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Simucube 2 vs Fanatec DD2: Which should I buy? Leave a comment

Here’s a question I see asked time and time again in the sim racer forums: What DD wheel to buy? The Fanatec DD2 and Simucube 2 Pro are two of the most popular wheelbases in the sim racing market, but which should you choose?

There are several other very popular wheels too, which perhaps we’ll cover at a later date, but for now, let’s talk about the SC 2 Pro vs the DD2.

Simucube 2 Pro

Image: Simucube’s most popular DD wheelbase, the SC 2 Pro

Thanks to my work as a sim racing writer; I am able to justify owning both items which does leave me in a good position to comment.

Here’s a previous review of the DD2 and my review of the Simucube 2 Pro here at G-Performance. As you’ll see, I rate both wheels as game-changing wheelbases. Jump on either and, after getting used to their characteristics, you’ll be pumping in pole laps in no time. Which, takes me on to an important caveat:

The flawed “which one is better” argument

If you start a thread in a sim racing community forum asking for a “best DD wheel” recommendation you’ll almost certainly end up with a thread full of DD wheel owners fighting over which wheel is best.

The frank truth is that the FFB (Force Feedback) has such minor differences between the top end equipment that your average sim racer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a blind test.

 

Max Verstappen in a Playseat F1 cockpit (source)

Further; sim racers adapt to whatever equipment they’re given. This is why a good sim racer with a Logitech wheel can compete with and beat a driver on “high end” sim racing equipment.

The moral of the story here is to come to terms with your equipment and make the best of it. In my experience, we get used to what we own and even the big differences don’t matter as much as you’d think.

But, realism is key which is why direct drive wheels are superior. Better hardware and software drivers can interpret the Force Feedback simulation more accurately and with more convincing forces.

So, lets take a look at both the advantages and limitations of each wheel:

Fanatec DD2

 

Fanatec’s DD2 is ideal for a sim racer who just wants to drive. It’s the most popular direct drive wheelbase in the market with PC, PS4 and PS5 compatibility.

 

Fanatec Podium F1 Direct Drive Wheel

The FFB is excellent, especially when communicating track details like kerbs, bumps and so on. I’ve got two profiles in particular that I love – one for the Ferrari GT3 and one for the Mazda MX5. The detail through the wheel is grainy and quite “noisy”, but that’s how you’d expect a race car to feel – there’s a liveliness from a properly setup DD2 that makes it feel, brilliant.

Moving between sim software isn’t too much of a problem either. When I go to Assetto Corsa from iRacing, all I have to do is dial down the FFB settings (Asetto’s FFB is really strong out of the box!). Everything else stays the same.

Fanatec wheels are easily installed and need no additional USB cables. While the DD2 has no built-in wireless feature, cable tidiness and hub compatibility is not a problem. For any non-Fanatec wheel, mounting is easy with their Fanatec Podium hub.

In the past, it has been possible to modify a Fanatec wheel to run on a non-Fanatec wheelbase. The more recent wheels (everything after and including the Fanatec Formula Carbon V2 wheel) has a built-in “handshake” with the wheelbase that allows encryption of the game controller messages. This has essentially served to discourage Fanatec owners from exploring alternative wheelbase options, as it adds a lot of additional cost to replace the sim steering wheels too.

Installing a DD2 is very easy, and nearly all rigs have mounting options for the DD2 straight out of the box. You can either use side mounting brackets or mount via the base of the unit.

My only real criticism of the Fanatec system is their QR hub. It’s a proprietory unit which means you can’t change it, yet there’s a tiny amount of play in the connection. I’ve tried my best to improve things using the Z-Ring solution. Despite that, I still have a little bit of movement in the hub. It isn’t enough to distract me from driving but if you give the wheel a wiggle, it moves more than you’d hope. I expect Fanatec to address this in their next direct drive wheelbase revision, but really most drivers don’t even notice it!

