My review of the Fanatec ClubsportWheel
In addition to testing the CSW I was lucky enough that the Clubsport pedals v2 (or CSP v2) were available at the same time for testing so I would test this one too .
Product introduction :
After mainly making products in the range of the Logitech G25/G27 , Fanatec has released late last year the CSR Elite wheel ,real first "high-end" wheel of the manufacturer.
Here is now the ClubSportWheel also known as the CSW.
So at the top of the range of the Fanatec products we have ,the CSR Elite and the CSW we can view them as “brothers”.
As the CSR Elite is already well known ,here is a little comparison between the two products :
On the two wheels the base is the same in design and mechanism,
but the comparison ends here ,where the CSR Elite is primarily labeled Forza Motorsport and therefore compatible with the 360 (and also PC, PS3), the CSW is much more focused on PC with specific features but is also compatible with the PS3.
Being a Forza Motorsport product ,the CSR Elite's rim ergonomics is designed around the Xbox 360 ,it is detachable but you have to unscrew a part and detach a cable while the CSW is designed on the concept of the quick release (well known in motorsport, it is found in almost all racing disciplines from f1 to rally) , last detail , to be able to use it you have to buy the base + at least one rim.
for more details i invite you to view this document :
Fanatec products comparison
At the CSW's launch two rims will be available :
The Formula rim ,an open wheel style rim and the BMW M3 GT2 replica rim (gt style)but Fanatec plans to release a multitude of rims in the future .
for the CSP v2:
I do not have csp v1, nor even ever used this one but AFAIK it is primarily an upgrade of this one with a new color for the base , a modified clutch pedal system and a rc style damper was added to the braking system to add more feel to it , all the rest is ,i think ,identical .
So much for the quick presentation , here is the detailed test .
being an owner of a faithful G25 since 2006 I will compare this one to the CSW.
Time to unpack :
Very good impression, it reminds me a bit of the Nintendo GameCube packaging ,
everything is well packed and therefore nothing could take hits in the transport.
Nice detail ,Fanatec is providing for each element a bag (helmet bag style ) stamped F ,this allows you to keep your precious parts away from the dust.
CSW Base :
As we are used to the G25 or T500rs designs ,the CSW base has unusual proportions.
In term of build quality and used materials ,we are far from other products like theT500rs or G25/G27 with very few plastic used and CNC machined metal for almost the whole thing ,
it's basically build like a tank!
On the top side you can see the whole mechanism through a plastic window.
At the front of the base we have a enlighten Start/Stop button .
Having the same design as the CSR Elite , the CSW Base uses the same mounting system :
- If you want to mount it on a desk you will need to buy the table clamp v2.
- for Hardmounting, you have a detachable adapter with mounting holes to the dimensions of standard FANATEC therefore compatible with rSeat ,playseat and other,rigs, this one gives a small steering angle as you can find on other wheel set, Here is the Drilling template with Adapter.
- You can also remove this support but then the mountings holes are not standard and you will have to drill your support ,Here is the Drilling Template without Adapter.
A little surprise when you look at the connection Hub of the Base , you see that Fanatec certainly has lots of ideas for the future :
- of course you have the power and usb sockets .
- 1 socket for a pedal set if you want to use only one USB port or just play with the whole set on PS3 ,but you won't get the full resolution of the pedals .
- we also find 2 sockets to plug in a h shifter, a sequential one or even ,as Fanatec already announced ,steady paddles shifter like on the T500rs .
- a data port in which we can plug for example a SLI display .
- if you want to plug a shifter and pedal set to the base you have two rj11 to ps/2 connectors coming with the CSW Base .
FYI the external power transformer used is a little bigger than the G25's.
The Formula rim and BMW M3 GT2 replica rim
on each rim :
- On the left ,you will find an Analog joystick which can also be pressed.
- on the right , a 4 way D-pad that can also be pressed and turned in two ways.
- 11 standard buttons.
- a LCD screen ,usual feature on fanatec wheels ,you can adjust the different settings of the wheel via this screen and recently, can display information ingame (gear, fuel consumption etc...) .
- 9 LEDS as rpm indicators.
