Yes, of course, I got it, it took me a while, but it’s here – currently one of the cheapest direct drive wheels on the market – the Fanatec CSL DD. I say currently, as competition is slowly, really slowly, creeping in. Yeah, I’m thinking of Thrustmaster here, which just recently teased their cheap direct drive model, let’s just hope it doesn’t flop like their TG-T II. We need some competition in this field.
Anyhow, I’m here to give you an answer to burning questions that are probably running through your mind right now – should I get the Fanatec 5 Nm or 8 Nm CSL DD wheel? To newt or no to newt (spins the rachet), is the 40-50, almost 60% more torque really what you’re after with this Boost kit or should you stick with the base model? Is this bigger power brick worth that 150€ extra over this smaller power brick? Let’s jump right in to my Fanatec CSL DD review.
Before I continue, if you decide to buy any of these two options I’m going to talk about, you can visit Fanatec’s website by clicking on the banner above. They ship internationally directly from their brand’s website shop, and they also occasionally have bundled sets which come with a little bit of a lower price discount in most cases. This way you can directly help produce content like this one at zero additional cost to you.
Comparing The Fanatec 5 and 8 Nm CSL DD
So, CSL DD – that sweet sweet entry-level direct-drive nectar. Finally, we have something genuinely compact and affordable in this range, easy to install, yet compatible with all Fanatec’s gear, it’s no wonder everyone’s all over it like Nutella on pancakes, it’s barely available and back-ordered due to that and of course the whole chips situation. The fact that they now produce the PS5 Gran Turismo DD Pro edition version of it also takes a certain toll on availability, at least for the Xbox users as for them is meant the regular Fanatec CSL DD model.
OK, let’s get back to the topic: Do you NEED the 8 Nm power adapter? Honestly, no, because it won’t make you faster, but will it make your experience more immersive? Yes, yes, it will. Here’s how I came to this conclusion.
Just prior to trying out the CSL DD I was driving this 1.500€ 25 Nm SimuCube 2 Pro direct drive wheel for the last six months, feel free to check out my review of it later, so this transition ended up being rather interesting as it represented a huge step back in going to a much lower torque figure of 5 Nm, which is what I started off with. However, I’ve purposely decided to go that route, instead of hopping right on to the CSL DD 8 Nm, because, the thing is, it’s not all about the strength, but rather of the fidelity of the feedback, and this is where CSL DD shines.
Final Verdict – Fanatec CSL DD is a Winner Either way
Thankfully, as it’s common with the Fanatec’s wheelbase and wheel line-up, the Fanatec CSL DD also has quick a release option, so I could just easily swap them around while I was trying different setups, cars and sim racing games in order to have a better understanding what does 8 Nm bring over the 5 Nm. In this instance, I’ve mostly used their McLaren GT3 V2 wheel and WRC rally wheel, as they both cover a wide range of use cases.
So, collecting this back and forward experience for a while now, I will just simply put it like this. The Fanatec CSL DD 5 Nm variant is equally capable of transcribing what is happening with the car. That raw jump in the power of the 8 Nm model is present, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t noticed anything different other than having to put a “harder fight” with the CSL DD 8 Nm. It won’t make you drive faster around the track, but of course, yeah, it will bump that level of imersivness that you’ll receive from a wheel that gives your forearms a bit more workout.
What’s most important is that in that regard it’s miles better compared to the belt-driven or hybrid systems, even with similar torque, like for example, Thrustmaster TS-XW wheelbase. Be sure to subscribe because I’ll be doing a couple of more comparisons with them too, as well as this big LG gaming TV behind me.
One thing I wanted to check out is how much power the Fanatec CSL DD 8 Nm actually uses over the CSL DD 5 Nm version. Although the power brick itself sits at 180W for the stronger one, I’ve seen it pulling much lower than that at the highest feedback settings and heavier loads, as you can see here, and the same goes for the 5 Nm power brick, which is rated at 90W of output.
Good for Everyone Involved
And this is where I can draw the line between these two variations of the CSL DD – what it will ask of you when it comes to handling it. Yes, it adds that final sprinkle of realism, last 10-20% of what you need so your brain can go “wow, this really feels like I’m really driving a car”. I want to put that emphasis on that “feels like driving a car”, and not is like driving, because what makes it an “is like driving a car” is the range of details you get when you start losing traction due to tire wear when you feel that transition grip level going from asphalt to the curve when you get bumped by a low safety rating fellow in an iRacing open lobby race and so on.
Generally speaking, I’m always up for having some leeway and I would personally lean toward having that Fanatec CSL DD 8 Nm as an option, after all, you can use Fanatec’s software to set up everything to your liking in case you want to move those sliders around to get a more wholesome set up for a particular game, but if that’s worth 150€, or would you for that price difference rather get a better set of pedals or a different wheel rim, that’s still up to you.
Update 1, August 2022 – Fanatec CSL DD After One Year, Still Worth the Money?
It’s been over a year now since this little metal boxy thingy made its debut on my sim racing rig’s mount. Still ticking the same ever since I plugged it in, although now that I’ve gone through multiple different wheelbases in the meantime, and got a more refined feel to everything interacting with my hands, I do feel that the cogging is more pronounced. No matter if it’s the CSL DD 8 Nm or the CSL DD 5 Nm power brick involved, you’ll notice it.
I still do find it one of the better budget solutions out there, even compared to belt-driven solutions, it’s worth that extra bit of saving and spending. Of course, with Moza R9 soon to be within arm’s reach, ready to be properly tested out and compared to Fanatec CSL DD, this should be an interesting showdown for sure.
I can’t explain how really excited am I to see so much movement in this space, and although we’re not maybe talking about true budget-budget options, this will definitely pivot (PIVOOOOT!) everything in the right direction when it comes to more mainstream brands out there, like Thrustmaster and Logitech.
Honestly, it’s a bit weird/concerning not seeing them already here, making strides with other brands which are natively closer to sim racing. Then again, maybe this is the way it should be, you can’t really expect from someone who makes mice, keyboards, headphones, web-cameras, to also be in sync with the sim racing market, to provide us with the latest and greatest. It’s hard to be a master of all trades and a jack of… All of them? Yeah, that’s not how that saying goes, and there’s a reason why.