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Jul 05 2012
By: thepatriots Wastelander 717 posts
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Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3 UPDATED

[ Edited ]
18 replies 14142 views Edited Jul 11, 2012

This post along with its accompanying posts will be edited in the future. Please subscribe to this thread so you are notified of any updates. I will be adding pictures, video and additional information as time goes on.

 

CSW Cover Shot.jpg

 

 

If you have any questions about the content in this review, please do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to answer your questions.

 

 

Index

 

- Preface

- Introduction

- The Packaging

- Construction and Design

  • ClubSport Wheel Base
  • BMW GT2 Rim
  • Formula Rim
  • ClubSport V2 Pedals

- Software Compatibility

- Hardware Compatibility

- Overall Performance

  • CSW
  • CSPV2

-  Game Specific Performance

  • GT5
  • F1 2010/F1 2011
  • DiRT 3
  • iRacing
  • rFactor 2
  • pCARS

- Tuning Menu

- Tuning Menu Settings

- Drivers and Firmware

-  Maintenance

- Additional Notes on Quality and Construction

- Pricing and Value

- Media

- Resources

 

 

 

Preface

 

I was selected by Fanatec to be a Community Test Manager for the Playstation Boards. It was my job to set up a thread to search for a qualified tester for Fanatec’s new force feedback wheel and pedal set, the ClubSport Wheel and ClubSport V2 Pedals. After a community pole, Choate51 was selected as the community tester. He and I both received a Fanatec ClubSprot Wheel, BMW GT2 Rim, Formula Rim and ClubSport V2 Pedals about a month ago. It was our job to thoroughly test the wheel for any mechanical faults, evaluate performance, provide feedback, and create a report for the Playstation community. Ultimately, we did this for you. Hopefully at the end of this report you will be able to establish if this wheel is right for you.

 

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The Fanatec ClubSport Wheel (CSW) is newest wheel from Fanatec. The ClubSport V2 Pedals (CSPV2) is an upgraded version of the CIubSport Pedals (discontinued). If you are not familiar with Fanatec they make the Porsche line of force feedback (FFB) wheels. Recently, they released the CSR and ClubSport lines. Unlike Logitech or Thrustmaster FFB wheels, the CSW is modular. You buy the base of the wheel which has no wheel rim or pedals. You then choose which wheel rim you want (BMW GT2 and or Formula Rim), and then which pedal set you want (CSR, CSRE, or CSPV2). You can also choose a shifter. All of these items are sold separately. In addition, Fanatec wheels include a tuning menu that lets you adjust FFB effects independent of the game. For a better idea of how these products compare to each other and the competition, please refer to the consumer comparison chart at the bottom of this report. Please also visit the references section for links to relevant websites and information.

 

The CSW/CSPV2 are serious pieces of sim racing equipment. If you are not interesting in games like Gran Turismo 5, or PC racing simulation games, this wheel is NOT for you.

 

It is important to note that the products we received were pre-production units. Please keep this in mind when reading our respective reports. Some of the problems we experienced have been noted by Fanatec and are said to be fixed in the final production version. These fixes are located in the references section. Please also note that the firmwares and drivers are not final. They are likely to be improved by the time the final production units are shipped. Finally, do not take our word as the only one. Please look at the other reviews section of this report and read what other testers have experienced. Thank you.

 

Strap yourself in this is going to be a long, yet rewarding ride.

 

Introduction

 

Many people are familiar with Logitech’s FFB wheel offerings, the Driving Force GT (DFGT) and the G25/G27. I have owned a G25 for years. It enhanced the immersion in games like Gran Turismo, Formula 1 and DiRT. It made games like Need For Speed more interactive. Like many gamers on this forum who enjoy racing with a FFB wheel, this is where I am coming from.

 

The CSW/CSPV2 is much like Lisbeth Salander, different in every way.

 

None

 

The CSW and CSP V2 are premium products. Premium performance, premium construction, premium expectations, premium nuances and premium price. They were not designed to compete with the offerings from Logitech or even Thrustmaster. In my opinion they are designed and priced to a different level and a different customer. To put this in car terms, the G25 is a Mustang GT and the CSW is a BMW M3 GTS.

 

The question is, as a Playstation gamer do you need a BMW M3 GTS? Are you just a Playstation gamer? How passionate are you about driving? Can you afford a BMW M3 GTS? As you are reading this review, keep these questions in mind.

 

In this report I will hopefully give you the necessary information and analysis for you to answer these questions. I will also give you my personal opinion. But in the end, I will leave the answers to those questions up to you.

 

The Packaging

 

mystery-box.jpg

 

Packaging is usually an afterthought in most products. Fanatec took pride in designing the packaging for the CSW and its accompanying rims. Opening each box is a special, quality experience. There are some definitive inspirations from Apple in terms of packaging. Somebody had a smile on their face when making these packages. Somebody cared. The experience is so unique and special I do not wish to spoil it for you, even if you are likely to be spoiled by the publications of other reviewers. From the opening the expectations are set very high.

 

Construction and Design

 

CSW Base

The CSW is a full CNC machined, metal construction. On the base the only plastic component is the translucent cover over internal drive mechanism. Like a super car, you can see the “engine” of the CSW. The engineering is not sheltered behind a plastic wall; it is there for all to awe at. There is true beauty in mechanics. A fact I am glad Fanatec realizes. The power button does not say “power” it says “start”, because you don’t “power” a car. This along with the individual fabric bags each item comes in are clear signs that someone at Fanatec took pride in designing and engineering these products. As a result, this is a product you can be proud of owning.