I must tell you that the Formula rim did not attract me that much but when have I've done unwrapping it ,WAOW , it is a very nice piece of kit ! It's from another world from the the T500rs or G25/27 . while others still remain somewhat like a toy in the some aspects ,the Formula rim is like it's coming directly from a real open wheel racer , materials, paddles, buttons are at race automotive level !
The grip is excellent due in a large part to the high quality of materials,the buttons are very well placed and the two pads are very easy to reach too .
I was lucky enough to be able to have the addon F1rim for the t500rs in hand, I can tell you that this one looks like a toy compared to the Formula rim ,everything is functional on the Formula rim ,every buttons ,LEDS and of course the LCD screen unlike the T500rs f1 addon rim .
Also with a price of 179.95 € or $ the two rims are at a comparable price ,I consider therefore the Formula rim as a very good value .
Same tune for the BMW M3 GT2 replica rim and being a BMW fan I'm really captivated by the quality and authenticity of this rim .
It looks beautiful ! Really looks like the real one with the addition of the dpads ,LEDS and LCD screen,
this one is larger than the G25 wheel ,320mm for the BMW M3 GT2 replica rim ,270mm for the Formula rim and 280 mm for the G25.
the grip is also very good but both pads not present on the original car's wheel mess a little with the button's layout ,you will have to get use to !
The alcantara looks to be to a high standard as the other materials used for the two wheels,they feel solid and they're heavy !
You have large metal paddles shifter on the BMW M3 GT2 replica rim and tiny ones on the Formula rim ,you can do many adjustments on these paddles but I find that those paddles lack of a stronger positive click,especially if you race with headphones.
Previous Fanatec wheels owners will feel right at home with the LCD screen as we find the same settings as other Fanatec wheels, I personally do not like to mess with this and I usually stay with the original settings but it's nice to be able to change whatever I want whenever I want.
CSP v2 :
The look is identical to the CSP v1 at first but Fanatec has added a rc type damper for the brake and modified the clutch system ,for the rest I think everything is identical to the v1 with the magnetic sensors for the accelerator and clutch, an electrical motor on the brake pedal for brake vibrations , ps2 or usb type connection (do not use both at once) and of course the load cell for the brake ,system i've never tested before.
Like said above ,the big news of the CSPv2 is the added rs style damper system on the brake but before using it Fanatec gives 2 bottles of oil with different viscosities ,you have to fill the damper with the chosen oil a very easy task as this shock is easily detachable ,tutorial video is here :
For my part I find that the highest viscosity gives the best feedback., you can also set the hardness of the spring of this one by messing with the knob on it.
Once you have found the best settings for your taste ,this brake system really works well and feels great and very natural,it's a big step forward compared to the G25's one.
Now let's plug everything!
before the first start ,we must first put a rim on with the quick release system ,here are the steps to do so :
remove the storage pin.
- compress and hold the quick release system of the rim.
- align the rim to the CSW Base axle.
- slide in the rim on the base.
- then release the quick release system.
To remove the rim:
- compress and hold the quick release system of the rim.
- slide off the rim of the base.
- insert the storage pin back and release the quick release system.
I appreciate the presence of the Start/Stop button because you can keep the device connected to the PC while you can't do that with the G25/27 and you have to disconnect it every time.
To turn on the CSW ,you press the Start/Stop button and you can hear immediately the fan starting, just a light breeze with no mechanical noise ,then the wheel makes its calibration routine ,at this step if you expect this to be as “spectacular” as what you will get from the T500rs ,you will be disappointed as the T500rs speed rotation is a lot faster ,the CSW one is closer to what you see with the G25/27, I think it is a choice From Fanatec (Safety?), everything is done quietly and smoothly especially compared to the g25 and the racket he makes at that time !
After this calibration routine, the wheel by its LCD tells you the firmware version of the base and the rim .
Next you got to install the Fanatec drivers (129 beta drivers for the latest version tested) the interface of those is nice ,there is a preview of the rim plugged in, you can make a vibration test, ffb test and test all the buttons.
As for the FFB settings part ,there are only 2 settings ,wheel angle and dampening strength, the rest can be adjust with the LCD of each rim.
