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Fanatec CSL Elite vs ClubSport 2.5: Head-to-Head

Fanatec offers a wide variety of products, and sometimes it’s hard to choose between them. For many, this is exactly the case when it comes down to two of their most notable wheel bases: the Fanatec CSL Elite, and the ClubSport 2.5. Today, we’ll compare them.

With its powerful force feedback and robust aluminium build, we think the ClubSport 2.5 is the better wheel base for sim racing. However, the CSL Elite is still a great budget-friendly alternative.

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Specs

CSL EliteClubSport 2.5
Rotation Range1080°900°
Drive systemSingle gear toothed belt driveTwo multi-v-ribbed belts
Update rateFast 1000 Hz USBFast 1000 Hz USB
MaterialsABSCNC machined aluminum parts with anodized finish
Saveable setups5 wheels5 wheels
Cooling system1 fanDouble fans
Torque6nm8nm
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Build Quality

The build quality of the CSL Elite is pretty solid. The Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (or ABS, a thermoplastic polymer) is quite resistant and it feels like it can take a bit of punishment.

However, it doesn’t compare to the build of the ClubSport 2.5. The aluminium build is considerably more resistant and weighty, it feels good to carry around and it gives it an air of authenticity. Moreover, the fact that the aluminium is anodized gives it an extra bit of resistance and finish.

The fact that the CSL doesn’t make extensive use of metal is likely in order to keep the costs down and thus present a more affordable product to consumers.

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Design

When talking about wheelbases, design and build quality can’t but be inexorably linked (so you’re likely already going to guess who we’ll hand the victory to). The CSL Elite is quite pleasing to the eye. It has an almost semi-minimalistic design, leaving much of it smooth if not for the brand and series name. This is in direct contrast to the slightly more cluttered ClubSport 2.5. This latter wheelbase looks more “industrial” with all the heavy-duty bearings and cap-screws. Don’t mistake this for a lack of class, however. The opaque metal body is sleek and does the wheel justice. 

While in the design department it’s much harder to make a clear choice between the two, the metal build of the ClubSport 2.5 just barely gives it the edge against its less expensive competitor. 

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Force Feedback

Let’s start off by saying that neither of these products is a direct drive wheel base. They tend to be a lot more expensive but a lot more powerful.

Now that that’s settled, let’s look at the two incredible force-feedback wheel bases we have before us. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that both the CSL Elite and ClubSport V2.5 make use of the same motor. This means torque-wise, the two wheel bases are similarly powerful.

However, the motor isn’t the only component that impacts force feedback: just as important is the drive system, which is the system of gears and belts (in the case of these two wheel bases, just belts) that transfers the motor’s rotation through to the wheel. This is where the CSL Elite and ClubSprot diverge.

The CSL Elite uses just a single, cogged belt. Although the force feedback is still a heck of a lot better than what you’ll find in many other entry-level sim racing wheels, there may be some delicate slippage, drag, or dead spots in the rotation range.

The ClubSport V2.5, owing to its more premium design and build, uses a system of two multirib belts. This leads to a noticeable impovement in force feedback; specifically, the feedback feels somewhat stronger and smoother, but more importantly, it feels consistent throughout the entire rotation range of the wheel.

This is a win for the ClubSport, but the CSL Elite isn’t far behind.

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Compatibility

One thing we haven’t yet discussed is compatibility. Unfortunately, the ClubSport is not compatible with PlayStation, which is why the CSL Elite wins first place on our guides to the best PS4 and best PS5 racing wheels.

CSL Elite vs ClubSport: Other Considerations

Though not included as a package, both these wheelbases have pedal sets you can buy as addons to further complete or enhance your set-up. The ClubSport V3 pedals have incredible adjustability as you are able to change the position of pedals, their angles, the throttle spring strength, brake sensitivity, brake travel and more to truly tailor them to what you’re looking for. They also have incredible build quality thanks to the magnetic and contactless sensors on the gas and clutch which will guarantee life-long accuracy. 

The CSL are more of a medium-range product, but don’t let that fool you. The CSL Elite pedals are entirely made of metal and will grant you enough adjustability options to leave you tinkering to find your ideal set-up after each lap. Each pedal has a “free layout” meaning that its position on the heel rest can be adjusted separately at whichever distance you wish. They’re well built, incredibly accurate, quite comfortable and ergonomic, and easy to install in a cockpit (if you already have that). 

All in all, it’s hard to determine a victor through and through. The ClubSport V3 pedals are strictly speaking better, but they’re also a lot more expensive and we don’t know whether they warrant such a large difference in price. From a purely “best bang for your buck” metric, we might have to go for the CSL Elite pedals

Conclusion

Fanatec’s CSL Elite wheel base is an incredible product, and it’s relatively affordable thanks to its more restrictive use of metal in its build. Not to mention, its corresponding pedal set offers excellent value for money.

Having said that, the ClubSport V2.5 is a clear winner. It mimics a direct drive feel for half of the price, making it an excellent product for the more expert users who don’t want to spend thousands. 

Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 Fanatec ClubSport V2.5
Yes, it's decisively more expensive, but there's no doubt that the ClubSport v2.5 is a better wheel base than the CSL Elite

Last Updated on April 19, 2021