July 2021 Update: Fanatec appear to have discontinued their CSL Elite and ClubSport V2.5 wheel bases. We’ve updated this list to reflect their current line of products, but have left our old picks towards the bottom in case you want to look for them on the used market.
Fanatec is decisively one of the best racing sim wheel producers out there. However, if you’re new to their ecosystem, it can be quite difficult choosing between all the wheels and rims. In this guide, we’ll share our top picks for each category.
Bundles, Racing Wheels, Wheel Bases, and Steering Wheels: What’s the Difference?
If it’s your first time buying a sim racing wheel from Fanatec, you might be a little confused by all the different terminology that they use to refer to their products: bundles, racing wheels, wheel bases, steering wheels, and more…
So, what exactly are each of these and which of them do you need?
For Fanatec, a bundle is a collection of two or more products that they are selling together.
As of July 2021, the only bundle Fanatec offers is the CSL DD Boost Kit 180 Bundle, which combines their new CSL DD wheel base with the optional boost kit.
Sometimes, Fanatec offer bundles containing complete steering wheels. In fact, from time to time, they’ll offer bundles that contain complete steering wheels and pedals, meaning you can buy everything you need to get started with just one purchase.
Next up are racing wheels. You can also think of these as bundles, since they combine a specific wheel rim (the part you hold) with a wheel base (the box it attaches to). As of July 2021, the only racing wheel Fanatec offers is the Podium Racing Wheel F1.
If you want more freedom and customizability, you ought to buy the parts to build your own sim racing wheel separately. This brings us to the next section of Fanatec’s offering, which are wheel bases. These are the boxes you attach your wheel rim to, and are responsible for sensing your inputs as well as generating force feedback that pushes back against you like a real car.
Fanatec’s current line-up of wheel bases includes the CSL DD, the Podium DD1, and the Podium DD2.
If you are building your own sim racing wheel, then you need not only the wheel base, but also the wheel rim. For whatever reason, Fanatec calls wheel rims “Steering Wheels”, which is one of the main causes of confusion.
Be warned: not all of Fanatec’s “Steering Wheels” are equal: some of them are just wheel rims that you hold onto, while others include a much needed “hub”, such as the Podium, ClubSport V2, or CSL Hub, that connects your wheel rim to the wheel base. If this is your first Fanatec wheel you will definitely need some kind of hub. Try out Fanatec’s setup builder if you are not sure.
Best Fanatec Racing Wheels of 2021
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive in and look at the best Fanatec racing wheels on offer in 2021:
- Fanatec CSL DD Boost Kit
- Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1
- Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel Formula
- Fanatec CSL Elite WRC (Discontinued)
- Fanatec CSL Elite BMW GT2 (Discontined)
Breakdown of the Best Fanatec Sim Racing Wheels
Note: The CSL DD is not a complete racing wheel per the definition we provided above, but Fanatec offer so few racing wheels right now, we had to include this in our list!
The Fanatec CSL DD was released around the same time Fanatec discontinued their CSL Elite and ClubSport V2.5 wheel bases. This means that in order to build a complete Fanatec wheel today, you’re either going to need to pick up a top-of-the-line Podium wheel base, or this: the CSL DD.
If that sounds like a bad thing, it’s not. The CSL DD is perhaps the most affordable direct drive wheel base the world has ever seen, allowing sim racing enthusiasts to experience the ultra-smooth, high resolution force feedback that only direct drive allows.
So, what can you expect from the CSL DD? For starters, let’s talk specs, and more specifically, torque. The base model can deliver a peak of 5 Nm of torque, which is less than the 6 and 7.5 Nm of torque that the CSL Elite and ClubSport delivered, respectively. However, if you do want slightly more torque from your CSL DD, you can opt for the additional boost kit, which increases peak torque to a respectable 8 Nm.
This may sound a little weak in comparison to top-tier direct drive wheels, and it is. However, if you’re a beginner or intermediate sim racer, it should still be more than enough, and you’ll get to experience greater consistency in your drive (which is arguably more important than just how hard the wheel throws you around).
In terms of design and build, we have no complaints whatosever. The wheel base uses premium materials including plenty of metal and carbon fiber composites. It feels solid and with direct drive, the internals should be pretty reliable. Additionally, the wheel uses passive cooling, so there are no fans to worry about.
To conclude, the CSL DD is a really interesting wheel base that we think is worth every penny for newer sim racers (for more advanced individuals, see our next two picks). In terms of complete wheels, Fanatec is not selling this new wheel base with any wheel rims at this time, so you’ll have to pick them up separately.
