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Sim Racing Product Guides » Fanatec Podium Wheel Base DD1 vs DD2 – Which Should You Buy?
Trying to decide which powerful direct drive to go for? In this guide I run through the pros and cons of both the DD1 and DD2 to find out which wheel is the better buy!
It was an exciting day when both the Fanatec Podium direct drive wheel bases turned up on our door. Even though we already own the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 for PS4 and PS5, we hadn’t ever had the opportunity to directly compare both the DD1 vs DD2 wheel bases side by side.
For those new to direct drive racing wheels, what exactly is the Fanatec Podium DD racing wheel range?
The Podium range is the first direct drive product range by German sim racing giants Fanatec. The direct drive technology in these sim racing wheels is the pinnacle of force feedback technology. Direct drive wheels mount the steering wheel directly to a large motor, which sends force feedback directly in to the players hands.
One of the main appeals of a direct drive wheel when compared to a belt driven racing wheel, is the strength of the force feedback. Direct drive wheel bases can output 3-6 times stronger force feedback than belt driven wheels. This means the force feedback that you feel in the wheel will be much stronger. Outputting stronger force feedback gives a more realistic level of immersion, making driving feel much more like in a real race car.
Not only are direct drive wheel bases much stronger, the other main appeal is the much improved force feedback quality. In a direct drive wheel base, the steering wheel is mounted directly to the motor that produces the force feedback. This is much better than other racing wheels which link the motor and steering wheel via a belt or gears.
Due to the motor being directly mounted to the steering shaft, there is no loss in force feedback quality. This setup produces much more detailed feedback which can be felt through the steering wheel.
Both the Fanatec Podium DD1 & DD2 were launched at the same time, and feature a lot of the same features as one another. The DD1 is essentially the DD2’s smaller, cheaper brother. It is the cheaper of the two direct drive wheel bases.
Originally Fanatec were trying to develop a smaller motor for the Podium DD1, but during development they switched to using the same motor that is used in the DD2. This means that you will receive the same quality of force feedback in the DD1 as you do in the DD2.
There is one main difference however. The DD1 is electronically limited to 20Nm, whilst the DD2 has a peak torque of 25Nm. This allows the DD2 to output stronger force feedback than the DD1. The DD1 has 15Nm of useable torque, whilst the DD2 has 18Nm of useable torque. I’ve listed the useable torque above, as there is a big difference in a wheel base that can deliver a peak torque of 30Nm for a couple of milliseconds, compared to a wheel base that delivers lower torque for much longer. The Fanatec direct drive wheels fall in to the latter category.
In our testing, running the DD2 at 100% force feedback was definitely too much! There are very few circumstances where you would ever want to run the DD2 at full strength. This will be for the most hardcore gamers who are looking to test themselves. Or even those looking to try match the experience of driving a real race car.
For those looking to match a real world race car, most GT style cars run power steering. This means that running a DD2 at full power would be overkill in this scenario. Race cars such as the Radical SR8, and Indy cars push well over 30-35Nm of torque through the steering wheel so a DD2 wouldn’t be able to get close to matching this strength.
But hey, there aren’t many sim racers who would want to match that level of torque as it puts a huge strain through your wrists and arms. I have been lucky enough to drive a Radical around a track, and after half an hour around a track, my arms ached for almost a week. You wouldn’t want to be experiencing that level of force continuously day after day whilst sim racing.
During a lot of our testing we found that the 100% feedback strength of the DD2 was almost always too much. We always ran it way under maximum strength.
In fact, we would say that the DD1 offered more than enough useable torque for most sim racers. You definitely wont be disappointed by the lack of 5NM peak torque on the DD1, you probably wouldn’t even notice.
One difference between both the DD1 vs the DD2, is that the DD2 features a built in mechanical kill switch. This is apparently due to the higher power on offer in the DD2. Although this is a strange design choice, as the DD1 is only slightly down on power.
It definitely has enough power to cause injuries so would have benefited in having the same kill switch. You can purchase a kill switch for the DD1 however it doesn’t come as standard.
Looking at both Podium wheel bases side by side, they look almost identical. They are the same shape and feature roughly the same design. The DD2 wheel base does have a lovely carbon fibre finish. This is a nice addition compared to the aluminium housing present on the DD1.
