an older Fanatec CSL Elite, then the CSL DD is the natural progression. It delivers mind-blowing performance in comparison to those two products, for not too much extra cost. And if you already own an older Fanatec wheel base, then chances are the peripherals you currently have will work perfectly with the CSL DD.
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