Welcome to FPV Drone Reviews, dedicated to provide you with reviews, articles and guides of the latest FPV drones, FPV parts and everything else involving Drone Racing!
FPV drone racing is one of the hottest, fastest growing hobbyist movements in the world today, and the future is looking very promising for those looking to penetrate this exciting new field.
“we see Drone Racing becoming the biggest growing sport in 2016, no doubt”
For those who don’t know, FPV(first-person view) drone racing involves using a radio transmitter to control a multi-rotor aerial drone with a camera mounted on front along a predetermined track, racing either against friends or in timed trials. The drone sends a video feed from the FPV camera on the front of the craft to a pilot on the ground, who can make split-second decisions as to the drone’s trajectory from hundreds of feet away.
The field of drone racing is growing faster than ever, and it’s becoming increasingly important for newcomers to have a good idea of what to look for in a product.
(UPDATED FOR 2016)
|Model||Design||Weight (g) without battery||Length (mm)||Power Output (mW)||Power:Weight Ratio||RTF (Ready-to-fly) or ATF (Almost-Ready-To-Fly)||Price ($) as of 2016||Review Rating (out of 5)||Link to Product|
|Nighthawk280 Pro||440||280||205||0.465||ARF||$196||4||Check Price|
|ImmersionRC Vortex||350||285||350||1||RTF||$449||4.5||Check Price|
|TBS Gemini||340||315||576||1.69||RTF||$429||5||Check Price|
|Lumenier QAV250 G10||540||250||600||1.1||RTF||$451||3.5||Check Price|
|Arris FPV250 Mini||395||250||N/A||N/A||ARF||$209||4||Check Price|
|Storm Racing Drone Type A||482||280||552||1.14||ARF||$359||4.25||Check Price|
For your education and viewing pleasure, we at FPV Drone Reviews have put together a best-of list to guide you through you the best FPV Drones for every budget and preference.
Alongside each review a 1-5 rating has been provided based on factors such as ease of use, performance, value, and an overall rating. Ease of use refers to the lack of technical know-how and patience required to assemble as well as fly the drone. Performance refers to speed, agility, and responsiveness as well as other qualities such as FPV camera quality. Value refers to quality versus price. The overall rating is merely a weighted average of the above three summaries, and to help you find the best FPV Drone for you!
I should like to point out that for the chart below, power output in milliWatts is essentially the main indicator of overall performance. It is determined by a number of features such as the power source, battery, motor, and propellor. The speed, agility, and responsiveness of any drone is directly correlated to its power output.
This drone practically belongs in a class of its own for a number of reasons, both positive and negative. It is the absolute most ready-to-fly of all RTF models on the market requiring only 30 minutes of charging and a few more of calibration before you can take it out for a spin. At 57 grams, 114mm diagonally, and $140, this is the smallest, lightest and cheapest FPV drone on the market.
Hubsan X4 H107D Review: Pros
The setup requires practically no time at all, and because the FPV feed transmits directly to a screen on the included RC controller, you don’t even need a set of goggles. Due to the model’s size it will even fit in your pocket or a small backpack compartment. The frame includes propellor guards which are ideal if you find yourself frequently bumping against walls(yes, it is meant for indoor use). The expense is minimal for an FPV drone.
Hubsan X4 H107D Review: Cons
Although this article is nominally intended for someone looking to buy a racing drone, I would not recommend using the Hubsan H107D for that purpose. The slightest gusts of wind will overpower the drone, and it tends to drift around even when used indoors. There is practically no room for customization at all, and on top of that, the picture quality on the RC controller screen is sub-par.
Hubsan X4 H107D Review: Summary
Although its relative inability to fly outdoors will render it essentially useless for those who are serious about FPV racing, it is the only craft I know of that actually can safely fly indoors. Its light weight and underpowered motors actually make it quite nimble if a bit on the slow side. This drone’s top-notch safety, and minimal expense and required technical expertise make it absolutely perfect for a beginner or a young child, but not much else. A very experienced racer will probably be frustrated by the lack of customization as well as the overall limiting nature of the underpowered motors.
