Our top pick is the Arris X-Speed 250B V2 which is fully assembled, tested, and tuned before leaving the factory, and one of the top picks of many pro racers. It is also fitted with the Raptor 390 Tower, which makes all the wiring clean and mess free, and includes a 4 in 1 30A ESC, F3 flight controller, OSD, and Power Distribution Board. The package also includes the RadioLink AT9 transmitter, a FPV camera and a transmitter, and a LiPo 4S battery, making it completely ready to fly.
The step-up pick landed on the Eachine Wizard X220S, which is a relatively new model, but gaining fame quite fast as it represents a model that is great for first-time racing drone pilots, but for the pro pilots as well. It comes with an unbelievably durable, carbon fiber frame, and quite powerful 2300KW motors that deliver an envious punch. Also, this is a full RTF model, which means everything you need to get it up and flying comes in the package, and the only thing you need to do is to charge the battery (with the balanced charger that is included), and you are ready to hit the skies.
Our budget pick is the Blade Mach 25, which is a great FPV flying beginner model. It is not as fast as the models used for pro racing, but it’s much faster than DJI style drones that are used for aerial filming. It comes as a BNF version, which means that you need to buy a transmitter of your choice, additionally. Some might consider this as a downside, but we think that it is not a deal breaker as it gives you the freedom of using your favorite transmitter.
A Little Background
You must have noticed that in the last few years, drones boomed in popularity. With the appearance of new, better, more advanced, and what’s most important, affordable models on the market, drone flying is far from being a high-class hobby.
When the market started pushing quadcopters that are smaller than the DJI style aerial filming platforms, more powerful and capable of reaching serious speeds and performing high-demanding maneuvers, much easier than the previously popular, best RC helicopter models offered, experienced RC pilots started exploring the possibilities of such models. And, after the appearance of affordable, lightweight, high-quality video transmission systems, a sport such as drone racing was bound to happen.
Today, drone racing is a fully recognized sport, and even has its own league and championships all over the world. Drone pilots who want to become pro racers for the DRL (Drone racing League) need to be chosen by the scouts or compete in the DRL simulation tryouts, and the league chooses the best, to compete in races all over the world, and for a total prize pool of $100,000.
If your dream is to become a pro drone racing pilot, you will need the best racing drone model and really know how to fly a drone. To help you out fulfill your dream and make the right start, we have created a list of the best models available on the market.
How We Picked and What You Need to Know Before Buying
As with any other purchase, before making that final call, you need to do your research, so that you make sure you end up with exactly what you were looking for. So, here are a few pointers and the explanation of how we choose the best models and why they are the best.
The Differences Between Aerial Photography and Racing Drones
It might come as a surprise, but the fact is, racing drones are much different than the aerial photography drone models, and are actually, when it comes to speed, closer to best RC airplane models.
Racers are significantly smaller and lighter, which results in better maneuverability and higher speeds. On the other hand, the most popular aerial filming rigs such as the DJI Phantoms or the Yuneec Typhoon series, are considerably larger, heavier, and are designed to stay stable in the air and deliver smooth, bump-free, footage and still shots.
Therefore, the aerial photography models are built from plastic materials and stacked with advanced stability and orientation systems, which all work together to provide easy control and plenty of autonomous flight and filming modes. On the other hand, racing drones are in 99% of times, built from durable carbon fiber frames, that can survive high-speed crashes, and lack the advanced systems. In simple words, racers are pure power and skills.
Here is a short list of the most notable differences between racing and aerial photography drones:
Designed for high speed and aggressive maneuverability
Designed for stable flights, with a focus on image quality
Heavy, even more when carrying filming equipment
Made of durable carbon fiber
Made of various materials, mostly plastic
No autonomous flight modes
Plenty of advanced flight modes and features
Ready To Fly Models Vs Kits
Before deciding on which of the best racing drone models is suitable for you, you need to decide if RTF (Ready to Fly) models are the ones you should be looking for, or if you posses great building, soldering, and programming skills, to opt for a kit and build the drone yourself. Kits are fun and interesting to build, but demand way too much time and you need to know what you are doing. On the other hand, RTF models are ready to fly right out of the box, as soon as you charge the battery, that is. Here are both types, explained in-depth:
Ready to Fly (RTF)
The name pretty much explains everything right? The RTF models are fully assembled, tested and tuned before leaving the factory, and most of them come with a battery and a transmitter, included in the package.
