Fanatec have built a reputation for producing high-quality sim racing hardware, complete with high-end features and made from the best materials. However, they do have a wide selection of affordable items for sale, leaving many sim racers to wonder what the cheapest Fanatec setup is.
The cheapest Fanatec setup includes the CSL DD 5 Nm wheel base, the CSL Steering Wheel P1 V2 and the CSL Pedals. This setup can be purchased for under $600, with the direct drive wheel base being the most expensive item out of the three. As well as being affordable, this setup is also upgradeable.
Your setup of choice may vary depending on what style of racing you are into, as different disciplines will require different pieces of hardware to get the full experience. In this article we will list the cheapest setups for a variety of racing styles, but first let’s explain Fanatec’s pricing system.
Fanatec Pricing Explained
Fanatec products are split into four categories, each offering hardware within different price ranges. These are the CSL, CSL Elite, ClubSport and Podium Series. Products from these categories are (usually) all compatible with one another, regardless of the gulf in quality between them.
Note: The minimum price of a Fanatec setup has increased recently, as they’ve discontinued some old favorites
The CSL and CSL Elite wheel bases are no longer in production as Fanatec have switched their focus to only producing direct drive wheel bases, meaning the cheapest setups now revolve around the 5 Nm CSL DD wheel base and the GT DD Pro wheel base for PlayStation users. There is a Boost Kit 180 available for separate purchase, which increases the force of the wheel bases to 8 Nm.
This makes Fanatec a more expensive brand for beginners, especially when you compare the range of cheap sim racing hardware produced by brands such as Thrustmaster and Logitech, with the likes of the T150/TMX or the G29/G920.
While competent and reliable, the CSL Series is Fanatec’s entry-level category, producing products that lack the high-end features of the other three options. They may not have the abundance of high-end features seen in the other categories, but CSL products are cheaper, and they’ll make up most of your setup if you are building it on a low budget.
CSL Elite Series
The CSL Elite Series is a step above the CSL Series, both in terms of quality and price, while remaining more affordable than the ClubSport range. CSL Elite options give you access to some great features without draining your bank account. These products are designed for those who are above entry-level but don’t necessarily have the budget for high-end options.
Fanatec’s ClubSport Series is a range of high-end options designed for more experienced sim racers. ClubSport products provide higher levels of immersion and realism than both of the CSL ranges, but the prices are significantly higher. ClubSport products will have better build quality and are likely to be more durable, and they’re typically more feature rich as well.
The Fanatec Podium Series is the company’s most desirable, premium range, priced higher than the rest, with better performance and a higher level of immersion. These products are designed for those who see sim racing as more than a hobby, and maybe want to race in a more professional capacity.
Fanatec’s dedication to quality means that even the cheapest products in the CSL range will be made to a high standard and will offer an accurate and realistic sim racing experience.
KEY POINTS• CSL products are best for beginners and those on a budget
• CSL Elite products are best for beginner-intermediate racers
• ClubSport products are ideal for those with experience and a bigger budget
• Podium Series products are the pinnacle of Fanatec’s offerings
The Cheapest Fanatec Sim Racing Setup
5 Nm CSL DD Wheel Base
The 5 Nm CSL DD wheel base is Fanatec’s cheapest option for PC and Xbox users, but it isn’t compatible with PlayStation consoles. The cheapest Fanatec wheel base for PlayStation is the GT DD Pro, which does cost more than the CSL DD. As we mentioned earlier, Fanatec discontinued their belt driven force feedback bases in favor of the more expensive direct drive.
High-Quality Force Feedback
The CSL DD presents users with a great entry point into direct drive force feedback. Direct drive is the most powerful and immersive form of force feedback, providing strong and detailed responses to in-game situations by connecting the wheel rim directly to the motor shaft. The usual sticking point with DD wheel bases is their price, but this isn’t the case with the CSL DD.
Fanatec have priced the CSL DD below its main competitors, most likely to retain entry-level customers even after discontinuing their belt driven offerings. They have managed to keep costs down by making the product smaller, using fewer resources too. This has limited the strength of the wheel base to 5 Nm of peak torque, but you can increase this to 8 Nm with the Boost Kit 180.