We love the Fanatec Podium F1. Let’s start with the wheel base: the DD1 is easily one of the best direct drive wheels on the market. It’s made of high-quality materials but most importantly offers a fantastic driving sensation. With high peak torque and the smoothness of the direct drive motor, it feels incredibly immersive. Not to mention, the wheel base itself is highly customizable using Fanatec’s proprietary tuning software, where you can adjust everything from force feedback strenth to steering lock. There’s no latency whatsoever.
The F1 wheel this bundle offers is just as brilliant. It has a myriad of customisable and easy to access features from the 11 buttons and 12-way multi-position switches to the various thumb encoders and rocker switches. It’s ergonomic and it’s armed with the most authentic paddle shifter system ever made (Dual analogue clutch paddles allow F1-style launch control by pre-defining the clutch bite point). Finally, as the cherry on top of an already incredible wheel, multicoloured lights show you the RPMs of your engine and the optimal point at which to change gear, as well as signalling tire slip, fuel level, or incoming radio.
All in all, this is the ultimate experience for those wishing to simulate F1 races with their setup. If you’re a PS4 user, you’ll be glad to know this is also our undisputed best wheel for PS4. Unfortunately, the wheel is not compatible with Xbox, but there is a great sister prodct we’ll discuss in just a second.
Like the previous pick, the Podium Racing Wheel Formula is a bundle built upon an extremely powerful foundation: the Fanatec Podium DD1. As stated before, this is an extremely powerful direct drive wheel base that takes sim racers to new heights of realism and immersion; there simply isn’t a better way to improve your racing experience than to add a direct drive wheel base to your sim racing rig. There are certainly great arguments to be made in favor of other direct drive wheel bases such as Fanatec’s updated model – the Podium Wheel Base DD2 – but it is dramatically more expensive while only offering a marginally-improved experience.
If you’re sold on the concept of direct drive but don’t have a PC and therefore cannot utilize most of the other DD wheel base out there, the DD1 is a Xbox One compatible wheel base that is very hard to disagree with. Do bear in mind that a table clamp won’t be enough to contain this beast; a dedicated wheel stand or cockpit is all but mandatory in order to contend with this high end force feedback system – a force feedback system that can literally output more torque to a sim racer’s arms than a real car!
From Project Cars 2 to Assetto Corsa and beyond, racing games never feel more realistic than they do with racing wheels of this caliber. Speaking of feels, this particular bundle is especially great to hold in your hands by virtue of the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2. This wheel rim is constructed of carbon fiber and metal wrapped in Alcantara. Key features of this epic wheel rim include multi-color RevLEDs, 11 buttons and and 12-way multi-position switches. Also included is the brilliant Podium Advanced Paddle Module, which brings high-end Hall Effect sensor-equipped magnetic paddle shifters to the table.
If you’re an Xbox One sim racer and you’re in the market for an amazingly powerful sim racing wheel, Fanatec has what you’re looking for right here. (By the way, this bundle is also fully compatible with PC!)
Before the CSL Elite wheel base was discontinued, our favorite all-round wheel was the CSL Elite WRC. It didn’t reach the same levels as some of the other members of our list, but hear us out. The wheel base itself allowed for a rotation of up to 1080°, and was coupled with notable force feedback. It made use of the servo motor, electronics and power supply of its higher-end siblings. This allowed for the single belt drive to deliver strong and incredibly detailed force-feedback. Coupled with Fanatec’s Directsensor technology, the effects were double those which you would normally expect. As a little cherry on top, the tuning menu allowed you to fine-tune the behaviour of a myriad of functions (including force-feedback) to your liking.
The wheel rim itself is still availlable, and is officially licensed by the World Rally Championship (WRC). It’s incredibly lightweight (less than one kilo!), it’s a respectable 30cm in diameter, and feels just like a real rally wheel.
The awesome and affordable Fanatec CSL Elite wheel base, combined with an officially licensed BMW wheel rim pulled straight from a touring car
Our runner-up pick was the Fanatec CSL Elite BMW GT2, which combined the same great CSL Elite wheel base we discussed a second ago, with the officially licensed ClubSport BMW GT2 wheel rim. It came in at the exact same price as our the WRC, making it an equally great choice for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation users alike.
Like the WRC rim, the BMW GT2 is wrapped in real alcantara. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two rims is their size: this wheel’s diameter comes in at 32 centimeters to match that of real BMW touring cars.
