Fanatec CSL Seat Review + ClubSport family vs. T500RS in GT5

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FANATEC CSL Seat / CSW wheelbase / CSW Rims / CSPV2 pedals


This overview presents new Fanatec CSL Seat and very unique high/end driving peripherals combo: CSW wheelbase, CSW Rims and CSPV2 pedals, presented in detail and directly compared with Thrustmaster T500RS performance in Gran Turismo 5


The ClubSport lineup of products is the pinnacle of Fanatec brand for many years now. What started as brand-name for the first generation of CSP pedals today became a synonym for the most advanced line of peripherals engineered in Landshut, Germany. In late 2012 Fanatec introduced few new products in the ClubSport line: ClubSport Wheel (CSW), long awaited high-end wheel for the most demanding customers, while just a month ago the CLS Seat was finally finished and ready for worldwide distribution.

Probably because of my previous involvement in various discussions racing peripherals and cockpit solutions on many forums, I was among the initial beta-testers for the ClubSport Racing Elite wheel back in 2011. I also had a unique opportunity to actually contribute with some small ideas and concepts during development of the original Rinoseat GTR seat, years before it became the Fanatec CSL seat. Both involvement probably help me to be among the first who got a chance to actually test a unique ClubSport products-combo, CSL Seat with CSW wheel-base and both CSW wheel rims, all accompanied with 2nd generation of the superb ClubSport pedals, CSP V2.


STUNNINGLY SIMPLE The aesthetics of the fully assembled setup are really unique

Through past 10 years the complete market for racing peripherals literally boomed. I still clearly remember the 2001 and release of Gran Turismo 3, which was the first GT game with the force feedback support. Back in the day, Logitech revolutionized the market and genre with release of the original GT Force model and I was among the people that instantly hooked up to the force feedback sensations. My next wheel was Logitech DFP, which served me perfectly until G25 arrived in 2006. Back then I had my own hand-built cockpit (I still have it in my driving room, it is one on the left on pictures, with G25 mounted) and I was absolutely satisfied with the combo. Few years have passed and then the word about new manufacturer started to emerge, and with every new player-review my curiosity was becoming greater. My friend was first in the crew who actually exchanged his G25 for Fanatec PWTS, which was my first chance to try Fanatec. As soon as GT3V2 model was announced I fell for it instantly, ordering it together with my first set of CSP pedals and CSP tuning-kit. In the meantime, I had a chance to exchange G25 for the G27, but lack of sequential-shifting on G27 was something I personally couldn't live without and my G25 stayed safe. Few months later Fanatec GT2 model was introduced and I decided to go for it, mainly because of the X360 compatibility. GT3V2 and GT2 exchanged places, with GT3 going to my friend and GT2 taking over the G25 place on the cockpit. For a short amount of time I had Thrustmaster T500RS, but the fixed paddle-shifters were not convenient for me after almost 10 years spent driving wheels with turning shifters. Also, back in 2011 only Gran Turismo 5 supported T500RS on the PS3, and I decided to skip it for some time. GT2 remained my primary wheel all until the October 2011, when the beta-test CSRE arrived. At the time I write this, I am still honored owner of my first G25, my first cockpit, my first Fanatec CSP pedals with Tuning Kit enhancement, Frex Shifter+ sequential shifter, CSR Elite beta-test wheel (still alive and kicking without any issues), Rinoseat GTR original cockpit and now CSL Seat, CSW wheelbase with both rims and CSPV2 pedals.

Why did I write down all above? Simple reason. After all those crazy shuffling the various wheels, pedals, stands, pedals and whatnot, getting a chance to try almost everything that was in the market at my enthusiast friends, the current CSL/CSW/CSPV2 combo is the best thing I have ever tried. Also, it excels in one particular driving game I love the most, and that is Gran Turismo 5. And just to be sure I am not missing anything before making such strong conclusion, I secured a T500RS from a friend to make a direct comparison for this overview.


CABLES EVERYWHERE Cable management has to be the greatest problem within tight walls of the gaming room. T500RS has been mounted on the original RGTR cockpit and on the left is the custom-made seat from 2002 with beloved Logitech G25

Please notice how all below is just my subjective and personal opinion. None of the thoughts, opinions or conclusions is by no mean finite or presented as fact - at least I tried to voice it that way. I know there are users who have different experiences than mine and how there is strong criticism towards some fields I voiced as positive. For me it is the best thing that can happen - because constructive criticism is prerequisite for improvement. And I know for certain how those who observe our experiences are trying very hard to improve on that criticism. And that is good.

Here is my overview.

