When you’re looking to upgrade your sim racing rig or even create your first one, you’re bound to come across Fanatec. With their focus on technology and gear for enthusiasts made by enthusiasts, Fanatec have a rich history with plenty of amazing sim racing wheels on offer.
Fanatec’s history began in 1997, and they were founded under the name of Endor, and the owner, Thomas Jackermeier, started to produce equipment for PC gaming. They made the first-ever steering wheel for the PlayStation 2, the Le Mans, and have since made some of the best racing wheels on the market.
Mr. Jackermeier turned his passion for video games into a profession, and that was how Fanatec was born! Below, we go into more detail about Fanatec’s lines of sim racing wheels and why you should consider adding one to your sim racing setup.
- • Great value for money
- • Simple but effective interface
- • Perfect for McLaren fans
- • Ideal for Formula racing
- • Lots of buttons and switches
- • Very well made
- • Immersive direct drive
- • Highly functional wheel rim
- • Great value for money
Why Buy A Fanatec Sim Racing Wheel?
Fanatec split their wheels, wheel bases, pedal sets and other gear into one of three categories: CSL, ClubSport and Podium (more on that below). However, across all of their competitive racing wheels, there is a collection of features you can expect to see in every one of them.
Every new racing wheel made by Fanatec is always packed with the latest innovations in the sim racing sector. No matter the tier of product, every wheel will come equipped with tried and tested tech that will enhance the driving experience. More specifically, they develop new levels of innovation and technology based on feedback from the consumers who use their products.
Every Fanatec wheel is produced by German engineers. Ever heard of German automobiles being some of the most complex, high-grade cars in the world? Fanatec wanted to bring that to the sim racing market! The electronics of their products are designed and implemented using this methodology and as such, you’ll rarely see any failings in the varied pieces of technology on their wheels.
Just by holding one of Fanatec’s wheels in your hands, you’ll be able to feel the quality of all the materials used. There’s a certain heft about them, and you’ll often feel as if you’re actually driving a real racing car! Because of their focus on absolute quality, you can count on the products being tested by sim racers, and new products can often take over 3 years to be released to the public.
Fanatec’s Main Product Lines
First, you have the CSL line of hardware. The wheels and other products that fit into this category are described by Fanatec to be for beginner sim racers. The technology seen in this line is actually shared with ClubSport models, the next line up on the ladder, but CSL is specifically designed with a view of balancing performance with value.
Next up, you’ve got the ClubSport products. These pieces of hardware embody the very essence of premium, between the high level of technology and robust materials used to make them. Fanatec builds these products with a view of enhancing the performance of sim racers, to the point that even experienced enthusiasts can benefit from this lineup.
And at the top, as you can possibly guess by the name alone, sits the Podium line of products. Everything in this line of hardware is best described as the absolute pinnacle of sim racing excellence. After all, to take the top step of the podium in motorsports you need to be the best of the best, and in Fanatec’s own words, only the highest performance hardware can replicate that.
The fact that Fanatec have dedicated such resources to three distinctly different categories for different types of sim racers displays their passion for the pastime, and speaks volumes about their dedication to all of their products. Now that I’ve talked about the three lines of hardware, it only makes sense to look at the best wheels within each of these categories.
Note: We will be looking at a mix of standalone wheel rims and bundles that come with wheel bases. Bear this in mind when making your purchase decision, as you may need to buy a wheel base separately.
The Best Fanatec CSL Racing Wheels
As a sim racer who started with a rickety desk, barely-working wheel mount and second-hand gear from eBay, I understand how important budgeting can be for sim racers out there who aren’t made of money.
However, all you have to do is filter your search for CSL products and you’ll immediately find more budget-friendly options that offer the same level of technology and excellence as even some of the priciest hardware Fanatec makes. While they no longer offer the CSL Elite wheel base for which a lot of these wheels were made, there are still plenty of compatible products available.
CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox
This full replica wheel is truly astounding to look at! Having it in front of you will feel just like you’re inside the cockpit of a McLaren GT3, and what could be better than that?
Great Value For Money
Compared to every other Fanatec wheel on the market, this beauty is the lightest currently available. It weighs in at around 940g (33 oz), so it won’t feel as if you’re handling a toy, but it won’t feel cumbersome either. The wheel comes with analog clutch and shifter paddles made of anodized aluminum and featuring their trademark Snapdrome technology, for responsive, positive-feeling shifting.
