Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 Test

The snarky comment is not unjustified. The built-in technology can help you become better racing virtual pilots without exaggeration. However, with this cost, it’s a lot to take a bite first. And even more so when you think that no pedals are included in the package. The most affordable pedal set available from Fanatec costs an additional 80 euros. The steering wheel, however, is undoubtedly worth the price. The reason why will be discussed during the test. But before that, we have to determine who can use this steering wheel at any time.

PlayStation and Xbox? It’s both. However, it’s a bit confusing …

One thousand seven hundred ninety-nine euros may sound a bit daunting initially. It’s not, but it’s a price that doesn’t everyone wants to shell out. Only PlayStation users must bite the bullet if interested, whereas PC and Xbox users can save money. This is because of the strict regulations of Sony since Sony states that the identification chips used by PlayStation devices need to be exclusively installed. So, the Sony controller cannot have an Xbox chip simultaneously. This is why rivals Logitech and Thrustmaster constantly release two versions of their steering wheel simultaneously. One model is designed for PlayStation, and one specifically for Xbox. Xbox family.

When using Fanatec steering wheels, things are different. To accommodate multiple consoles, hardware expert Endor employs a trick: He will only install PlayStation chips inside the wheelbase of the PS-compatible Fanatec steering wheel, i.e., within the unit that houses the motor. Xbox chips are, however, found in a few (but they are not in all) added wheels. So, if you install the Xbox wheel’s rim onto the PlayStation wheelbase, the steering wheel made of the composite can be used with both consoles (and for Windows PCs, in any case).

How will the 1799 euros get there in the present? According to Endor staff, this is a policy question from Sony’s side. The Japanese can’t close the loopholes in the regulations because, legally speaking, the parts of a modular steering wheel can be used on two different devices. To make use of a licensed Sony steering wheel with an Xbox as unattractive as possible, Endor was told to make the most comprehensive package possible, but it was not Xbox-compatible at the time of delivery. This means the steering wheel’s rim isn’t equipped with any Xbox chip. So if you take the steering wheel from its (very exquisitely made) box, it can only use on PCs and PS4 or PS5. If you’d like to make it work on an Xbox, too, it will cost you at least another 100 euros to purchase a second Xbox-compatible steering wheel, in case you don’t have one.

“Objection!” You can already hear yourself screaming now, “just a while ago, they claimed that Xbox or PC users would be more affordable!” True, when you can do without the PlayStation capabilities and are not interested in this bundle. But, if you can’t, purchase the standard wheelbase version that’s the exact model—known as Direct Drive. Direct Drive will make you a better driver.

Let’s get right to the crux of the issue: what exactly is Direct Drive anyway, and why is it so unique? It’s all about the built-in motor, which produces forces feedback. The typical steering wheel of the past 20 years transmitted its feedback from force to the user in two ways: through gear or belt transmission. Both use the transmission technique to transfer the motor’s power onto the wheels. This means that both come with their advantages and drawbacks. Gear transmissions operate quickly; however, they are slow and cause plenty of friction. This means that steering doesn’t feel easy. This is why, up until the last few years, belt-driven transmissions were viewed as the better option since they’re smoother to steer; however, their power transmission can take in a few minor aspects and has some delay.

Direct-drive steering wheels blend both models’ advantages and add a few notches. They’re incredibly responsive, allow effortless, frictionless power transfer, and are much more substantial. Why? Because they don’t need a gear ratio. The motor can turn its central wheel bearing directly, thus the term Direct Drive. The other benefit is clear with Direct Drive: without a secondary transmission ratio, none of the transmission details get lost when it reaches the wheel. Each movement from the motor is immediately converted, and all signals from the virtual vehicle are transmitted to your arms and hands with no delay. But, this is only achieved through the utilization of a motor for industrial use.

What makes this all vital? Force feedback is an excellent way to simulate the hard turning or locking of handlebars that could happen in a real race car because of the forces generated by friction in the tires. Reasonable force feedback provides a great sense of the vehicle and the general surface conditions that you can instantly tell the car is about to slip. It’s the theory. The issue is that many steering wheels are too fragile for this.

Standard steering wheels made by Logitech or Thrustmaster are powered by maximum torque of 2 Newton meters. Some have as much as four – based on what model you choose. It’s not enough to generate any kind of noticeable resistance. The Fanatec’s prior CSL top model, which had belt drive “only,” could achieve a max in 5.5 Newtons. The DD1 wheelbase, which is the basis of this Podium Racing Wheel F1 tested here, has a staggering 20 % torque, which is not less than 15 Newton meters of the holding torque when under load.