CSL Seat
From Croatia to Germany and back

As some probably know, Fanatec CSL Seat is based on Rinoseat GTR cockpit, designed and initially produced by Croatian engineer Renato Markovic. Rinoseat GTR was conceived after the successful Rinoseat G25 Edition project, which earned its legendary status purely because of its ergonomics and usability. Rinoseat GTR project wanted to continue with unprecedented ergonomic route and expand into pleasing aesthetics, but also expanding into maximum lightweight-construction and support for all possible peripherals.

I had a unique chance to witness the process of birth of Rinoseat GTR (Renato lives in the same city as me) and many of members of my GTSurgeons Croatian racing community had an opportunity to test and advise Renato during GTR development. Once finished, RGTR absolutely met all expectations and somewhere around the moment of the initial launch, Renato get in touch with Fanatec and started negotiating the potential licensing. One year later the deal was made and Fanatec took over the Rinoseat GTR project, re-launching it now as new Fanatec seat, CSL.


ASSEMBLY PROCESS It looks almost unbelievable how FCSL can fit inside such small and light box. Once you start assembly just be sure you follow the blueprints and markings on the screw-bags and you'll be fine.

Comparing RGTR and CSL Seat is easy, because those are basically two similar seats. Changes Fanatec did were purely cosmetic: additional rubber-bands are added around ground-tubes to prevent scratches on the floors and new coloring scheme of the seat has been introduced together with new cover-fabric. Everything else remained the same as RGTR, which can be seen on the photographs I've taken. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how all drills and holes are exact as on my RGTR, so I could just transfer complete mounts for pedals and shifter from RGTR to CSL. If someone is RGTR owner, he will certainly appreciate that if he decides to choose CSL as his additional cockpit.


RGTR & FCSL The differences are almost non-existant. Fanatec CSL improved small details over RGTR but the all main characteristics remained unchanged

I find Fanatec CSL Seat as one of the best cockpits ever made. I am aware how some people had issues with its unique seating position and rigid construction of the shoulder-flaps, but for me CSL is a seat I can drive in for hours and never feel tired. I am 188cm / 85kg and many of my friends that have Rinoseat GTR (RGTR was made in Croatia so many of my friends actually own original RGTR) are equally smaller or bigger than me. But for all of us this solution is nothing less then perfect - in the first place because of the ergonomics.

From initial days of its development main focus of CSL Seat was to provide the users with maximum ergonomics during their racing sessions. Patented A-Tube construction of cockpit allows achieving the perfect degrees for position of body, spine, legs and shoulders, minimizing physical fatigue, muscle spasms, cramps or any other consequence of bad seating position during short or long driving sessions. With adjustable position for the seat, separately adjustable positions for wheel, pedals and gearshift console and separately adjustable vertical degree of pedal console, CSL Seat delivers everything I could expect from the cockpit.


CLASH OF GENERATIONS My RGTR today hosts the beta-version of CSR Elite and 1st generation of CSP pedals. I try to take care of my equipment (covering it with covers against dust when not used, regular cleaning, etc.), so everything still looks as new as CSL/CSW/CSPV2 setup

Fanatec CSL comes with out-of-the-box support for all most-popular types of wheels currently on the market. It allows the mount for complete Fanatec wheel/pedals/shifters family (even the screws for upcoming Fanatec CSS shifter are already included), option for mounting Logitech DFP, DFGT, G25 or G27 wheel solutions or for Thrustmaster T500RS wheel/pedals with TH8 shifter option.

Unique construction of CSL Seat allows adjusting the cockpit almost indefinitely and up to personal preferences. Seat can be simply adjusted for almost any leg-length (official info says it supports height of person from 155 to 210 cm/ 5,11" to 6,20"), allowing pin-point-perfect seating position inside ergonomically limits. Wheel height can be adjusted in 4 and pitch in 3 positions. I find the CSL solution of two-side anchored mount much better and durable then central-column solution that is frequently used on some other cockpits. Unlike central-column principle that often feels unstable (and there is always some small motion appearing with the time), this principle ensures constant rigidity. Nothing moves, nothing shifts.

Pedals vertical-position is adjustable separately from actual pedal-distance thanks to simple, yet effective, lever-system built inside pedal holder mechanism. Gearshift holder can be micro-adjusted in 4 general positions, both height and distance for the shifting hand. CSL Seat allows gearshift-console to be fitted on left or right side of the A-tube, in order to correspond with shifter-position differences of worldwide customers.

Worth saying is how no extra tool or drilling is needed in order to assemble CSL Seat. All tools, screws and schematics for assemble process are included in the package, while all mounting-units (for wheel, pedal and gearshift) comes with holes that corresponds with mounting-holes provided on actual hardware. Assemble is easy, fast and can be done in approx. 30 minutes (or one hour, if you are less experienced with IKEA-type assembling).

