We get a lot of questions from you about which Fanatec equipment suits you best. We also get a lot of questions about which equipment is now suitable for the PC, Xbox and Playstation. Below we will answer all those questions in the ‘Fanatec Best Buy Guide 2021’ and explain everything to you so that you can make the right choice(s). We will first discuss the various products (ranges) and what they are suitable for, then we will make an overview with different budgets in mind to help you get started right away.
Fanatec is an innovative company and is a very popular brand for many novice and advanced sim racers. Fanatec is an ecosystem, this basically means that you need one driver package and in most cases one USB connection on your PC or console to use the Fanatec equipment. In addition, take the universal Quick-Release system, with which almost all steering wheels (exceptions are some CSL steering wheels) are equipped, so you can use almost any steering wheel on any wheelbase. Also, all Fanatec pedal sets, shifters and handbrakes work on all available wheelbases. Nice if you later want to upgrade to a Podium wheelbase, for example, so you don’t have to replace all your steering wheels and/or pedals.
Let’s start with the compatibility for the different platforms. All Fanatec equipment is suitable for use on the PC, there are no restrictions. The Xbox compatibility is incorporated in the steering wheel, the Playstation compatibility in the wheelbase. That means that if you have an Xbox you specifically have to buy a steering wheel that is Xbox ready, but it doesn’t matter which wheelbase you use with it. Conversely, with a Playstation you have to make sure that you buy a wheelbase that is PS ready, in addition, you also have to purchase a PS ready steering wheel. Fanatec indicates per product with icons for which platform they are suitable.
If there are any restrictions, it’s in the games. As an example; a Formula v2.5 steering wheel is PS-ready and will therefore work on the Playstation, but in Gran Turismo, for example, you cannot use all the functionalities of this steering wheel. The basic functionalities will all work but the thumb encoders and rotary encoders will not. Unfortunately, this information is not available for every game and you will have to find out through trial-and-error or with the help of the community. Fortunately, Fanatec’s support is increasing among developers and these limitations will become less and less.
CSL Elite, ClubSport and Podium
Fanatec has three different product ranges, which are the CSL (Elite), the ClubSport and the Podium series.
The CSL range is positioned the entry level. We have to say that the level of the CSL range is still a lot higher than the competitors such as Logitech and Thrustmaster. So don’t be misled by the term ‘entry level’.
The ClubSport range goes one step further and is referred to as the mid-range level. Better materials and techniques are often used in this range. But also, for example, the use of the ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module to upgrade your steering wheel or hub. A Universal Hub is also available in this range to be able to use aftermarket steering wheels on your Fanatec Wheelbase.
The Podium range is referred to as Fanatec’s high-end line. The most important components in this are the DD1 and DD2. These are Direct Drive wheelbases, a drive mechanism that uses the torque of the motor without any reduction. A Podium Hub is also available in this range to be able to use aftermarket steering wheels on your Fanatec Wheelbase. You can see that this line is also being expanded further and more and more Podium steering wheels are becoming available.
The vision of Fanatec is that all wheelbases will be superseded by their Direct Drive counterparts , the CSL Elite v1.1 and CSW v2.5 are end-of-life and the CSL DD is currently the wheelbase you must have. This covers both the CSL (Elite v1.1) and the ClubSport (CSW v2.5) category. The CSL DD has 5Nm of torque (CSL level) as standard and with Boost kit 180 you have 8Nm (ClubSport level) at your disposal. We would always opt for the 8Nm option, so that your wheelbase always has some extra toque left and can handle the peaks better.
The CSL DD works on PC and Xbox (with compatible Xbox steering wheel), but unfortunately not on Playstation. Fanatec has indicated that they will come up with a new DD wheelbase suitable for Playstation, but nothing is known about that at the time of writing.
In the Podium range, Fanatec also has the Podium Racing Wheel F1 available in addition to the DD1 and DD2. Depending on the platform you race on, the choices are different. If you race on PC/Xbox, you could choose a DD1 or DD2. On Playstation you are at the mercy of the Podium Racing Wheel F1. This set is currently the only Podium wheelbase that has the Playstation compatible chip on board. The big advantage of the Podium Racing Wheel F1 is the multi-platform support, which means that this wheelbase can also be used on PC and Xbox in addition to the Playstation. You also get a nice (exclusive to this bundle) F1 steering wheel.
Are you going for the GT classes and do you also drive Formula 1? Then our choice would fall on the CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren, possibly with a ClubSport Quick Release adapter. The Quick Release adapter is not necessarily necessary on a CSL DD wheelbase, but it is on a Podium DD if you want to use the high-torque mode. In our CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren review we tell you more about this.
If you go for Formula 1 with an occasional trip to the GT classes, the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula v2.5 is the most suitable choice. In addition to an attractive price, this steering wheel also immediately comes with the Magnetic Paddle Module installed and the steering wheel is equipped with perforated leather handles as they were on the 2020 Limited Edition steering wheel.