 

I will let the pictures do most of the talking but the CSW base is very solid. The only quality concern out of the box, in regards to the base, is that my angled mounting bracket was slightly crooked. It’s hard mounting holes were also slightly off. This may not seem like a big deal, but it made screwing my CSW (a requirement for a wheel of this caliber) a bit of a PITA. Public service announcement, double, triple check your measurements when drilling holes to secure your wheel. Oh, and you will need to bolt this thing down.

 

I think it is important to note that previous Fanatec products have had less than perfect reliability. While the internet often makes 1 voice sound like a 1000, I believe this statement is fair. The construction of the CSW base and the materials used are a clear indication that Fanatec is serious about changing this perception. However, as a package, that does not mean it is free from fault.

 

DSC_0040 copy.JPG

(Please note the CSW base is not purple... this is just my horrible lighting conditions)

 

BMW GT2 Rim

The BMW GT2 Rim, from a tactile a visual perspective, is completely different than any other sim wheel on the market. It feels like a real race car wheel, plain and simple. The G25 and T500RS both suffer from “toy syndrome”. They feel “nice” but not “real”. You can tell you are holding something that was meant to play a “game”. With the BMW GT2 Rim you feel like you are grasping the reigns of a real race car. The wheel is a wider diameter than the G25 and T500RS and as a result takes some getting used to. The rim thickness is just about perfect. The wheel also includes an LED display and rev counter. Both of which, when supported, are awesome. These aspects blow everything from Logitech and Thrustmaster out of the water.

 

There are a plethora of buttons. All of which have a nice quality click. Most are easy to reach. They are unmarked, so programing them in console games will be a bit of a challenge, but not impossible. More on this in the software and compatibility section. The paddle shifters are adjustable and even replaceable. They have a very high grade metal feel. Personally I would have liked it if they were a bit bigger but this is not really an issue. Compared to the T500RS and the Fanatec CSRE I find their tactile feedback, as in the sound and feeling they make when you press them, to be a bit lacking. Not bad, just lacking. The wheel also features dual vibration motors that are activated along with a motor in the pedals when you press the brake a given percentage set by the tuning menu in the wheel.

 

For those not familiar with Alcantara, it is a synthetic fiber that is soft to the touch and is easy to grip. Alcantara feels great in the hand. Compared to the G25 which can get a little nasty after a long session, Alcantara feels great. The lining of the BMW GT2 Rim is mostly stitched; however, some parts are glued. Initially I did not give this any thought, but after some time with the wheel the glued area where my right thumb/palm rest is beginning to peel back. This is a concerning development. I question whether this section could have been stitched or simply integrated as one piece. This is not something I want to see on a wheel of this price. Not a fault of Fanatec, but Alcantara is also known for being quite prone to wear. I have included a maintenance section in this report that should address this. Moral of the story, get some gloves.

 

The quick release (QR) is a solid sleeve of red anodized metal. From a construction standpoint it is very solid. Swapping wheels mid game, with no interruption is awesome. However in practice, it is an area of concern. Initially it slid back and forth smoothly. However, after one month it became progressively stiffer. Attaching the QR system is not a trouble free process. Over time this has caused metal dust to accumulate on both the wheel rim and wheel base QR system. There are also significant metal scratches on the QR of the CSW base as a result of this friction. Given that this is a primary feature of the CSW and the cost of the wheel, this is concerning. Fanatec has stated that the QR system has been revised for the production units. I hope this is the case. I also took the liberty to apply some good old WD-40. This helped the problem a bit.

 

The BMW GT2 Rim is not light. Without going into specifics, this weight creates a dampening effect on the wheel. This reduces the FFB effects transmitted by the game. The rotational speed of the wheel is also reduced. Overall this is not a huge issue, but it did affect my gameplay. More on this later.

 

Finally, as small as it may seem, my BMW logo was crooked. If this was a Honda rim, I would not give a crap. But BMW holds a certain weight in the automotive world and hell, I am paying for that licensing. I have visited the BMW factory in South Carolina, and every single logo is hammered on each BMW with a true sense of pride and honor. Fanatec has stated that this will be fixed in the production units. Again, I hope so.

 

CSW Front Shot 1 copy.JPG

(I added a piece of yellow tape to the top of the rim to give it a more race car feel)

 

Formula Rim

The Formula Rim is just as solid as the GT2 Rim, if not more so. I personally like the glossy black plastic and shiny metal surfaces, but others may think differently. Again, it feels like you are holding a real race car wheel. It is not a replica of any one specific Formula 1 car. To be honest, it reminds me more of a Le Mans Prototype wheel rim. Regardless, it fits the bill for any car that does not require copious amounts of opposite lock. The LED display on the Formula Rim is the same size as the one on the BMW GT2 Rim, however, the rev lights are larger.

 

The button placement is again great. It is easy to program buttons that are close to the thumbs for functions like DRS and KERS in F1 2010/11. The paddles are smaller than the BMW GT2 Rim. They are fully adjustable and replaceable as well. It did take some time to get used to the small paddles, but after extensive use in GT Academy, I never found myself looking for a paddle or missing a gear.

The Alcantara on the Formula Rim seems to be a little less prone to wear compared to the BMW GT2 Rim. I have not experienced any pealing. The Alcantara still has a tendency to matt down and needs to be maintained. Over long periods of play I found it very comfortable. The wholes where your fingers rest are adequately sized. Again, the grips are perfectly sized.

 

The problems with the quick release as described above are also present with the Formula Rim as it uses the exact same system.

One key area of difference is the Formula Rim’s weight. It is significantly lighter than the BMW GT2 Rim and as a result is more precise in game. Again, more on this later.