EDIT APRIL 2013: Fanatec has just released a nice video to help CSL owners in their first assembly of the seat:

IMPORTANT DETAIL: For more "layback" seating position you should exchange the places for seat-rods labelled S8 and S9 on the instruction manual - to make longer ones go in front and shorter on the back. For more upright position you should follow the manual. I strongly recommend exchanging the positions because I personally find the "layback" posture more natural and comfortable - but you should invest some time and try both positions before commencing a final fixtures.

Fanatec CSL Seat is really made from top-quality materials and that can be both seen or felt under the fingers. Almost 90% of parts are made from aluminum, assuring maximum rigidity and maintaining minimum weight. To provide durability and safety of cockpit, inter-connecting and special parts are made from handcrafted steel. I also like new FCSL seat-carpeting, which is made from micro-fibre that resembles material used on motorcycle-jackets.

As many could have noticed from the Fanatec CSRE review I made in 2011, I was very satisfied with the original Rinoseat GTR cockpit. New Fanatec CSL provides similar delight. Aesthetics are always very subjective category, but I think CSL looks really great - and it feels even better. The seat chassis is deliberately designed as tubular with inter-connected seating stripes (same ones used in pro-racing seats) in order to make it compact and light. In the initial stages of design, the seat from Merdeces SLR was taken as inspiration and later made to resemble cross-design re-interpretation of SLR and 911 seat. It is absolutely a racing-shell in every mean imaginable that just envelops around you - but it is not tensioned or hard as real racing seats. I have a real racing seat on my hand-made cockpit and I have to admit how CSL Seat is much more comfortable.

The design with A-shaped contours provides stability while unique “shark gills” extensions for wheel-tube bar ensures crazy rigidity of once assembled cockpit. However, there is also a substantial feel of “organic” everywhere, maybe because slight elasticity of aluminum, maybe because there are no welded joints or maybe because CSL looks and feels very natural to me. Unlike many other solutions everything seems like it should be there, everything is very compact and seat just looks un-intrusive. And at the very end, the price-factor is also something to highlight.


BEAUTY COMES WITHIN Form factor of the CSL Seat should always been noted. There is something really beautiful in its tubular simplicity, especially when paired with other CS products

In my subjective and personal opinion, there is simply no better overall seat (cockpit) anywhere in the market. There are maybe more attractive seats, more beautiful ones, more chromed, more F1-type, more whatever.. But none of them fulfills all demands of ergonomic, durability (hell, you can throw the A-tube construction from the 3rd floor without seat attached and nothing will happen, really), rigidity, looks and price in one (surprisingly small and light) package.

Fanatec CSL Seat is the best seat I have ever tried.

ClubSport Wheel and CSW Rims
The Ultimate Drive

Other GTP members have already reviewed CSW wheelbase and CSW Rims, but as the beta-tester for previous CSR Elite model I was unfortunately not eligible to be a part of the initial CSW testing. However, few months later I finally managed to include CSW in my wheel collection (hello Paskowitz :)) and all I can say is that I am completely blown away by it.

Of course, CSW is by no mean an ordinary wheel. Its price is among the highest on the market (only true contenders price-wise are even more expensive Frex and ECCI models, that come almost exclusively as PC-only peripherals), and when additional price for rims and pedals is included, we begin to talk in thousand, not hundreds of euro/dollars. So, the question arises: Is the CSW worth that money? Well, to answer that I had to invest many driving hours in GT5 and directly compare it with its main contender in Gran Turismo 5 / PS3 console - Thrustmaster T500RS.

In order to make this story comprehensive as possible, I will focus on Thrustmaster T500RS comparison. Why? In recent grim news about future of Logitech console-peripheral business, I am not sure what is the foreseeable prospect of G25/G27 successor. I think we can all agree how there is no better "value for money" product then G25/G27 for serious simulation driving and how both G25/G27 are legendary products that every one of us will always love and try to keep in their collection (my G25 will never be sold, I hope). But I really do not see CSW in the same league as G25/27 simply because it is much, much more advanced wheel in every mean imaginable. Its only true competitor remains T500RS, especially when taken into concern how T500RS bears both the official "Gran Turismo 5" and "PlayStation 3 Licensed Product" seals. So my main goal was to discover is there a viable reason for CSW to cost double the price of T500RS in both PS3 support and GT5 performance.