A nice GT steering wheel with a reasonable price tag and also suitable for all platforms is the ClubSport Steering Wheel GT. This steering wheel consists of the ClubSport Universal Hub v2 for Xbox with the ClubSport Steering Wheel Rim GT Alcantara and is offered as a bundle. This steering wheel is suitable for PC, Playstation and Xbox and has a good shape with a comfortable grip.
If you want to “compose” your own steering wheel yourself, the CSL Universal Hub, ClubSport Universal Hub or Podium Hub are available. The CSL Universal Hub is an entry-level Universal Hub which is equipped with the (plastic) Simplified Quick Release Adapter. The ClubSport Universal Hub v2 is a lot more solidly built, equipped with the ClubSport Quick Release adapter and the Magnetic Paddle Module. The ClubSport Universal Hub is available in 2 variants; with and without Xbox support. All Universal Hubs are suitable for PC and Playstation, so you pay a small surcharge for Xbox support on the ClubSport Universal Hub v2 for Xbox. In addition, Fanatec has a wide choice of separate steering wheels, which are all suitable for the Universal Hubs.
Fanatec doesn’t have a lot of choice in terms of pedals. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you can only choose between good or bad. Fanatec has two different pedal sets, both of which are simply excellent. Both pedal sets can be used on all available wheelbases.
The new CSL Pedals is a very good level set with an entry-level price. For PC users* this is in our opinion the very best upgrade you can do from your Thrustmaster or Logitech pedals where you don’t immediately need a Fanatec wheelbase and steering wheel. You can expand this set with the CSL Pedal Clutch Kit. A Load Cell Brake and Tuning Kit will be available for the CSL Pedals later this year.
*Note that you will need a separate USB adapter if you are not going to use a loadcell kit (yet) and you want to connect the pedals directly to the PC. The USB adapter is not necessary if you are going to connect the pedals directly to one of the available Fanatec wheelbases.
The ClubSport Pedals v3 is a set that is one level higher than the CSL Pedals. This set is also for sale as the ClubSport Pedals v3 Inverted. Both sets are very good and easy to expand with a damper kit and brake performance kit.
Shifters and handbrakes
There is little choice in this at Fanatec. The ClubSport Shifter SQ v1.5 and the ClubSport Handbrake v1.5 are available in the range, that’s it. But that’s not bad at all, both devices have been well developed in recent years and are suitable for all platforms. They do what they are supposed to do and are also very solidly built. The beauty of the ClubSport Shifter SQ v1.5 is that in addition to the H pattern, it can also work as a Sequential shifter.
Which choice should I make now?
We will now give our advice per “budget” and explain it further to you. We try to help you on your way so that you can make the right choice.
The basic setup up to € 700.00
If you’re just starting out with sim racing, don’t make it too difficult for yourself. An investment in Fanatec equipment is slightly higher than with the other brands, but you also get something in return. In addition, Fanatec equipment also retains its value on the 2nd hand market, but of course it won’t get that far! With the setup below you are set for € 629.85 (excl. shipping costs) and you have a stable basic setup from Fanatec that you can expand considerably in the future.
The advanced setup up to € 1000.00
Do you go a step further or do you have a little more budget then the set below is recommended. With the boost kit on the CSL DD you have no less than 8Nm of power at your disposal. This little extra power benefits the performance of the wheelbase. You don’t have to use more power, but it’s nice that you have it and it provides that little bit of extra detail on the virtual road surface. In terms of steering wheel, we make the choice for either an F1 steering wheel, or a GT steering wheel. Of course you can also choose both if your wallet allows it. Here too we opt for CSL Pedals again, but this time with the optional load cell kit. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this one is not yet available, but it holds great promise.
- Wheelbase: CSL DD met Boost kit 180
- Or Steering Wheel F1: ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula v2.5
- Or Steering WheelGT: ClubSport Steering Wheel GT
- Pedals: CSL Pedals + Loadcell Kit (not yet available)
The ultimate setup up to €2000.00 to €2250.00
The ultimate setup, at least the ultimate Fanatec setup in our experience. A DD1 wheelbase provides sufficient power with sublime details and feedback. Here too we opt for either an F1 steering wheel or a GT steering wheel. Of course you can also opt for both here if your wallet allows it. If you choose a set with the Porsche (leather or Alcantara, just what you like) steering wheel then you are at the max of your budget, if you choose the F1 steering wheel you will end up under € 2000.00. In terms of pedals, choose the ClubSport V3, possibly supplemented with the brake performance kit and damper kit.
- Wheelbase: Podium Wheelbase DD1
- Or Steering Wheel F1: ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula v2.5
- Or Steering Wheel GT: Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R (leather or alcantara)
- Pedals: ClubSport Pedals V3
We hope that this article has helped you to make the right choice. We have tried to create the best possible overview for you in which the most obvious choices are emphasized. Of course, this does not mean that we have now answered all the questions for you once and for all. On the contrary, you can always contact us or come to our Discord channel if you have any questions or just want that extra bit of advice.
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