Ultimate GT Sport Set Up? Next Level F-GT Cockpit and Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel and Pedals
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2 posts in this topic

I have owned an Obutto oZone racing cockpit since 2012 and over the last year or so, I have been pondering building another cockpit and wheel and pedal set up specifically for GT Sport on my PS4 Pro with my 40 inch 4K HDR Samsung TV.  I previously played GT Sport using my Accuforce direct drive wheel with the GIMX emulation software since GT Sport released in October 2017, but the force feedback was not great compared to PC games that work with Sim Commander 4, the Accuforce wheel software, and I cannot run GT Sport in 4K and HDR on my 34 inch Ultrawide monitor.  I did a ton of research, including reading reviews and watching YouTube video reviews.  I pondered possibly getting another oZone.  I ultimately decided against that because the oZone has not been updated in many years and the newer cockpits seem to offer more amenities, such as pre-drilled wheel, pedal and shifter plates.  Ultimately my research led me to the Next Level F-GT being the best cockpit in the $450-$550 price range.  I also looked at the best wheel and pedal sets with native PS4 support and landed on the Fanatec CSL Elite wheel and pedals.  In summary, this set up has not disappointed.
Next Level F-GT Cockpit
I ordered the Next Level F-GT from Walmart.com for $499 and got it two business days later thanks to the free expedited 2 day shipping Walmart.com offers across the board without any sort of membership charge.  The package was massive, easily weighing in at 100 pounds or so, but it has an external shipping box and then the retail box underneath and so everything was protected quite nicely.  I unboxed and unwrapped everything and was impressed with the quality of the parts.  The seat for example is surprisingly high quality and heavy, even though it has faux leather.  Also, the metal parts of the cockpit, including the wheel, pedal and shifter plates, are powder coated and painted a good quality matte black and are very sturdy.  All of the screws, bolts, etc. are clearly marked and organized and they even include the tools you need to assemble the cockpit.  The instructions are only OK, I definitely recommend watching some YouTube videos that show assembly of this cockpit to help you out.  It took me about 4 hours to assemble the cockpit. 
Once I got everything assembled, it was time to adjust the different parts of the cockpit to my comfort.  There is a ton of adjustability built into this cockpit.  Of course the most obvious adjustment is the unique ability to switch it between F1 and GT setups.  I watched some videos showing both and ultimately elected to go with the GT setup because it looks much more comfortable and that is how my Obutto cockpit is set up. 
As noted above, the pedal, wheel and shifter plates are all pre-drilled for all of the major wheels, pedals and shifters on the market from Logitech, Fanatec and Thrustmaster, plus they have a ton of adjustability.  For pedals, I am using the Fanatec CSL Elite base set and I have it set up with the brake pedal on the far left so I can left foot brake.  Hardmounting the pedals was very easy and I personally like them sitting flat.  If you prefer them at an angle, no problem, you just adjust the pedal plate on the side.  If you prefer the pedals closer or further away, no problem, again just adjust the pedal plate on the side.  The wheel plate is similarly flexible, it has plenty of up/down and forward/backward adjustments.  I am using a Fanatec CSL Elite PS4 wheel and it mounts quite easily to the wheel plate using M6 bolts that are included with the F-GT.  That is a nice touch by Next Level to include bolts and nuts for mounting different pedals, wheels and shifters.  And, the shifter plate, although I am not currently using it, has forward and backward adjustment as well, although if you use a tall shifter like the Fanatec Clubsport shifter, you have to be careful about the shifter knob hitting the wheel plate when you shift into 1st gear.  I saw this issue in a couple of videos I watched.   
Unfortunately the seat is not as adjustable as the mounting plates.  Yes, it has forward and backward adjustment via the slider rails, but it only has three recline positions and there is no handle like you have on a regular racing seat, such as the seat on my oZone.  Rather, you have to loosen knobs on each side of the seat and then move the seat to one of three positions.  Despite the lack of adjustability, the seat is comfortable, particularly because it comes with a good quality lumber cushion that has helped my lower back.  Believe it or not, the day before this cockpit arrived, my lower back went out on me and so it was torture on my back to put the cockpit together, but sitting in it was fine thanks to the comfort and good lower back support.
Did I mention that this cockpit is solid?  As in, everywhere, the pedal, wheel and shifter plates are solid, with little if any noticeable flex.  Although I have not tried it, I am sure that the wheel plate can handle a direct drive wheel just fine.  The seat is similarly solid, more than I thought it would be.  I mean, overall, I cannot imagine the cockpit being any more solid.  Yes, I said it.