 

No crooked logos or buttons to report. However, there is some circuitry exposed on the back of the wheel. Keep your drink far away. As long as I am driving a car that does not require a large amount of opposite lock, I actually prefer the Formula Rim. When I got it, I thought to myself I would return. I am not a big fan of Formula style cars. I am keeping it now.

 

DSC_0042 copy.jpg

(Again, sorry for the purple)

 

CSPV2s

Right off the bat I am, the CSPV2s are a big step up for me. I am used to the G25’s pedals and to be honest, from the day I got them I wanted more. I ended up replacing the brake spring for a stronger one and added a foam insert to give a more progressive feel. All stopgaps. If you take driving serious then you know that pedal control is arguable more important than steering.

 

Now on to the actual construction and design. If any of you are familiar with the T500RS pedals, these are of that level (construction and design). They are extremely solid. The contrasting metal foot rest is a nice touch and the pedals are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. One extremely nice element is the surface of the pedals. You can actually drive with bear feet! Imagine that. The edges are also rounded so the pedals do not dig into your feet like the G25 when wearing socks. These two things may not seem like a big deal, but in practice they are very welcome.

 

The pedals are fully adjustable with multiple positions. Another welcome feature and a theme of the ClubSport line of products. The hydraulic mechanism behind the brake pedal seemed to be a little fragile at first glance but is a sturdy piece of kit. Accessing the springs and load cell for adjustment is easy and painless. The rubber grips secure the pedals reasonably well on a smoother surface, but like the CSW base, you will want to bolt this thing down.

 

I really have only two complaints in regards to the CSPV2. The first is the cable connection is below the wheel and inaccessible when hard mounted and still a pain to access otherwise. The second is the glue used to secure the Fanatec logo and rubber floor grips. Both of these components where peeling off when I opened my package. This was likely due to the 98 degree heat when the package arrived. This is a relatively small issue, but at this price, not one that deserves to be overlooked.

 

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(Photo credit: Amar212 and Fanatec)

 

Continued in next post...

Message 1 of 19 (14,142 Views)
Wastelander
Registered: 01/20/2007
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717 posts
 

Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

[ Edited ]
Jul 5, 2012

Software Compatibility

 

The CSW supports both the PS3 and PC. On the PC you get a drive much like what you get when you plug in a G25 or T500RS. You obviously do not get this on the PS3. However, most games officially support Logitech wheels. GT5 officially supports the T500RS. No console game “officially” supports the CSW. No console game has been “made to officially support” the CSW, because no console game has been made after the CSW, because the CSW is not even out yet. However, still with me?, the CSW has “Logitech driver emulation”. This means that if a game supports the G25/G27, it supports the CSW. So, if a game works well with the G25/G27 it will work well with the CSW and vice versa. Simply hold the two black buttons on the bottom of any CSW rim for 3 seconds and your PS3 will think it is a G25. Think of this as backwards compatibility on the fat PS3. As a result of this software emulation and the buttons being unmarked on the CSW wheel rims, it can be a bit of a challenge to map inputs to each of the buttons. Once you figure out what is what, it is not so bad. Obviously official support will solve this. Other than that, the CSW functions just like any other supported FFB wheel. That being said, worry not, almost every game feels better with the CSW.

 

On the PS3 I have tried Gran Turismo 5, Formula 1 2010, Formula 1 2011, DiRT 1-3, Need For Speed Shift 1-2, and GRiD. They are all perfectly functional Just because they work, does not mean they work well. And just because they don’t work well, does not mean it is the CSW’s fault. Of these games only 4 are even worth playing with a wheel, let alone one as advanced as the CSW: GT5, F1 2011, F1 2010 and DiRT 3. If are a serious console sim racer then really the only option on the PS3 is GT5. The F1 and DiRT series are fun, but this wheel is not designed for “fun” games. I will go into more detail about how the CSW performs in various games in a later section.

On the PC I have played: iRacing, rFactor 2 Beta, pCARS Alpha, GTR2, GT Legends, GTR Evolution/Race07, NetKar Pro, Richard Burns Rally, F1 2010, F1 2011, DiRT 3 and Live For Speed. This is a significantly broader selection of titles. All work with absolutely no issues.

 

If I am to be honest, I did expected to run into absolutely at least some compatibility issues during my testing. The fact that every single title I tried worked, is pretty remarkable.

 

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(Image Credit: F-wheel.com)

 

Hardware Compatibility

 

The CSW is compatible with both the PC and PS3 via USB. The CSPV2 peddles are compatible with the PS3 only when plugged directly into the CSW. However, they can be used with any other FFB wheel on the PC when plugged in separately via USB. This is the same for all Fanatec Pedals. There will be a Logitech Pedals adapter for the CSW. The CSW is compatible with 2 sets of shifters. It also includes a data port which will be used for attachable rev light indicators and other devices.

 

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(Image Credit: PS3Hax.net)

 

Overall Performance

 

It is important to note that “performance” is just as much the game’s task as it is the wheel’s task. If a game has bad FFB and physics, it is likely the wheel will perform poorly. Keep this in mind. For the sake of clarity lets define “overall performance”. By this I mean over every game, in general, how does the product carry out it’s intended function? How well does the wheel transmit the signals the game is sending to you and the signals you are sending to the game(FFB)? How well do the pedals replicate your inputs?

