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CSR-Elite Review

Technical questions on controllers, PC's, performance and tools

CSR-Elite Review

Postby Dice » 14 Dec 2011, 14:19

Fanatec CSR-Elite Review

This review covers my thoughts and opinions on the Fanatec CSR-Elite. I’ve been sim racing on the pc since 2006 and before that I was a hardcore Gran Turismo player and had owned most wheels from a Jordan F1 to a Logitech DFGT, from a GT3RS to a G27, now I have the CSR-Elite, and Elite it certainly may well be.

Wheel available http://www.fanatec.com tested with Todd Cannon CST pedals http://www.cannonsimulationtechnologies.com/ and my converted BMW sequential shifter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAhNY2dWesw. PC based test Win7 64 bit. Sims used iRacing and rFactor and GTR Evo.

I was lucky enough to receive my first CSR-Elite about 14 weeks ago, a pre retail version. It arrived in the usual Fanatec brown box and inside was just a plain white box. What that held made me smile like a kid in a candy store. Several weeks later that feeling was made even better when I received the actual retail version. This time the plain white box was replaced with the glossy, classy looking box we’ve come to expect from Fanatec. Inside was the same high end foam protection gently gripping the wheel. The sort you find in very very expensive Hi Fi boxes. Removing the top piece of foam you find the wheel surrounded in a Fanatec cloth bag, this just oozes class and you haven’t even got it out of the packaging yet.

The packaging discarded and the bag removed (plastic in the pre retail) I’m looking at what has to be one of the sexiest wheels I’ve seen. The black and red paint detail, the see through top, the brushed metal front and then the carbon fibre plate on the rim combined with the Alcantara grips just finishes it all off. If looks are anything to go by this is going to be awesome.

I install the wheel into my cockpit using the plate provided and install the drivers to my pc. Adjust the profiler settings to my preferences and just to see how it feels I hit the test FFB button forgetting I’m holding the wheel with the other hand. Ouch, as my arm and wrist are violently but smoothly forced in different directions, wow, now I’m really grinning. Firing up rFactor I’m almost jumping up and down waiting for the sim to load. Finally it loads and as where I’ve raced for the last couple of years http://www.flatoutclub.com are racing in the V8’s and as we’re halfway through the season I jump into my car and head to Bathurst. This should be an interesting test as I’ve already done some car testing here using my modded G27 so have a benchmark time. I use my existing G25 settings in game and hit pit lane, giving the wheel a little wiggle left right to see what it feels like. It feels like, well like no other wheel I’ve felt. Flooring it as I exit the pits I head to turn 1 with a great feeling of excitement and anticipation. I hit the brakes shift down to 3rd and turn in, oh my god this feels unbelievable. The steering lightens gently as you reach the limit of traction turning in, I hit the apex and as I drift to the outside I can feel the weight transfer through the wheel, the wheel weightens up again as full traction is gained and I power up the hill to the next turn. Now I am jumping up and down as this feels so good. Several turns later and I’m heading across the top of the mountain, I take the last fast left hander before the big dipper and get a tank slapper on the wheel gaining more and more weight and momentum with each over correction, now this is something new. With all the previous wheels I’ve used tank slappers seem to feel the same, with the CSR-Elite it all depends on how bad you get it wrong in the 1st place, the more you get it wrong the more force/weight/violence the wheel applies and you can feel the car rocking on its springs almost. I get the car back under control just as I reach the crest of the big dipper, usually that would result in a biggie with pinballing off the walls being the order of the day. Not this time. Because of how the wheel feels in your hands I was able to negotiate the dipper with a feeling of the car actually being fully under my control. Heading down the Conrod straight I take the kink with just a slight lift and then hard on the brakes for the left hander with wheel getting lighter and lighter as I’m under steering towards the grass. I bump the curb and the wheel jolts in my hands and then squirm as I floor it, I finish my first lap with the CSR-Elite and can’t stop smiling. I turn about another 10 laps and can’t believe that’s all it took for me to start matching my PB’s. Usually new wheel means new learning and not hitting your times for a few days. Not with the CSR-Elite. I only meant to turn 20-30 laps ended up doing over 4 hours, driving everything from a BMW Mini to a F1 92, from an Aussie V8 to a 70’s Lotus Cortina. Every car feeling different each of them feeling amazing. The weight transfer, the subtle yet detailed FFB, the sheer strength of the FFB was astounding as it was violent but not, strong but smooth and very precise feeling. After that days testing was done I’d made up my mind to use the wheel in my league race on the Sunday. That turned out to be a great decision as I just got faster and faster giving the wheel a thorough testing in rFactor leading up to the race. That Sundays Race I got my first ever pole, my first ever fastest lap and another win. The 1st time I’d ever managed the triple and I can honestly say it was due to the CSR-Elite. It did make me faster, it also made me more consistent which in turn gave me more and more confidence.