Both the DD1 and the DD2 feature in-built OLED displays measuring in at 2.7″ with a 256×64 resolution. This sits right at the front of the wheel housing allowing you to see it over or through your steering wheel.
It’s main purpose is to allow you to adjust the wheel settings which you can do with ease. Another neat feature however, is the ability to view telemetry on this screen. It can fetch telemetry directly from the game you are playing and show it in real time. It can show features such as force feedback clipping and peak forces for example. This was a nice touch and allow us to setup the wheel with ease for each game we played it with.
One improvement of the Fanatec Podium direct drive wheels, when compared to other direct drive wheels, is the lack of a dangling wire connecting the wheel base with your steering wheel. Fanatec have opted for a fully wireless setup which is a really nice quality of life improvement.
Talking about setting up the wheel, unlike with most direct drive wheels which require hours of setting up, both Podium wheel bases simply connected with a USB and were ready to go. I simply plugged it in, opened up the control pan, updated to the latest drivers and firmware and was ready to go. It was certainly the easiest direct drive setup we have encountered!
After we setup both wheels we took them out on track using iRacing as our testing platform. We drove a variety of different cars from an MX-5 through GT3 cars to the Formula 3 open wheeled cars. We have to say both wheels handled everything extremely well.
If you are coming from driving a belt driven wheel you will be amazed with the new force feedback sensations you will feel. One such example is if you sit in a non-moving car with the engine idling. With a belt driven wheel you will get very little movement in the racing wheel until you start to move away. With the Podium direct drive wheels, the motor itself vibrates enough to shake your whole sim rig. It offers a much more immersive experience.
But getting back to the comparison between the two Fanatec wheels. Running both at 100% force feedback strength, yes you can certainly feel a difference in output. We wouldn’t say this goes in favor of the DD2, as we wouldn’t ever really drive with the strength set to 100%. When you turn both wheel’s strength down then both fall in line with each other.
One thing to note, was that the DD2 had slightly higher crash forces than the DD1. When hitting a wall the DD2 would cause us to let go of the steering wheel completely to avoid injury. The DD1 didn’t produce the same level of peak torque meaning we could keep hold of the wheel for longer before letting go. This shows the overall peak torque gain you get in the DD2.
Overall, both the DD1 and DD2 offered really smooth and responsive force feedback. They were both immensely precise and stable and were good enough to compete with any other direct drive wheel on the market.
If you are looking of upgrading from a belt driven wheel base, you should absoloutely consider the Fanatec Podium series. Both wheel bases offer immense force feedback quality, and compatibility with other consoles which is unheard of in the world of direct drive wheels.
Should you get a DD2 over a DD1? Well, the verdict is still out on that one.
The Fanatec DD1 is certainly priced to compete with other direct drive wheels such as the AccuForce Pro. Buying a DD1 would save you around £250 / €300 compared to a DD2.
Ultimately it boils down to what you want out of a direct drive wheel. If you are going for complete immersion, and plan to run force feedback strength up around 100% to experience a semi-realistic Indycar experience… you’ll want to go for the DD2. The power increase is noticeable.
However the power increase is also unrequired in our opinion. We wouldn’t run a Fanatec DD2 at full power as it simply wouldn’t allow us to race in long sessions every day. We would certainly turn the strength settings down to allow us to not tire out too quickly. With this in mind, we think the Fanatec DD1 would more than suit our daily sim racing needs.
Ultimately, when you buy either the Fanatec DD1 or DD2 you are buying in to a well established ecosystem, with plug and play console compatibility and a lot of different wheel rims to choose from. If you are a PlayStation owner, then you will need to purchase the PS4 supported Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1, which utilises the DD1 wheel base.
Taking everything in to account, the Fanatec Podium series is possibly the best direct drive wheel base you can buy today. And the Fanatec DD1 is the best all around direct drive wheel for the majority of sim racers.
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The main difference is the overall power output. the DD2 puts out 5Nm more peak torque than the DD1.
The DD2 is more expensive than the DD1 by around £250/€300.
Both the DD1 & DD2 are compatible with Xbox. The DD1 has a special PS4 compatible version available.
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