 

CSW

I am happy to report that this is where the CSW excels. This is by far the best FFB I have ever felt in a wheel. It is so good it is hard to describe. I think the best way to convey this is to simply say, it feels like driving a REAL car! There is NO, I repeat, NO deadzone. You move the wheel 1 centimeter, you move in the game. Even the T500RS has a slight deadzone, while the Logitech wheels have quite a pronounced one. FFB is delivered smoothly with absolutely no cogging, grinding, irregularity, unnecessary jolting or lag. This is stark contrast to the T500RS and the Logitech series of wheels. This wheel really sets a new standard for FFB. When I got my G25, I was impressed, yet I knew it could be better. With the CSW I honestly have to question how much better a FFB wheel could deliver FFB. I think you would have to take a seat in a Formula 1 team’s simulator to find out.

 

When you play a racing sim on a console (or PC), with a normal stet up, you rely completely on the wheel’s feedback, the visuals in the game and the sounds in the game to keep the car under control. Having had the opportunity to drive the new Ford Focus ST at a sponsored event in New Jersey, I came away with a startling realization. My CSW provided more steering feedback (ignoring G forces) than an actual real life car’s (electric) steering system. In fact, with the proper game setup, I would compare it to the Subaru BRZ I drove a couple of weeks ago. If you have read anything about that car, then you know that is a huge compliment. Please note, I do not think I am a driving god. Still 83rd in this year’s GT Academy is not too shabby.

 

While performance is relatively similar with either the BMW GT2 Rim or the Formula Rim, there are some differences. The BMW GT2 rim is heavier and wider. This results in more stress being put on the CSW’s motors. Consequently it is slower to rotate and has dampened FFB effects. The slower rotation is not very noticeable. I will post some videos later on the demonstrate this. The dampened FFB effects only have a negative impact if the game has weak effects. This can also be slightly remedied by adjusting some settings on the tuning menu. When Fanatec produces similar wheels in the future, I hope they are lighter.

 

The Formula rim being lighter and of a small diameter turns quicker, more precisely and transmits more subtle effects. If absolute precision driving is required, this is the best wheel to use. That being said, if you plan on sliding or catching said slide, this is not the wheel to use.

 

Finally, this wheel is absolutely quiet. The G25 basically moonlights as a meat grinder. The CSW makes almost no noise when turning. In engineering noise is energy being lost. It has a very low turning resistance. The fan of the CSW is also very quiet. Even under heavy load with the FFB turned all the way up, and my room at 90 degrees Fahrenheit (I did this for YOU!), the CSW remained cool.  

 

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(Image Credit: mclaren777 of NeoGAF)

 

CSPV2

Again, the CSPV2s are in a different league. They are nothing like the G25 or T500RS. There are no similarities. Besides the obvious benefits of the metal design and well placed pedals this unit provides an amazing driving experience. While I would like a little more spring tension in each pedal (It is possible to replace each spring) overall each pedal has a great feel. The gas is pretty standard. Outside of being a bit more precise and firm it is roughly the same. The brake and clutch are completely different.

 

In the G25 and T500RS the brake is simply a stiffer spring. They measure input by the distance you press the pedal. The CSPV2 measures input by the pressure you apply to the pedal. Needless to say this completely changes the way you break and consequently the way you drive. The brake still has travel, but it gets progressively hard to push the pedals the further you push it. In conjunction with the RC shock (which you fill with viscous oil) this creates a great braking experience. The brake also has a vibration motor that activates in conjunction with the wheel rim’s vibration motor when you press the gas pedal a certain percentage set by the wheel tuning menu. About the only thing I would change is a stiffer spring.

 

The clutch is another huge success. It has a mechanism (I am not going to bother to describe it. Please refer to the pictures) that mimics the bite point of a real clutch. When you press the pedal half way the resistance decreases. When you release it half way it increases. As far as I am concerned this is the ONLY pedal set on the market (PC or console) that does this. If you like driving with a manual transmission, this easily justified the purchase.

 

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Game Specific Performance

 

As I stated earlier, how FFB is delivered is most up to the game. It is a fact of life that sim racing games on the PC often have better physics and FFB than their console counterparts. This is even more evident with the CSW. Out of all the console games, GT5 takes best advantage of the CSW. As a result, I will spend most of your time discussing that wheel. I did not have any problems mapping commands to the wheel’s buttons or navigating any menus in any game on the console or PC. I am not going to cover every single game I tested. If you want to hear my impression of a certain game, please request it and I will add it to my report.

 

GT5 (PS3)

Given that the CSW uses Logitech drivers on the PS3, what you experience with your G25/G27 is similar to what you experience with the CSW, just better. GT5 has lousy rumble strip effects. Understeer is also transmitted poorly through the wheel. There is no “lightness” or “chatter” feeling commonly associated with understeer. Neither of these things is really the CSW’s fault as they are not represent well in other wheels. Beyond that, just about every effect has been enhanced. Of particular note is the detection and correction of oversteer. The lack of deadzone, precision of the wheel and the smoothness of the FFB all come together to give you the exact information you need to correct a slide. In addition the undulations of road surfaces are enhanced. The Nurburgring is now quite bumpy. The wheel oscillation on straightaways is still present from the G25/G27 but it is greatly reduced. This game really comes alive with the CSW. You almost get the sense that the G25/G27 was holding it back.

 

A perfect example is the Toyota GT86 with comfort medium tires. Having driven the car, I feel this is the best tire setup to replicate the car’s real life grip levels. When the car begins to slide and when grip begins to return to the tires is transmitted exceptionally well. I rarely go, “Oh crap, that was too much, too little, or too late”. In contrast, with the T500RS I always felt like I was fighting the wheel, not knowing what it was going to do next. In the end it actually made me slower.

 

In addition the vibration motors provide an excellent early warning system if you like playing with ABS off. This increases the immersion in cars like Miura or Jaguar XJ13. Overall GT5 works exceptionally well with the CSW.

