Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2016 - 02:46 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: wheel base, Thrustmaster, T500RS, T300, steering wheel, pedals, Fanatec, CSL Elite, ClubSport V2
This past Summer I was introduced to Fanatec products for the first time. Before that I had only handled some lower end Genius products, as well as low end and midrange Thrustmaster units. My review of the Fanatec setup will be posted here this next week, but my overall impressions of what Fanatec offers is overwhelmingly positive. The only issue, and it is a glaring one, is the lack of an affordable setup based on their designs. This past Friday Fanatec introduced a new series of products that aims to make their setups far more affordable than what we have seen so far.
The new CSL Elite Series of products offer many of the same features of the higher end ClubSport series of products, but at a much more affordable price range. This does not mean that they are skimping out on features and quality construction. The CSL Elite Pedals with Loadcell Kit offer a full aluminum build with a three pedal setup and the load cell on the brake pedal. This allows increasing resistance during braking that other spring loaded pedals may not offer. Fanatec claims that up to 90kg of pressure can be applied to the load cell. Having used their upper end ClubSport pedals, I can attest to what a difference such a load cell and a heavy aluminum base can do for the racing experience. Fanatec includes three different types of anti-skid pads that can be swapped out on the pedals.
The CSL Elite Wheel Base offers 6NM of force to the wheel. This is more than the ClubSport V1 base, but slightly less than the V2. In violent crashes, the wheel certainly can break the grip of the user’s hands. The base accepts a wide variety of wheels from Fanatec, but the bundle comes with the CSL Steering Wheel P1 for Xbox One. The base comes with the automotive grade quick release unit that easily swaps in and out wheels. The base also includes an RPM LED display on the base that is not included in the ClubSport series. The base also includes a built-in table clamp that is a $50 accessory for the ClubSport V2 setup.
The smaller motor, single belt design, and plastic construction of the wheel base allows Fanatec to shave a big portion of the price off of this part. It still features the metal drive shaft and metal quick release mechanism (something that Thrustmaster doesn’t have even on their high end T500RS base). The base still allows the connections for the optional shifter and e-brake.
Fanatec offers the bundle with a full version of Assetto Corsa for Xbox One for $639.85. This is a tremendous price point that puts it in range of the T500RS. Fanatec products have never been this reasonable for PC and Xbox One racers. It is still a chunk of change, but it is nowhere near the $1800 range where a full ClubSport V2 setup can be bought for.
The base can be upgraded with options such as a static paddle shifters.
I’m looking forward to seeing reviews of these parts and how they stack up to the V2 and other setups from competitors.
Build Your Own Setup
Who would have thought that racing wheels would be so much fun? I have mentioned this before, but until recently my experience with these products has been pretty limited. I used a joystick for at least a decade after I started into PC racing, and then some five years ago I purchased a pretty basic FFB wheel with the Thrustmaster F430. I was not entirely sure that a more expensive wheel would give me a better experience. After having played DiRT Rally, a sim that leans heavily on wheels with a greater than 270 degrees of rotation, I knew that I was missing something.
The packaging looks nice and conveys the information needed for the purchaser.
I purchased the Thrustmaster TX F458 wheel and my eyes were opened to the light. The more expensive wheel with a 900 degree rotation made driving a much better experience for those titles that are more than arcade racers. DiRT Rally became a totally different game and my understanding of the handling and physics was enhanced dramatically with the more advanced wheel. This is not to mention how huge of a difference such a wheel is as compared to the products in the $50 to $100 range which offer no force feedback and rely on bungie cords to center the steering.
The TX wheel does have some limitations and a couple downsides. The first is that it is limited to 900 degrees vs. other products that feature a full 1080 degrees. It is compatible with PC and Xbox One. It does not support the PS3 or PS4. It comes with a two pedal stand as well as the Ferrari inspired wheel that is constructed entirely of plastic and a rubberized material on the wheel surface. It is not a luxury item and I would not expect as such for $294 US. It is also the least expensive “full” setup of the more professional line of dual pulley FFB servos.
This is a diagram of the dual pulley system that makes the T300 as smooth as it is.
Over the past few years Thrustmaster has expanded their lineup to include higher end accessories for the wheel setups with three pedal stands (the T3PA and T3PA-Pro), a solid shifter (TH8A), as well as a variety of interchangeable wheels that fit the Thrustmaster Quick Release system (TX, T300, and T500). These include leather wrapped wheels, a F1 inspired wheel, and finally a newly introduced Alcantara wheel that apparently feels fantastic.
It seems a waste to buy an entire set and then replace pieces with upgraded parts. Obviously Thrustmaster figured this out and decided to start offering just the servo bases as standalone products and allow the user to pick and choose what type of pedals and wheels they want to use. This also allows those who are more frugal to buy secondhand parts off eBay and other outlets. Believe me, there are more than a few F458 wheels and 2 pedal sets out there for pretty good prices. The T300 Servo Base is the second standalone offering from Thrustmaster with the Xbox One focused TX being the first.