• Danny Lee

How The Fanatec CSL DD Stacks Up Coming From Logitech / CSL / CSW Wheels

Updated: Mar 4




Intro


OK, so you’ve watched the pre-release reviews but you’ve stuck to your guns - no pre orders til it’s in customers hands and the reviews are in. Well I’ve got mine now and had enough time to chew on it. I’ll try to put into words what you’re in for if you replace your Logitech G series wheel, Fanatec CSL Elite or Clubsport wheelbase with a CSL DD.


Like with some of my previous articles/videos I will sum it up first to save you the wait and then expand on it. All I humbly ask is that if you find this helpful and you head to buy one based on the points I cover, use the affiliate link right here so that Fanatec knows I sent you, and thank you very much to everyone who’s done so in the past.


In Short


Here’s what you want to know in a nutshell, all of which’ll be covered throughout -


  • If you’re coming from a Logitech Wheel then you will be in for a treat as it’s a massive step up and well worth it, if you enjoy your sim racing then you will be delighted from the very first lap.

  • If you’re coming from a CSL Elite or CSW then results depend on the title - For ACC it’s made a big difference, for iRacing it’s an improvement but you won’t be majorly missing out if you stick with your current kit.

  • Yes, it is very quiet in operation.

  • Yes, it runs cool despite no active fans.

  • Yes, it’s still desk-friendly if you don’t have a rig yet.


I received my CSL DD in August 2021 - I think I got my preorder in before they’d even spell checked the product page so I ended up amongst the first wave of public customers to receive them. The model I am referring to throughout this overview is the boost kit bundle, I am not taking the cheaper non-boosted version into consideration.


Before the CSL DD, I had never experienced a direct drive wheelbase of any kind, never touched a DD1 or DD2, Simucube - none of them. In this respect, my journey is much the same as many of yours would be; I used a Logitech G29 for a long time, stepped up to a Fanatec CSL Elite which was a massive improvement and ran that for about 18 months up to now, until replacing that with the brand new Fanatec CSL DD.


I will likely never buy or even sample a premium direct drive base so this has the job of impressing me to a level whereby I’d be happy with this forevermore and don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. With my old CSL Elite I was a very happy customer but I knew I would inevitably upgrade at some point. The CSL DD stepped forth and so far leaves me feeling satisfied with almost everything about it and wanting nothing more, at least for the foreseeable future. I would say that for any home sim racer there’s not much else you could need from a wheelbase, surely nothing will compel you to upgrade from this for years to come.


Logitech Migrants


First stop, those of you with Logitech wheels - From the G25 to the G29 to the most recent G923 it doesn’t really matter which logitech wheel you’re on, they’ve remained virtually the same product throughout the years so if your wheel has the Logitech logo then I’m talking to you. The verdict is really straight forward for you guys, upgrading to a CSL DD means a fundamental rewrite of everything you thought force feedback wheels can do and although that sounds dramatic, it really is that big of a difference between what you have and what you’re going up to. This was my experience coming to Fanatec from Logitech last year with the CSL Elite and ranks as one of the top things I’ve ever bought in terms of the effect it had on my enjoyment of something.


There is no doubt in my mind that the satisfaction of customers that make the jump from Logitech to Fanatec is virtually 100% (warranty issues notwithstanding, that’s another story) - the renewed joy of sim racing I felt after making the move to the CSL Elite last year is literally the reason my Youtube channel exists now. That’s not even a joke.


Cost Justification


The barrier that stands in front of Logitech users is mainly the cost difference.


Logitech wheels are already an expensive peripheral when you’re quite new to sim racing, so wrapping your head around how good something’s gonna be that’s 2, 3 or 4 times the cost is really difficult, because so often in this world, things that cost twice as much rarely turn out to be twice as good. This is one of those rare cases where it actually does - it’s not a ‘yeah, cool’ upgrade, it’s a ‘oh good lord wow’ upgrade. Everything suddenly feels like it has actual mass with actual tyres contacting the actual ground and you’ll enjoy every minute of racing with the non-stop texture and interaction with the wheel you’ll feel now. The vastly improved ability to detect and react to a developing spin naturally is a real thing. Being fast with a Logitech wheel is a skill that you have to acquire through a lot of practice and brain calibration, whereas with the CSL DD you’ll pick it up much more quickly due to the natural conversation between the sim and the muscles in your arms and shoulders.


