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Fanatec CSL DD Pro

Earlier this year, Fanatec surprised the sim racing world with a really good 1 April joke: a Fanatec Direct Drive wheelbase for just €349.99. So this was - we thought - too good to be true. Not much later, the CSL DD was officially announced by Fanatec. Now, several months later, the first signals, reviews and experiences are extremely positive. So now is the time to put this CSL DD through its paces! Direct - watuh -Drive? Well, before we really go into depth, first some background information on what makes this new system so unique.

What is a Fanatec Direct Drive?

In recent months, Fanatec has been introducing one innovation after another to the market: The Bentley GT3, the revolutionary CSL Load Cell pedals and the BMW M4 GT3 are some examples of this. Fanatec's new flagship product is the CSL DD (Direct Drive). Or, as they call it themselves, The New StandarDD. 

This new CSL wheelbase with Direct Drive technology means that there is a motor in the wheelbase that transfers power directly to your steering wheel. This, compared to traditional belt or gear drive, provides a super realistic road and racing experience. And so for the first time in their CSL line! The result? A more affordable alternative compared to its - much more expensive - brothers from the Podium line: the DD1 and DD2. This makes Direct Drive technology available to a much wider target group. Fanatec thus jumps into an extremely interesting market for starting and semi-professional sim racers.

Fanatec CSL DD: The new standard DD

Fanatec Direct-Drive technology finally comes to the CSL series. From subtle sidewall flex to powerful self-aligning torque, you feel everything with a heightened sense of realism. Exceptionally crisp and dynamic force feedback sensations await you. When the wheel is mounted directly on the motor shaft, there is no belt or gear drive to reduce the force feedback effects.
A clear choice, with which Fanatec leaves players like Logitech, Thrustmaster far behind. Professional drivers and (enthusiastic sim racers) also choose a Direct Drive system over a traditional belt or gear system. With its (relatively) low introductory price, Fanatec makes a Direct Drive system available to a wider audience.

Plug and Play

The strong relationship with game developers means that the Fanatec CSL DD has broad compatibility and consistent behaviour for many popular racing games, including Assetto Corsa Competizione, F1 2021, F1 22, iRacing, Automobilista 2. The Standard Tuning Menu has been simplified so beginners can get started quickly without worrying about settings. The Advanced Tuning Menu remains for the real enthusiasts. The CSL DD is currently only compatible with PC and Xbox. Do you have a PS4 or PS5? Then unfortunately you will have to wait a little longer. Fanatec has indicated that the Playstation variant will be released later.

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The design of the Fanatec CSL DD

Wat direct opvalt aan de nieuwe CSL DD is het uiterst compacte design. Zeker als je dit vergelijkt met z’n grotere broers. Het nieuwe compacte ontwerp is vele male kleiner en lichter qua afmetingen en gewicht. Persoonlijk vind ik dit kleinere formaat prettig, al ziet het product er hierdoor ook wat ‘fragiel’ en goedloop uit. De DD1 en DD2 ogen veel meer solide en betrouwbaarder. Al komt dit denk ik vooral door de grotere afmetingen. Maar, deze zijn dan ook 3 á 4 keer zo duur. Dus helemaal eerlijk is deze vergelijking niet 😉

Perhaps this small and compact size will take some getting used to and I will think differently in a while. The housing of the CSL DD consists of aluminium milled profile, which directly provides cooling for the engine. This makes for a fresh and tough look.

Fanatec Bundle

The CSL DD Wheelbase is available with the standard 5Nm power supply from Fanatec for only €349.95 excl. shipping. This will get you a very fine, extremely robust and smooth Direct Drive wheelbase that you absolutely won't regret! The CSL DD with Boost Kit 180 bundle is available for €479.95 excluding shipping. The CSL DD Boost Kit 180 is also available separately for €149.95 excluding shipping. This will boost the standard 90W variant by 5Nm to 180W (8Nm).

Fanatec CSL DD: our conslusion

We are extremely excited about the new CSL DD. So is it the ultimate Direct Drive system? No, it isn't. It is a marked improvement over the belt-driven CSL V1. The CSL DD, especially in combination with the Boostkit 180, is a very competitive wheelbase that, given its hugely competitive price, jumps into a gap in the market where other manufacturers are not (yet) present. With this, Fanatec makes sim racing even more accessible to a wider audience! It is a very good wheelbase and entry-level product to enter the Fanatec ecosystem. With this, Fanatec therefore puts out a competitive and extremely good product.

What surprises me most about the CSL DD, apart from its minimal size, is that it is extremely responsive and detailed. It is absolutely a joy to drive and makes for tremendous fun!

Although it is a Direct Drive system, the standard 5Nm variant is just a bit short of power to compete with the DD1, DD2 or Simucube. Do you already have such a system? Then the CSL DD is not for you, as it cannot keep up with its big brothers in terms of performance. Do you own an older CSL, CSW, T300 or a belt-driven Logitech G29, then upgrading to is definitely worth the effort and money! The New StandarDD? As far as we are concerned, a resounding "Yes!".

Wilco Verhaegh

Author Wilco Verhaegh

Over 18 years ago, my passion for sim racing began with Grand Prix 4. My passion for racing, motorsport photography and gaming knows no bounds. With, I capture racing cars on film. Moreover, I am proud of my book 'Mastering The Art Of Sim Racing', in which I share my knowledge and insights with aspiring sim racers worldwide!

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