Today we’ll be comparing some of the best racing pedals from two leading manufacturers: the Thrustmaster T3PA Pro and the Fanatec CSL Elite. This comparison might seem relatively straightforward at first, but it’s actually quite the challenge to nail down which of these is a better product.
The CSL Elite is an especially nuanced product to review due to the fact that it ships at a relatively low cost but it doesn’t have a feature set that’s comparable to the T3PA – that is, unless you opt for the Load Cell kit. You can get the Load Cell kit pre-attached when you order the CSL Elite (simply order the “LC” model), or you can buy it separately and attach it to the base model yourself.
In either case, said kit allows users to add a third, load cell pedal for braking – and slides one of the other pedals into the clutch slot.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these pedal sets, but we feel as if the pre-built CSL Elite LC will hit the mark for most. While we ultimately feel as if this is the best sim racing pedal set on the market, there are a few things to consider before spending your hard-earned cash!
T3PA Pro vs Fanatec CSL Elite: Technical Specs
|T3PA Pro||CSL Elite||CSL Elite LC|
|# of Pedals||Three||Two||Three|
|20 lbs||9 lbs||12 lbs|
|Styles||F1 and GT||Just F1||Just F1|
|Materials||100% metal||100% metal||100% metal|
T3PA Pro vs Fanatec CSL Elite: Build Quality
Perhaps the first and most important consideration when shopping for sim racing pedals is the build quality – after all, these peripherals will be taking a massive amount of heavy abuse for years to come. Thankfully, both manufacturers are at the top of their game and these pedals don’t disappoint here – and both of these sets full-metal in their construction
Luckily for us both of these sets have been around for years at this point and we can confidently say that neither has a serious design flaw or common complaint. Both sets are sufficiently hefty, and the T3PA Pro is especially heavy; some users state that they can use the pedals comfortably without even mounting them due to the solid, weighty base.
These pedals are also highly customizable and both companies offer an array of mods at additional cost. Of special note is the aforementioned Load Cell kit for the CSL Elite, which adds a load cell brake while sliding the stock brake down to the clutch position. Load cell inputs work by measuring user input in terms of pressure as opposed to travel distance – which actuators in both the base CSL Elite and T3PA Pro pedals do. This high-tech upgrade provides a dramatically more realistic and engaging racing experience and is highly recommended by pretty much everyone who has had feet-on time with it.
Winner – Draw
T3PA Pro vs Fanatec CSL Elite: Performance
These pedal sets are facing-off here by virtue of being amongst the top performers in their class, which makes them especially hard to compare head-to-head in this regard. While we can’t knock the T3PA Pro’s performance in any meaningful way, the situation with the CSL Elite is somewhat more nuanced.
The base CSL Elite set leaves a lot to be desired by enthusiasts as it doesn’t include a clutch – something that virtually the entire target audience expects in a pedal set. However, the set is dramatically cheaper than the T3PA Pro at base configuration, and adding the LC kit puts it way ahead in terms of performance and cost.
At the end of the day, the full CSL Elite LC set is the peak performer, and we believe that the increased price (while significant) is pretty easy to justify for hardcore sim racers.
Winner – CSL Elite LC
T3PA Pro vs Fanatec CSL Elite: Design
Design is another tough call between these two; both sets are appealing on an aesthetic front, and both are highly adjustable and able to be tweaked in a number of ways to cater to the needs of users.
Positioning is another important consideration; the T3PA Pro can be used either in F1 or GT positions out-of-the-box, whereas the CSL Elite is only ready-made for F1-style usage. That said, many users report that clever mounting solutions close the gap here, and that they were able to mount their Fanatec pedals in GT position with relative ease.
The T3PA Pro features brake mods to allow users to easily adjust the required force for braking, and the open-back design means that dust and debris can tend to accumulate. This is something that most users won’t have much of an issue with – and most who do seem to accept that it is an extremely minor inconvenience that they need to occasionally clean their brakes – but it is something that does come up in discussions amongst owners and therefore we feel it’s worth mentioning here.
Winner – Draw
T3PA Pro vs Fanatec CSL Elite: Other Considerations
As you can likely tell by this point, there is a lot to love about all of these pedal sets and it is very hard for many users to choose one or the other – so let’s consider some of the other differentiating factors in play here that some users might want to take into account.
The CSL Elite set is compatible with PC out of the box – even without a Fanatec wheel base – whereas use with consoles requires a compatible Fanatec wheel base in order to interface. The T3PA Pro is the same, except it also requires an adapter to be used on PC without a Thrustmaster wheel.
While the Thrustmaster T3PA Pro pedal set is among the best of the best, it’s beat-out by the Fanatec CSL Elite (especially the LC model) set due to the lower base price, wider compatibility and improved performance.
Last Updated on April 16, 2021
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.