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Sim Racing Product Guides » Moza R9 vs Fanatec CSL DD: Which Wheel To Buy in 2023?
The Moza R9 and Fanatec CSL DD are incredibly similar. Both offer high performance at a mid-low budget. But which wheel base should you buy?
Both the Fanatec CSL DD and Moza R9 are incredibly similar wheel bases in terms of performance. Both offer direct drive sim racing at a reasonable budget, but there are some key differences. This guide will show you which wheel base is better, the Fanatec CSL DD or the Moza R9.
Fanatec absolutely knocked it out of the park when they released the CSL DD back in 2021. It was the first console compatible, small direct drive wheel base at a sub-£500/$500 price point. And they followed up this success with the Gran Turismo DD Pro towards the end of 2021.
But now, in 2023, there is another sim racing brand that is firmly in the battle for the best budget direct drive wheel base. And that brand is Moza Racing. In this guide, I’m going to look at both the Moza Racing R9 wheel base and compare it to the Fanatec CSL DD. My aim is to conclude which wheel base is the best buy for 2023.
To start with, I’m going to take a quick look at both wheel bases to bring you the key facts. I’ll then look at each wheel base in more detail, and determine a winner in a series of categories. This will allow me to bring you a definitive answer to which wheel base is a better purchase in 2023.
I will look to update this comparison guide over time as I spend more and more time with both wheel bases to truly reflect the state of play throughout 2023 and beyond.
I’ll start with the Fanatec CSL DD as this is the current king of mid-priced direct drive racing wheels. The CSL DD first released in 2021 arriving in two different forms. You could buy the base CSL DD which output 5Nm of torque. Or you could opt for the upgraded 8Nm version. This upgraded version cost more but was well worth it.
The CSL DD not only delivers 8Nm of direct drive force feedback at over half the cost of the much more expensive and powerful Podium wheel bases. It also introduced new upgrades in both software and hardware, allowing the CSL DD to perform incredibly strong without the need for internal fans.
For any sim racer looking to upgrade their Logitech or Thrustmaster racing wheel, the CSL DD is a natural progression. It offers a noticeable improvement to force feedback power and performance, for a relatively small increase in price.
Moza Racing arrived on the sim racing scene in 2021 with their initial high-performance direct drive racing wheels, the R16 and R21. These looked set to compete with Fanatec’s Podium series of wheel bases, but didn’t quite make the impact on the sim racing community that Moza had hoped.
In 2022, Moza Racing released the R9 wheel base. This produces 9Nm of torque and looks to be designed to compete with the Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro. It is priced competitively and offers stronger headline power figures.
The R9 is a wheel base that has been widely praised and has received a much better reception than the R16 and R21 did the previous year. This could be the product that really launches the Moza Racing brand to the sim racing community.
Racing Wheel – MOZA R9
Compatibility – PC
Price – £419/$439
Where to buy – Buy from MOZA
I’ll kick off this comparison with the design category. This is a very subjective category as product design always is. But I have to start by saying that I really like the overall aesthetic of both wheel bases.
The Fanatec CSL DD was released around a year before the Moza R9, and was widely loved on release. It features a very aggressive exterior design with fins on all sides of the main body. The fins have been designed to dissipate heat, allowing for a quiet fan-less design. They certainly achieve that goal with the CSL DD remaining quiet and not overly warm even during long use.
The main body of the CSL DD is constructed from machined aluminium while the front plate uses a plastic finish. This does take away from the overall design a little, as it would have been nice to see aluminium on all sides, however, is understandable to keep production costs down.
The power button of the CSL DD is found on the front but is one of the worst parts of the overall design. It looks and feels cheap, and would be right at home in a 90’s car. This is a disappointing element to the design which is overall very good.
Around the back of the CSL DD is all of the connection ports. These include peripheral ports as well as USB-C ports for data cables. It is good to see connection ports for a wide range of peripherals, however, the fitment of the USB-C ports isn’t great. The cable is relatively loose when inserted, which could allow for wear over time.
Moving onto the Moza Racing R9, this wheel base features a more slimmed-down look. It features sides that contour in to give an overall sleek aesthetic. This is much less aggressive than the overall design of the CSL DD, but results in a much more elegant overall look.
The whole body of the R9 is constructed from aluminium giving it a nice premium feel. However, that premium look is somewhat dashed with the inclusion of a third party branded PSU. The power supply that is included with the R9 doesn’t include Moza branding anywhere on it and looks like an off the shelf third party item. While you won’t spend much time looking at the power brick, it is a bit of a disappointment when assembling.
Around the back of the R9 you’ll find fewer connection ports than on the CSL DD. There aren’t any ports for peripherals such as pedals, but there are a couple of ports for accessories such as the emergency stop that are sold separately.
This is also where you’ll find the power button. I much prefer the power button being on the reverse of the wheel as it keeps the front clean, and reduces any risk of accidentally hitting it.
Overall, both wheel bases look great from the outside, and both include a few downsides. While this may be one of the more subjective categories in this comparison, I have to call it a draw as I can’t say I massively prefer one design over the other.
The performance category is possibly one of the most important. We all purchase sim racing products to enjoy the performance and immersion that they offer. And direct drive wheel bases are considered the highest-performing wheel bases you can purchase.
These two small direct drive bases both performed great across all of the time I’ve spent with them which is great news for any sim racing considering either product.
The force feedback strength offered by both products is incredible at this price range. Both feel strong enough to give you a true workout across a longer race session. The difference in strength difference between the 8Nm Fanatec and 9Nm Moza is relatively small to medium offering a nice bump in force feedback strength.
The Moza produces 1Nm of torque more, which sounds like not much of an increase. However, putting that strength gain into context, this is around a 12% increase in power.
