Fanatec CSL DD Review: Stunning Direct Drive Performance at a Reasonable Price
The CSL DD is Fanatec’s attempt to make direct drive technology more affordable and accessible to more people than ever before, but without compromising performance.
But why is direct drive technology so important? Well, most entry-level racing wheels, from companies like Logitech, Thrustmaster, and others, use gear or belt-driven racing flywheel technology. And while this makes the wheel more affordable, the force feedback, overall fidelity, and feel through the wheel often seem diluted.
With direct drive technology, the flywheel is mounted directly to the motor shaft, so there is no belt or gear drive to dilute the force feedback effects, allowing instant force feedback and incredibly detailed. This allows for a more realistic, immersive, and overall better simulation racing experience.
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Fanatec says their new CSL DD wheel base is the “new standard” and a “game changer” for the racing sim world, bringing direct drive technology to the mass market, with the product from just under Â£ 350, or Â£ 480 with the 180 Boost kit (at the time of writing), it’s certainly a lot more affordable than other direct drive sim racing products on the market today.
To put that award into context, when Fanatec first teased the CSL DD, and its award, on April 1, 2021, many fans thought it was an April Fool’s joke. That’s because the cheapest direct-drive wheelbase Fanatec previously offered was the Podium Wheel Base DD1, a product that currently costs just under Â£ 1,200, which launched in April 2019.
Direct drive technology was simply not affordable for most simulation pilots, that is, until the arrival of the CSL DD.
The Fanatec CSL DD – Specifications
The CSL DD features a 100% custom engine that was developed in Germany specifically for simulation racing, with patented and exclusive FluxBarrier technology that maximizes engine efficiency and smoothness.
The product also includes the first industrial motor with a carbon fiber composite motor shaft, which Fanatec says “dramatically increases responsiveness and acceleration due to low rotational masses.”
It is covered with a CNC machined aluminum case, which serves as a structural frame as well as a heat sink, which means it does not need active cooling.
But that’s not all, as it also features a carbon fiber reinforced composite steering axle, an aluminum fanless wheelbase housing, a high-resolution non-contact hall position sensor and automotive grade aluminum quick release.
All of these technologies work together in the CSL DD to enable it to deliver 8Nm (Newton meters) of peak torque (5Nm with the standard 90W power supply) and consistent, linear performance.
The CSL DD is a very heavy product, weighing 6.85kg for something relatively small, measuring only 38cm long, 29cm wide and 25cm high.
But whether it’s the quality of the packaging, the packaging materials, or the materials used to make the product itself, CSL DD exudes quality.
For the price, this seems to be exceptional value.
So this all looks very impressive on paper, but how come feel to use ?
The Fanatec CSL DD – Review
To be completely transparent, I only used a belt-driven or gear-driven racing wheel to play at home, so before reviewing the CSL DD I was excited to check out the direct-drive technology and j I had very high expectations in it.
Despite everything, the CSL DD exceeded my expectations.
If a gear or belt-driven racing wheel looks like a standard 720p DVD, the CSL DD is like a 4K Blu Ray.
The force feedback is so much more powerful, but it also has a much higher dynamic range, so the detail and feedback you get through the wheel is on a whole new level.
You feel every bump in the track, every touch of a curb, every little hint of oversteer and understeer, allowing you to react faster and feel more of what driving a car should be like. race.
Feeling where the limit of grip is, which is incredibly important when it comes to running both in real life and virtually, is so much more obvious, it all comes from the subtle sensation you experience through it. the wheel.
And when you go over the grip limit and have a big oversteer, the 8Nm of maximum torque lets you know, unequivocally. In fact, after using the CSL DD for a few hours, I felt like I had done an arm workout!
Using the CSL DD with the standard 90w power supply is great, but with the optional 180w supercharger kit it’s a whole different animal.
In high-speed corners, the amount of force passing through the wheel allows you to guide the car while fighting the feedback, and in slow turns, the detailed, subtle, and crisp feedback gives you the confidence to push the limits.
The CSL DD won’t necessarily make you a better pilot, but what it will give you is consistency, as you get much more consistent and realistic feedback, giving you a platform to improve and live. a more immersive experience at the same time.
One of my favorite things about the CSL DD is that while all of its features make it look like incredibly advanced and complicated equipment, it is truly plug and play and quite easy to set up.
The Fanatec CSL DD exam sample came with a CSL DD table clamp (not included with the CSL DD, available separately for Â£ 29.95) made of glass fiber reinforced plastic, which allowed me to l ‘Attach fairly easily to a Playseat Challenge, with the included stargrip attachment allowing for easy tightening.
The power cable for the CSL DD, whether it is the standard 90w or the full 180w Boost kit, simply plugs into the wall and then to the back of the wheelbase, while the connection of the pedals, lever gear or handbrake is just a wire from the base of the pedal itself.
Then just plug in the data cable from the CSL DD to an Xbox or PC, and you’re good to go!
To complement the CSL DD, Fanatec also released the CSL pedals. At just under Â£ 80, they have an all-metal steel design with precise sensors, a PU foam damper for the brake, and are fully adjustable.
Hall effect magnetic sensors allow the pedal system to be contactless, which means no wear and consistent performance.
For an extra Â£ 40 or so there is also an optional CSL Pedal Clutch Kit with the same technology.
It should also be said that even if you buy the CSL DD and the CSL pedals, you will still need a wheel to attach to the wheelbase.
For this review, Fanatec provided an example of a CSL Elite McLaren GT3 (Xbox and PC) steering wheel, which was another stunner in itself, but costing just under Â£ 200 on its own.
With the CSL DD, in addition to the optional 180 Boost kit, CSL pedals, CSL Elite McLaren GT3 steering wheel, CSL table clamp and even the optional CSL pedal clutch kit, this setup is certainly not not what you would call cheap.
The Fanatec CSL DD – Verdict
Before CSL DD, direct drive technology was beyond the reach of the vast majority of people. In fact, it was almost exclusively for pro pilots, pro simulation racers, and avid simulation racers with big budgets.
Considering the price of other direct drive products, from Fanatec and other manufacturers, the CSL DD will most certainly give a wider range of people the opportunity to experience direct drive technology for themselves.
The CSL DD represents a huge step forward for the sim racing industry, both in terms of technology and affordability, allowing more people than ever to experience direct drive technology.
Even with the price tag of Â£ 350 / Â£ 480, plus a little extra for other gear, it’s clear that the CSL DD is still the more expensive choice compared to most gear or belt wheels. But in terms of quality, feel, experience, force feedback detail, and pure pleasure, there is no comparison.
The Fanatec CSL DD (Â£ 349.95) and the CSL DD Boost Kit 180 Bundle (Â£ 479.95) are available for pre-order now for PC and Xbox and will be available from November 23, 2021. The PlayStation / PC version is expected to be available for pre-order now. will be released later this year.
FANATECÂ® Direct-Drive technology is integrated into the CSL series. From the subtle sidewall flex to the powerful self-aligning torque, you’ll feel everything with a heightened sense of realism. Exceptionally crisp and dynamic force feedback sensations await you.