Fanatec Wheel Base Comparison – Which Wheel To Buy?
This ultimate guide has been designed to give you the best Fanatec wheel base comparison, to help you choose which Fanatec wheel you should buy.
We will review and compare every Fanatec wheel base from the CSL Elite, the ClubSport and Fanatec’s direct drive wheel bases. After the comparison of each wheel base we’ll show you the best steering wheel rims you can get for each wheel base.
When it comes to buying a new sim racing rig it can be tricky to decipher which wheel is best suited for you. There are so many options available offering a wide variety of quality and compatibility.
One of the go to sim racing brands are German sim racing specialists Fanatec, and this is for good reason. Fanatec pride themselves on creating sim racing wheels for true enthusiasts, with an emphasis on quality.
These premium quality wheels and wheel bases offer a natural progression for any sim racer who is looking to upgrade their rig.
As a racer myself, I started my sim racing journey with a humble Logitech G27. When I was first starting to sim race, the Logitech wheel was a great starting point. It gave a decent amount of force feedback, and a real introduction to racing with a wheel. However, I was quickly looking for a more immersive experience. I went looking for a racing wheel which offered a greater sense of realism, and came across Fanatec.
Since first purchasing a Fanatec wheel base, I was fully sold on the quality and the customisability of their product range. However knowing which product range is best suited for an individuals needs is tricky. It boils down to the platform you are playing on, your budget, and the immersion you are after.
Below I take a look at each of Fanatec’s different product lines, and find out which one is best, and which one you should buy.
Fanatec Wheel Bases Explained
Fanatec have segmented their product range in to three different categories, CSL, ClubSport and Podium. Each category provides a step in quality and price, along with different compatibility options. Across the whole range of products, Fanatec always pack their wheel bases with the latest technology.
Fanatec CSL Product Line
The CSL product line is the most accessible of all of Fanatec’s products, and is described as the entry level Fanatec wheel. These are designed for racers who are new to Fanatec products, or reasonably new to sim racing. Despite still costing a lot more than other entry level sim racing wheels, the CSL line is perfect for those looking to upgrade from their budget racing wheel.
The technology included in these Fanatec racing wheels is also used in the higher end ClubSport wheel bases, however the CSL range focus on budget as well as performance.
Fanatec ClubSport Product Line
The ClubSport wheel range offers a premium racing wheel product. It has been designed to give you the best wheel performance you can achieve from a non-direct drive wheel base. The technology inside is similar to the CSL racing wheels, however the whole base is built with an emphasis on premium quality.
The ClubSport product range is designed for those who are looking to maximise their wheel rig setup and achieve the most real-to-life driving experience possible.
Fanatec Podium Product Line
Fanatec’s Podium product line is the crème-de-la-crème of racing wheels. It is the absolute pinnacle of sim racing, offering an experience like non other. The Podium wheel bases utilise direct drive technology, giving you the highest quality of force feedback possible from a racing wheel.
Generally direct drive wheel setups are hard to achieve, with a lot of DIY ability and knowledge required. However Fanatec’s Podium product range offer direct drive compatibility for those who don’t want the hassle of a DIY job.
Fanatec Product Range Compatibility
Below is a comparison table of all of fanatec’s wheel bases. This shows the console compatibility of Fanatec racing wheels, along with the price of each range. The price of every wheel base (other than the Podium F1) is for the wheel base only. This doesn’t include a steering wheel. There are however some great product bundles available which lower the overall cost of buying Fanatec products.
|CSL Elite Wheel Base v1.1||PC - Xbox One||€349.95|
|CSL Elite Wheel Base PS4||PC - PS4 - Xbox One||€399.95|
|ClubSport Wheel Base v2.5||PC - Xbox One||€549.95|
|Podium Wheel Base DD1||PC - Xbox One||€1,199.95|
|Podium Wheel Base DD2||PC - Xbox One||€1,499.95|
|Podium Racing Wheel F1||PC - PS4 - Xbox One||€1,799.95|
Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel Base
Let’s jump straight in to looking at each individual Fanatec racing wheel, starting with their cheapest wheel base, the CSL Elite.