WITHOUT TH8 Unfortunately, Vedran didn't have TH8 Shifter so I couldn't test it for this overview. However Fanatec has not yet released its high-end CSS Shifter so it was not a real dealbraker. For the CSW setup I am using beautiful Frex Shifter+ sequential shifter that can probably survive nuclear explosion without taking a scratch

CSW PS3 compatibility
As many probably know, CSW (and other Fanatec wheels) are using custom-firmware that emulates G25/27 wheel when connected to PS3 console. So, all functionalities regarding PS3 are there, with notable exception of "PS XMB" button that remains part of the T500RS "official PS3" status. In order to access "PS XMB" button when using CSW, you have to have either PS3 controller signed to console or to get an USB DualShock/PS3 adapter (I am using that solution for instance) that can serve as bypass to PSXMB button functionalities.

For all other functions, CSW performs same as T500RS - either navigating the menus of console or any driving PS3 game. Lack of direct inclusion of the PSXMB button remains the only difference. Of course, due to pretty different layout of the buttons on CSW rims and aesthetic-factor that deliberately corresponds with looks of the real-life racing wheel, it takes some time to get used to button-placement and positions. But after some re-mapping and few hours of use you will use CSW without any problems either for XMB menu navigation of within menus of every PS3 game.

CSW in Gran Turismo 5
While T500RS uses its own unique in-game profiler and SDK drivers for both 1080-degree support and variable force-feedback effects (vehicle dependable), CSW is using custom Fanatec-firmware in 900-degree mode.

To cut the tech-story short (differences between H.E.A.R.T. technology of T500RS and Fanatec drivers, talk about bitage, Hz refresh and such...), I will concentrate on the actual driving sensation and usability - and that is the main area where I personally think CSW excels in every mean possible.


THING OF BEAUTY CSW will use G25 in-game profiler for GT5 and you will spend some time in re-mapping the layout until you set-up everything to unique button-placement of the CSW Rims. If you enlarge the picture you can see much better details of buttons, metal joysticks and materials used to build this rim. Tactile feel of all materials used to craft CSW leaves nothing to be desired

Both CSW and T500RS use belt-drive technology, but while T500RS utilizes single-motor, CSW comes with dual-motor setup to deliver steering and force feedback/vibration sensations. I guess many are familiar about belt-drive system being advanced and superior then cog-driven system used by Logitech models, so I will not go into many details about it. Differences in number of motors in favor of CSW (dual motors for force feedback and drive and 2 additional motors for vibration effects, rim-dependable) mainly contribute to overall sensation and unique ability of all Fanatec models to allow game-independent set-up (tuning) of various wheel-options. Where T500RS is somewhat limited with in-game setup/options for both, CSW delivers unique Fanatec's on-the-fly Tuning Setup options that allows for adjusting various parameters for force sensations - from actual turn-degree to FFB in-game strengths levels, and separate motor power strength for vibration and overall motor force, for dampening and spring effects, etc.

When you drive GT5 with T500RS you get absolutely perfect smooth sensation of steering, with great force-feedback effects, great counter-steer feel of force and overall sensation that is nothing less than stunning. Fell of driving is direct, informational and convincing and full step above all cheaper wheels. But with Fanatec CSW you get everything as with T500RS, but with additional option to choose between T500RS-type of dampening (where the steering is butter-smooth without any sensation of mass-dampening), or to increase dampening for a better sensation of mass of wheel and actual feel of tyres. Another great option is possibility to increase-decrease spring/drift setting for feel of rigidity of steer and speed of counter-centering to center position. It makes the wheel "lighter" (it removes dampening of the steering-column) and allows for fast turning and counter-backs. However, my absolutely favorite option is ability to separately increase/decrease the actual power of main motor (independently of Force Feedback setting) up to 400% from nominal power that game delivers to wheel.

Final result of such tuning-abilities is chance to have 100% sensation as T500RS delivers, but also the possibility to enhance any of 8 custom-parameters that can vastly improve the overall sensation of driving. And I especially love what dampening and power setting can provide in combo, where you can make CSW to really feel as it would on PC-games, where all FFB wheels are much stronger (powerful) in actual strength of effects then on consoles (note: using 400% of power doesn't come without sacrifices - the spring-tension is much more pronounced and FFB effects become less informative. But the option is there to use whenever you are willing to sacrifice some of the performance and speed for greater feel of strength).