Ease of Use:5
Best Racing FPV Drones Under $200
The Emax Nighthawk 280 Pro is a very solid RC drone, striking a good balance between a quadcopter like the ImmersionRC Vortex that you can fly right out of the box without any of the fun of assembling it, and being forced to solder and screw all the countless little parts together on a DIY build.
Nighthawk Pro 280 Review: Pros
Most of the physical components such as the propellers, antenna, and FPV camera come with the kit and must be put together, but all of the electrical components are integrated on the ESC board. This is very unique among ARF FPV quadcopters, and overall it makes assembly much more simple. The ECS board connects to all of the motors, the FPV camera and transmitter, leaving the rest of the frame’s interior much more spacious.
This leaves plenty of room for the user to fit a LiPo, HD camera, or maybe even some goodies that you want to deliver to a friend. Whatever you want really, it’s your choice, and that’s the beauty of it. Another really great feature is the pre-installed ten-degree motor tilt and the angled camera mount, making it perfect for drone racing as drones must actually pitch forward in order to gain horizontal momentum and pick up speed. In addition, the LED bar is extremely bright, probably among the brightest I’ve seen,allowing friends and spectators to keep track of it during high-speed FPV drone races. A few other notable features include the high quality of the FPV camera, the sturdy carbon-fiber frame, and the ability to toggle between 200 and 20 mW video transmission which can help you stay within legal regulations in certain areas.
Nighthawk Pro 280 Review: Cons
There isn’t a whole lot to complain about for this craft. One thing that I’ve noticed can be an issue is the ECS board being fully integrated. While this makes assembly much easier, it also means that if any one component becomes damaged you must replace the whole board for over $60. It also means that you can not experiment with different electronic components like you can with other drones. Also, I seriously do not recommend you use the 4s battery setting 6” props as the current will be too high and you just really don’t want to do that. Take my word for it.
Nighthawk Pro 280 Review: Conclusion
The Nighthawk 280 Pro is a solid model whose most notable feature is the integrated ECS. The on-board electronics are expertly crafted, and despite its lack of power it is very responsive and nimble for its low cost. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to spend time soldering while also enjoying high-speed races, this might just be the drone for you. At just under $200, it is one of the best racing drones under $200.
Ease of Use:4
Best Racing FPV Drones Under $500
The ImmersionRC Vortex is probably one of my favorite racing drones, and I have probably spent more time using it than any other quadcopter. The ImmersionRC team is one of the most consistently quality, professional RC drone companies in the market today and it certainly shows with their flagship FPV drone.
ImmersionRC Vortex Review: Pros
At 285mm and 350 grams, the ImmersionRC Vortex is exceptionally small and lightweight, and the folding rotor-arms make it even more portable. Possibly one of my favorite features is the built-in ProTuners system that allows the pilot to customize their flying style from their on-screen display. Also included is a vibration damper and tiltable fpv camera mount that allow you to make the best out of your viewing experience during a high-speed race. Despite its light weight, the carbon-fiber frame is very durable and it will certainly hold up against crashes that would otherwise damage a frame of lower quality. The 350mW power source packs quite a punch, and the frame includes built-in battery and antenna mounts. Compounding the best of these features is the fact that the Vortex is fully assembled right out of the box, requiring minimal preparation before taking it out flying. The electronics are integrated to a degree unheard of at this price range.
ImmersionRC Vortex Review: Cons
The folding rotor-arms, while enabling easier portability, can sometimes collide with the carbon-fiber frame during crashes and cause some slight cracks and damage. To fix this, I simply zip-tied the rotor-arms into a locked position once I was ready to fly and removed the ties when I was done. Another issue I’ve had is that the FPV image isn’t very high-quality compared to even some of the cheaper models already listed, which can be a bit frustrating to those who want a crystal-clear video feed while zipping through trees on the race track.
ImmersionRC Vortex Review: Conclusion
This racing drone is a great fit for someone who wants to be able to fly right away with minimal time for assembly, while also leaving room for user customization through the on-screen display. Features such as the built-in FPV camera tilt and GoPro mount make it great for someone who wants a clear view of the track both during and after the race.