Their main advantage is that you are able to get them in the air right away, without wasting time on assembling and tuning (which, believe us, can take even weeks to get it right). But, they do have disadvantages over kits, because when you need to swap a motor or an ESC, you will have a hard time since you didn’t go through the assembling process.
Also, one more thing that might be considered as a downside is that some of the RTF models, don’t come with a FPV system included. But, that is actually not much of a big deal since there are so many affordable systems on the market, and all you have to do is to remember not to choose the same frequency as your drone controller (in 99% 2.4 GHz), and even that is not a problem since most of the FPV systems come with the 5.8 GHz transmitting frequency. This is actually important to remember because if your drone control frequency interferes with the video transmitting frequency, you will lose control over your drone, crash it, or it will fly away, or maybe not even get off the ground.
When it comes to racing drone kits, you need to know that what you get in the package is a bunch of parts that you need to assemble and build a fully functioning drone. For those of you who have engineering and programming skills, this should be like a walk in the park, but for the rest of the mortals, this can turn into an agony that can last up to a few months, until you finally get all the settings right.
But, not all is that dark actually, because once you get it fully assembled, get all the programming done correctly and fine tune everything, the feeling when the drone gets airborne, is priceless. Needless to say, replacing parts, upgrading, will all come easy as you are already familiar with the entire building process.
Now, one of the important things you should keep an eye on when looking for the best racing drone on the market, is the range. Of course, the more the better, but just how “More” do you actually need?
The truth is, if you plan on flying freestyle, doing stunts, and even enter the world of drone racing, you won’t need the long range feature that much. Long range is more important for aerial filming and surveying, for which you would actually use some of the best quadcopters with high-quality cameras and advanced features, not racers, as the courses are usually relatively short and in the radius of no more than 200 meters.
So, don’t get discouraged by the specs such as “control range: 300 to 400 meters”, as this is more than enough for what you plan to do with your drone.
Again, since you are in the market of the best racing drone models, FPV range is not that important as you won’t be doing any long range flights. However, what is important is the strength of the FPV transmitter. Yes, the stronger the transmitter, and the better the antenna gain, the longer the video feed will be, but what is actually more important here is the fact that the strength of the transmitter also determines how well the signal will penetrate the objects along the way.
So, if you plan on flying mostly in open fields or parks, a 25 or 200 mW transmitter will do just fine as the signal doesn’t have to penetrate walls, trees or other obstacles. On the other hand, if you plan on doing stunts such as flying through abandoned buildings, over and under bridges, along the river streams, you will need drone that comes with a transmitter with plenty of power. In this case, you should pay attention to specs and look for FPV TX 200 mW or higher.
The best possible solution is to look for models that come with switchable FPV transmitters, as this will allow you to change the signal output power according to your need.
When it comes to batteries, the best racing drone models can use 3S or 4S batteries. Here are the Pros and Cons of both types:
Lighter, meaning longer flight time
Heavier, meaning shorter flight time
Less RPM - Less lift power, meaning, less additional components
More RPM - More lift power, meaning more components and additional filming gear such as action cams
Less stress on the parts – Longer motor, ESC, and prop lifespan
More stress on the components – Shorter motor, ESC, and prop lifespan
Lower speeds, less aggressive
Higher speeds, more aggressive
So, what this table basically tells you, is that with 3S batteries, your racing drone will still be fast, but it will be less aggressive and capable of making extremely sharp turns. But, the overall lifespan of your drone and its components, will be prolonged as these batteries do not wear out the drone that fast.
On the other hand, with 4S batteries, your drone will turn into a flying beast, capable of punching out at unbelievable speed, making high-speed, sharp turns and rolls, and will have a higher pitch sound. But, all that power comes with a price. Your racing drone will suffer more stress, especially on the props and the ESCs, which means changing parts more often. But, that is nothing compared to the sound and the aggressiveness of the drone when flying on 4S!
Top Pick: Best Racing Drone 2017
The Arris X-Speed 250B V2 FPV Racing Drone is one of the most popular models of freestyle and stunt drone pilots, but even the pro drone racers love using this model as well. The manufacturer that stands behind this successful model, has plenty of experience in drone racing filed, and their models are well known for their speed and durability.