On the CSP v2 , I've easily adjusted the sensitivity of the load cell through the potentiometer but I find too easy to turn this potentiometer at the point that i was a couple of time surprised that this one had moved away from my setting and that either by simply cleaning the pedal set or just by putting the protective bag around it.
In game test :
The overall feeling i've got by testing all kind of games on PC or PS3 is the subtlety of the experience, with the G25 ,with the gear driven system ,you get confused because i feel that the effects are coming in a block and most of time you can't tell what is what.
The CSW is much more precise at this level due to the facts that it is toothless belt driven and there is two vibration motors in the rim .With that ,you can distinctively feel if you are on a curbs in understeer or whatever the race brought you
So far i've noticed no cogging effect and i've experienced no belt slippage whatever the FFB power I used ,even on heavy countersteering .
The power of the FFB is amazing for its diversity ,it can be a gentle push as well as tearing your arm off .
Precision is bluffing too ,when on the G25 you still feel the gears when turning the wheel and therefore compromise the precision ,you won't get that with the CSW.
Contrary to what the slow calibration routine would suggest the CSW shines also with its speed ,it's very easy and natural to catch a slide and you can feel how smooth the system is,with a dedicate rim i think it will be a great piece of gear for drifters
What strikes the most with the CSPv2 is the first braking due to the load cell ,no drama but big difference with the G25 which is fitted with potentiometers .
You must be focused on your brakings, let me explain :I often was surprised during a deceleration lap ,with the G25 i could nonchalantly press the brake pedal without event thinking about it and apply just a gentle pressure ,this is not possible with the load cell brake ! You must apply sufficient pressure or you're off !
Load cell brake brings an incredible precision whatever the game tested ,you can apply the adequate pressure easily and naturally ,resulting that you lock up the wheel much less during braking than with the G25's pedals.
The new clutch mechanism is stunning , feel like a race car ,i didn't even had to change the settings of this pedal as i found that the default settings are very good but i do not think we can have a very hard clutch like some cars .
Rfactor is the simulation that I practice with the most especially with the mod Endurance Series .
The evening of the start of the test I had to do a test race for an endurance race ,The 12 hours of Sebring at http://www.simracingonline.net with my team ,the rSeat.fr racing team http://www.facebook.com/TeamrSeat .
I decided to do this one with the CSW and the CSP v2 but as it would be my first try with this gear ,i was a little unsure ,especially with the load cell brake ,ignoring the time it would take me to get used to.
With all the buttons available i can easily assign all the keys necessary on the steering wheel alone !it's a major change for me compared to the G25 which has only 2 buttons on it .
Pedals allocation in Rfactor is the same as with the g25 ,no load cell specific settings.
FFB settings are the same as for Logitech wheels , in the negative , I therefore set this one to -50% .
Now it's time to rejoin the practice!
led display does not work it will take a plugin or addon for it .
As already said above the smooth steering is incredible and the only significant vibration that is felt is road friction not the mechanism of the steering wheel like with the G25 .
The FFB in rfactor is not it's strongest point but with the CSW it's another story , it's still not at Rfactor2 or Iracing level but the experience is much more detailed and interesting .
I was very careful on the first braking but in fact it not was not as difficult as I thought it would be and after some laps in free practice I was pretty confident and not very far from my laptimes with the G25 .
Then comes the time of the first race (1hour) ,i started in last position as I did not took part of the qualify ; not being 100% confident I preferred not to interfere with the other drivers.
So the race began ,as i gained confidence in this gear I began to take risks ,little by little I began to progress thru the pack and I began to have some pleasure .
After 30 minutes into the race I was perfectly into the pace and I even was tackling with my best laptime done with the g25 ! Before the end ,I did beat it and finished in 2nd place in GT class , it is only a test run but it was very promising !
For the 12h race ,i managed to make the gt's pole position ,and i did 2 x (2x1h20) stints without any concern about the gear only pleasure ,unfortunately we had numerous incidents with impatient prototypes but our race ended after mid race with a driver swap bug ,
Later on i did some more endurance races with the CSW and CSPv2:
- A 10h race at http://endurance-inside.fr/ ,2x(2x1h10) stints and i managed to make the fastest lap in gt1 but again too much incidents with the prototypes and we finished at 6th place in GT1.