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Suppose you think this forced increase simply makes steering more difficult when curves are utterly incorrect. A well-balanced V8 engine does not just show more power at speeds of 200 mph butt also facilitates a more leisurely, smoother acceleration when in the first gear; the 20NM steering wheel conveys the most delicate subtleties of force feedback more effectively and more accurately. The most crucial aspect was discussed: you can detect the moment that the car in virtual reality is in danger of losing control and steer it more accurately to the limits. This, in turn, is also beneficial for those who enjoy drifting. The threshold before the moment of loss of grip is now so high that you can only float deliberately and forcefully continuing to turn. In reality, if you adjust the drift tolerance hard in the settings and the steering wheel is locked, you’ll have to ride like Hercules to outrun the car’s signals.

It is a good idea to attach the Wheelbase tightly to a tripod. There is an appropriate table clamp at the Fanatec store; however, given the strength of the forces and the 16 kg of weight, it’s possible to place a lot of pressure on thin desks, particularly because the 53.5cm 35cm x 33.5cm 31cm dimension would require an extremely deep desk.

Ready for any eventuality

A total of 20NM is seldom employed. You can figure out the maximum amount of power transferred to you with the aid of the settings on the steering wheel, which you’re allowed to save into five profiles. For instance, if you’re trying to cut down on power or feel like you’ve just stepped out of the gym after each race, you could reduce the essential power inputs from your steering wheel. But, the actual torque output also depends on the game you play. GT3 vehicles, like those found within Assetto Corsa Competizione Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, or iRacing, will steer a lot slower than a Formula 1 runabout, which the games generally use automatically.

It is always feasible. This is even more so than the similar Fanatec steering wheel, as the Wheelbase features a tiny, built-in OLED screen that measures 7 x 2 centimeters where you cannot only alter parameters like forces, drift tolerances, maximum steering wheels rotation speed, suspension, and many more, but also be allowed to determine whether the settings will have an impact on the real-time environment by using visual analysis. If you’re not willing to get into this kind of trouble, you can simply connect the wheel to the PC and utilize a free “Fanalab” application that can transfer information from manufacturers or the Official community directly to your wheel by pressing the button. If you want, this could be automatically done whenever a recognized PC racing game starts.

Talking about features, Alongside the mini-OLED display as well as it also has a Podium Racing Wheel F1 (or the identically built DD1 Wheelbase for PC and Xbox) that includes many luxurious features. It starts with a quiet active air vent at the device’s rear. It is not audible during normal usage. It will be revving only for a brief period when there is extreme stress of use to cool the motor and when it is updating new firmware. Both of these are exceptional instances.

Additionally, the device comes with eight RJ12 ports at the back to allow the connection of other devices. There are pedals that can be used as well as two gears that can be used in tandem (for instance, a sequential as well as an H-shift) as well as the handbrake. However, there are some oddities like an additional telemetry display, an emergency shut down (kill switch), and the data dongle, which unlocks the high torque. If you don’t connect this dongle to the appropriate port, the maximum torque decreases to 9 Newton meters. This isn’t a problem, however, but rather a function should you decide to allow weaker people like children to play with the steering wheel of your vehicle and may hurt themselves with the highest force.

With all the modern convenience, one may wonder why the tiny power button is located at the phone’s rear. It is a touchable button. However, it isn’t the most convenient to reach. Additionally, the mode button on previous Fanatec steering wheels is not present. If you wish to switch between functions modes of PlayStation, Xbox, or PC, it is necessary to change them using an option on the steering wheel’s rim (press on the triangle and share buttons simultaneously). This reminds us of earlier Fanatec models, but they are no longer in production. The leg break was not there, but at 1799 euros for purchase, the tiny mode button wouldn’t be too unreasonable to ask for.

Included in the bundle are a steering wheel rim and three shift pedals

As previously mentioned, the Podium Racing Wheel F1’s pricey price tag is because it’s laced with the most luxurious bundle of the base wheel, Formula 1 steering wheel rim, and custom shift paddles.

The wheel’s rim is a PlayStation special edition of “Clubsport Steering Wheel Formula V2.5” that costs 369 euros as an (Xbox-compatible) single component in the Fanatec store. Since we own this steering wheel rim, we were able to test the two models and put the Xbox compatibility for the base of the wheel through the paces. Again, there were no differences in handling observed.

The PlayStation version of the wheel’s rim, which is in this bundle, isn’t suitable for Xbox, but it is a standout with its color scheme that requires some time to get used to, on top of the other features. Alcantara grips with a striking PlayStation blue look great; however, the yellow hues for knobs and buttons do not necessarily match. It’s a matter of preference, The monkey said and licked the soap.