Ease of Use:3.5
Best Racing FPV Drones Under $500
The TBS Gemini is noteworthy for its six-rotor design, placing into the singular category of hexacopter rather than that of the comparatively weak quadcopter. Its six rotors render it most likely the highest performing racing drone in its price range, and it’s an absolute beauty to fly. It is difficult to overstate truly how nimble this model is, as well as how quickly it reacts to user-input.
TBS Gemini Review: Pros
The six rotors give it an unparalleled top speed of 80 km/h, accompanied by a considerable level of agility and responsiveness so that the drone never feels like it’s uncontrollably fast. Also contributing to the considerable level of performance is the sleek, aerodynamic design on the main body of the drone. This also lends it more of a “solid” appearance compared to the thin, spacious frames on others, which might appeal to some users. The electronics are all fully integrated much like the Nighthawk280 and the ImmersionRC Vortex. Another feature on the Gemini that we’ve seen before on the Nighthawk Racing Drone is the pre-installed 10 degree motor tilt that enhances the speed for drone races while allowing the FPV camera to remain level. Another feature that I continually found myself appreciating was the telemetry readouts the drone was transmitting to my on-screen display, so that I could monitor milliamp hours and voltage, enabling me to know precisely when my battery was getting too low. I’ve also noticed that my flight times with the Gemini tended to be about 10 minutes compared to the usual 5 or 6 for most drones, possibly due to the more efficient motors or power source. One great feature that enhances both the performance and ease of use of the drone is the ability to adjust the responsiveness through the flight controller. The experienced, quick-reacting pilot would most likely favor the greater responsiveness and the ability to make snappy adjustments mid-flight, while a more casual user would be more comfortable with dulled, less twitchy controls.
TBS Gemini Review: Cons
Although the carbon-fiber itself was of exceptional quality, the speed of the TBS Gemini lended itself to crash at higher speeds than others. Fortunately there was usually no structural damage to the craft, but individual pieces had a tendency to eject themselves. The battery was the most liable to ejection, necessitating a small velcro or tape strap to hold it in place. Smaller pieces can be harder to find once they’re ejected, but fortunately the kit comes with modular components that make for very quick and easy field repairs. It seems that the developers at Black Sheep may have predicted the occasional errant propellor or motor-spinner casting off into oblivion. The lack of customization available was a disappointment, but switching out parts on the Gemini wouldn’t really be necessary or fruitful given how well it performs right out of the box.
TBS Gemini Review: Conclusion
I simply can not overstate how well this drone performs, especially given its price range. The FPV video quality is brilliant as well, and I can always appreciate little on-screendisplay features like the telemetry readouts that the drone transmits. If you have some experience with quadcopters and think you can handle a bit more speed, this is a great racing drone.
Ease of Use:4
Best Racing FPV Drones Under $500
Another member of the mini class of racing drones, the QAV250 combines portability with unmatched durability and high performance. The design lends itself to a higher degree of customization than many of the others featured on this list, and the experienced drone builder will have a good time testing out a myriad of component-types on this craft.
Luminier QAV250 RTF Mini-FPV Quad Review: Pros
Although not a particularly exciting feature, the QAV250’s durability is incredible, as the carbon-fiber frame is among the most thick I’ve seen. The motors are also very powerful,putting it at nearly the same level as the Gemini as far as overall speed. As I mentioned before, the design also allows for more customization than many other RTF drones.
Luminier QAV250 RTF Mini-FPV Quad Review: Cons
Due to the excessive weight of the frame, particularly for such a small FPV drone, and inefficiency on the part of the motors, this model has an especially short flying time. I would not recommend going for even four minutes at a time at max speeds as this has been known to damage the LiPo batteries. The ECS board being located at the bottom of the drone increases the risk of short circuiting due to contact with water. The four landing pegs elevate the craft a bit above the ground but there is still an inherent risk with such proximity to the ground of the ECS. I’ve also been a bit dissatisfied with the FPV camera mount, which does not allow for tilting and so you might spend a lot of time looking at the ground through your goggles. I would also suggest that you move the battery mount from the default position at the tail to a more central location on top of the frame, as LiPos are quite heavy and excess weight on the tail can occasionally cause you to spin out of control after taking sharp turns.
