- Outstanding force feedback strength
- Much improved FFB detail
- Great product design
- OLED display is gorgeous
- Build quality is impressive
- Extremely expensive
- Would have liked an in-built kill switch
The Fanatec Podium DD1 is an absolutely stunning wheel base. Let’s just get that out there. Is it an improvement over the CSL Elite and ClubSport wheel bases? Hell yea! Is it worth the extremely high cost to buy one? Well, we’ll find that one out in this review.
How much is the Fanatec DD1?
Let’s jump straight in at the deep end and get the bad news out of the way early. The Fanatec Podium DD1 will set you back a cool $1,199. And that price doesn’t include a wheel rim.
What’s included with a Podium DD1?
So what will your $1,199 get you? Well, it will get you the wheel base, and that really is about it. In the box you will find the usual set of leads to power your wheel base, and a USB to connect it to your console or PC.
You’ll also get a torque key, which unlocks the full potential of this direct drive wheel base. And a quick start manual, which we would normally throw away.
However, because this wheel base is worth in excess of $1,000. We would highly recommend reading the quick guide, and even the full online manual, just to avoid breaking something!
And that is it. no steering wheel, no pedals. Just the direct drive wheel base in all of its glory.
What exactly is the Fanatec DD1?
The DD1 wheel base is Fanatec’s entry level direct drive wheel base. It sits just underneath the Podium DD2, which is more powerful. Although whether you actually need more power than the already incredible DD1 is another story all together.
READ MORE – Read our full review comparison with the DD2
When we keep referring to direct drive, we are talking about how the motor is mounted in side the wheel base. Regular wheel bases include a small motor which is connected to the steering wheel via a belt or gears.
This generally results in not as good force feedback, and lack of power. Although wheel bases such as the Fanatec ClubSport use belt driven force feedback extremely well.
With a direct drive wheel base, the motor is much larger, and is mounted directly to the wheel shaft. That means that the second that the motor generates a force, all of that force goes through the steering wheel and in to your hand.
As you can imagine, this mounting system, combined with the larger motor produces much better force feedback.
The DD1 wheel base design
Compared to other wheel bases, even those made by Fanatec, the DD1 just looks a step above. The design of the wheel base oozes quality. From the weight of the all metal body, to the sharp OLED display. The DD1 takes everything up a gear.
The design of the wheel base itself is simple, yet edgy. The sharp lines look like they mean business, and the metal body has a lovely premium texture to it.
On the front of the wheel base, there is a bright OLED display. This is inteded to be used when you are adjusting the force feedback settings of the wheel base. But can also be used to display real time information about the force feedback data.
I’m not sure many people would use the display for the real time data read outs. We certainly don’t, but it is great when you are paying this much money to have the added functionality included.
The front sports the striking gold quick release system that Fanatec utilizes with all of its wheels. This not only looks striking in gold. But it allows you to switch out your steering wheel rims within a matter of seconds.
Is the force feedback really that much better?
Absolutely! Upgrading from a belt driven wheel base to a DD1 is similar to experiencing a sim racing wheel for the first time. Everything feels so visceral, and you will quickly wonder why you wasted so much time using belt driven wheels. Seriously, it is that good!
The first time we experienced direct drive was actually at a convention. We jumped in to a simulator running rFactor 2 and in to a Caterham. As we pulled out of the pits, the car just felt alive.
You could tell from the look on my face as I lost control of the Caterham going through Becketts at Silverstone, that the direct drive wheel felt like pure magic.
From that moment we were completely sold on direct drive wheels. We went on to purchase both the Fanatec Podium DD1, and the DD2, and they are still our go to wheel bases to this day.
How does the force feedback feel in a DD1?
Starting with the most common force feedback improvement, the strength. The forces generated by a direct drive wheel are much stronger than in a regular wheel. Because of this, you can get a lot stronger forces through the wheel.
You will probably have seen Youtubers taking on 100% direct drive force feedback challenges. While these are fun, and show the power that the DD1 can output, you will rarely actually run your wheel this strong when racing.
If you run your wheel’s overall strength above around 70% you will start to find it hard to compete in longer race sessions. And you will get aches as a result. Unless you are training for the Indy 500 or to become a Formula 2 driver, turn the force feedback down.
The real reason for getting a DD1, is for the improvement of force feedback quality.
Because the motor is much more powerful, it can create force feedback across a much larger range. This allows you to truly feel the difference between a small bump and a really small bump.
With the right setup, you can even feel the difference in surface when you drive over a painted white line with a DD1. The details really are that impressive.
Your whole experience when driving with a Fanatec DD1 will generally be much more engaging and immersive than before. And after experiencing direct drive, you will find it hard to go back.
Do you need to upgrade to a DD2?
Fanatec’s upgraded direct drive wheel, the DD2 brings to the table improvements across the board. The electronics inside are improved, allowing the wheel to handle more torque, and this in turn increases the peak torque by 5Nm.
But do you honestly need the improvements or is the DD1 good enough?
We own both the DD1 and DD2, and in all honestly you probably don’t need to upgrade from the DD1 to the DD2. The improvements are reasonably minor, as the DD1 outputs more than enough power to keep almost any sim racer on their toes.
The improved internals and added kill switch is nice, and if you were buying a direct drive wheel for the first time, it may be worth jumping straight to the DD2. But only if you really have the money to spare.
If you have been saving a while for a direct drive wheel, the Fanatec DD1 will be more than good enough!
Will the Fanatec DD1 make me faster?
This is one of the most asked questions, when we are talking about the DD1. And it’s a tricky one to answer.
You certainly wont be able to jump from a ClubSport wheel base to a DD1 and find tenths of a second. That simply wont happen. In most cases you will actually lose time initially while you adjust to the much stronger forces.
But over time, running a direct drive wheel base will bring your attention to many of the finer force feedback details which would otherwise be lost in translation.
Our argument is that, being able to distinguish between all of the detailed force feedback. Will over time allow you to learn your car, and tracks better. And in turn, you will become a better rounded sim racer.
Is the Fanatec DD1 worth the price?
So, the big question. Is the Fanatec DD1 whel base worth the large price tag? We would say 100% yes. This is due to the much improved driving experience that direct drive brings to the table.
Everything with a DD1 is sharper, more precise and more involved, than any belt driven wheel. Yes, spending over $1,000 just to get in to the direct drive ecosystem is a lot. But if you make the investment in to the best wheel base, you will enjoy sim racing so much more.