Xbox One Universal Hub
Fanatec has many options when it comes to wheels with a selection that work with PCs and Xbox consoles. The Universal Hub handles both PC and Xbox One connectivity. The unit defaults to Xbox mode, so when it is powered on while attached to a PC the user has to press two buttons to change the mode so it can work on PC. It is only slightly annoying that it does not remember the PC setting, but it is a very easy procedure to get it to work on the PC. Press the power button on the base, let it go through its calibration, and then press those two buttons and the user is up and running.
The Xbox Universal Hub supports Xbox One and PC. PS4 users should not apply.
The Hub supports multiple wheels from Fanatec, but not all. The wheels are going to be simple wheels with no buttons or shifters since the Hub handles all of that functionality. The mounting mechanism also allows the user to install actual steering wheels of their choice. The six hole mounting mechanism allows the use of 3rd party wheels and rims from manufacturers like Momo. This makes it highly customizable for those looking to maximize their experience.
There is a large amount of foam protecting the hub. Shipping damage will again be rare with these products and their packaging.
The buttons and paddles are all adjustable in terms of rotation and module length. I did not like the initial position of the paddles as I felt they were too far out for me to adequately shift. A hex wrench and about five minutes later I had them in a much more comfortable position. The quick release mechanism is again made entirely of machined aluminum to cut down on weight but keep strength at a maximum.
The feel of the buttons, d-pad, and paddles are all excellent. There is a good amount of travel and good sensation of when they are activated. The paddles have a decent amount of travel and a resounding click when activated. The switches used in these buttons and paddles seem quite strong and should last the lifetime of the product. They do not feel like they are membrane/bubble based switches but rather mechanical units.
All of the buttons on the stalks are replicated on the top portion of the hub.
The top portion of the hub features a small LED screen that supports up to 3 numbers. This is handy for error codes and diagnostics. What it is primarily used for is the shift indicator as to what gear the car is running in. Nearby is a USB port that can be used for charging a phone, but it does not support data transfer. This allows a user to mount their cellphone on the hub and with the appropriate application show all of the information that the racing game will provide (revs, gear, temps, etc.).
The weight of the unit is not inconsequential. It is as light as they probably could have made it with the metal mounting mechanism. The wheel mounting plate is also aluminum and fairly thick. The body around the Hub is plastic, but the internal bracing is all aluminum. There honestly is not all that much plastic on the hub, so wear and tear will be minimal due to construction. The paddles can also be swapped out or removed, depending on what the user chooses.
The quick release mechanism is strong, effective, and looks really beautiful.
ClubSport Pedals V3
This is perhaps my favorite component of the group. This is a heavy piece made entirely out of machined aluminum and steel. The pedals are aluminum, but can be covered by bolt-on rubber pedals depending on how the user feels about them. The unit is black, silver, and red.
The box is large and no assembly is required to get it to work.
The mechanisms are different for the accelerator, brake, and clutch. The accelerator features a linear travel with a comfortable amount of resistance. Resistance does not increase dramatically as the user accelerates. The clutch features a “breaking point” feel that essentially tells the driver when the clutch is engaged. It is also easy to depress.
The most work was done with the brake pedal. It features a 90 kg load cell with progressive pressure force when braking. The initial braking force required is of course small, but it increases rapidly as the user gets closer to 100% brake pressure. While feathering the throttle can be delicate, braking is even more sensitive to inputs. By increasing the difficulty in pressing the brake, users are essentially more sensitive to relative pressure as compared to brake pedal position. The brake can also be further adjusted by the user to increase or decrease the force required.
It has everything the user needs to get it to work with a ClubSport base as well as a standalone product using a USB connection.
The overall build of these pedals cannot be understated. The base is exceptionally heavy and provides a firm platform even for those who will not be bolting these down into a cockpit. They do OK on carpet, but other floor types will likely cause some slippage during aggressive braking. For myself I put a couple of boards propped up against the wall and the rear of the pedal set. This is a cheap and nasty way to do this, but the pedals remained rock solid after hours of use.
The pedals utilize a 12 bit Hall sensor that provides a great amount of precision. A separate damper can be added to the brake pedal to give even more realistic feel. The accelerator and brake feature a vibration motor that can be activated by the racing simulator if it supports that functionality. The only time I really felt it was in the accelerator while making large jumps in DiRT Rally. There were some areas of braking that I also experienced the effect.
The machining and construction is beautiful. Note the two shake motors on the accelerator and brake pedals.
The pedals can be used with the latest ClubSport Base V2, or it can be attached separately through USB. The user still needs to install the necessary software, but in theory this can be used with any other wheel on the market. The only limitation is with a particular title that will not allow secondary controllers (such as Forza Apex). It is overall easier to control the pedals if they are attached to the ClubSport Base and results in fewer compatibility headaches.
The control pod and connections for the base unit, handbrake, and USB.
The packaging includes different tension springs for the brake and clutch, the RJ12 cable for ClubSport Base connectivity, USB cable for standalone use, the pedal extensions, the D-shape pedal plates, and a bottle of lithium grease for lubricating the moving parts.