Posted on , by Rob

Fanatec Clubsport Wheel Base Review

Most sim racers start off with a Logitech product, either the Driving Force GT or the G27.  I did.  When I started back in sim racing in 2010 I bought a Logitech G27, thinking it was the best product around. I never came across higher end products in normal PC gaming mags.

That wheel is pretty good place to start, and even end if you're not serious.  It has force feedback.  It has a H-Shifter. It has paddle shifter. It even comes with pedals.  It's a massive jump forward from the Mad Katz wheel I had a decade earlier.

As I got more serious I started hearing about Fanatec.  First from a member of my F1 2010 league who bought a Porsche GT3 wheel and then from fellow iRacing competitors.  

More recently Fanatec released the Clubsport Wheel Base (CSW).  This product isn't a full set of gear you need to go racing, like the Logitech G27 offers.  Instead, it's just as it's name implies: A wheelbase.  Onto this base you can add any wheel Fatanec has released, currently the BMW M3 GT2 rim or the Formula rim.  The wheel base itself is a work of art, with a clear plastic top, allowing visibility of the mechanics that make up this wheel.  

It's what's inside that sets this wheel apart from Logitech wheels such as the G27.  Where the G27 uses small plastic cogs and 2 small motor to produce force feedback, the CSW uses 2 larger 120W (each) force feedback motors and 2 smaller vibration motors in each rim.  The CSW is also belt driven. The belts provide a smoother feeling and is significantly less jerky and less noisy then the G27. 

Immediately, upon first use of the wheel I noticed it's much different than the G27.  It's so smooth as it turns through it's 900 degree range.  I also noticed little nauces of the car and track I didn't before.  Driving was a really enjoyable experience.  

Another great feature with the CSW is that the feel is adjusted on the wheel and can be changed dynamically, mid game. With the settings fully cranked up this thing will break your wrists if you let it.  It's great for go kart sims too. You can really crank the spring up hard and make it realistic.  It was a relevation running the gokarts in Game Stock Car 2013, the feeling was the same as the real thing. Fantastic!

Fanatec BMW GT2 Rim Fanatec Formula Rim

A unique feature for a wheel at this price level is the ability to hot swap wheel rims in and out.  Currently Fanatec offer a replica BMW M3 GT2 wheel and a Formula wheel, they call 'rims'.   The BMW rim is 320mm in diameter, while the Formula rim is 260mm.  The smaller Formula rim is suited to a smaller degrees of rotation, where you need to quickly turn the car from lock to lock, such as in open wheel cars.   After using the BMW rim for a month the Formula rim feels very small.  Contrasting, stepping up from the G27 to the BMW rim felt like I've gone from driving a car to driving a truck, but you quickly get used to the increase in size (Actually the 270mm G27 wheel isn't a standard size in use on any race car).

The difference between the two wheels (G27 and CSW) became really apparent in the last week when I was racing the VW Jetta at Watkins Glen Club and RUF RT-12R Track at Watkins Glen Boot.  I noticed I was getting into controlled slides a lot more.  I came through the Carousel in the Jetta in full drift, sliding the car and then catching it and powering away again. I've never done that before in iRacing.  Then yesterday in the RUF I did the same thing through the Carousel, abliet slightly different thanks to the different track layout. I got to the Chute (turn 6) and felt the car start to slide.  I immediately applied a touch of opposite lock and kept going.  I was never able to do that with the G27.  I believe the difference is the more precise feedback and response time.  The CSW makes racing safer.

It's hard to describe in words the difference between the Logitech products and the Fanatec CSW.  While you may think a wheel is a wheel providing they both have force feedback, you'd be wrong. I guess it's like comparing a Hyundai to a BMW.  

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