The later release date of the CSL DD compared to the original, more expensive DD1 and DD2 wheel bases means that Fanatec had time to refine their direct drive technology, making the CSL DD feel smooth and immersive even with less torque on offer.
Excellent Build Quality
Considering this wheel base is Fanatec’s cheapest option, they certainly haven’t cut any corners in terms of build quality. The outer edges of the product are made from sturdy aluminum, which feature vents to help keep the system cool, allowing Fanatec to get away with not using an internal cooling fan. This helps once again to drive the production costs down.
The lack of a fan also helps to keep the wheel base silent while you are using it, as noise is a common issue with a lot of force feedback systems. The aluminum quick-release system is built to last and will allow you to attach and detach your wheel with ease (but an improvement is due soon). The compact form of this wheel base makes it feel rigid and sturdy, and its all-black finish will suit most sim rigs.
Overall, having the CSL DD as part of Fanatec’s cheapest sim racing setup says a lot about the levels that Fanatec have reached with their sim racing hardware. The bar has been raised substantially in recent years, and this wheel base confirms that. Unfortunately, it remains incompatible with PlayStation, but there is an alternative with the GT DD Pro wheel base.
CSL Steering Wheel P1 V2
The CSL Steering Wheel P1 V2 is the ideal starter wheel for those who want to join the Fanatec ecosystem. It is currently their cheapest offering and provides all the basic features you would expect from a sim racing wheel. Unfortunately for Xbox users, this wheel is only compatible with PC and PlayStation, but there are other slightly more expensive options on the market.
Buyer’s Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest Fanatec wheel rim that’s compatible with Xbox, check out the CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 wheel
This wheel looks great, with its carbon fiber-style wrap around the face and texturized rubber grip around the outside. It features plenty of buttons that can be configured to do whatever you want them to do. Alongside these buttons is a five-way directional stick, which will help you easily navigate the menus of your chosen game.
The wheel is fully round and nicely sized at 300 mm (11.8 inches), making it versatile and usable in a multitude of different racing disciplines. It has a small LED screen that will feed you real-time information during your race.
The wheel has snap-dome metal paddle shifters, which produce a satisfying click when you pull them. This also lowers the risk of mis-shifting, eliminating unnecessary errors during races. The P1 wheel features a tool-free quick-release system that allows you to attach and detach the wheel from your direct drive wheel base with ease.
While the CSL Steering Wheel P1 V2 may not be the most high-end wheel in the brand’s range, it will provide users with a good entry point into using Fanatec equipment. It is tactile and durable, as well as being accurate and capable of handling the force feedback provided by the DD wheel base.
The CSL Pedals are a two-pedal set, featuring magnetic Hall effect technology, and they produce precise and lightning-fast inputs. The CSL pedal set can be upgraded with a load cell brake pedal (purchased separately), but when assembling the cheapest possible Fanatec setup, we’ll be going for the standard brake and accelerator lineup.
The CSL Pedals look and feel great, with a solid silver steel finish. They are made almost entirely from metal, with the only use of plastic being the pedal faces. However, the plastic pedal faces can be swapped out for a set of metal alternatives (sold separately). Even though these are the cheapest set of pedals that Fanatec have ever sold, they still look professional and sturdy.
This use of metal does bring about some issues, with metal-to-metal contact between the back of the pedal face and the base producing an irritating thudding sound when pushed with force. You can fix this issue by inserting a small strip of rubber between the two parts, or by purchasing third-party modifications.
The fact that Fanatec have decided to use Hall effect sensors in these pedals means that your inputs will be precise, consistent, and fast. Many cheap pedal sets use potentiometers, which rely on small mechanisms inside the set to measure the travel distance. Hall effect sensors use small magnets instead, which are more durable.
These pedals don’t offer the most resistance, but they will provide enough for beginners. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust this resistance with a different set of springs like you can with many other pedal sets, but you can adjust the positioning of the pedals on the base plate to get the most comfortable setup for the way you race.