The cockpit also has a Buttkicker mount, which works with the Buttkicker Gamer 2 transducer.  I happened to have an extra Gamer 2 transducer and amp and so I hooked it up to my PS4 Pro using a Digital to Analog converter and some spare RCA cables.  The Buttkicker mount sits right underneath the seat and the tactile feel from the transducer is excellent.  For whatever reason, the tactile feel from the Gran Turismo games has always been very good and GT Sport is no exception.
So, as you probably can tell, I very much like this cockpit.  It has some nice improvements over my oZone, which is to be expected since it is a much newer design, having only been released within the last year or so.  The bottom line is that if you are willing to spend $450-$500 on a cockpit, this is a nice option.  Buy with confidence!
Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel and Pedals
OK, so this decision was very tough.  Keep in mind that I was previously using an Accuforce wheel and Main Performance PC Simpedals via GIMX emulation for GT Sport before I got the new cockpit, wheel and pedals.  So, that begged the question of how am I going to get comparable if not better performance in GT Sport using a consumer grade wheel.  That essentially boiled down the choice between two options - the Thrustmaster T-GT or the Fanatec CSL Elite, both of which have motors with similar torque levels.  After reading and watching a ton of reviews, including comparisons from Z28 Gaming, SimRacingGirl and ISR, I went with the Fanatec CSL Elite set up, primarily because the reviews were consistent that the Fanatec rim and pedals are better than what the T-GT offers, plus the sentiment seemed to be that the Fanatec FFB is smoother, with no cogging.  I previously have owned T3PA pedals and they are OK, but they lack adjustability and significant pedal throw, plus there is no official load cell brake option.
As far as the wheel goes, it is a very nice piece of kit.  It easily hard mounted to the F-GT cockpit via three M6 bolts in the pre-drilled holes.  The rim feels great, plus it is very light.  It definitely feels cheaper than other Fanatec rims I have owned, but that is to be expected at this price point.  I love the fact that the rim has native compatibility with the PS4 and GT Sport.  No need to use controllers, etc., everything you need is on the rim, including a PS button.  Very nice.  The quick release is anything but.  It took me almost 30 minutes to get the screw into the hole, its a good thing I do not plan to use any other rims with this base.  I am sorry, but the Fanatec QR solution for the CSL line is not good.  The base is compact, yet still heavy and it houses a motor that feels every bit as powerful as the motor in my CSW V2 that I owned a few years ago before I bought my Accuforce.  The FFB in GT Sport is solid and believe it or not, it feels every bit as good as what I get with my Accuforce, obviously with less raw power.  I can feel what the car is doing and my times seem to be on par with what I was doing with the Accuforce.  The weight transfer is significant.  The rev light indicator on the base works very well and is a nice assist for shifting.  I also tried the CSL Elite in Driveclub in CSW compatibility mode and it felt good, much better than my Accuforce with GIMX emulation.  Unfortunately I could not get WRC 7 to work with the wheel no matter what I tried and while it worked with Dirt Rally, the FFB sucked.  I did not really care about that, however, because I am using this wheel solely for GT Sport and nothing else.
The CSL Elite pedals are surprisingly good for $80.  When I first opened the box and unwrapped the pedals, I was surprised at how substantial they felt in my hands.  Plenty of metal, little if any plastic, that is a very good thing, particularly at this price point.  I was confident from the get go that the CSL Elites would be a nice improvement over the stock Thrustmaster TX and T300 pedals, but I was surprised that they also outperformed the T3PA and T3PA Pro pedals, all of which I have previously owned.  There is much more pedal travel in the CSL Elites, plus they are highly adjustable.  The most obvious adjustment is the left right adjustment, which is great because I was able to move the brake to the far left so left foot braking was more comfortable for me.  The gas modulation is very good, on par with my Main Performance PC Simpedals gas pedal, plus the brake has some foam in it that adds some resistance.  Its not on the level of a load cell, but for GT Sport, it seems fine.
Assembly of the CSL Elite pedals is a bit of a pain, in that you have to make sure you route the wires correctly, otherwise you risk damaging them.  Also, make sure you connect the RJ cable to the pedal box before hardmounting the pedals.
In summary, the CSL Elite wheel and pedals are nice options for GT Sport and I am very satisfied with my decision to go with them over the T-GT.  I have owned plenty of Fanatec gear over the years, and I can already say that the CSL Elite is the best Fanatec wheel I have owned (I previously owned the GT2, CSR, CSR Elite, CSW V1 and CSW V2), and the CSL elite pedals are better than the Clubsport V1s IMO, even with just the base brake.
So, in a nutshell, I think that the Next Level F-GT cockpit, Fanatec CSL Elite wheel, Fanatec CSL Elite pedals, Buttkicker Gamer 2 and a 4K HDR TV represents the ultimate GT Sport set up for me.  The total investment for everything listed is about $1500, but because I love playing GT Sport, its money well spent.
Edited by Zero7159

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