Fanatec CSL DD Review

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The world of sim racing has witnessed a game-changing release with the introduction of the Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase. Known for delivering direct drive performance at an affordable price point, the CSL DD presents an unparalleled experience for sim enthusiasts. Not only does this wheelbase come with a competitive price, but it also boasts an impressive build quality and high level of performance that puts it above many other sim racing wheels in the market.

This comprehensive review of the Fanatec CSL DD highlights its unique blend of features and performance, which makes it a standout choice for both casual and hardcore sim racers. From its sleek design to force feedback, compatibility, and the boost kit, this wheelbase has a lot to offer in terms of enhancing the sim racing experience. It’s essential to explore every aspect of this innovative product, and this review aims to help ensure that buyers make a well-informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Fanatec CSL DD (CSL DD (5Nm) as well as CSL DD (8Nm)) offers top-notch performance at a competitive price, making it accessible to a broad audience.
  • The wheelbase boasts quality build, excellent force feedback, and compatibility with various racing ecosystems.
  • To maximize its potential, the Boost Kit 180 is highly recommended for an unparalleled sim racing experience.

Fanatec CSL DD Overview


I had the opportunity to try out the Fanatec CSL DD, a highly anticipated direct drive wheelbase prived at entry level. This device boasts the potential to revolutionize the sim racing experience with its impressive force feedback and accessible pricing.

The CSL DD comes in two different power configurations: a 5 Nm version and a more powerful 8 Nm version. In my opinion, it is more a matter of taste whether you prefer the 5 Nm or the 8 Nm – there is a big difference in strength of course, but some people prefer less FFB.

Quick Rating

  • Force Feedback: One of the standout features of the CSL DD is its powerful and smooth force feedback, offering an immersive and realistic experience to sim racers.
  • Direct Drive: The main advantage of a direct drive system is its precision and responsiveness, which the CSL DD excels at. Direct drive systems are known for being the cream of the crop when it comes to sim racing.
  • Compatibility: I appreciated the compatibility of the Fanatec CSL DD with numerous steering wheels and pedals available in the market, allowing me to customize my setup according to my preferences.
  • Size and Weight: The design of the CSL DD is considerably smaller and lighter compared to other direct drive wheelbases like the Fanatec DD1 or DD2, making it easier to handle and mount to my rig.
  • Price: Although still an investment, the Fanatec CSL DD is priced more affordably than its predecessors, making it a more accessible option for a broader range of sim racers.

The Fanatec CSL DD proved to be an excellent addition to my sim racing arsenal. The powerful and precise force feedback, coupled with the sleek design and competitive pricing, make it an attractive option for sim racers looking to enhance their virtual racing experience.

Design and Build Quality

Materials and Construction

The build quality is impressive. The main material used in its construction is aluminium, which contributes to both its durability and premium feel. The aluminium frame also ensures rigidity, necessary for accurate force feedback performance.

Looking closely at the wheelbase, I noticed that all the parts are well-crafted and smoothly assembled together. The attention to detail is evident – even the buttons and connectors are of high quality. I appreciate the design choice to go with an all-black finish, giving it a sleek and professional look.

Size and Weight Comparison

When comparing the size of the CSL DD wheelbase to other offerings in the market, it is evident that it packs a punch in a compact package. The size difference is considerable; the CSL DD is significantly smaller and lighter than many higher-end direct drive units. This makes it more portable and easier to accommodate in various sim racing setups.

Despite the size and weight difference, the build quality remains top-notch, ensuring a strong and stable performance in this wheelbase. In summary, the Fanatec CSL DD delivers an impressive design with excellent build quality in a sleek, compact package – a great option for sim racers seeking a professional direct drive experience.

Performance and Force Feedback

Torque and Peak Power

Comparing the Fanatec CSL DD with other wheelbases, I was impressed by its torque and peak power. With a maximum torque of 8 Nm, the CSL DD provides enough force feedback for most sim racing titles like ACC while remaining quiet and smooth. The base model comes with 5 Nm of torque, but I highly recommend upgrading to the optional Boost Kit to fully experience the capabilities of this direct-drive wheelbase.

Resolution and Fidelity

I was amazed by the resolution and fidelity provided by the Fanatec CSL DD. It offers a maximum rotation angle of 2520°, giving me more precision and control when driving. The motor’s responsiveness allows for quick adjustments to changes in grip levels and traction, ensuring I can push my car to the limit without worrying about losing control. Compared to belt-driven or gear systems like those found in Thrustmaster wheels, the force feedback in the CSL DD is noticeably more refined and nuanced.

Steering and Pedals

An essential aspect of any sim racing setup, I found the steering performance of the CSL DD to be highly realistic and accurate. The wheelbase’s internal fan ensures lower operating noise while preventing overheating during long sessions, making it an excellent choice for avid sim racers.