Luminier QAV250 RTF Mini-FPV Quad Review: Conclusion
This drone is not very remarkable compared to some of the other heavyweight entries on this list. If speed is what you’re looking for, the Gemini is at roughly the same level and with much longer flight-times and better electronics integration, as well as being within the same price range. The ZMR250 beats it by a wide margin on price and is comparatively portable, but has neither the durability or the power. Overall, the Luminier QAV250 offers an interesting mix of features that in no way make it stand out but might be a good combination for certain consumers who haven’t yet found a drone they are quite satisfied with.
Ease of Use:3
Best Racing FPV Drones Under $500
#4. STORM Racing Drone Type A (RTF)
The STORM Type A Racing Drone is a great model for the experienced racer who has gotten used to more accessible RTF racing drones and is looking for some more customization along with high-performance. Not only is the Storm Racing Drone Type A itself a good match for the serious racer, the good people at Helipal also offer a ton of accessories and extra components so you can truly make the best out of your purchase. In addition, there are several different models within the Type A racer that suit a wide range of flying types and experience levels.
Storm Racing Drone Review: Pros
Despite being an RTF model, the Storm Racing Drone offers an uncommon level of customization both for its physical components and the flight controller. The 2300kv motors are some of the most powerful on the market, and bring a level of speed and performance matched only by the TBS Gemini within this price range. The flight controller comes with pre-installed auto-levelling software that enhances the craft’s stability during strong winds or even simply high speeds. The drone’s camera has a remarkable degree of freedom and can be tilted up to 110 degrees in any direction. For particularly tragic circumstances, the craft is equipped with a lost-and-found buzzer that enables the pilot to locate it even in the most unfortunate of crash landings. This is especially helpful as the FPV transmission range extends as far as 300 meters, among the furthest I’ve seen within this price range.
Storm Racing Drone Review: Cons
The STORM Type A Racing Drone is certainly not for beginners, and it can be very easy for novice pilots to lose control of such a high-powered craft. At under six minutes, the flying time is unremarkable and doesn’t allow the pilot to really make full use of the 300m range of the FPV transmitter. The Storm Racing Drone FPV feed isn’t anything special either.
Storm Racing Drone Review: Conclusion
At $360, this racing drone brings some seriously high performance for its price. It is roughly on par with the Gemini in terms of speed despite being almost a full $100 cheaper, and is a ton of fun to customize. This drone is perfect for someone who has enough technical expertise to experiment with different physical components and flying styles, and the HeliPal development team is presumably well aware of this due to the plethora of accessories and mods they offer. I would only caution that you have some hours of flying experience under your belt before you buy one of these, as it is definitely not made to be your first drone.
Subreview- Storm Type A Racing Drone V2 and V2 Pro
The folks at HeliPal recognized a number of the issues customers had with the initial Type A drone, and have released a new, slightly more expensive model which rectifies some of those problems. The new drone has a built-in GPS system that promotes stability by referencing the drone’s location to a satellite, as well as built-in options for six different flying styles ranging from beginner to expert. The battery time has been extended to a remarkable 8.5 minutes. Not only is the V2 version much easier to use for
a new pilot, it is in fact faster than the original. If even that isn’t enough for you, HeliPal offers a V2 Pro that combines ease of use with extreme power output, perfect for experienced, aggressive drone pilots for whom having fun is conditional upon victory. If you aren’t sold on performance alone, the V2 is one of the most badass looking FPV drones due to the sleek, aerodynamic design of the canopy shell. I could just as easily picture seeing it in a Half-Life game or Terminator movie as flying it in my backyard.
Ease of Use:3
Best FPV Drone Frame Under $100
At just 250mm across, the ZMR 250 RTF is easily one of the smallest drone frames available and once built up fully earns the title of “mini quad.” Mini quads as a class are known for being cheap, portable, and oftentimes more resistant to damage than their larger counterparts. This product is unique as there is no single product known as a “ZMR 250 RTF,” but rather a group of products sold by different manufacturers which all use the ZMR 250 carbon-fiber frame. The best example we could find can be found here
ZMR250 Review: Pros
ZMR250 drones are exceptionally cheap, and due to the wide range of products which the title refers to, the customer will have an easy time finding one that is the right fit. In addition, they are exceptionally small and therefore portable and lightweight. At $51, the ZMR 250 frame itself costs only a third of the original Blackout Mini H frame from which its design is essentially copied.
