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Fanatec CSL Cockpit

German sim-racing giant Fanatec's new budget rig has arrived here at Gamereactor and after screwing, tinkering and test driving, we are quite satisfied.

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Sim-racing as a hobby is not a cheap one. Even for those of you who intend to build on budget premises, it quickly spirals out of control, and in my opinion, there are no direct shortcuts to a good sim-racing experience, either. A sensible direct drive base, a wheel that can be used for a couple of different types of racing and good pedals costs at least €1000, which together with a sensible rig to mount everything on, costs about the same. Playseat Trophy costs €599 and then lacks a TV/monitor mount. Simlab's entry-level model GT1 Evo costs you, with a seat and monitor mount, €999, while Trackracer's cheapest model TR80 retails for €799. Next Level Racing's GT Track costs around the same without a monitor mount, and if you want their single mount for a monitor/TV, that rig costs €900. And yes... This is where Fanatec now steps in with the newly released budget rig CSL Cockpit.

Fanatec CSL Cockpit
It doesn't look very sturdy from this picture but once assembled it is very solid with zero flex.

The tube-based aluminium rig itself costs €399, and with a monitor mount and chair you pay just north of €600. It is, by my calculations, cheaper than all equivalent solutions from their top five competitors, although it is hardly a huge difference in money. For that price, however, you get a real chair and no stretched piece of fabric between two bent tubes (like from Playseat) and you get more setting options than both Trackracer and Next Level's counterparts. What you don't get, however, are 80/40 aluminium profiles like in Simlab's rig, which is ultimately adult Lego that can be rebuilt, shortened, extended, expanded and customised pretty much as you like.

Fanatec CSL CockpitFanatec CSL Cockpit
The chair, which costs an extra 100 Euros, is fine. However, you can (of course) mount anything you want on this rig.

The Fanatec CSL Cockpit weighs 25 kilos assembled and the construction itself has been super smooth for me thanks to special parts that can only sit in one place, in one way, as well as sensible simple instructions. The tubes are made of aluminium and have been powder coated black, minus the support beams inside the steering wheel arch itself, which are bright yellow, all to match Fanatec's new yellow/black graphical profile. Extending the rig, shortening it, and raising or lowering the position of the steering wheel base is simple and logical, even if each step requires two socket wrenches or spanners. A quick lock would have been preferable but I understand that this is about saving money and making each locked screw very sturdy. Because if this little tube frame is anything, it's sturdy. In the picture it looks a bit wobbly and thin and I probably never thought that all 100 kilos of me, plus the added weight of my DD2 steering wheel base with its 25 Nm in pure torque, would work very well here. But I was wrong. The CSL Cockpit is prepared for big heavy guys and for wheelbases with lots and lots of power, which cannot be said of the competitors' options, at least not all of them (Trackracer's TR80 contains a lot more flex than the CSL Cockpit).

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Fanatec CSL Cockpit
The monitor bracket costs 119 Euros and is very cleverly designed.

The CSL Seat is also really comfortable, although of course it is not a direct top model from Sparco. The padding is just hard enough and I, standing at 195 cm, sit well in it. I also like the pedal plate (which also moves depending on leg length) and how it can be adjusted. We all have different preferences, tastes and different leg lengths, which means that many of the budget rigs on the market today quickly become problematic for anyone beyond a "normal size", as there is often a lack of adjustment options. However, not here. The monitor mount is just as sturdy, and here too the setting options are extremely good, depending on which monitor you have and where you want to place it.

Fanatec CSL Cockpit
The handbrake/gear lever attachment costs 39 Euro. If you buy everything, this rig goes for around 640 Euros

It's easy to recommend the CSL Cockpit. It is very solidly built, very stable, has pretty much zero flex, will last forever, is easy to build and change in terms of length and height, and the chair is great. If you want to keep costs down but still not sit in a folding and uncomfortable chair in the form of the utterly awful Playseat Challenge, this is really the right way to go.

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Fanatec CSL Cockpit

Fanatec CSL Cockpit

HARDWARE. Written by Petter Hegevall

German sim-racing giant Fanatec's new budget rig has arrived here at Gamereactor and after screwing, tinkering and test driving, we are quite satisfied.



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