Compatibility and Ecosystem

PC, Xbox, and PlayStation Support

  • PC -> FULL: The Fanatec CSL DD is fully compatible to PC.
  • Xbox -> Partial: it is partly compatible to Xbox One when operated with a Xbox One compatible Fanatec steering wheel – without a an Xbox One compatible steering wheel, there is no compatibility to Xbox One and future Xbox generations
  • PlayStation -> Nope: it is in NO WAY compatible to PlayStation and can also NOT be upgraded in any way to offer such compatibility – for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, you need the basically identical Fanatec Gran Turismo DD

Fanatec Racing Wheels

One significant advantage of the Fanatec ecosystem is the variety of steering wheels available. I had the opportunity to test the CSL DD with a Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula 2.5 wheel, and the performance was exceptional. The direct drive technology provided seamless force feedback and precision, while the aluminium build ensured durability with extended usage – and frankly, it just feels f***ing solid with all the metal and lack of plastic.

Though the CSL DD’s base configuration has 5 Nm of torque, I would recommend upgrading to the Boost Kit for a full 8 Nm output, as it significantly enhances the performance. Furthermore, the table clamp included in the package ensures a secure and stable setup on desks or racing rigs alike.

I would also recommend pairing the CSL DD wheelbase with Fanatec’s CSL pedals for a complete sim racing experience. These pedals offer excellent responsiveness and precision with minimal latency, ensuring an immersive experience for both novice and seasoned sim racers alike.

Boost Kit 180

Upgrade and Added Benefits

I recently had the opportunity to test the Fanatec CSL DD Boost Kit 180 and found that it significantly improves the overall experience. The Boost Kit is designed for those who want to upgrade their entry-level CSL DD wheel base and seek a more powerful and immersive sim racing experience.

By upgrading the wheelbase with the Boost Kit 180, the peak torque is increased from 5Nm to 8Nm. This jump in torque is quite noticeable and makes the wheel feel much more like higher-end, direct-drive wheels. Despite the additional power, the upgraded wheelbase maintains its impressive silence which adds to the immersive experience.

Moreover, the Boost Kit 180 is reasonably priced, considering the performance increase achieved. This makes it a great investment for sim racers who desire a more powerful, yet affordable wheelbase in their price range.

Installation and Setup

Setting up the Boost Kit 180 proved to be a simple and relatively straightforward process for me. The package includes an upgraded power supply unit and the necessary cables to connect it to your CSL DD wheelbase. After connecting the power supply to the wheel base, I downloaded and installed the latest firmware and drivers from the Fanatec website.

Once the firmware and drivers were updated, I launched my favorite sim racing game and started testing the new setup with the upgraded torque. I quickly noticed the improvements in force feedback and overall control, which made racing more enjoyable and realistic.

In conclusion, the Fanatec CSL DD Boost Kit 180 is a valuable upgrade for sim racers who want to elevate their entry-level wheelbase to new heights of performance. The increased torque, maintained silence, and reasonable price point make it an appealing option for those looking to enhance their sim racing experience.

Pricing and Comparison

Value for Money

In my opinion, the Fanatec CSL DD offers great value for money in the direct drive wheel market. It is available in two models: the 5 Nm version priced at EUR 349.95 (click to go to your country and your price!) and the 8 Nm version priced at EUR 499.95 (again, click to see your local price!) (note: prices on Nov 15, 2023). Although it is more expensive than the belt-driven alternatives, the superior force feedback and build quality make it worth considering.


  • High-quality force feedback
  • Durable design
  • Good price-performance ratio


  • Additional expenses for the boost kit

Competitors in the Market

When comparing the Fanatec CSL DD to competitors like the Logitech G923 and the Thrustmaster T-GT 2, some key differences stand out:

Fanatec CSL DD

  • Direct drive system
  • Competitive price for a direct drive wheel
  • More precise and powerful force feedback

Logitech G923

  • Belt-driven system
  • More affordable with a price range similar to the Logitech G29
  • Lacks the accuracy and power of a direct drive wheel

Thrustmaster T-GT 2

  • Belt-driven system
  • Priced between the Logitech G923 and the Fanatec CSL DD
  • Outperformed by the Fanatec CSL DD in force feedback quality

In conclusion, while the Fanatec CSL DD may have a higher price point compared to its belt-driven competitors like the Logitech G923 and the Thrustmaster T-GT 2, its performance and quality make it a worthwhile investment for those wanting an authentic sim racing experience.

Installation and Setup

Mounting and Table Clamp

To set up the Fanatec CSL DD, I started by mounting it to my sim racing rig with the separately available table clamp. The clamp is adjustable, allowing for easy installation on various surfaces.

