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Fanatec CSL Cockpit : Test & Reviews

Sim Racer

E-sport driver & Sim Racing enthusiast, I decided to share my passion on this website.

Fanatec CSL Cockpit

Benefits

  • Modular, robust design
  • Compatible with all Fanatec products
  • Can take the torque of a Podium DD2

Disadvantages

  • Seat and other supports sold separately
  • Developed to be compatible only with Fanatec peripherals

Since the company was founded, Fanatec has always been present in the sim-racing segment. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, Fanatec is considered by many virtual racers to be the market leader, offering high-quality, high-performance, realistic and relatively affordable sim-racing peripherals.

The Fanatec range includes Direct Drive bases, steering wheels, pedalboards and many other sim-racing accessories and peripherals. As far as I’m concerned, it’s complete for those looking for a setup, because you’ll find everything you need for shopping, and according to your level and budget to boot.

Fanatec has touched virtually everything in sim-racing, except cockpits. It has to be said that the competition is a little tough in this segment, especially with brands like PlaySeat and Next Level Racing, the former of which has been in the game since the late 90s. But Fanatec is determined to carve out a share of the cockpit market, and the offensive has begun with the CSL Cockpit. It’s a simple, inexpensive tubular chassis, and I’m going to introduce it to you in what follows.

Main and technical cockpit features

  • Aluminum tubular frame with steel reinforcements and gears
  • Supports all recent sim-racing peripherals available in the Fanatec catalog
  • Chassis with GT, Rally and Nascar driving positions. Can also be configured for karting
  • Angle- and depth-adjustable bottom bracket
  • Base support adjustable between 0 and 30°.
  • Adjustable seat support, with the option of
  • Screen support for monitors up to 34” wide, and 49” ultrawide

Design

Let’s start with the design of the CSL Cockpit. It’s very minimalist, with its tubular aluminum structure and steel reinforcements. The chassis is predominantly black, with a few Fanatec logos in white and two vertical tubes (screen mount and base) in yellow.

GT DD PRO

Apart from that, it’s a sober, minimalist chassis. And even if you opt for the CSL Cockpit Seat, the seat specially designed by Fanatec for its cockpit, the design will always remain sober, as this bucket is entirely black with yellow stitching. Personally, I think the CSL Cockpit looks much more like a stand than a chassis, but it’s beautiful all the same.

Cockpit assembly

As you’d expect, a sim-racing cockpit will be in pieces when it’s delivered. Still, we’re talking about a rather bulky product, even if the CSL Cockpit is rather compact for its category.

You’ll get all the parts of the chassis, plus accessories (brackets) if you’ve chosen them when ordering, well packaged, with an installation guide, or assembly guide I should say, and all the tools you need to complete the operation.

The CSL Cockpit is quick to assemble, mainly because there aren’t many parts, and also because the cockpit is rather compact in size. If you opt for the shifter and screen brackets, they too are quick to assemble.

GT DD PRO

Customized assembly

Once assembled, you can install a whole host of sim-racing peripherals, especially those from Fanatec. The CSL Cockpit supports the brand’s 6 bases, from the CSL DD to the Podium DD1 and DD2, not forgetting the ClubSport DD. Base installation is very easy, with openings and fixing points on the base support. Base angles range from 0° to 30°, depending on the device (CSLs offer the widest angle, while Podiums are limited by their size).

For cranksets, there’s an adjustable plate for all versions of CSL and ClubSport Pedals. And the seat is mounted on a kind of support which is fixed, but just as adjustable.

Manufacturing and finishing

The tubular structure is made of aluminum, with steel reinforcements and gear wheels. As a result, it’s very solid, and Fanatec claims that its CSL Cockpit can handle the 25 nm of torque of a Podium DD2, which is just enormous for such a small, skinny chassis.

As for the finish, the paintwork is simply perfect on all parts of the CSL Cockpit. Whether it’s the tubes, supports or reinforcements, everything is spotless, with no blemishes or burrs. This cockpit is a worthy addition to Fanatec’s range, and it’s clear that the manufacturer’s expertise has been used to perfection once again.

GT DD PRO

Sensations during play

Let’s take a look at the cockpit’s in-game feel. For a start, rigidity is very much in evidence, even if you have a powerful base like Podium DD1 or DD2. On a ClubSport DD+, for example, I didn’t notice or feel any flex in the chassis at all. It’s a solid product, as found in other brands with products that are sometimes much more expensive.

The driving position is typically GT, with the seat on the ground. What’s more, the chassis is quite open, making it easy to get in and out. However, the lack of a slide under the seat makes adjustment between runs a tedious task. You’ll need to get the keys out to change the driving position, and this will penalize you even more if there are two of you using this chassis. But then again, this product is part of the CSL range and not too expensive either. So…

Let’s continue with the CSL Cockpit’s minor shortcomings, with Fanatec’s unique sim-racing peripheral support. Well, mostly the basics. Those with a keen eye will certainly have noticed that the base support incorporates the distinctive side mountings of Fanatec’s new DD bases. And that’s the case: if you’ve got another brand’s base, you can skip it, because the CSL Cockpit won’t handle it unless you’re a handyman. The same goes for the shifter mount, which is skinny and strangely perfect for Fanatec’s handbrake and shifter.

Let’s finish with the bottom bracket. The latter supports all Fanatec cranksets, from CSL to ClubSport, but I still felt some flexing under heavy braking. On the other hand, you won’t be limited only to Fanatec cranksets, which is a good thing for riders on a tight budget.

 

Compatibility

This chassis has been developed with Fanatec’s peripherals in mind, and is therefore compatible with the German manufacturer’s entire current range. For pedalboards, you can install those of other brands, such as Thrustmaster and others. This also applies in part to shifters and/or handbrakes.

On the other hand, only Fanatec products can be installed on the base support, and only modern products with side-mounting systems. On the one hand, this is a good thing, as it ensures compatibility with the brand’s ecosystem. But on the other hand, it’s the Apple recipe that applies: building walls around users.

 

GT DD PRO

Value for money

The CSL Cockpit is sold for €400 on the Fanatec website in barebone configuration. All you get is the chassis, without the brackets. The CSL Cockpit Seat is €100, the shifter/handbrake holder €40 and the monitor holder €120. If you opt for the whole package, the CSL Cockpit will set you back €660, which isn’t too shabby when you consider that it’s sturdy enough to take the torque of a Podium DD2.

 

My verdict

Fanatec’s first foray into unfamiliar chassis territory was quite satisfying with its new CSL Cockpit. Admittedly, this chassis does have its shortcomings, notably a bottom bracket that tends to flex a little under heavy braking, and limited compatibility with third-party peripherals. But honestly, what do you expect from a manufacturer of sim-racing peripherals when they develop a cockpit? Make it compatible with all other competitors’ products? That’s not very business-friendly, and Fanatec is looking to make sales.

As far as I’m concerned, the choice is quickly made: if you’re building a Fanatec setup, the CSL Cockpit is a good option, especially if you intend to stay within the German brand’s ecosystem. If you’ve got an amalgam of sim-racing peripherals based on anything other than a Fanatec, you’d better move on, because the CSL Cockpit won’t suit you at all.

Fanatec csl cockpit featured img

Fanatec CSL Cockpit

An excellent cockpit in 2024

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