So the DD2 is, on the whole, a great piece of kit. And if you’re new to sim racing; you might find it easier to get started with a Fanatec DD2. The PS4 and PS5 compatibility is just an example of how focused Fanatec is on helping sim racers into their ecosystem by making sim racing accessible and easy to understand.

Simucube 2 Pro

I really appreciate the engineering detail of a Simucube product. They have this “industrial feel” with a weighty, solid metal case. They have a cool factor: the Simucube logo down the side of the case and the indented corners make it look, professional.shop.gperformance.eu-SimuCube-2-Sport-direct-drive-wheel-steering-system-package-contents-1000x1000

Simucube 2 Sport

 Like the DD2, the Force Feedback is exceptional. It’s more detailed during high torque events but very smooth at the same time. If I were to try to describe the difference, I’d say you’re just feeling a little bit more detail with every turn of the wheel. I’ve always struggled to get the same “noise” through the wheel during an event like riding a kerb that my DD2 gives me, but the feedback is there. I’ve also always found that I can drive a little more accurately with the SC2.

The Simucube is mounted at the front only. This mounting is standard on any MiGE based / OSW style servo motor, so you don’t have to worry too much about compatibility. Just make sure your rig has a front mount for the Simucube option. Unlike the DD2, the lack of a bottom mount makes it less well supported by the low end, budget rigs. But would you really want to mount a Simucube to a £200 cockpit?


Simucube 2 Pro ready to mount

I’m a bit of a sim racing hobbyist. I like tinkering with settings, finding optimal methods of installation – I’m as much about the technical side of things as I am the driving. This is ideal if you’re considering the Simucube world.

Owning a Simucube means it’s more important to understand a few things. Mounting, QR hubs and wheel compatibility in particular. You’re more likely to only install a Simucube into a proper 8020 style rig, owing to the front mount only option.

Simucube SQR hub

The next thing you’ll need to understand is the quick-release compatibility. Fortunately, a Simucube 2 Sport and Pro comes with their SQR hub. I think the SQR hub is the best in the business, it’s rock solid and unlike the DD2’s quick release, does not move. You can, however, choose different QR hubs to mount your wheel including the Simucube Quick release, The Buchfink Q1R or the very beautiful HRS Xero-Play V3 Quick Release. I like choices and Simucube offers fundamentally better QR hub compatibility with the rest of the sim universe.

 

HRS Xero Play QR Hub

Like Fanatec’s Fanalab, Simucube’s TrueDrive software offers slick and intuitive software installation and firmware update procedures. There are some useful presets to get you started with the various sim racing packages and, there’s an upcoming release that will allow you to use shared preset profiles from other drivers. Neat!

You can also use Simucube compatible have wireless wheels, although if you do choose to go down the wireless route, the wheel won’t work on USB. Why this is the case I don’t know but it’s a terrible shame for racers who want to use their favourite wheel on different wheelbases.

 

Which one is best? Simucube 2 or Fanatec DD2?

As I mentioned at the start of the article, these wheels are subtly different but I don’t think those differences materially affect your lap times. There are some factors that should affect your decision, though.

If you’re a PS4/5 owner, there’s no discussion to be had as only Fanatec equipment is Playstation compatible. If you’re a newcomer or, you’re a driver who just wants to install and get going quickly, perhaps the DD2 is more for you.

 

If you’re more of a sim racing hobbyist, like me, then you might want to get deep into the subject of sim racing gear. There’s an awful lot of depth to this thriving community and owning a Simucube means you’ll learn far more about the engineering and installation side. You even could build a collection of wheels from different manufacturers, with a slight caveat that the hobbyist approach costs a lot more money!

Simucube’s FFB is also exceptionally good and I’m a big fan of both the wireless features and their software. But critically, for me, it’s the QR system. Wheel mounting options are limited on a DD2 and I like to be able to test different products, including quick release hubs so, for that reason, I’d always choose the Simucube, given the option.

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