The guys over at Moza Racing have mentioned that the overall difference felt at maximum power between the two wheels should be around 25%. This means that at full strength the Moza R9 should feel 25% stronger than the CSL DD.
You can tune the overall force feedback power under certain scenarios using the brilliant Moza Pit House software to your own preference. This will allow you to very easily tune your wheel base’s force feedback output using a few simple sliders. You can increase or decrease the force feedback at certain frequencies.
For example, you can lower the force feedback strength when riding on kerbs at different speeds or increase it to better simulate ABS vibration.
After playing around with the force feedback effect equalizer in Moz Pit House and running both wheel bases at 100% power for a considerable time. I found there is a noticeable bump in power output between the two wheels.
I kept switching between these wheel bases to try and compare them in different scenarios and the Moza R9 always came out a little ahead in terms of overall strength.
What I also noticed when racing with these wheel bases back to back was a little more force feedback detail coming from the CSL DD.
I could feel a few subtle details from the CSL DD that I couldn’t quite make out using the R9. For example, in ACC racing around Zolder, driving through the chicane at turn 7 I could feel a little more of how my car was responding using the CSL DD.
This gave me a little extra confidence to push the limit through this corner sequence in particular with the CSL DD. It didn’t result in any real lap time gain, as I was consistently lapping at the same speed throughout my testing with both wheel bases.
The CSL DD also felt a little more lively with the overall power turned down. I raced with both wheel bases at around 60% power, and the CSL DD felt a little more alive, while the R9 felt a little more powerful.
With that said, looking at other features of the wheel bases, I much prefer the quick release on the Moza R9. While not interchangeable, the built-in quick release allows you to swap wheel rims in just one simple action. And once engaged there is no flex or movement between the steering wheel and wheel base.
The CSL DD offers a few solutions to quick releases. The QR1 Lite is the quick release that is included with Fanatec’s more budget steering wheels. This quick release really isn’t great and has a lot of noticeable movement during use. It often clonks from side to side when performing steering inputs.
The QR1 wuick release is the base metal quick release. This improves on the QR1 Lite by offering a true quick release that allows you to remove your wheel much easier. This also fixes a lot of the flex between the wheel and wheel base, although some movement still remains.
Then there is the Podium module which is the most expensive Fanatec quick release. This eliminates all movement, and adds extra functionality, but comes at a high cost.
In both wheel bases base spec you will generally be comparing the Moza quick release with either the QR1 or QR Lite. Most of Fanatec’s steering wheel options come with either the QR1 or QR Lite as standard, with the Podium module normally being an additional upgrade.
With all said and done, both wheel bases perform extremely well at this price range. The Moza R9 edges the CSL DD in terms of outright strength, while the CSL DD outperforms the R9 on overall fidelity and finer details. And for that reason, I have to give the win to the Fanatec CSL DD in the performance category. But it is a very close call!
This category is a relatively easy one to judge, and much easier than the performance category above. And that is purely due to the fact that the Moza R9 wheel base is only compatible with PCs. There is no console compatibility at all with the R9 just yet.
I have spoken to Moza Racing who have acknowledged that they are working on a console compatible wheel base. It is unlikely that this is something that can be included in existing R9 units via a software update. It is more likely that a console compatible version of the R9 will be released as a separate product.
On the flip side, Fanatec has smashed it with console compatibility. The CSL DD is compatible with all current-generation Xbox consoles including the Series S|X and Xbox One consoles. It is also fully PC compatible. The newer Fanatec GT DD Pro is their PS5 compatible wheel. This gives console sim racers options for being able to race with a direct drive Fanatec wheel at this price point.
In terms of compatibility with other brands of sim racing equipment, Fanatec also wins. Fanatec sells optional hubs allowing third party steering wheels to be mounted to their wheel bases. Read our guide on quick releases for a full rundown of how to mount a non-Fanatec wheel to a Fanatec wheel base.
Moza on the other hand does not currently offer any third-party compatibility with their wheels or wheel bases. Their quick-release uses their own technology forcing you to use a Moza steering wheel with a Moza wheel base.
There are technically ways around this by using third party quick releases and adapters, but it’s a costly approach and not really a viable approach.
The price category is also a pretty simple one to resolve. Moza sells the R9 for less than Fanatec sells the CSL DD, making it the winner of the price category.
However, the price category isn’t over and done with there. As Fanatec does sell the CSL DD in a reduced strength spec. You can purchase a CSL DD with just 5Nm of torque for just £349/$349.
This means that you can pick up a variant of the CSL DD for less cost than you can a Moza R9. While this does technically make the Fanatec CSL DD cheaper than the Moza R9, comparing the 5Nm Fanatec wheel base with the 9Nm Moza R9 isn’t a like for like comparison.
The 5Nm Fanatec CSL DD is a good wheel base in its own right but does not offer the same performance as the 8Nm version. It offers a reduction in peak torque, which puts it at a performance disadvantage over the 8Nm CSL DD and the Moza R9. For that reason, I’m going to give the win Moza on price.
To conclude this comparison, I am going to give the overall win as the best small direct drive wheel to the Fanatec CSL DD. Although I would happily recommend both wheel bases to anyone looking for an upgrade. While the Moza R9 is a fantastic wheel base and does offer an increase in strength output, the Fanatec CSL DD just wins in the performance category and takes an easy win in the compatibility category.
Both of these categories are important for any sim racing product. But the compatibility issues that Moza faces with the lack of console compatibility and other branded peripherals are my biggest drawback for currently investing in the Moza ecosystem right now.
As Moza Racing grow as a company and release more products I am sure this issue will be much less important. But for now, the might of Fanatec just wins out.
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