Since the release of the CSL DD (5 Nm, 8 Nm with boost kit), Fanatec has been offering what is probably the best-selling direct drive base in the lower price segment. Until now, the gap to the German manufacturer’s high-end line-up, consisting of the DD1 (20 Nm) and DD2 (25 Nm), was very large. The new ClubSport DD with 12 Nm is now set to change this and, for the first time, also offers a native mount for the new Quick Release QR2 from Fanatec at a price of €799. For this review, we put the base through its paces in detail.
Ordering and shipping
As usual with Fanatec, the ClubSport DD Wheel Base is sold via the company’s own online shop. Fanatec currently (as of 01/24) gives the estimated time of availability for the base as 4-7 days, although due to the still high demand since the Black Friday deals, you should allow a little more buffer time in case you need the base quickly. Shipping is carried out as usual with UPS, although it is advisable to create an account with UPS My Choice in advance in order to be informed about the shipment in time.
- Fanatec ClubSport DD: 799.95€
- Fanatec ClubSport DD Table Clamp (optional): 99.95€
The product tested here was provided by the manufacturer. No influence was exerted on this review at any time.
Scope of delivery
Fanatec delivers the base with the usual scope of delivery and includes four sliding blocks and a quick guide in addition to the approx. 3 metre long USB-C cable and the power supply unit.
- ClubSport DD Wheel Base
- QR2 Base-Side (Type-F) preinstalled
- Power Supply (regional)
- 4x T-nuts for rail mount system
- USB cable (Type-C to Type-A)
- Quick Guide
Technical data (manufacturer’s specifications)
The ClubSport DD is equipped with a maximum torque of 12 Newton metres, which is probably the most popular range currently available. Fanatec explicitly speaks of genuine 12 Newton metres, which are maintained even in extreme situations over a longer period of time. Even though the base was able to deliver full power throughout our test and remained exceptionally cool, Simracing-PC does not have the technical capabilities to investigate this behaviour using scientific methods. As there is currently no standardised measurement method for the strength of a wheel base, it is also difficult to compare products across manufacturers on the basis of the figures given. Different steering wheel sizes and weights make comparability even more difficult.
However, in an internal comparison between Fanatec and other manufacturers, the manufacturer emphasises that the ClubSport DD is clearly superior in its comparative class. Both in the duration in which the maximum holding torque can be achieved and in the slew rate (simplified: time in which the desired torque is available). In the Force Feedback section, the subjectively perceptible performance of the wheel base is discussed in more detail below and compared as far as possible.
Fanatec relies on completely passive cooling, which is made possible by a specially developed housing in combination with a very high degree of efficiency. According to Fanatec, the aluminium shaft inside the base is the strongest that the German manufacturer has ever installed. The bearing shell, which is also made of aluminium, should also ensure a high (possible) radial load capacity, precise rotation and better protection against EMI and ESD.
For the ClubSport DD as a direct drive wheel base, an aluminium rig is probably the best basis for secure mounting. Thanks to the popularity of Fanatec over the years, almost every rig without exception has the matching classic Fanatec hole pattern.
On the CS-DD, this is provided by three slots on the underside, into which the four sliding blocks supplied can be inserted (in contrast to the CSL-DD, now with a spring to prevent slipping). This means that both the 3-hole pattern familiar from CSW times and the 2×2-hole pattern can be realised. Another advantage is the ability to move the base forwards or backwards by a few centimetres relatively easily without having to dismantle it completely. If you decide to position the sliding blocks in the centre during initial assembly, you will have room for manoeuvre for steering wheels of different depths later on, for example.
The two additional slots for sliding blocks on both sides of the base also offer the option of side mounting if required. The ClubSport DD cannot be mounted from the front without an additional adapter. The four threads at the front are intended exclusively for accessories.
With the Fanatec ClubSport DD Table Clamp, Fanatec offers an excellent solution if you want to use the base on your desk. The mount is probably one of the best currently available on the market and, unlike older solutions from Fanatec, offers the option of adjusting the base to the exact angle required. Even though the clear recommendation is to mount the base on a proper rig, you can also use the base on a desk with high forces without any problems, as long as you have a stable desk.
Compatibility can be roughly divided into two areas: Compatibility within the Fanatec ecosystem and compatibility with third-party hardware.
The ClubSport DD Base can fully utilise its strengths in its own ecosystem. Fanatec continues to offer the most comprehensive range of all current simracing manufacturers. Nowhere else is there so much compatible hardware from a single source. The base is compatible with the following products
- All Fanatec Steering Wheels*
- All Fanatec Pedals (adapter cables might be required on pedals without RJ12 connection)
- ClubSport Shifter (all versions)
- ClubSport Handbrake
- All Fanatec Cockpits
- ClubSport DD Table Clamp
- ClubSport Table Clamp V2
- Podium Mounting Brackets (the ClubSport DD Wheel Base includes M6 T-nuts for side-mounting; the Podium Mounting Brackets require the use of M6 bolts and washers)
One innovation that most people will probably notice immediately and is also very important is the new QR2 mount. In combination with the new QR2s, this replaces the previous QR1 and now offers a completely zero-play connection between the base and the steering wheels, even without a locking screw. Data transmission and power supply are still provided directly via the QR in this system, which makes the new Fanatec QR, together with the Asetek QR, probably the best system currently available. However, owners of old Fanatec steering wheels must expect to pay €100 each (QR2 wheel-side) for the upgrade to the new QR2. Even if Fanatec wants to offer a QR1 conversion kit for the ClubSport DD in the near future, we would definitely not recommend it.
A QR2 Pro was used during the review, which (like the other two variants) can be easily removed and reattached within seconds.