In spite of being in the CSL product line, the McLaren GT3 wheel comes with high-level tech you’d otherwise see on their more expensive hardware. It has a small OLED display on it through which you can access the tuning menu for the wheel base you choose to use it with, and this can be programmed to display crucial in-race info while you’re gaming too.
This wheel is compatible with PC and Xbox (and PlayStation with a compatible wheel base). Due to the rather compact wheel size without it feeling small, the buttons on the wheel face are all within easy reach. Rocker switches were developed to be flicked and pressed with ease while driving, reducing the need to take your hands off the wheel itself.
And if you remap the button functions, you’ll find that all the caps are exchangeable to match their functions, making it easier for visual recognition. It’s a truly fantastic wheel with all the features you need to dominate in sim racing, while keeping a reasonable price tag and exciting allure for beginner sim racers!
CSL DD WRC
Compatibility: PC / Xbox
Up next we have one of Fanatec’s newest additions to their product catalog, with the CSL DD WRC edition. This is one of the cheapest direct drive wheels available on the market, but it doesn’t sacrifice on quality!
Cheap Direct Drive
The most notable point about this racing wheel is the direct drive motor within the CSL DD wheel base. This is truly impressive at this price point, as it offers the most immersive kind of force feedback possible. This means it’s not just a great choice for beginners that are serious about sim racing, but also more advanced players too.
The DD base outputs 8 Nm of torque with the included boost kit, which is substantial and enough for most players that are looking for their first taste of direct drive. The wheel rim itself is also excellent, and it’s the perfect choice for those that are into rally sim racing games.
Stunning Wheel Rim
The wheel rim is covered in Alcantara for a great racing aesthetic and comfortable, grippy feel in high-pressure racing situations. It also has nice orange details, with the stitching and the tactile paddle shifters on the back standing out from the rest of the wheel.
It’s designed for Xbox compatibility, and you get all the main buttons along with a few extras, and a small display at the top of the wheel rim itself. Overall, for beginner sim racers that want to hit the ground running, the CSL DD WRC edition wheel is a great place to start.
The Best Fanatec ClubSport Racing Wheels
Let’s take a step up and look at the level of hardware for sim racing enthusiasts who want excellence and competitiveness in equal measure. Fanatec’s ClubSport range offers great value when compared to many other elite manufacturers.
There’s a wider range of ClubSport wheels available when compared to the CSL line of products, so narrowing it down to the best is inherently more difficult. Nevertheless, below are the wheels I think represent the best of the best within the ClubSport lineup.
ClubSport Formula V2.5
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation / Xbox (with the V2.5X version)
Perhaps one of the biggest claims to fame with Fanatec as a company is their partnership with Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport. They started making products for F1 teams to train their drivers in the off-season, and now they’ve made these awesome wheels available for general consumers! One of the latest additions to that collection is the Formula V2.5.
A Stunning Wheel
It’s an improvement to the original wheel they designed for F1 Esports, and it enjoys a whole host of the newest innovations and the latest compatibility with all the major platforms. The wheel face has been made with carbon fiber, and the rest of it all is fully metal in its composition.
You can connect the above version to PS4 or PS5 via a compatible wheel base (like the GT DD Pro), but the Xbox version is the V2.5 X wheel. The lights found on the wheel front are more than just pretty colors, as they function as rev lights to let you know when to shift. And you can adjust all the buttons and switches to tailor them to your own sim racing experience.
Note: Fanatec sadly discontinued their excellent Podium F1 bundle in 2023, which featured an F1-endorsed wheel rim and special PlayStation DD1 wheel base.
This wheel also allows its owner to upgrade to the Podium-level magnetic shifters if they wish for seamless, responsive gear shifting. With so many cutting-edge options at your fingertips, this wheel is truly among the best of the best within the ClubSport range. What can be better than feeling as if you’re inside the cockpit of the best race cars of the modern era? Not much, I can tell you that!
ClubSport V2 GT Forza Motorsport
Compatibility: PC / Xbox
Next up we have a wheel specifically designed for Xbox sim racers, with the GT Forza Motorsport V2 wheel. This is a great looking, highly functional wheel in Fanatec’s ClubSport lineup that’s a great choice for fans of the Forza series of racing games.