ZMR250 Review: Cons
For starters, several products sold as ZMR250 RTF simply aren’t ready-to-fly right out of the box, and require considerable assembly. These would more aptly be labelled as ARF, or almost-ready-to-fly. ARF drones aren’t a problem and can be a ton of fun to put together if you know what you’re doing, but accuracy in labelling is certainly appreciated. Another downside is that the carbon-fiber frame is not especially high quality compared to other drones on this list, and is more prone to damage than you might otherwise be used to. There is a good reason these drones are sometimes disparagingly referred to as “Chinese knock-offs”, thats why we can’t crown it the best FPV drone currently available.
ZMR250 Review: Conclusion
ZMR250 RTF drones are a cheap and highly portable option, making it a promising choice for many customers who would prefer to not shell out large sums on their very first drone. However, it is important to stay informed on the exact product you are buying as there is a lot of variance in quality even within this one drone. Overall, however, these drones pack a lot of power into such a tiny frame, and it is probably among the fastest mini drones that you can find on the market. As long as you’re not crashing into trees with reckless ambition, you will find yourself quite satisfied with this model.
Best FPV Drones Summary (Updated for 2016)
Best Performance FPV Drone – TBS Gemini
With its powerful six rotors, aerodynamic design, and highly efficient power source, the TBS Gemini is by far the best-performing racing drone on this list. Its power to weight ratio vastly outclasses anything else I have seen within its price range. This could really be the best FPV drone available right now. The Gemini truly represents a step forward in commercial drone technology and I am fully confident that many aspects of its design will be replicated by competitors in the years to come. If you are seeking performance, the best FPV Drone for you in 2016 is the TBS Gemini Racing Drone.
Easiest to Use FPV Drone – Hubsan X4 H107D
Although the Hubsan H107D is a bit more of a toy RC than a legitimate racing drone, its extreme simplicity is sure to make it widely popular among those just looking to get into FPV drones. This is a great holiday gift for someone who is only casually interested in RC drones, or the budding young tech geek who might in a year or two upgrade to a more powerful craft. If you are seeking ease-to-use and perhaps willing to start off with something more basic, then the best FPV Drone for you is the Hubsan X4 H107D.
Best Value FPV Drone – Nighthawk280 Pro
With its compact size, integrated electronics, sturdy frame, and options for customization, the Nighthawk280 Pro is a true gem to find for under $200. If you are willing to eschew powerful motors for reliability and low cost, this drone is a great choice. The pathways for customization mean that you will be able to upgrade various parts of the craft as your funds dictate and potentially even bring it up to the performance level of one of the more expensive crafts. If you are looking for a great value Racing Drone that really packs a punch, then the best FPV drone for you is the Nighthawk280 Pro FPV Quadcopter.
Author’s Choice FPV Drone – ImmersionRC Vortex
Take this entry with a grain of salt, as my bias towards the ImmersionRC Vortex is probably more personal than objective. This was the first racing drone that I actually owned, and the excessive appeal of little things like the choice of flying styles from the on-screen display and the portability afforded by the folding rotor-arms is certainly not universal. It is not the fastest, the sturdiest, or the cheapest, but it is a remarkable drone and I am sure that many readers will get as much enjoyment out of it as I have. The ImmersionRC Vortex really is the best FPV drone that we think will make a great first FPV drone for drone racing.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the commercial drone industry, and particularly for the field of FPV racing drones, this list is not the end-all be-all of consumer guides. The teams at BlackSheep, ImmersionRC, HeliPal, and many others are constantly innovating and improving existing designs, such that it is hard to predict how far the industry will advance in even just a few years. I hope that even if the technical content of this list becomes outdated in the long-term future, the reader will still be able to learn many of the basic features of FPV racing drones, as well as get a solid handle on what to look for in a new purchase of a FPV Racer.