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 wheelbases: the Fanatec CSL Elite, and the ClubSport 2.5. This article will examine them in-depth to help you decide which is best for you. Overall we’ll explain why the ClubSport 2.5 is a better pick when looking at the wheel holistically. The CSL Elite remains a good option for those looking for a powerful driving sensation, but don’t want to spend as much.
Product X vs Product Y: Technical Specs
|CSL Elite||ClubSport 2.5|
|DRIVE SYSTEM||Single gear toothed belt drive||Two multi-v-ribbed belts|
|UPDATE RATE||Fast 1000 Hz USB||Fast 1000 Hz USB|
|MATERIALS||ABS||CNC machined aluminum parts with anodized finish|
|SAVEABLE SET-UPS||5 wheels||5 wheels|
|COOLING SYSTEM||1 fan||Double fans|
Product X vs Product Y: 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. It doesn’t compare to the build of the ClubSport 2.5 however. 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. While this is laudable, from a build-quality standpoint we can’t but give the victory to the ClubSport 2.5.
Product X vs Product Y: 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.
Product X vs Product Y: Force Feedback
Let’s start off by saying that neither of these products is a direct drive wheelbase. Those tend to be a lot more expensive but a lot more powerful (to give you an idea why don’t you check out our DD1 v DD2 wheelbases review).
Now that that’s settled, let’s look at the two incredible force-feedback wheelbases we have before us. Starting with the less expensive model, the CSL Elite doesn’t let itself be easily overshadowed. It makes use of the servo motor, electronics and power supply of its higher-end siblings. This allows for the single belt drive to deliver strong and incredibly detailed force-feedback. The design is such that the force-feedback you feel is smooth and frictionless. When coupled with Fanatec’s Directsensor technology the effects are double those which you would normally expect. As a little cherry on top, the tuning menu allows you to fine-tune the behaviour of a myriad of functions (including force-feedback) to your liking.
The more expensive ClubSport 2.5 somehow manages to do even better than that. This wheel will get you as close to a direct drive feeling as you possibly can while spending around half the amount of money you would otherwise have to. Let’s start with the similarities between this and the CSL Elite. The 2.5 also makes use of the Directsensor technology, it also has a super-detailed tuning menu you can access in order to perfect every little aspect of your drive. But let’s get to the things that it does better! The brushless servo motor is incredibly smooth and delivers instant acceleration without any dead zones that you would normally find around the centre. Better still, the incredibly strong belt drive makes use of a dual belt system with multiple ball bearings and v-ribs. In turn, this signifies that there’s no belt slippage and no drag in the slightest. Yes, it’s not exactly the same as a direct drive wheel, but it’s oh so close! If this is the highest quality product you’ve ever used (or are about to use) you’ll quickly fall in love with its power and fidelity. If you’ve driven direct-drive wheels and are looking for a less expensive alternative, you’ll be in awe at how close this wheelbase manages to emulate the feeling you’d expect from a product costing you multiple thousands.
The CSL Elite is a great wheel-base with solid force-feedback. The ClubSport 2.5 is an incredible product that, for around half the price, almost manages to emulate the highest level of racing sim wheel desires. It’s clear to see that the winner here can’t but be the ClubSport 2.5!
Product X vs Product Y: 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 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.
Fanatec’s CSL Elite wheelbase is an incredible product, and it’s relatively affordable thanks to its more restrictive use of metal in its build. Having said that, the ClubSport V2.5 is so impressive that it can’t but win. There’s a saying that goes “buy nice or buy twice”. You won’t have to buy twice if you get the CSL Elite unless you want a significant upgrade, but you likely won’t have to buy twice at all if you pick the ClubSport V2.5, making them our pick.
Fanatec’s ClubSport V2.5 is a wheelbase that 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.
Three main selling points:
- Dual belt system mirrors direct drive feel
- Sturdy yet elegant build quality
- Can easily be programmed with plenty of adjustments
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