Last updated: September 6th, 2023
Moza’s R9 and Fanatec’s CSL DD are (in our view) both excellent, low-budget direct-drive wheels. Just some two years ago the idea of a direct drive wheelbase for less than $1000 would seem preposterous. However, here we are, not just with the Moza R9 (featured recently in our Moza Buyer’s Guide) but the long-established (and arguably better-developed) Fanatec CSL DD (featured recently in our Fanatec buyer’s guide). There’s also the Simagic Alpha range – again, low budget but excellent direct drive wheelbases.
What do the CSL DD and the Moza R9 cost?
When it’s in stock, the CSL DD is priced at $499.99. The next batch of orders is planned to be fulfilled in April 2023. If you want the table clamp, add an additional $25. And for most delivery, add another $25. Then, choose your wheel. A reasonably priced entry-level wheel at Fanatec (for example the Mclaren GT V2 wheel) and add another $199. A grant total of $749 before you’ve built the rest of your setup.
The Moza R9 V2 bundled with their CS V2 steering wheel is priced so similarly that the difference in price is almost meaningless at $770. So if you’re building a lower-budget sim racing rig (but one that feels great!) you can swap out the CSL with the R9 and not financially feel any sort of penalty.
Firstly, the specifications as you can see the Fanatec CSL DD is larger cooling fins compared to the Moza which has some cooling air vents but they’re much smaller compared to the Fanatec CSL DD.
Materials wise, they both use aluminum in the casing although the Fanatec uses plastic at the front and rear of their CSL DD vs the Moza which appears to only use plastic at the back side of the unit.
Connections-wise, the Fanatec CSL compared to the Moza is that the USB ports on the CSL are Type C whereas the USB on the Moza is Type B. They both have network port-style sockets for peripherals and a PCI-E-style power socket. The CSL’s power socket is 4 pins and the Moza R9 has 6.
The Fanatec comes supplied with 4xM6x8mm “hard mounting” t-nuts (or slide nuts as I like to call them).
As with most Fanatec stuff, you’ll need to source your own M6 bolts! Just make sure they’re the right length or they may damage the CSL’s case. Side mounting the CSL DD can be done with various adapters or brackets depending on the sim racing cockpit manufacturer that you own, so check their specs. Usually, they’ll be a specific adapter if the rig isn’t already compatible.
Moza is a base-mounted device, again this is usually covered by the “wheel deck” mounting option when you’re choosing your sim rig. If your rig manufacturer isn’t sure if they support the wheelbase (why not?!) then here are the mounting dimensions for the R9:
You can, of course, drill your wheel deck. A dying art these days as everyone seems to have multi device compatibility, so it’s highly likely you won’t need to do any drilling!
Both Moza and Fanatec both have optional table clamps that can be added during the checkout process on either website. If you have the option, go for the slightly more expensive steel table mount if you can afford it.
Technical Specifications: Fanatec CSL DD
The Fanatec CSL DD offers a peak 8Nm of torque and features a patented “FluxBarrier” technology that optimizes the DD motor efficiency and smoothness. The device is fully compatible with all major racing games out of the box thanks to its full Fanatec SDK support.
For beginners, the Standard Tuning Menu makes it easy to get started quickly without worrying about complex settings. Intermediate to advanced drivers can fine-tune their driving preferences rapidly with the Advanced Tuning Menu in the Fanalab software. The high-resolution (contactless) Hall-position-sensor provides accurate feedback, which is very similar to the technology featured in the Podium DD1 and DD2 Series.
The CSL DD steering axis is made from carbon fiber-enhanced composite, and its wheelbase housing is made from aluminum, which acts as a passive heat sink as well as a core structural component. The device has a rotation limit of 2520 degrees, which is electronically adjustable. The Fanatec slip ring system (the thing that interfaces between the motor and encoder to enable force feedback responses) has been life-tested for tens of thousands of hours.
Technical Specifications: Moza R9
The Moza R9 is designed for PC gaming only (as opposed to the CSL GT version which is for Playstation). The R9 V2 offers both wireless and wired wheel connection options. The device has a limitless steering angle, ideal for drifters, rally enthusiasts, and truck simulators.
The housing of the wheelbase is made of aluminum alloy and is colored black. The peak torque of the device is 9 Nm, and it has a peak power of 180W. The input voltage required is between 110V to 220V AC, which is converted to 36V DC by the PSU provided.