Cabling and Connectivity

After mounting the wheelbase, I moved on to connecting the necessary cables. The USB cable provided with the Fanatec CSL DD is used to connect the wheelbase to a computer, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop. Once connected, I made sure to update the firmware on my wheelbase and any connected peripherals such as the steering wheel and pedals.

The cabling for additional peripherals like pedals and shifters is neatly organized, thanks to the design of the CSL DD.

In summary, the installation and setup process for the Fanatec CSL DD is straightforward and user-friendly. It takes a little longer than plugging in a keyboard, of course, so take your time and fix everything neat – 5 Nm and 8 Nm of torque are no joke.

Cooling and Noise

Heat Dissipation

During my time using the Fanatec CSL DD, I noticed that its heat dissipation capabilities are quite impressive. The wheelbase is designed with a robust heatsink that effectively dissipates heat generated during intense racing sessions. This efficient heat management ensures optimal performance and prevents potential damage caused by overheating.

One essential factor contributing to the wheelbase’s excellent heat dissipation is the use of a state-of-the-art cooling system. This internal cooling system effectively regulates the temperature inside the wheelbase, providing consistent performance even during long sim racing sessions. I personally experienced minimal temperature fluctuations in my CSL DD, allowing me to maintain peak performance throughout my gameplay.

Silent Operation

Another aspect I appreciate about the Fanatec CSL DD is its quiet operation. The wheelbase features an internal fan that remains practically inaudible during use. This is significant for me, as a noisy fan can negatively impact the immersive sim racing experience. Being able to focus solely on the action on the track without being disturbed by loud noises from the wheelbase is a welcome feature.

In summary, the Fanatec CSL DD demonstrates exceptional cooling and noise performance, thanks to its efficient heat sink, advanced cooling system, and silent internal fan. These features contribute to a stable and immersive sim racing experience, allowing me to fully enjoy the thrilling aspects of virtual racing without distractions.


In my experience with the Fanatec CSL DD 5 Nm and CSL DD 8 Nm, I found it to be an excellent entry-level direct drive wheelbase. Its performance, combined with the competitive price range, makes it a fantastic option for those looking to enter the world of sim racing without breaking the bank. The build quality is top-notch, making it a reliable addition to any racing setup.

When it comes to practicality, I appreciated how quiet the CSL DD is during races. Additionally, its seamless integration with the Fanatec ecosystem ensures compatibility with their existing range of peripherals, further enhancing the driving experience. While the base version may lack sufficient power for some users, the optional boost kit can address this issue and provide an even more immersive experience.

As an avid sim racer, I value console compatibility, and the CSL DD is no exception. The wheelbase is compatible with Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC, broadening the options for gamers interested in making the switch to direct drive technology. This compatibility places the CSL DD in a unique position within the market, catering to a larger audience of gamers.

Comparing the CSL DD to its higher-end counterparts, such as the Podium DD1, showcases the exceptional value it offers to entry-level sim racers. While there may be some performance differences between the two, the CSL DD still provides a fantastic direct-drive experience that satisfies the majority of users without compromising on quality.

In conclusion, as a sim racer who has experienced the Fanatec CSL DD first-hand, I can confidently recommend it as an outstanding entry-level direct drive wheelbase. Its blend of performance, compatibility, and affordability make it a remarkable addition to any sim racing setup, offering a fantastic gateway into the highly immersive world of direct drive technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the CSL DD compatible with PS5?

Nope, for that you need a Gran Turismo DD Pro Wheel Base.

What is included in the CSL DD bundle?

When purchasing the CSL DD wheelbase, the bundle comes with the following items: CSL DD wheel base, USB C to USB A data cable, power supply (with connectors varying based on region), 4x M6 slide-in-nuts, Fanatec sticker set, and a user manual2.

How does the CSL DD compare to the DD Pro?

The Fanatec CSL DD is designed as a more affordable and consumer-friendly option compared to the higher-tier DD Wheel Base, which features higher torque output and advanced features. The CSL DD still offers great performance and quality, making it an excellent choice for sim racers who want to experience direct drive technology without the higher price tag3.

What is the difference between the 5 Nm and 8 Nm versions?

The primary difference between these two versions of the CSL DD is the torque output. The 5 Nm version comes with a standard power supply, while the 8Nm version includes a Boost Kit 180 that increases the torque capability. The 8 Nm version may offer a more realistic sim racing experience, particularly for those seeking higher levels of force feedback4.

Where can I buy the CSL DD online?

Fanatec hardware is typically bought at the Fanatec store itself.

Can I use third-party wheels with the CSL DD?

By using a wheel adapter, you can connect third-party wheels to the CSL DD. However, using non-Fanatec peripherals may result in limited functionality or compatibility issues. It is essential to research the compatibility and potential limitations of using third-party products with the CSL DD before making a purchase.

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