Overall, the CSL Pedals will provide you with a great entry point into sim racing with pedals. They aren’t strong and resistant, but they are accurate, which will help you find more consistency around the track. As usual with Fanatec products, they are made to a high standard, with an all-metal build.
The Cheapest Fanatec Rally Setup
Rally racing is very much a unique form of racing, and it requires a different set of hardware to more traditional forms of sim racing. If you’re into rallying, you’ll find that you will fare better with a round wheel, you’ll feel more immersed with manual (sequential) gear shifting, and you’ll be able to navigate corners with greater precision if you use a proper sim racing handbrake.
5 Nm CSL DD
The 5 Nm CSL DD wheel base will provide you with excellent, detailed force feedback, meaning you’ll be able to feel all of the bumps on your favorite rally stages and fully immerse yourself in the game. In a form of racing that is known for its unpredictable track surface, you’ll feel the benefits of direct drive more than ever, offering far more realism than gear or belt drive wheels.
CSL Elite WRC Wheel
While the CSL Elite WRC wheel may cost the same as the McLaren GT3 V2 (discussed below), it serves a very different purpose. It is perfectly round and sized to replicate the wheels found in real rally cars. This wheel wouldn’t work as well if you prefer racing in open wheel or GT games, in the same way the McLaren GT3 wouldn’t fit well if you are a rally enthusiast.
Shaped For Rally Racing
This circular wheel will help you find that extra precision that you need when navigating tough rally stages. This means that if the wheel ever slips out of your fingers, you will be able to easily catch it, unlike with a formula wheel or a semi-circle shaped wheel, where your hands are required to be planted to the sides of the wheel.
The Alcantara grip covers the entirety of the wheel rim and is well padded for extra comfort. We recommend you wear a pair of sim racing gloves when using this wheel, as Alcantara is easily damaged, especially during long sessions. The wheel also has an LED screen in the top center, which will make it easy to know where the center of the wheel is.
This LED screen changes color when you need to shift gears, making it a useful practical tool for beginners as well as a good indication of the wheel’s position. The quick-release system on the back of the wheel has been improved from this wheel’s predecessor, making it quicker and easier than ever to remove and attach the wheel to your wheel base.
The wheel has two paddle shifters on the back, which are colored to match the orange stitching on the Alcantara. The feel of the shifting isn’t the most positive, which may leave you prone to mis-shifting. They don’t give off the efficient feel that the paddle shifters on Fanatec’s more expensive wheels do, which is to be expected when you consider the lower price of the wheel.
There are 12 programmable buttons on the wheel, which do make it look a little gimmicky rather than like a professional replica. However, they are there to serve the purpose of allowing you to make in-game inputs quickly and efficiently, something they do well. This is helped by their comfortable placement on the wheel face, making them easily reachable.
Overall, the CSL Elite WRC wheel performs very nicely for its price and will help you to increase your performance level on rally-based sim racing titles. It is perfectly shaped for its purpose, and thanks to the Alcantara grip and extra padding, it will feel comfortable and supportive during use.
CSL Pedals + Clutch Kit
The CSL Pedals usually come as a set of two, but Fanatec do give you the option of purchasing a third Hall effect pedal to use as a clutch. This will help you get the most out of your shifter should you decide to purchase one. Although most titles have an auto-clutch system, it won’t feel anywhere near as immersive as introducing a real clutch pedal into your setup.
ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5 + ClubSport Handbrake V1.5
Although the CSL Elite WRC wheel does have paddle shifters, you may desire the enhanced immersion provided by the ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5. It is sequential rather than H-pattern, which makes it easier to use and it also better represents what you’ll find on many rally cars.
To complete your rally setup, a manual handbrake is essential. Fanatec’s ClubSport Handbrake V1.5 provides and immersive experience, without costing you too much money. It will help you navigate the tightest corners with ease, and it will be substantially more fun to use than pressing a button on the front of your wheel.