So, what does the X-Speed offer exactly? For starters, it is an RTF model, meaning that it comes with everything needed to get it airborne, except the FPV goggles (but those are not that expensive anymore and you can, for example, get the Eachine EV800 FPV Goggles for around $90).
As for the “Brains” of this racing drone, it comes with a Raptor 390, which includes a 4-in-1 30A ESC (less wires and less parts to be damaged in case of a fall), and the F3 flight controller, which is a basic flight controller with a gyro and without any advanced flight assistance systems, but you do get 3 flight modes: Angle Mode, Horizon Mode, and Acro Mode.
When it comes to the “Body” of this racing drone, the frame is full carbon fiber, which means it can take some serious hits and survive, and is sturdy, so sharp turns are quite possible, with the drone “rolling like on train tracks”. The motors are 2205 2300KV, which are one of the best for this type of a drone, as they deliver plenty of punch, and smooth response to stick input.
Furthermore, the drone also includes a 700TVL 2.8mm FPV camera, that can be adjusted so that you can find the best possible settings and the angle while you fly in FPV, and the package also includes the Radiolink AT9 transmitter, which is widely praised by the drone pilots from all over the world.
Flaws but Not Dealbreakers
Since the X-Speed Racing Drone includes all the above mentioned, as well as both the FPV and control transmitters (and the control receiver), it is pretty much fully ready to fly right out of the box. However, there is one downside to this package, it doesn’t include the batteries…
This is not an actual deal breaker, as you can easily buy them separately, and you have the freedom to choose between 3S and 4S. Also, you will need a balanced LiPo battery charger, as the package doesn’t include one.
If what you are looking for is a solid all-around performance RTF racing drone model, what Eachine has to offer might be one of your best choices. The Eachine Wizard X220S Racing Drone comes with a durable 3K carbon fiber frame, and a design that is capable of surviving more than just a few high-speed crashes.
However, one of the first things you should do when you buy it, is to also order spare parts, more precisely ESCs and props. Why? Well, if you fly it on the supplied 3S battery, you will be just fine. But, if you decide to switch to 4S, the purple Eachine 5051 3-blade props that come with it (20 of them), will simply explode from the stress of full throttle on 4S battery.
Also, the ESCs that are built-in on the drone, are more suitable for 3S than 4S, and can burn out if you take it full throttle for too long on 4S. With 3S, you can full-throttle punch-out as many times and as long as you want, and there will be no problems what so ever.
As for the motors, the Wizard packs 2206 2300KV motors, which are really powerful, and combined with the mentioned 20A ESCs. The “Brain” of this drone is an F3 6DOF flight controller, which supports Mode 1 and Mode 2 transmitter controls (Mode 1 – Throttle stick is on the right, Mode 2 – Throttle stick is on the left).
Furthermore, the FPV system this drone comes with includes a 700TVL CCD FPV camera, that offers Full HD resolution (if your goggles can display Full HD), and a switchable 5.8 Ghz 48CH transmitter. You can choose the FPV signal output power between 25 mW, 200 mW, and 600 mW.
The package also includes a 1500mAh 3S 25C LiPo battery, and a B3 balanced charger, which is actually a great bonus. Also, you will get the beginner friendly Flysky FS-i6X drone control transmitter, the FPV antenna, a battery strap, and all the necessary tools you might need with this racing drone.
The first thing that will strike you with this 250mm, Blade Mach 25 Racing Drone model, is its unusual design. We say unusual because it doesn’t have a standard racing drone design, as it comes with a futuristic polycarbonate shell, enriched by stylish graphic design.
But, when it comes to “Under the hood” part, this drone comes with very powerful 2300KV brushless motors, 4-in-1 ESC and an integrated Power Distribution System. The rest of the parts include a A3174 Spektrum receiver, and a 3S 1350mAh 30C LiPo battery, which will keep the drone in the air for around 6 minutes.
Also, the Blade Mach 25 comes with a solid CCD FPV camera, with a FPV transmitter and a cloverleaf antenna, but it is only 25 mW, meaning your FPV range will be limited to, open field flights, without any obstacles such as buildings, trees, or walls.