- A 24 hours race still at http://endurance-inside.fr/ but this time with my friends at the LSR Jamaica Lover’s in GT2 I did 2x1h20 stints and we finished second in GT2 as we've lost the top spot following the crash of a teammate in the last hour .This second place earned the title in gt2 for my teammates ,congratulations!
In all this races ,the CSW and CSPv2 were perfect ,no bug,no glitches,they helped me a lot improving my driving style and therefore my laptimes.
I live in the south of France and at this period of time it's really hot and more because i use a projector ,i have to race in a dark environment .You could understand easily that it is a very hot environment and still no sign of heating from the CSW ,only cold air coming out of it .
Rfactor 2 :
First there is no special profile for the CSW (for now) so you have to configure your keys, no support for the automatic steering angle either,there is no LEDS or LCD display working.
However in game the feeling is exceptional !
The FFB which was already very good with the G25 is sublimated and is IMO the best FFB you can find,whatever the car you choose it's very good powerful,precise and very enjoyable.
IRacing : Very good support with a load cell setting , I compare the FFB to RF2's one ,it's very good and precise unlike with the G25 .
Thanks to Stephane Turpin, LEDS and LCD work completely and you can be displayed on the LCD the data you want .
Project Cars : A CSW profile is available in the game, working LEDS and LCD working as a gear indicator . The FFB is very strong but I think it lacks of information, both with the g25 with the CSW, you can feel every curbs and other things very well but you do not feel you are driving ,no road friction I feel I ride an hovercraft or a flying carpet ,i think the problem is with the physics and the FFB.
F12011 :No LEDS or LCD working here , again the FFB and precision is much more enjoyable with the CSW but I really don't like the physics too much understeery for my test.
PS3's GT5 :
To enjoy the game you got to switch the CSW to PS3 mode,for that you have to press the two lower buttons at the same time and a red dot appears on the LCD screen. When in PS3 mod the CSW is recognize as a G25.
Since the 2,06 patch the FFB is much more enjoyable,i really like to race with this game!
Reconciles the real racing and simracing
Quick release system
Fanatec that works with the games developers
Feeling of the clutch
Modularity of the system (rims and pedals)
LED and LCD working in games (Due to the Fanatec SDK)
but require a special support in games
not enough positive click from the paddles shifter
not as compatible as the G25 is
load cell's potentiometer too easy to mess with
price if you buy CSW +2 rims+CSPv2
Fanatec 's drivers are not as good as logitech's ,a profiler would be a nice addition
For me, the CSW is a small revolution, the first time that the authenticity is invited in the simracing hardware wise .You won't find any closer to reality than that!
The CSW has a lot of qualities,it's mechanically very evolved product and I think it's closer to what a Frex simwheel can offer than from the T500rs for example.
As for the CSPv2 it a brilliant product but I think ,if you already own a CSPv1 ,no need to sell this one for the v2 to little evolution to do so .Too bad there is no upgrade pack planned!
However if it's you want to buy a new pedal set ,you won't find any better than the CSPv2 at this price (249,95).The load cell is a must have , made me gained a lot of confidence in my braking and therefore improved a lot my laptimes !
Budget wise ,good news for the G25 owner ,you can buy a G25 pedals adapter to make it work with the CSW so the lowest budget you need to run with a CSW set is :
CSW base 449.95 € or $
CSW Formula rim 179.95 € or $
G25 pedals adapter 4,95 € or $
634.85€ or $
It's about 150€ or $ more than the T500rs with it's F1 addon rim but I think it's really worth it.
If you want the full set:
CSW base 449.95 € or $
CSW Formula rim 179.95 € or $
CSW BMW M3 GT2 replica rim 249.95 € or $
CSPv2 pedal set 249.95 € or $
1129,8 € or $
All I can say is OUCH ! But as already said I think that the CSW is closer to the Frex simwheel which has a price tag of more than 2000€ or $ .With that in mind I think it's a good value and you won't go wrong with this amazing piece of engineering.
I would like to thank Fanatec for this test and especially Sean for his great support !