The USB refresh rate is 1000Hz, and the encoder resolution is 32768 ppr (15-bits). An operation indicator is present on the device, and app functions are supported via Pit House, Moza’s configuration software. The quick release (QR hub) is considered excellent and one of the most stand-out features of this direct-drive wheelbase.
The package comes with a user manual, warranty card, power supply, USB cable, and toolkit. The wheelbase can be bottom-mounted, and side mount options are available with an optional side mount bracket that can be added on the R9 product page. An optional desk clamp and emergency stop switch are also available.
Online firmware upgrades are available for the device, and firmware updates are easily performed in Pit House.
Moza Sim Steering Wheels vs Fanatec Wheels
Fanatec has a lot of wheels in its ecosystem. My personal view is that I have a preference for the LTD Edition formula wheels, of which there aren’t many! A search on eBay can often yield good results.
The build quality of the budget to mid-range wheels could be better although Fanatec gives you that handly OLED screen via which you can adjust your FFB settings on the fly. Naturally, you can create and save profiles in Fanatec’s Fanalab software too.
Moza’s wheels have been especially well received, in particular, the CS for an all-around budget wheel that has nice build quality and RPM lights. The Formula FSR wheel, although it’s more expensive, looks the part with its full-resolution digital display.
We’ve mentioned Fanalab above and frankly, it has been covered a lot in our other articles already. Moza’s equivalent is called Pit House.
The main dashboard of Moza Pit House provides access to several key features, including steering angle adjustment, force feedback settings, and firmware updates. To adjust your steering angle, select the “Angle Adjust” tab and input your desired angle. You can also set limits for the left and right turn angles, and configure the device’s dead zone and sensitivity settings.
You can navigate to the “Force Feedback” tab to customize your force feedback settings. Here, you can adjust various parameters such as torque, smoothing, and damping to fine-tune your driving experience. You can also save multiple profiles for different games or driving styles.
Moza Pit House also includes firmware update functionality, which ensures that your device is always up-to-date with the latest features and improvements. To update your firmware, simply click on the “Firmware Update” tab and follow the on-screen instructions.
My favorite feature (depending on the wheel you own) is the RGB configurability inside Pit House. For an early version of the software Moza has done a really good job with Pit House. Imagine how it might be in a year’s time, after all these platforms both offer continuous improvement via their firmware and driver updates.
How do they feel?
Let’s imagine for a moment that actually, 8 to 9Nm is around the sweet spot of where most drivers like to be, torque-wise, with a direct drive wheelbase. This puts the CSL DD and the Moza R9 firmly within each other’s competitive sights.
The MOZA R9 direct drive wheelbase offers instant, detailed feedback, and powerful FFB, all while remaining surprisingly quiet. With its 9Nm of torque, it’s capable of tiring you out if you’re not used to direct drive!
As with most direct drive wheelbases, the MOZA R9 provides excellent clarity for bumps, curbs, and correcting when you’re losing control. However, it stands out from other wheelbases in its price and power range with its exceptional precision in representing lock-ups and curb strikes.
While it’s possible to purchase wheelbases with even higher torque, such as those offered by MOZA itself, the 8 or 9Nm range feels like the sweet spot. Paying for more torque than you need can seem unnecessary, especially if you’re not using it to its full potential.
After testing the MOZA R9 with various driving titles, I found that 80% power was often my preferred choice, particularly during longer sessions. At this level, I was still able to capture all the detail I needed from the sim platforms, and never felt the need to increase the power, even though I could.
It’s important to note, particularly with the R9, the default settings out of the box need some work. I’m sure they’ll improve quickly and, there’s always great support on Reddit if you need a hand with your settings. With the R9 there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to settings for the MOZA R9. You’ll still need to make adjustments to the feedback settings for each individual game to get the best experience. Fortunately, the MOZA Pit House software is available to help with this.
As for driving with the CSL DD, we all know a lot more about Fanatec equipment – it has after all been around for a very long time. The Fanatec CSL DD direct drive wheelbase delivers an immersive force feedback experience that’s both convincing and nuanced. When I locked a wheel, I could feel a sudden loss of grip that added to the realism, and hitting curbs, grass, and gravel produced varying levels of thuds and bumps. Although the force is strong, it’s unlikely to cause injury to an adult, but the manual’s “not for children” warning is a wise precaution. Additionally, the steering feels exceptionally precise, clear, and smooth, further enhancing the sense of control and immersion.