The Cheapest Fanatec GT Racing Setup
Assembling a decent GT racing setup isn’t too complicated, as there is no need for extra hardware such as handbrakes or shifters. All you will need is a wheel base, wheel rim, and pedal set to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible. As usual, the 5 Nm CSL DD wheel base will be the starting point, and the CSL Pedals will be a necessary purchase.
5 Nm CSL DD
The 5 Nm CSL DD is once again the wheel base of choice for a cheap Fanatec GT racing setup. Its detailed force feedback capabilities will let you in on all sorts of information during the race, from bumps in the track surface to the grip levels of your tires. Direct drive force feedback is the pinnacle of force feedback technology and it will help you feel more immersed in your races.
CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2
The CSL Elite McLaren steering wheel is Fanatec’s joint cheapest wheel option and it’s built like no other wheels in the Fanatec range. It features a plastic wheel face, cleverly designed to look as though it is made of carbon fiber. The wheel face isn’t cluttered with buttons, although it has all the necessary inputs that you will need to use while racing.
This wheel, much like the first version of the wheel, is designed to replicate the wheels used in the McLaren 650S GT car, looking almost identical, apart from one of the central dials (on the real car) being replaced by a small screen (on this rim). Fanatec have also matched the 300 mm (11.8 in) diameter of this wheel’s real-life counterpart, which is slightly larger than most of Fanatec’s offerings.
The plastic wheel face has been wrapped to look like carbon fiber, which makes the wheel look professional. This move is understandable, as it has helped to keep the overall cost of the wheel down while keeping the style factor high. Another cost-cutting technique employed by Fanatec is the use of rubber on the hand grips. The rubber is grippy and will feel secure, even if you’re racing without gloves.
The wheel features metal paddle shifters on the back, which are easy to use and won’t be prone to mis-shifts. They have a nice McLaren-style orange finish, completing the aesthetic of the wheel.
Fanatec also improved the quick-release system on the back of the wheel, but you will require the ClubSport adapter to use it with a Fanatec DD1 or DD2 wheel base. Using this adapter unlocks the wheel’s high-performance mode, which enables you to access the full amount of torque that your DD1/DD2 direct drive wheel base has to offer (you don’t need it for the CSL DD/GT DD Pro).
Overall, the quality of materials used to make this wheel has clearly been compromised in order to lower the retail price. But there are plenty of Fanatec wheels that provide an alternative if you are looking to spend more, and this is perfect for those on a budget. When paired with a direct drive wheel base, this wheel offers a high level of GT-style immersion.
The Hall effect CSL Pedals will be ideal when trying to assemble the cheapest Fanatec GT setup. They are cheap, but not made of plastic like many other cheaper pedal sets are. They combine perfectly with the rest of the setup and can also be upgraded with a load cell brake in the future should you wish to do so.
The Cheapest Fanatec F1 Setup
The cheapest Fanatec F1 setup isn’t too dissimilar from the cheapest Fanatec GT setup, with the exception of a dedicated F1-style wheel. This will not only boost the realism of your experience, but also allow you to make useful in-game inputs because of the great placement of buttons on the front of the wheel.
5 Nm CSL DD
The cheapest Fanatec wheel base for F1 games is the 5 Nm CSL DD. It will pair nicely with the ClubSport F1 Esports V2 wheel (see below) and help you feel all the elements of your race, from the state of the track to the life left in your tires. This enhanced force feedback will enable you to reach a higher level of consistency and gain the edge over your opponents.
ClubSport F1 Esports V2
The ClubSport F1 Esports V2 wheel rim is officially licensed by F1 and designed specifically for those who play F1 games at the highest level. With Alcantara grips and a solid aluminum face, this is a wheel designed to last. It features well placed buttons to allow you to easily activate DRS and ERS, as well as helping you to make rapid changes to your strategy in-game.
The wheel is shaped to replicate real Formula 1 wheels, and it succeeds in doing so. There is a small LED screen in the center of the wheel, which will tell you how fast you’re going, as well as lights that will let you know when to shift gears and when there are yellow flags. The paddle shifting is satisfying, with the carbon fiber paddles clicking nicely when pulled.