Karting is a simple activity to pick up because you can feel everything through the wheel and the same natural absorption can happen with sim racing if you have the right controls. I remember having to concentrate quite hard to go a full race distance with a Logitech, any lapse in focus and I’d miss a subtle piece of force feedback or visual cue and get into trouble, whereas now it’s much clearer where the limit starts and ends.


Desk mounting


Much like your Logitech wheel, the CSL DD is desk-friendly with an optional desk clamp you can buy. You won’t get the best results with a desk setup, in the same way you won’t get best results if you put your chicago town pizza in the microwave rather than the oven, but it’s still made with it in mind and gets you by.


A dedicated cockpit is a big space commitment so knowing that the CSL DD is not off limits for desk people is good to know, but be in no doubt, you’ll eventually want a cockpit if you’re setting yourself down this route. It will simply be a matter of when, not if!


Low Noise


One clear quality of life improvement that you will experience going over to a CSL DD is far less noise. In the initial summary I mention that it’s practically silent. If you have a Logitech wheel you know that it makes a pretty loud noise when you’re properly wheelin' and dealin' and if you live with other people that noise can be a problem sometimes, even if they don’t say it.


The CSL DD eliminates noise from the equation with silent operation AND no active cooling, there is very little noise emanating from this thing. The passive cooling element raised the question as to how cool it would run, and I’m happy to report that it’s basically room temperature to touch all the way through, even after a long session in ACC which always used to get my CSL Elite turning the fans up to cool down. However they’ve done it, it’s accomplished the task completely, I can’t pick fault here, there’s really no quieter wheelbase out there.


I place a high degree of importance on not disturbing the peace of others and I always find it easier to enjoy things when it’s not causing any offense to those around me, and if you do too then the relative silence of the CSL DD is going to be a great relief from the whirring and whining of your Logitech.


Pedals


Something important to bear in mind is that all Fanatec equipment setups require 3 components - the wheelbase, the steering wheel, and the pedals.


The CSL DD is just the wheelbase, if you’re buying one to replace your Logitech then you’ll need a Fanatec steering wheel and pedals, too. You won’t be able to bring your Logitech steering wheel, pedals or shifter with you on your new Fanatec base without third party adapters.




If you want to know what I have, it’s the Mclaren V2 Wheel and Clubsport V3 Pedals which are great when mounted to a cockpit like they’re designed to do, but if you’re freestanding these pedals on the floor then they require a little DIY to make them work well - even so, that’s how I used them for a while and making them floor friendly isn’t too hard, a video on that is linked in the description. With my Clubsport V3s I have the optional damper kit and brake performance kit, I have done a video on whether you need the added extras which is also in the description. There are cheaper pedals available from Fanatec but the Clubsport pedals have always been their flagship pedals up to now.


To sum it up for Logitech users, yes it’s an expensive leap to make but at least it is a true leap and one which virtually nobody has ever reversed, at least not to my knowledge. It’s annoying when you upgrade an element of your equipment and are kinda left feeling like the difference is unremarkable and you basically just paid for a better brand name on the side of it, but that’s not the case in this instance. Every Logitech to Fanatec convert has remarked in much the same way, that sim racing suddenly becomes so much more interesting and exciting with the much stronger feedback experience you’re getting. However, with the CSL DD sure to chip some older Fanatec gear loose onto the second hand market, it’s worth keeping an eye out for CSL Elites or Clubsport Wheelbases too as they are still game-changers for Logitech, just don’t expect a bargain as they tend to hold their value really well. Any viewers that have made the move from Logitech to Fanatec, share your experiences in the comment section to help anyone following your footsteps, I know this helps folks to no end and thanks for taking the time to share your side.


CSL Elite and Clubsport Wheelbase Converts


So if you already have a CSL Elite or CSW then is it a big upgrade or even an upgrade at all? It’s a good question, because the CSL DD is priced almost identically to what the old belt drive wheels were, and rated to similar torque values too, making it hard to see on paper what the benefit is and trying to describe what direct drive actually does is like trying to pull excalibur from the stone, many will try and fail.


Both myself and a close pal now have the CSL DD with boost kit, but the difference between us is that before this I had the CSL Elite, he had a Clubsport. We both mainly play iRacing and we both agree that the DD is a distinct improvement in numerous ways, but it’s not mind-blowing - it’s a better product that replaces the old lineup for the same price so in that respect it’s definitely a step forward, and if you’re entering the Fanatec club now then you’re getting a better wheel than you would have done before its release, but if you’re an iRacer and already have a belt drive CSL or CSW then this new base doesn’t unlock anything significant that would make it a must-have, at least not for iRacing - ACC is another matter though and I’ll get to that soon. In iRacing at least, the force feedback you receive will now feel spotlessly clean, unhindered and exactly as they intended to be delivered to you, and the sheer smoothness of the mechanism makes it feel much more premium, especially from the CSL Elite which used a toothed belt which you could subtly tell was there, but the general experience and flavour of the feedback that you get from iRacing is still the same underneath. In other words, the CSL DD is basically the Bluray version of the CSL Elite and CSW - you won’t be seeing any new plot points but the quality is very welcome.


