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Fanatec DD2 Podium Wheelbase: I upgraded to it, so here’s the review

fanatec dd2 podium wheelbases in their boxes

My first wheelbase was a Fanatec CSL Elite. At the entry point of serious sim racing (in my opinion) I still highly rate the CSL Elite for a beginner. It’s very easy to install and the maximum torque is such that you can’t hurt yourself. The Fanatec DD2 however, is a definite step up, with more detailed force feedback, higher peak torque and inevitably, a higher price tag.

The TL;DR: The Fanatec Podium DD2 wheelbase is Fanatec’s flagship wheelbase. It’s very nicely built, has regular driver updates and like most Fanatec sim racing equipment, needs very little expertise to install and get going. I’m delighted with mine and naturally, use it a lot! Find out more on the Fanatec website or, read on!

The Podium DD2: high end direct drive sim racing wheel

As I’ve mentioned in my guide to building a race simulator, the Podium wheelbase is a much higher end bit of gear. By “high end” I mean this wheelbase is for people who might already have experience of sim racing *or* for people who have driven a real track car around a circuit. And that’s for one simple reason, if you come off the circuit and hit a barrier while holding tightly onto the wheel, the DD2’s maximum torque of 25nm might be a bit much if you don’t let go!

I’ve twisted my wrist twice in a real track car – once when I was hit from behind by a driver in the MX5 Championship at Anglesey and once when I had a big spin in my Radical SR3. In both cases, the wheel suddenly rotated and I hadn’t the time to let go. Unfortunately I’ve also made this mistake with the DD2. The injury is skier’s thumb and it can take a good few days or weeks to properly recover.

Anyway. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about this, just know that with a direct drive wheel you can experience peak torque that could surprise you. Be careful, let go if there’s going to be a crash and you will be absolutely fine.

I’ve had the DD2 for about 3 weeks. Here it is:

How to install a Fanatec Podium DD2

The unit arrives in a really nice box (see featured image above). It’s heavy; I’d say around 20kg. It’s certainly heavy enough that you need to stay alert while you’re getting the first bolt inserted into your rig. It would be very easy to drop it while balancing the unit on its mounting plate. If someone happens to be in the house at the time (sim racers do have girlfriends, right?) I’d get them just to hold it in place for you, it’ll save loads of fiddling around.

To mount the DD2, use good quality M6 hex bolts. These are not included with the DD2. Choose a bolt length so that the thread does not reach more than 16mm into the wheelbase.

There are 3 hard-mount points located underneath that form a triangle. Use all 3 fixing points and use plenty of torque getting them tight so there’s no chance they’ll move.

Usefully, all Fanatec wheelbases use the same mount points and bolt thread size of M6.

Underneath the DD2: the mounting plate of my rseat RS1. The two bolts at the back are out of view.

Connections and software drivers

Before connecting the DD2 I made sure to uninstall all Fanatec software and drivers that were dedicated to the CSL Elite.

Unfortunately it’s easy to cause problems with any new PC hardware installation (like not uninstalling your old graphics driver before installing a new GPU!) so, for best practice I remove drivers and software first.

The back panel of the Podium DD2 note the torque key which after insertion unleashed the full 25nm torque provision

Around the back of the unit, each port is marked. The PSU cable is very different from the supply that comes with the Elite CSL. It’s clearly much higher voltage. The power supply itself is actually quite large and the power cable is very thick.

I’m using my Clubsport SQ shifter that connects into the back of the DD2 just like the other Fanatec wheelbases, the other RJ12 connection is the emergency stop / power button:

Emergency stop unit also has a handy power button. Saves reaching round the back to find the power switch!

Once you’re all connected, plug the USB into your PC and install the drivers.

Fanatec DD2 driver Installation

After testing and extensive work to setup, the beta driver gives much better feel than the current production version. Unless you’re familiar with occasional Fanatec driver problems and you’re happy to put a lot of time in setting up your FFB, just use the production drivers. If, however you’re more inclined to get the latest version of Fanatec’s drivers, read my guide here.

I could not get the wheel to work with the driver at all. Firstly Windows wouldn’t detect the wheelbase in Fanatec’s wheel properties dialogue, *unless* I’d installed the driver without the Clubsport wheel attached. And no matter what I did, iRacing never felt right. When I have the time I’ll dissect what went wrong but for now, use this driver from the downloads tab on the DD2 page on Fanatec.com:

At the time of writing, use Fanatec_64_driver_335

Once you have the drivers installed, the Fanatec wheel properties shortcut should appear on your desktop. Alternatively search for “game controllers” and the correct dialogue should open:

fanatec wheel properties
Fanatec wheel properties page is just Windows game controllers. Double click to open your wheel properties.

If you double click your device, it’ll open this properties dialogue:

fanatec wheel properties dialogue
Use this screen to test that your wheel and shifter a communicating with the PC

On first open it’s possible you’ll be alerted to a firmware update. Navigate to the “Update” tab and update the Podium base firmware, then the motor firmware:

Fanatec DD2 settings for iRacing

I have two setups. One for iRacing and the other for Asetto Corsa. They’re both exactly the same (as far as the wheel tuning is concerned) except the overall FFB wheel strength is vastly reduced for Asetto.

iRacing settings with latest Fanatec beta 373 driver

And this is how I’m setup in iRacing:

latest-iracing-settings-mazda
Use around 4.1 strength and 24nm wheel force.

Review conclusion: What does the DD2 Podium feel like?

As I gained experience with my simulator I started to feel as if the CSL was at times notchy and very binary in its feedback. That’s not the case with the DD2. The Podium is really, really good.

Once you get used to the torque you’ll find a very smooth and progressive wheel, with further improvements available with the newer drivers.

It’s sensitive to the small adjustments but has real strength too. The force feedback is smooth, there’s no notchy-ness to it like there is with some belt drive units. The feedback is much more like a real car might feel in many ways. When the car is starting to rotate you get a much earlier warning – oftentimes with the CSL by the time the wheelbase was giving me feedback it was too late to catch it. That made for a stressful experience and a lot of confusing sensations when driving the car absolutely on the limit. With the DD2 the feedback is finer, earlier and as the sensitivity is better it’s easier to react. You can catch a slide and really drive the car properly.

In my opinion, this was money very well spent. This upgrade, plus VR and the Heuskinveld pedals (which I have written about here) led to this fundamental change in my performance in iRacing:

Is the DD2 worth the money? In my opinion, it’s a definite yes.