Advantages of the Fanatec CSL Elite Racing Wheel
- Great entry level wheel base
- Very well built
- Great materials
- Rev lights are a nice touch
Fanatec CSL Elite Racing Wheel Disadvantages
- Not as good force feedback as the ClubSport wheel base
- Pricier than competitor entry level wheel bases
- Some wheel shake during high frequency force feedback
Fanatec CSL racing wheels combine performance and budget, and do this very well. They are the go to option for those who want to step in to the realm of Fanatec wheels for the lowest cost.
Accessibility and performance are the two keys which make the Fanatec CSL Elite wheel base a great budget racing wheel. It offers some of the great technology found in more premium wheel bases, yet is dressed down to become more affordable. The wheel base housing is entirely plastic, other than the face plate. And comes with a universal clamp which allows you to attach it to any table or rig that you have.
The wheel base includes a series of nice shift lights which are incredibly bright. These will certainly come in useful when learning when the best time to shift is, as you can see them in your peripheral vision. Other than the shift lights, the CSL Elite wheel base is a non flashy affair.
It lets the steering wheel do all of the hard work when it comes to altering force feedback settings. With all Fanatec CSL wheel rims featuring a small LED screen of some form. From this LED screen, you can adjust a wide range of force feedback settings to tailor the wheel’s performance to your needs.
Force Feedback Performance
For the price of this wheel, the CSL Elite delivers the best force feedback possible. The first thing you’ll notice is, it feels extremely strong when stepping up from competitors such as the Logitech G29 or Thrustmaster T150. That strength is sent through to the steering wheel via a belt drive method. This means the force feedback that you feel will be silky smooth.
The force feedback in the CSL Elite is meant for an intense driving experience, and it really does not feel like a toy or a console controller. Despite being Fanatec’s budget racing wheel, this CSL Elite delivers a truly realistic driving experience. The belt drive system in the Fanatec CSL Elite is a world above the gear and belt systems found in other budget racing wheels. And it is this smoothness which gives you the true immersion.
Compatibility & Customisation
The CSL wheel base comes in a couple of variants, with the main difference being compatibility. The CSL Elite v1.1 is compatible with PC & Xbox only. Whereare the CSL Elite + is compatible with PS4 as well.
One of the main selling points for Fanatec wheels is the customisation available. Unlike other budget racing wheels, you can choose from a wide selection of wheel rims to use with your CSL Elite wheel base.
The Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel
The only wheel rim that you can currently purchase from Fanatec directly is the CSL Elite Steering Wheel. This wheel rim works across all platforms although is designed specifically for Xbox One & PC.
The wheel itself exudes a premium feel. The whole of the wheel rim is covered in genuine Alcantara, and the top of the rim features an integrated LED display. The wheel itself is perfectly spherical and isn’t the most ergonomic when it comes to racing with, however many will like it. The great news is that this wheel rim works with every wheel base Fanatec create, meaning if you upgrade your wheel setup, you can continue to use this wheel base.
Setting up your CSL Elite wheel with an Xbox One is a simple process. Simply plug everything in, attach your wheel rim of choice and you’re good to go. With a PS4 as long as you have a PS4 compatible wheel base it will automatically detect your wheel rim and once again you’re good to go.
Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base
Fanatec ClubSport Racing Wheel Advantages
- The best force feedback available from a non direct drive wheel
- Choice of over 20 supported wheel rims
- High build quality
Fanatec ClubSport Racing Wheel Disadvantages
- Expensive compared to rivals
The ClubSport series offers an increased level of performance and customisation over the CSL Elite series. This racing wheel base offers sim racing enthusiasts one of the highest levels of performance they can get.
Fanatec’s ClubSport range is positioned to compete with products such as Thrustmaster’s T500RS. These products sit towards the top range of sim racing hardware, just underneath direct drive wheels.
The step up to Fanatec’s ClubSport range also gives you a much wider variety of wheel rim to choose from. This allows you to select a wheel rim which matches the style of racing sim you are playing. If you are racing formula style cars, then you have wheel rims such as the ClubSport Steering Wheel F1 Esports which gives you an amazing level of realism. Alternatively, if you are racing GT cars, then you could opt for a Porsche 911 GT3 R wheel.
Our Favourite Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Rim
Our favourite wheel rim for the ClubSport range is the Formula V2. It truly offers the most authenticity when racing open wheel cars. The wheel itself is constructed of carbon fiber and matches a Formula 1 wheel in terms of style.