As I felt the wheel was that good in rFactor I thought I had to try it in iRacing. I was a beta tester for iRacing but let my subscription slide quite quickly as I became unemployed and was a bit bored by the small grids. I subscribed for a month and took to Summit Point in my MX5. Now this is what the wheel can really feel like. iRacings FFB effects and the way the CSR-Elite translates these to your hands is fantastic. I hit the brakes hard at the first corner of Summit Point and could feel the wheels bouncing over the bumps as the wheel juddered in my hand, go over the crest at Lime Rock and it gets light, go through the esses at VIR and feel the weight rock left and right. I could go on as so far all the tracks and cars I’ve driven feel stunning with every little bump and elevation being felt. The combination is that good I’ve signed up for a year and have gone from Rookie to C licence in 30 starts, with 4 wins, 14 top 5’s and 2 poles. Again thanks to the CSR-Elite.

I did some testing with GTR Evo and at least with the CSR-Elite the FFB is alot better than with my G27, not the wheels fault it's all the sim.

This wheel truly is a huge leap for this price point. The internal design with all metal construction, twin FFB motors, smooth as silk belt drives CNC machined aluminium body and for me one of the key advantages of this wheel over its competitors is the fact that the wheel position sensor is not mounted to the motor but to the central axle of the steering column. This system is so much more precise than the way Fanatecs other wheels and most other wheels for that matter do it. Usually it’s mounted to the rear of the FFB motor. What difference does this make you ask? The difference is huge, and I mean huge. No longer can the FFB motor have an influence on what the PC thinks you’re doing with the wheel. This in turn results in a wheel that feels so precise and gives you so much confidence in knowing what the car will do. The rim itself has a touring car D shape with Alcantara grips with a central hub plate that’s carbon fibre. On the wheel are 8 buttons and a joystick with 2 paddle shifters behind. The buttons themselves are well laid out with a nice feel to them, the joystick is not so nice, and in fact it is about the only negative thing about the whole wheel. The 2 paddle shifters have one of the best tactile feedback I’ve felt with a very positive feel to the shift and of a decent size finished in a matte satin aluminium finish.


In conclusion the confidence the wheel has given me I can’t put into words. It adds an immersion factor that’s on a different level from all other wheels I’ve tried and it shows how far we’ve come from the early days of Logitech’s Driving Force series, but then without those early Logitech wheels and Gran Turismo taking them worldwide we wouldn’t be here today. The FFB, the build quality and how precise this wheel is something to behold. I love this wheel and think I won’t be alone in my feelings.

I’d like to thank Thomas and Armin at Fanatec for being given the opportunity to test the CSR-Elite and to be allowed to say what I felt good, or bad about the results of my testing.
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Dice
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Re: CSR-Elite

Postby Monk3y » 14 Dec 2011, 14:40

Awesome write up m8. Sounds like I'm gonna have to get one of these...the clubsport when its ready.

Thanks for the review
"After the third flip, I lost control............"
Don Roberts after crashing in the Jade Grenade at New England Dragway in 1975.
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Re: CSR-Elite

Postby Ben Tusting » 14 Dec 2011, 16:03

Wheel sounds nice :), nice review
Don't comment on the Pedals against the CSP's tho :wink:
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Re: CSR-Elite Review

Postby Ken Bell » 14 Dec 2011, 21:24

as a co-member of R and D have you any intensions of sharing one of these wheels Winking004
What, no slippers and smelly pipe?
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Re: CSR-Elite Review

Postby Tom Ilsbroux » 14 Dec 2011, 21:37

Very nice one, makes me want to buy one. hm christmas coming :)
Phenom II x4 945 | GTS250 512Mb | 16GB DDR3 |ASUS M5A99X EVO | G25 Wheel | GameRacer Elite
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