There is one rather important downside to this model, and that is the fact that it comes as a BNF model, which means you won’t get a drone control transmitter (the RC controller), and you are limited only to Spectrum models.
All in all, this is an affordable model for those who are drone racing beginners and on a budget, it can reach competitive speeds, and is quite maneuverable. But, for more serious skill gaining, and for more competitive events, you might not do so well with this model.
Best Racing Drone Hybrid
The coolest design pick, for the best racing drone models, landed on the Odyssey Starfall X Racing Drone, which might not be the best racing drone on the market, but is definitely one of the best designed, beginner models available, and, it is hybrid, which means that it can also be used for aerial filming and photography.
Just like the Blade Mach 25, it is not a drone with a standard looking design, mostly because of its rigid outer shell, that comes with an alien spaceship inspired black/yellow color scheme, which actually helps you spot the drone in the line of sight, on admirable distances. And speaking of distances, the top control distance this drone can achieve before going out of range, is around 500 meters.
Furthermore, the FPV camera that comes with this drone offers a Full HD resolution, and the maximum FPV range is around 300 meters, which is more than enough for racing and aerial stunts. When you combine that with the 1300mAh LiPo battery it comes with (2 in the package), you get a relatively competitive racing drone, that can also be used as an aerial filming platform, especially since it comes with an altitude hold system that makes flying stable and at the same height, much easier than with the traditional racing drones.
Best Racing Drone for Both Indoor and Outdoor Flights
One of the best racing drone models that can be found for under $200, is the Walkera Rodeo 110. This mini racing drone is really impressive, and the fact that this is Walkera’s best selling model, means that they mean business with this little speedster.
When it comes to the bells and whistles of this model, we will start with the fact that video feed latency is definitely not an issue with this model. It comes with a fully-fledged 600TVL HD wide-angle camera, which is connected to the switchable (200mW/600mW) FPV transmitter.
Furthermore, since this is just 110mm model, the fact that it comes with a 850mAh capacity, LiPo battery, is not much of a surprise. But, what is surprising, is that, even with such a low capacity battery, it can stay in the air for around 8 minutes.
As for other parts, the Rodeo comes with a carbon fiber frame, and an F3 flight controller, which allows stabilized flights, and shortens the learning curve. You will also get the Walkera Devo 7 transmitter, but since the control signal receiver supports PPM and SBUS protocols, you can basically choose many other radio models, such as the famous Futaba.
All in all, if you are relatively new to this hobby, and plan on mastering the drone racing skills, the Walkera Rodeo 110 might be one of your best choices.
Best Racing Drone for Beginners With a Deeper Pocket
It seems that Walkera really makes best racing drones as another of their models, managed to find its place on our list. This time, we are talking about the Walkera F210 Racing Quadcopter. Beside its interesting, insect design, this model comes with quite advanced hardware, mounted on the really durable carbon fiber frame.
With this one, we will start with the RC transmitter as it is one of the best and many, many professionals use it. We are talking about the Devention Devo 7 model, which comes with an inbuilt LCD display, and unbelievably responsive controls, with almost zero lag.
As for the drone itself, the F210 uses a modular design, which, in case something goes wrong, is really easy to disassemble and assemble, and is easy to maintain. But, that doesn’t mean that this model is fragile, on the opposite, this little “bug” can survive some serious, high-speed crashes, and just keep on flying afterwards.
However, the feature that literally blew our mind is the Night Vision FPV camera. Yes, you read it right, it comes with a NV camera and you can actually fly it in the dark (we do have to remind you that flying drones after sundown is not allowed by the law in most states, so keep that in mind).
All in all, for those who are looking for a sexy design in a racing drone, this might be the best choice as not only that you get a drone that looks out of this world, but you also get a serious racing machine that is actually easy to use even if you are a beginner, and, you get a fully ready to fly package because this one comes with FPV goggles as well.
Best Racing Drone That is Also Foldable
If you are looking for a serious racing quad that is also foldable and easy to transport, the ImmersionRC Vortex is the best choice. This is actually a relatively larger model, but still falls into the 250mm racing category. But, before you decide that this model is the best for you, we should highlight that this is not an RTF model, but an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly). This basically means that the package doesn’t include a few important parts, such as the battery, the RC transmitter and a receiver, and, unfortunately, it doesn’t include a FPV system either.
