It’s been a few weeks since I gave my initial thoughts and eventual review of the Fanatec CSL DD, and during that time I’ve enjoyed using it a lot on my entry level rig; the NLR Challenger.
Whilst I said that in 8nm I was very impressed with the level of information provided by the wheelbase, I didn’t give much of a glowing review of this wheelbase in the default 5nm form.
If you’ve seen some of my videos or tuned in to the live stream a couple of weeks ago, you would most likely be aware that I have recently moved into my new home and so I’m still unpacking.
I wanted to do the desk review of the CSL DD earlier, but it would have been unfair to use my eBay special “gaming desk” and I wanted to do it on my “proper desk” – which was still in storage. However, the day has come and the behemoth of a desk, by the name of FREDDE has been unpacked and is now place and centre in my office/studio. You can see my review of the CSL DD, clamped to my desk here. So now you know why it’s taken a few weeks to arrive at a desk review, let’s crack on!
The Price Debate
I’m going to be bold here (gulp) and give you my opinion on the pricing structure of the CSL DD. A lot of people have issue with there being two prices for the 5nm and 8nm options, if you aren’t aware the price differs by around £130 – for what is essentially a larger power supply.Whilst I understand that some people believe that Fanatec are ripping their consumers off by charging £480 for the CSL DD in it’s 8nm form, I don’t have the same issue.
Forgetting the 5nm option at £350 for a moment, if someone had told me a year ago that I would be able to buy a direct drive wheelbase for £480 in 2021 I would have been shocked and excited. I believe the majority of you (who would be in the market to buy one) would feel the same and perhaps you do, maybe I’m only speaking to a small group of the sim racing community right now who have an issue with the pricing structure. £480 in my opinion is an amazing price.
I also believe that Fanatec have missed a trick with how they have marketed the CSL DD. Perhaps if they had approached the sim racing market with just one option (8nm), calling it the CSL DD pro, then later in 2022 announced the CSL DD 5nm option at a cheaper price – I believe a lot less consumers would have issue. Some might complain that a cheaper version has come out, but hey, you can’t please everyone! That’s how I would have marketed it, but all debates aside about how Fanatec have done this; £350 and £480 are amazing prices for direct drive wheelbases.
The Table Clamp
For £30, the table clamp doesn’t look particularly spectacular, and the packaging is underwhelming too, but hey it’s a table clamp! How it fits to the CSL DD is clever, there are aluminium foils around the body of the wheelbase, which act as passive cooling as there are no internal fans. To fit to a rig, you simply slide in some T nuts between the foils at the base of the CSL DD and this is where the table clamp fits too. The fitment is snug, and I noticed zero movement during my tests.
The clamp fits tables up to the thickness of 60mm and comes with a discrete bolt and large removal plastic wheel, that is used to tighten the bolt. When in place it looks good, but some of you may need to note that it does sit pointing in a slight upward position and there’s no way to adjust this. Once tightened down there’s no movement whatsoever and the only flex I noticed was from the desk itself.
I used the CSL DD for a couple of days, logging many hours on many sims, using both power supplies and even running at 100% ffb for a while and during this entire time the wheelbase did not move from the position I had tightened it to.
You are not going to replicate a solid rig unless your desk/table is made out of concrete resin! However, I did discover something that I wasn’t expecting.
I didn’t rate the CSL DD in its 5nm default form, I thought it lacked detail, but it turns out this was down to the entry level rig I was using. With the twisting and flex that I got from my rig, it buffered out the subtle information that the CSL DD was trying to provide. Once it was attached to my desk, the wheel seemed to come alive, and I was thoroughly impressed with the level of information that was coming through.
Up until this point, I had never really appreciated how much a difference a solid foundation can make to a sim racing experience. Whilst the CSL DD does not match up to more expensive direct drive wheelbases, I can say that even in 5nm form, the CSL DD is the best wheelbase I have tried in this price range.
The experience is even better with the 8nm boost kit. I raved about it on the budget rig, fitted to a solid desk the experience was on another planet! Everything I loved about the 5nm feel was amplified and my desk (and the clamp) were more than capable of stepping up to the task at hand.
Just pausing for a moment about both the 5nm and 8nm driving experiences, they both feel great, but they don’t match up to the Fanatec DD2 that I use daily. Whilst the 8nm boost kit provides a comparable experience to a wheelbase like the DD2, if the DD2 was turned way down; there’s no comparison with the 5nm default option.
Should you buy the CSL DD?
To be honest, this is where I have struggled with my reviews on the CSL DD. When I look at any product, I try to put myself in the position of who would purchase that product. Some products allow for an easy transition to jump into someone’s hypothetical shoes, not the CSL DD.
To put across in the most concise way, the 5nm CSL DD is a great option for those of you who are upgrading from an entry level wheel and those of you who are new to sim racing = as long as the 5nm is smack bang on budget. It is simply better than anything in a lower price band and can be upgraded with a boost kit at a later date. 8nm is great for someone who’s upgrading from an entry wheelbase, moving across from a similarly price wheelbase, or perhaps someone who needs a direct drive wheelbase as their more expensive setup has packed in.
For anyone else, who may have been looking for a more expensive wheelbase but has had their head turned by the price of the CSL DD – stick with your original budget. That last statement is not meant to take anything away from the CSL DD, you simply can’t compare one product to another when the other product is four times the price.
Pre-order from Fanatec.com for EUR 349,95
Have you pre-ordered the CSL DD? What power option did you go for, and will you be mounting it to a rig or a desk?