Wheel Base and Steering Wheel P1
Wheel Base Impressions
I had used and tested the ClubSport V2 base for several months last year and it was a monster. It was a huge base with an overbuilt desk mount mechanism that required some muscle to lift of the ground. What surprised me most about the CSL Elite base was how small it is compared. It is much more in line with the T300 base from Thrustmaster, and slightly smaller than the new TS-PC. It has a good amount of heft to it still due to the motor and mountings.
The back has connections for nearly everything, including 2 shifters (H pattern and sequential). These are easy to reach to plug and unplug components.
The housing is primarily plastic with some metal framework internal to the base. It has redesigned and improved screw mounting holes that do not look to break off as some of the pre-production units were prone to. The face plate is a love-it or hate-it affair with a modern looking metal tiling effect that is all injection plastic. The surrounding body is again thick plastic with plenty of ventilation holes for the motor within. The internal fan is not viewable from outside and it looks like it is mounted beneath vent holes under the top of the product.
The desk mount is a pretty solid design, but not as strong as what I have seen with the competing Thrustmaster parts. It is a huge improvement from the mounting mechanism that can be purchased with the ClubSport V2/V2.5 parts, but it is only slightly less effective than the Thrustmaster part. It still can be clamped down to effectively make the unit stable on a variety of surfaces and only through the most violent of turns did I get it to move. Still, it is a small step down from what Thrustmaster offers. The leverage is just not quite as good, but it is a more compact mounting mechanism for those that may not have as much desk/lip space.
Fairly big box for the wheel itself and the green up top lets the consumer know this is NOT for a PS4.
The power supply is external to the base which explains why it is quite a bit smaller than previous units. It does not have the fancy casing of the TS-PC (which looks like a turbo-charger). It looks like it is a 180 watt supply providing 7.5 Amps at 24V. It is enough power to provide the motor producing 6nm of force upon the pulley system.
The metal portions are the motor heatsink (large unit), the wheel shaft, and the quick-release unit. I cannot express enough how much I love the quick release wheel functionality that Fanatec provides, but only when using one of their higher end wheels or hubs that fully supports it. I will delve into this further when talking about the CSL Elite Wheel that was shipped with this product.
The rear of the unit features all the plugs required for a full racing setup with shifters, e-brakes, and pedals. The USB connection features a high 500 Hz update rate. The front also features a rev-light indicator. This functionality needs to be included in the specific racing titles. In older titles that are not updated with the latest wheel support the indicators do not work. Fanatec’s static paddles (that mount to the base rather than the wheel) are also supported for those wishing for that kind of functionality. The base also features a full 1080 degrees of rotation which can be adjusted all the way down to 90 degrees.
CSL Steering Wheel P1
This is the least expensive wheel option that can be included with the setup. It is still compatible with the higher end ClubSport series of bases. This is certainly an area where Fanatec really took a long, good look at what they could do to make the setup less expensive. It does not feature leather or microfiber coverings, rather it is a rubberized material that feels pretty good overall. When things get sweaty the material starts to feel somewhat tacky and uncomfortably sticky.
We again see how nicely things are packed by Fanatec. Shipping damage is nearly unheard of.
The first thing that I noticed was that the locking mechanism is not the usual quick-release option I have seen on other products from Fanatec. It is obviously still compatible with all of the Fanatec bases, but it requires a hex driver to secure it fully to the base. This is another cost compromise that Fanatec felt they needed to make to hit the price points they desired. It is a bit of an annoyance, but it takes 30 seconds and a tool to attach the wheel to the base rather than the 5 seconds the other quick release system features. This system is as solid, if not slightly more so due to screwing in a post, than the regular quick release system.
The center of the wheel is machined aluminum which houses all of the buttons and d-pad. The housing of the electronics is all moulded plastic. The quick-release unit is also made of plastic, but surrounded by a metal band as well as the screw hole. Internally there is a metal rim, but it is encased with foam and the rubberized material.
The wheel is relatively lightweight as compared to the Forza wheel with the Xbox Universal Hub. It is slightly heavier than the default wheel on the Thrustmaster TX set, but it feels quite a bit more solid than that unit. In theory a lighter, stiffer wheel will give a better experience than with a heavier wheel due to the extra energy needed to move. With the CSL Elite being less powerful overall than the ClubSport units, it makes sense to reduce the mass of the wheel while retaining rigidity. If Fanatec has done its work correctly, a 6nm base with a lighter, stiffer wheel will give much the same experience as the more powerful ClubSport unit with a heavier/fancier wheel.
More protection for the wheel, as well as the quick setup guide. I hope you like quick setup guides… cause that's what you're getting.
The button feel is pretty good all throughout the front face plate. If there is one disappointment with this wheel it is the paddle shifters. They are fairly thin metal units that do not flex very much, but the activating servo does not give any physical feedback when shifting. There is no click or “bump” feeling when it is fully pressed. It still works as it should, but that missing tactile feeling is annoying. I did get used to it, but it is something that I missed.
The top of the wheel features a white stripe that actually covers LEDs. Multiple colors can be applied to this portion. Right underneath this stripe is a 3 digit LED display. It can provide error codes if needed, but primarily it will inform the driver what gear is engaged. Again, that functionality needs to be included in the racing application rather than just seamlessly being enabled.