The wheel is priced slightly higher than the McLaren GT3 wheel, but its replication of real F1 wheels and their functions makes it a must have for those who enjoy playing Formula 1 style games.
As the gear shifting on Formula 1 cars doesn’t require a clutch pedal, the two-pedal CSL set is the way to go for an F1 setup. Their Hall effect sensors will ensure your braking inputs are accurate and quick, which is vital when you’re travelling at high speeds. The ability to change the positioning of the pedals will be useful, especially if you use a reclined formula seat.
Buyer’s Tip: I recommend upgrading these pedals with the load cell brake, as this helps offer an extra layer of precision that is key for F1 racing
The Cheapest Fanatec Setup For PlayStation
Assembling the cheapest Fanatec setup for PlayStation is simple, as Fanatec have a pre-curated GT DD Pro Bundle available. The bundle comes with a Gran Turismo branded wheel, a GT DD Pro wheel base, and a pair of CSL Pedals. It retails for just over the price you would pay for the overall cheapest setup, due to the increased price of the PlayStation-compatible version of the wheel base.
GT DD Pro 5 Nm Bundle
The GT DD Pro bundle comes with a wheel base, wheel rim, and a set of CSL Pedals, meaning you can have a fully kitted out setup with just one purchase. There is also a premium edition of this bundle that comes with an 8 Nm wheel base and a CSL LC pedal set (load cell brake included). Although there are cheaper bundles out there, this selection is well worth looking into.
With brand mixing essentially impossible on console, this bundle will ensure you have everything you need to start racing at a good level without straying from the Fanatec ecosystem. You won’t have any issues with compatibility or setting the bundle up, as it has specifically been pieced together by Fanatec to work on consoles without any hiccups.
The items in this bundle are also compatible with the majority of Fanatec’s other sim racing products, which is ideal for upgrades further down the line. The aesthetics of the wheel are designed around PlayStation’s most famous racing series, Gran Turismo, with many of the buttons and dials programmed in line with various functions in GT Sport and GT7.
The Cheapest Fanatec Setup For Xbox
The cheapest Fanatec setup for Xbox involves the CSL DD rather than the DD Pro of the PlayStation bundle. The specific route you go down will depend on your racing style and game preferences, as the McLaren GT3 formula wheel is priced the same as the CSL Elite WRC wheel.
5 Nm CSL DD
The first item to purchase is the 5 Nm CSL DD, which may pack less force than the 8 Nm version but will provide you with detailed and precise force feedback for a reduced price. Its sturdy aluminum body and improved quick-release system will ensure it is both durable and easy to use, especially when paired with one of the two wheels we are about to mention.
CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 / CSL Elite WRC Wheel
The biggest decision to make here is what sort of racing you prefer. If you are into rally racing, then we recommend you go for the CSL Elite WRC wheel, as its size and shape will offer you more precision when navigating tricky rally courses. If you prefer to stay on tarmac, then the smaller size of the McLaren GT3 wheel will be best.
Both wheels offer fast and precise input speeds, and they will both work well with Fanatec direct drive wheel bases. They are also durable and sturdy, although the materials used for the WRC wheel are of slightly higher quality. For example, the grips on the WRC wheel are wrapped in Alcantara, whereas Fanatec have used rubber for the grips on the McLaren GT3 wheel.
Obviously which material is best for you comes down to personal preference, and ultimately, the shape and size of the wheel is the biggest decision maker with these two products, as they share the same price tag, and are both compatible with the same wheel bases.
The CSL Pedals regularly feature in this article, as they are the cheapest set of pedals that Fanatec have on offer. The regular set comes with just the two pedals, but they are easy to upgrade with the CSL LC kit, meaning you can upgrade from two pedals to a three-pedal set, and go from Hall effect braking to load cell braking. Overall, the CSL pedals represent great value for money.
Fanatec’s dedication to producing cheaper products is often overlooked, even though they have a wide selection of affordable hardware made to a high standard. The cheapest possible setup includes the dependable CSL Steering Wheel P1 V2, the 5 Nm CSL DD wheel base, and the CSL Pedals.
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