CSPV2 Pedals
Another crucially important sensation is pedals. Despite great improvement that T500RS gets through spring-mod (and especially with recently introduced "Even Stiffer" simple mod by GTPlanet's own MrBasher), the actual feel of load-cell/oil-dampened pedals of CSPV2, enhanced with unique vibration-effect for sensation of wheel-lock is a full step above T500RS. I will always be thankful to Thrustmaster (and Polyphony Digital, but that is another story..) for inclusion of easy inverse-method for T500RS pedals - few minutes with included tools and your pedals are inverted, which is not easy with any other pedals out there. But also, actual build-quality and form-factor of Fanatec CSPV2 is something that no other pedals within same price range can match. Second generation of CSPV2 also introduces improved clutch, with separate degressive mechanism that enhances the sensation on top of adjustable spring-strength. And on top of it all, Fanatec CSPV2 allows for separate adjustment of actual brake-sensation via either load-cell feedback actuator, spring-tension of the oil-damper (that can be further customized with appropriate RC-cars springs for greater stiffness/faster reverb speed) or actual viscosity of dampening oil. Yes, the T500RS pedals are great, they're way better then G25/27 pedals and they really can feel almost perfect with small mods I've mentioned above. However, the functionality and sensation of Fanatec CSPV2 is universe of its own, especially if you are non-ABS driver in GT5, where vibration effect comes to play. You can easily adjust the point of pressure where wheel-lock occurs and vibration-effect comes into play, giving you additional sensation of your drive. With all their options, CSPV2 are true step above from all their competitors in the price-range and best match that CSW wheel can have for Gran Turismo 5.


GENERATIONS The difference between first generation of the CSP pedals (on the left) and CSP V2 (on the right) becomes evident once you start noticing the details. However, real difference emerges in driving, especially the difference in advanced sensation of braking and improved clutch mechanism

My main offline test-fields for this CSW vs. T500RS overview were current non-SRF Seasonal Events of Lamborghini Exclusive races - infamous for its unique difficulty compared to other Seasonals - where I drove mild-tuned Gallardo on Sport Soft tyres. Second was very demanding Ferrari F1 Seasonal with F12007 de-tuned from 750PP to 800PP, and finally, the Super GT Seasonal with Honda HSV-10 (All races were done without any assists and no ABS). Also, I tested both wheels on few weekend online all-night sessions that I drive with my GTSurgeons friends, with no assists, no ABS, stock cars only, Comfort Soft and Sport Hard tyres, real grip, tyre/fuel depletion on, etc. Both offline and online testing ended with subjective and personal conclusion: Fanatec CSW+CSPV2 really provide exceptional sensation of Gran Turismo 5 that no other wheel/pedals combo can't match in any field.

Back in 2011 I was really blown-away with qualitative improvement of FFB sensation that CSR Elite provided compared to almost all other wheels I ever had. Today I have to admit that while CSRE remains within the league of its own, the CSW confidently reigns above that league.

CSW Rims
One of the main characteristics of CSW is ability to exchange wheel-rims on-the-fly (even during gameplay) through Quick Release System. As many are probably aware, CSW is actually only a wheel-base, while separate purchase of any of 2 available rims is required in order to actually have functional wheel.

I am lucky to have both currently available rims, BMW M3 GT2 and Formula rim (it is rumored that third wheel is in the works, but Fanatec still holds all information under the lid). Both share same button-configurations, they're both built from high-quality materials and they both feel rigid, sturdy and look absolutely magnificent.

Although some reported how actual BMW M3 GT2 rim feels bit heavy and sometimes nullifies the FFB effects, I have to admit I didn't feel anything similar. Compared to CSRE rim, BMW rim is thinner and actually does feel lighter. Compared to T500RS, the BMW rim is simply another class regarding built-quality and form factor. Alcantara is maybe not up to everyone's personal taste, but feeling of real racing wheel is absolutely there. BMW M3 GT2 rim is actual replica of BMW's rim that goes into their GT2 cars and overall fell of true racing breed is persistent everywhere. Aluminum plate hosts all buttons, switches and joysticks, while alcantara cover provides great feel while diving. Shifter paddles are also great, with great micro-switches and nice feel of clicking. Unlike T500RS paddles, BMW M3 GTR paddles are turning with the wheel, and I personally find it much better. Also, don't need to say is how this rim looks absolutely stunning when seen in person. This rim hosts the biggest LED for Tuning functions ever on Fanatec models and separate LED-lights bar with working rev-meter for GT5 (and PC games, naturally).


FORMULA RIM Although not licensed, the Formula rim have authentic open-wheeler look. Rim itself is surprisingly light and sturdy and it provides great feel of driving. It has to be said how getting used to different button-layout over BMW GT2 rim will take some time to get used to, but I find it as a minor inconvenience

I didn't have a chance to try T500RS F1 rim, beautifully made under Ferrari license. However, I know it does not allow being changed on-the-fly (T500RS does not have Quick Release mechanism), which is absolutely worth mentioning as key difference to CSW. For Fanatec Formula rim I have to highlight the actual lightness and sturdiness, as well as the fact how construction and front-plate are completely made of metal. Small details are the most beautiful part of the Formula rim: small but strong micro-switches of paddles, LED-rev display integrated within CNC-machined and anodized black aluminum front plate, Alcantara grips on sides and real-life size of wheel that allows for pitch-perfect steering. It is really a perfect rim from every mean imaginable and I think that anyone who will invest in it on top of the BMW rim - or even buy it as primary rim - will not regret it. I begun to use it not only in F1 races, but also in all SuperGT cars. Sensation of connection with the road is stunning and I really love this rim.