 

I would also like to note that I extensively played GT Academy with the CSW and Formula Rim. I have NO doubt in my mind this made me faster. That being said, I am sure the top guys could beat me with a DFGT. I know it is ultimately up to the driver, but have good equipment can make a difference. The precision of the CSW and the Formula Rim enabled my rather mediocre driving skill to achieve a top 100 time in the us. For those that have participated in the event, you know how challenging it was. The 370z required absolute pedal control and exacting steering. My times with my G25 were over .8 seconds off. I would sometimes drive for 2 hours straight. Not once did I feel uncomfortable with the wheel.

 

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(Imagine Credit: Me!)

 

F1 2010/F1 2010 (PS3)

Both games work well with the CSW. The FFB is what it is. Not great, not bad. I have never been a fan of Codemasters physics or FFB. My experience is more than likely a result of this and not something the wheel is doing wrong. Using the Formula Rim does create a really immersive experience, but ultimately this is a case of the wheel surpassing the game. F1 2012 will hopefully official support the CSW and make use of all its features.

 

DiRT 3 (PS3)

The story is ultimately the same with DiRT 3. In fact I would say it is a bit worse. It is kind of like buying a Momo racing wheel for your Ford Fiesta… it is still a Fiesta. The vibration effects are nice but FFB is not nearly as good as rally in GT5.

 

iRacing (PC)

This wheel was made for this game. If you frequently play iRacing, I strongly recommend you consider this wheel. I used to hate iRacing with my G25. I would lock up, over correct, and be just plain slow. The CSW/CSPV2s immediately fixed this. I know exactly how much grip my tires have. I know exactly how much steering angle I need. I know exactly what the car is doing. I know if I am on concrete, asphalt, curbing or grass. Add that to the working shift lights and gear indicator and the wheel rims matching up with the styles of cars and it is a perfect match. As good as GT5 is with the CSW, you really need to play a sim like iRacing to truly appreciate it.

 

rFactor 2 (PC)

Arguably the current king of FFB. This point is even easier to argue with the CSW. I never liked rFactor. It just sucked in my opinion. I expected to hate rFactor 2 and I do… except for the physics and FFB. While iRacing is more developed from an overall package standpoint, rFactor 2 has exceptional FFB effects. From rumble to understeer, to oversteer, to weight transfer, to changing grip levels, to curbs, etc. There is such a variety of FFB effects and they are all transmitted beautifully through the CSW. Still, I have to say, for a game in BETA, it is a disgrace.

 

pCARS (PC) (Coming to PS3… in the future)

PCARS is in pre Alpha testing (by the community). As a result its physics suck. However, I find it has some nice FFB effects with the CSW. If Slightly Mad Studios can get the tire model and physics under their belt I think the CSW will be a worthy wheel for pCARS (actually it is probably the other way around).

 

Continued in next post...

Message 2 of 19 (14,141 Views)
Wastelander
Registered: 01/20/2007
Offline
717 posts
 

Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

[ Edited ]
Jul 5, 2012

Tuning Menu

 

This is something specific to Fanatec wheels. The biggest advantage of this is being able to adjust the feeling of the FFB for a specific car, track, or game. It is also nice not to have to jump to the driver menu when playing on the PC. Instead of having me explain it to you, I am going to take it directly from Fanatec.

 

- SEn - Sensitivity: Set degrees of rotation of your wheel between “90°” and “900°”. Setting this to off lets the driver control sensitivity.

 

- FF - Force feedback: Control overall force feedback strength from “10%” to “100%”. “Off” setting is also available.

 

- SHo - Shock vibration: Strength of vibration of two vibration motors located in the rim from “10%” to “100%” + “off”.

 

- AbS - ABS vibration: By using this feature, you can make brake pedal trigger rim vibration and brake pedal vibration (only on CSP and CSP V2 pedals) to let you know when you have reached a certain braking value.


Example: if set to “95%”, your wheel’s rim and brake pedal will start vibrating when you press brake to “95%”, reminding you that you are on the threshold. If set to “off”, you will get motor vibration simulation, where your rim will vibrate depending on how much you depress your gas pedal.
Please note that strength of this feature is controlled by the “SHo” setting and can also be disabled there.

 

- LIn - Linearity setting: This setting can make your steering wheel’s inputs nonlinear. If set to “off”, your steering axis will be perfectly linear, so that steering input will match your wheel’s movement perfectly. Increasing this setting will make your wheel less sensitive around center.


Example: Increasing it all the way to “100%”, your steering will make your wheel very unresponsive around center, but increasingly more sensitive when you move it further to left or right.


- dEA - Deadzone: This setting can add a deadzone to your steering wheel’s main axis. When set to “off”, there will be no deadzone at the center of the axis. Settings between “10%” and “100%“ are available, where 100 will give you about 20° of deadzone in each direction. This setting is generally left at “off”, but can help you get rid of center oscillation, if you encounter it.

 

- drI - Drift mode: Can be adjusted from “-3” to “off” and from “off” to “+3”. When set between “+1” and “+3”, force feedback motors will help you move the wheel in the same direction you are moving it. When set between “-1” and “-3”, force feedback motors will resist your movement and behave similarly as a damper force feedback effect. “Off” setting prevents force feedback motors from doing anything else than what the game commands them to.

 

- For - Forces setting: This setting controls strength of all force feedback effects aside from spring and damper effects. Settings from “off” to 400 are available. When set to 100, force feedback response is at default. Setting it to less than that will make force feedback effect weaker. Setting it higher will make force feedback effects stronger.

 

- SPr - Spring setting: This setting controls the strength of spring force feedback effect (rarely used in PC simulations). Settings from “off” to 400 are available. “100” is the default value.

