The Fanatec Podium DD1 and DD2 Wheel Bases have been around for quite some time now, and without a doubt, one of the most commonly asked questions is “which offers better value for money”.

So today I have both models here in the Boosted Media studio to not only compare from a feature set perspective, but pull them apart to compare the hardware internally and go for a drive back to back to see exactly what the differences are, and which offers the better value for money.

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Now throughout my testing of the DD1 and DD2 over the past week I’ve yet again been reminded of just how important a role Software and Firmware play in the overall feel of a direct drive wheel.

We talked about this originally when I reviewed the DD2 and I told you guys that when I first fired the wheelbase up, I was disappointed with the lack of “wow” factor when compared to the ClubSport Wheel Base 2.5. However, this was quickly changed by updating the firmware to the most up to date version that was available at the time. I’m happy to report that there has been a significant improvement once again in the firmware revisions that have come out since I did that review to the point where I would say the DD1 now feels “better” than the DD2 did at the time that I initially reviewed it. Running the latest firmware on both wheelbases over the past week, both feel noticeably smoother and more refined, particularly when translating finer details such as road textures and small bumps and the newly added filters allow more fine-tuning to your personal preference which is a good thing.

Direct Drive technology in Sim Racing has come in leaps and bounds over the last few years and it’s great to see the improvements coming thick and fast. Now, how about some up to date non-beta drivers Fanatec?

Another thing worth highlighting again is the consistency between sim titles. Both the Fanatec DD1 and DD2 require very little tweaking to provide a relatively consistent feel between different sims, which goes to demonstrate the work that goes on behind the scenes in working with developers to optimize their settings for more modern hardware. It should be noted that Simucube has come a long way in this department too over the past year and their pre-packaged profiles are also very good, but as someone switching between titles regularly, this is still something I appreciate about the Fanatec hardware.

Anyway on to the DD1 vs DD2.

I can tell you that both the DD1 and DD2 provide an excellent driving experience, and while most drivers will be perfectly happy with the 15-newton meters of holding torque that the DD1 delivers, where the DD2 really shines is in the additional headroom that the extra 5NM of Peak and Holding torque delivers. The DD2 provides a noticeable increase in dynamic range, meaning I was able to maintain an impressive amount of fine detail in the feedback, whilst also having incredibly strong forces when cornering or bouncing over ripple strips. To me at least, the DD1 feels pretty much identical in the finer detail as you would expect, but it does lack that brutal strength of the DD2. No surprises there really.

Now, this of course also of course boils largely down to how you like to set up your feedback. Typically when I set up a wheelbase, I set the maximum force in the driver or firmware to the maximum amount of force I ever want to feel from the base, then fine-tune the rest of the detail around that maximum figure, therefore avoiding any issues with clipping and allowing myself the maximum amount of dynamic range within the motor’s available limits.

Another factor of course is the weight and diameter of the wheel you’re using. I tested with a range of wheels from the 270mm F1 2020 wheel through to the 330mm Porsche 911 GT3-R wheel and the difference in strength was definitely more noticeable on the larger diameter wheels which give you more leverage to fight against the motor.

I’ll be completely honest with you. My daily driver is a Simucube 2 Ultimate. That wheelbase is capable of producing 32NM, but I almost never run it above about 15NM, with cornering forces around the 8-10NM range. Now I’m not the bulkiest guy around, but for me, a maximum force of 15NM provides enough dynamic range to feel all of the details I want to feel when driving. As we have discussed before, plenty of professional sim racers drive with their force feedback turned down unrealistically low as this can increase reaction time due to not having to fight so hard against the wheel. The point here is that the DD2 is not going to make you faster than you’ll be on a DD1. At least not in my experience.

Fanatec say that another advantage of the DD2 over the DD1 is the faster acceleration, and while I could definitely feel a difference in the sharpness of the response when fighting against the car, I wouldn’t say it’s enough to make you a faster and more consistent driver.

Since the DD1 and DD2 both have active cooling in the form of a fan, it’s also worth mentioning that because both wheelbases are using the same motor, there was no difference in the operation of the cooling fan between the two bases when operating at the same levels of force. However, when you push the DD2 to the upper limits of its capabilities, the cooling fans do kick in stronger than they do with the DD1. This is of course due to its operating closer to the motor’s physical limits. Now amidst everything else that’s going on while driving, I highly doubt the fan noise is going to be a problem for anyone, but for the sake of completeness, it’s worth mentioning. Turn the DD2 down to DD1 levels and it of course operates in exactly the same manner.

So for me, warranty and accessories aside, it boils down to this…… The DD1 is a great wheelbase and will not leave you disappointed. At the force feedback levels, I like to drive at, it’s perfectly capable of providing all the strength I want with a little bit of room to spare. At no point during my testing was I left wishing it had more strength, but remember again I’m no Dwayne Johnson. Like with my Simucube 2 Ultimate, I found my “sweet spot” was at around 15NM of max torque and around 9-10NM of holding torque, which lands me at around 80% of the DD1’s maximum capability before clipping becomes an issue.

The DD2, by comparison, will give you greater dynamic range, so if you really love to wrestle with the car over aggressive curbs, you do a lot of off-road style driving where you really want the most immersive experience available, or you’re 20% stronger than me (which isn’t difficult), then, by all means, go with the DD2. Under those circumstances, you’ll likely find the added strength in the DD2 to be worth it.

To me, the DD1 offers better value for money as it provides everything I need to drive fast and consistently. But you could then of course argue that there are people out there who are faster than me with very rudimentary setups, so where you draw the value for money line really becomes entirely subjective. That said, in my opinion, the existence of the DD2 is entirely justified in the upgraded performance it provides to those who need it.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably already fighting the urge to buy the DD2 even though you know the DD1 would be just fine. Trust me, I get it. But if you did buy a DD1 and have been wishing you’d bought the DD2, honestly, stop worrying about it and just enjoy what you have. You’re not missing out on anything overly important in my opinion.

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