Next up was the ClubSport V2.5 Forza Motorsport. We’ve looked in depth at the ClubSport V2.5 wheel base and we simply loved it. This wasn’t a direct drive wheel base, but it would get you as close to a direct drive feeling as you possibly can while spending around half the money. In case you’re wondering, we do think this was a better wheel base than the CSL Elite, Fanatec’s other non-direct drive wheel base.
The ClubSport V2.5 also made use of Directsensor technology, with a super-detailed tuning menu you can access in order to perfect every little aspect of your drive. It had an incredibly smooth, brushless servo motor that delivered instant acceleration without any dead zones. Better still, the incredibly strong belt drive made use of a dual belt system with multiple ball bearings and v-ribs. In turn, this signified that there was no belt slippage and no drag in the slightest.
There were two variations we had to consider when picking this bundle as our top Xbox choice. One had the exact replica of a BMW GT2 steering wheel, the other had the Forza Motorsport rim. Counterintuitively we went with the second one, and here’s why. While the BMW GT2 wheel is great, the FM rim scratches more itches, and it scratches them better. The BMW wheel is coated in Alcantara, the FM wheel in real leather and made from anodized aluminium. The BMW wheel is 32cm wide, the FM 33cm. Both wheels have the same amount of buttons, but the FM model allows you freedom in where you want the buttons to be (it’s customisable!). All in all, this was a spectacular wheel on a spectacular wheel base.
What to Look for in a Fanatec Sim Racing Wheel
With so many choices, it can be tough to determine which Fanatec racing wheel is best for you; keep these factors at the top of mind when shopping:
The first thing to consider when shopping for a Fanatec racing wheel is what platforms you intend to race on. Each and every Fanatec wheel base is compatible with PC; if you’re a PC gamer, take your pick! Things are slightly more complicated for the console crowd, but we’ll break it down as simply as possible for you.
Console compatibility is determined by your wheel rim – each and every wheel rim will tell you whether it is compatible with Xbox consoles, PlayStation, etc. Furthermore, if the rim you have your heart set on isn’t compatible with your console of choice, Fanatec has product that will solve this problem for you: The Fanatec Universal Hub.
The Universal Hub is a modular adapter than connects to your Fanatec Wheel Base via the quick release system, between the base and the wheel rim. It’s a considerable added cost, but if you really want or need to use a specific wheel rim that isn’t compatible with your console, it’s great that the Universal Hub exists to fill in that gap.
Direct Drive vs. Belt Drive Force Feedback
As we’ve alluded to a few times in this guide, direct drive force feedback is the latest and greatest major technology to hit the sim racing peripheral scene in some time, and it’s the best way to get the feel of a race car in your living room. That being said, direct drive force feedback wheels are quite expensive and we must say that they aren’t quite necessary in order to get a solid sim racing fix.
Belt drive force feedback systems are still extremely common, and Fanatec used to make what are arguably the best belt drive force feedback wheels on the market with their ClubSport steering wheel models. If the price of DD feels prohibitive or if you simply don’t desire the massive torque output associated with that tech, the Fanatec ClubSport steering wheel bundles on this list will serve you very well for many years to come.
Cost and Value
You’ve surely noticed by now that Fanatec steering wheels are not what most folks would consider to be an impulse purchase; each of these racing wheel bundles is a enthusiast-grade product that is designed to withstand the rigors of regular use by hardcore sim racing fans. That said, not everyone will find value in a racing wheel that costs more than their Xbox One or PS4 – not to mention their gaming PC.
Fanatec fans all agree on one thing though: you get what you pay for with these racing wheels. In order to ensure you’re getting not only a great deal – but also the best deal possible – make sure you navigate to the “Racing Wheels / Wheel Bases” section of the Fanatec Website; it is here that you will find all of the bundles available in your region. Bundling is especially important if you want to save as much money as possible as Fanatec famously only runs one sale per year – on Black Friday – and the savings offered during that sale are rather modest.
If you’ve owned an entry-level racing wheel in the past, you may be accustomed to a sim racing rig that consists of a table clamp and a computer desk; that isn’t going to fly your powerful new Fanatec product. While you can certainly get away with such an arrangement with some of the less-powerful Fanatec racing wheels, you won’t be getting the full experience or have good control of your racing games. Good ergonomics are also essential, especially if you intend to spend a considerable amount of time in sim racing games.