If, you still think that getting this one is a good idea, we recommend pairing it up with the Spektrum DX6 remote controller, and a Spektrum PPM receiver, so that you can bind it to the transmitter. Even though this might sound like there’s too much tinkering involved, the entire process will not take you more than some half an hour.
Once you get it all tuned up and ready to take off, you will be amazed by how stable, it is in the air, how fast it can go, and how easy to use this drone is, for both beginners and pro pilots alike.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are racing drones and are they only made for racing?
A: Racing drones are basically quadcopters that don’t come with advanced flight assistance systems like other, aerial filming platforms offer .
Racing drones are used for freestyle riding and aerial stunts, but after the FPV systems became widely available on the market, people started using them for racing. However, some models can be also used as aerial filming platforms, but you cannot attach a camera stabilization gimbal, therefore, the footage cannot be smooth like when filmed with a DJI Phantom 4 for example.
For drone racing, make sure you get a model that is durable, has powerful motors, and a high-quality FPV system. If drone racing is what you are after, then your drone needs to be able to survive crashes, as they are an integral part of this sport. The frame needs to be durable, not only to survive the crashes, but also not to twist when high-speed turns cause high centrifugal forces on the frame itself. The FPV system has to be as low lag as possible, because in drone racing, even a split second of video signal delay can cause a delayed reaction, which will result with a crash.
For Aerial stunt videos, you need a drone that is stable in the air, and capable of easily lifting a GoPro style action camera. If you plan on using your racing drone mostly for making aerial stunt videos for your YouTube channel, then you need a model that comes with the best from both worlds. It has to be racer built, but to also include some higher-end systems like altitude hold, which is gained by the use of barometer in the FC. It also needs to be powerful enough to lift and safely carry and action cam.
Q: What is the range of racing drones?
A: The range of racing drones is anywhere from 100 to around 500 meters, and it also depends on the surrounding terrain.
If you want to get the best control range, choose models that have long range transmitters and receivers. Always pay attention to specs, as this is where you can find out how far your drone can go before it loses the signal, and in the case of racing drones, since they don’t have advanced flight modes like Return to Home, this would mean the loss of your drone. To improve the range, try flying it in wide open spaces like fields, parks, deserts, so that nothing comes between the radio and the drone, which would significantly shorten the control range.
Q: Can they work only with 3S batteries or can 4S be used as well?
A: Racing drones mostly use both 3S and 4S batteries and it just depends on your personal preference. Some, smaller models, even use 2S batteries, since their small size and motors cannot lift the heavier 3S batteries.
If you plan on using 3S batteries, keep in mind that they offer lower voltage, but are lighter than 4S. The 3S batteries come with a nominal voltage of 11.4 V, and are much lighter than 4S batteries. This means that the flight time will be longer with the 3S, but the flight itself will be slower, and the drone will be less aggressive. However, since the voltage is lower, this means lower RPMs, and that further implies less stress for the entire system.
If you plan on using 4S batteries, you should remember that they come with a higher voltage than the 3S and are heavier. The 4S batteries have a nominal voltage of 14.8V, which means that the motors will spin faster with the same level of command input. The drone will reach greater speeds, it will be more aggressive, but the flight time will be shorter. Also, since there will be more stress to the entire system, your drone’s lifespan will be shorter as well and it will need more part replacements.
But, you can actually go with 4S right from the start as you will definitely be happier with the drone’s overall performance on higher voltage. The 4S is now the standard voltage level for 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch mini drones so starting with 4S is pretty much normal. When starting with 3S, there is simply too much additional time and money investment, when switching from 3S to 4S.
Wrapping It Up
There are numerous racing models available on the market, but we consider the Arris X-Speed 250B V2 FPV Racing Drone to be the best of them. It is not just because it is the fastest one available, because there are faster drones, but none of them offers such a full package and a price to performance ratio.
The other reviewed models are the best of the best in the drone racing world, and they are definitely worth your consideration. Remember what you read at the beginning, which are the features you should keep an eye on when looking for a racer, and after deciding what is most important for your personal racing needs, make an informed selection.
We wish you clear skies and no wind, and if you have something that you want to share with our readers, and us, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. Also, if you think that your friends will find this article interesting to read and useful, don’t hesitate to share it on social media. Thanks for reading!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.