The wheel design includes built in shift lights, rocker switches and dials to allow for setup adjustments whilst racing. In total there are 67 adjustable functions depending on the game you are playing. There really aren’t many other wheels on the market which match the Formula v2’s versatility.
It is officially licensed to work with Xbox One and PC without issue, and has the ability to work with PS4 when using a PS4 compatible wheel base.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R wheel rim that we mentioned earlier is another example of a stunningly well designed wheel rim. The design is a true to life replica of the wheel rim used in the 911 GT3 Cup car and comes in a choice of finish – either suede or genuine leather.
Similar to the Formula V2 wheel rim, you have a plethora of input switches and buttons to tweak your car whilst racing, and the 911 GT3 R rim also includes a 2.7″ OLED display. This display is like none other, and can show multiple telemetry layouts. A few options include, gear and speed displays, lap time, lap count and more.
Another great feature of Fanatec ClubSport wheel rims, including both of the above, is the ability to upgrade the rim. You can upgrade elements such as shifters and connections to ensure your wheel is fully future compatible. After all, when you are spending upwards of £300 just for a wheel rim, you want to ensure you get the most amount of time with it.
Fanatec Podium Wheel Base
Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel Advantages
- The strongest force feedback available from a Fanatec product
- Extremely detailed force feedback
- The most accessible direct drive racing wheel available
- Authenticity due to official F1 licensing
Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel Disadvantages
- Very costly
Fanatec’s mighty Podium wheels are the ultimate sim racing wheel. They sit above the already fantastic ClubSport wheels, and offer direct drive technology, compatible with every console. That is unheard of in the sim racing world. Most direct drive wheels are compatible with only PC games, however the Podium bridges the gap to consoles.
Podium wheels are designed to be utilised in the highest level of sim racing competition, and they deliver the ultimate force feedback performance.
When it comes to choosing a racing wheel to attach to the Podium wheel base, it’ll have to be the Podium racing wheel F1. It offers compatibility across all three platforms, PC, PS4 and Xbox, allowing you to maximise your usage if you race multi platform.
And when it comes to the wheel design, you will struggle to find many better. The Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 is officially licensed by Formula 1, and therefor is the closest product on the market to a real Formula 1 steering wheel. The Podium Racing Wheel F1 is the wheel of choice for Formula 1 drivers to practice with when sim racing during the F1 off season, and this shows you just how good it is.
This wheel is manufactured with the highest quality materials, including magnetic paddle shifters made from carbon fibre, and a complete carbon fibre body.
READ MORE – Read our full Podium Racing Wheel F1 review.
So Which Fanatec Wheel Is Right For Me? Which One Should I Buy?
We have run through each Fanatec racing wheel product line and shown you our favourite racing wheel picks. However which wheel should you buy on the back of what we have said?
The answer really depends on the type of sim racing experience you are after and what your budget can stretch to. We have listed a few possible scenarios which may summarise what you are looking for in a sim racing wheel.
Casual sim racer – Look to purchase the Fanatec CSL Elite – Check Price
F1 fan – The Fanatec ClubSport Formula V2 is probably best – Check Price
General Motorsport Fan – The Fanatec ClubSport Porsche 911 GT3 R – Check Price
Professional Sim Racer – Either the Fanatec ClubSport Formula V2 or the Podium Racing Wheel F1 – Check Price
Looking for the strongest force feedback – Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 – Check Price
Our favourite wheel of all of Fanatec’s offerings is the ClubSport wheel base with almost any wheel rim. The ClubSport wheel base offers a touch of everything a sim racer could ask for. You have a premium built product, giving the best force feedback possible from a non direct drive wheel. And you’ll have a host of customisation options to cater for your favourite type of motorsport.
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Where Can I Buy Fanatec In USA?
You can buy Fanatec products from the official Fanatec website, with delivery to mainland USA.
Will Fanatec Wheels Work With Thrustmaster Pedals?
Thrustmaster TP3A pedals wont connect to a Fanatac wheel base. The TP3A pedals use an RJ12 connector which Fanatec don't support. You can get an RJ45-USB adaptor and plug the pedals in to your PC separately and then they will work.
Will Fanatec Pedals Work With Thrustmaster Wheels?
Fanatec pedals will work with Thrustmaster wheels, however you will need to plug the Fanatec pedals directly in to your PC, rather than in to the Thrustmaster wheel base.