Sim racers need dedicated rigs for their steering wheels and pedal sets, so make sure you have a good place to play. The best solution for most is to grab a purpose built sim racing cockpit – of which there are many available. Make sure you get a cockpit that is compatible with your chosen Fanatec racing wheel!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few questions that tend to pop up time and time again by those shopping for a Fanatec racing wheel product; here are some of those queries as well as our responses to them:
That really depends on a number of things such as whether you’re playing on PC or console, which racing games you play, and your budget. This guide was made with all of these factors – and more – in mind, with the intent of helping you figure out which Fanatec racing wheel is best for you.
These are questions that you can only really answer for yourself, but the answer you’re most likely to get from a Fanatec steering wheel owner is a resounding “yes”. While these Fanatec steering wheels are far from cheap, they’re made of premium components and feature some of the most thoughtful design and quality engineering you’ll find in any racing wheels.
While this is also very hard to answer directly, we will say that the average Fanatec product is of considerably higher quality than that of the average Thrustmaster product. That said, Thrustmaster products are generally more affordable and are aimed at a somewhat different segment of the sim racing scene.
Complete List of Fanatec Rims
Here is a complete list of Fanatec wheel rims that are currently available to purchase:
- Podium Porsche 911 GT3 R (Suede/Leather)
- Podium R300
- Podium NASCAR
- ClubSport Porsche 918 RSR
- ClubSport GT (Regular/Alcantara)
- ClubSport Drift
- ClubSport Flat 2
- ClubSport R330
- ClubSport Flat 1
- ClubSport Round 1
- ClubSport GT Forza Motorsport
- ClubSport Classic 2
- ClubSport Formula V2.5 X
- ClubSport Formula V2.5
- ClubSport F1 PS4
- ClubSport BMW GT V2
- ClubSport RS
CSL Elite Series
- CSL Elite WRC
- CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2
Here are wheel base, rim, and hub bundles that Fanatec have discontinued:
Fanatec CSL Elite Porsche 918 Racing Wheel
It’s a shame we couldn’t put this wheel higher up on our list, because it was just as good as the CSL Elite WRC or BMW GT2. Once again, it was Fanatec’s awesome and affordable CSL Elite wheel base, but this time with an incredibly attractive Porsche wheel rim.
Fanatec ClubSport BMW GT2 Racing Wheel
The ClubSport BMW GT2 was Fanatec’s Xbox-exclusive ClubSport V2.5 wheel base with the ClubSport BMW GT2. Earlier, we chose the Forza Motorsport version over this wheel, but let’s try to make you change your mind now.
First and foremost, this was a licensed, exact 1:1 replica, of the wheel you’d find in an actual sports car. When we mean exact we mean the same size, the same weight and made from the same materials. The LED lights at the top of the wheel functioned similarly to the ones you’d find in the F1 bundle we talked about earlier. With the addition of a great LED speedometer to let you know how fast you were going without having to look at a distracting hub.
As a final note, the paddle shifters felt great too. All in all what more could you want than a real-life replica of a racing wheel if you truly wanted to test your racing acumen?
Design Your Own Fanatec Wheel
Okay, technically speaking this is cheating, but so many people don’t know this exists we simply had to add it to the list.
There’s a decent chance that, in reading through this list, you’ve wished you could mix some parts of the bundles with other parts. Well, lucky you! Most people ignore this option, but Fanatec allows you to add and subtract different parts so that you can create your own specific dream setup. Better yet, there are options under the bundle creator that you otherwise wouldn’t find on the website.
Want to feel as though you’re driving an antique car in an old F1 circuit? Why not add the “Podium Steering Wheel Classic” to your DD1 bundle, couple it with a more traditional shifter like the ClubSport Shifter SQ V 1.5, add a handbrake, and there you go! Want to feel like you’re driving a Porsche 911 GT3? There are options for that too!
Of course, making your own bundle doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a discount, but Fanatec does a fantastic job at helping you figure out what pairs with what, giving you plenty of options, and you can truly finally create exactly what you’ve been looking for. If the change is minute then maybe consider just modifying a bundle a tiny bit to try and get the discounted price. What’s key in all this is the wheel base. Once you have that you can always switch out compatible wheels for one another.
Oftentimes it’s hard to make a choice because aspects of one bundle attract you, whilst others you don’t like. Well, whether you’re just slightly adjusting a pre-existing set-up, or creating your own from scratch, give the bundle configurator a look.
Last Updated on May 4, 2022
I’m an avid sim racer and technology blogger from the UK. I launched FPSBible.com at the start of 2020 to share my thoughts on a range of tech accessories, with a focus on racing peripherals like steering wheels, pedals, and gear shifters.