An Excellent Wheel
This wheel rim has a great racing aesthetic and is pretty large, which means there’s plenty of space for all the buttons that reflect those found on the Xbox controller. They come in the form of a button module, meaning you have some flexibility in how you set the wheel up.
You can count on solid build quality here, and the brushed and anodised aluminum wheel frame oozes excellence. The genuine leather covering on the wheel feels great to race with, and its 330 mm diameter just adds to the immersion.
Plenty Of Functionality
While you get all the buttons on the front of the wheel when you add the included universal hub, you also get the same buttons on the top of the wheel next to a small display. This offers even more flexibility and functionality, but it’s worth noting that these buttons are duplicates of the others on the front, just in a different position.
You get tactile paddle shifters on the back that feel excellent to use, and you can use the wheel to access your chosen wheel base’s tuning menu too for more setup tweaking as you race. Overall, for Forza fans, there’s no better choice!
The Best Fanatec Podium Racing Wheels
It might be hard to believe that there’s a level above ClubSport, especially after looking at the two most competitive, elite wheels on offer within that product line. But the Podium line is another step up the excellence ladder with the finest materials and absolute cutting-edge technology. Podium products are used for the highest level of sim racing competition.
The selection of wheels is a little smaller than for the ClubSport range, but that hasn’t made my choice any easier for picking the best products! The wheels I’ve chosen can easily be regarded as the two of the best products currently offered by Fanatec.
Podium R300 Steering Wheel
Compatibility: PC / PlayStation
In the words of Fanatec themselves, the R300 is an ideal multi-purpose wheel. It comes as a bundle purchase which combines the wheel rim, Podium Hub, advanced paddle module and the ClubSport button cluster pack (but no wheel base). The shape is reminiscent and near-identical to real GT race cars, but you’ll benefit from this rim’s performance no matter what your favorite racing discipline is.
The wheel itself is made of brushed, anodized aluminum and covered with automotive-grade, premium leather, topped off with luxurious gold stitching. The visuals are pretty stunning, between the black and gold color scheme and realistic 30 cm wheel diameter. Unlike the formula wheel, this unique type of wheel rim makes it suitable for driving all kinds of cars in many racing sims.
The button clusters themselves are fully adjustable and you can move them along the front rails of the Podium Hub to suit your preferences, and the buttons that appear on these clusters are just as customizable. If you have a rig for your PC, Fanatec’s hub and wheelbases will support any wheel rims that have 6×70 mm or 3×50 mm bolt patterns, which means that you can even use third-party products if you want!
It’s a strong, long-lasting wheel that allows for excellence in every sim racing game, using any car you wish. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best wheels money can buy for its sheer flexibility, and it’s highly accessible too, making it great for racers of all experience levels.
Which Fanatec Wheel Should You Buy?
Which Fanatec wheel you should buy depends on what kind of sim racer you are. Lovers of Formula 1 would do well to buy the ClubSport Formula V2.5. For fans of general racing, with a huge breadth of driving variety, would probably prefer to own the Forza Motorsport V2 or the Podium R300.
The Podium Line
Personally, I don’t think anything can beat the direct drive technology and overall level of immersion of the Podium line of Fanatec products. It’s so immersive and realistic that I often can’t tell that I am driving in a racing sim! You’ll be getting the utmost quality with features to enhance your driving experience and your competitiveness in sim racing overall, no matter which base or wheel you choose.
On the other hand, there’s something about the CSL Elite McLaren GT3 that makes it a true value for money choice. In spite of being in the ‘budget’ line of products offered by Fanatec, it’s packed full of technology and innovation that would be better suited to the ClubSport and even Podium ranges! There’s little else more alluring than a direct replica of such an iconic race car.
In the end, it’s a tie for me between the Podium line and the CSL Elite McLaren GT3. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of the wheels I talked about should be disregarded! There’s so much innovation packed into every wheel that they’d all make amazing purchases, and doing so will absolutely elevate your racing game to new heights.
Fanatec has a long and rich history of supplying some of the best sim racing wheels on the market. There are plenty to choose from across their three main product lineups, and they’re continually adding new innovative wheels to their catalog that help sim racers get more out of their gaming experience.