Steering Wheel Series – The Fanatec Hardware

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Having been a huge fan of the racing game genre for a long time, I consider myself to be a decent racer when it comes to using the controller. Playing games like Project Cars, Driveclub, GT, and many more, I always felt like something was missing.

Could a steering wheel make me better?

This was a big question that always rocked around inside my head, and finally i decided to find out. After reaching out to the good people at Fanatec who generously donated some brilliant hardware it was time to finally find out if using a wheel made me better.

The Hardware

For this I am using the Fanatec CSL Elite PS4 Starter Kit, with an additional Loadcell kit. To those of you that aren’t familiar with this allow me to elaborate.

The Fanatec CSL Elite Racing wheel is officially licensed for use with the PS4 and although it is not 100% compatible with all racing games out there on the market, it will be totally compatible with all new games that get released in the future, including F1 2017, Project Cars 2 and GT Sport as well as many others.

This wheel has so many features that I could quite easily list out, but the aim of this article is not to bamboozle you with statistics and features that you may or may not understand. The aim is to tell you how a normal person coming from a controller enhances their experience from using a controller to using a wheel.

Fanatec - CSL Elite Wheelbase and Rim
CSL Elite Wheelbase and Rim

With that, I want to talk about the wheel itself first. The part of the unit that you are controlling. The rim is lightweight at less than 1kg (970g to be precise) and a diameter of 30cm, giving you a more realistic feel than alot of the wheels out there. With its genuine perforated leather grips and suede fabric you get brilliant gripability (is that even a word) and comfort for those long sessions. Moving to the top of the rim you have an LCD display which gives you access to the built in setup on the unit. Being able to switch between 5 profiles means that depending on what game you are playing you can preset the ideal setup and changed on the fly. This setup menu also gives you access to the force feedback strength, adjust the maximum rotation angle as well as helping your steering feel lighter by adjusting the Drift options.

On the main face of the wheel you are greeted with some common buttons, with all the face buttons being present and accounted for as well as the share and options buttons for quick sharing gameplay and screenshots. Around the back are the two shifter paddles, which are both durably constructed as well as having great feedback when you change gear thanks to the Snapdome technology used on the wheel.

Having a semi-quick release system where all you are required to do is loosen a single screw the rim fits onto the wheel base quickly and effortlessly.

You do have the option to attach any of the rims that Fanatec provide on their site. although each with varying amounts of functionality. Want to have a wheel that accurately mimics a Formula One car? Not a problem, the Formula Carbon wheel is just for you. Maybe you fancy just a standard old school style rim, then check out the Clubsport Classic wheel.

Fanatec - Formula carbon rim
Formula Carbon Rim

Moving down to the feet area, you are greeted with a high quality set of pedals. The standard starter kit comes with a two pedal setup, with the brake and the accelerator. All that is required from your own hands is a bit of muscle to attached the pedals to the base using the provided bolts. Once you have it all setup the pedals are connected to the wheel base using a straight forward phone wire, or RJ12 connector.

Provided to us, was the Fanatec Loadcell kit, which comes with a new ‘brain’ for the pedals, but it also comes with a third pedal which you use to replace your brake. The Loadcell kit allows you to have more precise control over your braking, by providing braking through pressure as opposed to travel. Essentially making it more like a road car that you might have. Coming with small elastomeric bearings that offer a stiffer brake pedal, allowing you to put more pressure on, although I wouldn’t recommend putting the highest shore rated bearings on (90kg) as if you are using the pedals on the ground, you will end up having to put too much pressure on the pedal and they start to move.

Fanatec - Standard Pedals
Standard Pedals

Perhaps when the wheel is mounted onto a stand this pressure would be adequate. Who knows?

Having this third pedal also allows you to implement a clutch into your setup, although without the gearstick attachment this does seem slightly pointless to have a clutch when using the flappy paddles. The option is there for you anyway.

Fanatec - Loadcell Kit
Loadcell Kit

So all setup and ready to go? Finally ready to plug that wheel into either your PS4 or PC? Well then go ahead.

Switch on your Fanatec wheel using the power button and the wheel itself will go through a self calibration where it rotates on its own. Don’t be afraid, its not the ghost of racing past. Once you are through the scary stage, then all that you need to do is make sure the wheel is in the correct mode.

Red LED – PC Mode

Blue LED – PS4 Mode

Purple LED – PS4 Compatible mode, for games that aren’t specifically designed with the Fanatec CSL Elite in mind.

Once you are in the correct setting, attach it with the USB cable and switch on your console/PC.

Bear in mind that the first time you start the wheel you are required to go through a setup process on a PC, this process includes uploading the latest firmware to the wheel and making sure it is calibrated. After this is done for the first time, then you can connect to your PS4 and play to your hearts content. Although i’m sure there will be further firmware updates provided from Fanatec in the future with new games being released.

So that’s all for the hardware portion of this article series, coming up in the series you will read about the games that are tested, as well as the setup we are using at TC HQ. Finally ending up with a conclusion to provide results as to whether or not this wheel did in fact increase our driving ability.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions regarding the wheel, games, or process we are taking, do not hesitate to contact us on one of our social media platforms, alternative head to our contact us page and send us an email.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

For more articles from Stuart, click here

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