 

- dPr - Damper setting: This setting controls the strength of damper force feedback effect. Settings from “off” to 400 are available, “200” is the current default.

 

- You can save up to 5 presets.

 

a

 

Tuning Menu Settings

 

Adjusting the in game tuning menu is critical for getting the proper feel out of the wheel for a given car and a given game. Everyone will have a personal preference, so I will not list every setting I used for every game and every car in every game. I will instead just focus on some base lines for major titles. The most important settings are Abs and For. Abs because brake lock up is different for every car and For because every car has different steering characteristics. In general it is best to adjust FFB strength in the game and leave it at 100 in the tuning menu.

 

- GT5: (SEn: off, FF: 100, Sho: 100, AbS: 55-85, Lin: off, dEA: off, drI: off, For: 80-140, SPr: off, dPr: off) In game FFB set to 10.

- iRacing: (SEn: off, FF: 100, Sho: 100, AbS: 65, Lin: off, dEA: off, drI: off, For: 110, SPr: off, dPr: off) In game FFB set to 17-18.

- F1 2011: (SEn: off, FF: 100, Sho: 100, AbS: 90, Lin: off, dEA: off, drI: off, For: 90, SPr: off, dPr: off) In game FFB set to 100%.

 

Presently, I feel the drift mode could be refined. Presently it just feels weird. I do not like the assisted and resistance feelings it gives. The wheel spins fast enough when it is off and the act of drifting is not a problem, so it is not a big deal. It is also important to note that adjusting the SEn setting in most games creates some odd effects with the FBB. It is better, when possible, to adjust the sensitivity in game, not on the wheel.

 

Drivers and Firmware

 

The drivers and firmware for this wheel are easy to install. The instructions given by Fanatec are clear and simple. If you are used to using the G25 on the PC, this is basically the same. The wheel does have its own firmware that needs to be periodically updated. I have noticed significant improvements to FFB in all games with each Firmware. This bodes well for the future when the wheel is release. There was a compatibility problem with rFactor 2 but Fanatec addressed the problem in a matter of days. Should any problems occur with future titles, I am confident they will expediently address them.

 

Maintenance

(Under Construction)

 

Additional Notes on Quality and Construction

 

I had a large section of my review dedicated to the fact that my QR system was loose. Significantly loose. This was a large concern when using my wheel as it got worse over time. Luckily, I discovered that this is was due to the screws in the male of the CSW base being loose. Previously, I had only checked one screw, assuming since it was tight, all the screws were tight. This is was a careless mistake on my part. I have now tightened these screws and this problem no longer persists.

 

That being said, I have noticed that several screws for other components such as the paddle shifters have become loose. Some over time, some upon unboxing. This needs to be noted by Fanatec and relayed to the assembly staff. I feel confident in the materials of the CSW. Everything is high quality. The real question is the assembly of this wheel. At this price, any short coming is worth noting and considering.

 

DSC_0037 copy.jpg

 

DSC_0033 copy.jpg

 

Pricing and Value

 

In case you could not tell I have been coy about mentioning the price of the CSW and its components. There is a reason for this. I do not wish to mislead you, but I also do not wish for you to read this report with a sour taste of hopelessness in your mouth. In case you could not reasonably infer, the CSW is very expensive. Please refer to the FFB Wheel Pricing Chart for more detailed information on how the CSW compared to the competition.

 

CSW Price Chart.jpg

 

As you can see the CSW is very expensive. Do you remember when the PS3 came out, this is like that. This is where I am going to have to be brutally honest. At this price I fully expect ALL of the issue reported by tester to be fixed in production units. At this price, only the smallest issues are admissible. The BMW GT2 Rim, with its high price, falls heaviest under this scrutiny. Second, I find the pricing of the wheel rims, particularly the BMW GT2 Rim, to be quite high. Psychologically, it is hard to stomach spending more on a wheel rim (BMW GT2 Rim) than an entire wheel set up (G27). That being said, when it comes to performance there is nothing else that matches the CSW.

The value of this wheel and its components depends completely on 3 factors. Remembers those questions I asked you at the beginning of this report?

 

“The question is, as a Playstation gamer do you need a CSW? Are you just a Playstation gamer? Can you use a CSW? Can you afford a CSW?”

 

First, I would like to start with the question, “Can you use a CSW?” How interested are you with driving and racing sims. Give the price and performance of this wheel you need to be heavily interested in sim racing and racing in general. It needs to be your passion. Otherwise, the CSW is completely excessive. If you are passionate for sim racing let’s move on to the next question.

“Can you afford a CSW?” If the answer is yes, get it. If money is no object, you really do not have any other logical choice. This is the best wheel on the PS3 (and top tier on the PC). It is likely you will either be able to afford this will or you won’t be able to afford this wheel. In my opinion if you are considering a T500RS, it is not worth the upgrade over a G27, 911 or CSR wheel. Either save for the CSW or stick with the G27 or other wheels.

 

The next questions you need to ask are these, “The question is, as a Playstation gamer do you need a CSW?” and “Are you just a Playstation gamer?" The answer to the first question in my opinion is, no. $600-$1000+ is a lot to pay for a wheel for essentially 1-2 games: GT5 and F1. While the CSW works very well with both these games, they do not justify a $600+ purchase. The G27 is not $400-600 worse than the CSW and will serve your needs quite well. Remember it is a pretty good wheel that comes with a lot kit at a reasonable price. If you are solely a Playstation gamer who plays racing sims and you do not have a lot of disposable income the CSW is not the best option.