- QR2 Lite Wheel-Side: 59.95€
- QR2 Wheel-Side: 99.95€
- QR2 Pro Wheel-Side: 199.95€
Steering wheels from third-party manufacturers
Fanatec still requires one of its hubs for the new ClubSport DD. So if you want to use a third-party steering wheel, you need a hub + QR2 from Fanatec to activate the force feedback. This drives up the costs unnecessarily; a purely mechanical solution would be much more user-friendly here.
A whole range of connections await us on the back of the base. In addition to the USB-C port for the base itself and the power connection, there are ports for shifters (2x), pedals, a handbrake and a CAN port for future Fanatec accessories:
- Power supply
- USB-C to PC / console
- Shifter 1
- Shifter 2 (Sequential only)
- CAN (for future Fanatec peripherals)
When it comes to software, Fanatec impresses in a similar way to the mounting. Practically every game supports Fanatec products right from release, exceptions are extremely rare. Another plus point is the compatibility with the Xbox, which is ensured by the corresponding compatible steering wheels.
Driver (Control Panel)
made using various profiles and the firmware of the individual components can be updated. Advanced mode is definitely recommended here to have full control over the FFB of the Wheel Base.
If you have a Fanatec steering wheel, you can also make the FFB settings directly via the steering wheel. In the form of feedback directly via the steering wheel display, this is probably the most convenient solution currently available on the market. The additional option of changing the settings via an app rounds off the overall package, although the latter is likely to remain more of a gimmick and will rarely be used in practice.
The Fanalab software is somewhat more complicated than the control panel itself. This allows very detailed settings to be made to the LEDs on the Fanatec steering wheels. You can also define FFB profiles depending on the sim being driven and make many other settings. As a beginner, you should definitely bring some time with you to familiarise yourself with the initially rather confusing software.
Fanatec offers recommended FFB settings for most of the popular simulations in its own forum. Although these are not yet available for ClubSport DD, the profiles for CSL DD and DD1/DD2 provide a good starting point for your own settings. And this is exactly how the profiles should be seen. Every driver has their own preferences in terms of force feedback and must find their own settings accordingly. This is often part of the appeal of the new hardware and should be done very carefully. However, there are some basic “rules of thumb”. The value for Natural Damping should generally be kept as low as possible, as high values (values above 20 should normally never be necessary with the ClubSport DD) unnecessarily restrict the very good characteristics of a direct drive base. Even if higher values further reduce or even completely eliminate the oscillation of the steering wheel when you let go, you should never use values that are too high.
Another recommendation concerns the maximum strength of the force feedback. Instead of limiting this via the base, it is advisable to adjust it via the “gain value” (the term for the FFB strength varies from sim to sim) of the simulation in order to avoid unnecessary clipping. In this way, FFB peaks (a prime example is the Eau Rouge in Spa-Francorchamps) can also be simulated. Due to the maximum 12 Newton metres of the base, the risk of injury in the event of unintentional accidents due to high force feedback is manageable, but should nevertheless be kept in mind. Especially when children use the base, the force feedback on the base should still be reduced to be on the safe side.
The values for Natural Friction and Natural Inertia should also be set rather low, as they artificially change the steering feel. The same applies to the FFB interpolation filter, which smoothes the FFB signals of the simulation. With the ClubSport DD, very low values should also be possible here, depending on the simulation being driven.
Driving impression – Force Feedback
Probably the most important aspect of a base is the force feedback. Here the ClubSport DD delivers a very strong performance, there is no other way to put it. The very high slew rate promised by Fanatec allows the base to perform at a high-end level, especially in combination with a small and light steering wheel such as the F1 Wheel from Fanatec. So if you don’t necessarily need a higher level of torque, the ClubSport Wheel Base is probably the best choice within the Fanatec ecosystem at the moment.
The base remained constantly cool during the test, even at settings close to the maximum, and was therefore able to call up the maximum torque of 12 Newton metres over the entire time. The differences to the competitors in this area (e.g. Asetek La Prima or turned down SC2 Sport) are in nuances and are mostly due to settings in the driver. Overall, the base does a very good job here, but does not stand out from the crowd of currently very good wheel bases.
With the FullForce technology announced by Fanatec, Fanatec wants to set new standards with a new force feedback protocol. As this feature is not yet available in any simulation for the end user at the time of the test, it unfortunately cannot be included in the review. However, the first impressions in iRacing at the Simracing Expo 2023 were already very exciting and make us look forward to the future.
FULLFORCE: FORCE FEEDBACK 2.0 FOR DIRECT DRIVE.
The existing force feedback protocol was designed for gear and belt-driven devices – the only hardware available at the time. FullForce is a new force feedback protocol tailored specifically for FANATEC® Direct Drive. Leveraging the instantaneous response and zero backlash of direct drive technology, FullForce generates high-frequency vibrations for a new level of immersive effects. Feel the engine revs, and details of the road surface like never before. Only FullForce gives you the full experience of driving a race car.Fanatec
With the ClubSport DD Wheel Base, Fanatec successfully closes the gap between CSL-DD and DD1. The 12 Newton metre base offers excellent force feedback and fits seamlessly into the Fanatec ecosystem. The upgrade to the new QR2 was long overdue and has now been successfully realised with the CS DD. The base is also fully up to date in terms of compatibility, both in terms of software and hardware, although the need for a Fanatec hub is a downer for DIY enthusiasts or fans of third-party steering wheels.
Overall, the base is a clear recommendation to buy in the category up to 12 Newton metres and is currently the most attractive overall package in Fanatec’s product range.
- Force Feedback
- Price/performance ratio
- Quick Release with wireless power and data transmission
- Third-party steering wheels only work with Fanatec hubs
- (Fullforce not yet available)