Worth saying is that actual CSW base is the main "brain" of the CSW setup, so changing the rims in-game won't affect any of the 5 Tuning Settings you've saved. Just be sure to pause the game while doing so :)

To conclude this lengthy overview, I think that CSW performance in Gran Turismo 5 matches and outperform T500RS. Despite T500RS is official wheel and licensed to use with the PS3 console, CSW has no drawbacks in any fields (with exception of PSXMB button), while being same or better in all fields related to actual driving sensation. Today I am confident how my decision not to purchase T500RS and to save the moment until I try CSW was the right one. Although the price difference is vast - CSW with rims and pedals cost twice then T500RS - I think it is worthy difference.

The more expensive wheel will not make you better or faster driver, but it will definitely provide you with better sensation in many fields. I know how CSW combo will stay out of the reach for great majority of buyers because of its price but I am also certain how nobody should be unhappy if he can't afford such expensive peripheral. Owners of either G25/27 have legendary product that will remain the true king of the mainstream high-end wheels and as I said before, I really hope that my G25 will happily live in the years to come. Of course, there is a good reason why Thrustmaster T500RS cost double then G27 and why he absolutely rules as mid-price solution. For asked price there is no better performer for GT5/PC and I sincerely admire the level of built-quality and actual performance Thrustmaster delivered with it. But also I think there are many good and valid reasons why CSW (with all add-ons) cost double as T500RS. Many of those reasons are in purely technical field and many of them are in subjective fields of exclusivity and aesthetics. I have never considered even Fanatec CSR Elite as mainstream product, so I think I can safely say how CSW is even less made for mass production. It is wheel deliberately aimed at those who seek maximum performance, maximum design appeal and maximum functionality. I think that CSW delivers in all three fields without compromise. And I honestly think it is the best peripheral-combo for playing Gran Turismo 5 at this moment of time.

Of course, nothing is perfect, although I must admit how this combo is closest to perfection of any peripherals I have ever tried. I have my personal set of small issues I would like to be improved in the future for some of the CS products I had chance to present here. For the CSL Seat I would like to get an option to adjust vertical pitch of the seat one step above current maximum pitch-position. I would also welcome pre-drilled wide holes on upper tubes in order to do cable-management though tubes in convenient way. Some owners reported how shoulder-flaps were too narrow for them. Although I do not have such problem, I can easily see that can be a problem for more corpulent body-types. I have no single issue with CSW/BMW M3 GT2/Formula rim, at least not yet. I still wait to experience issues people had with their CSR Elite wheel - I have mine from October 2011 (it is beta-test unit, not even production model) and I have driven an eternity of hours in Gran Turismo 5, Forza 4 and all other PS3/X360 driving games. I never experienced any of symptoms many unfortunately had, and I hope how my CSW will remain immune to such for the time being. Both sets of my CSP pedals are working well from the first day, with just some issues on the original CSP (that I tuned with the CSP Tuning Kit early in 2010), which sometimes jams the accelerator-pedal in 10% acceleration, where I solve it easily with plug-out/plug-in procedure. In the same time my 2011 CSPV2 (where I have to perform tuning of oil-drum spring, I hope during March) is working flawlessly so far.

I really hope Fanatec will continue to deliver in the field of high-end racing peripherals in years to come, despite overall slowing down of the market. I know that fact how Fanatec products can be bought exclusively online from their online-store is sometimes non-convinient as going to shopping-centre and buying things from shelf, but I think it is not a real problem for anyone seriously interested. I hope how ClubSport Shifter will become a reality sooner then later (as I said, CSL Seat even comes with CSS mount-screws) and I really hope that talks about third CSW rim - and many of us voted for beautiful and stunning Porsche 918RSR wheel here on GTP with Thomas saying they could reconsider it for CSW - will also become a reality. But my greatest hopes goes to ability for anyone who is interested in any ClubSport product to be able to actually get it.


CSS SHIFTER This is one of the very rare photos of the incoming CSS shifter, probably of a beta-unit. It already looks different then 2012 prototype (the base is now black) probably in order to match other CS products (photo by Fanatec)

All of the products I tested in this overview are really stunning. When I look back for only 11-12 years and remember how happy I was in 2001 when I got a chance to play GT3 with Logitech GT Force wheel - and then look at my current equipment - I can't resist smiling just from realization how far we have actually come. It will be great if next 10 years will grant us with such tremendous jump within beautiful yet absolutely crazy universe of peripherals for the racing genre.