 

If you are interested in PC sim racing in addition to PS3 games, the CSW becomes a far more compelling purchase. There are far more games that take advantage of the CSW on the PC. There are even more coming in the future. PC sims will let you truly appreciate everything the CSW has to offer and you are ultimately paying for. Combine this with the PS3 compatibility and the CSW becomes a very compelling purchase. If this describes you, and you have the money, I highly recommend the CSW.

 

Consumer.png

 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts


The CSW is the best FFB wheel I have ever used. From the moment you open the package to the moment you use it in game, the experience is exceptional. The wheel provides amazing FFB and truly brings racing sims to life. The pedals equally impressive. I really feel like this product was designed with heart and passion. There are some qualities issues with the BMW GT2 rim and the assembly of the product overall that need to be address and I expect to be address. It is important to weigh both of these factors when considering a purchase.

As a tester I was fortunate to be able to purchase the wheel at a 50% discount. If I had to pay full price, I would not own this wheel. I had to sell all of my paintball gear just to be able to afford the discounted price. For many people this wheel will be out of reach and excessive. Luckily we live in a world were you can get a G27 on amazon for $220. For those that can afford it, the CSW sets a new standard for force feedback wheels. It is the beginning of a legend.

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Wastelander
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

[ Edited ]
Jul 5, 2012

Media

 

Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Formula Rim in iRacing:

 

Introduction to the ClubSport V2 Pedals:

 

Fanatec ClubSport Wheel BMW GT2 Introduction:

 

 

Resources

 

List of improvements made in the manufacturing process that will be a part of the final production wheels:

Depth of holes on the base-side of the quick-release has been reduced. This eliminates any play on the quick-release mechanism because metal balls now have less play.

Dimensions of the base-side part of the quick-release have been slightly reduced to make the rims slide on and off more easily.

Layout of the PCBA inside the BMW M3 GT2 rim has been changed so that paddle shifter does not hit one of the elements if moved closer to the rim.

A shorter cable is now being used to connect quick release pins to the main PCBA inside the CSW base. This solves the issue where the same cable would rub against the main PCBA and produce unwanted noises.

A fixture has been added in production to eliminate any BMW badge alignment issues on the BMW M3 GT2 rim.

Springs and switches inside paddle shifter mechanisms have been changed for higher reliability.

Metal screw inserts are now used for shifter paddle attachment - increased reliability.

Grease is now used for lubrication of paddle shifter mechanisms instead of oil. This prevents potential problems with squeaking.

Belt drive is now better aligned and with optimized inner friction of the drive system.

Sequence of LED shift lights on the BMW M3 GT2 rim has been changed to: YYY-RRR-BBB

Brightness of LED shift lights has been increased on both rims.

Type of Loctite on several screws has changed for easier disassembly.

Position sensor mount has been changed for better stability.

Due to problems with leaking in shipment, different bottles are now used for CSP V2 damper oil.

 

Here is a quick feature list for the CSW and CSPV2s. When Fanatec’s new website is up I will update this section to include what is displayed there.

 

-          ClubSport Wheel Base ($450 USD)

  • Full metal construction
  • CNC machined
  • Compatible with interchangeable wheel rims
  • Multiple rims planned for the future (Licensed Formula Rim, Classic Car Rim, Drifting Rim, etc)
  • Wheels are hot swappable in game
  • Belt drive system
  • Mounting holes for future addons (stationary shifters, LCD displays, smartphone holders, etc)
  • Adjustable FFB independent of game settings
  • Code wheel mounted independent of FFB motors
  • High resolution sensors
  • Adjustable belt tension
  • Dual FFB motors for strong and smooth FFB
  • No deadzone
  • Quiet motors and cooling fan
  • Support for pedal set, two shifters and a data port
  • Hard mountable (table clamp sold separately)
  • PS3 and PC compatibility
  • Translucent “engine cover”

-          BMW GT2 Rim ($250 USD)

  • Full size BMW GT2 replica
  • Officially licensed with genuine BMW logo
  • Quick Release System
  • Full Alcantara wrapping
  • Dual vibration motors
  • Adjustable/replaceable medium size metal paddle shifters
  • 11 buttons, 1 analog stick, 1 four way Dpad with codewheel
  • LED rev light and shift indicator (must be supported by game)

-          Formula Rim ($180 USD)

  • Formula/Prototype style wheel rim
  • Alcantara grips
  • Quick Release System
  • Dual Vibration Motors
  • Adjustable/replaceable medium size metal paddle shifters
  • 11 buttons, 1 analog stick, 1 four way Dpad with codewheel
  • LED rev light and shift indicator (must be supported by game)

-          ClubSport V2 Pedals ($250 USD)

  • RC style hydraulic brake with load cell
  • Adjustable load cell sensitivity
  • Contactless metal sensors for the clutch and gas pedals
  • Full metal construction
  • Adjustable pedal placement
  • Adjustable pedal tension
  • Interchangeable springs
  • Clutch bite point mechanism
  • Hard mounting points
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Wastelander
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

Jul 7, 2012
Nothing? That is mildly disappointing.
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Lombax Warrior
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

Jul 7, 2012

Fantastic write up, I read then re-read every word. It's obvious that you put a great deal of time into this testing project and it is certainly appreciated. I'm also looking forward to Choate's review. I'll be putting a lot of thought into my next wheel purchase as I feel the need to step up in quality. Your reviews couldn't be coming at a better time for me because I very nearly purchased the Thrustmaster but decided to wait until your testing was complete. Thanks!

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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

Jul 7, 2012

I read the entire review twice as well. Good Job.

 

I voted for Choate and am glad that he was chosen as the other tester.