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In all other aspects, it matches the standard style of the accessories mentioned above and is a great game controller suitable for Formula 1 and GT games. Rev lights, flag lights, and even an LED display for stats such as engaged gears or the km/h indicator can bring valuable data into view. Unfortunately, the rim is only suitable for rallies. Incompatible with Dirt 2.0 and other consorts, you must prefer a round-shaped wheel rim to allow you to turn 180 degrees without getting your arms caught.

However, back on the F1 rim, It measures 27 centimeters in length, and its support plate is made from noble carbon. The number of knobs, buttons, and dials is sufficient to play any sport. For instance, you can adjust the brake’s differential using the dials level with the thumb – during the middle during the racing. It’s a pity that these wheels are slightly too smooth. When you’re familiar with the design on the wheel, it’s not uncommon to have to turn them accidentally (such as when you’re grabbing the wheel).

It’s worth noting, however, that the connector’s contacts Quick Release connector seem more sensitive than the standard Xbox-ready version, which we have included in the test. Connected to the base connector, it was blue and yellow. PS Rim refused to connect if the alignment wasn’t precisely horizontal. The normal model is more accommodating in this regard.

There is nothing to complain about these easily accessible and efficient 3-way paddles (Podium Advanced Paddle Module) that generally need to be purchased as an add-on item for just 179 euros. However, they were included in this bundle instead of regular paddles. The switch paths are swift because their mechanisms aren’t built on springs; instead, they rely on magnets.

Virtual Formula One drivers instantly admire the clutch analog rockers at the bottom while operating them as they would in the actual Formula One car. The tiny paddles on top of the gearshift paddles, however, can be assigned at will or used to perform specific purposes. For example, check out Gran Turismo Sport, where they’re employed for turning signals. Why are you using turn signals at a race track? Tia, It’s not widely known this; however, when you’re racing on open days (at the Nurburgring, for instance), Turn signals to indicate that you’re giving a vehicle behind you enough room to pass.

The advantages and disadvantages of PCs when compared to PC rivals

While this review categorizes Podium Racing Wheel F1 as a console-specific steering wheel (after all, it’s licensed to be used for PlayStation 4 and 5), It’s still not out of the question about direct-drive technology. It can also be utilized on the PC, and there are rivals that use similar techniques. It is even available in-house since you can see that the DD1 is the smaller version of the slightly more costly DD2-Wheel. It has even more power by delivering 25NM of torque.

However, this is only a passing thought. The most important thing is how the DD1, or it’s the Podium Racing Wheel F1, is compared with the best PC models under SimCube or the SimCube as well as the Simatic brand. It’s well, but it’s missing some subtleties for the crown.

The main benefit is the plug-and-play compatibility of Fanatec models. While PC competitors have separate motors controls unit, the motor, as well as other components (sometimes with individual power supply), can lead to the cables becoming a mess when you purchase from certain manufacturers. You’ll find everything inside one hood on Direct-Drive wheels from Fanatec. One USB cable links the device directly to the console (or console), and shifters, pedals, and others join instantly to Wheel Base. A power supply that is 480 watts in size (which typically uses less than 200 watts) connects all the components. It is not necessary to make elaborate configurations. Connect the USB cable and turn it on, and then off you go.

This is also true for the wheel rims. The tested quick-release contact piece that connects the base to the wheel rim has all of the required connections for power supply as well as Telemetry data. If you drive, there’s no additional ring cable hanging out of the drive.

For performance in terms of performance, neither DD1 nor DD2-Wheelbase should put up with Simcube’s well-known competition. They are very comparable, but Fanatec has the edge regarding the feeling of the wheel. In spite of Direct Drive, the DD1 (thus also known as Podium Racing Wheel F1) offers a mild sense of friction while turning, as well as during initialization of force feedback. This is because Fanatec doesn’t have a servo motor but rather an outrunner motor which is a bit rougher.

The frictional sensation was significantly worse during the initial stages of development. It has been dramatically reduced by a series of firmware updates in the last 18 months. However, it’s not gone completely. It’s not evident when you are in the middle of the race. It is, however, evident when your car is in motion or when you’re walking along in a slow gear like during open-world gameplay of Forza Horizon when you’re scanning the world of the game for barns at a crawl speed. The perceived friction is low. It is not enough to alter the experience of gaming in the long run. However, racing enthusiasts who play solely using the PC will be able to find a “smoother” alternative to Simcube’s simulations.

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