NOTICE: Parallel testing of Fanatec CSW and Thrustmaster T500RS was made with latest firmwares available on both wheels in time of writing this overview, as well as 2.10 version of Gran Turismo 5.

I would love to thank Vedran for letting me use his spare T500RS for two weeks testing for this overview, to all members of driving community who are always doing their best to test and comment all new developments in virtual racing and to all buddies who are always objective and real about everything that is related to driving.

All photographs in this overview are taken by me and are subject to copyright, but if anyone wishes to use them please do it in the good will and under common rules of the Creative Common license. Product-photo of CSL/CSW/CSS is from Fanatec official site.

I am looking forward to all comments and opinions regarding this overview. Thank you for reading.

for :gtplanet:

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North London
I have been trying to find a BMW wheel or a racing wheel like that for a while. The Fanatic one is a bit over priced so I'm looking to stick one on myself.
when you say csw is the same or beats t500 in all driving sensations, does it beat or equal the t500 in counter steer sensation?

i haven't got a t500 or csw but from the videos i have seen the t500 certainly looks more like how a real car wheel would counter steer
Differences in number of motors in favor of CSW (1 main motor for force feedback and drive, 2 additional motors for vibration effects) mainly contribute to overall sensation and unique ability of all Fanatec models to allow game-independent set-up (tuning) of various wheel-options.

Sure about that?
Goes_To_11 GTP_GoesTo11
Amar, thanks for the review. What wheel would you say gives you the best bang for the buck out of all the ones you've tested? Have you tried the Fanatec CSR wheel?
This does not seem like a comparison of the CSW and T500 "shootout" or I may be missreading

While it is well written it seems more of a promotion? It is a good read though and you have put much work into it. Thank you.

I am confused about one thing. Where did you get the CSW, etc. to test? I see that the T500 was loaned to you but the CSW, pedals and CSL? Is the wheel from paskowitz? was it before or after his was replacemented?


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Portland, OR
If you can pass along my thoughts to those guys at Fanatec. The seat needs to have an adjustable recline. It's far too upright, no lower back support and reclining the seat back cuts off circulation to the legs. If they fix that, I'll buy it again (and not return it this time). Great review!

United States
Syracuse NEW YORK
This seat looks like a lawn chair covered in fabric, cheap and possible uncomfortable for long sessions. You can get a real car seat for 35$. Why would anyone buy this?
United States
New York
This does not seem like a comparison of the CSW and T500 "shootout" or I may be missreading

While it is well written it seems more of a promotion? It is a good read though and you have put much work into it. Thank you.

I am confused about one thing. Where did you get the CSW, etc. to test? I see that the T500 was loaned to you but the CSW, pedals and CSL? Is the wheel from paskowitz? was it before or after his was replacemented?

Unless Amar has his own private jet, flew to Philadelphia, snuck into my house, took my CSW , flew to Croatia, did this review, flew back to PA and returned my wheel, I am fairly confident he did not use mine. Amar, have you been hiding something from me? ;)

I had 0 part of this review, in anyway, at all, ever.

My two cents...

As for the CSW, it is a great wheel that is very modular (a good thing), that is pretty expensive and is not the most reliable (at least Fanatec are aware). The T500rs is a great wheel at a reasonable price stuck with crap pedals. That is my opinion.
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I am sorry. I think I must have misinterpret his comment
However, few months later I finally managed to include CSW in my wheel collection (hello Paskowitz ) and all I can say is that I am completely blown away by it.

I am sorry. I think I must have misinterpret his comment

My greeting to Paskowitz was because another thing.

Few months ago I asked him and McLaren - both were part of the CSW beta-test programme - about their opinion should I get CSW on top of the CSRE. I greet him because of that conversation. And I also use this opportunity to greet McLaren.

I am sorry if it brought any confusion.
United States
New York

so please tell me if the csw beats or equalise's the t500 in counter steer sensation.

thanks in advance.

It really depends. The T500RS is faster and crisper (less dampened) but can sometimes be jolting (too harsh). The CSW is slower and a little muted but is more natural feeling (smooth).

It depends on what feeling you prefer. Neither is really "better" than the other. If I had to say which is better I would say the T500RS is better for drifting and the CSW for precision driving.