 

Had I been chosen as the second tester, I would have gladly paid the $550 or whatever deposit and got the Fanatec wheel to test. I would have also kept it, once the test was over , instead of returning it. Having said that, even with your brilliant review, I would not pay the $1100 full retail price for this setup. It sounds cool and all, but does not sound close enough to perfect for me to justify that outlay of cash. The money is not the issue, per se`. I have the casha available. It just sounds like it is aimed squarely at the average BMW owning Ivy League guy with more money to spend than they need. Fanatec will likely find their clientele shall we say "limited". They'll likely put the spin on it that it is an "Elite Product", not for the "common gamer". That is probably pretty close to spot-on accurate. :smileywink:

 

Anyway in closing, I wish Thomas and Fanatec the best as they move forward with this new product. Also, thanks for giving the PSN Forum and the TPRA the chance to be involved in the selection process. I feel that is the only way that the process was not skewed

( remebering all the "Ghost Accounts" voting for some of the other candidates  on the last day:smileyvery-happy:)

 photo Can-AmRacingFerrari350SWERVSig3_zps05defb05.jpg
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Lombax Warrior
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

Jul 7, 2012

I agree with you SWERV that the clientel for this product will be limited, it's price will ensure that. From what I've read I'm getting the impression that Fanatec's target audience isn't the "average BMW owning Ivy League guy with more money to spend than I need" category but rather the "serious on line racer" category.  The latter (serious racer) is the category that I fit into. I've owned 9 wheels and have had serious issue's with 6 of them. I'm looking for a wheel that has a very high degree of quality and repairability. This wheel's use of billet aluminium instead of plastic is appealing and is a big factor to me. I want something that I can work on and fix if it develops a problem from hard use. I'm tired of "throw away" wheels.

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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

[ Edited ]
Jul 7, 2012

SSRacing69 wrote:

I agree with you SWERV that the clientel for this product will be limited, it's price will ensure that. From what I've read I'm getting the impression that Fanatec's target audience isn't the "average BMW owning Ivy League guy with more money to spend than I need" category but rather the "serious on line racer" category.  The latter (serious racer) is the category that I fit into. I've owned 9 wheels and have had serious issue's with 6 of them. I'm looking for a wheel that has a very high degree of quality and repairability. This wheel's use of billet aluminium instead of plastic is appealing and is a big factor to me. I want something that I can work on and fix if it develops a problem from hard use. I'm tired of "throw away" wheels.


At $1100 for the full package, that certainly would be then  "Serious Online Racer", indeed. My thoughts and experiences with wheels and prices:

 

 I've had 6 wheels total since 2004:

 

GT3 Spec Driving Force ---Price $100

 

Driving Force GT (#1) Broke- warranteed ---Original price----$150

 

Driving Force GT ( #2) Broken in the box, took back after 1 hour and exchanged it. Broke again after a few months- Warranteed.

                                        Sold this to my brother, still going

 

Driving Force GT(#3) Bought from Amazon.com. Broke pedal and D-Pad after a few months, -Warranteed.--Original price-- $85

 

Drivng Force GT(#4) Warrantee replacement from Amazon. Pedal corner broke after 6 months. Overlaid pedals with Aluminum Pads.

                                       Still have this wheel, packed in it's original box in the closet.

 

Logitech G27.  I bought this wheel for $300 one week before the Official release date. I have had absolutely no mechanical

                                         or breakage issues with this wheel whatsoever. While it may not be "The Best Wheel on the Market"

                                         it is in my opinion, by far the best $300 wheel/ pedal set on the market by a wide margin.

 photo Can-AmRacingFerrari350SWERVSig3_zps05defb05.jpg
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Wastelander
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Re: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel & ClubSport V2 Pedals Review - Top End Sim Wheel Comes to the PS3

Jul 7, 2012

@SWERV: First, thank you for the kind words.

 

I think SSR is correct, this wheel is meant for the "SERIOUS" online sim racer. Ivy Leauge grads or students are too haughty and aloof to even be interested in sim racing. As far as the quality concerns go, I agree... they are concerning. If this really matters to you then wait. Wait and see what people say in 6 months. If there are no problems, give it consideration. If there are problems stay with the G27.

 

Based on my time with the wheel I honestly believe that the base unit's materials will last a long time. Everything is well packaged inside. The materials like I said are top notch. I have seen the inside of a Fanatec 911 Turbo Wheel and the CSW is nothing like it.

 

On thing I forgot to mention is that if you were to put a genuine Alcantara Sparco wheel rim on your G27 or T500RS is would cost at least $200. Still like I said, it is a lot of money regardless.

 

Also, should I be the test manager here for any other products, I will be sure to carry out the same vigilant candor.

 

@SSR: Thank you for your kind words as well.

 

If you have the money, like I said, I would strongly consider it. I would also strongly consider getting into PC sim racing. If you like GT5 that is great, but if you want to squeeze every bit of value out of the CSW, PC sims are the way to go. However, don't forget, there is another GT coming out in the future. If GT can get official Logitech G25/G27 support, it can get official Fanatec support as well.

 

It is not necessary to get both rims. It depends on your driving style and what type of car you drive most frequently. It is rumoured (Fanatec asked, and these were the most common responses) that the upcoming wheels will be an official formula 1 rim (probably Mercedes), drifting rim. NASCAR rim and classic racer rim (with real wood).

 

It is just my personal opinion, but I did not like the T500RS. I know many people share this sentiment (Z06fun for example). There is no question it is more precise and stronger than the G27. But its pedals are severely lacking in feel and its FFB is often more brutish, than precise. Really, it is just the pedals more than the FFB. Trying to brake with them in iRacing is a joke. At the $381 I paid, I would say it is a good deal... but at the $550-600 it is now, I would just save your money.

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