Since using it I do find that my steering inputs are slightly more frantic now, because there’s no mechanical resistance or natural damping anymore, it’s a lovely crisp 1 to 1 conversation between me and the sim. When I say more frantic, that’s not meant as a detraction, I mean it in the sense that I’m correcting things that I seemingly wasn’t aware needed correcting before and I think it’s helping a tiny bit with consistency and confidence. I can imagine that this will help me avoid that one spin out of 10, and depending on who you ask that’s either small beans or worth its weight in gold.


If you mainly play Assetto Corsa Competizione, however, to me the game seemed to come alive with the CSL DD - I made the mistake of trying ACC first when I initially gave this wheel a test spin and I found it to be a totally new experience, every single thing was so much crisper and all the little track elements like kerbs and rumble strips were transmitted so clearly and sharply that I was truly immersed in a GT car for a time - given ACC gets some stick for dull force feedback at times I think the CSL DD will change this perception when it’s in more peoples hands as there seems to be a lot more that the game can convey to you through direct drive wheelbases than it can through belt wheels. I understand why, electricity is a heck of a lot faster than a rubber drive belt, but boy what a difference. You can feel every single ripple in the track features, subtle rumbles through the wheel when ABS engages, even the descending chatter and chirp of the tyres when you spin and slide to a stop. It’s just a really filled out sensation and one that is a lot more immersive than it ever was through my CSL Elite. For ACC, this wheel takes a big step towards really believing that you’re driving something and I came away from the initial session thinking ‘wow, if ACC is that much better, what’s it going to do in iRacing, where I spend most of my time?’ - well the answer was not as dramatic as you know.


Above all, though, there’s one big question that I’m certain is on everyone’s mind, and I have the answer. Yes, you CAN crack open a cold one on the CSL DD.


(Don't try this at home.)


Cockpit pitch limitation


The CSL DD does have one small drawback which might cause issues for some cockpits, particularly those with limited ranges of pitch, meaning how many degrees you can tilt the wheel deck. The CSL DD has a 0 degree mounting angle whereas previous low to mid tier wheels have a built-in pitch angle of maybe 10 degrees or so and lots of cockpits are designed with this general accommodation in mind.


My previous cockpit, the GT Omega ART, has a limited range of pitch on the wheel deck and I had to adjust mine as far up as it could go and I could still have benefitted from a few degrees more. There’s no doubt an easy fix someone will come up with for the cockpits that have this limitation but it’s something to consider - if you don’t have a wide range of pitch adjustment on your cockpit, be prepared in case it doesn’t quite allow you to point the CSL DD up as far as you’d like.


In Closing


The CSL DD does improve noticeably upon the CSL Elite and CSW previously from Fanatec. They themselves were a huge step up for Logitech racers, making the CSL DD a bigger jump still if that applies to you.


If you’re an iRacer you’ll appreciate the extra agility but it’s not a whole new experience, just improved. If you’re an ACC racer then you will definitely appreciate the CSL DD, it seems to utilise it very well and really impressed me how much more immersive and textured everything is, feeding perfectly into the Fanatec conspiracy theories surrounding ACC, I’m sure you’ve seen them, I can kinda see the point because ACC really is best enjoyed with direct drive.


Overall though this wheelbase genuinely feels next gen in terms of design and price point and I can see why Fanatec are quite proud of the package as a whole. Back when news of it first broke I saw it as a direct replacement for the CSL Elite and CSW line and it has definitely filled those boots perfectly, bringing many welcome benefits along with it. I think Fanatec knew full well that bringing a pint-sized direct drive wheel at this cost was equivalent to kicking the competition’s sand castles, they’re so smug about it, it’s hilarious. It’ll be cool to see what comes out in response to it, Hell, this might even force Logitech to do something new and wouldn’t that be something. I love you Logitech, but there are kids that have been born and raised that are now playing on a wheel design that’s older than they are.


The CSL DD is a solid successor to the well loved CSL Elite and CSW and is a very attractive landing pad for incoming Logitech users, and a smaller but still welcome step up for existing Fanatec people.


~ Dan




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