If you’re a sim racer who isn’t satisfied with belt- or gear-driven wheels, you’ve likely heard of Fanatec’s Podium DD1 and DD2 direct-drive bases. These mount the steering wheel directly to the motor shaft, offering more detailed feedback and significantly higher torque. But starting at $1,200, they don’t come cheap.
As such, they tend to fall well outside the budgets of the vast majority of players. So how does $350 sound?
Fanatec announced its new CSL DD base on Wednesday, and it’s $850 cheaper than its current least-expensive direct-drive base. Hell, it’s $200 less than the ClubSport V2.5 I just used in my McLaren GT3 V2 steering wheel review, and slides in at the same price as Fanatec’s cheapest base, the CSL Elite V1.1. Both of those are belt-driven.
Funnily enough, anyone who happened across Fanatec’s Twitter account on April 1 may have seen the fake announcement of a $350 “DD 0.5" base. That seemed like a cruel joke at the time, but it’s become reality today. Fanatec says the CSL DD will begin shipping in the third quarter of this year.
The CSL DD’s housing basically looks like a miniaturized Podium with large slats in its machined aluminum body to dissipate heat. Of course, you’re not going to get the same hand-snapping torque out of this as you would in the Podium — the CSL DD is rated at 5 Nm with an optional “Boost Kit” power supply allowing it to reach 8 Nm, whereas the Podium DD1 gets all the way up to 20 Nm. (No word on what the Boost Kit costs yet, either.) That said, the belt-driven ClubSport V2.5 tops out at 8 Nm as well, and direct drive should provide smoother, higher-fidelity steering even at equal power.
It’s all thanks to an all-new motor Fanatec says was “specifically developed for sim racing.” It utilizes a carbon fiber motor shaft, making rotation lighter and more agile. The CSL DD comes with an all-aluminum quick release, though Fanatec has a new QR2 system on the way that can be swapped in. The QR2 may be required for the fancy new BMW M4 GT3 wheel that’s on the horizon.
When you factor in the price of a beefier power adapter for full torque and the QR2 system for Fanatec’s upcoming rims that may need it, the full CSL DD experience figures to set you back quite a bit more than that initial $350. And as is the case with Fanatec’s other bases, this one is only compatible with PC and Xbox; the company says a new PlayStation-licensed direct-drive base will eventually emerge.
But even factoring in the add-ons, the CSL DD figures to offer excellent value and by far the cheapest path to a direct-drive setup. If it’s as reliable and high-quality as the Podium series, it really could be the new benchmark for midrange sim racing.