More than two months ago, Fanatec was kind enough to send us one of its new and anticipated base wheels to test; CSL Elite Wheel Base.
For the last few months rumors about a new base wheel have been around simracing forums. There was a strong desire to see a wheel base cheaper than the CSW V2 model and finally Fanatec decided to please their current and potential customers.
This new Elite wheel base will be inside the new Elite range line of products, along with new CSL Elite Pedals, as the CSL Steering wheel was. This is the second approach of the company to the medium hardware range trying to stole some of the market to Thrustmaster.
At the moment we tested the base was not yet the final product, but it showed some strong arguments to consider a purchase if the price didn’t go too high as finally happened.
From last week of August, base wheel is available to pre order at 319.95 euros and it will be ready to ship by mid November ready to Christmas campaign.
This base is built to be compatible with PC and Xbox One entertainment systems only. It allows interchangeable steering wheels from the Fanatec catalog, not only CSL Elite steering wheels. It has a valuable 1080º degree range of rotation using a brushless servo motor delivering up to 6 nm. This should be more or less like three times G27 steering wheel forces. A full list of features from Fanatec’s site:
Single Drive unit for direct power transfer from motor to steering axis and with big ball bearings for lowest friction
Very fast steering wheel acceleration – ideal for drifting
1080° of rotation which can be adjusted in the tuning menu of the attached Steering Wheel
Integrated rev light bar in the Wheel Base
Quick Release system to allow the easy exchange of Steering Wheels within seconds, also during gameplay
Supports vibration motors in the Steering Wheel (depending on the Steering Wheel model)
Mount for ClubSport Static Shifter Paddles and other optional accessories
Firmware can be updated with new features
Fast 500 Hz USB update rate
Allows connection of two external shifters (e.g. H-pattern and sequential) in parallel
Connection ports for peripheral devices: USB, Power, Pedals, Shifter 1, Shifter 2, Handbrake
The base has a rev lights display to use with compatible software. It is possible to configure Fanaleds software to use them in iRacing. It should be easy to configure with different cars to match ideal shifting points.
Base itself is a belt driven wheel base like CSW V2 but as we can see in pictures much more sober and slimmer plastic cover. This is not the final design and it is possible to be changed when the product reaches the market so I will focus in sensations. UPDATE: A minor aesthetic upgrades have been added to the final design of the base to cure its first plain design.
Hard mounting is not possible in standard Playseat holes layout so maybe you need to use the clamp. Stronger wheels need stronger mountings and clamp didn’t work very well in our current situation but you can add a wooden piece or something to figure it out. We would like to know some way to disassemble wrench in the clamp because racing afterwards it was rattling in every corner kerb.
Fanatec also sent us CSL wheel to test this wheel base and because it belongs the same product line, the wheel feels same good/pragmatic and sober quality. No more extra fancy light or addons, just what you need.
As always with a new base, it is require some time to find a decent FFB configuration. It was easier with games which allow to customize effects like grip and kerbs, for instance Assetto Corsa, but I wanted to feel what a belt driven wheel base was able to do with a non overreacted data as iRacing.
First to say, this is not a Direct Drive steering wheel model so it is useless and a very bad idea to run it as linear mode FFB device. You will have a lot of clipping and scale will be totally distorted. Unchecked that box in the first place, now it is time to try.
During testing period Fanatec made several changes over the firmware and drivers according to beta testers comments and we must to say it feels slightly better now than with first software iterations even with Fanatec staff telling us they didn’t change FFB behavior.
Base is able to transmit almost every detail in the pavement surface. Also over kerbs and off track average behavior feels very decent and responsive. We would like to feel some kerbs even more, but depending of the FFB in game, these could be vary widely. Every surfaces are different and have an specific feeling, on track and off track.
Grip and weight transfer effects are also there and allow you to drive with more confidence and consistency over other less refined devices, which is always a good improvement for your personal development.
Steering effect is maybe too much exaggerated over the rest of effects but being a belt driven device it is usual. Sometimes I would like to be able to configure non steering effects in a completely different section. Current driver doesn’t have these options available yet. We hope these options could be added in the final version to match rumble effects with steering forces. Only Assetto Corsa allows to configure these parameters in game individually.
Base is sober, polite but someway felt soulless in its external aspect. Lights tried to compensate in a wrongly manner being excessively bright and flash. Final design added a couple of dressing layers in front and sides to fix it, but we don’t like them either. It is a subjective matter, so we encourage you to check it out by yourself.
Fanaleds development version we tried work flawlessly and read our configuration without problems.
Packaging design was not finished at the beta period, so we ended up with a white box with the following characteristics:
- Size (L x W x H) : 35.00cm x 35.00cm x 28.00cm
- Weight: 4.60kg
- Volume weight: 6.86kg
- CSL Elite Wheel Base
- Table Clamp
- Quick guide
- Power supply (cables: socket to power supply 1,5 m/6 ft.; power supply to wheel base 1,5 m/6 ft)
- USB cable (2 m/6 ft.)
CSL Base worked as expected, with none issue during these months. Our sessions didn’t last more than three hours, what we consider a regular use, and no technical nor mechanical issues arose.
No heating, thermal or cooling problems in the device in all our racing time. Bearable short and low fans periods, quieter than others bases even we raced in a room with an average temperature of 30º C.
CSL Steering Wheel
The base, as we said, is compatible with all Clubsport and CSL Steering wheels products line but at least, at this testing stage engaging and releasing an steering wheel is not as easy as should be. Too much force to be applied in both operations and CSL wheel little metal pieces bent a little under operational forces.
Steering wheel itself it was not something to test but as our first contact with it, it is nice to remember that being a cheaper alternative to Clubsports steering wheels means a more toy like feeling. However is far from other competition products.
It is a nice 30 cm wheel, with metal paddles and leather like cover. A brushed aluminum front with 12 buttons to match a Xbox One controller. The rim has a display able to work with compatible games. This would be nice with CSW V2 base but results in a redundant colorful disco dance floor with the working rev lights in the top of the base.
Quick release system just works, nothing great but it keeps the rim stable doing its job. Leather like cover is a little harsh to hold without gloves but it can withstand intense use. Paddles works fine, no missing shifts, but they have a longer dead zone than expected.
In our opinion it is a solid and good entry steering wheel. It has a perfect size to fulfill every need and does the job just fine. Feels like a perfect addon to the newly announced CSL wheel base.
Now with the retail price announced, we can say this base is a very good alternative to similar competition products and you should consider it if you cannot afford more expensive Direct Drive steering wheel devices. It showed a great performance with no issues and quieter than many other bases. General value is better than expected for this money and it is not far from its older brother CSW V2. Considering the flexibility with different rim addons to choose, the connectivity (allows two shifters) and the general possibilities of the base, it is almost an unbeatable key pillar in a new Fanatec set.
Note: This is a beta unit analysis. Final product might include some enhancements.