I do think the dampening problem in the CSW could be fixed with a lighter alternative to the BMW GT rim. Something that has minimal circuitry (only a tuning function like the CSRE) and no paddles. Obviously this is not available now, and will likely not available anytime soon. It would require the stationary paddle shifter accessory and a button box.
Really good and deep review! Samo ti možda treba veći TV kada već imaš toliko igračaka :)


Hi Amar, and thanks for the review. I have the T500RS, and I think the fan noise is a bit loud. I can't see that you mention anything about noise in the review. Is the CSW silent?
United States
Why not use a cheap sound pressure level meter to get a sense of the fan and other noise? You can get reasonably close using free utilities, at least on Macs / iPhones / iPod touch devices.
Why not use a cheap sound pressure level meter to get a sense of the fan and other noise? You can get reasonably close using free utilities, at least on Macs / iPhones / iPod touch devices.

and why not just use your ears Racerxx ;)
They are seldom that accurate in those lower regions. You have to buy an expensive one. Ipod crap is worse then going by ear. But overall a noise index would be nice regarding ffb wheels. Including shifter and pedal operation. Now we have the g27 for example that is described both as very silent and as very loud based on what references people have.
United States
They are seldom that accurate in those lower regions. You have to buy an expensive one. Ipod crap is worse then going by ear. But overall a noise index would be nice regarding ffb wheels. Including shifter and pedal operation. Now we have the g27 for example that is described both as very silent and as very loud based on what references people have.

In my opinion, both subjective and objective measurements have merit. I like to have both. Some prefer having only one.

For instance some honestly think a CSR Elite wheel has double the felt torque of the earlier one motor Fanatecs such as the CSR or Porsche wheels. Nope, it's not even close. Sure the Elite feels stronger and has other merits besides max FFB response. The Elite and CSRs use the same motor receiving nearly the same current apiece. BUT they send the torque to the steering wheel with vastly different belt ratios. The Elite uses much less ratio than the CSR/Porsche wheels. So in the end an Elite actually is not much stronger than a CSR for instance. Confirmed by subjective feel, by measuring the belt ratios and in-use drive currents, and by fish scale at the wheel rim. So this is a case where objective measurements greatly contradict many commonly posted subjective reviews and sentiments.

You can get the Apple product's built in mics to produce a decent SPL reading. Which would be more than we now see. Better yet would be one of the ubiquitous RatShack SPL meters set to A scale and with standard distances/positions and so forth. You don't need an expensive SPL meter just calibrated by NASA one second ago to get within a dB or two. I'd measure my wheels tonight except mine are in surgery being souped up some more. As I do my mods and try things out I race in favorite sims AND also measure actual results in the same way and with the same equipment I used for earlier iterations. So I wind up see when something is working or not more quickly and confidently. This saves me massive amounts of time, so that I can progress very rapidly.

Those that prefer ONLY considering subjective comments can do so. And those that also would like some additional information can also have it if we start getting some SPL readings.
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So what does CSL stand for? Me? I'll be refering to it as the Clubsport lounge. :)

Before i read your second sentance I had already answered the same
Can´t get the apple mic to get a decent SPL reading at those regions no. In a way it would be worse should such pseudo objective measurements if people don´t understand the limitation.

I got a semi decent one for around 100 Euro but you still need to get well over 35 db to get somewhat consistant readings within 1 db. Apple mics are a far shot from that.

But in this case a good SPL measurement is all you need since you are just measuring noise so what we need is a high quality SPL metre so we can get relatively accurate data.
United States
Can´t get the apple mic to get a decent SPL reading at those regions no. In a way it would be worse should such pseudo objective measurements if people don´t understand the limitation.

I got a semi decent one for around 100 Euro but you still need to get well over 35 db to get somewhat consistant readings within 1 db. Apple mics are a far shot from that.

But in this case a good SPL measurement is all you need since you are just measuring noise so what we need is a high quality SPL metre so we can get relatively accurate data.

If your wheel fan is whispering out 35 dBs, some would consider that extremely quiet and not a major drawback. Since human voice whispers are just louder or just quieter than that. A dead quiet library with noone speaking is around 30 dB. Homes and offices are way louder. And fans are not the only things producing sound in sim hardware. But as you note that is not an area where iDevice metering is at its best. I'd note that you can get the false sense that some wheels are roaring out fan sound but if this is at say 32 dB and some other wheel is 34 dB then I don't consider that any issue at all as both are nearly silent.

The Apple mic is actually quite decent and with a good SPL app such as "SPL Meter" will perform better than the long widely used for home theater calibration Radio Shack meter. Such level setting involves pink noise which is quite similar to fan noise. You can even calibrate many SPL apps. Or run a spectrum analyzer.

Much more than the difference between an app meter on an iDevice and a true pro meter costing as much or more than a good sim wheel are things like distances and test procedures. It's not hard to get the latter fairly standardized to get a sense of relative sound levels.
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